Sunday, December 29, 2013

Following Christ Leads To Eternal Bliss

Hi Family and Friends!           (From email of 12-16-13)

We had another really great week here! Okay I just read the weekly email from President Jenkins, and I have the most exciting news to tell you!!! WE ARE HAVING A MEETING WITH ELDER JEFFREY R. HOLLAND!!!!!! Ahhhhhh I am SO excited! If I chose favorites, he would definitely be one of mine! :) On January 11th all the missionaries from the Mesa, Gilbert, and Scottsdale missions are coming together for a meeting with him! What a special opportunity!

We stayed very busy this week, so that was fun. On Tuesday we had a temple excursion. We went through a session with half of the mission and with President and Sister Jenkins. It was such a cool experience. It was so beautiful seeing all the missionaries greeting each other in the Celestial room. It really gave me a vision of what a joyful reunion it will be to see all of us reunited together in the Celestial kingdom. I absolutely love the temple. One of the things I am looking forward to after my mission is being able to attend the temple more frequently. We are so blessed here in Mesa though. How many missionaries get to go through the temple with half of their mission? Best mission in the world.

Mission Christmas Party
On Wednesday we had a Christmas party! And oh my it was so fun! Who knew missionaries had parties? I didn't. But it was such an enjoyable experience. We started off playing games (I guess there are some really rich members in the area so they were even giving money out to the people who won. It was kind of weird. But cool. I was so close to winning $20 haha). Then we had a yummy steak lunch, decorated cookies, did some awesome service projects, ate yummy dessert, listened to this cute family play hand bells. I don't know if you have ever heard of Reflections of Christ before? (If you haven't you should check it out. It's awesome pictures of representations of Christ's life, and there is a music album that goes along with it). But anyways, Freddy Ashby and Clyde Bonham, the people who made the Reflections of Christ, they also perform with Alex Boye, did a private concert for us. They are AMAZING. So beautiful. It brought such a strong spirit. It really made me miss being able to just play the piano and sing. But it was such a wonderful opportunity! We had all the mission gathered together to just celebrate and spend some Christmas time with our mission "family" here in Mesa. On Thursday we had a week 3 follow-up training meeting for the new missionaries. Hna Groll got her iPad so she's really excited about that. I hope I am doing a good job training her. I want her to be confident in her abilities and to feel more comfortable with the language. She's such a sweet person. I hope I get another transfer with her! 
Making Christmas cookies with Hna. Groll

Mexico keeps stealing our investigators!
We didn't have a ton of time in our area, but we were able to make our goal of 9 member present lessons this week! We are really working hard on getting a member out with us every hour. It is hard, but we are trying our best! The members are so sweet to us here. They are very busy so it is a big sacrifice for them. We contacted a member referral this week, and they were so prepared! Their names are Augusto and Laura. They are super receptive to the message, and said that they would get baptized if they receive an answer that it is true. They are a super cute couple probably in their 60s. But of course, they are leaving for Mexico for a month. Mexico always steals our investigators....

Planning a “white” Christmas
Marcos is all set for getting baptized on Saturday at 11 am! We are so excited for this! Even though we are loving the 75* weather (yes it warmed back up this week and we love it), we will still be able to have a "white" Christmas! He is really excited for his baptism too. His mom, Angela, came out to teach with us once this week and she did a great job! I think it really helped strengthen her testimony too. I don't know if you have ever heard of Herbalife or Herbalite or something like that but it is this weight loss program that's super popular in the Latino population. Anyways, Angela sells it so people always come to her house for their meals. We were over there, and her neighbor comes over for his meal and starts asking us a bunch of questions. He was asking really tough questions, and it was almost like bible-bashing but not. I was trying to be really humble in my responses and not cause contention. I think that he could actually have really good potential if he allowed us to share our message with him because we really do have such great answers to his questions! (He did chastise me pretty good though... I didn't have my Bible with me because I didn't have room in my purse and it can be heavy, but I had it on my iPad. Then he told me that Christ told us to take up our cross daily and that Christ's cross weighs a lot more than my Bible. So now, I am trying to always have my Bible with me haha). Angela also let us try her weight-loss aloe, tea, and shakes. They were pretty good! 

Manuel blessed the sacrament for the first time!
Saturdays are pretty hard because it seems like no one is home. But we have been doing this thing the past couple weeks were we bake cookies and give them to our investigators to invite them to church. We have had a hard time getting investigators to church, so we are trying to get creative. We are having lessons, but they always say they are too busy to come to church. I guess we need to do a better job at explaining the importance of it. Speaking of church, Manuel came to church again this week! Yay! And he blessed the sacrament for the first time! I was so proud of him! He is really trying to make a good effort to stay active in the church. We took him out teaching with us last night, and afterwards he called us. He said," thanks so much for taking me! I loved that so much! I love Mormons! I love the church! I love being able to share my testimony because it makes my faith so much stronger! Thank you so much!" (not exactly, but more or less haha). He did a great job too. We were just talking like get to know you, and he just brought up the gospel and how it has blessed him and shared such a powerful testimony. It was such a special experience for me. 
Hnas. Haynes and Groll at church

Potential Christmas plans
Can you believe Christmas is coming up so soon? I will be able to skype you! I will make a 15-20min phone call or skype to both dad's and mom's house. I am so excited to talk with you again! I miss you tons! We don't really know what our plans are yet, but a drunk man invited us over for Christmas eve and Christmas, so maybe we will do that. It was awesome. He gave us tamales. We met the whole family too. (don't worry, the elders had been teaching him and all his family were there and sober). His mom actually is a cook and janitor at juvi and she was telling me all about it. It was super interesting.  
I have really chubby cheeks in this picture.... But yes that is an entire cow's head. Yummy. (they love to eat cabeza, or head, here. Luckily I haven't had to try it yet!)
We have to get filtered water here because the tap is just so gross. So filling up our jugs.

Words of Christ lead to eternal bliss

But yes, that was more or less my week. It was a very good week! I absolutely love being here. I just can't believe how fast time is going. We only have a few more weeks of the transfer... Something I have really been thinking about this week is how I can become a better servant for the Lord and how I can more closely follow Christ and develop His attributes. Sometimes I feel like I am a long ways away from my goal. But I have been trying to really evaluate myself and see in what ways I need to change. I just want to be more obedient, more humble, more patient, more selfless, etc. (I need a lot of work in all of those areas! haha) But in my study this morning, I found a verse that I really liked. It is Alma 37:44-46. It is relating following the Liahona to how we follow Christ. It says, "For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land. O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way... The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever." I know that as we diligently strive to study and live the words of Christ, that all will work out. We will have peace in this life, and we will be able to reach eternal bliss! (and who does not want to live in bliss forever??) I just love studying the scriptures and the words of the prophets every day. I always learn so much and am filled!

I love you all so much and I am so grateful for all of your love and support! Hope you have a great week getting ready for Christmas! 

What I see every night!
Temple Lights
More Temple Lights
Con mucho amor,

Hermana Haynes

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