Saturday, July 26, 2014

Working Hard To Expect And Facilitate Daily Miracles

Buenos tardes Familia!       (7-7-14 Email)

Hi! This week went by so fast, didn't it? It is crazy. But at the same time last Monday seems like a lifetime ago. We had a super good week this week. We are keeping busy and it feels great. Falling more and more in love with this area/ward every day. I really feel so blessed to be able to serve here!

So Monday we had a ward Noche de Hogar and Hna Hurd and I were in charge of teaching it. The Familia Ramirez came, so we were super happy about that! Our ward has a focus each month and last month was the Book of Mormon, so that was our lesson topic. This month is fasting, so we are having a 30 day fast, where at least one person from the ward is going to be fasting every day of the month (but I am pretty sure hardly anyone signed up... There was almost no one there yesterday because of the holiday weekend).

Then Tuesday we went around trying to contact the potential Elders list, but found that most of them have moved and changed their phone numbers, so we have to go through the ward records and clean them out a bit. Thursday we had exchanges, and that went good. I went to Pueblo with Hna Coy, and Hna Hurd stayed here with Hna Cude. 

We had a pretty normal day in Pueblo, besides the huge dust storm we got caught in! It was crazy, but awesome. There was so much wind and dust everywhere, it made it hard to see. And when you got out of the car the dust would just fill your mouth and eyes. So we had to go find shelter because it isn't the smartest idea to drive in it.
Our, "We're going to die in a dust storm faces."We had 2 Young Womes with us and their mom called all worried saying the air was contaminated haha so we had to take care of them.

But here in L1, the sisters had a day full of miracles. They had several appointments, and were able to get 5 member present lessons in that one day! (And they taught a lesson to Manolo outside in the middle of the storm, with two members haha, such troopers!) But this week Monsoon season is starting, so it is getting a bit humid. 

Our Fourth of July was pretty lame... haha but that's okay. We had weekly planning, and then had an appointment in the afternoon, but they weren't home. Then after dinner President Jenkins said we could only go out if we had set appointments, but we didn't have any. So after dinner we picked up some frozen custard, then we finished planning and organizing our week/members until 9pm, then we watched The Testaments on our tiny little DVD player and ate our frozen custard haha. But I fell asleep. So that was our celebration haha. Gotta love missionary life.

Ok so investigators! Vanessa is awesome. We had 2 appointments with her this week, and she came to church! So our first return appointment with her, we followed up on if she had read from the Book of Mormon, and she had read the chapter multiple times, written notes, and highlighted. The Spirit was there so strong in that lesson, you could cut it with a knife. We talked about prayer and the spirit and how to find out spiritual truths. Her testimony in Christ is definitely growing. Then our second appointment with her went good as well. We taught the Restoration to her. She had read again, and really likes what she reads, says it makes sense. She liked the Restoration as
well, but she isn't sure what to think about it. We talked about how it all depends on The Book of Mormon. She says she thinks the Book of Mormon is true because it makes sense, but she says when she reads the Koran it also makes sense to her, so she doesn't know what to think. She agreed to be baptized on the 26th of July though if she receives an answer. We had brought a sister from our ward who just got back from her mission about 2 weeks ago, and she took Victoria to church. But about 3/4s through sacrament meeting, both of them left and went to the Singles ward. We are thinking about transferring Victoria to the singles ward missionaries, but aren't sure what to do because we are also teaching her mom, Gloria. Gloria doesn't seem quite as interested, but is there in every lesson, and has read a chapter from the Book of Mormon, but didn't come to church. So we need to pray and figure it out. It would break my heart to have to stop teaching her though!

We taught Amin twice this week as well. He's a talker, and is a deep thinker, so it is hard to get a lot in with him, but he seems sincerely interested. We just got to get him quiet long enough to let us teach him haha. But when we gave him a Book of Mormon, he said to us holding the book, "This is not a game to me. This is a responsibility. If I don't read this I will lose your respect, etc." I am excited to teach him more.

Then we got a referral from the Visitors Center for a young guy named Jacob. We have had 2 lessons with him this week, and both went well (I was on exchanges for the first one). He is just a quiet, simple, happy guy and likes learning about God. He agreed to be baptized at the first lesson, but is going to be going/moving(?) to Seattle soon, so we couldn't set a date. But he came to church on Sunday! The last two hours were a little awkward though because in Sunday school people started asking about if young girls who get abortions if they will go to hell, etc. (Let’s just say gospel principles was cancelled this
week...) and then during priesthood they talked all about consecrating people with oil... Sooo who knows what he is thinking about church haha. Oh goodness, hopefully he still felt the spirit.

Familia Ramirez didn't come to church, and cancelled their appointment, so that bummed me out a bit. But we stopped by after church and helped them cook and stuff, and set up a few appointments for the week. We are going to do a thing where every day we text them a scripture that they will all read on their own, and then when they eat dinner together they are going to talk about what they learned about it.

Well, that was more or less my week this week. God is blessing us so much, and we honestly do not deserve it. I cannot begin to say all the people we meet, blessings we see, people who help us, lessons we have, progress we see. It makes me want to work that much harder and do that much more because God is being so great to us. I sincerely love the people here. Sometimes they let you down, but it doesn't matter. I just try to imagine the love that God has for each of them, and the love that He has for me. He is so patient, isn't He? I know that He listens to our prayers, and that He leads and guides us every day. It is so reassuring to know that I don't have to rely on my own skills and abilities, but that I can rely on Him and the Holy Ghost. I don't have to worry because as I try my best, He multiplies my efforts. Faith really does work miracles. We are working hard to expect and facilitate daily miracles, and trying to do our best to serve God and our fellow brothers and sisters. I just feel so happy, especially when I know that I can truly make a difference in someone's day or life. I was thinking about that this week - that's the kind of life that I want to have, or the type of person I want to be - someone that can just give and make other's lives better. So that's the goal!

I love you all so much! Thanks for everything!

Con amor,
Hermana Haynes

(PS do you remember the two crazy teenage boys that are obsessed with wrestling that came to the Pastorela with us? well I got FB messages from both of them this week inviting me to their baptism! Miracles really do happen haha!)
I found puppies and they are not chihuahuas so I love them.

A guy we found who has chickens and ducks.

More dust storm pictures

It always looks like it is going to rain, but never does, but the pretty sunsets and lightning storms have come back.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Why Jesus Christ Is Important

Hi family!  (6-30-14 email)

Another week has gone by! Can you believe that? We are getting more comfortable and used to everything here. I can't believe we've been in this area for less than 2 weeks. It feels like at least a month. I really love this ward though. They are all so sweet and really love the missionaries. We don't have a ward mission leader right now, so we work really closely with the bishop, and he is awesome. Super funny and wants to know what is going on with our investigators and put us to work. And the members are so sweet to us. When we come over for dinner, they feed all 7 of us. It is quite a sight haha. But it is super fun to be able to see all the other missionaries in our ward so often. It’s like we are a big team. Okay so what did we do this week...

We don't really have any progressing investigators besides the Familia Ramirez. (The guy who was supposed to get baptized on Saturday, Manolo,disappeared this week and we couldn't contact him for anything. Guess he has done this before. But a sister from the Visitor’s Center finally got a hold of him last night and he says he still wants to learn?) Anyways, the familia Ramirez is just a really special family. They are sincerely looking for what is right, and just golden. So sweet and loving. They still aren't super excited about coming to this ward instead of Arboleda, but they are doing it and getting used to it! With their crazy work schedules, we were only able to teach them on Saturday this week, but it was a great lesson. We talked all about the plan of salvation and how Christ's Atonement and the principles of His gospel allow us to become perfected and return to God. They seemed to understand it really well and see how it all works together. We extended a baptismal date, but they seemed a little hesitant because they want to learn and really be sure about everything. We asked if we could come over more often, and so hopefully that will help them to progress more quickly. They really are just solid though.

Besides that, we made a goal to meet every member that lives in our area, and have met all that we can find. And have found a handful of less active/part member families. All of them received us pretty well. We are hoping to be able to progress with them. They are all very sweet and some of them even agreed to meeting with us a couple of times a week to help their families prepare to enter the temple, or to help them become stronger to be an example for their non-member families. I think that is super great. I always think it is so important to build up the ward and help strengthen what they already have. My theory is that if God can't trust us with the people that we already have in the ward, why would He trust us with converts/new baptisms? Bishop agrees with that as well, and admits that they do not have very good success in convert retention. He would also like us to work more on strengthening the ward, especially potential Elders and helping people advance in the Priesthood.

We are still trying to find new investigators as well. Most of the people we have found haven't been there for the follow-up appointments or have had to reschedule, so we are still looking! (Well, always looking!) We did find 2 really cool people this week though that I want to tell you about.
One, we were just walking down the street and there was this family outside, and so we waved and they invited us in. We started talking to the mom and her 19 year old daughter, Vanessa. Vanessa is dating a Muslim, who asks her several questions about her religion. Seeing as she is not very religious, it has made her really question everything herself, because she doesn't know how to answer him. She has even come to the point where she is questioning the divinity of Christ. So she started asking us all sorts of questions, sincerely desiring to understand for herself, about the difference between God and Jesus Christ - who they are, Who the Holy Ghost is and why it is important, all sorts of different things. And then I felt inspired to ask her if she even knew why Jesus Christ was important. And she said she didn't. So many people don't! It is so sad (really increasing my testimony of the Book of Mormon - such a powerful tool to come to know who Christ really is and why He is important). Anyways, so we were able to teach right there all about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and all the ways that it strengthens, helps, and blesses us. The Spirit was there so strongly and you could tell that it was helping her to understand the truth and testifying of Jesus Christ. It was so powerful and so natural. I am really excited to see where this goes. She agreed to meet with us again, and yesterday we dropped off a Bible for her so she can study before our next appointment.

Then the other is Amin. We had a bit of a rough afternoon, knocking doors all day in the hot sun with no one really answering, so I was feeling a little sorry for myself haha. But that evening we walked into an apartment complex, and I thought to myself, "I am tired. I am hot. I am sweaty. But none of that matters, because I am here to share the gospel with... You." And walked up to the first person that we saw. And that is when we met Amin! He is so cool! He reminds me a lot of Manuel. He was really funny and talkative. But at the same time you could tell he has things weighing him down and he is looking for more. I love people like that because I can just be super blunt with them, and it is the best (that's why I love Hispanics). I was just like, okay you know what you are going to do, you are going to read this book, you are going to read this chapter, and then we are going to come back on Tuesday and talk about it. And he seems pretty legit about it. Hopefully!

Okay, other things that happened this week... Oh we went to the temple! That was really good. Received some important, loving guidance on how to be better. The temple really does give you spiritual strength and it is amazing. Yesterday a lady invited us into her home while she had the JW missionaries over... that was a little awkward. Didn't know how to handle that situation too well. Pretty much just the same old routine: exercise, get ready, study, eat lunch, study, work, eat dinner, work, plan, go to bed, and start the routine all over again. Work, work, work - there is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work! (haha quote from PMG that we say all the time here).

Well, I think that's about all for this week. I am still learning and trying to do my best. It is amazing the grace of Jesus Christ - that even our limited abilities and capacities can bring to pass great miracles because of Him. Every day I am just amazed about how He really does have a plan for all of us. He sees the big picture. And as we humbly and sincerely seek His guidance, He always gives it to us. He is our Father, and we are His children. He loves us perfectly and wants the best for us. He will always fulfill His promises, but we have to faithfully endure to the end. So don't give up! Because there are good things to come! Always!

I love you all so much!

con amor,

Hermana Haynes
My awesome little diagram. learned this fron another sister, but it really helps people understand.

I definitely played soccer with a little boy I found in the street in front of this sign.  Don't tell anyone....
Cutest little girl in a part-member family we are working with.

At the temple with my companion, Hna. hurd.

The tile guys was at our house working late so we got stuck in the car.  We got kind of bored......

My awesome shoe tan line!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

As We Take Steps Of Faith, God Will Lead Us

Hi family!           (6-23-14)

Holy cow. What a week this has been. Can I just say that I am in love? This new area is amazing, and I feel so blessed to be here! I love, love, love it. The ward is pretty strong (for a Spanish ward). The bishop is really put together and super funny. And there are pretty much pure Spanish speakers. Like it is hard to find the white people.

Seriously, we saw so many miracles every single day this week. I just come home every night and ask myself if all these miracles are possible! (I was asked how this area is different from my last – my last area was in one of the wealthiest parts of our entire mission, so a big majority of it was big houses full of English speakers, so it was much harder to find people to teach simply because there was not a whole lot of Spanish speakers. Also our last area was very large – for this mission - and this one is tiny again. It's just on the other side of the street from L3, so it is very similar to my first area).

So my new place is a duplex and we live next to this cute elderly couple called the Curtis's. Our place is awesome haha it reminds me of great grandma Carlson’s - definitely rocking the 80s (pretty sure some things in those cupboards are from the 80s as well haha. Trying to throw things away gradually and hoping that nobody cares.) So when we first got there, we did some major cleaning and organizing, but now it's feeling pretty good. Besides the fact that I have been taking sponge baths in the kitchen sink for the past 4 days but hopefully that should all be fixed up today haha.

So I can't even remember what we did on Monday and Tuesday, pretty much just taught and said goodbye to people. It's always sad to say goodbye. Lupita started crying because she thought we were leaving because we were mad at her. Broke my heart. I love that little family. I feel so blessed to have been able to serve in Arboleda - to have been able to love and serve those people and learn so many lessons while serving there.

So on Wednesday we got to our new area, and got to work. The
investigator list was fairly small, so we set out to meet them. There is one man, Manolo, who is supposed to get baptized on Saturday that we met with. He seemed pretty solid to us the one time that we met with him, and every has told us he is good to go. So we set up the time and announced it in church and everything. But he didn't come to church and the bishop says that he has done that repeatedly in the past, so hopefully we can talk to him more this week and really figure out what's going on.

Then there is the Familia Ramirez. They are so sweet. 2 teenage
daughters and an 8 year old boy. I already know that this family is one of the reasons I am here. They started going to Arboleda my first week there because some English members invited them there. They came for several weeks, but recently had stopped coming. The sisters here tried to invite them to L1 for the past 3 transfers with no success. So I had already met them several times. So we met them and they said they got embarrassed to go to Arboleda because they don't live in the boundaries, but were too nervous to go to L1. But since they already knew us, and were reassured that it was our first Sunday in the ward and we would be just as lost as they, they decided to come this week!
And they did! Such a huge miracle! It is so interesting to see how God has a perfect plan for everything. He always knows where He needs us. This family is so sweet and is sincerely looking.

Our district leader set up a challenge to see who could contact the most people, so that started off to be a big motivator to us. So we have been trying extra hard to contact every single person that we see. And we have seen so many miracles! We were able to teach several first lessons this week set up even more return appointments, and find a good amount of new investigators. Some of them seem to have real potential as well. I wish I could describe all the miracles that we saw, but I just can't. It humbles me so much. I do not deserve these blessings, but I am so grateful for them. I am trying so hard to put myself out there for God and for these people. I want so badly to be a
tool in Heavenly Father's hands and help Him to do His work. There is no greater feeling than to be used by Heavenly Father - I want Him to know He can depend on me.

Hna Hurd and I have been working hard as well to evaluate our teaching and improve it. We decided on 5 things we want to work on while we teach. We call it our 5 S's: simple, short, sincere, Spirit, and silent (moments of silence to feel the spirit and ponder). Our focus right now is simple, so we have been practicing that in our studies.

Ok I will tell two little examples of the miracles we saw and then I should probably wrap it up: 1. Jime. We walked into this apartment complex looking to meet some members and Jime was the first person we saw sitting outside so we talked to him. He invited us to sit down and we got right into the Restoration. He loved it, and asked US when we would come back to share more. We also invited him to church, and he said he would love to come! (He didn't come, but next week!) It was just a really cool experience. 2. Miguel. We knocked on his door looking for a different family. He opened the door and said he was in a meeting and asked if we could come back later. We told him we were just looking for a family, he once again told us they didn't live here, but said he really wanted us to come back later. So we went back last night, and it turns out he has a bunch of family that are members and investigated for 6 months in Pheonix. They were studying D&C that time and didn't like that it was all Joseph Smith and not the bible. He got really excited when we told him we were studying the Old Testament at
church right now, and he said he was going to come to church nextweek, wants to start meeting with us, and share it with his new wife and her children (he said her children used to go to this church and would definitely come back if their parents did).

God is so great. It amazes me every single day. He tries us, and it is hard. But He fulfills every single promise that He makes and blesses us with so much more than what our hardships are. The times of trial are so essential for our growth and learning. I know He sees our potential and has a plan to help us reach it. As we take steps of faith, He will lead us and guide us. Never doubt Him or His love for you!

I love you all so much and am so grateful for everything!

Con amor,
Hermana Haynes
I'm happy!

Nothing better than handmade tortillas!

Map of our area.

Our new place.