Monday, May 25, 2015
Another busy week here in Ontario, Oregon. I would much rather be busy than not, though. Most of our English-speaking elders have to tract so many hours a week and it’s exhausting just thinking of all that. They get yelled at, doors slammed in their face, and all those other fun things. But they keep doing it with a smile on their face. They are awesome! Speaking of which, we had an experience of the like this week. We visited a couple named Jessica and Mark (names changed). When we got there, Jessica was home and we had a good conversation. Then Mark got home and the whole atmosphere changed. He is a less active and has since explored various sources of questionable literature on which to base his faith. He was in a sort of bible-bashing mood. Honestly, it was terrifying -- he spoke to us with such force and a challenging tone that at the end of it my head was absolutely spinning! I said little the entire visit because he seemed so closed-minded and I felt that if I said anything he would just dispute me. That night in my journal, I wrote: As the lesson was over, I held out my hand and whispered to my testimony to hang in there! And then I thought of how much he reminded me of the scripture found in 2 Nephi 9:28-29 (when they are learned they think that they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God) and then I felt better afterwards.
On Tuesday, the branch president invited the rama (branch) and the missionaries to come and help thin the apricot trees that the church has invested in. We got permission from the AP's the night before because it was about 30 minutes out of our area. We also invited Kimberly to come and we all had a great time!! I put into effect everything I learned from my experience in Young Women -- the fact that when I was her age all I wanted was for an older girl to include me and love me. So I made a special effort to pay attention to her and make her feel like she was the most important girl on the earth to me. (Kimberly Meza is an 11 year old of the family we are teaching. She is also getting baptized this Friday!! Oh man, we are so excited for her!!! This is my first official baptism and the transfer isn't even over yet!) Later in the week we went by the Meza home to hopefully talk to Kimberly, but nobody was home except for the dad. It ended up being perfect because we answered some of the dad's questions about Kimberly's baptism this week. But the best part was when we were walking away and he told us that he is taking vacation on Friday and will be able to come to Kimberly's baptism! Talk about miracles!! We have been trying to crack open his heart so he would want good change for his whole family. (Side note: he had earlier told us that he probably wouldn’t get time off from work to come and see his daughter get baptized, which was kind of sad.) It was funny that he waited until we were leaving to tell us the good news . . . el es bien chistoso! (he’s a joker!)
Sorry y'all, I forgot to mention that I also went on my first exchanges this week! I exchanged with an English sister named sister Wright. We had a great time and basically did everything that we normally do, the only difference was that the lessons were in English!! Oh, it was nice to understand everything that’s being said!
Did I mention that Patricia is back!?!? We went to go visit who we thought was going to be Sandra and her boyfriend, but when the door opened, we saw Patricia! Apparently things did not all work out in Le Grande, though she’s still living with her boyfriend. We were all taken by surprise. Our emotions were all over the place when she left and now she’s back and we didn't know what to say or do when she invited us in. I think I just sat down and soaked it all in, ha-ha!
We have had a lot of birthday's this week: missionary and member alike. And everyone wants to invite the missionaries -- ha-ha, we like to think that we are so popular! Anyway, last night we attended a birthday fiesta for a member's little brother who turned 2. The mom, a nonmember, served chiva (goat)!! Oh my goodness. Y'all should've seen my face when they brought it out and the first thing I saw was the HEAD!! I was forced into trying some of the meat, and it wasn't that bad -- delicious even. (Not from the head though). I have tried lots of weird things -- chicken feet and chiva head being the weirdest to report thus far.
Lots of other great things happened this week but I only picked out the best things for this week's email. Lo siento y descúlpame por favor!
Hermana Moss out.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
So this week went by fast! I feel as though I haven't done nearly enough yet! Thank goodness we are kept busy; otherwise the mission would be much more challenging.
So last Monday for P-day our zone played soda golf! Let me preface this by saying that I was never meant to play golf, but nevertheless I wasn't going to let my inadequate skills stop me from participating! So I got a cheap pack of soda from Wal-Mart and the Zone Leaders brought golf clubs. To make it even more interesting, we shook all the cans before yelling 'FOUR'! I hit the first one and it sprayed all over me! The second one was a completely different story. I must've swung at least 15 times before I finally moved it about an inch. Then I gave up trying to pretend that I had Tiger Woods skills and just hit it where it stood. By the time the game was over I was covered in soda and went home later that night scrubbing all the sugar off me in the shower. But it was a lot of fun! Next time I'll just bring a baseball bat. Good thing Dad used to play baseball with us when we were younger; at least I have a tendency to hit with my head. Ha-ha! Better than nothing right?
On Tuesday I had a 3 week checkup -- a.k.a. 'Greenie Training' in Caldwell. It was great! President Cannon taught a 2 hour lesson and it included another small lesson by the Assistants to the President -- they had us role play! They treated it as if I haven't done it about a MILLION times before, ha-ha! But you know what they say -- practice makes perfect.
So, surprise about our investigators Patricia and Alfredo. When we went to visit, Patricia's sister opened up and told us that Patricia and Alfredo had left the previous day!! They had left without telling us and others! Her phone had also been deactivated and there is no way we can get hold of her -- even her family has no idea how to contact her. This was really sad and frustrating! Patricia had a baptism date that we needed to push back because she decided that she wants to get married to Alfredo (after only a short while of dating) and plans on getting married next year. This took us by surprise at the doorstep, so we decided that since the door was already open that we would come in and talk to Patricia’s sister and her boyfriend Eddy. She is an inactive member and he is agnostic. We set up a return appointment with him for tomorrow and we are anxious to get to know him better. It was sad to realize that we had lost Patricia, but the Lord has blessed us with 4 more investigators who are headed for baptism later this month! It's neat to see how the Lord works in mysterious ways, isn't it?
Friday night was a lot of fun! Our Branch President hosted a BBQ fiesta at his ranch/paintball field (which we almost got lost finding because it was out in the middle of nowhere) to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It was a rockin' good party! We invited everyone we had appointments with and each of our investigators to come -- and most of them did! We ate carne asada, chips, fruit salad, and all sorts of desserts! There was also a zip line and a cow box cart pulled by the president’s tractor. All of our investigators’ kids absolutely loved it!
Saturday morning we headed out to the library to help Carolyn with her insurance claim. (We met Carolyn from tracting the week before.) Oh man, I hate dealing with insurance agencies! These ones seemed like money hungry Gaddianton Robbers!!!! Speaking of mysterious ways and frustrations, Saturday night was one of those hard days. They don't happen very often, but they do happen occasionally. We visited and/or knocked on at least 10 doors and not a single person answered. Those were all of our references and people we had planned to visit, and our backups too! At the time I hadn't fully appreciated how frustrating it was, but as I relive the moment now for this email, I realize that it was a rough experience. O well, tis' the life of a missionary! We did get home at 9:00 though, which is a first! Ha-ha!
During the weekends we always go to visit a recent convert named Daniel. You may remember me mentioning him from some of my earlier emails. Anyway, he has a grape tree in his backyard that looked absolutely dead the last time I saw it. I laughed so hard when he said it would have grapes by August. Hermana Guti said that I should have more patience and faith in Daniel's little dead tree. I shrugged it off thinking nothing of it. Then when we visited him, we went to the backyard and his little tree had leaves on it!! I was really surprised and realized that there’s a lesson here for me. I saw this experience as a testimony of having real faith. So often missionaries think that as soon as they get a glimpse of an investigator who doesn't seem golden, they don't have as much faith in the power and influence that comes from knowing about the Savior's atonement. They may shrug these people off and not work as hard because they can’t see the green leaves that can sprout from simple faith. This made me want to believe in every single person and never give up on them because if they are important to Heavenly Father, they should be just as important to us as missionaries.
Sunday night (Mother’s Day) was my favorite because I got to Facetime with my family at home! It was great talking to y'all! Time just flew by and it felt like 10 minutes instead of 45! I can’t wait to call home for Christmas! I will have everything that I want to say written out and I promise to be more organized next time, ha-ha!
Have a good week everyone and Feliz Cinco de Mayo and Dia de las Madres!
Hermana Moss :)
Hold on to y'all's sombreros and burritos -- this week was crazy busy!! But before I start, I hope everybody had a great week. Last Monday after I finished emailing, all the missionaries in our zone were invited to a special BBQ party. It was held at a members’ home in Vale, Oregon. They had a huge ranch home and it was even more beautiful inside! We ate hamburgers, chips and drank grape soda. It was pretty awesome. Socializing with all the other sisters and elders is always fun!
On Tuesday morning we put on our boxing gloves and enlisted Brother Mills to help one of our recent converts fight her eviction notice. I won’t bother y'all with the full story, but to make it short and sweet, basically she is getting evicted because one of her kids was hit by another tenant's kid and another one of her sons defended the younger brother. Silly, right? We didn't actually fight the eviction that day; we only went into the main office and helped her schedule the hearing. I was really disappointed because we wanted to do so much more and that morning I even woke up ready for anything. I even gave myself a pep talk in the mirror and sang Eye of the Tiger!! Ha-ha, kidding :). Later on in the evening we helped an investigator, Maria Navarette, by going to Home Depot to help her pick out a color of paint to paint her trailer. We went back to her house and painted about 75% of it. I also did weeding for her. Oh man it was bad, but I can guarantee that those weeds weren't ready for what was coming to them, ha-ha! We especially had fun in Home Depot and took pictures sitting on the lawn mowers.
This week we had an appointment with an investigator family named the Valenzuela's. It was the dad's birthday, so the Hermanas and I went to Wal-Mart to buy food and a special tres leches birthday cake. We got there around 6 in the evening so we could learn how to cook tinga, which is shredded chicken with spicy tomato sauce. After the chicken is prepared, you put it on a tostada and add lettuce and sour cream and, of course, hot sauce! My taste buds have definitely changed since I left home and now I can’t eat much without Valentina hot sauce and Tajin on fruit! (Side note: whenever we have any dinner appointments, the families always make so much food! This is their exact thought process: “Oh look, the missionaries are coming over for dinner! They haven't eaten in DAYS and we must fill their tummies!” Of course we always have to finish whatever is put on our plate to avoid being rude.) When we finally finished making all the food at the Valenzuela’s, I was so hungry that I ate 3 tinga tostadas, and later I ate a small slice of tres leches. So good!! It was a regular fiesta and the Valenzuela family is fun to be around, especially the dad -- he's a comedian (when I can understand what he says)!
This week we finally went tracting. Honestly, we don't need to tract a lot because we have so many people to visit and teach already, but since I'm the greenie, I have to learn how to do it from my trainer. We knocked on one or two doors and nobody answered. At the next house, there were some people outside and I walked right up to them and started talking to them. It was nerve racking and I didn't want to do it, but then I remembered mom's advice about having 10 seconds of courage. It was a dad named Francisco and his daughter who spoke English named Angelica. We spoke together for about 10 minutes and Sis Guti was able to find common ground about helping them with their papers. Guti and her family are immigrants and her experience really helps us with investigators and members in our tiny branch. I think we have plans to visit them later on today and hopefully talk about some gospel topics!
On Thursday, we served at the food pantry again from 11:45 to 3:00 p.m. Wendi, the manager invited all the missionaries who have ever volunteered to come that day because she wanted to experiment with a missionary-run food pantry. It was a success and I got to sit up front and work the computer. About halfway through, our Zone Leaders came back from their weekly meeting with President Cannon and gave me a package from the Morton's! Sister Morton hooked me up with a new CD player, a brand new i-home speaker and 7 CD's! Cool things happen when we serve -- this I know to be true! If somebody could give Sister Morton a big hug for me, that would be great! :) Thanks Bro & Sister Morton. Love you!
Yesterday was fast and testimony Sunday and it was so great! Testimony meeting was my favorite part of the day. Lots of our newest members went up and bore testimony. Seeing and hearing what they had to say was sweet, because all they had to say was how much they loved the Savior and how the gospel has blessed their lives in the small amount of time that they have been members. They don't even know how much the Lord has in store and it’s hard to watch Satan brewing darkness and doubt in their hearts. But their strength is simply beautiful and I am so grateful to be a part of their conversion. All of our investigators and members are doing well, but struggle as we all do. I really believe the only way for them to get through this rough period is to pray even harder and work harder, so please pray for them and us.
I’m reading the Libro de Mormon (LDM) and have been studying the condescension of God as described in 1 Ne:11. Throughout this chapter, the angel tells Nephi to look and see the condescension of God; but what he really means is 'look and see how God himself comes from His throne above in his mercy and endless love and sacrifices His son for us. Also, the significance of the tree of life is very interesting. It was said at least 3 different times that the fruit of the tree symbolizes the love of God, which is the most desirable, most precious, and brings our souls joy. It doesn't say that one can have the fruit by kinda following the path; it doesn't say that we can taste the fruit by following the yellow brick road on a detour and eventually merging onto the straight and narrow road. Tasting and experiencing the love of God can ONLY be attained by FOLLOWING along on the straight and narrow path. It’s plain and simple, just as Nephi writes.
Hope everyone has a great week and remembers to pray for strength everyday!!
Hermana Moss :)