Wednesday, April 29, 2015

el 27 de Abril

aaahhh.. another week, come and gone!

our biggest challenge this week is getting hermana Anai to come to church with us. we verify, verify, and knock on the door, but she doesn't really have that desire to attend church with us, which means her baptismal date for this coming Saturday has fallen, and we need to work a little bit more with her.

our biggest concern was friday, when hermana Maryurí told us that she didn't want to get married. which is kind of big problem, because you have to be married to the person you are living with to be baptized. it's kind of a thing... but we had a great lesson with her last night, and she was also interviewed by our district leader, and all is on track for her baptism this coming saturday!

our biggest successes include having four people interviewed, and ready for baptism this saturday, one baptism yesterday. eight investigators at church, and completing the standards of excellence for nicaragua managua south missionaries. this week's baptism is brought to you in part by the help of the Lord, a whole lot of following the spirit, and a little bit of faith. allow me to explain: last friday we were told that hermana lucia would be going out of town for a couple of weeks, to help care for her sick grandma. tuesday we got the impression to call her, and see how it was going. she asked us about the plans for her baptism, and we scrambled to repent and put our faith in the Lord in action. 

she got back into town Friday night, we had her interviewed Saturday morning, and Saturday afternoon we and a few members of her family gathered to help her make this convenant with the Lord. 

my favorite person this week is Asucena, who accepted the calling as second counselor of the Relief Society presidency, just four short weeks after her baptism!

a tender mercy can be found in hermana Elizabeth, the sweetest, most amazing member of the ward. {shhhh don't tell no body!} we made a dinner appointment with them Saturday, and after tracting for about four hours straight, I was hungry and ready to sit down. she made some really great spaghetti and rice, and then we sat down to talk with her and her husband, Santiago (who is the Elders Quorum President) about the needs of our investigators. We got to talking about the complicated marriages that need to happen this coming Saturday, and turns out that they aren't really that confusing or difficult, and her sister who is a lawyer can do them for us for a fraction of what it would have cost us to do them with another lawyer that we know! wooo hoooo!! prayer answered! 

i am most looking forward to another set of baptisms this Saturday, completing a family in the church, and starting another! 

a goal for this week is to eat more fruit, and not so many chips...

something that i have been thinking a lot about these past couple of weeks about the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-9, with the knowledge of the scriptures in Alma 32:37-39.

i got thinking about the types of soil that the Lord distinguishes. according to Luke, the seed the sower sows is the word of God. our hearts are to be understood as the soil. looking at the people i have come in contact with here in Loma Linda, i can find the four examples of soil.

1- the seed that falls by the wayside. people who don't want to even talk to another person. who won't even let you introduce yourself.
2- the seed that falls on stony ground. the people who let you in the house, and listen to the word for a little while, but don't want to act. people who fall away because temptations come and they don't have the roots to sustain themselves.
3- the seed that falls among thorns. the people who accept the word, go forth searching good for a little while, but then seek the worldly recognition and are choked out.
4- the seed that falls on fertile ground. the people whose hearts have been prepared to cultivate the seed. a heart ready to change, grow, and flourish in the Gospel.

i have seen them all here in Loma Linda, and thanks to other missionaries, I have the opportuntity to reap many souls unto the Lord. for the same token, I have the great opportunity to help other hearts, in other fields, to be prepared for a future harvest. 

until the coming week,
hermana graves

el 20 de Abril

so first things first, this happened this week:

​which means, that i really could be an aunt by the time I get home. scary! but I am very excited for Rachel and Eric. they are really cute, and even if Eric didn't write me like he was supposed to, I can still be happy for them!

and then this happened this morning:

​dad ran boston, and finished in 3:24:30. which is faster than i could run a half marathon, if i really tried. he is a humble man, so i will brag for him.

first things first, I would love to thank the sisters that wrote me this week, and their sweet letters! i am currently working on how to write you back using snail mail, but that requires asking the right elders. but thank you, your letters were a grand comfort!

this week:
tuesday: we worked with the sister training leader, Hermana Enniss, who is almost done with her mission. which is sad, because she's amazing. she's ready to go home, and watch Frozen, which she has heard all the music to, but hasn't actually seen yet!

wednesday we played an hour and half long game of Simon Says looking for a member in Camilo Ortega, a really big part of town. turns out his address is really wrong, so we are going to try again this wednesday.

thursday the realization came of what day it is and what the rest of the world is doing. it's april. just three short months until my birthday, and about three weeks until i am a ::normal:: missionary. no bueno

friday, the day the whole wide world decided to have an accident, leave Loma Linda, and never return. this week, we will be doing a lot of contacting, trying to find new people to teach because our teaching records are getting a little scarce.

saturday was feliz cumpleaños to hermana gladis, the great cocinera. 

domingo, a rough day healthwise, but thanks to some natural and modern medicine, i am feeling a lot better.

1. biggest challenge: staying postive through bad health of me and my investigators
2. biggest concern: getting the marriage of four investigators in the books
3. biggest success: having two investigators pray for the first time, sincerely!
4. favorite person and why: hermana gladis rojas, becuase she's pretty much the cutest!

i mean, who doesn't love a little sass?!

5. most significant tender mercy: ibuprofen
6. looking forward to: working in different/new parts of our area to find new people
7. goals for this week: better my spanish grammar
8. scripture: john 5:39 ::search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.:: 

we have placed a large emphasis these past few weeks with our converts on daily scripture study, not just reading. but pondering, thinking, ::how does this apply in my life? what is [insert book of mormon writer here] trying to say to me?:: and praying for inspiration.

this really works. when we pray for inspiration from the scriptures, we will receive. the scriptures are here to help us know the will of God in our lives. we need only open our eyes, and read.

hermana graves

el 13 de Abril

remember tang and the gorilla? well, tang here is a like kool-aid, urbdy gotta have some. five gallons of water, five tang, and 2 litros of sugar, and you have five gallons of happiness for any nicaraguan native. it's either tang, mango juice, this drink with water and a type of oatmeal, or soda pop to drink here. water is something saved for Hermana Gladis if I can at all avoid it. It's kind of been an unspoken rule for me here: try it, love it, drink/eat it all or try it, hate it, drink/eat it all. because the people here sacrifice their FOOD, which is not a lot, to share with you and it's the least I can do. the mom of Jose Javier, who I will talk more about, shared this with us this week, and everything minus the plaintain was delicious! it almost tasted like Grandma's Lake Powell Chicken. 

tuesday we got to get up and go to a "reunión de nuevos" which means meeting of news in english. all of the missionaries that entered the field with me were their with our trainers. we had the opportunity to receive some guidance and also to verify our progress/training. i was one of about half of the missionaries that completed my 42 lesson plans for the 42 gospel principles in the 5Preach My Gospel lessons. Let me tell ya, it was a long process, but definitely worth the time. It's really nice to be able to pull scriptures out of a hat and use them in lessons. we talked about a lot of things, but one of my favorite take-aways was a comment made by President Russell: he asked Hermana Garfield who we are supposed to invite to come unto Christ, and who we are to contact. she replied, "chosen families." lovingly the response came, "no. your purpose as a missionary is to invite all to come unto Christ, talke with everyone, and that's how you find the chosen ones." i love the connotation in that, we don't get to make the decision who is chosen and who is not, we just get to be a hand in their conversion. and maybe right now, they aren't chosen and they aren't ready for baptism, but one day they will be. of the six baptisms i have been a part of, three of them were antiguos or old investigators who the missionaries had stopped visting. you read that right, only half of my baptisms have been someone cold contacted, first time ever talking with the missionaries. 

and speaking of baptisms......

Jose Javier was so ready for baptism during his interview Friday, that the district leader decided we could baptism the following day! let me tell you how stressful that is! my companion was in alta gracia, on splits while I was working with the Sister Training Leader, and I had to get all the details put together because hermana gomez wouldn't be back until saturday afternoon, just six short hours before the baptism. i called sister gomez right after we left Jose Javier's house and together we got the water figured out (because we haven't had water in the church for two weeks!), who was going to baptism him, who was going to be there as a member of the bishopric, and calling of the young men I could think of to see if they could be there to support him. believe it or not, Jose Javier is 14 years old, and is all ready a great example for his sister, who has a baptismal date for the 25th. 

and now for mom's favorite part: questions!

What had been your biggest challenge this week? my right foot is really bothering me, and the pain is making walking rather comical for hermana gomez. i have tried the last couple of days to just work through the pain, but yesterday was a little much, so i caved and took some tylenol to help the pain.
What has been your biggest concern? our baptism for this week, who needs to put a ring on it, but she's underage, so we are working with our beloved friend, Howard, to get it all squared away.
What has been your biggest success? handling the situation of Jose Javier for the most part rather calmly, and not freaking out about the stress of it all.
Who has been your favorite person this week and why? Jose Javier, and can you guess why?
What has been your most significant tender mercy? the opportunity to read Jesus the Christ and nurture my relationship with Him through learning more about His life.
What are you looking forward to this coming week? another baptism! and some better health
Do you have a goal set for this coming week? Tell me about it? as a companionship, we have a goal to use more the points of Preach My Gospel in our teaching efforts
Which scripture has had the biggest impact on you this week? doctrine and covenants 18:10, 14-16

my purpose is to cry repentance to all people, not just those who i choose. my purpose is to invite all and follow the Spirit to find those chosen few.

may god be with you til i write again,
the tennesse hermana

this is Elizabeth, the mom of Andres, the little boy whose picture I sent a couple of weeks ago with my tag. Elizabeth is probably my favorite ward member, and is currently preparing to enter the temple!

el 06 de Abril

this week i finished the book of mormon as a missionary, and can i say who cool is it to read the book of mormon as a missionary!? it's so amazing to see and listen to the gift of the Holy Ghost that allows all things to be brought to your rememberance, especially when you read it in English inthe morning and can find it in Spanish a few hours later. hermana gomez and i are starting something with the youth here: read the book of mormon in 90 days, or complete it by the 30th of june. its going to be a stretch for some of them, but most of them have only read chapters of it, not all of it from cover to cover. all of them are converts, so we are going to help them build and fortify their testimony of the book of mormon to help them find the answers to lives questions. this is something to help the ward, which is really struggling, so if you're the praying type, *hint hint*

my marcas or suntan lines are getting progressively worse or darker, however you want to look at the glass, and hermana gomez loves to show them to everyone the contrast between my white skin and my not-so-white skin. the line on my neck is probably the best one, because most of my shirts are cut the same way. my feet are getting pretty great too.

we had cambios or exchanges this week, which means that we got a new district leader, elder mateo, and a new sister in our district Sister Boulton. elder mateo is from the dominican republic and speaks very quickly. sister boulton is front tooele utah and will leave the same time that hermana gomez will. how sad! we got a few fresh greengos this week in our zone, and it kind of helped me see how much i have really learned and how far i have come. there are times that its really hard to see your progress, but then you lean down to help another, and see how far you can reach. almost all of the people here have nice things to say about my spanish, and that my accent is great. hermana gomez doesn't like to speak to some of the greengos here because their american accent gets in the way. that is my goal, not to sound like a greengo, and so far, so good.
the story behind this: carlos loco, the son of hermana gladis, has a fake eye, and elder mateo and carlos have a great relationship (in three days, mind you). carlos said, here do you want to see my eye!? so, of course elder mateo had to touch it and look at it... eeww gross!

this is the great hermana gladis, hard at work, making the world's best spanish casserole ever. 

​a new pictures of hermana gomez and i. yesterday it started to rain while we were out contacting, but we trudged onward, and ended up seeking refuge in the house of a recent convert, Frank. his abuelo was home, and we got to kind of share photos and wait out the rain. its really nice here when we have rain, and surprisingly i dried quickly.

conference this week was interesting. we as nic man sur missionaries have to bring four investigators to each session of conference in order to stay and listen. we had two planned for each one of the saturday sessions, but both of them fell through with about an hour to spare because of material needs. sunday was great though! we had five investigators in the morning session, and were able to stay and watch the afternoon session without investigators. it was kind of hard because it was all in spanish, but thankfully the spirit works great miracles in the hearts of saints, and i was able to understand a little bit. sister boulton was astonished that i was getting anything out of conference, because apparently she didn't get anything out of her first one, and she had three months in the mission by that point. for all those to know, i did not understand the spanish talk, although i tried very hard to pay attention and get something. i love that they scanned over the stand, and you get to kind of see all of the attitudes and personalities of the apostles. LOVE IT!! something else that i noticed, was that the mormon tabernacle choir has acquired some fairly young singers, which is awesome!.

easter is a great big holiday here, and takes up the whole week before easter sunday. everybody goes home to mom and dad, which means that loma linda was awfully quiet. which means bad things for numbers. but thankfully, we were able to work and have some success. we had to start work an hour early and return to the house an hour early because the borrachos or drunks come out really early. lets just say, that i can see why we have studies in the mornings and not at night.

1.What has been your biggest challenge this week? finding people to talk to!!
2. What has been your biggest concern? having families and people to teach
3. What has been your biggest success? having five people at general conference!
4. Who has been your favorite person this week? Why? jeffery r holland, because even in spanish, the man has great power.
5. What has been your most significant tender mercy? having the opportunity to even sit and listen to general conference, and being able to sing and listen to the hymns. there is just great power in music.
6. What are you looking forward to this coming week? actually having people in the streets to talk with, after a week of nobody...
7. Do you have a goal set for this coming week? this week i have a goal to do an act of service, something small, for someone each day.
8.Which scripture has had the biggest impact on you this week? doctrine and covenants 6:32-37:  Verily, verily, I say unto you, as I said unto my disciples, where two or three are gathered together in my name, as touching one thing, behold, there will I be in themidst of them—even so am I in the midst of you. Fear not to do good, my sons, for whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward. Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sinno more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you. Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit thekingdom of heaven. Amen.

may god be with you til i write again
hermana graves

el 30 de Marzo

i didn't think i would get excited about a new agenda, and then we got a new one, and all that went out the window. i am so excited for my new agenda!! i have come to find out that "a normal day in the mission" doesn't exist. a normal day is a day that doesn't go as planned at all. and thank goodness for the little space each day called ::back up plan:: or we would be up a creek pretty much everyday. my district has it right when he says that your agenda is the order of how you are going to see people, not the time. and that's almost 100% accurate.

its always an interesting week, and i have really come to love my study time. this week, i found the november 2012 liahona, which is the conference edition where President Monson changed the mission age, and planted the seed for me to even be here. i have been reading through some of the talks. i can't help but love Elder Anderson's talk. Something we talk a lot about with our recent converts is trials and perserving in ALL trials, especially those of our faith. Elder Nelso quotes President Benson when he said "every person eventually is backed up to the wall of faith and there must make his stand." and that is so true, hermanos. our trials are here to help us grow and learn. Moroni asks for our forgiveness for his weakness in writing, but also says "give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections that ye may be more wise than we have been." *mormon 9:31* we are given trials to help other people through theirs later in life. Spencer W. Kimball said "God does notice us. and He watches over us, but it is usually through another person that he meets our needs." and i believe that wholeheartedly. we weren't meant to walk this path alone. family, friends, the Church, and Jesus Christ are here to walk this path alongside us and support us in our times of need. Elder Anderson goes on to say "when you are faced with a test of faith, stay within the safety and security of the household of God. no trial is so large we can't overcome it together." and that is so true. "distancing yourself from the kingdom of God during a trial of faith is like leaving the saftey of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes into view." we are here to help and support each other. the scriptures say "the church did meet together oft, to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls." *moroni 6:5* our job as friends and church members is to support each other. be the answer to someone's prayer today. pray for opportunities to serve, and then go out and look for them.

this week was weird, but i have come to realize that missionary work is weird. but weird is great! i love it here, and changes are hard. this week is transfers and we found out tomorrow night who is leaving, and who is staying. all good things must come to an end, and my good thing gets to stay just a little while longer. these are some pictures of my district, hermana abadilo and hermana mcarthur; elder weyand and elder valesquez; hermana gomez and i.

lots of love friends.
hermana graves