Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 89: "Rediscovering the Christmas spirit!"

Dearest friends and family,

Merry Christmas eve! Oh, today is the best day ever! There is no better time to be a missionary than during the Christmas season. As excited as I am to talk to you tomorrow, I am a little sad that it means that Christmas is over. I wish it was Christmas time every day! It's so much easier to talk to people and teach lessons. We ask people if we can share the story of Christ's birth with them and people are so much more willing to let us in. And then we always share a little more about the restoration and Joseph Smith and it leads to us teaching more lessons. The spirit of Christ and His birth is so beautiful and strong! 

We had a really good week. Sometimes I get a little discouraged because even for how many lessons we teach and new investigators we find, people aren't coming to church-which is just so important! We do everything we can but still people have their own agency to choose and so even after all we can do, they decide not to act. I've been learning to look forward, with brightness of hope. Truly, it's all I can do. Just be patient and trust in the timing of the Lord. When we first meet so many people, we come away from the first lesson filled with the spirit, SO excited to see them progress and change their lives. We see so much potential and feel so much love. The trick is keeping that vision for our investigators, even when they start slipping and not keeping commitments. We have to see everyone the way the Lord sees them-their true and magnificent potential-and we have to love them the way the Lord loves them. He loves everyone SO much. The more I understand that, and feel that for others, the more I see how much the Lord loves me, and trusts me and sees my grand potential. Sister Tippetts was explaining to me that the further out she gets on her mission, and the more she learns, the more she sees how much more there is to learn. The more our testimonies grow and our knowledge of the scriptures increase, the more room we see for improvement! 

Like in Ether 12:27 where it talks about how when we come closer to God, the more we recognize our weaknesses.
"27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them theiraweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them."

This week I went to Othello for exchanges! I was so excited because I've just been itching to get to Othello since I first got my call. It was so great because one of my SOAR students, Keave, happened to be one of the members going out to teach with us for the night. It felt so funny because I knew it was only this past summer that I was living in a far off land of Provo, helping out with SOAR. It feels like worlds ago. 

I also got to see the Boucks! It was precious. They were beyond thrilled to see me and I just felt so happy like they were an extra part of my family on my mission. It was a little confirmation to me that I am serving in my mission-Spokane Washington. It's my place to be and serve and love. I love it so much.

Today, we are doing a white elephant gift exchange with all the missionaries in Moses Lake (thanks to me of course! Sister Tippetts and I were trying to think of a fun way to spend our P-day Christmas eve and I thought of getting cheap dollar item things and doing a little exchange! We are super excited!). One thing I didn't expect from my mission was the friendships you make with all the missionaries serving around you. Especially for the elders in my district, we have so much fun together. I just always think of my little brothers going out to serve soon (and someday soon) and I love them so much. Moses Lake is probably the biggest area with the most missionaries (well on this side of the mission) and so it will be a great little fiesta. I can't wait to explain more when I talk to you tomorrow because there are so many details of missionary life that you never hear about. Being a missionary is the best thing ever.

I never thought I would feel this way, but I am so grateful I have two mission Christmases. I know that I have 812379 more wonderful Christmases with my family for the rest of my life but right now, right here in Moses Lake, I get to spread the joy of Christmas with those who really, really need it. I've never been so full of joy. We are visiting a single, less-active sister tomorrow who has no plans, no family, hardly ever any visitors, and we are going to bring her treats and the love of Christ. She was so surprised and touched when we showed up on her doorstep and asked her if we could come back on Christmas. Oh, I am just so excited to cheer her up! This is what Christmas is about. Like Elder Holland's message in the Ensign, "I can truly say that because of my mission, Christmas, like so many other aspects of the gospel, has meant more to me every year since that experience." I know I really am learning the importance of the message of Christ. So many people need the joy and peace of the gospel. 

I know this message is true! I love the Book of Mormon so much. Everyday I read it, I find new things and learn more about my Savior. I'm having the best time of my life as a missionary! 

Love you all!

Can't wait to talk to you!

Hermana Em

Em with the Grandparent Boucks!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day 82: I glory in plainness, I glory in truth

Loves of mine,
Christmas is the best time ever to be a missionary! I keep telling Sister Tippetts that I wish everyday was Christmastime on our mission. And then she said that missionary work is also awesome in the Summer and then we talked about all times of the year so I imagine it's pretty much always great to be a missionary. Did you get my Christmas card? I didn't realize how early BYU let out so I hope Becky and Jacob got their cards before they left for home.
This week, Jonathan got baptized! He is such a sweet, cute kid. Afterwards he told us, "I just feel the Holy Spirit!" So great. He will be a wonderful missionary someday! We teach such amazing kids. So pure hearted and innocent. They recognize the truth and have sincere desires to follow Christ. We have been teaching a few families where the kids are more interested then the parents. It's tough because we really want the whole family to be converted together and we know that if only the kids accept the gospel, they will have the hardest time continuing to stay active and going to church their whole lives.
I went to East Wenatchee for exchanges this last week and this week I'm finally going to Othello! Home of the Boucks! I'm getting nervous that I may be transferred next transfer. I don't want to leave Moses Lake yet. I love the members. I love the people we teach. I know I will love wherever I serve but I just want so badly to have one more transfer here. We've just started teaching some really amazing families and I want to be here to see them progress. I know the mission work will move forward whether I'm here or not but oh man, I'd love, love, love to stay here!
Here's some pictures cause I'm for a loss of words today. So much happens in a week and I can't ever quite put it all into one email. I'm so glad I can talk with y'all and tell you so much more!
 I'm not sure what order the pictures are in but here's what's going on:
1. Some sisters in our ward own a little chocolate shop and we stopped in one day to help out. It was so fun. Kind of like my dream come true. Sister Roylance took a picture and texted one to you, did you ever recieve that, mom?

2. Walter (he is one of our recent converts) works on a farm with chickens, cleaning and feeding them and sometimes they have dud (sp?) eggs so he brought some home to show his daughters. Turns out they hatched! I was a little bit freaked out because I've never actually held a chick in my life (what kind of childhood did I have??) But it was just a tender moment in my mission. Life is full of so many joyful experiences. I could hold onto this memory forever just because I know that the life Ana and Walter had before their baptism was so different. There is a different feeling in their home. They are converted to Christ and you can feel His spirit in their home. Family and chicks and love. 
Nothing better! 

3. It snowed! Oh, it was majestic. I was eating it up. Sister Tippetts didn't love it so much because she had to drive through it, but it was just so beautiful and still. So pure and lovely. It feels like Christmas with the snow all around.

4.Jonathan and Genaro before his baptism. I was so proud of Genaro! He really has been changed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was so sweet to see him take his role as priesthood holder in his home. He worked hard to memorized the baptismal prayer and he did perfect! So precious and cute. I love their family so much. What a blessing to be a part of it all.

5. There is a terrible picture of me right before bed, after we finished our daily planning. But I have three tags now! I lost the one on my coat so I ordered a new one and they accidently ordered the wrong kind so they ordered another and so now I have three.

6. Behind the chapel where the Spanish branch meets is a little light show/nativity scene. You can drive by and tune in with your radio to watch the show. It's so cute. It's for the whole stake and they do it every year but this was the first year they had it where the Spanish branch meets. And it's in Spanish too. I just love these people are their little efforts to follow Christ.

I know there is more I want to tell you but I'm nearly out of time. Love you lots! I can email you next week before we skype on Tuesday, so yay!
Thanks for the letters. Love every bit of them. And don't worry. I print out the things you email me and read them later on.
Have a great week!
Hermana Em

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 75: For my soul delighteth!

Queridos Chaparitos,
You can know when I'm up to date in my journal writing when I know how many days I've been on my mission. I don't count the days to be trunky but I just like to look through to see how far I've come and what I've learned. It's cool to look back on day 5 or 7 in the MTC when I felt like I was there forever! I've been in Moses Lake for nearly 2 months and I can hardly believe it. This is my home. I love it here so much. I love my wards and the people and the work. This is exactly where I'm supposed to be right now.
And I am having the best time of my life. Seriously. Sister Tippetts and I were best friends in heaven and then we decided to serve in the same wonderful mission together and we get to be best friends on earth again. It's so wonderful and fun and enjoyable to serve and work with her! She's like my Becky Jones on the mission. We aren't exactly the same but we balance each other well and we are both super funny. Even in the tough times and the sad stuff, it's nice to have Sister Tippetts by my side to lift me up and help me learn. I seriously love it so much. I don't want this transfer to ever end. Sister Tippetts was saying how we always seem to be with our favorite companions for the least amount of time and the hard companions for the longest so we have a feeling this companionship won't get to last too long. It's just too good to be true. But it will be such a wonderful Christmas.
Elder Ballard explained that missionaries need to have 20 quality, gospel conversations per day, outside of lessons being taught. When I first heard that I thought it would be easy because we talk to everyone all the time. But a quality conversation means that we are talking and teaching of Christ and extending invitations to people to learn more. Since we are in a car all the time, it's kind of hard to find people to talk to. Ideally, we want to talk to 140 people a week but for most of the missionaries here we've been excited if we talk to 30 or so. Sister Tippetts is awesome though because she really had the fire for QGCs and wanted to meet our goal of 140. And so we worked our tails off. The first three days we hit 20 each day but Thursday was a little tough because it's our planning day and we are inside until about 3 or 4 (yuck! I would rather spend all day tracting that sitting inside planning!) but our final total for the whole week was 104 people! And we had 11 new investigators and 28 lessons! I don't want you to think that we focus a lot on our numbers because really we try to focus on people, but it was an exciting week. We met a lot of our goals and even though there were tough times too, we just saw so many blessings from the Lord. It was an incredible week of miracles! And the miracles didn't just come from talking to all the people. I'm not sure if we really had any new investigators from the QGCs but somehow, because we were trying so hard, and showing diligence to the Lord, he blessed us in other ways. There is definitely power in QGCs and showing diligence and dedication to the work!
Jonathan is getting baptized this upcoming Saturday! So all the Avilas will be baptized before Christmas! I'm so excited for their family. And Jonathan's dad, Genaro will be performing the baptism and using his new Priesthood authority! All of the branch are recent converts of some degree and it's exciting to see them grow in the gospel. I really love the branch. The all work so hard and do all they know how to do to. Purest hearts, sweetest intentions. I want to come home and serve in Spanish branches forever.
The 6th Ward feels like home to me. I feel like I'm home every time we visit different families here. I feel like it's home with the bishop and our ward mission leader and with the primary president and elder's quorum president. I can't express all my love really. It's just so good to be serving here! We have the best ward council in the 6th ward. We started teaching a young, single mom, Brittney and she accepted a baptism date for Jan 5th! It's pretty exciting because the 6th ward hasn't had a convert baptism since April. The members are so good and they really want to help in missionary work, but it's so hard to find people to teach. It's easy in Spanish because people will let you into their humble homes no problem. Pasanse! They tell us. But English families, who do well and have nice families, don't really want to hear our message. But Brittney moved into the extra room of the home of one of our former investigators/less-active families and so it just all came together perfectly for us to teach her. She really wants to learn more and come unto Christ and feel His love in her life. She is so great. She came to our Christmas party and now the ward wants to do everything possible to help her reach her goal. It's really cool to be a part of a ward council that is so dispuesto a servir!
Well, there is always more to say, but not enough time.
I love being a missionary! I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know He is my Savior. He is the reason for the season. It's so joyous to be a missionary because we are always thinking of Christ and how we can be more like Him. There is nothing sweeter, truly.
Happy week!
Le quiero muchisimo!
Hermana Em

Monday, December 3, 2012

He is in the details of our lives

Dear Little Family,

Sister Tippetts are I going to see so many miracles this transfer! I'm already so happy and excited to work with her. 

I love both my wards so much. This past Friday, Sister Tippetts had a training all day in Spokane (she's the new traveling sister so get ready for more exchanges!) and so I stayed with a few members during the day to finish my studies. I went and had breakfast with the Williams-he is the EQ president-and then did my morning study while the little kids got ready and played. Their home is so cute! Being on my mission makes me so excited to be a mother. I see so many examples of how I want my future home to be. Full of love, and Christ and the gospel! Then I went over to the Richard's home. Sister Richards served a mission and I'm positive I want to be her when I grow up. She is crazy and fun and her house is FULL of color everywhere. I just saw a vision for my future life while I was in their home. She teaches her children so well and I was just thinking of how my mission will truly shape the rest of my life. I feel like everything I know about the gospel, the testimony I have and the love I cherish for the Scriptures and for Christ has really all come from my mission. It's only been 2 months but it's changed my life in so many ways. My mission means everything to me!

We've had a pretty bitter-sweet week. Highs and lows. Good, great, beautiful times. And also some pretty sad times. Genaro and Claudia were married on Friday and baptized on Saturday! It was so amazing and wonderful. I just have loved seeing their family grow in faith. It's a real tender mercy to be part of it all. I know that if they can stay faithful and if their son, Anthony can go on to serve a mission in 5 years, their family will continue to see so many blessings. The spirit of Christ is in their home now and they can feel and recognize the difference. It's during times like this, where I can witness families coming closer by coming unto Christ that missionary work is just to fulfilling and sweet. 

Also,  their next-door neighbors-Nancy and her kids are all getting baptized on Christmas day! It's going to be a beautiful, white Christmas! It's a miracle and we'll have to work SO hard to really help them make this day but I know that the Lord can do anything. Sister Tippetts and I are going to give it our all. It will be such a wonderful Christmas for their family! We made prayer rocks with their family last week to get them excited about saying prayers and they all loved it. It's so fun to teach families and we really are blessed to have this opportunity. As I understand from other areas, Moses Lake really is special. I'm so happy to be here and I just want to embrace each day cause who knows how long I get to spend here!]

Arturo, Virginia's husband hasn't chosen a baptismal date yet and so he's not progressing or moving towards anything. He reads his scriptures everyday (well he listens to the Book of Mormon because he can't read) and he is praying and going to church, but we've been in the same boat with him for a month. So we are giving him a breather. He wants to be baptized but he is waiting to feel right-to feel like he just HAS to be baptized. So we told him to call us when he is ready. We will still teach Virginia the new member lessons and we will see him at church but it's pretty sad to let him go. But we have to help the people that are progressing and spend our time finding those ready to change their lives!

Brenda and Fernando were getting ready to be baptized on January 12th but yesterday when we passed by to pick them up for church, Brenda said she didn't want to go and that they didn't want to have any more lessons with us. It was so heart-breaking. Oh man, I'm still pretty sad about it. It's hard to not let things like this get you discouraged-because I know how much the gospel of Jesus Christ will bless their lives! If only, they knew what I knew! But we have to keep moving forward-it just means there are people out there-waiting and ready to accept our message.

But then-last night we had an appointment with Maria who is a referral we received from the Elders. We had tried this lady before but she was NEVER home so we had almost given up on her. Then we went earlier this week and she said Sunday would work for her. We stopped by last night and we had a quick lesson on her doorstep. Her husband was sleeping so we just stayed outside in the cold. We taught about the restoration and our purpose as missionaries. We asked her if she would be baptized if she prayed and found out what we taught her was true. She said yes! Then we asked her if she would prepare for January 5th and she said, YES! It was unreal. She just liked everything we were teaching and saying. After a hard day yesterday, it was such a nice tender mercy!

It's been pretty crazy and awesome taking over the area this last week. I'm constantly surprised by how well I know the city. I'm positive I don't even know Provo or McKinney this well. I'm certain it's a little gift from God. It was so helpful that Sister Hicks was traveling sister last transfer because I really had to learn the area quickly. I'm trying to help our Sister Tippetts with her new calling and I think she wants to me show the newest missionary around this week for exchanges! It's always nice for me to have to step up and take more responsibility. I feel like that's when I have to push myself and I really learn more about the language and the work. 

One of our members in the branch, Lorena Sandoval is like our 3rd companion. She is so wonderful and will call us when she can come out with us. We try to have members at so many of our lessons so it's always a blessing when someone volunteers their time! She joined the church 3 years ago and her testimony is so strong! She came on a miracle church tour with us this week and it was incredible! The Munoz family live out in the farm country which is the boundaries for our 6th ward and usually it's all English speakers out there so it's pretty neat that we found them too! Sister Hicks met them a while back and she was dying for us to get out there and teach them but the only time we made it out was the VERY LAST day of the transfer. It was SUPER foggy (it's foggy here all the time) and it was freaking me out to be driving out in the country where it's pitch-black and 4 pm. I told Sister Hicks that I wasn't feeling good about going out there and she was getting worried too. "Are you nervous because of the fog or you have a bad feeling about trying the Munoz family??" I couldn't decide! But we went out there anyway. Agostine answered the door half asleep but he was still so kind and friendly to us. We set up an appointment for this past Tuesday and it was amazing! They have a good faith in Christ. I could just envision Agostine being the next branch president! We set up the church tour that Lorena came on and it was the best church tour I've had on my mission. The spirit testified of truth and I think it really clicked for them. They asked so many good questions and we just bore simple testimonies of Christ. It was pretty powerful. They said they would start reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know if it's true. We have an appointment tonight with his wife, Maricela and so cross your fingers it all works out. I'd give everything I had to see them join the church and rejoice in the fullness of the gospel!

Lorena also came to the wedding on Friday night and afterwards we waited around for Claudia and Genaro's baptismal interviews. While we waited, she asked us if we knew how to conduct music. She told us it was one of her great desires to lead the music someday. How tender, right??! Sister Tippetts taught her how and it was so precious as they counted out loud and practiced different songs. It was the sweetest moment of my mission. The hispanic people have such good hearts. I love Lorena so much and her desire to follow Christ and keep moving forward in the gospel. She is preparing to enter the temple soon and I'm so happy for her. The church continues to move forward! I'm so blessed to be a part of it all.

Well, that was a lot, huh?

Always so much to say and share! I know that Christ lives and he is our Savior! Invite Him into your home this Christmas! 


Hermana Em