Ok so this week has been the craziest week of my entire mission. I don't even know where to start because so much happened this week. Well I guess first off we'll start with transfer news. At 9pm on Saturday Sister Biancardi and I received a phone call telling us that we are both being transferred. We were in shock. I've been feeling for this past week that I was going to be transferred, but it didn't even cross my mind that Sister Biancardi would be being transferred as well. We didn't even believe the district leader when he told us we were being transferred. Then the tears started to come and we have spent a good portion of the last 24 hours in off and on tears. Saying goodbye is the absolute worst. Church was so hard yesterday. I kept looking around at the people that have become my friends and family and it was painful to think that I have to leave all of them. In relief society both the president and her counselors started to cry when they thanked us for our service which made me cry. We have become very close to the Relief Society president in our ward. Just a few weeks ago we had dinner with her and had such a lovely conversation about missions and missionary work. Then not even a week later she broke her ankle at the gym. So we went and visited and asked if there was anything we could do to help. She told us that if we could find her a wheelchair it would be a huge help. So we set off in search of a wheel chair. Then this week we were talking to Hermano Arroyo after we had finished a service project, and we asked if he knew anyone with a wheelchair. He said well I do, but you send the elders over and they can get it out of the attic. Sister Biancardi and I were not going to believe that the elders could get the chair and we couldn't, so we told him we would. So we went up to the attic and - props to him - his attic is the equivalent of Grandma Z's basement. :-) It has everything. The only difference is the ceiling is low and you have to watch where you step so you don't step down through the kitchen ceiling. We then did our best acrobatic impression and we worked our way through the stuff and finally reached the wheel chair. I think Hermano Arroyo was impressed by our ability to crawl and slither across to the wheelchair. It actually was a little bit of a work out and when we finally got the chair, I turned to my companion and said thank goodness we were wearing pants, because that would have been impossible in a skirt! We were so excited to bring the chair to the relief society president that when she saw us coming up the walk grinning like school girls she knew something was up and she was so surprised and grateful that we actually found a wheel chair for her to use. I am going to miss this ward so much. Yesterday we spent most of the day going to each of our investigators and letting them know we would both be leaving on Tuesday and the question everyone asked was why why why? We tried to explain that we believe we are called to certain areas for certain times by inspiration, but it still was difficult for most of them to understand. It was hard for people to understand when Hermana Cruz left, but with both of us leaving it's even harder.
So the week started off really well. On Monday night we were fed dinner by an investigator. It was chili colorado and it was super yummy. She had her sister with her kids and her son with his kids all there so there were like 10 kids all together. We taught them to sing the wise man built his house upon the rock in English and Spanish. They loved singing - with all the hand signs of course! Then I brought out my camera to take a picture and it was like Christmas morning. They all wanted to take pictures and then see themselves in the pictures. After we took the pictures, I had all the kids trying to see, so they were crowding in as close as they could get and I was laughing and trying make sure I didn't get squished!
So the other reason that this week was amazing was this week was my first baptism. So about a week and half ago we were told that there was an eleven year old girl who had been coming to church with her grandpa for most of her life, but right now her mother was just starting to come back to church and so she wanted to be baptized. So we started teaching her last Sunday and we set her baptism date for the middle of May.
Fun side note: Her mother is a translator, so she listens to all sorts of different accents and she can tell where people come from by how they speak Spanish. When we were talking, she said you learned Spanish in Spain didn't you? I was a little surprised because I hadn't told her about living in Spain as a kid and asked how she knew. That's when she told me about her job and she said that I have a slight Spain accent to my way of speaking . I guess I will have to work harder to try and fit in down here. I don't know if I ever wrote this but one day at dinner one of the ward members said I don't have an American accent and that I sound native, so I was pretty excited about that. :)
Ok enough of my side note... So on Tuesday her mother called and said we have been praying and don't know why, but Alexa's baptism needs to be this Saturday can you make it happen? So we spent the rest of the week making sure that Alexa was prepared for baptism and Sister Biancardi and I both felt very at peace with her decision, so we did everything in our power to make it a special occasion. It turned out wonderful. Alexa is just one of the sweetest 11 year olds you will ever meet and she was so ready to be baptized. It was a Spanglish baptism because Alexa understands English better. The baptism was simple but beautiful and the spirit was so strong. One of the neatest experiences was that we brought another investigator that we just met this past week who is 15 to the baptism. We originally met Meribel's mother outside contacting and then spent 5 weeks trying to get back in touch with the mother and then this week we met Meribel. She actually started to tear up during one of the talks and afterwards she said she had been to a lot of different churches before but she never had felt this before and she wants to get baptized! Which is another reason why leaving this area right now is so hard. Meribel was so sad to hear that we were leaving, but we promised her that she would love the new sisters coming in and that the important thing is that the spirit is the real teacher. It has been such a blessing to serve in this area. I know that I am staying down south and will find out tomorrow exactly where I am going. I am excited to serve the Lord in a new area and I am a little nervous that new area might be a bike area and I am going to need to buy some shorts! Yay for surprises every single day of the mission! I hope you have a great week and I am sending lots of love your way!
So another wonderful week in the grand ol' state of Texas. I can't get over how nice the weather is down here. We have had some really nice weather this week and I keep having to remind myself that this is just April and if April feels like August back home then I'd better brace myself for the summer.
So it feels like it has been a short week and that I just emailed. We are still working with lots of different people. One investigator we went to this week, before we started teaching we were just chatting because her sister was visiting so we were getting to know her a little. So she asked us what our names were and we said Hermana Klaus and Hermana Biancardi and then she asked us what are our first names. We don't mind telling our first names when investigators ask for them, but we always say that as missionaries we go by sister and then our last names. So I told them my name and then our investigator asked if I liked being called kati kati and I was confused and then she started asking about gatos. I was really confused when it clicked with her sister and me at the exact same time and then we were both laughing because she thought I was kitty like a cat. So she was saying kitty kitty and when our investigator realized the difference she was laughing. Sometimes the littlest things can be the funniest. :-)
This morning we also stopped and took pictures at Amen Corner because how could we not seeing as we are missionaries and we pray a lot!
So a fun little miracle story this week. We were knocking on doors and we were not having a ton of success, so we were heading back to our car and we saw this door with purple curtains so we decided to knock on it before leaving. We knocked and the lady who answered wasn't interested, but we chatted for a few minutes. Then as we were getting to our car which we parked on the street there was this little old lady facing away from us and she was standing by this bush and her movements looked like she was lost or confused so we walked over to see if she needed help. We walked up behind and said excuse me and then asked if she needed help to which she replied yes yes I need to cross this street but the cars are too fast. So we got her between us and we helped her cross the street, so she could get to her bus. As we crossed the street I felt like a boy scout and all I needed was the little sash and a stop sign and I would have been official! Then while we were walking her to the bus station she was asking us who we are and telling us that we must be some sort of good people because we stopped to help her. Then she told us how right before we showed up she had been saying a prayer asking the Lord to send her someone to help her across the street and just when she finished her prayer was when we asked if she needed help. It was a neat little experience how the lord can put us in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to help those around us. If we had decided not to knock on that one last door we would have already been in our car and would have driven away before ever knowing that in just a few minutes someone was going to need help. It wasn't a big miracle, but it was a miracle to me.
Yesterday was also a really wonderful day. We extended 3 baptismal invitations with dates and we had three investigators accept them! It's so amazing working with people helping them to come unto Christ. I know that each of their lives will be blessed so much by following the example of the savior.
So guess what? I decided to get my hair cut super short and I dyed it dark brown! I figured that I didn't want to have a lot of hair this summer with the temperatures that are so common down here in summer. Ha ha, ok just kidding, but we did get to have some fun playing around during a dinner appointment trying on some wigs. I am including the picture of me with short hair, so you can see what I would look like if I ever decided to go with short hair. Sister Biancardi went for the longer hair look, so we basically just traded hair roles.
I had another exchange this week with a sister down here in El Paso named Hermana Mitchell. She came in the same day as Hermana Biancardi, but she is 19 - so she is one of the young ones. We had a really great time together, but the crazy story is of driving to the exchange. So I will be the first to admit I really dislike city driving and city driving at night is the worst. We were exchanging around 8pm so it was already dark and we were meeting in more of the downtown area of El Paso. The other sisters were a little late and we were trying to find a good place to meet because none of us know that part of town really well. We decided to drive up a little ways farther to see if there was a better place to meet (at this point we were stopped in a gas station). So I pulled out to the road and was just telling Hermana Biancardi how much a disliked city driving in part because there are so many one way streets and they are all narrow etc. So as we are talking I pull out on this street to head farther south and I am looking at these stoplights and that they are facing backwards. All of the sudden the horror hits me that we are doing exactly what I had been telling her was my biggest fear 5 seconds earlier. Yep we were on a one way road going the wrong way! Luckily there were no cars and I was quickly able to fix my mistake, but my dislike of city driving has just increased. In my defense there was no sign coming out of the gas station that said one way, so people that live there and know that street is one way would be fine, but for someone who has never been in that part of town in the dark it's just asking for trouble. If that's not enough car trouble for one week, the low tire pressure light came on and so in the morning two sisters in skirts had to figure out how to check the tire pressure and fill it up at the gas station. Of course the gas station closest to us was broken, so we said a little prayer that we would be able to go to our first appointment and then fix the tire pressure and that we wouldn't blow a tire and have to try and fix that in skirts too!
So in missionary news we had two really exciting miracle people this week. The lady who we talked to outside by the BBQ is amazing. We are teaching her and she just wants to know everything there is to know. She keeps saying how God put us in her path and she is so lucky we are teaching her. The funniest thing is that she has beat us to some of our own lines. In preach my gospel there are some suggestions on how to begin teaching people and one of them is talking about how we are guides to help people find their own answer and in the middle of the lesson she called us her guides and we were both silently laughing because it was like she has read preach my gospel. She also asked how she could get her own copy of the Book of Mormon and if we would give her a specific chapter to read, both things we had been planning on doing towards the end of the lesson, but she beat us to it. Besides that she is the nicest lady and it is such a blessing that we are getting to teach her about the gospel right now.
The other little miracle this week was on Sunday we were trying to contact some less actives in the ward and we weren't finding anyone. We only had about a half an hour left, and the name of an investigator popped into my head. We stopped by her house and she and her boyfriend were home. They said they had been meaning to call us because they just got engaged and they want to get married and he wants to take the discussions and get baptized. It is so interesting because back in January Hermana Cruz had been driving one night with no one to teach and we said a prayer and the same name (this same sister's name) popped into both of our heads. That is when we first met her and her boyfriend was at the house and we taught him about the Book of Mormon, but at the time he was living in Dallas, so we couldn't teach him anymore. He is really interested in the Book of Mormon and now because he is living in El Paso we can begin teaching him! So yay for lots of little miracles and sooo many blessing from the Lord. I am so excited to work with all of these wonderful new people and I know this gospel is going to change each and every one of their lives for the better. This week we had the special blessing of getting to go to the temple up in Albuquerque. Although it was a long day of driving nothing can compare to the peace and joy that you can feel while in the house of the Lord. They open the temple on this Monday just for the missionaries. The greatest blessing of the temple is knowing that we can live with our families forever by making sacred covenants in the house of the Lord. The couple that wants to take the missionary discussions right now is already talking about how the temple is their ultimate goal. It really strengthened my testimony that we don't just try and get as many people baptized as we can and then forget about them. Every member of the church is a special responsibility and every member has the sacred duty of helping their brothers and sister stay strong in the gospel and endure to the end. I hope you know how much I love each and every one of you. I can feel your prayers in my behalf and I know that they make all the difference, so thank you so much. Have a super fabulous wonderfully awesome week!
Glad to hear everyone is having fun and that it has been a good week. I've had a good week too. So last Monday was April's Fool's day and there weren't too many pranks pulled. The only one I pulled was on our ward mission leader. We were at one of our progressing investigators houses and at the start of the lesson he asked us why we were sad looking. I told him that we received a phone call from President Miller saying I was needed to take part in an emergency transfer and would be leaving on Wednesday for Albuquerque. He was shocked, but then I couldn't keep a straight face and started laughing. After he realized it was April's fools day he said that now suddenly his day made much more sense! The other great April fool's joke goes to President Miller. When we got back to the apartment he sent a text saying "Church Newsflash: LDS church to buy Utah State and rename it BYU-Logan" It would have been funnier if me or my companion were Aggie fans, but since we have both graduated from BYU we paused and then had a sneaky feeling that president was pulling our legs. Sure enough about 5 minutes later he sent another text saying that he hoped all those Utah State fans had a happy April Fool's Day. So one point to President Miller for being awesome.
So in other news Hermana Biancardi and I are working hard. We are teaching more lessons then ever and we are teaching some great new people. Both of us are working on hard on learning spanish, but I think we both feel that we are being blessed by the Lord to learn this language quickly. One fun part about being a missionary is when you are in some random neighborhood and are walking back from trying to contact a referral or a former investigator and someone calls "Sisters!" It's always fun to meet members in different wards in random places because they always stop and say hi. Everyone can recognize the missionaries, so if you see us on the streets or in the store don't hesitate to say hi because it's fun for us!
So we started a new goal in our Zone. We are doing what's referred to as OYM's or Open Your Mouth. We basically try and talk to as many people as possible whenever someone crosses our paths. And of course leave it up to the Elders to make it a competition. So we officially started keeping track on Friday, and they said the companionship with the most OYMs at the end of the week would get their favorite candy bar. Well at the end of the week Hermana Biancardi and I had one more then the Elders, so we are receiving our favorite candy bars some time this week. The best part is thinking which person was that one. My person favorite was the man who was on his motorcycle waiting to turn left while we were turning right. There were lots of cars coming, so I rolled down the window and started talking to him and I gave him a pass along card. Then there was a break in traffic and we went our separate ways. I know this is inspired missionary tool right now because yesterday when we had an appointment cancel we saw this lady BBQ'ing so we went up and started to talk to her. She started by saying how she really respected us and how it was wonderful what we were doing, but she was catholic and then she kept talking and the conversation turned to her saying how she has read parts of the Book of Mormon before and really liked it. Then she started telling us how she doesn't drink alcohol or coffee or smoke and how she knows we don't do those things either. She told us how she doesn't really know anyone around here, so if we had just knocked on her door she wouldn't have answered. Then she was talking about what does she need to do to convert and before we could even offer she was asking for a pamphlet and the directions to the church! It felt like we weren't doing anything and she just talked herself from saying how she was fine but not interested to wanting us to come back and start teaching her. So we are really excited to go back and start teaching her.
I loved general conference. We watched it in Spanish at the chapel, so we didn't understand everything, but the spirit is the same. What a joy it is to have a testimony that our Heavenly Father loves all his children and how just like in the olden days he has called men to be apostles and a prophet to lead and guide us in these modern days. I am so grateful to be a member of the Church and to have the great blessing of being a missionary and getting to talk to everybody all the time about the restored gospel. I hope everyone back in Washington enjoyed their spring break!
Glad to hear everyone is doing so well. So happy that Kristi is having another boy! Logan will like having a little playmate to run around in the dirt and wrestle. I am doing well and we have had a busy week. This week we have found 8 new investigators. We normally average one or two a week, but we've been talking to everyone and we have all these great people we are starting to teach now. I love that I can walk up to anyone and just start talking to them and then tie something that they say right into the gospel. When people talk about El Paso they always first say how "feo" it is, but then they always follow up with how nice the people are here. It's true the people are really nice here, so that makes going out and talking to people a lot easier. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are excited for this coming month. We are also really excited for this coming general conference. What a blessing it will be to listen to a living prophet! I hope everyone takes the time to make conference a priority.
One really neat experience this week occurred as we were teaching one of our new investigators about the restoration. When we got to the first vision, I recited Joseph Smith's experience in his own words. Afterwards we asked how she felt and she said she had goose bumps and then she started to cry. We testified that what she was feeling was the spirit. We read in the scriptures about the fruits of the spirit and there is such a sweet feeling of peace when the first vision is shared. It was a blessing to be able to be in a lesson when the spirit was being the teacher, not us. Being a missionary is the greatest!
Oh and Happy Easter!! I know that people know me too well when I get multiple yummy packages this week filled with all of my favorite things! I'm going to be set for candy for a while! Luckily most chocolate doesn't have gluten, so Hermana Biancardi and I have been munching on cadbury eggs while we drive. I think I might need to pray that the Lord sends me to a bike area next with all the yummy food we eat as missionaries. There are several Spanish sister bike areas now, so it could be in a my future. I think I might die if I am in a bike area in El Paso in the summer... Sometimes it's hard getting out of the nice air conditioned car now and it's only in the 80's! At least my fellow Northwesterner understands me, so we both brave the heat together. Speaking of heat our ward had a picnic so we were outside all morning Saturday and we ended up getting sunburned. All the ward members kept pointing out our red faces and letting us know we got burned!
On Easter Sunday we went to church and it was nice, but then afterwards we had no set appointments and there was nobody home. Everyone was at Easter Sunday Mass. We had dinner with a family in the ward - they have been really wonderful about not feeding us wheat. We had this really yummy sweet salsa chicken for dinner last night. Then we had sweetened apples and condensed milk for dessert. It was really yummy and we were very hungry!
But the true meaning of Easter is wonderful. It has been an extra blessing being able to talk to people about the Savior and bear my testimony that he lives. That's why we celebrate Easter. We celebrate his resurrection and that through him we can all have the chance to be resurrected and live with our Father in Heaven again. We had a special training on Friday where President Miller came and he showed us two videos. The first video was about the El Paso high school basketball teams and the act of service of one of the players. Have you seen it? If not it is Coronado and Franklin high schools, which are both in my area. It's a really nice video about sportsmanship. The second video he showed was on the Savior's atonement. It was a talk Elder Holland gave to mission Presidents. In it he says "Why do they think missionary work would be easy when salvation never was easy or cheap" It talked about when things are hard to always remember who we are standing shoulder to shoulder with. We need to stand tall and remember that we are standing with the Savior because this is his work. He has called each missionary through a living prophet to share his restored gospel. This Easter I am so grateful for this knowledge. I know that my redeemer lives!