I am going a little crazy right now! I can't believe that today is the last day of September and that tomorrow is the first day of my one year anniversary month! October! Blah! I have also realized that I have officially spent every season in El Paso. Winter, Spring, Summer and now Fall. Yep I'm a true El Pasoen. I have no idea if that's what they are actually called ;). Everything is going wonderfully. This has probably been one of the best weeks on my mission! There is lots to say, but let's start with this morning's adventure.
I apologize for all those with squeamish stomachs, but we had a roach of epic proportions this morning. He was huge! (Yes, he, because nothing feminine could be that gross!) I walked from the bedroom into the kitchen and my companion had her back to the kitchen when my face went into "Hermana Klaus' there is a 'real' huge cockroach face" That is what Hermana Fallentine calls it. On our cupboard was one of the biggest I have seen. Then he crawled into this space between our cupboards. Needless to say what followed was a lot of shrieking and jumping in the air as we tried to figure out how to get him. More screaming when we found him crawling on the top of the cupboard. A slam of a cupboard that semi squished him. Squealing as he dropped into the sink. Me having to man-up and grab a spoon and get him out of the sink and onto the counter. Pause to take some pictures as he starts to squirm on the counter. Finally I grab my shoe to squish him and I slammed it good, but he was so big there was gut splatter on the kitchen wall. Hermana Fallentine was gagging it was so bad. I will enclose a picture, but those with small children may want to leave the room! Yep epic.
I went on another exchange this week to Hatch, New Mexico. I have also officially spent 7 nights in New Mexico now on my mission! Yes a whole week in my mission! I think I serve in the El Paso Texas mission and that's ok with me. So Hatch is the little town out in the middle of no where. Thank goodness those sisters have a truck because we would have been swallowed multiple times in potholes that would have eaten the poor Malib. The companionship is what we call a zebra. One spanish sister and one english. The English sister stayed with me in Hatch, so when we went to the spanish people which was basically everyone it was hard for her to participate. We started a lesson with a lady and I didn't want to be the one doing the whole lesson especially since this was her investigator. So right at the beginning I explained to the lady that I would translate for the sister. It turned out to be a great lesson. The sister was able to teach and bear testimony and I was able to translate. The other neat thing about the Hatch sisters is they live with a member. The member lives in an old catholic church. The church was established in 1860. It has a bell tower and everything. Everyone in the mission knows that they live in a church and we are all jealous. At least I got to stay one night. I also bought some chili while I was there because Hatch is the chili capital of the world!
On Wednesday we had Zone Conference. It was wonderful. There were some really inspiring talks. I have heard from lots of missionaries that their favorite part was when two new converts came and bore their testimonies. Amber just happened to be one of the recent converts that was chosen. She did an amazing job. The spirit was so strong when she was speaking. She touched the hearts of all the missionaries. It reminds us of why we do what we do. Why we let doors get slammed in our faces or walk for hours in the hot sun. There is nothing that can compare to the feeling of when someone makes that decision to follow the Savior. Nothing compares hearing someone testify that they know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ restored upon the earth today, when 3 months ago they didn't know anything about the church at all. Which brings me to the best part of our week the baptism of the Enriquez family!
I can't even put into words how much I love this family. It was an up and down week. I can't believe how hard Satan tried to tempt them and disrupt their baptism. Even Hermana Fallentine and I felt it. I know that Satan knew what being baptized would mean for this family and he tried everything he could to stop it. One night this week we were talking about the importance of keeping our families strong and not withholding affection from family members. We said we never know when it will be too late. Then Liz piped up "Yeah I have asthma" We all cracked up at that one. She was so serious and then Carmen reassured her that she wouldn't die from asthma randomly. One little miracle we saw happened while making the program. We wanted to make it nice and use proper spanish punctuation, but we couldn't remember how to accent an e. We tried several combinations and then searched some of the symbols. We were on a time crunch and about to just write it in later when Hermana Fallentine said one more. She felt inspired to type 138 and when she did the accented e appeared. It was a little blessing from heaven. What's more is when I looked, it just happened to be the opening hymn number. So on Saturday we arrived at the baptism and of course there were men working on replacing the carpet. Our faces must have looked concerned to see the room slightly torn apart, but the Elders who had been there to start filling the font said they would be done before the baptism. True to their word they cleaned up most things and it wasn't a problem, but we just had to laugh - of all weeks the carpet would be changed in the chapel of course it would be on their baptism day. They accidentally went to the wrong building at first and Carmen thought well maybe they weren't getting baptized today, but they ended up making it in plenty of time. An extra blessing was that President and Sister Miller, who were down in the south for Zone Conference, came to the baptism as well. The Enriquez family felt really special because they were there. It was one of the most joyful moments on my mission as first Sergio, then Liz, and finally Carmen were all baptized. Ali was an angel, so I know the Lord answered our prayers there. It didn't phase her at all when her family was being baptized and even while they were changing. I think the Lord may have sent some Ali angels to help out. When Liz came out of the water she came up to us and said "I'm not nervous anymore. I feel real good!" I was brimming with joy! When they shared their testimonies right after being baptized they called us their ninas and told how they felt different. Luckily the Lord helped us keep it together because then we sang a special musical number we prepared. We sang nearer my God to thee in spanish and English. We were so nervous all leading up to singing, but when we went to sing all my nerves left and we were able to share our testimonies and love through that very special song. On Sunday we had a sister in our ward tell us that she received an answer to prayer while we sang. Saturday night we went to the Relief society meeting and every single talk was on keeping our covenants especially our baptism covenants. Carmen afterwards told us that they were speaking directly to her! On Sunday when they were confirmed, again such a warm feeling of love filled my heart as I listened to their blessings and how they talked about working together to be sealed in the temple in a year. Carmen and Sergio already want that as their goal. They even told President and Sister Miller that they want to get sealed in the Salt Lake Temple. I have felt an outpouring of our Heavenly Father's love this week. Even with all the ups and downs, when we put our trust in him everything worked out perfectly.
I love each and everyone of you so much. Thank you for all your prayers and support. May we each feel our Heavenly Father and Savior's love this week.
Wow, we are already in week four for this transfer! Hermana Fallentine and I haven't had a moment to breath. We have done 6 of our exchanges and they are still going really well. I am so excited this week! The Enriquez family is getting baptized! Carmen, Sergio and Liz are all getting baptized and we just have to pray that Ali doesn't start to cry that she doesn't get to go in the "pool" (aka font) as well. They are getting baptized this Saturday at 11am. It will be exactly two months to the day that we met Carmen and when she offered that little prayer in her heart that we would come talk to her family. Their story has been filled with one miracle after another. They are so excited to be baptized. What I can't believe is how hard Satan is trying to keep them from being baptized. All sorts of different things keep arising. For example, free samples of coffee at Walmart! Since when does Walmart give out free samples?! They just walked right by and didn't even flinch, but seriously! Leave our poor family alone! He knows that they are about to make one of the most important decisions of their lives and he is determined to do everything he can to stop them. But they are wonderful and just keep praying and reading in the Book of Mormon and they keep trusting in the spirit that they feel during lessons and when they come to church. Liz the little girl has really tried hard to memorize the 10 commandments and makes sure we know that her dad hasn't been practicing. At the end of her interview she told the Elder I know the 10 commandments, so he let her tell him them. We kept teasing Sergio that he would be tested on the 10 commandments. Then with a little heads up from me I asked the Elder to ask him about them in the interview which he did. Sergio tried to practice with us right before he went in and when the Elder asked him he was like oh no ok well there's... Afterwards Sergio was like, you told him to ask me! Hehe we all just laughed. The other funny thing was last night when somehow we mentioned that tomorrow we would write our families and he said "what are going to write your families? That the Enriquez family is finally going to get baptized?!" He is so funny! So I am writing to say that the Enriquez family is finally going to get baptized! ;)
Ok so this week my companion and I took the roach war to epic proportions. It's just ridiculous how many of them are in our apartment. I think the funniest thing is all of the cute old ladies in the mission office are just beside themselves disgusted that we are living with cockroaches. The roach man came again and started spraying around the base boards and once again we explained that doesn't help at all. So finally after 6 weeks he said "well I can use a fogger, but I have to have permission to use it." Well why didn't you say that 6 weeks ago! Grrrr. So the Senior mission couple in charge got the permission from the complex to fumigate the apartment, but when the roach man came back to do it he was grumpy because he had already left and so he was a little rude to us. He kept telling us it was common sense to just do these things to get rid of roaches and we were like hold on a second we're from out of town and we've never had to deal with roaches before! He just kept grumping about common sense and we just wanted to say well it's common sense that roaches are nasty and shouldn't be in the apartment, but alas here we are. :) Don't worry we behaved. So he fumigated the apartment and the end result...we still have roaches! It may have killed the little ones, but we have had an increase in the nasty big ones! AHHH! The day they fogged I killed 3 that night. Two the next morning. My favorite was the one where I was talking to some sisters on the phone and spotted a roach on the wall and then went into full attack mode while still talking to the sisters! I was running across the room pulling my shoe off, doing a war cry of death to squish the roach. I am pretty sure they were like what on earth is wrong with the sister training leaders?! Whenever Sister Fallentine and I randomly scream in the apartment it usually means we just spotted one. I did that this morning in the closet. I squished him good, but he was really close to this trap door thing and then we wondered what would happen if we opened the door. We decided to give it a try, but just in case millions of roaches fell from the ceiling we stood under an umbrella before we opened it. Luckily our nightmare didn't come true and all we saw was a really dusty crawl space. We are on stand by to see what happens next. We might actually be getting moved to a different apartment. The cute mission ladies just can't stand the thought of sisters in an apartment with roaches. Elders maybe, but sisters no way!
Remember how we went and talked to Lorenza the lady that I taught back in January but she dropped us and didn't want us to come back. Well there is a little more to that story. She told us how the week before we showed up she had been thinking about Sister Cruz and me, and she even looked for our phone number to call us, but she couldn't find it so she thought it's not meant to be. She was also praying and asking if God was really there and really did answer her prayers. Within the week we were knocking on her door. She is in such a better place right now then 8 months ago. She is really ready to learn about the gospel. She also said that after we stopped teaching her the first time she almost threw the book of mormon away, but something told her to keep it because one day she would want to read it. We are seeing that right now. It's another testament to me how the Lord is the one behind this work. He leads us to people when they are ready and when they need it the most. I know that as long as I am trying my best the Lord can and will work miracles everyday.
Happy Birthday Kara!!!!! I am so lucky that the Lord sent us someone as special as you to complete our family. You are the best little sister in the whole wide world (except maybe me to Kristi ;) ) What's more you are born on the Independence Day of Mexico! One of our investigator families is having a little fiesta with us tonight, so that should be fun!
Ok so I am not sure when I changed missions, but I did. This past week I am pretty sure I was reassigned to the Vancouver Washington Mission. :) The weather was ridiculous this week! We were having flash flood warnings texted to our phones every hour. But then I did the most unwashington thing ever and actually used an umbrella! The one time I didn't use the umbrella and I was soaked from 30 seconds out in the rain. Another funny rain story - we went to go and talk to a few sisters, but when we got to the apartment they weren't there. So we decided to go back and in wait in the car. There was a little river flowing down the street and Hermana Fallentine suggested that I just chill in the backseat so I didn't have to cross the river, but I easily stepped over it and went and sat on my side. We waited for about 10 minutes and when the sisters got there we got out of the car and what once was a little river had turned into the size of the Columbia River! I couldn't get to my companion! I had to walk a little ways down the street to find the smallest part and still got my shoe all wet when I crossed. It must been something like that back in the old days when the poor pioneers crossed rivers and they tried to look for the smallest part.
For most of the week the sky looked just like Washington clouds and the roads were all flooded with water. I have some great pictures of the roads and this water-sucker truck. Yes the drainage is so bad here that they have these big trucks that go around and suck up the water. I got a kick out of those. Texans! But now we are back to more normal weather, but I have come to the realization that I am going to freeze this winter. When it was raining and it was 70 degrees outside I was admittedly kind of cold! Oh no I've turned into a "cold" weather pansy! All those people that I use to snicker at last winter in jackets all bundled up is going to be me this winter. I think there is some scripture about "pride goeth before the fall" and I am pretty sure winter is colder than fall. :)
So this week was all about exchanges! We have survived through three exchanges, but we have three more exchanges this week. I went on back to back exchanges this week and that was interesting. Both with English sisters and it just happened to be in the same apartment because one of the sets of sisters doesn't have their apartment yet. They were good exchanges. I love getting to see other sisters work and how their wards work with the missionaries. The Lord has really blessed me with the chance to see so many different stages of missionary work and it has been such an eye opening experience for me. I love getting to help the sister as well. We celebrated one of the sisters birthdays and we made her a cake and we scared her as we jumped out of the closet to wish her happy birthday. One of my favorite part of exchanges is that one of the sisters had a huge thing of nutella and every week I resist the urge to buy nutella because I will just eat it, but when it's just at their apartment I don't feel bad stealing a few spoonfuls of wonderful goodness! I am sure the sisters think I'm odd when I'm happily sitting on their couch munching on nutella, but that's missionary life. It's also wonderful to know that Hermana Fallentine and I have a great companionship because whenever we get back from exchanges we are so happy to get to be together again, but it always seems so short lived and then we are off. I think I might miss lunch naps the most. We never get those anymore.
Everything is still going great. We had an awesome lesson this week with one of our new investigators, Stella. We met her outside watering her lawn and she asked if we wanted to leave her with some material to read. We said yes, but that we would love even more to come talk to her. She invited us back. We have only had a few lessons with her and she is awesome. She says she feels good when we are teaching her and that she loves the plan of salvation because out of everything she has learned from studying religions, she says it gives the most hope for humanity. She doesn't go to any specific church right now, but on our second lesson she said she had received an answer that it was time for her and her grandson to find a church. She is reading and learning and she really wants to know if this is true. We have testified that if she really wants to know, she has to read the Book of Mormon. At the end of our last lesson she just held the Book of Mormon and while looking at it said "Who would have thought?" It is amazing watching people learn about the restored gospel and then pray to ask God if it is true and then act on those answers.
So the biggest miracle of the week is the family we are teaching. We have been working for the 28th for the baptism and last night was the first time they didn't say we'll see, but instead asked, so who is going to baptize us? They are awesome. I love them all so much and they are wonderful. They fed us the yummiest dinner on the mission last night. We had chicken fried steak Texas style. I could get use to that kind of food. Then this whole week we have had such good lessons. One of which Amber came to and bore her testimony on how she felt a little afraid before her baptism too, but now she just feels loved. It was exactly what they needed to hear. We are so excited to see their whole family be baptized and in a year go to the temple and be sealed together for time and all eternity. When it is all said and done that is one of the greatest blessing of this gospel. I love each of you so much. Have a great week!
Hmmm it feels like just yesterday that I was writing to you. Even more so than normal because of the short week! So after I last wrote, we received permission to get our car cleaned because it was really dirty. Well we didn't really think it through very well because shampooing the seats meant that the seats were wet all the way up to ALBQ. Yeah we all sat on plastic bags and towels and all of our skirts were a little wet by the time we got there. Other than wet seats it was a very enjoyable ride. As we passed the check point, the man asked if we were all citizens and then he asked us where we were going. We told him ALBQ for a meeting. He then asked us if we were with all those boys in white shirts and ties who came through a little earlier and we said yes. He said interesting and I gave him a card and told him if he wanted to learn more about what we do he could visit mormon.org.
So then we are driving along and we are literally in the middle of no where. There are no cars around us and I start seeing things crawling in the road. At first I thought they were frogs then some of them were colorful so I decided those were butterflies, but there was this brown creeping thing and I could not figure out what it was, but I was running over them with reckless abandon. So because no one was around us we decided to find out what it was. We slowed down and pulled over and we discovered that they were grasshoppers! Huge gross grasshoppers. Well as we were sitting there, two cars passed us and then we received a text from our Zone leaders asking us if we were on the side of the road. Then we realized that the two cars that passed us were all the Zone leaders from down south. We had gotten in front of them because they had all stopped for dinner. We gave them a bad time for not stopping and seeing if we needed help, but then it was fun because we carpooled the rest of the way up, so we didn't have to be lonely any more. My favorite text we received from them was "Just got an alert for a stolen vehicle: white Malib" Our poor Malib is a laughing stock! We made it to ALBQ just fine and we stayed with some sisters.
On Thursday we had another great Mission Leadership Council. We had a brother come talk to us about leadership. One thing that he said that I really liked was that we can't set unrealistic expectations and we can't expect more than the Lord expects. For example "I am such a more dedicated missionary because I get up at 6:15 instead of 6:30." This principle also applies to church life as well. "Oh I am such a better member because I study in the scriptures 2 hours every day or I pay 12% tithing." It does not make us any better or any worse. The Lord has set his expectations and simply asks us to follow them and as leaders we can't ask more of someone then what the Lord expects of them. He taught us a lot of other great things as well. As always it is a pleasure to hear from President Miller. He is a very inspired man and he knows exactly how to help motivate us as missionaries. I just love it!
We drove back home Thursday. Then on Friday we had Zone training. Sister Fallentine and I gave a training on the new stress management packet for missionaries. We provided the missionaries each with a stress-ball. Ironically Sister Fallentine and I were stressed trying to make the silly stress-balls! Hehe but luckily we were able to give them a few squeezes and we felt better.
We had two little miracles this weekend. On Sunday we finished dinner and we were heading to contact some former investigators, and decided to take the freeway. Because we took the freeway, it took us by a complex that we had tried the day earlier with no luck, but the thought popped into my head, we should try again. So we pulled in and as we started to walk to the apartment Sister Fallentine said we need to talk to that man. I hadn't even seen anyone, but from her side of the car she could see a bench and there was a man sitting there who had apparently been starring at us the whole time. We went over and started talking to him and learned that his wife just had a new baby and that they would be interested in learning more about our message. We are going back today, but it was the feeling that was different. We felt very peaceful and something different - it's hard to explain. Meeting him felt very orchestrated from some unseen force from promptings between both of us.
The other little miracle was on Saturday. We had about 20 minutes before dinner. For a while I have had a name of person that Sister Cruz and I had taught back in January, but she dropped us. I think I wrote about her and how she was one of the first people that I talked to while I was backing Sister Cruz up in the car. She kept nagging at my mind, but I was a little worried because she said that her church told her not to read the book of mormon and she never responded when we tried to talk to her more. So we were right in the neighborhood and we decided to go knock on the door. I was really nervous not sure what she would think seeing me back on her doorstep. She was nice, but at first she told us that it would be a waste of time for us come and that she wasn't going to any church right now. Then we kept talking to her and she started to explain all her feelings and how she is going through a really hard time and she doesn't know what to do. We listened and then testified of the Savior and his atonement and how we were there on her porch for a reason. That Heavenly Father knew her and her situation and that he loved her. We only talked for a short time, but she invited us to come back and we are going to start teaching her again.
There have been a lot of little reasons why to me it has felt very inspired that I was suppose to return to Rio Grande. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father knows where we are needed and I know he will continue to place his missionaries in the places they can do the most good. Have a wonderful week!
This letter was later than normal because the libraries were closed on Monday and then yesterday they were preparing for meetings in Albuquerque…
Ok wow things are crazy! I love mission life! We have been go go go and it's about to step up even more! Well this week was transfers. Hermana Fallentine and I had been praying that we would stay together and our prayers were answered! We are so happy that we have another 6 weeks together. One of the Elders in our ward was transferred north and we gained another set of Elders in our ward. One them is a brand spanking new missionary from the Mexico MTC. He doesn't speak any English and when he was trying to look off his trainer's planner for the phone number it brought back memories of when I had no idea what any one was saying to me. It also made me feel old to realize that now I am the fourth oldest spanish speaking sister in the mission. My mission "mom" hermana Cruz goes home today! Wow that doesn't seem real to me.
In other transfer news, last transfer we had 7 companionships and now we have 9 sets of sisters! It doesn't seem like a lot more, but that means 9 exchanges! Plus we have two trips up to ALBQ for MLC and one for the temple trip and we have one zone conference! Hijole! The Lord really is hastening the work, but he hasn't lengthened the days to help us get all of the work done!
Transfers are actually pretty fun to go to when you're not being transferred and you are just driving other missionaries up and down. It's amazing the logistics that have to go into planning and moving 250 missionaries. I love being a part of this great work!
Hmmm this week has gone by so fast and I hardly remember what we did. We did have our car taken north and nobody told us that it wouldn't be coming back down, so now we have to track down some of our stuff. We are now driving a Chevy Malib. It's not a Malibu because the "u" is missing from the back from all the bike racks. hehe It has definitely been an Elders car it's whole life and it needs some serious cleaning! Poor little thing.
One funny thing that happened this week was with our ward getting 3 sets of missionaries we lost some of our teaching area. One of the houses we lost is a foster home for adults. The lady who runs it is a member in an english ward, but one of her workers is spanish speaking so we teach her. However, the whole house loves us and we love all of them. One of them is a man named Ralph. He lost his leg about a year ago, but he still has a super positive outlook on life. Plus he is hilarious! When we told them we were moving, he told us he was going to call Utah about this whole moving thing. Monday when we went to visit him we were talking about how it was our day off. He was confused and asked what we were doing at the house then and we said that we started working at 6pm on Mondays. Then he responded "Oh I am definitely going to have to call Utah now!" It's nice to know we're loved.
The work is going really well. I think the reason I really like being Hermana Fallentine's companion is that even when everything gets stacked against us and when our investigators are dropping us like flies we still have a really positive attitude and it's like "ok well what can we do now." When we have that positive attitude the Lord always provides little tender mercies and everything looks brighter. Carmen's family is still doing great. It's amazing the miracles we get to see everyday as missionaries. I am really seeing how the Lord really does love us and he knows everyone of us individually. As Texans would say "I love ya'all too!"