Monday, March 31, 2014

El Fin

Querida Familia,

Now I, Hermana Klaus, after having made an end of abridging the account of my mission, I had supposed not to have written more, but I have not as yet perished; ... Wherefore, I write a few more things, contrary to that which I had supposed; for I had supposed not to have written any more; but I write a few more things, that perhaps they may be of worth unto my brethren, in some future day.  (1 Book of Hermana Klaus 1:1,4)

Hehehe oh I'm so witty...and humble ;)  Well even missionaries aren't perfect when they are leaving the field.  We still have our whole lives to keep working on those areas that still need some improvement.

Ok I can't believe I am writing my last missionary letter.  Where has the time gone.  It was just yesterday that I was being born in the south and excited to start my mission adventure. And now look at me.  I'm an old and dying missionary.  Elders really like to tell me that "Wo, You're dead!"  To which Hna Budge always replies "Some say that she is dead and that she stinketh, and that she ought to be placed in the sepulchre for dying missionaries; but as for myself, to me she doth not stink." (Book of Hermana Klaus 19:5)  So thanks to my good companion I'm not dead yet!

We had a super bien week last week!  I just love being a missionary!  So we were walking in old town and we saw this man sitting on a bench and we just started talking to him.  We ended up having a whole lesson right there on the bench outside.  His knowledge of the Bible was really good and he was very excited about the Book of Mormon.  It was one of those moments where I was like "NOOOOOO I can't leave this behind!"

Although I know I can go home happy because I crossed one of the last things off my missionary bucket list which was to wear a yellow "mormon helping hands" shirt.

Missionaries from our ward at Clean-up ABQ

Required protection during the epic tumbleweed battle
We participated in this clean-up Albuquerque day, so we got to wear the yellow shirts.  I think the saddest part was having to give the shirts back.  We all wanted to keep them.  Hmmm how much repenting would I have to have done in order to sneak off with a yellow shirt?  hehe Don't worry I was a good missionary and I gave it back.  We painted, picked up garbage, pulled weeds, a whole bunch of other stuff and had epic battles with huge tumbleweeds.  As we worked in the park we were talking about placas and I told about how I had lost this placa 3-4 times on my mission, but I always managed to find it.  Well as part of our uniform we also wore these safety vests that we then put our placas on the outside.  Someone collected the vests and I gave him mine as well.  Probably 15 minutes later Hna Budge asked me "Hermana where is your placa?!"  You have got to be kidding me?!  Yep not an hour after telling people how I lost my placa a lot it was missing again.  They had already begun picking up some things, but luckily the 100's of green vests were still there and we started digging through the box.  It's a good thing that placa and I are like magnets and we are once again reunited.  Ok I have 2 days left can I please not lose it again...although knowing me it's a definite possibility.

We also celebrated a birthday of one of my favorite little ward girls down here.  She turned 12 and we stopped by to eat some cheesecake.  It turns out that there were no candles in the house, but we weren't going to let that stop us.  As we were looking through the drawers we saw a  these corn on the cob figures and I just couldn't resist putting 3 little piggy rears on her birthday cake.  Then we broke a kabob stick in half and we tried to light them on fire, but that didn't work too well.  It was seriously one of the funniest birthday cakes i have seen.

Piggy "cheeks" on the birthday cake

We had dinner with Crystal's family last night.  It was super yummy!  After dinner we had a lesson and hermana budge was holding the kitty.  Apparently she held the kitty too long or maybe gave it too tight of a squeeze because it peed on her skirt.  Oh dear!  We don't carry perfume in the car, but we do have a bottle of fabreeze so she used that to help her skirt smell a little better.  Good thing today was p-day and wash the clothes day.  I would not have wanted that sitting in our bedroom for a week waiting to be washed!  I am going to miss them sooo much.  When we left Ivy the 13 year old daughter gave the prayer and she said "thank you for bringing the missionaries over for dinner and heavenly father I don't know why you are taking Hermana Klaus from us."  Talk about hitting below the skirt line!  How would you not want to burst into tears for that prayer?

Well this week has been full of goodbyes.  It's hard to say goodbye to people that you have grown to love so much.  They always say the nicest things and it makes you all gooey inside and it hurts that much more to leave.  The biggest blessings are when people just say thank you for helping them learn how to pray together and telling you what a blessing it is in their lives.  My life has been so richly blessed and I can't imagine what my life would have been like without my mission.  This really isn't the end.  In fact this is just the beginning.  The lessons I have learned on my mission will now go with me as I enter into this new phase of my life.  The things that will never change are my love for the Lord.  I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World.  I know that this is his Church and that he stands at the head of this great work.  I know that he is my redeemer.  I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through a latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith.  I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that through its pages I have grown so close to my Savior.  I have seen this gospel change so many lives, but the one that has changed the most is me.   I know that I am a daughter of God and that he loves me and I love him.

Con Amor,
Hermana Klaus

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Week 74 - March 25, 2014

Querida Familia,

Where has the time gone?  Can this really be my final week in the mission field?  I guess, as a missionary, you never really think this week will come, but come it does.  There are lots of emotions that roll around inside a missionary's head at this time.  I feel very blessed as a missionary and I know that these will always be the best 18 months for my life.

We had a great week.  The highlight of the week was Crystal, Ivy and Adrian's baptism.  The night before was great.  A family in the ward invited them over to have a BBQ.  The food was yummy and we had a great little FHE lesson afterwards.  The baptism was really nice, but a tiny bit stressful.  We got a call from the Bishop in the morning saying that the person who was going to baptize them had a family emergency and was flying out of town that morning.  So we had to figure out who was going to baptize them.  Crystal then wanted the Bishop to baptize them, so we were able to quickly resolve the problem, but it was one of those moments where you are just like "are you serious?!"  If it's not one thing it's another.  But they were awesome and none of Satan's curve balls stopped them. Crystal was really nervous for the water, but she did great.  She told us right before that her heart was beating a 100 miles a minute.  Afterwards she told us that she just felt very light and happy.  It made me all gooey inside.  As we watched them make this special promise with Heavenly Father I got a little teary eyed thinking about my mission and all of the special people that I have had the pleasure of teaching.  I couldn't have asked for a better mission or a more inspired mission.

Crystal's Baptism
We also a great lesson this week with a less-active lady.  We brought Soledad, a recent convert, and she is fire cracker!  The only risk when you bring spanish ladies together is that they might never stop talking nor breathe for the next hour, so it takes some skill being able to have a lesson.  But we managed and it was exactly what she needed to hear.  The funniest part of that lesson was the little dog. He is a brown chihuahua named Whitey, but he also has this little devilish streak in him.  The very first time we visited her, Whitey just wanted to eat us and if we even thought about touching him you would see the little demon dog inside emerge.  Well he is actually getting a little more used to us, which is kinda of sad, because his little attitude is really funny.  So this last lesson he didn't hardly growl at us at all until he was sitting on the back of the couch and then he jumped down in between us and then he went all crazy dog on us with his hackles up.  After he finally jumped down the hermana told us that he hates pillow cushions and the silly dog had jumped down on top of one.  Really that was your problem?  Anyway as we were getting ready to leave whitey was on the couch and there was a pillow sitting on the edge and hermana budge decided to do a little experiment and just barely nudged the pillow towards him and he went all crazy growly again.   Things I have learned on my mission 1.) don't trust chihuahuas!  hehe

Last night we had a lesson with Crystal and her family and it was so good.  We actually watched the long Joseph Smith movie and unlike the last time we watched a movie there was no cockroach walking around the light bulb on the inside projecting it's shadow all creepy like on the movie screen.  Although now that I think about it we did have one little cockroach last night and we gave Hermana Budge the privilege of killing the little bugger.  She stomped on it and it gave a nasty pop! hmmm maybe going home to the roach free Washington won't be so bad after all.... :D  The only comforting fact about leaving is knowing that I can get on the phone and call them whenever I want to!  Well after our fun little lesson we knelt down to say a prayer and there were blankets all over the floor from the kids so they didn't have to sit on the hard floor.  Well Sugar, the big black lab, came and sat next to me as I knelt, and Ivy barely got out dear heavenly father... when Sugar totally flopped herself on me.  That made me slip off my knees because of the blankets and fall into crystal and Claudio her husband was telling Sugar to get off me while trying not to laugh.  Well after we had all settled down Ivy gave a very nice short prayer.  Then Claudio told her she should say a longer prayer and we said it was perfect and then Ivy said "If it was any longer they wouldn't leave!"  Well that got us all going again as we pretended to be the hurt missionaries that apparently just needed to leave.  She kept laughing and trying to say that's not what she meant that "We wouldn't be able to leave" but we put on our sad faces and said it's ok we understand.  Crystal was just dying with laughter and when we finally did leave we couldn't stop grinning ear to ear.  I just love them!  That's probably the real number one lesson I learned on my mission.  Is how to love.  To have charity, the pure love of Christ.  If Heavenly Father feels about each of us the way I feel about them then he loves us a whole heap!  And my mission has taught me that Heavenly Father really does love us and that we are his children.  He loves us with a love that we can't even begin to comprehend.  He loves us so much that he gave his only begotten son, so that one day we can all return and live with him someday.  I love you all so very much!  I can't believe I'm typing this but... I will see you next week!

Con Amor,
Hermana Klaus

I got my release letter this week in the mail! :-(

So I had to have a therapy session with Hermana Budge. :-)
Really sad when the milk expires the same day that your mission does!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Week 73 - March 18, 2014

Queria Familia,

So after we emailed last week Hermana Budge and I decided to head to the Zoo for some fun.  It was a pretty decent zoo and they had some of my favorite animals right as you walked through the door.  Pink flamingos! 

Lots of the animals were pretty active, but the polar bear was the best.  We were up above and we looked down into the pool area and he grabbed a big green bucket and he threw it up at us spraying water all around us.  The stinky little bear was trying to get us wet!  Haven't seen that before and it was funny!  We looked at him like we were telling him don't you know who we are?!  Well he looked at us and then tossed up another box!    "Somos hijas de dios!" Silly bear!  The other exciting thing was that I ate a lunchable at the zoo for the first time since I was in 6th grade.  Yep missionaries eating lunchables at the zoo  - Typical p-day.

This week was good.  We still have a fetish for tumbleweeds.  Sometimes it feels like they are perfectly placed, so that they torment us just as they roll by missing our wheel by inches.  Well we decided to take matters into our own hands.  We were driving through a neighborhood on a windy day and that stinky little tumbleweed rolled right past us.  Well that particular miss was the last straw.  So hermana budge grabbed the tumbleweed and now we have a tumbleweed in the trunk of our car for no apparent reason.  Not sure what we are going to do with the tumbleweed, but we are pleased to be the proud owners of one.  Yep 18 months of nothing but missionary fun does strange things to you :)

We had a zone conference this week.  It was weird sitting there knowing that I was the oldest sister.  All of these young missionaries - where did they come from?!  The hardest part was hearing about all these great things that are going on in the mission or they are going to start doing and knowing that I won't get to be a part of them for very long.  However, I was feeling very content and had warm fuzzies as all the good things that I have done on my mission ran through my head.

The most exciting news for the week is that Crystal and her kids are getting baptized on Saturday. They had their interviews on Sunday and they are all set to go.  It's been amazing to watch them change and progress.  I love them so much and I am so excited for them.  It's also nice to know that I won't have to go through a long period of silence after I leave, but that we can stay in contact and I can hear all about how they are doing.  The Lord has given me so many blessings on my mission and he is still blessing me right up until the end.  I love you!  Have a wonderful week! 

Con Amor,
Hermana Klaus

Sisters from the Albuquerque area

Crazy cat lady starter kit!

Dino at the history museum

Elder Lawrence who entered the MTC with Katie

Fish at the zoo

Kisses for the frog prince

Turtle Tracks

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Week 72 - March 11, 2014

Querida Familia,

Breaking news!  We finally hit a tumbleweed!  Ok so not THAT breaking and it technically wasn't moving when we ran over it, but we still got to hit a tumbleweed!  It was sitting in the parking lot of one of our investigators' apartment building.  You would have thought that we won the lottery with how excited we were with our triumph!  Plus we took a picture of the battered results.  Pobrecito!

The "after" picture of the tumbleweed

So I must be getting a little bit back into teacher mode because we were sitting in coordination meeting this past Thursday with our Ward mission leader and the other elders.  For some reason we ended up in a primary room and like gentlemen the Elders offered us the only 2 big chairs and they all were sitting in the little kid tiny chairs.  Well one of the Elders starting talking about their week and he was rocking back and forth and then resting on the back two legs.  It was driving me crazy!  I kept thinking knock that off Elder!  He didn't look like an Elder he looked like an overgrown kid or a disney villain with his knees all the way up to his chin!  Hermana Budge could see it was driving me crazy and she was trying so hard not to laugh and finally I was like "Elder four on the floor!"  Yep the teacher in me broke forth and I was scolding him for not sitting in his chair properly, but at least for the rest of the meeting he sat properly.  The Ward mission leader got a kick out of it.  ;)

The work is moving along really well.  The hardest part for me is knowing that I won't be able to help some of these people through their whole journey.  That is a weird feeling.  Although I am a little bit worried about leaving Hermana Budge here alone.  Sometimes I'll say a name of someone who we should try and visit and she'll give me the blankest look.  I'll describe them and maybe their house and nothing.  Then I'll say what kind of dog they have and she'll be like ohhhhh them!  heheh So I guess I will have to leave a list of names and which dogs go with which people to help her remember after I'm gone. :) hehe I love her! 

So we had some good opportunities for service this week.   We helped a family paint their house.  So now I am pretty sure that on my resume I can include epic paint skills.  We also helped a family move and they had a punching bag that was very entertaining to a couple of missionaries.  I might have to invest in one of those one day.  It's always nice being able to serve, and service opportunities are provided when we most need them as missionaries. 

Mad painting skills

We have a really great investigator named Luis right now.  He is the friend of a recent convert named Manuel and it has been so fun and easy to teach him.  He is really excited about the gospel and he really wanted to be baptized.  His work has had him down in El Paso this past weekend and again this weekend, but hopefully after that everything will be back to normal and he is planning on being baptized on the 28th of March.  We are really excited for him.

Crystal and her kids are doing really well.  We had a funny moment with them when I was sitting on the couch and Hna Budge said look and pointed to what I thought was the door.  When I turned, Fluffy the little black cat had jumped up next to me and was sitting next to me on the couch without me even realizing it.  Well that nearly gave me a heart attack and they all though it was pretty comical that he scared me that badly.  They are having a little bit of a hard time making it to church on Sundays because Crystal works on Saturday night.  But I love getting to teach them and they have made so much progress it's wonderful.  Crystal gave such a heartfelt prayer this past week that Hermana Budge and I left that lesson all giddy with happiness. 

Friday was my last Zone training.  I was doing good throughout the whole meeting and I was getting ready to bear my testimony at the end which is a tradition for the missionaries who will be leaving.  I thought I can do this.  I'm not even going to cry...maybe I'll even get in a good joke at the beginning.  Well right before they had us 4 missionaries share our testimonies we had a lesson on the atonement of Jesus Christ.  It was so personal to me because here in my last transfer I have been focusing on the atonement specifically in my studies.  Well after that I didn't stand a chance.  I  was tearing up just talking about the Savior in the lesson, so I knew I was a goner when I got up to speak.  Hopefully I was able to express a fraction of my feelings on the atonement of Jesus Christ.  I can say that through my months as a missionary I have literally felt the arms of the Savior hold up my shoulders and help me keep going, when I didn't think I had anything left to give.  I remember from almost a year ago hearing a quote about how as missionaries we are walking shoulder to shoulder with the Savior everyday.  I know that he walks with me and he has made me into someone so much better than I could ever have made myself alone.  I am so grateful for my Savior and for the knowledge of this restored gospel.  I hope everyone has a great week!  I love each and everyone of you!

Con Amor,
Hermana Klaus

Ok I went trunky!  I couldn't resist buying Tillamook ice cream when I saw it in the store for the first time on my mission.  :)  Oh the sweet northwest! Literally is was very sweet!
I saw a roadrunner this week.  The state bird of New Mexico.  He was a fast little bugger, so I am lucky I got any picture at all!

This is the one patch of grass in all of New Mexico.  It is right outside of our apartment building.  GREEN!!!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Week 71 - March 4, 2014

Querida Familia,

Well this week has been a trying one, but it has also been filled with beautiful miracles.  I am so blessed to be a missionary and every week I am more and more indebted to the Lord for the blessings he has given me.  I know that Heavenly Father is aware of each of his children and that he loves us. 

So on Wednesday Crystal cancelled our lesson because she wasn't feeling very well.  About 30 minutes later we got another text from her telling us that we wouldn't believe what had just happened.  We asked what had happened and she said that her stove had caught fire and that the fire department had to come, but that they were all ok and in the process of cleaning.  Well we immediately texted back and asked if we could come and help and she accepted.  We were there in a jiffy and we were helping wipe down and clean up the fire mess.  We had them laughing and we were enjoying being able to help their family.  Crystal at one point told us that if we weren't there that she would probably be crying and wondering why another thing was happening to her.  It warmed our hearts to think that we could not only be giving service, but provide a little comfort and a few good jokes to help keep things in perspective.  Her 12 year old daughter Ivy told us that we are the only ones that ever help them, and I just gave her a squeeze and told her that Heavenly Father and the Savior are always there to help them too.  Sometimes I don't think we realize how much a small act of kindness or service goes a long way.  Not only are our own lives blessed, but we bless the lives of those around us.  Sometimes we become so busy with the stuff "we have to do"  we forget to find to time to do the things that will really bless our lives.  How much more beautiful the world would be if we would all just look outside of our own little worlds and look for ways that we can help those around us.  If we do, I know that greater happiness awaits each of us.

Crystal's iguana.  Poor little baby was inside during the smokey fire, so she needed a little extra love and attention :)

So last p-day we didn't do anything to exciting, but we did go down to zone sports and play some basketball.  It was fun to be with other missionaries, but what made me laugh was walking out of the church we were one of the first ones to leave.  You know that there are missionaries in the church building when all of the cars are parked sideways so know one has to get out and back you up.  Picture included.  I think the title of this photo would be you know your a missionary when... :)

Missionaries parking so they don't have to back up.

We have also seen some funny street names lately.  We have a family that lives on Odin street and we have to enter on Asgard street and it's right next to Thor street.  :)  hehe  We also were trying to find a different street and we ended up talking a wrong turn on Sesame Street.  This week's missionary letter is brought to you by the letter L and the number 4.  (ps which is the number of weeks I have left! Ahhhh that is crazy!)

So I have been pondering on what I would say in my letter this week.  Hermana Budge and I had a hard week this past week because we talked to a troubled young man in the street and then went on to visit others.  When we came back an hour later, he had committed suicide.  We ended up staying with police for about three hours and let me tell you the back of a cop car is not comfortable.  My desire never to be arrested has increased dramatically. Not that I ever wanted to get arrested before.  It was emotionally tolling on both of us, but through blessings, prayers, and words of comfort and counsel we are doing well.  Through this whole experience I have seen Heavenly Father's love for all of his children.  I felt his arms around me.  I have felt his protection.  I felt his love for a young man who he put into our path to let him know that God loves him.  It was in the bowl of cereal that President Miller gave to us at 11:30 at night after out of nowhere asking us if we had eaten dinner.  We actually hadn't eaten since 11am that morning and he gave us the only thing that sounded good at that point and had special meaning to us because it is almost a tradition of Hna Budge and I to eat cereal at night.  I have come away from this even stronger and I have learned lessons that I will never forget.  I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that through his atonement we can find peace and joy.  I know that he understands exactly what each of us feels and is going through because he has been there.  He paid the price for everything - our sicknesses, our sorrows, our trials, our pains, our sins.  He felt it so he knows how to help.  I felt the atonement in a very real way this week and I am so grateful for the loving comfort it has provided.  I know that prayer is the key and when we just can't do it alone that Heavenly Father is always waiting for us to get down on our knees and pour out our hearts unto him.  I know without a doubt that God is listening and he will always answer our prayers.

Con Amor,
Hermana Klaus