Monday, September 22, 2014

Press Forward

Just me this morning!
Our planting corn "Joseph Smith Style" service day!

Oh my family that I love so much! I love you. So much. I am so glad you all got to go to the temple and feel the spirit and enjoy the dedication!! The day you were all in the dedication we were having Stake Conference here in Ayacucho and President Douglas and a Setenta Elder Solis were here. It was a super spiritual meeting, and there was a really great turnout :)

Well. This week was a week filled with the spirit for me as well :) On Tuesday, I was super stressed and I just felt weird. We had a lot of things to do with some new planning tools and also with just general working with the ward.  I had to do part of a training on the work of salvation program and I was just frazzled. I finally listened to the prompting to ask for a priesthood blessing from my district leader Elder Flores. After explaining for 5 minutes that I really did only have 2 names to the amazement of the elders and also our mission leader, he gave me a beautiful blessing. I am so grateful for the power of the priesthood. I had a super duper clear flashback in the middle of it to when dad gave me a blessing the night before I left. I know that the priesthood is a real power and I am so grateful for it. Also, that night our mission leader, Luis, who was in there when I asked for the blessing, called us and brought us a cake. He told me that eating was the only way to solve stress in the mission. I love him. Hahahah I am so grateful for him and people like his family and these ward members who care so much about the missionaries.

We have this new investigator with a baptismal date named Mery and she is amazing. This week, we talked about the Restoration and watched the short version of the Restoration and when it was over we asked her what she was feeling or thinking. She just said,  "Well I believe it" , and that when she prays, she knows that it is true. The spirit was so powerful. The message of the Restoration opens hearts and minds and touches spirits deeper than anything else.

We also had a lesson with another family this week and watched the full Restoration video, the newer one that is narrated by a convert, and not by Lucy Mack Smith. There is a scene in it when Alvin, Hyrum, and Joseph are all together just being boys and it of course made me think of my 3 brothers and I just love them so much. I admire them, just as I admire the Smith brothers. I think they are so amazing. I am so thankful to have 3 brothers that are so good and so perfect. Well, from 4000 miles away I think they are perfect :) hahahaha no promises after.... just kidding! So kidding.

Speaking of Joseph Smith, we went full Joseph Smith movie in service on Thursday. We planted corn with pickaxes and a stick. It was so fun! And hard work. I am so thankful for parents that taught me to work hard and love the Lord, just like Joseph Smith.

So one night this week we were leaving the chapel at like 8:50 and really needed a taxi, but they are sometimes a little more rare at night. Worried we would be late, I didn't really know what to do. All of a sudden I thought of my parents and how if they were here, they would send me a taxi. And then I was like, well why would my Heavenly Father not do the same? I said a prayer in my head and literally a taxi honked at us before I could even finish. I am so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who literally answers prayers when we ask in faith, and for parents that are so amazing that it makes it easy to trust in my heavenly parents as well. 

We had a zone meeting with President this weekend and it was just what I needed! It always answers the questions I have been having and helps me to be a better missionary. I love President Douglas. He reminds me of Dad :)

Stake Conference was pretty great too! They talked a lot about missionary work and how the members could really be involved. Also, they handed out coloring pages for the kids and I totally had a nostalgia flashback to being a kid in Yucca Valley and coloring those. Hahahaha 

After the conference, our ward council went out and visited people! They actually did stuff! They came with us to meet some investigators and they are all seriously so funny. It was a really fun night and it made me so happy to see them really working :)

I want to finish just saying I think I am in love. With the Book of Mormon. It is so amazing. I am stunned every week with how much more I love to read it and learn and feel the Spirit that comes with it. I finished 3 Nefi in Spanish today and two of my favorite scriptures are in there: Chapter 17 verse 5 and Chapter 19 verse 25. I love the Book of Mormon, and I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I love this work, I love this people, I love my family and I love this Gospel.



101 Days to Christmas!

Familia!! There are only 101 days until I get to Skype with your beautiful faces :) I love you all so much.

I was thinking this week that while I am so far away, missing you all so much,  I really feel myself growing closer to you in the most incredible way. It is a weird feeling.

Un mal noticia. We don't get to watch conference until the weekend after because it is elections in Peru and they close the churches. I am more than a little bummed. Hahahaha, just because Christmas is like conference. You know what I mean. Hahahaha. Oh, well I will get over it.

This week I have been hit by the power of the Book of Mormon. I think there are two reasons that we have a mission rule to carry one in our hands at all times. 1) is that it has a really hard spine, and although it may be sacreligious, it is very effective when a dog attacks you and 2) there is literal power in that blue book. Just opening it releases the Spirit. It is as if some of the shine of the gold plates is some how translated into every paper copy. It is a beautiful, powerful thing.

If anyone ever just needs to take the baby steps to get back where they should be, just open that book. Something changes within you. One investigator this week described it as lightning shooting up his arm when we handed it to him. Amazing. 

Hey, look up the song "That's the kind of day I wish for you."   I think it is by Faith Hill. I love you all so much.

This week an investigator told us he wanted to go to hell because he wants to know what it is like, then he will just ask the demon for permission to leave. Hahahaha.  I died laughing. I love people so much it isn't even funny.

Google pan chapla. I don't know what it is or why I love it so much, but it is life changing. That and Inca Cola. Hahahahaha it might be a problem----

Well.. I am writing real letters and sending them today!! I made a pact with myself. Hahahaha so expect those :)  I love you all so much it isn't even funny. Next week's email will be longer, this week was kinda slow. Not slow, just normal. I just love this work. It is beautiful. And I love all of you :) so much.

I love you!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Someone Build an Ark!

Familia!!! How are you all?! Here is hoping that all is well and everyone is happy! It is officially rainy season here in Ayacucho and I am in desperate need of an ark, so if you could send that Fedex it would be great! Hahaha

Well in sad news Kati and Maritzas baptismal dates fell this week. Kati because she is at home with her baby and can't come to church. Rough stuff, but it is okay.  Yesterday we found 4 new investigators and put 4 new baptismal dates for the 27th of this month and the 18th of October! All is well in Zion. 

Well in the beginning of this week we were actually in a trio with Hermana Alonso, Hermana Jameson's companion because Hermana Jameson had leader's conference. It was hard to not work full time in just our area, but it was fun to be in a trio for a couple days. Hermana Alonso is really funny. 

Oh funny story, last Sunday I asked to use the bathroom at a members house.  She is a member that we know really well, but when she led me into the bathroom it was too late to say I didn't need it when I saw that it was a half waller.  It was facing into the kitchen, which is really just a campfire. So I got to talk to the hermana while I went pee and it was just awesome. I was just trying really hard not to picture mom in that same situation, because when I did, I just about busted up laughing.

But really, the rain. Someone send me an ark. Hahaha, in good news, my shoes are shrinking back to their normal size because they are wet all the time. They were getting a little big. Hahahaha, there is always a silver lining :) And it smells like it did when it rained in Yucca Valley, so I am happy with that too :)

So I have a crazy Lauren idea slash story thing. Like 6 times since I have gotten to Ayacucho, sometimes when we are walking home at night a dog stays with us the whole way home. Like the whole way, right with us, keeping everyone and every other dog far away. The crazy Lauren explanation is that I really feel like it is on those days or on those nights when Heavenly Father answers my family's prayers, or they are praying extra hard for my protection, or are concerned and He sends me a little (or big) guardian angel in a form that I will recognize as coming from my beautiful family :) So don't worry, I am totally being protected by the guardian angels you are sending. 

Oh also, this hair oil you sent me reminds me of the boys. It smells like them. Haahaha, I think about them and their shenanigans almost every morning because of it. 

So this week on Thursday we did service like always.  We ended up going to the Bishop's counselor's (yes he only has one.... that is the dysfunction of Ayacucho) house and moving a whole bunch of rocks to make a house thing. Well I could lift huge rocks and now I have gained the respect of Presidente David and the elders. Hahaha, yay farmer girl! Shout out to West Weber and building poodle barns!

Sometimes the world makes me a little sad when I see a little child, or look into the eyes of a woman we contact in the street and see traces of abuse so evident in tears of shame or forced smiles, or a bruised cheek on the face of a child so innocent and so close to God that is too rapidly losing the light in their eyes that should be in the eyes of every child. Oh please love those around you. Don't hurt those who love you, just love. I want to just take all of them home sometimes.

Yesterday during sacrament meeting I had a very powerful experience. I had been praying and fasting to know how we could help our ward, how to be better. Well we got there and not one of the recent converts from our area was there,  not one! During the sacrament I was hit with a paralyzing sorrow for them, that the ward maybe hadn't done their part to fellowship them, that maybe we could be doing better as missionaries, that maybe the trials of life were too much. I know that my Heavenly Father was letting me see how He feels when his sheep are lost, when we struggle or when we don't obey. When we are so imperfect and maybe as members aren't disciples as we should be. It was a powerful, moving experience. Intense sorrow powered by a love I have rarely felt. I wept through all of sacrament meeting and shared the experience crying in consejo while everyone was so shocked and being brought to a realization that maybe we could care for these sheep better. Apparently it worked, because we had a training last night and I think things are looking up. It was a beautiful experience.

Also during sacrament meeting I sat by this mamita who has been a member for years and always sits alone because she is not quite all the way there, she is a little slow. She was just so concerned I was crying.  She kept wiping away my tears and telling me it was okay, that Jesus loves us, which made me cry more. And i just love all the mamitas that don't even speak Spanish. I try to hug them every week and make sure they know I love them.  In Relief Society yesterday one of them motioned for me to come over and she gave me a packet of cookies and kissed my forehead.  I know she is really poor, and that gesture of love and of kindness just pushed me right over the edge. I love this church. I love seeing Christ in the faces and actions of the sweet, faithful members here. It is beautiful.

Last story for yesterday, it looks like all of our fasting was answered! So on Saturday I contacted this 18 year old girl in the street named Jennifer. She isn't quite all the way there.  She reminds me of Larie who I worked with in Special Needs Mutual. She wanted us to come visit her family so we went last night after church. Her dad and her mom were there and we were able to teach them! They are really interested and said that they have been feeling lately they need to get their life in order and get married and so forth. They accepted a baptismal date and we finally found the family I knew was waiting! I really hope they will move forward in the Gospel. I have always felt that because of my experiences with Special Needs Mutual, I would find someone with special needs in my mission, and we actually contacted 2 this week! They are such special spirits. 

Well with lots and lots of work we are moving forward in Ayacucho! Thank you for your fasting, for your faith, for your prayers, and for your examples to me. I love you all more than mortal words can say. I love this Gospel. I know that it is true. I know that my Redeemer lives, and I know that families can be together, and that mine will. I can't wait to go to the temple all together, including with Grandma Judy :) Read Moroni 10: 4 -7, it talks about how we can't deny this spirit. I can't deny the joy that the Gospel brings me. I can't deny of its truthfulness. Share the good news!!! Let the joy of His spirit carry you. I LOVE YOU!


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Can't Even Actually Believe it is September!

Me and Hermana Tuquerres! Hermana Tuquerres and I?
Me and the GRINGAS!

One of the roads in our area the day I was so cold, I wore something that didn't match... sorry Mom. Hahaha




Familiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Who I love :) Is it cold there yet? I am frozen, for your information. Hahaha, not really, it is just colder than usual :)


This week started in a trio with Hermana Wilkins and Hermana Quist which was actually really fun, but I felt like a walking terrorist target between two blondes. Just kidding. There haven't been terrorists here for like at least 20 years. Hahaha, mom calm down.  I really am so kidding :) I feel soooo safe here, especially compared to San Juan :) I love Ayacucho so much, except maybe the mountain.

Also this week, I was sitting in district meeting thinking that I am so grateful I am not a newbie. There is a sweet new elder in my district who just kept suggesting contacting in parks as a way to find new families, and I was just like "Elder there are no parks in the real missionary world, just sheep". Hahaha, but really, I am so grateful to finally not be lost all the time and to feel somewhat like I know what I am doing. It is a nice feeling. Hahaha,  I have sooooo far to go, but I finally feel so good about it all :)

Dad's "natural man" email last week was very well timed. I feel like I am trying so hard to become a saint through the Atonement and learning and understanding it, but I am just so incredibly weak. Ugh. Saints and sinners :) It is a really fine line.... hahaha, but I am really learning my purpose in life and what it even means to be a saint, a disciple of Christ in all that we do forever :)

Kati!!! Had her baby.... which is so great :) except we haven't been able to meet with her much. But I am so happy for her! I can't wait to see her baby.  Peruvian babies are sooo cute, usually. 

Something random that I have learned this week is how important communication is and how important it is to be able to talk about anything and everything all the time in all relationships... including someday with a spouse and within families. It is just soooo important to me. Especially since I talk a lot,  maybe demaciado. (too much). hahahaha

So funny story of the week,  on Saturday we were riding the bus down to the chapel and it was highly eventful. The bus gets SOOO full and we were standing up and an old mamita got on. Before she had good footing they took off, and in her panic she flailed and strangled me in order to save herself... Hahaha. It was actually really sad and funny.   I  had to hold her up until even more people got on and it wasn't even possible to fall. On that same note, I don't think I have ever been that close to a man,  not in a long time anyway. The Ruta is hilarious. So dang many people, and the mamitas with the weird grass I think they maybe eat and my too tall (yes, I am REALLY tall here) neck kinked and squished against the ceiling, and the little dirty selva girl with a chicken in a bucket. So funny. So many adventures.

Yesterday, I was sitting in church in Relief Society and there is this really fun old grandma/mamita named Imiran who I love. She is so sweet, and like most everyone, pretty darn poor. She has a little store, but it is an adobe house. I looked over and saw her sealing up her tithing envelope and I started to cry. There are so many devoted saints in this world, and I just hope to someday have the faith that they do,  of that little old woman paying her tithing. She also has a daughter on a mission. I love her :)

Well, the focus in the mission is still families families families! I think I have contacted more this week than in my entire life which is actually quite frightening. But I know that we are eventually going to find the family that is waiting for this message.  I just know it. If you could include that in your fast next week and in your prayers... that the missionaries of Alameda can find families to teach and baptize so they can make the covenants I know are so essential to a beautiful, eternal family like the one I am so blessed to have. I love you all so much it hurts, and I don't even have words to express it. Thank you so much for all you do.

Go to the temple for me! Have a great week! How are the boys? and the extended family? I love you all so much.

Te Amo!!


Just a typical day, herding your donkeys and such in your mamita gear.