April 25, 2015

Week 45: MacDonalds Makes the World Go Round

Once upon a time, hermana riches and hermana flores decided to go on an adventure.  The sun was blazing, the heat was sweltering, and these two missionaries were in the need of a little pick-me-up.  In the distance they caught a glympse of golden arches, almost glowing in front of the monterrey mountain back drop.  The decision was unanimous- a taxi zoomed around the corner and they decided to fulfill their dream of going through MacDonald's drivethrough- In a Taxi.  Like a summer day, the 2 minute trip felt like an hour as their hair blowed with the rolled down windows.  I can honestly say it was a thrill pulling up to the window, being given a coca light in one hand and a vanilla cone in the other.  The taxi driver couldn't help but shake his head and laugh at how happy we were.  I may have friends serving missions in other much cooler, exciting places, but hey atleast i got my drive through coca light :)

Just had to remind you all that I'm still normal and havn't changed :) Well- where to begin.  I'll start with the weather....so hot!  but yesterday we had a random 1 hour downpour and then blazing heat afterwards.....i miss my bay area weather.  Its raining right now and we just got back from playing soccer in the rain with all the elders. seriously such a blast hahaha the latinos are so good its ridiculous.  I'm brushin' up my AYSO soccer skills.....but its official. i will never be a coordinated soccer player.  The 2 new elders in my ward are super awesome-- every day we eat lunch with them in a church member's home, and it's been especially interesting learning about Ecuador because Elder Plaza is from Ecuador.  Elder Clark is brand new in the mission...3rd week here....so he is in the process of learning to speak and understand español.  Oh how I remember those days.  I have enjoyed being his translator haha.  Yesterday we had a neat experience....the woman I mentioned in my email last week with cancer, well we asked the two elders if they could come and give her a blessing- in the church, men through the power and authority of the priesthood can give blessings by laying their hands on their head for those that are experiencing difficulties, sicknesses, etc.  They arrived and gave sweet Blanca a blessing- and it was really powerful to listen to and to see the look of gratitude on her face.  I know this power is real, and that truly worthy men with this power can bless us and heal us when we need it.

This week Alondra, a woman in our ward, presented us to 2 women that live on her street....2 sisters 21 and 26 years old.  They live together, and their husbands leave all the time for work.  The 21 year old, Berta, is extremely depressed because her 3 month old baby just passed away, choking on milk.  A horrible story :( these women have so much sadness in their countenances.  Alondra had only talked to these girls one time before, and felt the need to contact us so that we could present ourselves and share an uplifting message.  We testified to these women that life does not end at death, that she will see her baby again through this gospel of jesus christ.  I feel honored every day, every hour, when I am able to bring esperanza, (hope) luz (light), and gozo,(joy) into these people's lives.

Yesterday at church we decided to go in and listen to the youth sunday school class...ages 12-18.  there are about 25 youth in total here in my ward.  They talked about the importance of REALLY knowing for yourself if this gospel is true-- and being strong during all these worldly temptaions and difficulties we face now adays.  The world is getting tougher and tougher to live in.  Here in Mexico you see lots of teenage girls-- 15 and 16 years old---- pregnant and its so sad to see them in their school uniforms, just going to school normally and then having to drop out.  We have taught quite a few of young pregnant girls and it just makes me so grateful for the values I have grown up with.

Tomorrow we have a zone conference all day with Pres. Bird where we receive instruction, practice, and bond with my buddies here!  You form such great friendships here in the mission.  

Hasta Luego- estoy muy agradecida por todos sus correos, sus oraciónes, su amor....en verdad me fortelecen.  La Misión es dificil, pero hermosa.  Amo ser misionera.  Amo a mi familia y a mis amigos.  GRACIAS POR TODO!  

skype countdown.  20 days YIPPEE!!!!!
Our Plan de Salvación that we created to use when we teach

my zone chillin eatin carne asada
  us writing you guys right now :)

 C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


April 14, 2015

WEEK 44: Behold- The Notorious Farmer's Tan Returns

Let the attractive tan lines return.  The powerful Monterrey Sun has come out, and I already have a defined shoe strap tan line.

A great week ended with Eduard's baptism!  Here is the story with him.  Our first week here we were searching for an inactive family-- La Familia Aguilar-- and when we found them, we learned that Edward, 10 years old, had not been baptized but wanted to be.  So these past 6 weeks we have been reactivating this family as well as preparing this boy to be baptized.  It has been really neat to see this family change-- grow more happier as they've returned to the gospel.  During the baptism we sang "Grand Eres Tu"...."How Great thou Art" with the new elders in our ward....Elder Plaza from Ecuador and Elder Clark from Utah.  Next week we have 2 more baptisms with kids of less active families, and it was funny because after Edward's baptismal service, the bishop came up to Hermana Flores and I and said:  "Próxima semana más bautismos?? Qué hicieron??" "more baptisms next week?  What have you guys done??" hahah we really have had lots of work here in Miguel Aleman!  There have only been about 2 baptisms in this area the last 8 months or so-- so it has been great helping this area/ward progress.
Us with the elders in our ward and the other ward in our church building 

Highlights of the week:

So one night we were walking by a Christian church around 8 pm, and an idea popped into my mind that we should go in and sing a hymn for everyone there.  My companion laughed nervously-- we dodged the bullet and entered and sat down.  The preacher was yelling, reading a bible story very passionately about mothers eating their children haah Hna Flores and I seriousy felt fear sitting in there!!  At the end, the preacher turned to us and asked-- HERMANAS DE DIOS... Les Gustaría compartir algo concerniente nuestro señor jesucristo?  SISTERS OF GOD....would you like to share something concerning our Lord Jesus Christ?  At this moment, i quickly got up, introduced ourselves, and asked if we could sing a hymn.  We stood up front and sang Yo Sé Que Vive Mi Señor....I know that My Redeemer Lives.... one of my favorite hymns.  The look on everyone's face...the PREACHER'S face....was indescribable!  All smiling, closing their eyes, recognizing the peace this song brings. I have had numerous magical mission experiences, but this had to be one of my favorites.  At the end we bore testimony of our savior jesus christ.  Music has an indescribable way to penetrate the heart-- music is my passion.  I'm actually currently working on writing a song in spanish to the tune of Where Can I Turn For Peace :)

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ, Jesus our Lord  Romans 8:39
A great family in my ward
Well we have a grandma, daughter, and grandson who have been going to church with us!  They are all set for baptism May 10th :)  Gloria, Gloria, and Humberto....they have been listening to the missionaries for 4 years and their first time at church was general conference last weekend!  It was adorable-- the first time we met them, Humberto (9 years old) was wearing a BYU sweatshirt-- a member I guess had previously given it to him-- and he got pretty excited when I told him that I went to school there hahah.  Seriously so random he had a BYU sweatshirt!  It's actually not surprising- all the street markets here sell fan clothing for every USA sport and university hahah.  But yes- this family is golden.  I'll write more about them next week.
This girl in my ward squeezes me EVERY time I see her haha it is the cutest
A new family we have begun teaching is one of the humblest I've met-- About 12 family members live in this barren house, half of them don't know how to read, and one woman has cancer.  It's brutal.  She goes in for chemotherapy treatments 3 days a week, and that very same afternoon she comes home, puts on her wig, and walks a few blocks to set out her little gum / candy stand and sells what she can to bring in income for the family.  Her story has really impacted me-- in her prayers with us she prayers for OTHER people battling diseases-- and here she is dying of cancer, selling candy on the street just so she can put food on the table for her kids.
Mama Robles

Wish I could share every single experience I've had!! Luckily my journal is FILLED so when I return home in 8 months I will have even more stories to share about the people that have touched my life.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of god unto Salvation to everyone that believeth  Romans 1:16

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


April 06, 2015

Week 43: Because He Lives

First Big birthday shout outs to grandpa, dad, and jordan!!!! i've been thinking of you 3 and jordan i can't believe you turn 18 tomorrow!!! Such an amazing experience being able to celebrate your birthday during an exemplary basketball tournament in Italy--- rooting for you over here!!!
Well this week flew by.  The church came out with a new video for this easter season called GRACIAS A QUE EL VIVE / BECAUSE HE LIVES.  As missionaries we have little pass along cards, trying to get as many people as we can to watch it.  It is such a powerful video- reminding us that Christ lives and is right here with us....we just have to LOOK for him.  I invite you all to watch this video and share this wideo with those you love!

This weekend was general conference.  General Conference is a world wide conference we have every 6 months where we get to listen to a living prophet, apostles, and church leaders.  It's 8 hours in total, and as it is my 2nd time watching it in spanish I can't help but feel so grateful that i speak english--- the native tongue of our leaders. It's definitely not the same listening to a translator, but nonetheless i could understand everything and feel the great tranquility fill the room as we listened to men and women called of God.  General conference is a great opportunity to recieve guidance on how we can better live our lives, how we can grow closer to our heavenly father.  During October 2013 conference, i recieved the answer that I needed to serve a mission.  I remember being in Utah, and i called my family afterwards and said "HEY I think Iám going to serve a mission!" My family was a bit surprised haha but i just knew so strongly that I needed to go, and everyday here in Monterrey I am so grateful for the strong prompting I recieved during october 2013 conference.  I truly know that during these conferences we can recieve guidance and answers to our questions.  My favorite talks were by Elder Holland and Gerald Causee--- you all should definitely go watch them!
Our church buildingWe had a bit of a crazy week with super hot weather and rain, and we also changed houses!  It was a spur of the moment decision, but i've moved one street over in a brand new house the bishop's wife has prepared for us :)  We are literally 3 houses down from the bishop haha it's great!  our new house is very cute-- and get this, our study room is PINK!  yes.  hot pink walls everyone.  it really does motivate me to study.  I feel a little bit like Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde hahaha.  I truly am learning how to be independent around the house-- fixing water heaters, fans, washing clothes by hand, screwing on toilet seats-- sister missionary life is pretty glamorous.

Lately I have been drinking lots of cantalope juice-- it is so good here!  And omelettes with corn tortillas-- i'm actually diggin' the corn tortillas more than the flour.  I'm truly a native.  I've learned that the true way to cook them is directly on the stove, without a pan, flipping them with your hands.  I'm getting to be a pro.

This sunday we should have a baptism!  We are preparing Eduard (10 years old) for his baptism April 12th.  This week we also had a few of the 15 and 16 year old girls in my ward accompany us during lessons because they are all on spring break.  BECCA THEY REMIND ME OF YOU <3 <3 love and miss you family!!!!

Feliz Cumpleanos Elder Weiss!
Los Tigres...the famous monterrey soccer team

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


Week 42: Tengo Gozo En Mi Alma Hoy

Tengo gozo en mi alma hoy.  There is joy in my soul today.  Yesterday we had the very special opportunity to see Isac be baptized-- a 17 year old who has been listening to the missionaries for 4 years.  Everything went so perfectly yesterday-- the room was absolutely packed.  About 100 people were there supporting him.  We bought him a tie and a mini hymn book and collected notes of encouragement from everyone there.  The best part was that his parents were able to come and support him, even shedding some tears as we sang Ï'm Trying to Be Like Jesus / When I Am Baptized with the elders.  I love these primary hymns, and it was so powerful singing with the them...here are the lyrics in spanish:

Yo trato de ser como Cristo
y hacer lo que hizo Él.
El mismo amor que Él mostró
yo quiero mostrar también.
Me tienta a veces el mal a obrar,
mas la voz del Espíritu me empieza a hablar. Dice:

“Ama a otros cual Cristo te ama. Sé bondadoso y tierno y fiel.
Pues esto es lo que Jesús nos enseña”. Yo quiero seguirlo a Él.

Yo sirvo a mis amigos
y al prójimo con amor.
Espero con gozo el regreso
de Cristo mi Salvador.
Si siempre recuerdo lo que Él enseñó,
la voz de su Espíritu le habla a mi corazón:

“Ama a otros cual Cristo te ama. Sé bondadoso y tierno y fiel.
Pues esto es lo que Jesús nos enseña”. Yo quiero seguirlo a Él.

Me encanta el arco iris
después de ver llover,
y pienso en lo limpia que la
tierra ya se ve.

Tal como tierra
limpia cuando acaba de llover,
yo quiero comportarme bien
y con mi Dios volver.

Cuando yo me bautice
se limpiará mi ser,
mi Padre me perdonará y el
bien querré escoger.

Tal como tierra
limpia cuando acaba de llover,
yo quiero comportarme bien
y con mi Dios volver.

At times it is easy to think: I'm tired.  My body is sore.  No one wants to listen to us.  But when you see the fruits of your labors it's all worth it.  There is no greater feeling than watching someone make a choice that will bless the rest of their life, knowing that because of my dedication to give 18 months of my time i can help someone else, another family, find eternal joy; the same happiness I have been blessed to have in my own family.  To have the guarantee to live eternally with the people they love.  It was really sweet-- at the end, isaac shared a few words, and tears streamed down his face as he expressed to everyone there, including his parents, the impact this church has had on his life, and how he knows from here on out it is an uphill journey to return to live with our Heavenly Father.  It's so special to see the bond between Marco, the bishop's son, and Isaac, and how he was able to be baptized by his best friend.
As missionaries we don't baptize to increase church numbers.  We don't aim to change people's religions or cultural beliefs.  We have the desire to help people commit to baptism because we know that with the correct form of being baptized it gives us a guaranteed "ticket" into Heavenly Father's kingdom-- and we want everyone to have these eternal blessings Heavenly Father has prepared for them.  I sincerely know that today exists the correct form for us to be baptized, and it's thanks to the priesthood, the power that worthy men have in our church to act in the name of God and seal things not only for this time on earth but for all eternity .  I know that this power is real and that one can only recieve it through the laying on of hands from someone else who holds the priesthood.

Well- 1 transfer (6 weeks) has been completed here in Miguel Aleman...I have a guaranteed 6 weeks left here with Hermana Flores to finish her training and then who knows what will happen!  The 2 elders in my ward are being transferred, so tomorrow we'll get new elders!  It's been a blast here with Elder Weiss and Elder Redford...you really grow to miss the missionaries that get ransferred!  Also..this week my previous 2 companions Hna Batalla and Hna Mendoza return home!  Time flies.
  Eatin some classic cornbread

I gave my talk on sunday on LA OBEDIENCIA....obedience...and it went well!  We teach/ study so much that I just went up there with 3 scripture verses and spoke for 10 minutes haha as a missionary you don't need as much preparation!  On saturday we watched women's conference...a conference broadcasted from Salt Lake for the whole world.  There were great speakers and a great talk by Elder Eyring.  The central theme of the conference was the importance of LAS FAMILIAS....how we need to defend our family values and really ahve strong homes during the difficult times when the "world's status" tries to tears families apart.

The hot weather and nightly karaoke seshes are beginning to return...also- HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHOUTOUT TO EMILY CROWDER and shout out to NANCY SUTTER, KATIE BARRUS, AND MOM for your packages.  Nance...your package finally came 4 months later :)  and mom...the snacks you send me are loved by all the elders- literally when a package arrives for me in the office everyone wants me to open it right there because they know how awesome you are haha!
Us on our Pdays

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches