August 30, 2015

Week 63: Miracles Happen

This week must have been one of the most craziest, stressful, miraculous weeks i have had in monterrey!!  Wow- my mission life should be a reality TV show.  This week's experiences also confirmed in my heart that God is in control of everything and that this is HIS work.  And that missionary work is only possible if you put your trust in Him.

So- Once upon a time our sweet investigadora Yarethzi decided to randomly go out of town 2 weeks before her baptismal date.  She wasn't answering any of our phone calls, and we feared that this vacation with her super catholic aunt would change everything.  On Wednesday we recieved a surprise phone call from Yarethzi telling us that she wanted to be baptized on sunday!  And it was miraculous because we got a new phone number this week and we don't know HOW she got a hold of our new number.  On thursday we put her baptismal program together, but on friday night we recieved the news that Yarethzi's mom wasn't in agreement, and we tried calling Yarethzi and she wasn't answering.  Saturday we were waiting all day for her phone call because she needed to have her baptismal interview, and when she didn't return any of our calls our hearts just sank because we knew she couldn't get baptized on sundaywithout the interview.  Sunday morning sure enough she calls us, saying she wanted to be baptized and that she'd invited a ton of people, and so we had to call Presidente Bird to get special permission for her to have the interview and baptism on the same day-- sure enough he let it pass, and Yarethzi was happily baptized yesterday at 7pm!!!!

Hopefully you all enjoyed my mini rundown of events haha but honestly I have never prayed so hard and so often!!  It is a miracle Yarethzi got haptized and she is one of the strongest 14 year olds I have come across, willing to make these changes in her life.  What made this event even more special was watching her father Jorge, baptized a month ago, baptize her and shed tears of joy seeing his daughter make this decision to follow Christ.  The baptism attendance was bigger than our normal church attendance haha all the youth conference leaders from other wards came to support her!!  Yarethzi 3 months ago was someone devoted to attending catholic mass and teaching little kids a bible class each saturday morning, and now she has truly come closer to her Savior and as she puts it-- "filled the emptiness she felt in her heart".  She has so many church youth friends now, and she is already a missionary sharing with others the happiness she has found in her life.  I love her-- and it has been an honor watching her change and become a happier teenager  My favorite scripture perfectly explains how i feel at this moment:

I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it.  I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance, and this is my joy" ALMA 29:9

I am seriously filed with so much joy! My mouth hurts from smiling so much.  The friendships I have made here have changed my life.  The love is mutual between the members/ investigadores and me, and they daily express to hna espinosa and I how we have greatly changed and impacted their lives.  But honestly they have done more for me than I can express.  We are just on cloud 9 with the ward and all that is happening in our area.  Last year this area was "dead", and now it's progressing more rapidly than we can handle haha!

This weekend our stake held a "mini mission" activity and we had a youth spend 24 hours with us to catch a glimpse of missionary life.  We had a great time with Hna Davila-- It's safe to say her legs and feet were super sore sundaymorning haha!

 our zone activity today with water balloons

Yesterday I had the absolute best homemade guacamole-- along with yours mamariches-- and i can't wait to make it for yall at home :) I also have mastered the art of making homemade natural juices-- watermelon/ celery, cucumber/ celery, cantaloupe  mango, guava, will be impressed friends and family :)
             Yarethzi's little bro-- prepping for his baptism!
The heat is dying down and the cockroaches are still found daily in our kitchen.  But i love it here and we possibly may have el bautismo del hno Jose Guadalupe this sunday!!! love you all-- les amo mucho.
  with the hermanas in my zone

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


August 23, 2015

Week 62: A few Bumps in the Road

Buenas tardes!!  I am sitting here sipping fresh lemon, orange, pineapple, cucumber juice picturing Becca on her first day of 10th grade and Jordan moving out to Provo next week to start the best year of his life at BYU.....How is time moving so fast???!!!  This week was filled with emotions.   Highs and lows.  On Tuesday we had personal interviews with Pres. Bird that we have about every 2 months, and it was a nice opportunity to just openly discuss how I am doing.  I really look up to Pres Bird, and he has taught me principles that I will apply for the rest of my life.  It kind of hit me hard when he asked me.... you have about 3 months left right?.... haha and then he started to talk about how I need to be thinking about what classes I wanna take back at school, etc.  16 WEEKS UNTIL I AM HOME :)  This week I got to go work with 2 hermanas in 2 diff areas....Learning from them and gaining new experiences.  It's interesting how every area is so different-- and I just feel even more confident that I am working in my area for a specific, special reason.  haha It's so great making friendships with new hermanas-- I worked with an americana that has little time here, and i had the honor of calling the mission doctor and explaining to him in spanish her diarea problems-- life as an hermana is oh so glamorous.  On Firday i went back to my "birth" area Sada Vidrio, and saw all of my dear friends again.  As I walked the old streets, spent the night in my old apartment, and met with all the people I have grown to love, all of the memories replayed in my mind and I came to the realization that I really have grown and changed a lot since my first area.  I feel like I am a whole new missionary.  As much as I love and miss my first area, I am grateful for all the progress I have experienced in Miguel Aleman and America.

Hna Espinosa and I love to think outside of the box.  A lot of times people assume missionary work is just teaching lessons all day long, but we think of creative activities to find new people and get the church members involved....such as SUMMER CAROLING.  Saturday we decided to get together with 10 members and visit 7 less active families singing "La Familia es de Dios" "The family is of God"..... and giving them cupcakes.  It was a hit.  The best part was that our new bishop and his wife went with us, getting to know the families and personally inviting them to return back to church.  You could feel such a warmth in every home we visited, and we are truly seeing the fruits of teamwork as we work with the ward.  Missionary work isn't just something young adults with black nametags do all over the world-- it is missionaries working as a team with church members in the ward to help spread this message of joy to everyone and to help rescue those who are falling.  The Bishop is super happy with us and our efforts to unite the ward, and I feel so loved recieving so much help from the members.  They all want to go out and teach with us, and the youth express how these missionary opportunities have changed their lives.  My area America surely is AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL haha :)

There have been quite a few ranges of emotions this week-- Marcelina did not get baptized because she is still having smoking problems.  Smoking is the only thing keeping Marcelina and Jose Guadalupe from getting baptized and it's a bit frustrating when you put all of your energies and forces to help them, and it's still not sufficient.  So please pray for them!!!!  It kills me watching them be under the control of this addiction, but they have the faith that Christ can help them.  Yaretzi also randomly just left out of town so we are just hoping with all our hearts that she returns in time for her baptism this sunday.  Lots of stress with investigadores and the challenges Satan is throwing at them but at the same time we are seeing lots of miracles :)

There are also so many lice outbreaks!!  I am protecting my hair at every moment haah.  Also, last night someone stole our crappy cell phone in a park!  So yea,  life is just a bit hectic at the moment haha.  

This week we also taught Jose Guadalupe, a 40 year old man, the law of chastity, which is the commandment we have to save intimate relations until marriage, and it was quite the scene having two 20 year old women and a 15 year old young girl teach a 40 year old man what he can and cannot do hahah.  You gotta create an atmosphere of laughter when it's easy to feel awkward.  

On a good note, yesterday Jorge blessed the sacrament for the first time!!! He is a golden convert.
  Jorge cooked us delicious pork for lunch

I want to end by just expressing how much I have grown in my ability to pray and read the scriptures to search for answers.  I love that as missionaries we teach people HOW to find what is true through prayer and scriptures, not just "convincing them that these things are true".  I invite you all to be like the prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon that depends on the Lord continually.

and I Nephi did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things  1 nephi 18:3
My ladies

C O N  A M O R

hermana riches


August 10, 2015

Week 61: The Little Things

Only in Mexico would our mission presidente order a taco truck to come and give us all "campechanas"during our leadership council

This week was jammed pack with experiences.  I am thankful for my typing classes in the 7th grade with Mr. Ribaudo that have helped me to be a faster typer so I can somewhat share most of my experiences with you all!  Lots of little things made this week a good week:

-Recieving a handwritten letter from Owen and Grayson!!! love you guys
Thursday morning Hna Bird....President's wife.... calling me from the hair salon and asking me how to say "thick blonde highlights" in spanish....we are truly california sistas
- Our recent convert Jorge recieved the priesthood yesterday!  He is progressing so well and is excited to baptize his daughter yaretzi in 2 weeks
- mi "hija" hermana flores got called as a trainer this week!  so proud of her <3 
-Citlali, a 15 year old who goes out and teaches with us, wrote us a beautiful handwritten letter how we have changed her life, helped her find more happiness and strength in this gospel
- Of course the taco truck arriving at the leadership council
- Marcelina, scheduled to be baptized this sunday, finished the whole book of mormon!
- Yaretzhi attending a youth conference that allowed her to make lots of new friends and be even more excited to be baptized
- mamariches sending me ghiradelli chocolate
- coming across an apartment complex filled with koreans- i tried speaking to a man and he knows zero spanish and only a tad of english..... we already told the mission offices that we want books of mormon in korean haha and we are seriously going to help Jungalo-Ming get baptized!!
- yesterday we took 3 investigadores to a baptism in another ward, and they are even more excited and anxious to dress in white and be baptized as well.

and lots more.  But really time is flying and I am grateful for these moments I have everyday that make me smile and appreciate these 18 months I am dedicating here in Mexico.

Every first thursday of the month we have a leadership council, us 6 hna leaders, 20 zone leaders, presidente and hna bird, and it is 8 hours of pure planning, discussing how we can keep progressing as a mission, and how we can help the rest of the missionaries reach their potential.  Presidente had hna espinosa and I instruct for about 20 on DILIGENCIA HASTA EL FIN....diligence until the end.... and yes dad all of our councils / meetings / conferences are in spanish!  I always learn so much through preparing for these presentations we have to give.  Presidente Bird is happy with us because our mission really is working even harder now than in times before, and our numbers continue to increase with these little goals and plans we make.  We talked about just giving it all you got these 18 months or 2 years-- a quote i love by the prophet goes like this (I only have it in spanish so here it is translated in english haha)

To dream in the past and to wish for the future might bring comfort, but it won't take the place of living in the present.  Today is the day of our opportunity, and should take advantage of it. - Pres Thomas S. Monson

I literally know all the scriptures and church quotes better in spanish than in english ha!
The hardest part of our week was learning that Jose Guadalupe is still smoking and can't get baptized quite yet.  He is sad because he has the strongest desire, but he knows he has to trust in the Lord more and battle this weakness of his.  I love working with people everyday, helping them turn their weaknesses into opportunities to come closer to God.  But man these people have such strong trials.  Literally every person we have progressing and wanting to be baptized, the strongest trials come into their lives because the Adversary just doesn't want them to progress.  Violence in the family, sicknesses, financial problems..... you name whatever trial and i can say that our investigadores have experienced it.  I have learned a lot in the mission about the power of Satan.  But I know that God is all powerful and that these experiences are just trials of their faith, and afterwards come the miracles and joy.
High light of the week was giving Pres Bird a "Warriors championship" he is the full out Lakers fan.  He took my gift, went directly into his office, and pulled out his Lakers Jersey waving it in the air, showing pride for his team hahaha.

Tomorrow we have interviews with Presidente Bird and I have 2 intercambios this week where i will go to other areas working with other hermanas!  I am happy, safe, healthy, sunburnt, and tired haha but life is great!  Love you all-- thank you for all your many emails and prayers.
 a woman in my ward sells the cutest skirts- it feels nice updating my wardrobe

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches


Week 60: A Sigh of Relief

  we definitely coordinated pink with the elders
Pues ya estamos en Agosto.  This summer is just flying by and today is the beginning of a new transfer.  I am filled with joy because I will be staying here in America for 6 more weeks!!!  I just have 3 transfers left.  18 weeks Until i get to hug my family :)))))

This week we didn't have intercambios so I got to spend everyday with my companion hna espinosa, seeing miracles left and right.  On wednesday we traveled back to her old area in Juarez for a baptism of a 14 year old girl she was teaching, so it was a fun adventure driving out an hour and seeing new landscape.  We brought a 15 year old investigadora with us and it made her want to get baptized even more.
The mission has taught me how to be mentally and physically strong.  There are times when I am just completely amazed that I am able to listen to all these people's difficulties and still be upbeat and positive, and that my body is able to keep going through exhaustion and the sun beating down on us all day long.  Saturday we began our 24 hour fast-- where we don't consume water or food to be "spiritually strengthened" and it was pretty brutal as we walk all day long and couldn't drink water.  But the reason why we were fasting kept us mentally and physically strong.  Marcelina and Jose Guadalupe are scheduled to be baptized august 16, and we fasted so that they can be strong during these trials that are ocurring before their baptisms.  It's crazy how powerful the adversary tries to be against people that are making changes in their lives to grow closer to God.  But we are already seeing results of this fast.  Both Marcelina and Jose Guadalupe have smoking problems, and neither one has smoked these last 2 weeks!  Through every person I teach I truly recognize how powerful and life changing Christ's atonement is-- how the sacrifice of Jesus Christ allows people to start over, recieve forgiveness, and the strength to overcome obstacles.
  every missionary's gotta have a hot pink skirt
Yesterday was a wonderful day.  Every first sunday of the month anyone can participate in the first hour of church and share their testimonies/ beliefs of what they know to be true.  It's my favorite sunday because i am strengthened by hearing the experiences these church members have had.  Marcelina sat next to us and tears rolled down her cheeks as she listened to 15 year olds share their testimonies that Jesus Christ lives and that this is his church on earth.  Our investigadora, Yaretzi, 14 years old, got up and shared a beautiful testimony of how she has felt this emptiness in her life be filled by this gospel, how el libro de mormon is the word of God and provides her with peace and guidance, and how excited she is for her dad, Jorge who got baptized 2 weeks ago, to baptize her august 23.  I can't deny HOW many changes and miracles i have seen in people as they accept this gospel.  Yesterday i also got to teach primary and young womens which was fun haha, and then we got to hear a few words from an area 70  that came to visit the ward-- out of ALL the wards in the mission, Pres Bird sent this area 70 to America because he told him how much it is progressing!!  

It was also Elder Aguila's last sunday as a missionary-- we ate at Estefania's house after church and had a little par-tay.  Us 5 are all such good friends, and it's sad saying by to Elder Aguila!  But I know we will all reunite in the near future.  Mom- the ties you picked out for him are absolutely perfect!!! he said they are some of the best looking ties he has seen haha i simply said that mamariches knows all ;)  Elder Aguila is truly one of the best missionaries I have seen.  We will find out tomorrow who the new assistant is and new member of the crew here in America!

Well everyday I just know more and more that this gospel i am sharing with others is true.  Yesterday my companion felt super sick, and so she asked an hermano to give her a priesthood blessing, and literally 10 minutes later her sickness completely disappeared and we could go out and work.  The church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints is Christ's true church on earth today, and I know that worthy men in this church that have recieved the priesthood can act in the name of God and give us blessings when we need them.  I feel honored everyday, sharing with others this marvelous plan God has given us-- where we come from, why we are here on earth, and what happens after this life-- i have gained a whole new perspective about the importance of this life and the love God has for us, how straight and narrow this path is that leads to eternal life, and how Jesus Christ lives and is actively helping those in need.
we had to....... hahaha

C O N  A M O R
hermana riches