Thursday, March 16, 2017

Email treinta y uno: el poder para cambiar

March 13, 2017
Hey y'all:)  We had ourselves a good week.

Momma Smalls emailed me with some questions and I will attempt to answer them now: How is Jonesboro different than Russellville? The landscape is super flat here, whereas Russellville is up more in the Ozark "mountains". Jonesboro is closer to the Mississippi River, so it's mostly flat delta plain. There are some hills in the super rich neighborhoods. There are definitely a lot fewer Hispanics, or else they are hiding somewhere haha. There's a lot more black people, and a lot more "ghetto", but from what I've heard it's nothing compared to Memphis. We have a few investigators or people that we sometimes go see that are Hispanic, but sometimes I seriously forget that I'm a Spanish Missionary because we are speaking English ALL THE TIME. We forget to speak to each other in Spanish just because we are so used to English. I can already feel my fluency going down a bit.

But I've started learning Portuguese! There's a family named the Mitchell's in the Ward. Brother Mitchell served in Brazil and married one of his recent converts after the mission, and Sister Mitchell's family is visiting from Brazil so we have starting teaching them. Portuguese is so weird! At least Spanish makes sense, all the vowels and sounds are similar and the alphabet is almost exactly the same, but Portuguese is just wack! It sounds like someone speaking Spanish and changing random syllables to different sounds. 

So far I can say, “thank you very much”, “our Heavenly Father”, and “I drink milk”! I mostly just speak Spanish to the family and they understand, and I can understand most of what they say in Portuguese...sometimes. Brother Mitchell translates what we don't pick up. 

District meeting got pushed back to Thursday, we broke down a little further the instruction from Zone Conference of not sounding repetitive during street contacting. We are focusing more on street contacts now. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but knocking doors hasn't really been effective and it's starting to get old, so as it gets warmer outside, we are talking to more and more people. Elder York told me that when you knock someone's door, they have home court advantage, when they show up to church or a members house, you have home court advantage, and when you talk to someone on the street it's neutral. 

Thursday we went to Arkansas State University to help a member who is a college professor move some shelves. We had just come from another service project, so we were dressed in normal clothes, and fit in pretty well. We even looked like we were carrying books because of our scriptures. We ran into a member and even one of our investigators walking by. Not gonna lie, it felt super weird being back on a college campus, dressed like a college student. Elder Spencer was like: "Hey this will be me in 3 months." Brother Rougeau is a chemistry professor, so before we moved the shelves, he used water, soap, and natural gas to light our arms on fire! It was pretty cool haha. 

Saturday was an amazing day. At five o'clock President told us to go back home because we got hit
by a blizzard! I hadn't seen snow fall in over a year! I nearly teared up. It was beautiful. We got to go and bundle up in a warm house and watch the snow fall, catch up on studies and drink hot chocolate. That night we went out and played in nearly 5 inches of snow. All 5 of us built a HUGE snowman that was probably 8 and a half feet tall, and but a huge garden bucket on his head for a hat. I wish I had picks but it was pretty dark outside :/ then we had a snowball fight that was seriously so fun. Some of our neighbors came outside to see five 18-20 year olds running around laughing their heads off while pelting each other with snowballs. Weird Mormons. I think I really needed that day as a break from the ordinary. I had kinda fallen into the daily routine, so it was so nice to just have fun and relax and be a kid again. 

Yesterday was an awesome day, Church got pushed back to 1pm because of the snow, so we actually had time to do studies. I really tried to focus on the Sacrament. When I took the bread and water, I felt the Spirit so powerfully for the first time. I have a little self-inventory on where I personally was with my relationship with Jesus Christ, and what I still lacked. Tears came to my eyes as I thought of His perfect example, and how I had fallen short. I promised I would be better, and become more like Him. 

I know that the power of the Atonement is real. I know that true repentance brings happiness, joy, and peace. I know Jesus Christ has truly paid the price for my sins and short comings, and if I let Him, he will ALWAYS make all the difference. I'm so grateful that He did that for me, and for all of God's children. The Church is true, the Book is Blue, our Savior paid it all for me and for you :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Email treinta: the will to work

March 6, 2017
Hey everyone! 
I had myself a pretty fantastic week. 

Tuesday was probably the highlight of the week. All day we had been working hard, finding, talking to people, trying to visit other people. Someone told us that in the forecast there was a tornado watch
some local wisdom
from 5-7 that night. I was so pumped to see one. We didn't get a tornado, but we did get a pretty bad lightning storm. When it started to get real ugly at about 7:30, we wondered if we should call it a night, so we prayed about it. I felt a strong spiritual prompting that we needed to go, and we had to go right then. There was someone out there who was ready and needed the message of the Restoration. I just had no idea who or where. Then Elder Giles felt strongly we should go to Race Street. We knocked doors for a little bit, but then rain got so bad we just left our iPads in the car. At around 8 o'clock, it stopped raining and started pouring straight water from the sky. I'm pretty sure we violated the white handbook because it felt more like swimming than walking through rain. But we kept going. 

We decided to knock on the door of a referral named R. He opened the door and almost laughed at how miserable and wet we must have looked, and immediately told us to come in. We taught him the Restoration, and I don't think I've taught the Restoration that clearly and simply before. Elder Spencer and I dominated the lesson though, poor Elder Giles was kinda lost with the Spanish. It felt like Elder Spencer and I were reading each other’s minds, we were that in sync. We built perfectly off of each other, and asked good questions to make sure he understood. He seemed to absorb everything really well, and it ended up being a great lesson. He commented: "I need to read your book so I can know if this is true!" He didn't commit to a date but he does want to learn more. At the end of the lesson I told him: "MuchĂ­simas gracias por darnos un refugio de la tempestad. Siento muy fuertemente la presencia del EspĂ­ritu Santo." And he answered: "Si a mi igual." We walked outside and the weather was perfectly calm, no rain, no wind. 

We had lunch at this little BBQ shack owned by
a member in a 
tiny town called Harrisburg
I think God was just testing our willpower ;) That next morning at 2 am, the storm was back and even worse. I woke up to super loud thunder and crazy wind and rain. The lightning was like flash photography at a red carpet premiere. We heard a small tornado touched down in southern Arkansas or something like that. 

Thursday we had Zone Conference and we have a "March Madness finding challenge". Since there are four Zone Leaders now there are two sides to each Zone, so we are having a competition between each side to see who can find the most new investigators in March. We talked about work ethic, talking with everyone, and also the Sacrament. All three were things I needed to hear and direct revelation to questions I had. 

All my life I've never taken the Sacrament as seriously as I should. I've always robotically taken the bread and water and passed it along without a second thought. Now I really want to use each opportunity to take the Sacrament for all that its worth. I don't want to just take bread and water, I want to take His name upon me. I want to always remember Him, and keep His commandments, so that I can always have His Spirit to be with me. I want to make and keep a covenant each week to be a little bit more like Him. 

That's what I call a "hoopdee"!
On Friday Elder Giles and I went on exchanges with Elder York. Elder York is a great missionary. He loves talking to people, but especially black people. He has an obsession with black people. In his own words: "I just love chilling in the hood." I have to say, I'm catching the wave too. I love black people. Most of them are hilarious and super nice and easy to talk to, not mention willing to listen to our message. We really focused on literally talking to everyone we see. It was awesome, Elder Giles chased a car with a pass along card for about a half mile. We had a good time and a ton of laughs. 

more local wisdom:"I still miss my ex
but my aim is improving"
I'm building my courage to talk with everyone, and it's going great. I'm even slowly conquering my post-traumatic stress related to talking to people in grocery stores. 

The Church is true, the Book is blue, I'm going to talk to everyone, no matter who. 
Love y'all