Monday, July 28, 2014

{Week 33} Polanco - July 28, 2014

I want... more shirts! Button up style but of a lighter material. And... more ketchup chips! And... that's all. I've gotten half my package from the Stutzneggers. I'm hoping to get the other half soon, because it has my shoes in it, and my brown crocs are so thin at certain spots that I don't think they'll last much longer. :)
About the soccer tournament - I got to play about 5min, before an elder subbed me out. Which was fine because I have pretty much no idea what I'm doing when it comes to soccer. And yes, my name is on my jersey, as well as the number 5 :)
Carlee, thanks so much for your email! I loved hearing about your adventures at trek. Sounds like a ton of fun.
The Town Celebrations sounded fun - and Addison is so cute!
This week... I can't remember what happened. Honestly the weeks are turning into blurs. We found several new investigators though, so I'll tell you a bit about them.

Kevin and Javiar are brothers, and Diego is their friend. They are 20, 18, and 18, and love to party and drink and smoke. But they also seem to love listening to us and always have a bunch of questions and they say that they want to get baptized and change their lives! They didn't come to church on Sunday, but Sunday evening we had a pretty powerful lesson about the Book of Mormon and how they need to read it and pray to know if it's true. We had brought with us a member that is about 22, and she shared her testimony about the BoM and how she used to smoke and drink and party but has changed her life, and it was pretty powerful and I think it will help them a lot. But the cool part is that we didn't know she used to party. We were just looking for an available member at the last minute, and we both thought, let's bring Crista! And her testimony turned out to be exactly what they needed. Miracles people, miracles.

And Blanca is about 45, and right now is super sick. She had a baptismal fecha for the 9th, but it looks like they're going to have to operate and she'll be in bed for awhile, so not sure what's going to happen there... I know she'll get baptized eventually, because she loves the gospel, it's just a question of when.

And awhile ago we contacted this girl in the street - Karen. She gave us an appointment, we taught her, and she told us she was already a member! Well we haven't been able to get a hold of her since then, because we were hoping to reactivate her, but the other day we found her again, taught her again, and realized that she wasn't actually a member. The missionaries had taught her before, but then she got baptized in a different church, so she was confused about which church she had been baptized in. So we've started teaching her, and she's super excited!

And Dulce is doing well - she loves the gospel and has a super strong testimony that it's true. The problem is her husband, and he keeps having to leave at the last moment so is never there for our lessons. We're not sure if he's avoiding us or what, but one of these days we'll get to talk to him again and we'll teach them about the law of chastity so they'll get married!

And Arnulfo. He's the only one that came to church, and he loved it. He only smoked once on Sunday because he was at church, then he fell asleep, then we came and distracted him... he's doing great! The only problem is that he says he already knows it's true because he trusts us, and doesn't want to pray about it. So yesterday we explained that 'we can't live on borrowed light' - everyone of us has to pray and receive our own testimony about whether or not these things are true. We told him that when he receives that testimony, it'll be a lot easier to quit smoking and drinking.

We have a few other investigators as well, but these are the ones that are progressing the most right now.

I honestly can hardly remember what else happened this week! A ton of our less actives are on vacations right now, so we haven't been able to meet with as many of them as we would have liked, but they should be getting back soon. And tonight we're going to a FHE (Noche do Hogar) with a member family, and they invited a family to come and learn about the gospel, so that's awesome!

On Saturday our ward mission leader and his wife made us all food and we all ate and chatted - an activity to help us build confidence with him and the ward missionaries. They made fritanga - it's like 4 types of meat cooked in a whole lot of grease, and then eaten with tortillas! (everything here is eaten with tortillas.) It was about the most greasiest thing I've eaten in my life and was really good. I didn't eat much though, because earlier that day someone gave us mole and I felt like throwing up. Mole tends to do that to me. I generally feel like throwing up for the next day or two.
Some of the people at the party: one of the ward missionaries, me, Hno R, Ezra, other member, Elders Martinez, Barcinas, Gerken, Duque, and Hno R's father-in-law. Those double doors behind us is the baptismal font.

Hna Mercedes dishing up some fritanga! The yellow shirt is Hno R - the ward mission leader, the beige shirt is his assistant Hno S (his grandson is Angel who we baptized) and the green shirt is Ezra, the son of Hno R who just got back from his mission to Honduras.

Fritanga and tortillas! The green stuff are nopales - a type of cactus they eat.

Me and Hermana Z. She's the ward mission leader's wife and is amazing. Her house is in the middle of our area, so we're always stopping there when we need the bathroom.

So yeah! Life's great, Mexico is awesome, I miss you all a bunch...
Hope you all have a marvellous week in good 'ol Canada!
Be good, say your prayers, and have fun laying sod! (the house and yard look great by the way)
-Love ya'll
Hermana Taylor

 I've been making a map of the story of The Book of Mormon as I've been reading it. It's not finished yet, but I thought I'd send it. It might be hard to read because it's in Spanish. (lol)
Les amo mucho! CuĂ­dense y que tengan una bonita semana!
(According to Google translate, this means:  I love them very much! Take care and have a nice week!)

Monday, July 21, 2014

{Week 32} Polanco - July 21, 2014

Hi! :)

Thanks for your email Katia! That was so awesome to read. And Dad, muchas gracias for your email. The Spirit was strong.

So first of all, Hermano Jaime found a job! He and his family read the scriptures and prayed, and then he left to go see if he could find a job. He looked all day, and told us that he was constantly praying too. Then he was on his way home, and passed a place and felt like he should go in a check. And they hired him on the spot! And the best part is that he gets Sunday off! So that was a miracle and we were all super happy for him.
And I got to practice my first aid skills! ...sort of. We were in a house with a less active, and she has about a billion grandkids under the age of 10 that were all there. During the lesson, someone knocked on the door, so she left quickly. And the next thing we know the, the 2 year old boy behind us can't breath. He was sitting in a pile of tiny toys, and was turning purple from lack of oxygen, and we were positive he had swallowed something. So I grabbed the kid (who was naked for some reason) and threw him across my lap, alternating between sticking my finger down his throat to get the toy out and turning him upside down and whacking him on the back. And Hna Mercedes ran screaming through the house trying to find the member. Then the kid went unconscious! I'm pretty sure I screamed for the member at the top of my lungs. I was honestly about to start mouth to mouth or something when suddenly the kid's 9 year old sister came and threw a bucket of ice cold water across his face. And he woke up and was fine! Turns out he didn't swallow anything, and has these anxiety attacks where he suddenly can't breath, and when he saw his grandma leave to go answer the door, that triggered the attack. But he's good now! It was pretty crazy!

And the other day we were knocking some doors, and this 20ish year old guy came out and told us we could return at 5:30. So we came back at 5:30, at which point he told us 6:30. So we came back and of course he wasn't there, but his sister answered the door. Her name is Dulce (that means 'sweet' in Spanish), and it turns out she's been going to church in another ward in another stake for the last 2 years, and her husband is less active! She loves the church and knows it's true, but hasn't been baptized because they're not married. She wants to get married and get baptized right away, but her husband, Orlando, wants to wait until January, when he finishes school. So we've been teaching them and trying to help Orlando understand that they should get married right now. They're super nice and I love them both, and they have the cutest 4year old daughter. That was a cool miracle - to find them by knocking doors!

The power just shut off. We had to wait 10min for the computers to reboot.

So today we had an activity as a mission. We all played soccer! The zone leaders told us that the president organized the activity for us. Each zone represented a country and we had uniforms and everything. We were France - and we lost 6-0 in the first game so we were out. Oh well! It was fun :)
Hna Mercedes and I rocking the 'Francia' uniforms.

Our zone rented a micro (bus) to go play - we all went to Los Reyes - one of the more dangerous areas in the mission. It was pretty sketchy, and super sad because the houses are in horrible condition out there. And a couple of them had body parts of dead sheep nailed to the doors... not sure why, and I didn't ask. Pretty sure they are never going to send us hermanas out there...
Our zone on the rented micro. These buses are always so crowded - tons of people standing in the aisles.
Me and Hna Gurley and Lopez! Those two are comps right now.
(They were in Jasmine's MTC District)
And on Sunday I had to speak in church. In this ward one of the missionaries speaks every week. So I spoke about missionary work! I felt the spirit - hope they did too and that some good comes of it!

I read D&C 31 the other day. And pretty much loved it. Just sayin'.

And I don't know if it was in the Ensign, but in the Liahona from June there was a great article about the Sacrament. It's called 'I stand all amazed' or something like that. I highly recommend it. I love how it talks about the Santa cena (holy supper - 'sacrament' in Spanish). The sacrament is literally my favorite part of the week. I always feel the spirit super strong, and I love the 15 minutes of silence when we can think of our Savior. I have learned so much about the Atonement while I've been here. We were always taught in seminary that there are 2 parts to the sacrament - the redeeming power and the enabling power. The redeeming power is what allows us to repent, and be clean again. And I have seen that power in action here. There are some people we teach who are so filled with joy when they learn that they can repent, and be baptized and be like new. And I love the hymn "I Stand All Amazed". We sing it a lot, and it is so powerful, because I know that the Savior loves us so much that he suffered and died for us. And the enabling power is what gives us the strength to continue on, to keep trying, and to do our best. My testimony of the Savior has grown so much since I came on a mission. I know that He lives and loves me.

The video is called 'Missionary work and the Atonement' or try searching 'the atonement and how it applies to missionary work.' This video is great. And Brooklyn Broadhead just sent me a poem that's amazing too.  (Posted at the end.)

The mission has been great! I love it here. We have a bunch of investigators again, and although none came to church, we were able to talk with them all afterwards and help them understand the importance of coming. So they should come next week!

You're all awesome. It sounds like you're all having a great summer, and the house and yard look great!
Love you all tons.
Be good, say your prayers, and study the scriptures!
-Hna Taylor
Puppies! A member's dog had puppies and they are adorable. If I put my backpack down, they all instantly climb on top of it.
 These pictures are from last week but came from other sources than Hna Taylor - one from Hna Ingrams mom and one from Hna Stutznegger.

Zone Soccer Team (France)

They had interviews with their new Mission President last week.  Hna Stutznegger chatted with all the missionaries too and sent this picture to me.

"He's Been There Before"
{By Elder Troy Whittle}
The alarm bell rings at 6:30,
I stumble to my feet
I grab my companions bedding and pull off his sheets
A groan fills the room, is it already time to arise?
It seems like just a second ago
I was able to shut my eyes
The morning activities follow- study, prayer and such
When it's time to leave the apartment, you feel you haven't accomplished much
"We have a super day planned,"
My comp. says with a grin
I lowly utter a faithless breath,
"Yeah, if anyone lets us in."
With the word of God and my faithful Schwinn, we ride off in the street prepared to face another day of humidity and heat
It's 9:30 in the evening, the day is now complete
The only thing to show for our work is a case of blistery feet
It's past 10:30 p.m. My companion is fast asleep,
Silence engulfs me all about and I begin to weep
In the midst of sadness, I kneel down to pray
I need to talk to father, but I'm not sure what to say
"Oh, Father" I begin, "What happened to us today?"
I though we'd teach somebody, but everyone was away
My hands, my aching hands- worn, hurt and beat;
If our area was any smaller, we'd have knocked every street"
"Why on missions are the days so much alike?"
The only difference about today was the flat tire on my bike
Will you send some cooler weather? the heat is killing me
I sweat so bad, it gets in my eyes, it's very hard to see"
"Why do I have to wear my helmet, isn't your protection enough?
People always laugh at me, and call me stupid stuff
Please send us an investivators so I may give them what they lack
I want to give them Books of Mormon, the weight of them hurts my back"
"And what about my family: They don't have much to say
I'm sick of not hearing from home day after day after day
Oh Father, Why am I here am I just wasting time?
Sometimes I just want to go home, I'm sorry but that's on my mind"
"My companion, Heavenly Father, what are you giving me?"
The way he rides his bicycle, I don't think he can see
Now you have it, I can't go on,I don't know what to do
That, my Father in Heaven, is the prayer I have for you"
My prayer now finished, I stand up, then jump right into bed
I need my rest for tomorrow, we have another long day ahead
Sleep start to overtake me, I seem to drift away
Then it seems a vision takes me to another time in another day
I'm standing alone on the hill. The view is very nice
A man walks towards and says, "My name is Jesus Christ"
Tears of joy well up inside, I fall down to His feet
"Arise," He states, "Follow me to the shade. You and I need to speak"
My attention's towards my Savior, total and complete
He says, "Your mission is similar of what happened to me
I understand how you feel, I know what you're going through
In fact, it would be fair to say I've felt the same as you.
"I even know hwo you felt when no one listened to you
At times I felt not quite sure what else I could do
I know you don't like to ride a bicycle, for you a car would be sweet
Just remember the donkey I rode wasn't equipped with 21 speeds"
"I understand you don't like sweating, it fact it's something you hate
I remember when I sweat blood from ev'ry pore, oh the agony was great!
I see you don't like your companions- you'd rather have somebody else-
I once had a companion named Judas who sold my life for wealth"
"It's hard to wear a helmet and have people make fun of you
I remember when they put thorns on my head and called me King of the Jews
So you feel burdened down by the weight of your pack
I recall how heavy the cross was when they slammed it on my back"
"Your hands hurt from tracting and knocking doors all day
I guess when they pounded nails into mine, I ached in a similar way
It's hard not to hear from home when your family's not there to see
I lost communication on the cross and cried, "Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?"
"We have a lot in common, but there's a difference between us you see
I endured to the end and finished my mission, so follow and do like me"
He embraced me with His arms and His light filled me with His love
With tears in my eyes I watched as He went back to the Father above
I stood with awe and wonder when a beep rang in my head
I listened and heard the alarm, then realized I was in my bed
My companion let out a groan, "6:30 already, no way!"
I sat up and said, "Come on, I'll even carry your scriptures today!"

No matter what we go through,
when we feel we can't take more
Just stop and think about Jesus Christ,
He's been there before

Monday, July 14, 2014

{Week 31} Polanco - July 14, 2014

Trek looks amazing! I want to do it again! It looks and sounds like you had a lot of fun, and I'm super excited to hear more about your adventures Jordy and Carls!

Penny/Stitch, I'm glad you got through surgery well - I'm proud of you for being so brave! You look so grown up in the pictures mom sends - love you kid!

Chelle and Logan - your kid is adorable. 'nuff said.

This week was fun! Well actually not really. I got super sick. :P On Tuesday I had a sore throat, and Wednesday woke up with a headache and a runny nose as well as the sore throat. And then, around 4:00 I had a fever - I felt like I was freezing cold but was boiling hot. And at 6:00 my comp and a member ganged up on me and made me go home. They pretended to not understand me so that they could ignore my protests. So we called the doctor who made me take some pills and said I couldn't work the next day. But we had some really important lessons, so we ended up going on divisions. I slept on the couch of a member's house and my comp went out with another member and worked. But sleeping all day really helped and I felt tons better. I've still got the runny nose and a bit of a cough, but I'm pretty much cured :)

And scary story! The other day I was having my morning shower, for which we use a bucket. I dunked my head in the bucket to get my hair wet, and when I came out, there was a giant spider in the bucket! That means that the spider was in my hair! So that pretty much freaked me out and made me strip down my bed to make sure there weren't any other spiders lurking in the corners.

And... our investigators are progressing... very slowly.... Only Sergio came to church. I'm pretty sure we're going to drop Antonio and Gustavo. And Rafael turns out to be a drug addict who gets paid to rob people.... and we've come across him about 3 times in the middle of street fights. It's sad, because he has a 5 year old kid who always comes to church with his grandparents, and this 5 year old is always praying for his dad. I know that Rafael could change his life if he wanted to, but sadly right now he doesn't have the desire. But we've found a few other people and have a lot of references that we're searching out, so we'll have more investigadores soon.

And there is this family of 3 - Familia U. They are recent converts -got baptized the Saturday before I came to this area. And they are great. I love them so much. But the dad recently lost his job, and hasn't been able to find a new one, and he hasn't come to church for the last few weeks. We've been trying to talk to him and share messages that will help him, but it wasn't until yesterday that he finally opened up. He's wondering why he has this trial right now, when he's trying so hard to be good and change his life. He's feeling really depressed and has no idea how he's going to support his family. Yesterday after church we went over and started talking about obedience - how we need to be faithful and obey and then the blessings come. And he finally opened up. We ended up talking for about an hour with him and his wife, trying to help him understand that if he is faithful despite the trials, his family will be blessed. We're honestly really worried about him. But it was a really powerful lesson and we were all in tears. I know that blessings come through obedience, but like it says in Mosiah 23, sometimes God tries His people, to prove their faith and diligence. I love the story in Mosiah 23 and 24 - I've been able to apply it in so many situations recently, both in the lives of the people we're teaching and in my own life. But we're praying really hard for Jaime right now (that's his name - pronounced Hi-may).

And the other day we contacted someone in the street - Karen. And when we came later for the lesson, she was there! (they're hardly ever there) And listened to us and it was great! We were both thinking 'she's golden!' and picturing her dressed in white - and then we invited her to be baptized. And she told us that she already is! Got baptized when she was 15 - she's 20 now. But the story is really weird - she went to some sort of youth camp and got baptized in a river after. She's positive it was this church and not some other, and she knows all about The Book of Mormon, but she doesn't know (or doesn't remember!) about other things like Joseph Smith, the Holy Ghost, and doesn't know how to pray. So we're going to search the records to see if she actually was baptized... and if not, we'll baptize her. And if she is, we'll just baptize her catholic family instead!

And it was funny because Sunday we came out of church and it was really quiet. There was hardly anyone in the streets. It was very strange. But then we realized that it was the final of the mundial - Germany and Argentina. Germany won in case you were wondering. But for 2 hours the streets were dead.

And I love Hna Mercedes. Our biggest problem is that we're both too polite, so when we come to a narrow spot on the sidewalk where only one person can pass at a time, we both stop and wait for the other person. It's so pathetic it's hilarious. I've taken to charging ahead so we aren't locked in a 20 second battle every time - 'you first', 'no, after you'.

So this morning we had a meeting with our zone - we have great zone leaders. Elders Henriquez and Elder Cruz. They taught us a great lesson about knowing why we came out here, and then working hard to complete our purpose. And they shared the story of the battle in Alma 43. There are so many lessons that we can learn in that story. It's truly amazing. My comp and I both made some resolutions to work harder and be more diligent. We've been working hard but haven't been having a lot of success, and my being sick this week didn't help our numbers at all. But we're going to try to double our efforts and have faith that the blessings are going to come!

I honestly love it here. Mexico is great. The people are awesome. The food is delicious. And the spirit is so strong. I now have 7 months in the mission. It's gone by so fast I can't believe it. Because of the meeting this morning, I've been thinking all day about why I chose to come on a mission. I think I'll share those thoughts next week though because I'm out of time. But I know it's true. There is not a doubt in my mind that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I know this church is true.

I love you all tons. Be good, say your prayers, and watch a video for me. It's called something like 'The Atonement and Missionary work' and is by Jeffery R Holland and Henry B Eyring. It's amazing.

Les amo un buen! Pero un buen!
-Hna Taylor

Monday, July 7, 2014

{Week 30} Polanco - July 7, 2014

Once again it's cambio time! ....and I don't have cambios, and neither does Hna Mercedes! We're so happy we get to be comps for another cycle - I love her so much!

First of all, Dad :) Happy Birthday Dad!
I love you so much and hope you have a great day and get to eat your ribs at Tony Romas, and that you finally get a long board... I'm excited to see your awesome skills when I come home :) But seriously Dad, I love you so much. I am so grateful that you are my Dad. You've taught me tons and have always been a great example for me. Thank you for being a worthy priesthood holder. There are so many families here where the dad is less active or isn't a member, and Hna Mercedes' dad isn't a member and hardly ever writes her. I feel so grateful everyday that my dad is a faithful member, a worthy priesthood holder, and that you support me in everything. I never realized how blessed I am to have all my family be members of this church. I love you so much Dad. I hope you have a great birthday, and I can't wait to give you a huge hug when I get home. Love you!

And Logan! Happy Birthday on Wednesday! Hope it's a marvelous day filled with joy and happiness and cake.

So Monday night I got the package through Devin/Hannah. Thank you so much Devin and Hannah for getting that to me, and Mom, thanks for the package! I especially loved the ketchup chip crumbs. It was so fun to receive a package! Thanks! And I've now received the first half of the other package through the Stutzneggers - they tell me I'll get the other half when they unpack their boxes.
Me! I love being a Canadian in Mexico! Sometimes (like today in the grocery store) people will just randomly start asking me 'where are you from?' and 'how did you wind up here in N?' I love it because I get random unexpected chances to share my testimony and invite others to listen to us! Life as a missionary is the best!

So this has been a fun week!

Monday - Canada Day! I put on the umbrella hat and waved around the handkerchief to celebrate. Your celebration looks a bit more fun. Waterton looks so beautiful! I want to hike Summit when I get back - what do you think Dad? :)

My Canada day celebration! yay...

And then Tuesday, we had our first reunion with Presidente Stutznegger and Hna Stutznegger! It started at 4, but the assistants told us to be there at 3:30. But the zone leaders said be there at 3:15. But our District Leader said be there at 3. So of course everyone arrived at 2:45 - right after the comida. And we all chatted and speculated excitedly about what they would be like. Then we were all sitting in the chapel, and in walked Hna Stutznegger! And the first thing she said was 'Wow!' She told us later that the Spirit was so strong when she entered. Then came in Pres Stutznegger. And they took the time to go up and down the pews in the chapel and greet everyone of us and chat for a few seconds. (There were about 3 or 4 zones there). I was super happy to meet them both. They are going to be great. Then we started as normal, a hymn (the hymns are so powerful when a bunch of missionaries sing), a prayer, and we recited the mission scripture (Alma 17:2-3) and our missionary purpose (chapter 1 of PMG). Then they introduced themselves! Hna Stutznegger speaks nothing of Spanish, so Presidente translated for her. And it was so funny! They had us all laughing instantly. She would say something, then he would translate it, and she would look at him in bewilderment because she didn't understand. They are great and instantly endeared themselves to us. Then they let us ask some questions - one elder asked what they hoped from their missionary service, and Presidente Stutznegger instantly replied - Tacos! It was hilarious. But they also brought the Spirit strong when they bore their testimonies and told us that they expected us to obey with exactitude and love the people. It was great, and I know they will be wonderful as my new mission mom and dad.

Hermana Stutznegger and I!
President Stutznegger and I.

All the Hermanas and the Stutzneggers!

And Friday, we did an activity as a district. We set up a table in our area with pamphlets and Book of Mormons, and took turns manning the table and talking to everyone who passed by while the other companionships ran around the area contacting in the street and knocking doors. It was a ton of fun and we found two new investigators through it as well as a whole bunch of return appointments. So that's great!

My District and our table in the street - Gurken, Duque, Mercedes, me, Ingram, Bennet, Martinez, Bercenas

And I've been robbed! Well... that's a bit of an exaggeration. We were walking home one night with a plate of watermelon that someone gave us, which I was super excited to eat, when this little boy ran up behind us a stole the biggest piece! It's pretty dangerous here at night, what with all the watermelon thiefs running rampant.
Right now we have four investigators that we are focusing on - Gustavo, Antonio, Sergio and Rafael. But only Rafael came to church, and we haven't been able to get ahold of Antonio in awhile. But we keep working hard and striving to be exactly obedient! Today in our monthly zone meeting, one elder who is about to go home shared his testimony about not waiting, but doing all you can right now, and how we should work like everyday is our last day in the mission. I don't know about everyone else, but I feel re-motivated to go out and work super hard!

I love you all tons and can't wait to hear about the trek experience. Jordy and Carlee - you look great in your pioneer getup - I showed Hna Mercedes that picture and she thought it was so cool. They don't do trek in the Dominican Republic...

Be good, say your prayers, and give my dad a huge hug for me!
Love you all .)
-Hermana taylor
My Zone!