Monday, February 23, 2015

{Week 63} Oriental - February 23, 2015

So this has been a pretty good week! We're working hard and seeing lots of good stuff happening. Hermana Ramirez has now finished 1/4 of her training - and she is doing great! She's a hard worker with a lot of faith. She's studying a lot to have the doctrine all down (she's a fairly recent convert of 3 years, so there are a few things she's still learning) and I love her! She has now learned how to walk fast lol.

So this week we started teaching Katherine and Jaqueline - the sisters of Michelle. They are 14 and 16 respectively. At the start, they really didn't want anything to do with us. But one day all of a sudden they wanted to listen! Turns out that in just the two weeks that we've been teaching Michelle, they've seen a huge change in her. And they realized it was because she was listening to us and planning to get baptized on March 15th. So now they are also listening and both want to get baptized! They have a few challenges but they have a ton of faith and a desire to be better, and they LOVE church, which is so great to see.

And we've also started teaching a mom and her two daughters - Alma is the mom and her daughters are Lizbeth (15) and Alejandra (13). We found them on Friday. They're pretty Catholic, but are willing to learn more. The mom said that she'll give it a try, and if she feels like it's true, she's willing to get baptized. Saturday night we called them to make sure they were coming to church, but they didn't answer. Then Sunday morning they didn't answer either. We were on our way to their house Sunday morning to bring them to church with us, when the mom called and said ''Are you still coming to get us? because we're ready and waiting...'' That made us super happy! So they came to church and they liked it. There are two wards meeting in our building (the stake center) so the other ward has their sacrament meeting first, and we have the classes first. We were in the middle of the second class when Alma leaned over to me and whispered ''When do we go to Mass?'' It was funny and I explained to her that we call that part 'Sacrament Meeting' and that it was last.

And Paquita and Rodolfo went to the temple in Veracruz on Wednesday with the ward! They loved it and were able to do the baptisms for several members of their family. They took a ton of pictures which they showed to us afterwards. I am so grateful that we have temples here and that we have this great chance to do the work for our loved ones.

We're enjoying living with Hna Cardenas and Hna Gurley. It's always a party here. And Hna Gurley is hilarious like always - her greatest wish is to return to one of her old wards to finish her mission there, and she is constantly trying to figure out how the cambios will be so that she can finish her mission there. We're all fairly certain though that she's going to train and finish her mission right where she is lol. Last Monday night Hna Gurley made a tent in the middle of our house, and we all climbed in and shared stories late into the night (10:30ish lol).

What a lovely tent!

All of us in the tent that Hna Gurley built.

And yesterday we went to visit Nicolee and Gabi - we knew that Gabi was feeling pretty bad because she didn't come to church that day. She's completely deaf in one ear and can barely hear in her other ear. They've been members for about 6 months, and Gabi was feeling like she couldn't see a point in going to church, because she can't hear anything. And when she woke up on Sunday she couldn't hear anything at all and was super dizzy and was throwing up a ton. So she didn't come to church. We were all crying while we were there - Gabi, her mom, Nicolee, and us. So I shared a few scriptures that have always helped me, like Moroni 7:33, D&C 122 and D&C 58:2-4. We testified about how our Heavenly Father has a divine plan for us, and if we have to pass through trials, they are what will help us to become worthy to obtain eternal life. The spirit was really strong. Then, we talked about learning sign language! It's very possible that in a few years she could completely lose her hearing, so there should be someone in the ward who knows sign language and can translate the stuff for her. So we've decided to start learning together - bit by bit. And we have several people in the ward that are willing to learn too. I already know the alphabet, but it changes in Spanish. so we're going to work on that.

It's been a good week! And we're going to keep working! I love this area and the people here, and we're learning tons!
Love you all! Be good, say your prayers, and have a lovely day!
-Hermana Taylor

My desk :)

Monday, February 16, 2015

{Week 62} Oriental - February 16, 2015

So this has been a pretty eventful week! Lots of fun stuff going on, and I love being with Hna Ramirez! She's super sweet and has a really big heart filled with lots of love. We've been having a lot of fun together.

So to start, I have to tell you about our adventure! This actually happened last week, but I forgot to tell you. When we arrived in the area, we didn't have a cellphone. So Wednesday in the morning we had to go to the Mission Office to get one. When we were coming home, I messed up and we got on the wrong metro train. We were sitting there, waiting to take off when I realized my mistake. So we got up quickly and rushed for the door to get off. Hna Ramirez left, but the door's slid shut behind her, with me still on the train! I had thrust my hand through the doors at the last second to try to open them, but the doors just closed on my hand! And I couldn't pull my hand through because it was holding a packet of pamphlets that I couldn't get through the door. Hna Ramirez and I were both trying to open the door (and a guy in the train was trying too) but to no avail. As the train took off, she took the pamphlets from my hand, I pulled my hand back in the train, and made motions to her to stay where she was, and off I went in the train with her left on the platform! It was super strange to be alone, and my heart was pounding like crazy. I was terrified that she would try to board the next train to come after me. I had to go to the next station to switch trains to come back to where she was. We were probably separated for about 15 minutes. I finally arrived back at the station, and she was there waiting for me! We hugged and it was like a scene from a movie lol. But all is well and I haven't lost her since lol!

And Paquita and Rodolfo got baptized! That was so special. I don't know why, but investigators almost always show up late for their baptisms here. But not Paquita and Marci! They were there 30 minutes early! The problem was that everyone else showed up 15 minutes late lol. 

Paquita and Rodolfo and us!
There were a ton of missionaries there. The elders that found and taught them came to baptize them. They're the secretaries, so while they were here in O--, they were often busy doing secretary type things, so the other missionaries in the zone would help them out and go to their appointments. All the missionaries that met Paquita and Rodolfo fell in love with them, and they all came to the baptism. During the program, Hna Ramirez and I had planned to sing ''Nearer my God to Thee'', but at the last second we invited all the missionaries present to come sing with us. It was super sweet and powerful. The spirit was strong. Paquita cried through the whole thing. The last verse got a little intense when Paquita was crying so hard that she fell off her chair, but her husband and a sister helped her up and all was well. They were both so happy when they got baptized. Then afterwards, they both bore their testimonies. And Rodolfo's testimony was so sweet! Paquita is always talking and crying, but when Rodolfo bore his simple testimony, he got choked up and couldn't speak. It was so sweet to see how happy they both were. 

Paquita and Rodolfo and Elders Vallejo and Bryce.

Hermanas Ramirez, Gurley, me and Cardenas with Paquita.

Then on Sunday they were confirmed - and Rodolfo also received the Aaronic priesthood! They gave it to him a bit faster than normal because on Wednesday the ward is going to the temple in Veracruz (because the Mexico City one is closed) and Rodolfo and Paquita both have several names that they're going to take to the temple to do baptisms. They're both really happy, and it's been great to see the gospel change their lives. And after their baptism, they invited us all to their house for pozole! (which is pretty much my favorite Mexican food)

And we've started to teach Michelle - the granddaughter of Paquita and Rodolfo. She's 17 and really sweet. She's got a really tough situation. Her parents are divorced. She lives with her two younger sisters, her dad and her dad's girlfriend, which live on the second floor of Paquita's house.  We've been working with her a lot this week, and in just one week she has progressed so much! She's praying, she reads the Book of Mormon, she came to a stake activity and her grandparents baptism, she came to church, and we took her to the visitor's center at the temple! Poco a poco she's learning to put her trust in the Lord. Her baptism date is for March 15th (Hna Ramirez invited her to be baptized and put the date - her first time doing it! Wooo!!).  Then on Sunday, after they gave her grandpa the Priesthood, I told her that if she'd like, her grandpa would be able to baptize her. She said ''Wow... okay.'' Then she looked at me with tears in her eyes and told me that she feels like all of this is a huge gift and that she's not worthy of it or doesn't deserve it. I told her that that wasn't true and testified to her that she is a daughter of God and has a divine potential. It has been amazing to see how much she has progressed in less than a week. And we're going to work a lot with her to help her even more. Nicolee and Jessica (2 recent converts in the ward) have been great friends to her and are helping her a lot.
Us at the temple! With Nicolee, Michelle, and Jessica.

This is a picture that they take in the Visitors Center. Hna Ramirez, Jessica, Nicolee, Michelle (our investigator) and me!
Funny stories!
- there's a kid that always asks me how to say things in ''Canadian'' lol
- another kid asked me how I learned to talk with an accent. She didn't believe me when I explained that this is my voice - I didn't learn it, this is just how it is!
- Paquita has been giving us bags of clothes as ''gifts''.  All of the clothing is old and 10 sizes too big though. And the last bag was filled with nothing more than underclothing (bras etc. lol) She's hilarious.
- Paquita and Rodolfo said the opening and closing prayers in church on Sunday... they both started with ''Dear Heavenly Father'' then proceeded to bear their testimonies, then ended in ''the name of Jesus Christ, Amen''. It was hilarious and was hard not to laugh. They say great prayers in our lessons, but I guess they didn't really understand what they were supposed to do in sacrament meeting. lol

It's been a great week. We've been working hard, but haven't had much luck finding new investigators. But we keep working and giving it all we've got! Hna Ramirez is great and has progressed a lot too. It makes me remember my first days in the mission when I often had no clue what was going on lol.

I love you all tons. I hope you all have a great week. Be good, say your prayers, and share the gospel!
-Hna Taylor

New house photos . . . 

Our house!

Our kitchen.

My companion in our study room.

Our bathroom (there are two bathrooms in our house! One for us and one for Hnas Gurley and Cardenas!)

Our bedroom

Our apartment building.

Monday, February 9, 2015

{Week 61} Oriental - February 9, 2015

Mackenzie! Congratulations on your lost tooth!
Jordy, don't worry, about a thing, cuz every little thing is gonna be all right! :)
And say Hi to Kennedy for me!
In the picture, we're eating churros. I love churros!
And I never got the letters from the Activity Day girls...

As you already know, I am now training! It was crazy to arrive at the changes meeting and see the new missionaries - and 3 new sisters! We arrived in style in the back of a member's pickup truck with all my stuff, and had fun meeting the new sisters and chatting with all the missionaries until the meeting started. I always love the changes meeting - super funny to see the reactions of people when they find out that they're going to be comps and who's going to be the new leaders. Hna Luque and Hna Ingram are now comps in my last area, and are the Sister Training Leaders. And my new comp is Hermana Ramirez! She is from Mexico and is 22. She moved to the States at age 6 and returned to Mexico at age 19, so she speaks practically perfect English. She is a convert of 3 years - she learned about the church when she returned to Mexico. She was originally called to serve in the Provo Utah mission, but her visa was denied due to the fact that was in the States illegally for so many years. So now she's my comp! And she's super sweet - she has a big heart and lots of desires to work hard and help the people. She's constantly asking me what she can do better - she has a big desire to be the best missionary that she can be. I love her, and it's going to be great to be companions!

Hna Ramirez and I!

I loved Hna Luque! I'll miss her! (and I believe that's Elders Anderson and Bryce in the background lol)
Hna Bravo finished her mission!  (4th companion)
Hna Cruz finished too!  (3rd companion)
These were my zone leaders in N-- - Elders Juarez and Esplin.

And we're in a new area! We are in a ward called O--, in the O-- Stake (this was my first stake). This was the area that Hna Aguilar was in when Hna Gutierrez was in the hospital, and when we did divisions for a few days, this was the ward I came to. So about a year ago I was in this ward for about 3 days - and every now and then we go in a house or walk down a street, and I recognize it. And several people remember me! Our first day we walked past a street, and I looked down it and knew I had been there before! I remembered teaching some investigators there, and I knew that they had been baptized, so we walked down the street and I remembered which house it was! So we knocked, but it turns out they don't live there anymore, but the person that lives there let us in and let us teach her! It was a great lesson - we taught the Restoration, and the spirit was super strong - she's named Guadelupe and is 18. We had huge hopes for her, but later when we came back the next day, her mom had forbidden her to keep listening to us, so we've had to drop her. But we're planning to pass by again later and see if we can talk to her mom.

It was funny when we got here. When we arrived the Elders gave us a map, but they messed up and gave us a map of the wrong ward. We wandered around, completely lost for about an hour, when we ran into a member that told us our map was wrong. So in desperation we went to the house of Hna J - because I remembered what street she lived on. We got to the street, but I couldn't remember in which direction she lived, so I said a prayer, and the next thing we know, someone shouted ''Hermanas!'' It was Levi, the son of Hna J. He got back from his mission in Argentina about 6 months ago, and is the 2nd counselor in the bishopric. So he helped us get the right map, and showed us where a bunch of members live. So that was a tender mercy of the Lord to put him in our path right when we needed help the most!

This ward is amazing! They are so missionary minded! EVERYONE has a big desire to share the gospel, and they always want to come with us for appointments. I love them! And our Bishop is amazing! On Saturday he came with us to visit some people and it went great. This ward is amazing! I'm hoping I ''die'' here. I love it!

The area is small, but pretty safe, with lots of weird winding streets. The Elders that were here didn't do anything to keep up with the paperwork, so we don't have any records of anything that they did here. But, the members are super helpful and are always helping us know where less actives live.

And we have 3 investigators! Francisca ''Paquita'' and her husband Rodolfo are so amazing - they are 65ish and are getting baptized on Saturday! They LOVE the gospel, and although we didn't find them, we have the great privilege of teaching them. Paquita talks and talks and talks and Rodolfo sits there silently with a smile on his face. They are the sweetest people ever. Today we went over the baptism interview questions with them, and one of the questions is if they've ever committed a serious crime. Without hesitation they both said yes, with their faces very solemn. We were surprised and didn't really believe them (they are so sweet and innocent I couldn't imagine them doing something bad) and so we explained exactly what counts as a serious crime, and they said ''Oh we've never done anything like that. We just feel so bad for our sins that we feel like they are serious crimes.'' It was so sweet to see how much they want to repent and become like Jesus Christ. I love them!
Rodolfo, Paquita, Hna Laura (the stake president's wife) and Asenat (the stake president's daughter), and me!

And our other investigator is our ''niƱo magico'' - Magic Child. That's what we call the 9 year old less actives that missionaries always want to baptize lol. His name is David, and we didn't know how we were going to help him come to church every Sunday, because his grandma works, his mom is less active, and his step-father isn't a member. Saturday night we went to visit him - and his mom was there! It was the first time we'd met his mom. His step-father had taken his 6 month old little brother in the morning and left, and hadn't returned all day - and was drunk when he took the baby. So the mom didn't go to work because she and the grandma had been trying all day to find the baby. When we arrived they were both in tears and told us that they had been praying for help when we knocked on the door. We prayed with them that the baby would be returned safely, and sang a hymn, and talked a lot about obedience. Later that night the mom called us to say that the baby had been returned, she had broken up with the step-father (he's actually just her boyfriend) and that tomorrow first thing she would come to church. And she came! And we are planning to baptize David on March 7! It's amazing to see how the Lord guides us to the place we need to be in exactly the right moment. The people have such confidence in us as missionaries - sometimes we get there and they look at us, and they say ''The missionaries are here. Everything will be all right now.'' It's very humbling to know that we literally are representatives of Jesus Christ, and we have the great responsibility and opportunity to help everyone.

We live in a big apartment building (sorry, no pictures) and we share it with Hna Gurley and her comp Hna Cardenas! Hna Cardenas will be finishing her mission in March. They are in a different ward. We share the ward with Hna Valdivia who also goes home in June, and Hna Ortiz, who arrived with Hna Ramirez. We don't have a washer, we don't even have a scrub board, so we have to take our clothes to the member's houses to wash them. And Church starts at 9! But we have Priesthood and RS first, then Sunday School, then Sacrament Meeting.

Hna Valdivia and Hna Ortiz - (we found a pink wig in a members house lol)

I'm loving the changes. It was sad to say goodbye to P-- and N--, but I'm happy to be in O--. It's a good area, and I know that we're going to see miracles here. And Hna Ramirez is great.

Love you all - have a great week. Be good, say your prayers, and count your blessings, because we have so many.
Love you!
-Hna Taylor

Gustavo gave us some gift baskets when he found out I had changes :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

{Week 60} Polanco - February 2, 2015

Thank you so much for all the letters! I got a ton and I love hearing from you all! Now to answer all the questions you asked me...

The first time they fed us mole, I ate it all. And every time since then I eat just a bit less - I eat until I know that I'll vomit on the next bite and then I tell the member that I'm full. The people here are always offering food. In almost every house that we visit they offer to feed us. We generally say no because we came here to preach, not eat, but some of the people do get offended when we say no. But if we say yes then we'll be eating about 8 times a day and we'd honestly be wasting time. And sometimes they don't take no for an answer, and they'll serve us a plate of tacos anyway. That almost always happens when we're fasting. Then we have to refuse the food and then they get offended... and then we have to tell them we're fasting so that they don't feel bad, and then we feel bad because fasting should be a secret and we shouldn't be telling people... it's a struggle lol. And if they offer you seconds and you say no, they think you didn't like the food, so we almost always take seconds...

Jordyn, I know you'll get the art award. You're amazing!
Basketball! Carlee and Jennafer, you two are my heroes. It makes me so happy that you're loving the game, and that you're playing tons. Keep up the good work!
Carlee, I haven't the foggiest idea what ''bae'' means.
Richelle, your Christmas card hasn't arrived yet.

I know for sure that my new comp will be Spanish speaking. There are only four sisters coming, and 3 are from Mexico and 1 from Guatemala. Thanks for the training advice dad. I'm going to just work as hard as I can and love her, and I know everything will be great. And I'll try not to walk too fast for her. Remember how I told you that last week we went on divisions? Well Cynthia, the girl I went with, told me yesterday that she got blisters from walking so fast and so much with me, but she didn't want to tell me in the moment. She struggled through huge blisters as I dragged her from one end of the area to the other walking super speed! She's amazing! So I'll try to watch that with my new comp. And I have changes - we'll be opening an area. I know for sure that I'll be headed back to my first zone O--, but I'm not sure what area I'll be in yet. We'll find out tomorrow!
Cynthia and Me - she's going to be a great missionary!

And Addison! Richelle, you have no idea how happy it made me to hear from you and see the pictures and videos of your beautiful baby. It made me cry from happiness. You look like an amazing mom, and I can see how much you love your baby. I can't wait to meet her. I love hearing about her.

So these last few days I've been saying goodbye to everyone - taking lots of pictures and shedding just a few tears. It's crazy to think that many of these people I'll never see again. I'm for sure going to come visit, but it'll be impossible to see them all. This is the first time I've had a chance to say goodbye - my last changes were really sudden and I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to anyone. So I'm enjoying this chance to say goodbye to P- - I was here for 9 months. There are some people I've met here that I will remember forever - it's been so amazing to see the faith of the people in action. I love them all so much. Thanks for those cards you sent me mom, they've come in really handy. This morning we went to have breakfast with the Maldonado Family - my favorite family here. Hermana Maldonado just cried and cried as we hugged and said goodbye. I love them so much. And it's been hard to say goodbye to Adolfo, Edgar, Ana Maria, Gustavo, and Josefina. I love them all tons and it's been amazing to see them progress in the gospel and develop so much faith. Ana Maria finished the Book of Mormon the other day, and is now reading the New Testament. Josefina is preparing to go do baptisms for the dead for her dad and her sister. Gustavo should be getting the priesthood next week. Edgar hasn't smoked in ages and bought himself a suit the other day for church (before he always came in jeans). And Adolfo is preaching the gospel to the whole world - another of his friends was just baptized Sunday by Elders Evans and Chok. It's been amazing. I love them all so much. And Sunday, 15 of the less actives that we teach came to church. That also made me super happy - several of them shared their testimonies with me and told me with real conviction that they came back to stay. I love the gospel so much. It has been amazing to see the changes that people make in their lives when they feel the Spirit testifying of the truthfulness of the gospel. Often when Hna Luque and I see miracles or someone feeling the Spirit and truly repenting and changing, we will look at each other and say ''the gospel is perfect''. I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect. I love this chance I'm having to be a full time missionary and dedicate every moment to serving him.

Me with the Familia Maldonado

Ana Maria and I. I love her so much!

And I'm going to miss Hna Luque. Every now and then we'll be walking down the street just laughing. We're trying to figure out how we're going to see each other again - it'll be hard since she lives in the South pole and I live in the north pole lol. She keeps looking at me and saying ''I don't want you to go'' and then we cry. I've learned tons from her - especially how to truly love the people. She has such a love for everyone.

I only have 3 cycles left! That's 4.5 months! I honestly can't believe how fast it's flying by...

Hope you all have a great week. Ustedes son maravillosas y siempre estoy jactando de ustedes a todos. Trust in the Lord and be obedient. I love you all
Be good, say your prayers, and say your family prayers too. Prayer is so powerful and I know that our Padre Celestial hears us and answers us. You should all watch the Mormon Message ''Heavenly Father, Earthly Father'' (something like that) it's amazing.

I love you!
-Hermana Taylor

I got a hole in my shoe... but they lasted me about 7 months!