Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hello from Star Heights!

One of you needs to chastise me into writing in my journal more because I didn't do it again this week and can't remember anything cool that happened. I did do some service at a house ranch though. We spent two hours cleaning stalls and then we groomed a horse. You know, I don't dislike horses per say, but I just don't get why people think that they are so great, they really aren't. There are like a million more pets I would rather have than a horse. The only cool thing you can do with a horse is ride it, and is that even really that cool? I don't know, I've never done it like legitly but, I just don't get it. Not even stories about horses are good! So anyway, yeah, I don't know what the big deal it. But, I also don't know what the big deal is with
 Frozen so I guess I'm just not in the know on these things.  We had something kind of crazy happen to us this week when we were out talking to people. We knocked on a guy's door who we had heard though the hearsay was less active (he was by the way) and we talked to him for about 20 minutes. We left him with a scripture to read and left. Then that night at dinner we go over to our member's house and there he is! Turn out that his brother is an active member and he went over to his house to borrow a Book of Mormon to read the chapter we
 had given him. He read it and by the time he was done it was dinner time and his brother invited him to say and we happened to be coming as well. So that was pretty cool! I'm also pretty impressed that he read the chapter we left with him right away, no one ever does that! Ha, that reminds me, we have been working this week on following up with our members on the commitments we leave them. They at first were really surprised but now that we know we're coming back to check they have been doing a lot better at keeping them! We leave a lot of commitments a day though so to keep track of them all we have them written on a huge white board in the apartment.  We have been doing a lot of work this week with less active members. Especially in this area
 for some reason there is a real problem with retention. We have a good number of recent convert less active members as well as the normal kind. It's funny because before I started working with less active member I figured that they would be really hard to work with because you usually aren't teaching them something new like you are with an investigator, you are just helping them to change their behaviors. In reality though, teaching them is easy! (Well, the ones that will let you, let's not get crazy here) because they already know it's true! The problem is just in the conversion! Making them act on their testimony. We have seen some good progress so far though. In fact, we went to try someone last week with the relief society that we were told there was no way that we were getting in. When we knocked on her door she was so happy to see us she hugged us an invited us to dinner the next week! Although I do wish we had more new people to teach at least this is something
 good!   By the way, did I tell you that we had a lesson with a Community of Christ lady? That's the new name of the RLDS church, the one that thought that the prophet after Joseph Smith should have been his son instead of Brigham Young. It's hard for me to understand how they can believe in the Restoration and then believe in the things that they do, since most of their teaching incorporate the very things Joseph Smith had a problem with (their prophet is now an elected official and they don't do or believe in any temple work! What?? One
 member in the family also told us that "Truth is a matter of opinion" um... no. That's what makes it truth, that it's not opinion.)  But, we figured that maybe they just don't really understand the Restoration. So if we get another chance to go back we'll probably focus on that. Ha it will be the first time though I'll have had to ask someone "Will you pray to know that Brigham Young was a prophet of God?”   We also got an interesting referral
 this week. After spending like 20 minutes running around looking for were we lived, we discovered that she was our neighbor. For some weird reason though her address is the street across from us. It turns out though that she called someone she knew who was a member and asked them to call us because she wanted to meet with us. Sounds pretty promising right? Well, hopefully it is. She believes in a lot of things, she reminds me a little bit of Mrs. D from 10th Street. She told us a lot that she was a child of the earth and introduced us to each of her plants. She also told us about an evil shadow walker that she saw haunting the parking lot. And it doesn't help that she has a lot of substance addictions. She also doesn't believe that you need Christ. You have God, He's good enough. As she puts it she "talks to the top." But she's going to listen to conference with us on Sunday and accepted and said she would read the Book of Mormon (she wouldn't let us leave her house though until we both kissed the cover...) so, we'll see? Everyone is a child of God right! =D 
 On a brighter note, we met an awesome couple this week as well! Well, we had already met the husband but this week we met his wife. Our conversation started out a little rough "Hi, how are you?" "Well, my brother is dying in the hospital and my dog was killed in a hit and run last night. He's buried right there" "Oh..." But, we
 were able to turn things around! Actually, interestingly enough this is the second family that a dog dying has gotten them to listen to the missionaries. How crazy is that?  So, I only have a few minutes left so I had better close this up, but just for a quick spiritual though, this weekend is Easter! And conference! We get to have them both at the same time, which is super cool! The church came out with a pretty good Easter video called Because He Lives, if you haven't seen it yet you should watch it for sure. But, I would just like to really encourage each of you to take the time to think about Easter, what it means and how we can really change because of it. I know that a lot of times people ask questions before conference that they want answers to. I
 would encourage you to consider asking a question and listening for the answer that relates to some Christ like
 quality, characteristic, or ability that you would like to develop more. There is also an awesome talk the President Uchdorf gave a while ago that would be good to read. It is called "You are My Hands." The whole thing is good of course, but one of my favorite parts is near the end. He says, " Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly. When the Savior stretches our His hands, those He touches are uplifted and become greater, strong, and better people as a result. If we are His hands, should be not do the same?" Anyway, something to mull over. I hope you all have an amazing week! I meant to send pictures but I ran out of time so next week! =D 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I have a Greek nose like a goddess

Happy Spring! Isn't it weird to think that it's spring already? Apparently for New Mexico, spring means high 70's and low 80's. I already sunburned my ears this week! But don't worry, I have sun screen so no need to disinherit me yet. This week an old Greek lady also told me that I have a Greek nose like a goddess so... I guess that's good? 

We did pretty well this week with lessons and even had one investigator come to church with her husband! Her name is Anastasia but it's pronounced kind of like pistachio. It’s Ana, pronounced like auna, and then the tachio part of pistachio  but with an a at the end so auna stachia. We had our first lesson with her last week and invited her to church and she said she would love to come and then did! So we have now..... (wait for it!!!)... 1 progressing investigator! Ha, but I am happy for anything. We also found a few new potentials this week so we'll have to see! And yes they all came on our no car day so grumble grumble I guess that it is good for something, ha even if it does decide to rain one of the days. 

This week we taught an FHE lesson to a family to show them how to do it. We decided to teach that object lesson about doing the important things in life first and how everything else fits in around with the jar and the stuff but we forgot to test it out first! So, all of the stuff fit in when you put the little stuff in first too but we were like "well... doesn't it fit better when we do it this way?" Thankfully the kids were too young to be sassy and agreed! We also sort of taught a pass off lesson this week. Man, all the cool people we find are ysa age. Anyway, so we were going to teach a pass off lesson but then figured we would just introduce her to the new Elders because they said they were bringing a member with them and we figured that 5 people teaching one person was a little much. When we got there though their member had canceled on them and she was there alone so we ended up having to stay so they could teach. It was kind of funny, we were like "ok, here are the Elders, we're be going now! Oh, wait.. I guess we're not going anywhere." 

This Friday after our meeting our zone went to Wendy's for lunch and an awesome lady paid for all of us! I was seriously really nice of her, especially since it was towards the end of the month and so people were pretty low on money. Sister Morco and I were talking about bucket lists earlier that day and although I don't really have a real one, if I did, I would put pay for zone to eat on there. This week we also accidentally had like a double recent convert lesson. We were having a recent convert lesson and brought a recent convert with us as our member, but as we were teaching he was like "oh wow, I'm glad we talked about this, I understand it better now!" And stuff like that, it was pretty funny.

Sunday night the assistants called us and asked Sister Morco to play a musical number at zone conference so we spent a little time practicing for that. She said that I had to sing for it and I ended up roping one more sister in as well. We sang I Know That My Redeemer Lives to the tune of Sweet Hour of Prayer, Before Thee Lord, and A Poor Wayfairing Man of Grief. You have to get creative when you can only sing hymns you know! The titles, tunes, and measures section in the hymn book is a pretty cool little section that I've recently discovered though. 

Zone Conference was great! We talked a lot about using The Book of Mormon to answer questions, recognizing the spirit and encouraging members to become more missionary minded and working with their friends. We talked about being encouraging and supportive and helping them to recognize the work they are already doing and how it can become even better. The Albuquerque Stake President who was in my last ward was giving the training on that part and he said "Sister Baker and Sister Stokes can to my house about a month ago..." and went into the experience he had when we asked his family for referrals so that was a little awkward. Ha, let's all learn from what I did! It was kind of funny, the zones that were at the conference were Rio Rancho, Albuquerque West (my old one), and Santa Fe, so I knew like 2/3 of the people there. 

Well, aside from getting rained on I didn't do too much else exciting, sorry! I'll try to keep better notes next week! Until then stay awesome! 



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A really cool experience with an active member visit

I feel like someone took one of those memory eraser things from MIB to me this week, I can hardly remember what we did! We spent a lot of time really trying to reorganize the area. We don't have any progressing investigators and we ended up dropping a lot this week. So we are basically back to square one, especially since the one real promising investigator we did have is moving. So I guess I'll get my fill of knocking on doors here pretty quickly. I guess that's what I get for making fun of older people who did that for forever on their missions back in the day. This week we also went on exchanges. I went to Chamisa and we taught an awesome lesson about the plan of salvation. Both in that the lesson was awesome and that we actually got to teach someone! Ha, star heights, don't you know that God loves you and wants you to listen to us so we can help you find more happiness? Be more like Chamisa! It was also nice to not have to drive for a day. Not that I really mind but it's easier to be a navigator. 

Thursday we had an interesting experience with a former. We were reading though the list and decided to go visit JR and Lisa. We knocked on their door and they let us in right away. They told us that they weren't interested but were really nice and we talked for a while. The weird part though was that after we had talked about weather and normal junk for a bit JR said to us "I knew you two were going to come by today" and we were like "um.. How?" He didn't really answer us, just showed us some pictures of the sunrise that he had taken so, I'm not really sure what he was talking about but, that's good I guess?? We are having dinner with them this week so we'll see how things go. Leslie might be interested but JR currently classifies himself as a believing nonpractitioner.

We had a really good meeting this week with the stake about missionary work. It was for the Bishops, full time missionaries, ward mission leaders, and ward missionaries. We talked about how even though President Miller has the keys over teaching and baptizing, Stake Presidents and Bishops hold the keys for missionary work and how it is to be done over their particular areas. The main message behind it was that you can't just assume that the missionaries and President Miller and going to get things done, this is all of our responsibility. The Bishops, the members and we as missionaries and there to teach and assist them in that effort. It I hope will really help with getting Bishops and members actively involved, so that would be great! It's something that a lot of people either don't understand or do understand but don't do! I know we all have a lot more potential as we all work together. 

This Sunday we also had a really cool experience with an active member visit. This one was actually by request, which I've only had happen once before. So usually once a day we'll go visit an active member family to get to know them better and to share a message with them, just so we can get to know the ward better and build stronger relationships. Earlier this week we had a family ask for us to come over on Sunday and share something. We said yes of course but it felt like a lot of pressure for them to ask us rather than us ask or just show up. We decided to share the newish Mormon Message I think it's called "You Never Know" and talk about how even when it feels like things aren't going well or we aren't getting anything done, you never know the impact and difference you make to other people. We also pared it with the Mosiah scripture that talks about the blessings and happiness we get from living the gospel. The family recently has had a lot happen to them. He had just started a new business when the father suddenly got really sick right before Christmas. It's difficult now for him to do really anything, talk, walk, he told us that breathing makes him tired. A few weeks after he got sick their son was born. So now the family has three young kids, the youngest about two months, a father who can't work and can hardly do anything, and a business to try and save. Oh and they also just moved. What they told us though after we were done sharing though was amazing. They said that they wanted to do anything that they could to help us because they knew that it was important. They talked about the last conference talk "Are we not all beggars" and how when you are in need is when it is most important to turn to others and serve. They told us that they didn't have much to offer but their home. That if we ever needed somewhere to teach or somewhere for someone to be, or if we ever needed anything from it, that we should come to their home. And that anything else we could do for them, they would love to and want to do. The father said to us that he had to admit he had a hard time paying attention to everything we were talking about but he knows the spirit when he feels it, and he wants and need that in his home as much as possible. We left them a few copies of The Book of Mormon and asked them to write their testimonies in them. Honestly though just being there was amazing. I'd like to be as spiritual and as strong as that family someday. 

Something else that I have really come to realize more this week is that God answers and wants to answer prayers, even if you don't remember what you asked for. We have had a few situations this week were we have had something happen and then realized, "hey, didn't I ask for this? Isn't this an answer to my prayer?" One example that I can think of in particular is on Sunday. We asked that those less active members would remember the desire that they had felt to come to church and learn more and become more active. We had three less active families come to church this week, two of whom we hadn't even taught and I hadn't even met! They just felt like they should come and did! It was about half way through sacrament when I kind of clued in to "Hey, didn't exactly what we asked for happen?" It really reminded me that God loves and listens to us. In many cases more than we listen to Him and in some cases even more than we listen or pay attention to what we talk to Him about. I had completely forgotten what we had asked for, but he hadn't. So, pay attention to God! He pays attention to you! More than you realize! 

I'll try to have more adventures this week so I have more to tell you! Until then, happy St. Patrick's Day!  



Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thou shal love the lord they God

Hello from Twin Peaks! I mean, Granite Falls! I mean, Rio Rancho! Rio Rancho is pretty close to Albuquerque; it's like going from Arlington to Granite Falls, both in distance and it... lifestyle. So it will be I think a different experience for sure. The members are good though, I like them. Our ward mission leader Brother Lockard reminds me a lot of Pops Racer. Just imagine if Pops was a member of the church and then a ward mission leader, ha ha. And it probably doesn't help that the first time we met he was wearing a red polo shirt. Ha, so he is awesome. Sadly though, my new companion Sister Morco doesn't know who that is. So one of you cool people should send me a picture so I can show her. You don't really get the full effect without the show but it's the best we can do! 

Speaking of which, my new companion is Sister Morco! She's originally from the Philippines but moved here with her family when she was about 10 so she has lived here for just over the majority of her life. She is awesome and it this crazy place it's good to have someone you get along with well! She was studying nutrition before her mission and is going to BYU next fall. Also she likes to eat "adventurous" food! Today for lunch we had Pho! Also, although this really isn't related, we named my GPS. Her name is Chrissy because she gets confused easily. But, I feel like it's not entirely fair to judge her for not knowing about the dirt roads or the roads that just... end for no explainable reason. By the way, one of the major roads we travel on here is called Rainbow Road. It's not very colorful though since it's pavement and dirt but of all the roads we drive on, I'll do my best to look out for obstacles (like banana and turtle shells and the like), I'd hate to fall off of it! 

The majority of this week has been spent getting to know the investigators and the members. We have a lot of investigators but none that are really progressing, so we have a lot of work and a good amount of sorting/ decision making to do in the next few weeks about them.

We've done a lot of service here as well. We worked in a Catholic food bank type place and helped two people move already.

So let's see..  Interesting things that happened this week. We talked to a guy who had signs displaying the 10 commandments all over his yard. He told us all about how true believers of Christ worship on Saturday because calendars aren't culturally based, God established a calendar while he was creating the earth, he also named the days of the week. I really wanted to ask him what he thought about Easter (by the way, if you don't know how/when Easter is determined look it up, it's crazy) but decided not to. We also went to visit a member to drop something off and heard someone in the back of the house yell "Don't open the door!!" They did but... the other person wasn't too happy about it. We met someone who reminds me of that military guy from twin peaks who had us hold hands and pray with him, so that was different, although not too weird I guess. 

We aren't supposed to drive here two days a week so we rode bikes one day, which was alright. I know that it seems very French and romantic to ride bikes in a skirt down a dirt road but let me tell you, it is not. There is just not a practical way to do it. But, one of the bikes got a flat tire so, I guess we'll just figure out what to do with that. We also taught a lesson to a family that is part investigator, part recent convert, part less active. Most of the recent converts in the ward are now do not contacts.. Not quite sure how that works. Also, we have a lot of families that are part active member part do not contact. Like 10 of them! 

Yesterday we went to a Bible study with a born again Christian family. We didn't have any hand holding this time but there was some swaying and lots of "Thank you Lord Jesus" " Yes, Lord, hear my prayers!" Maybe it's just because I'm not used to it, but that kind of stuff just makes me really uncomfortable. The mom who invited us to the meeting is... interesting... but the kids and their wives were all actually pretty normal/cool. If we can get them aside I can actually see them making good investigators. 

Let's see... today I also went to the chiropractor. There is one in the ward and we’re going to see if he could help us, our shoulders have been hurting recently. It was crazy sounding but... I basically feel the exact same so... we'll see? 

Well, that's about everything that I can think of right now. I have a feeling though that there will be a good deal of interesting things to tell you in the near future! I hope that you all are doing well! Let me see, this week in personal study I was trying to study power and authority but what I ended up learning instead is that from the time of Adam to the time of Noah's arc was almost 5,000 years! Also, the mountain where Moses saw the burning bush and the mountain where he received the 10 commandment are the same place! So that's crazy! Oh, I decided to read the entire standard works from cover to cover. So far I'm in Genesis so I've got a long way to go but it'll be good! By the way, have any of you read the intro to the King James Bible? It's a little strange. 

Well, talk to you all soon! Value your education! 



Monday, March 2, 2015

I can't believe I make this mistake

Hello, hello, as always it seems like it has been forever since I last wrote, which is especially funny this week since it has actually been a day less, but a lot has gone on this week! By the way, p-day is today because tomorrow is transfers and this time I'm actually getting transferred! Although I don't know where yet until tomorrow. But at least until the end of my mission I can probably say Hasta Nunca to Taylor Ranch.
 You know, I was actually kind of surprised how hard it was to say goodbye to this area. Especially as we were going around yesterday talking to people. I mean, you always know that you're not going to stay somewhere forever, but I just assumed that I wasn't going to leave yet. I don't know, I guess I just didn't think that I was done here, and it seems weird to leave when there are so many things left unfinished. (And of course it doesn't help that Rebecca is getting baptized this weekend and Daniel and the end of the transfer...) I suppose that it's something that over time you get used to as you transfer more but, I guess I never really realized how much I liked it here, or how much effort I put into this area until I had to leave it. I mean my sweat, blood (don't worry mom, not literally), prays and tears for the past three months have been all day every day devoted to this place and these people. It's sad to think that I'm going to have to leave that behind. But I guess that all I can hope is that it is a little better now than it was before. 
So, by the way, super embarrassing story about transfer news. Sister Stokes is getting put in as a new Sister Training Leader (like a sister zone leader, kind of...) so we naturally assumed that she was the one who was getting transferred, since this isn't an STL area. So, we started telling people that she was leaving! Not too many, just whoever we saw throughout the day, but still that night when we found out that actually I was leaving and this was becoming an STL area we had to go back the next day and be like so.... um.... actually take back what we told you yesterday.... So, now we know, don't make crazy assumptions or else you look like an idiot, ha ha.
The other crazy thing that happened this week is that it snowed! Like hard core too! Or at least hard core for New Mexico. We got about 6 inches on Friday, it snowed almost all day! And then the next day it stuck around until about noon. But don't worry, yesterday it was back to being almost 70 degrees. Ha, what is wrong with this place!
On Friday when it was snowing we had a little mini Christmas. We decided (ok actually I decided) to put in a Christmas cd (partially because it was snowing but mostly out of desperation for some different music to listen to) and we decided to stop by the Reeves family to see how they were doing. Sister Reeves' dad and sister and her family, who are Catholic, were over and so we had a little mini lesson with them. Somehow (probably because it was snowing) the He is the Gift video came up so we watched it as well as a few other Mormon Messages. We also had some traditional cake that is made around Lent that was a lot like fruit cake and some cinnamon and clove tea that smelled exactly like Christmas. So that was pretty awesome. 
Friday we also discovered the secret to getting into people's houses! So we hardly ever tract, partially because it is terrible, partially because it isn't super effective, but when there is no one around and we have nothing else to do, we do it a little. So for some weird reason no one was out in the snow on Friday so we knocked on a few doors (hmm, I wonder what they would have done if we had sung Christmas carols to them). No one really answered but one family. The mom told us that they weren't really interested but we asked them if we could just use their bathroom (which we actually needed to, I promise we aren't just terrible people). Anyway, as we got the chance to talk to them more they totally became more interested and we taught them all about the Plan of Salvation and left their house an hour later. So, it was pretty cool. 
Saturday morning was a designated service day because of the snow so we met up with the Volcano Cliffs sisters and walked to the church to get snow shovels (oh yeah, we also weren't allowed to drive). While we were walking was when we got the call that Sister Stokes was going to be an STL next transfer so that started our later regretted explanation to people of her supposed departure. We shoveled our way over to the Payne's house and on the way ran into Rebecca who didn't recognize us at first because we were all wearing pants (by the way, totally worth it. I would shovel snow every day if I got to wear pants). By then the snow had pretty much melted so we were good to drive and went on the rest of the day with our regular lesson and all that other good regular missionary stuff. Oh and also continued to spread that rumor. By the way, I have also learned this week that there really are no secrets in the church. I think we told like 5 people that Sister Stokes was leaving and by the next day we had to fix it with like everyone that we talked to. 
By far one of the coolest things that I have seen happen this week has to do with the less active member that we are working with. Our numbers of less actives that we actually see regularly is shrinking pretty fast, and not because they are all coming back to church. This week though we had a great experience with two of them. We were fed this week by the Manzanares family (less active and part member), who we had been trying to meet with for forever and had never been in their house for more than 20 minutes. By the way, I do mean that we were fed by them. In that we and the Elders and their son Paul had dinner and they went in the other room and watched TV and talked. So... that part was a little weird. But, after that we had an awesome spiritual message with them about service. Brother Manzanarus talked about how he had first met the missionaries (a friend sent them over and when they asked for him he told them that he had died... Ha, can't say that I've heard that one before) and how now he really respects and appreciates them. We asked them to come to church and they did! 
We also had an awesome lesson with another less active who had told us that she was talking a 3 month break. We stopped by so that I could say goodbye (by the way, there is some real getting in the door power in "hey, I'm leaving tomorrow for maybe forever...." and ended up talking a lot about her concerns and how even though she is a good person now and is living a good life, there is so much more happiness and knowledge, comfort and joy waiting for her if she will just do what Heavenly Father has asked. He is waiting to bring her more blessings; all you have to do it want and work for it. She said she would come to Rebecca's baptism this weekend and let the missionaries meet with her again, so that was awesome. 

The best and really the most amazing thing I've seen this week though, is really be able to see people become spiritually self-sufficient. There is a phrase that missionaries throw around to investigators about how we are their spiritual guides but ugh, I do not like it. When I think of a guide I think of like a safari, and I'm sorry but no matter how many times that safari guide takes me around the jungle, if I venture off on my own I'm most likely going to be eaten by lions. I can't do it without him. I much prefer the idea of being someone's spiritual trainer. About showing and teaching them what they need to do and how they need to do it, so that they can become spiritually self-sufficient so that they don't need me anymore. They can work with others and on their own to build their testimonies and find their own spiritual answers. Anyway, I've been able to see that a lot this week. It's really cool. I'm really happy for these people and that they don't need me as much to find and live the gospel but in a selfish way I guess it's a little sad for me. Ha, maybe that's what parents feel like when their kids grow up and leave. Awww, our investigators are becoming spiritual grownups! ha ha. 
Well, sorry that this has become so freakishly long but since I forgot to tell everyone last week that p-day was on Monday no one else really wrote me, so you got the majority of my e-mail time. And you all know I'm sure when I'm writing and have time how I tend to blather. So, let me think of a spiritual thought real quick to wrap this puppy up.

For some reason all I can think of right now is Job.19: 25-26, which I'm sure you all know is the one where he says "For I know that my redeemer liveth and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." I just love the last line of that. Yet in my flesh shall I see God. This life is not the end. This life is not even the beginning! This life is a middle. I necessary middle but a middle none the less. We will be resurrected after death. We will regain our bodies and even more than that, in our flesh we will see God! Our father! Who loves us more than we can even imagine right now. Who wants nothing more than to love us and be with us and give us everything that He has to offer. If we will only do what we need to make our way back home. 
I hope everything is going well with you all and that you have an amazing week!