Monday, April 5, 2010

week 21

Hola Mis Seres Queridos
I hope everyone had a delightful Pascua (Easter, for all you bolillos). I loved watching General Conference this weekend! I don't think I have every been so excited to watch it before, nor have I ever been 100% awake and functioning for all four sessions, haha. For those who don't know, General Conference occurs twice a year, in April and in October, and is when the leaders of the church, the 12 Apostles and the Prophet, prepare important messages through study and pray and those messages are delivered by satellite across the world to all of the members of the church. They also show it on some channel on cable but I am not sure which. Anyways, this conference was soooo good, except for almost every single talk was about the importance of strong families and how to raise your children, which made me a teeeny tiny itsy bitsy little bit trunky, haha, it just made me think a lot about how excited I am to one day start my own family and to rear the amazing children that will be sent to my home. Don't worry, I am not worrying about that business, 100% focused on the mission :). My favorite talk was the one by Elder D. Todd Christofferson about the scriptures. It was so powerful to me and made me realize how lucky I am to have my own personal copies of the scriptures, and in two languages no less, when there have been periods of time when people were martyred in their efforts to obtain the Bible. He mentioned the sacrifice of William Tyndale in translating the Bible to english and I just feel so grateful by the sacrifices made by so many that I may study and learn from the scriptures on a daily basis. If you haven't read from the scriptures lately I would challenge you to do so.The Bible and the Book of Mormon were important enough that many gave their lives for us to be able to have them, so don't let their sacrifice be wasted, read the words of the prophets found in the scriptures, come closer to Christ. All of the General Conference talks may be found here:,5239,23-1-1207,00.html
The Patino's are getting baptized this upcoming Sunday!!!!! It will surely be one of the happiest moments for me. This last week Adela was diagnosed with cancer and requested a priesthood blessing from the Elders. They came and administered a blessing of healing and in the blessing she was told that Heavenly Father had much planned for her and that she had many years left in this life. All of the Patino's have such great faith, they knew before the blessing was even administered that everything would be okay and showed such confidence in the Lord. It is by their great faith that they will see miracles and I am confident that Adela will be able to overcome this illness and be completely healed.
On a lighter note, we went over to the Patino's for dinner, as usual, and Adela made fried fish. Most of you know that before my mission I hated fish, but I have learned to like almost everything I have eaten in the mission so I figured I would see if it could be possible for me to like fish. I sat down and Adela placed in front of me a whole fish, eyes, fins, the whole shabang. It looked as if it had been plucked from the ocean, into a frying pan, and then onto my plate. Hermana Blanco doesn't eat seafood, so she ate some beans and rice, and watched in disgust as I ate my meal. It actually was REALLY good. I put some lemon on it, and pulled the meat off with my hands and ate it with tortilla. Don't worry Dad, no one uses forks in Hispanic culture, so eating with my hands was not something impolite, everyone eats with a tortilla, I will teach you later. Hermano Patino said he was so proud of me because I ate that fish just like a Mexican :) I consider myself lucky that I haven't had to eat anything too crazy yet and am really trying to be a fearless missionary, even with what I eat. Yesterday at the Araujo's home Hermano dared all of us missionaries to eat a chipotle pepper, no one would do it because they are supposed to be really spicy, so when Hermana Araujo handed me the bowl and asked if I would do it I picked one up and put the whole thing in my bowl. It was kind of weird, like a spicy, slimy barbeque sauce flavored pepper, but wasn't bad. I didn't cry, or complain, just said it tasted like barbeque. The Araujo's were really impressed, woot woot, and the Elders were in shock that this sister missionary just one-uped them in spicy food eating :)
The work is going great, we are teaching a ton of people! We have been so blessed with wonderful people who are willing to listen to our message and who have desires to know for themselves if what we teach is true.

Hermana Taets

Sunday, April 4, 2010

week 20

Mis Seres Queridos
Another crazzzzy week here in H-Town. I don't think there will ever be a dull moment in the mission. Yesterday was the BEST day because the Patino family had their baptism interviews and it just made me get so excited for their baptism on the 11th, AND we had 9 investigators at church! My companion and I both feel so blessed to have found so many amazing people and families who we are teaching and who are witnessing changes in their lives as they embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ. The whole Arzate family was in church for the first time and they really liked it, so hopefully we will be able to see them enter the waters of baptism as well this transfer. I feel so much love for the people we are teaching and am so greatful for the opportunity I have here to be a servant of the Lord in this great work. There is no greater joy to be felt than that which comes when sharing the gospel.
Funny Story: Our ward's gospel principles class is the best class ever, the teacher, Papa Davila (This funny old man, about half the ward is related to him and his son is the Bishop), is an amazing teacher and is super funny, we are always cracking up in class. Last sunday he was teaching about agency and was talking about how we can choose to do what is good or we can choose to disobey God. Then for dramatic effect he said "What would you do if Christ was to come walking in this class right now" and then went over and opened the classroom door, and not 5 seconds later the Bishop comes strolling in the classroom and the whole class just erupted with laughter. For a solid 5 minutes we were all laughing soooooo hard. Oh man, it is making me laugh right now, how embarrassing haha. Church is a different atmosphere in the spanish ward but I love it. It is so much more relaxed and everyone is like a big family.
Strangest thing to happen thus far in my mission: Okay, yesterday was fast sunday and I always get headaches when I fast, I just think I am not used to fasting yet, I honestly didn't really do it for the full 24 hours before my mission. Yesterday once we broke our fast with the Patino family and the Elders in our ward, I got REALLY sick. I don't know what happened but as soon as dinner got in my stomach I went pale and felt really sick to my stomach and my head was pounding. So, Elder Porter and Elder McGary gave me a priesthood blessing of healing and then we left. On the way home we had to stop at a member's home to pick something up and they heard I was sick and ushered me inside to "cure me". Oh man, I was so scared at what they were gonna do to me because earlier that day the same old Mexican Grandma, who may or may not have a beard, worked some voo-doo magic on Elder McGary's sprained ankle. So I went inside and she had me lay on this massage table and take my shoes and my nylons off and started massaging my feet, which was great at first. She said there are certain points in the foot that if you push them it heals certain parts of the body and then told me to relax and breathe deep. Then she pushed on the part of my foot that heals the stomach and it hurt so bad! I yelled pretty loud, thank goodness the Elders were waiting outside or I would have been embarrassed. And to make the story even weirder, this whole time stinkin' Hermana Blanco is sitting in a chair next to me playing the hymns on a recorder haha. She plays the flute so I guess the recorder was the next best thing, but I can't say I really appreciated her playing that thing while the Mexican grandma was voo-dooing my feet. Next, she said she was going to massage my head. I definitely would not call it a massage. She basically just beat my head in with her hands. No joke, she held my head in her hands and shook it up and down. I had to try SO hard no to laugh. After doing various other strange things to my head, and getting massage oil all over my head and face, I was finally "healed" and allowed to leave. She also said to go home and eat a spoonful of olive oil with a drop of lemon and a pinch of baking soda: yeah right, I definitely did not eat that. Surprisingly, I did feel increasingly better, but we still called it a night and we home around 8 so I could go to sleep. I am very grateful that this member of the ward wanted to heal me and make sure I was okay, but next time I think I will just take some Advil and go to sleep.

Espero que ustedes esten muy bien y tengan salud and felicidad y les amo muchisimo,
Hermana Taets

week 19

Mis Seres Queridos

Another transfer has come and gone, can you believe that? I can't! This last week was so amazing! First of all, we had transfer calls on Saturday and I was basically a nervous wreck all day because I REALLY didn't want to get transferred from my area! We are going to be baptizing 6 people in April, and possibly 4 more if this one family we have been teaching decides to take the plunge ;) On Saturday a bunch of us missionaries all met up to go over the transfer paper with the zone leaders and once we got there Elder Astin handed me the paper and said, "Better start packing your bags Hermana Taets." When he said that I just yelled, "Are you serious?!!!!!" and grabbed the paper. I should have known that Elder Astin would lie to me, he is always teasing me, but I am staying in Fairbanks with Hermana Blanco this transfer, woo hoo! This will also be Hermana Blanco's last transfer because she goes home on May 5th, so I will get to "kill her", meaning I will be her last companion in the mission. I am pretty stoked to inherit all her stuff haha.

The best thing that happened last week was all of our lessons with the Patino family. We usually teach them about 4 times a week, and each lesson was so good. On Tuesday we taught about Repentance and committed them all the be baptized on April 11th, and only Juan Carlos, the 29 year old son, said yes. I almost cried. He has come so far since we first met them! He had to stop drinking, but has been clean for like a month, and has just changed so much and is so happy. He has two little daughters, and his 9 year old daughter will be baptized as well. Adela and Carlos, Juan Carlos' parents, said they would have to talk about it. So, we went over there on Thursday, Adela made the most delicious enchiladas btw, and when we asked them about being baptized on the 11th they said they would! Woo Hoo! They were so excited to tell us haha and they have been asking us all sorts of great questions lately about baptism and they want us to take them to see the temple and to go buy scriptures and a hymn book. Man, they are such an amazing family! I have been so blessed to have been able to find and teach them and watch this miracle conversion take place in their home. When we taught them on Saturday they brought a friend over and were teaching him and were telling me that the church is true and they were going to help him find that out for himself. I felt like a proud parent to see them teaching their friend and being missionaries before they even get baptized. I am so excited for their baptisms! It will pretty much be the best day ever! I love the Patinos so much, I am pretty sure they are my "Mexican family" because Adela wants me to come back after the mission so she can teach me how to cook Mexican food, and Carlos said that I have to bring my husband over to meet him and get his approval before I get married haha. He said I can marry a Hispanic is I want, but to be careful because a lot of them are all "borachos" (drunks) hahaha.

I love the work I am doing here in this area. We are finding so many people who have been prepared to listen to our message and prepare to be baptized. We knocked into this woman in Jaunary, named Sara, and she said we could come by some other time in the future. Last week we were in her neighborhood so we stopped by and she let us in and was just the sweetest lady. She wanted us to come back and so we taught her and her husband last night. Her husband has a really hard time speaking, I think he had a stroke or something, but the lesson was so good! They both are devout Catholics, so Sara was saying it is hard to think that they could have been wrong for all this years but she feels something when we come over to teach and so she want to keep learning and wants to know if it is true. We asked Jose, the husband to say the prayer, and as he prayed he just started bawling. I have never seen a grown man cry like that. He was praying for God to keep him strength and to help him to speak and for help in this hard time in his life. After he prayed we said we would be back this week to bring them each a copy of the Book of Mormon and Jose got really excited and pulled out two english copies of the Book of Mormon from his desk. He said he has had them for years, someone left them there, but he couldn't understand them because they were in english! He was really excited to finally have a Book of Mormon in spanish. Can you believe that? Jose and Sara are so amazing, and I feel like we found them at the perfect moment in their lives for them to be able to receive us and be taught. I cannot believe how blessed my companion and I are! What a privelage it is to be able to teach and help people to know of the love that our Heavenly Father has for each of His children.

I love all of you and am grateful for all of your love and support.
Hermana Taets

Week 18

Mis Seres Queridos,
The one word I would use to describe this week: rollercoaster. Thursday we had exchanges and I stayed in my area and they sent another greenie to work with me for a day. It was crazy being in charge of everything, like planning the lessons, deciding what we did when an appointment fell through and leading all of the lessons. I had a lot of fun though and gained more confidence in my ability to speak the language and in just doing the work. While we were on exchanges we taught the first lesson to a 17 year old boy named Fabian. He is a friend of one of the recent converts in the ward and came with him to church on sunday. The lesson went really well, we left him with a copy of the Book of Mormon and committed him to read from it and pray to know if it is true. We had another lesson with him on saturday, but we really wanted Emerson, his friend who referred him, to be able to come to the lesson. Since we aren't allowed to give anyone men who aren't missionaries a ride in our car, we parked the car at Emerson's apartment complex and walked the 3 miles to Fabian's house. My feet were killing me, I was so grateful that day that we are blessed to have a car! But, the lesson was completely worth the 6 miles of walking there and back! We started the lesson and asked Fabian if he had read his assignment in Moroni 10, and if he had prayed about it. He said he had. We asked how he felt when he prayed and he described it like this: "Well, when I first started praying I felt kind of warm, and thenas I kept praying the feeling got stronger, and once I finished it was a pretty strong feeling of warmth." I had the biggest smile on my face! I could barely keep from jumping out of my seat and shouting! He said he wanted to be baptized and we set a date for March 28th. Yesterday we had another lesson with him right before church, and this is where the rollercoaster takes a dive right after climbing to the top. Before we started teaching he said he wanted to tell us something. He had told his mom about his decision to be baptized and she was not happy about it. She said that he would not be allowed to meet with us anymore or go to church. Poor Fabian was on the brink of tears as he told us all of this, and I was pretty close to crying as well. It just about broke my heart to see him so happy and excited one day after receiving that divine answer from God of the need to be baptized and then to see him so depressed the next day. Please pray for Fabian to have the strength to keep studying the Book of Mormon and praying, for his Mom's heart to be softened that she may allow him to be baptized, and for my companion and I to know how to help his family. I am so grateful that my parents, although they didn't understand or agree with my decision to be baptized, they didn't try to stop me and trusted in my judgement. I am so grateful to be blessed with such amazing parents.
I don't know what Bishop Davila was thinking when he asked me to speak in church, but I agreed, and spoke in church, in spanish. I was so scared! I have only been speaking spanish for 4 months, yet I was supposed to get up in front of the congregation on sunday and give a 7 minute discourse on how missionary work helps me to love the Savior. If he had asked me to teach about the Restoration that would have been no sweat, I do that several times a day. This was a bit of a challenge, just because I had to just talk in spanish, instead of reciting the words I am familiar with in teaching the lessons from Preach My Gospel. I think I did alright, no one boo-ed me off the pulpit, no one laughed hysterically because I said something wrong, so I will consider it a success haha even though I felt like an idiot because I had to talk slow and had to stop and think at times and figure out how to conjugate something. The Elders said I did a good job, but why would I trust them? ;)
Transfer calls come this Saturday, eek! I really don't want to be transferred! I love my area and all the families we are teaching! The rest of my district says I am out though, boooo! I will update y'all on Monday on whether or not I will stay or go. I love everyone so much and an grateful for your prayers, e-mails, letters, etc. :)

Love, Hermana Taets

Week 17

Querido Famila y Amigos
This week was craziness. First, I will tell of all the ridiculously funny things that happened (all the letters I get express joy in hearing about me getting pooped on by the bird, so I will continue to document these precious moments of my mission).

1. We did a lot of tracting this week, trying to find some new people to teach and while we were tracting out this trailer part we approached a door and heard a loud whistle. No big deal, we kept going towards to door to knock, when we hear behind us, "Bueeeennnoooo". I turned around and there was this parrot in a cage on the porch! Coolest bird I have ever met. I tried to teach it to say "Mormon" but it wasn't having any of that, it was content in saying "Bueno" over and over, with a perfect Hispanic accent as well. Dang bird speaks better spanish than I do. Fail.

2. Saturday we tracted an apartment complex and this really nice family let us in and even got us each a glass of water and were just so nice. We started teaching them about the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ and that is when they turned on us. I won't say what sect of christianity they belonged to, but they were "Christians", you know, the kind that use the scriptures to argue and prove their vain traditions, bah. They were really hung up on this one scriptures in Corinthians that said woman need to cover their head when they prayer. They read it to us I think 4 times? Each time informing us that it was wrong for us to preach the doctrine of Christ with our heads uncovered. They told Hermana Blanco that she was raised in her religion and therefore didn't realize it was wrong because it is all she has known, so Hermana Blanco, of course, drags me into this war in saying that I joined the church 3 years ago and am the only member in my family. Their response, to me, was that I have been deceived and am very confused. I hadn't said much up until this point because I refuse to argue, especially as a representative of the Savior, I will not argue with people, but after this comment I simply stated that I searched for truth for a long time and prayed to god to know which church was true, and I received a clear answer from God that I cannot deny and know without a doubt that I am not confused. After this they returned to the discussion on head coverings and then the man repeatedly asked my companion if she was mad.."Are you mad Blanco? Are you mad Blanco?" and I had to try really hard not to laugh haha. Anyways, we finally were able to get out, they let us say a prayer with them and then we booked it out of there. Way fun. It broke my heart a little bit though to people with such closed minds and hearts, so unwilling to do the will of the Lord because they are so devoted to their traditions.

3. Hermana Blanco and I almost got eaten by a big dog Saturday. It was definitely possessed, it was walking backwards, no joke. So, we were hiding behind this truck while waiting for it to move so we could get to our vehicle. It was pretty intense, I thought my life was over haha.

Okay now for the serious portion of my discourse.

1. Yesterday was amazing. Carlos, Adela and Juan Carlos were all at church yesterday and during the past week we had taught them about tithing and fasting, and yesterday they asked us to teach them how to pay a fast offering to the church, so we did, and each one of them paid a fast offering. I love that family so much, it has been such a miracle to me to be able to teach them and watch their lives change as they learn the gospel. They haven't set a baptism date yet, but they are close, so hopefully this week. In gospel principals class everyone always has to introduce themselves and where they are from and when I introduced myself and Carlos said I was a Chilanga (Someone from D.F., Mexico) and everyone in class laughed, but hopefully this means my spanish is getting better, the Mexicans have adopted me and now I am officially from Mexico, woot woot.

2. Last week Elders Porter and Workman asked us to accompany them to a lesson with a 17 year old girl they were teaching named Karla. She keeps all of her committments, knows the Book of Mormon is true and has almost read the whole thing, but didn't want to be baptized because her Dad was not supportive. So, the Elders thought it would be good if I went over there and talked about my own challenge in being baptized without the complete support of my parents. She speaks english so I wasn't worried, but right as we were about to start the lesson, her mom and brother came to sit in too, and the mom only speaks surprise! I had to now tell my conversion story in spanish. I can do it, but it's just harder for me to express myself in spanish. So I told my story and then Hermana Blanco talked about her Dad joining the church in the Philippines, and then the Elders committed Karla to set a baptismal date and she said yes! It was a really neat experience and the spirit was really strong in the room. I am really glad I was able to share my conversion and testimony of the gospel with Karla and am excited for the journey she has ahead of her.

I love being a missionary! Oh I might be getting transferred soon soooooo if you have been writing me at my apartment address, start sending mail to the mission office please. Gracias!

Hermana Taets