Sunday, May 23, 2010

PICTURES (again) :D

1. Hermana Lillywhite. On this specific occasion we watched the Restoration movie outside of this guy's trailer during a wind storm on the big screen he carried outside and plugged in with an extension cord. Haha it was wayyyy sweet.
2. My District last transfer: Me and Blanco up top, then the elders on bottom, Porter, McGary, Astin, Kerr. They are all a bunch o' knuckle heads but we are all like Best friends forever haha
3. Blanco and I
4. Blanco and I doing the "I am never eating ever again" face. We tend to say this daily as missionaries, usually after the members make us eat a toooooon.
5. Blanco and I
6. Breanna and Trey's baptism. I looked and felt like a grease bucket that day. The Humidity has kicked in full force in Houston.
7. My zone leaders elders Porter and Mcgary. They conducted a conference for the spanish missionaries in the mission and told us we need to embrace the culture more. Way fun
8. Me and Elder McGary Embracing the culture

Now Mom had requested some pictures of the apt. So herrrrrre ya go!

9. Our Desks, trashed as usual from intense studying every morning ;)
10. My desk...slightly cleaner than hers, woot woot
11. living area. couch and bookshelf.
12. Bedroom, mine is the purple bed

Week 27

I have decided that because I love spanish and want everyone to speak spanish, I am going to impose a spanish word of the week, perhaps one that sums up my week in one random word. This week I have chosen the word, Lodo. It means mud. It POURED rain on Friday and Saturday last week and I loved it, of course. I did feel a little bad for the Elder Inkley and Elder Kerr because they are on bike :( Pobrecitos. Anyways, mud, there is mud all over the places we frequent, possibly because we frequent in dirty apartment complexes haha, so my shoes are way dirty and I have been paranoid all week that I was going to slip in the mud and die.
This week my good friend Camille, aka Hermana Blanco, was back in Houston visiting, mainly because the Patino's bought her a ticket to the Mexico v. Angola game, so she was here all last week. I saw her like 3 times, mainly friday when we all went to dinner at the Patino's house. It was SO weird to see her in jeans and normal clothes and a cell phone and listening to Jack Johnson on her iPod..... No worries I am not trunky, although I will enjoy wearing jeans again and having a cell phone, I am more than content being a missionary and am having so much fun. The mission is nothing like what I would expect it to be, it's much more fun haha.
We set 4 new baptism dates this weeeeeeeek! Oh man I was so happy when we set a date with the Arzate family! I have been teaching them the last two transfers, and they are at church every week and I have loved witnessing the change in this family. The mom is the only one who feels ready to be baptized, she is just the most amazing person, so we set a date for the 10th of July so her husband and two kids can feel ready and excited to be baptized. I love this family and cannot wait to watch them all enters the waters of baptism together. I really hope I can suck a few more transfers out of this area so I don't have to worry about finding a way back here for their baptism. We shall see what happens in few weeks concerning that.
I don't have much else to say...except that I love the Book of Mormon. I am kind of addicted to it. Whenever we have a spare moment, which is like never, I pull out my Libro de Mormon and read a chapter. Man, it is SO good! Everytime I read it I learn something new as the Holy Ghost personally teaches me according to my needs and the needs of my investigators. I really wish everyone could see the Book of Mormon the way I do. So many people have such a negative aspect concerning it, such as: "There can be no new scriptures!" and my response to you would be, "Well, I sure am not going to tell God that I don't want him to give me more scripture to guide me through this crazy life!" The Bible and the Book of Mormon together work so perfectly to explain the gospel of Jesus Christ and to testify that He lives. I am really gaining a higher appreciation for the New Testament as well, and not just the four gospels, because those are obviously amazing. The Bible testifies so plainly of the falling away of Christ's church and the Restoration that would come forth in the Latter-Days, of which Restoration I boldly testify began in the year 1820 through a young farm boy in upstate New York. I cannot fully express my love and gratitude for this gospel, I know now more than ever that is is true, as I witness change lives and unify famlies.
I have the best job. ever.

Ojala que esten muy bendecidos!
Hermana Taets

Week 26

Buenos Dias Mis Seres Queridos,
Oh what a crazy week it has been! I was so busy! First, on Tuesday I had to take Hermana Blanco to the mission office so she could go die (haha) and then I had to go get my new companion. It was sad saying goodbye to Blanco but at the same time I was pretty excited to meet Hermana Lillywhite. She is way cool! I really like her and we pretty much just laugh all day, except when we are teaching, then we have to be semi-serious. She is from Utah and graduated with a degree in literature before her mission. She is an author and writes stories, and as some of you may know, I LOVE to read stories! So, we are like the perfect companionship because when I am bored I just ask her to tell me a story, and she does, and then we are both super content haha. She has some really good stories and she also informed me that I am such an interesting character, with so much drama surrounding me, that she has decided to write a book after her mission after what my life will be like once I return home from my mission. Can you say, Dream come true? I am so excited to read the book about my future haha. She goes home from her mission on July 28th, and I am hoping I get to kill her off and stay in Fairbanks until then, but it is very unlikely because if I stay here until then, I will automatically stay another transfer to avoid having to be white-washed, meaning that I will have been in my first area for 6 transfers, which is not unheard of, but is rare at the same time. Hermana Lillywhite is predicting that I stay in Fairbanks, kill her off in July and then train the transfer after she leaves. I would love to train, so I hope I am ready by then, and I also would looooove to stay in this area because it is hoppin' with amazing investigators and people wanting to be baptized, woot woot.
In other news, remember when I mentioned a long time ago about a reporter for the Houston Chronicle going to our Zone Conference and asking us all manner of questions? Well, the article was published this friday and it actually turned out WAY good! She represented the church and what we do as missionaries, VERY WELL, and no false doctrine or crazy rumors were put on there. We were all so excited about the article turning out so well, but I have but one complaint: She quoted me. As previously mentioned I did NOT want to be quoted in this article and had planned on not opening my mouth during the interview with her unless prompted by the spirit to say something. Well, as you can guess, I was prompted, and I said something, and she quoted it. I don't really like how that particular part turned out, but whatevs, the rest of the article is SO good. If you would like to read it just click here but be careful and don't read all of the nasty, anti-mormon hater-ation that is displayed below the article :)
This week was Elder Kerr's birthday, and we had the pleasure of celebrating his birthday the way they do in Honduras: Throw eggs at the Birthday Boy! Oh man it was so fun! Elder Kerr stood outside while they cracked eggs over his head, but I was not about to get egg on my hands so I told him to just stand there while I chucked one right at his stomach. I didn't think I threw it THAT hard, but apparently I hurt him just an intsy winsty little bit haha. He is such a good sport and just said "ow" and laughed about it. I don't have the pictures on my camera but as soon as I do get a hold of some of them I will be sure to send them.
Another short funny story: We were teaching this young woman, Asalia, and while I was saying the opening prayer before the lesson, her 2 year old son became very intrigued with my blue tights I had on and decided to run his hands all over my legs, which sent me into a fit of laughter. I was able to finish the prayer almost without chuckling, but as soon as I finished I just started laughing sooo hard and everyone was really confused about what was wrong with me. After I explained what happened everyone laughed and Hermana Lillywhite and I decided that we should not wear colored tights to Asalia's house anymore.
I got to call home yesterday and it was so nice to talk to my parents and my sister! I love them so much and had so much fun talking to them. It is weird to think that next time I call them it will be Christmas! Time is going by SO fast and I do not like it one bit! 6 months just came and went like nobody's business! AH!
Ok, last short story: We watched the Testaments with the Arzate family last week and they LOVED it. They tried to buy it from us haha, but we said we would just get them a copy for free as a present. They all loved the end the most and when Natalia, the mother, said the prayer before we left, she thanked Heavenly Father for sending the missionaries and for the opportunity they had to watch this movie about things that truly happened. I repeat, "things that truly happened". They have been coming to church consistently but haven't felt ready yet to set a baptism date, but I feel like they are so close! They are doing so well, and are just growing and becoming more unified as a family as they attend church and study the scriptures together. The day they are baptized will be one of the best days of my mission, similar to the day the Patino's were baptized. Oh the Patino's, I love them so much. We went to their new place for dinner saturday night (the zone leaders went and took us so that it was totally legal) and I had so much fun with them. They want us to come over every other saturday and have dinner and play a game, and I definitely am not objecting :)
Well, that's enough for this week, I love being a missionary and have never been so happy! I know this church is the true church of Christ restored upon the earth and that Jesus Christ leads and guides this church through a living, modern day prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I loveeeee the Book of Mormon and know without a doubt that it contains the word of God and that the events which take place in the Book of Mormon truly took place here on the American continent. There is no greater joy than that which comes as I share this message with the people of Houston. :)

Con Amor y Paz
Hermana Taets

week 25

Buenas Tardes
This last week I had 3 possible outcomes in mind for who my new companion would be, and none of them turned out to be true. I was pretty surprised in fact at who my new companion is but I have faith that she is the companion that the Lord has chosen for me and that there is a great purpose in us being placed together for this next transfer. My new companion is Hermana Lilywhite, and that is pretty much all I can tell you because I have never talked to her before and know nothing about her. She has been in my zone this whole time, just never had the opportunity to really speak with her. I asked Elder Astin where she is from and his response was "Crazy Town," so this next transfer might be very entertaining :) I am really excited to begin a new transfer with a new companion who comes from a different background and has different experiences that I may learn and grow from. I feel like every new transfer is an opportunity to bury old bad habits and become a better version of myself. This transfer I want to be better at stepping up to the plate and not just letting my senior companion do all the talking. I want to be better at talking to EVERYONE. The mission has a goal of each missionary talking to 10 people a day and inviting them to learn more about the gospel. I really want to be able to meet this goal everyday so the Lord will have confidence in me that when he places someone in my path that is prepared to hear our message that I will stop and talk to them. I want to be a bold and fearless missionary! I don't know when or why I got so shy and timid, that's definitely not who I am, but I have noticed that I have become more scared and insecure as a missioanry. I think it may come from my lack of self-confidence concerning the language, but that is no excuse. Fear is the opposite of faith, and this work cannot continue without faith. I hope this next transfer I can transform into this faithful, powerful, testifying missionary :)
We set a baptism date with the Davila family this week for the 16th of May! We had to wait so long to set a date with them because they had to quit smoking first, which was very difficult since Elva had been smoking A LOT for a very long time. Last week we asked Elva if she had cut down on smoking and she said she hadn't smoked all week! AND that she thinks this week she won't smoke at all! I was so blown away that she has been able to quit so quickly. It has been another testimony to me that the Lord is in this work and that as He has seen Elva's desire to be baptized He has given her the strength to overcome her addiction. The Davila's are so excited to be baptized and I am so excited to continue in preparing them to make these sacred covenants with Heavenly Father.
The Patino's moved out of our area this week to go live with their daughter, which was really hard for me because I just love them so much and will miss seeing them all the time. Juan Carlos bought Hermana Blanco and I some sweet Mexico Soccer jersies :) I love it so much, I am going to rock it today when we can change into our non-proselyting clothes, woot woot. Adela's surgery date was changed and she will now be having the operation this upcoming week, so please keep her and the rest of her family in your prayers.
Not much else is going on, hopefully next week I will be able to report more about what my new companion is like and that I love her to pieces. I hope all is well back home and am extremely grateful for the support I have received from my family and friends :)

Hermana Taets

Week 24

Buenas Tardes Mis Seres Queridos
Yesterday was Breanna's Baptism! Yay! We have been teaching Breanna since my first transfer, so it was just a blessing to witness her baptism. She looked so beautiful in her white dress :) I ended up singing "A Child's Prayer" with her cousin Mimi at the baptismal service, only because Mimi suckered me into it by saying she wouldn't sing if someone didn't sing it with her. Before the baptism we were trying to figure out what picture to put on the front of the baptism program and I had the program from my baptism on my study binder in the car, so we photo copied the front of my baptism program and put it on hers. That was pretty neat, I showed Breanna but she is only 10 so I don't think she really thought anything of it, haha. I showed the Elders my baptism program and they thought it was really cool that I still had it. It is starting to get pretty rugged though so I think I am going to get it laminated at the mission office so it lasts foooorrreeeevvvvver :)
Nothing crazy really happened this week so I will tell you the story of our top investigators, the Davila Family. A long time ago, in an area far far away in Houston...well...actually, my first transfer, in the area I still happen to be serving in, we were teaching a less active woman named Aurelia. She was baptized a long time ago but after she married her husband, who is of another faith, he said she wasn't allowed to go to our church anymore. So, one night we went over to teach Aurelia and her sister-in-law (who lives there with her husband/Aurelia's brother), Elva, decided to listen in. We shared the message of the Restoration of the gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith and at the end of the lesson Elva said she is very very Catholic but she accepted our invitation to read the Restoration pamphlet and pray to know if the story of Joseph Smith is true. Flash forward to the almost present, guess who randomly comes to church with her husband, Juan, and son, Erik, about a month ago? The last month the Davila family has been at church almost every sunday and we have been teaching them twice a week and they want to be baptized! We don't have a date set for their baptism yet because Juan and Elva have to quit smoking first. They seem to be doing really well and are really motivated to quit, so hopefully they will get baptized next transfer. I love them to pieces! The first time Erik prayed, the whole family just sat and sobbed together because they had felt the spirit so strongly and they knew the God was listening to them. Elva recently was telling us that she had prayed and received an answer about Joseph Smith after we invited her to do so, and that's why she went to church, but she isn't ready to tell us what happened. I feel so blessed to be able to teach this amazing family and prepare them for baptism! We have to be careful though because Aurelia's husband hates the church and so we can't call or stop by whenever he is home and he has been really persecuting them. They are trying to find a new place to live, and they have a huge support system from Juan's family, who are all member of the church, Our bishop is his nephew, his brother and all of his like 7 kids and all of their kids are in our ward as well, so they are really helping Juan, Elva, and Erik to prepare for their baptism and be active members of the church.
The Patino's are moving out of the ward boundaries this week to go live with their daughter :( Boo. I am really sad to see them leave but know they will be in good hands in the Bear Creek ward. Adela has surgery this thursday, I am not sure what they are going to do because I don't understand any medical terms in spanish except for operacion. She has some more tests and things going on today and we are going over to their apartment tonight to see how things went and to help them pack up some of their things. Please keep the Patino's in your prayers as Adela begins her battle with cervical cancer. I know she is strong and will overcome this, but it wouldn't hurt to seek the help of the Lord in the process.
Transfers are next week and I am really anxious to find out what will happen! I am 99% sure I will be staying in my area, since we just white washed the area in January I highly doubt President with white wash it again, especially since we have been having a lot of success. So, the big question is...who is coming to my area to "greenie-break" me. I am really excited to get greenie-broken and hope my new companion will really help me to be a more confident and more powerful teacher. Transfer calls are on saturday, so next P-day I will fill y'all in on what will be happening.

Con Amor y Paz
Hermana Taets

Week 23

Buenos Dias Mis Seres Amados

This week was pretty solid. We taught 23 lessons this week, which is pretty good when the mission goal is 20 a week, but I want to shoot for 30 :) I feel like we have been so blessed with great investigators! We are teaching so many people, consistently, and am so excited to witness some more miracles like the ones we witnessed with the Patino family. We have a baptism scheduled for this Sunday for Breanna, who is the younger sister of Alysa, the girl we baptized in February. I am really excited to see Breanna be baptized, and am praying that some of our current investigators will commit to baptism this week. On Saturday we took the Patino's to the temple and we taught them a lesson in the waiting room just off to the side of the reception desk. It was such a good lesson, and they all said they could feel something different inside the temple :) I can't wait to come back to the area in a year to witness their sealing as a family inside the temple. Speaking of temple, tomorrow is my zone's temple day and it couldn't have come at a better time. I am really in need of the peace and rejuvenation that comes from temple attendance.

On Friday we had exchanges and Hermana Wardle came to my area! It was really great to work with her again, although we have been in the same zone the last two transfers we haven't had an opportunity to really talk or teach together. It was a really good experience for me, we taught a lot of lessons on friday and I was very grateful that I was able to understand and teach in spanish without any problems. I also felt very humbled because I was able to clearly see the things I need to work on, many in my teaching skills. I feel like I have focused so much on spanish that I have almost forgotten how to teach effectively! I have been studying the teaching skills section in Preach My Gospel for over a week now, and am really excited to start implementing the things that I am learning and become a better teacher and tool in the Lord's hands.

This whole transfer all of our zone and district meetings have been conducting with the focus being on repentance, and I have learned SO much more about the repentance process and how to repent on a daily basis. In Zone meeting on Friday, one of the zone leaders had us listen to a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland about repentance that really really spoke to me personally and helped me to realize some things I need to work on. There was one part where he was talking about leaving repented sins buried, and how some people will go over with their plastic pail and shovel, dig up there sins, wave them around and then throw them at someone. It was really funny the way he described it, but it's so true. He also said that we should stop try to re-open wounds that the Savior died to heal, and that was a pretty powerful statement for me. Since my baptism I have struggled to let certain wounds heal and I guess I just thought that would all vanish once I put my missionary name tag on, but I was wrong, and have been working with Heavenly Father to allow myself to heal and to grow from my past experiences. I would encourage everyone reading to study the topic of repentance more deeply. I have learned so much this transfer and feel like I have gained such a greater appreciation for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His willingness to help us battle our weaknesses. I know without the shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ lives, that He knows each and everyone of us personally and that He suffered each of our pains, sicknesses, temptations, and sins, that He would know how to help us to be successful and happy in this life. Words cannot describe the love and gratitude I have for the Savior and for my Heavenly Father. I have felt their love and guidance more than ever as I have strived to serve them with all of my heart, might, mind and strength.

Con Amor
Hermana Taets

Pictures :D

Week 22

Mis Seres Queridos

The Patinos were baptized yesterdayyyyyyyyyy!!!!! Carlos, Adela and their son Juan Carlos were all baptized and it was one of the happiest days thus far in my mission. i couldn't keep from crying just a little bit as I witnessed their baptisms, I just felt so happy and so proud of the decision they had made. We ate dinner with them before the baptism and they were all just so happy. We are still working with Juan Carlos' daughter and with Adela's brother, who also live in the house, so hopefully we will be baptizing the rest of the family soon :) I love them all so much, Adela started calling us her daughters and they just feel like family to me. I will never ever forget them, and hope that after the mission we will all be best friends forever haha.

On tuesday we were teaching a young guy named Jorge, whose mother recently was baptized. He read from the Book of Mormon but said he still doesn't feel like he has received an answer from God that it is true. Now during basically the whole lesson I didn't have a clue what was going on because Jorge speaks rather quiet and mumbles a lot, so I was clueless. At the end of the lesson I felt like I should talk about my own experience in praying to receive an answer about the Book of Mormon and said that I didn't receive an answer from God for several months because in reality, I didn't want an answer that it was true. I wasn't ready to change my life and was scared of what my family and friends would think, and because of that, God waited to tell me, knowing that I wasn't ready for an answer. But, once I came to that wall of faith, where I just had to know and was completely willing to do whatsoever the Lord required of me, I received an answer, one that I will never be able to deny. After I told this story, Jorge asked me if I was reading his mind. I think deep down he knows what we are teaching him is true, he just is scared, just like I was. I am so grateful for the experiences I have been blessed with that I have been able to use as I teach others.

Funny story. Yesterday we all ate at the Patino's after church and before their baptism; me and my companion, the zone leaders Elders Porter and McGary, and the District leader and his companion Elders Astin and Kerr. They served us all this drink called Tepache, which is made from letting the skin from a pineapple sit in this big jar full of other stuff, I think just water and sugar, and you let it sit like that for a while, and then when it's ready you drink it. Well, after we drank some we all kind of looked at each other...and then I said, "Hermano, is there alcohol in this?" and he said they didn't put any alcohol in it and that it is just pineapple juice. I would trust the Patino's with my life, and I couldn't imagine them serving us alcohol in the first place, but I was still a liiiittle concerned. We were all sitting in the living room while the Patino's prepared the meal and were all talking about how the Tepache tasted a little strange, kind of like..or maybe exactly like a wine cooler haha. We proceeded to drink the Tepache and eat our delicious meal, and I think some of the Elders might have psyched themselves out a bit because they were all being rather silly, but then again they are 19 year old boys. Later that night we talked to bishop and he said that it depends on how long the pineapple is fermented, but that he drinks Tepache all the time so it should be okay. Elder Porter, one of the zone leaders, was not satisfied, so just now he looked it up online and did a little research and learned that you only should let it sit for like 3 days, and the Patino's let it ferment for like...months. So, we may, or may not, have drank alcohol yesterday. Elder Porter said, "If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it's a duck, and Tepache tastes and smells like alcohol" and then proceeded to ask me if I was hungover, of course I am NOT hungover, I did not feel any different I don't think after drinking it. Anyways....don't drink Tepache, just to be safe :) If you have served a spanish speaking mission and have some legit info on whether or not we are allowed to drink Tepache I would greatly appreciate it.

Well, I am off to spend yet another P-day dominating all of the Elders in Poison. It's a game we all play similar to dodgeball, except a million times more fun. I love you all and ask that you keep me in your prayers, that I may be able to repent of my Tepache drinking :) Haha

Con Amor y Paz,
Hermana Taets