Monday, November 29, 2010

Week 55

Hola Mis Seres Amados

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Here in the West Green ward we celebrated with tons and tons and tons and tons of food. My companion and I and the Elders that also serve in our ward went to 5 homes on thursday to eat. I know, right? Bah, I felt so sick after the second one I don't really know how I survived. This was our schedule:
9:00 am-11:00 Taxi-ed the Elders over to a nearby middle school to play football with the English congregation, Katy 1st Ward. Hermana Martinez and I just watched and were halfway entertained.

1:00 pm Dinner #1 at the Relief Society President's home. Traditional Turkey and all the sides, lots of food

3:00 pm Dinner #2 at the Acosta family's home. What a blessing that their turkey wasn't done yet! We ate some homemade fudge, which was delicious, and nachos. After eating some we played the Elders a round of foosball, they won the first match 10-9, BUT we dominated them the second round 10-5, woot woot. Girl Power.

5:00 pm Dinner #3 at the deAlmeida family home. SO CUTE. The two little girls were all dressed up and they had this long table all decorated. It was the fanciest Thanksgiving dinner I have ever seen, and probably the most delicious. We had a traditional turkey meal again, it was way good, but the mom made homemade pineapple and apple empanadas with ice cream. Oh man they were so goooooood.

7:00 pm Dinner #4 at the Flores family home. We promised them that we would just stop by on the way home to say hi but they tried REALLY hard to make us eat again. We each drank a soda and then denied food about 80 times. Eventually Hermano Flores said, "Just eat ONE green bean that is all I ask." Haha So we each ate one green bean. Rule #1 Hispanics really don't like it when you don't eat their food. We took a bunch of food to go and it made a delicious lunch on Saturday.

8:00 pm Dinner #5 at the Lopez family home. Another family whom we promised to "just stop by". They didn't force us to eat but packaged up some traditional sandwiches from El Salvador, and they were super good as well.

Friday was District meeting and after all of our meetings we had a big zone pot luck and it was super fun! Elder Lang cooked a turkey, I don't know how he did it but it was the most delicious turkey I have ever eaten, and it was made by an Elder during my mission, weird. Elder Lemley, my district leader, MADE a pinata that looked like Mater from the movie Cars, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching my companion beat the trash out of it.

Saturday, we had a soccer game that was supposed to be the West Green ward versus the Bear Creek ward, BUT only like 3 people showed up from Bear Creek so we did all the members versus all of the missionaries instead. So, it was like all these youth from my ward versus 8 missionaries, and those kids actually know how to play soccer. I am still sore all over haha. I had so much fun playing soccer, and the best part was that after we played this guy go out of his car, came over to my companion and I and tried to draft us to a women's soccer league for the city. HAHA. I could not believe it, I don't know how to play soccer! I just run around like a crazy and try and get the ball! But, apparently I have a natural skill and he said with a little trainer, "no one would be able to get past me while I am on defense!" Haha. He gave us the coach's phone number and I taped into my journal, just because it was so unbelieveable.

Well, that ladies and gentlemen, is how Thanksgiving is celebrated in the the West Green Spanish ward. I had a great time, even though I almost died from overeating, and am grateful for the kindness of all the members in taking us into their homes for the holiday. I love you all and hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Here comes Christmas! Crazy!

Con Amor y Paz
Hermana Taets

Week 54

Mis Seres Queridos,

Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias! That means "Happy Thanksgiving" for all you Bolillos ;) Haha. I am super excited to experience a Hispanic Thanksgiving, even though I have a feeling a lot of them will just make turkey like Americans do. As of now we have 4 dinner appointments scheduled for Thursday, all with families we are pretty close to, so it will be a really nice, chill day. We aren't allowed to knock doors on Thanksgiving and I don't think our investigators will be busy, so we will be spending the whole day with families in our ward. I have so much to be grateful for...I think this is a prime opportunity to start a list...

1.My amazing family. I love them so much. They have been so supportive of me during my mission and that means so much more to me than I think they understand. I know it must have been difficult to understand why I chose to serve a mission, or even what serving a mission even meant, but they have supported me while I have been here and that means the world to me. They are also ridiculously cool. One thing I am looking forward to as the end of my mission draws near is being able to just hang out with my Mom and my sister all of the time. Before my mission I definitely put too much on my plate and didn't spend much time with them, but I know that after my mission things will be different and I plan on strengthening the relationships I have, not only with Mom and Alli but with my Grandparents, uncles aunts, cousins. Something I have realized on the mission is that no matter what your family will always be there for you. I love them all so much for their love and support and hope one day I will be able to repay them for all they have done for me.
My testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel. In the last few years I have really come to know who He is, what He did while He was in the Earth, and who He is to me personally. I cannot fully express the gratitude I have for my Savior Jesus Christ. In the Book of Mormon, in the book of Alma, Chapter 7, verses 11-12, it reads, "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." I know without a doubt that this prophecy found in the Book of Mormon was fulfilled by the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. When my dad passed away and no one could have said a single word to bring me the comfort I need, I found peace in knowing that the Savior experienced exactly what I was going through. He did that because He loved me and wanted to know how to help me overcome that experience. The reality of my dad's death is still something I struggle with but I have found peace and comfort that could only come through the power of Christ's atonement, power to lift up my head and "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love for God and all men."
The opportunity that I have had to serve a mission. As I have said countless times before, my mission means everything to me. I have experience and learned things on my mission that could not have been learned under any other circumstance. During zone conference this last week I notice something as we listened to the testimonies of those missionaries who have recently arrived and those who will be returning home before the next zone conference in March. Those missionaries who have recently arrived seemed so excited for the journey that lies ahead of them, yet nervous and unsure, but those departing missionaries had a certain glow about then. You can see that they have experienced a mighty change during the course of their missions. I not only realized that I would be one of those missionaries giving their "dying testimony" during March zone conference, but that I have experienced that mighty change on my mission. I have thought about who I was before my mission and who the Lord has helped me to become and the difference to me is huge. No one will ever be able to fully understand or comprehend what my mission has meant to me personally. Yes, those who have served missions have had their own experience and testimony of the miracle of the mission, but no one's could possibly compare to what mine means to me. I am so grateful for the privilege I have to be a full-time servant of the Lord and dedicate my time to teaching, serving, and loving His children here in Houston/Katy Texas.
For lack of time I continue without explanation, because the other 3 missionaries are waiting on me so we can go grocery shopping and then go play Socccccccerrr woot woot.
3.Our investigators
4.My present, past, and future companions
5.President Hansen and his wife
6.All of the missionaries I serve with and all they have taught me
7.The car and not having to bike around like the Elders
8.Support and love of Ward members
9.Our nice apartment with a gym
10.SPANISH oh I love spanish so much!
and 100 more things that I don't have time to mention, bah
I love you all and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Pray for Jose and Elizabeth, they are doing amazing but need help getting work off on sundays.

Hermana Taets

Week 53

Mis Seres Queridos

We had an extremely busy week, met lots of great people who we will begin teaching this week, set baptismal dates with Jose and Elizabeth for the 5th of December and they are doing AMAZING.

I am not going to send my usual update today but will leave you with a scripture that really impacted me this morning during personal study that is found in the Book of Mormon in Moroni Chapter 8, last sentence in verse 16, "Perfect love casteth out all fear."

Hermana Taets

Week 52

Mis Seres Queridos

I didn't write this e-mail first, again. So, I am only going to share two really sweet stories from the past week, even though this week was way epic and we were ridiculously busy.

Jose y Elizabeth
We received a referral through the phone this week for a man named Jose who had received a card from the english-speaking missionaries to receive a free copy of the Book of Mormon in spanish. He called the number and we received his information via text. We visited him and his wife on friday night and it was one of the best first lessons I have ever taught. They are just amazing! We taught them about who Heavenly Father is, the importance of ancient and modern prophets, the church that Christ established and eventually about the restoration of the church through Joseph Smith and knowing if it is true through pray and study of the Book of Mormon. My companion and I bore powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and of the story of Joseph Smith and then asked Jose and Elizabeth what they thought and how they felt. Jose said, "I don't doubt it at all, I could feel that it is true and really want to read the Book of Mormon." Then the icing on top of the cake was when he said, "Are they people that you share this with who really don't believe that it's true?" My companion and I just looked at each other and almost laughed. My reply was that I sure didn't believe it right away and took several months reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it before I received an answer from the Lord. Jose's response was, "so..we are more advanced than you were when you learned, aren't we?" Haha They are definitely more advanced than I was when I first sat down with the missionaries, I was a stubborn brat who just wanted to find a way to prove them wrong, if I remember correctly. Elizabeth said she definitely had felt something in her heart during the lesson and was really excited to read the Book of Mormon. We returned on Saturday and read the introduction with Elizabeth, Jose was working, and she was just so excited to get reading. They are so amazing and I am so excited to see them again on Tuesday night!

We visited Liana this week on Wednesday and it was probably the best lesson we have had with her so far. We brought Elders Esplin and Griffiths with us because they are really funny and we thought they would make Liana smile, but there definitely was a greater purpose in them coming that we weren't aware of. Once we got there we started with the normal routine of brushing her teeth, washing her face and then feeding her dinner and shortly after we got there two of her guy friends showed up. They were nice to us but you could tell they felt pretty awkward around a bunch of missionaries, and as they spoke with Liana they used a lot of foul language. I hadn't heard words like that in so long, well at least in english, and I was shocked at how sensitive I was to them and how they made me feel. After a few minutes, Elder Esplin (a sweet country boy from Colorado) said to the two young men, "Now there are two ladies in this room, that kind of language needs to stop." He was so bold, and the two guys stops swearing! It was so neat! I was so impressed by Elder Esplin's respect for us that he felt the need to approach the situation so boldly. What a blessing it is to serve with such gentlemen. Now, after the two guys left we taught a lesson to Liana about Lehi's vision of the tree of life and about God's love for us being manifest through the sacrifice of His Son. The Spirit in the room was SO strong, especially in contrast to the feeling that was in the room while her friends were there. At the end of the lesson she reminded us that she was an atheist not too long ago and that we would need to be patient with her because she will be slow to change. I told her that we were patient and that Heavenly Father is even "patienter", oh boy, my english is getting so bad. I just love Liana so much and have seen so much change in her that it seems anything but slow. I know she is gaining a personal relationship with Heavenly Father as she prays and knows that He loves her. There is no greater joy than the joy I feel as a missionary.

We baptized Helen this weekend, she is the sweetest little 10 year old I have ever met. Her family had stopped going to church and hadn't been in a long time, but when Hermana Hastings and Hermana Martinez started visiting them last transfer they quickly regained a testimony of the gospel and prepared their daughter Helen to be baptized. In the pictures I sent Helen is the one who is smaller with the short, dark hair. The Elders also had a baptism at the same time of a young girl who also came from a family who had not been to church in years. What a miracle it is to see families return to the fold and become more unified in the goal of having an eternal family.

Hermana Taets

Week 51

Hola Mis Seres Queridos

Today I am going to utilize this e-mail to tell you the story of a young girl that we are teaching named Liana, who I LOVE so much, I think I will be best friends with her forever.

Liana is 20 years old, way funny, and doesn't know who or what God is. She said she doesn't know if it's Jesus, Buddha, Zeus, but that she wants to find out. Liana is also paralyzed from the neck down. This past May she had an ear infection, was taking antibiotics, but one day felt really sick and then blacked out and can't remember the two weeks that followed that day. What had happened was that her infection turned into meningitis and to make a long story short she is now a 20 year girl trapped in a body that doesn't function inside a Rehab Center. Despite all of this she is still relatively positive, we laugh all throughout our visits with her. On one of our visits with her last week we talked with her about who our Heavenly Father is, and how much He loves us, and her response just broke my heart. She explained to us that before she got sick she was just a normal girl, going to school and working so that she could make a life for herself and so that she could, "earn enough money so that she could buy her mother a house," not doing anything that deserved punishment from God, and for this reason she has a hard time believing that He loves us. I didn't know what to say to her, but talked about how sometimes our trials are really the best thing for us and allow us to learn and grow. She said that made sense, especially since before she got sick she didn't even believed in a God, nor that she needed to rely on anyone besides her family to accomplish her life's dreams. What a way to learn to depend on others! When we visited her last week I brushed her teeth for her and fed her her dinner, scratched her nose for her when it itched. I think her circumstance will definitely draw her close to her Father in Heaven, we encouraged her to try praying and on Friday she said she had prayed and it made her feel really calm. I know that she will find what she is looking for and I know that Heavenly Father will reach out to her and show her that He is there and loves her more than can be described. I am learning so much from Liana and am so grateful for this opportunity to know her and feel that love that Heavenly Father has for her. Keep her in your prayers.

Now, I am out of time already. Next week I will try and write this email FIRST since this one always ends up being so short! I love you all, I love this great work I have been called to do!
Hermana Taets

P.S. I hit my year mark as a missionary last week....WEIRD I can't believe it, something must be wrong with the calendar.