Monday, October 26, 2009

"If ye shall bring save it be 'two' souls"

Dear Family and Friends,

What a week this has been! In a very good way. It has definitely been the best week of my mission so far. Okay, okay, so there definitely were some rocky points, but I've worked through them and all is well. Don't worry, nothing major. Read on.

Monday: P-day. We had time to write letters. And take pictures with our camels. Well, they're not OUR camels, but they live at the same place we do.

Tuesday: We had Zone Conference. It started out bright and early with car inspections. I should have learned how to check out all the stuff under the hood before I left. I felt kinda dumb... I didn't even know how to OPEN the hood once I popped it from inside the car. But don't worry, the Elders took care of us, and I should know how to do it 5 weeks from now when the next Zone Conference rolls around. Zone Conference was so AMAZING! It was all about the Book of Mormon and the power it contains. It was such a spiritually uplifting experience. I went home and spent a good part of my personal study time for the next 3 days writing my testimony, along with a challenge President Anderson gave us that came from... Elder... I don't remember. One of the members of the Quorum of 12 Apostles. I'm sending that in my written letter and want mom to post it, because I know the power that someone's testimony can have on others. And I would love to hear everyone's testimonies about the Book of Mormon as well. They announced at Zone Conference that region-wide missionaries aren't supposed to shake hands anymore until flu season is over in February or March. That is NOT as easy as it sounds. Sister Michel and I go nowhere without our hand sanitizer. We have it in the car. We have it in our bags. We have it in the house. Yep, it's pretty much everywhere. It also started pouring rain, right about the time the Conference ended. Perfect for tracting. Let's just say that the black shoes I polished that morning were brown by the time I got home.

Wednesday: It was cold and rainy. We knocked doors for about 3 hours, and found no one who speaks Spanish. Well, we knocked on one door where the parents speak Spanish, but they weren't home. We've been trying to meet them, but have had no luck.

Thursday: Ah yes. One of the rocky points I was talking about. We left our apartment to head to our first appointment down in Bernalillo, got down the stairs when Sister Good realized that she'd forgotten something. Something VERY important. Any ideas? Nope, it wasn't my scriptures. I had both sets of scriptures. Yes, it was the keys. And they were locked in the apartment. I'm happy to say, our apartment is very secure. No reason to worry there. Well, unless you have Hermano "Ladron" (crook) Fonseca around. He was able to break in for us. He broke a knife in the process, but we got our keys. And we've figured out a way to have our apartment locked, but not at the same time. I'd tell you, but that would ruin the secret of it. Tenia MUCHO frio en nuestro apartmento. (That means it's REALLY cold in our apartment). The heat doesn't work. I have about 4 blankets piled on me. But mom, would you (along with those other sweaters I requested) send me a hoodie and my long johns (if you can find them)? It would make study time and sleepy time much more comfortable. Gracias! I know I'm asking for a lot, but honestly, I didn't expect it to get this cold! We're lucky if our apartment hits 64 during the day, and it drops to around 60 at night. We had dinner with the Sigriss family (why is this important? Read on.) Brother Sigriss used to work for Brother Passino and they say hi. How are the Passino's doing, anyway? Tell them hi for me too!

Friday: We had our weekly planning session. And speaking of cold, you should have seen me. I was wearing a coat, gloves, and a blanket. It was quite the sight. Oh, and don't forget fuzzy socks. Those go on the second I walk in the door at night, come off for a shower in the morning, and go right back on until we leave. But we had a great planning session, very effective. President Anderson called and wanted to do our transferly interviews that night, so we re-arranged our schedule and went to see President and Sister Anderson. President is such an inspired man. He's taking very good care of me here in New Mexico. After that, we rushed over to the Luna's for one last lesson with Lily and Alexis before their BAPTISM on Saturday! There was a great spirit, and they were so ready.

Saturday: We had district meeting, because President had scheduled to do our interviews Saturday morning (he just didn't have time for all of us because he had to be to Santa Fe earlier than he'd planned). We talked about how to resolve problems using the Book of Mormon, and gave each other suggestions on how we can help investigators. It was very enlightening. And even better, Sister Michel and I had some bananas that were going a little brown, and with the recipe that came in the mail this week, what did I make? BANANA BREAD! You all have NO idea how good it was for me to be in a kitchen actually baking something. Despite the fact that it was before 6:30 in the morning, it totally and completely made my day. I miss cooking so bad! We knocked doors down in Bernalillo, and had quite a bit of success. We almost finished the street we've been working on for like 5 weeks now. We plan to have it done this week. After that, we headed back to Rio Rancho. We stopped at Wal-mart really fast to find a birthday present for Luis, Lily's son. They don't have a lot of money, and we had something for both Lily and Alexis, so we got him an inexpensive pair of pants. I wouldn't include this, but it's another one of those rocky points. I bent over to look at the size on the bottom rack and the top rack got in the way of my head. When I stood up I whacked my head really hard. No worries, no blood, just a monster headache, stars, and a goose egg on the back of my head. Yep, leave it to Sister Good. The baptism was so amazing. Seeing that made all of my trials and struggles worth it. Lily and Alexis were so ready, and are going to be such strong members of the church. Their testimonies are so strong. They have been through a lot. The Spirit was so strong. After the baptism, Sister Luna invited everyone back to their house for food, which, as always, was delicious. Now for the biggest rocky point of the week. We were leaving the Luna's to head home for curfew. I was making a left-hand turn (mom, stop freaking out, I'm FINE) at the light and my back tire hit the cement curb/median and blew. Yep, I popped a tire on a car paid for with tithing money. And yes, I felt horrible. Other than that, I'm great. Of course, I haven't changed a tire in like 6 years, and then only because I had to in order to pass Driver's Ed. I had no clue where to begin. Okay, I knew we had to clean out our trunk because we'd need the spare tire and jack out, but beyond that I was clueless. Not to mention it was pitch black. We called Elder Frey who had been at the baptism, and he and Elder Halpin came and rescued us. They had the flat off and the spare on in about 10 minutes. Their biggest concern was that we were both okay. Of course we were, just shaken up a bit. We also called Elders Boden and Hullinger, the Zone Leaders to let them know we were all going to be late because of a little mis-hap. Elder Boden was so worried about us, making sure that we were okay. He called later to make sure we made it home safely. Have I mentioned that I love the Elders in this mission? They're great! By the time we got home, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both.

Sunday: Lily and Alexis were confirmed. They attend their local ward instead of the Spanish service because it's about 25 minutes closer to their house, so we headed over there. It was such a special experience, and their blessings were super special as well. We were also able to witness Brother Luna blessing the sacrament for the first time. He did it in Spanish. It was so neat to be able to see that. When we got to the service, we found out that 2 of our recent converts, Felipe and Jose, also had firsts. Felipe blessed the sacrament and Jose, who just received the Priesthood, passed it. I wish I could have seen that, but I'll be there next week. We only had the one week in Star Heights ward to see Brother Luna. Another neat thing, we were getting Sister Luna's record number for Lily's baptismal record, and the first 3 numbers of her record aren't "000" like everyone else's that Bishop Caldwell has seen. Nope, Sister Luna's number starts with "001." That is really significant for the growth of the Church. Exciting, no?

Anyway, That's been my week. Eventful, huh? Yeah, I thought so. Our car has 4 new tires now (we went and had them replaced this morning down in Albuquerque. They needed replaced after this transfer.) And I'm happy as can be. The bump on the back of my head is going down too.

I love you all, and look forward to your letters!

Love, Hermana Good

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rio Rancho, NM Transfer 2, Week 1

Can you believe that another week has already flown by here in New Mexico? I sure can't. I'm already back at the library typing another e-mail about another busy and successful week.

Tuesday: We were in Albuquerque for a good portion of the morning and had to do our grocery shopping and e-mailing when we got back to good old Rio Rancho. But even still, we only had half of a day to work and were extremely productive. We taught a lot of lessons and had a strong Spirit. And Sister Michel and I were able to easily adjust to teaching with just the 2 of us. We have great unity--which is a must :)

Wednesday: We met with the Spanish Elders that President brought in this transfer to help us be able to do more work and have more time for the people we did have. Elder Gonzalez and Elder Paulsen are very good, hard-working Elders. Sister Michel and I are very impressed with the work they are doing. The investigators we turned over to them are in very good hands. And even better than that, we had time for finding--something we haven't been able to do in weeks because we were so busy teaching lessons to our progressing investigators.

Thursday: We had a lot of time for finding. We focused our day in Bernalillo. There is so much potential for Spanish in Bernalillo, we just haven't been able to spend very much time down there because most of our investigators were up in the Stake (plus it's a 20 mile drive to Bernalillo and back, and we just didn't have the miles to spend a lot of time down there and up in the stake which is another 20 or 30 miles up and back). We were very productive and successful and came home tired and happy.

Friday: Sister Michel and I had a super productive planning day. We actually finished everything we were supposed to according to the guidelines in Preach My Gospel (up until then we'd only gotten about 1/2 way through during the planning session and spent the nights finishing--so not worth our time.) We even had time to cook dinner, since our dinner appointment canceled on us because there are people with the flu in their home. The Relief Society had an activity on decorating cakes that one of our less-active sisters taught (Sister Michel translated). She decorates cakes for Sam's Club, so we learned how to frost the cakes, how to do the boarders, how to do balloons, how to do baby booties, and how to do roses. If only I can remember when I get home... After that we drove across town for Lily and Alexis' baptismal interviews. They are good to go for Saturday. I am so excited. They are so ready, and their testimonies are bien fuerte. Alexis is one of the most amazing kids that I know. He's 11, turning 12 in January. He's just... I don't even know how to describe him. But I look up to him so much. And Lily too. She has been through so much in her life and has made a lot of sacrifices to make it to baptism. Saturday will be a very special day for their family. When Elder Frey got to the chapel to do the interviews, he gave me a package and a couple letters. He'd been to the mission office and brought them back. Mom, Sister Michel says "Thank you Mama Good" for the treats. And I was so glad to get that pillow for my back. Sitting in the car is so much more comfortable now. I also had a letter from Sister Sorensen--who is doing great in case anyone reading this is wondering. And Britney, I got your wedding announcement. You and Jeff are so cute together! I'm going to try to write you back today, but no promises because time is so limited and I respond in first come, first serve order (except family. They're always first). I wish I could be there for your wedding, but I'll be thinking about you. And I expect to be able to see lots of pictures.

Saturday: We spent some time contacting former investigators. We had a bunch of lessons. We also had a lesson with Norma and her whole family. We started out just teaching her, but now we're teaching the whole family, which is so great. It's a total of 7 people. They asked us some amazing questions, and are all progressing wonderfully. I love the Spirit we can feel during their lessons.

Sunday: We went to church, obviously. The turn out was a little smaller, but not bad. One of the sisters in the service invited us and the Spanish elders over for a late lunch/ early dinner which we gratefully accepted as our dinner appointment fell through, and I don't think the elders have had dinner all week because the brother who is in charge of dinners has been out of town for the past week and a half. After that, we went to contact more formers and a couple referrals from the English Elders. All in all, it was a successful day. We were able to easily complete our Sunday accounting and planning because of our productive planning session on Friday. We got done and Sister Michel and I looked at each other and said "are we really done? We can't be done yet." But we were. That left us a lot of time for writing in our journals and getting things organized for today. Blessings come from doing what you're supposed to, when you're supposed to.

Well, I hope all is well with everyone. I am still doing great. And boy do I love the weather here! It's still warm enough that I don't need a jacket yet. The leaves on the trees are changing color, but there's still some green. And it's nice enough outside to actually be able to enjoy the fall colors. Hope you all have fun with your snow and cold :) And I hope you all stay healthy as well.

Love, Hermana Good

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Still in Rio Rancho

Well my dear family and friends, another week has rapidly flown by here in Rio Rancho... along with my first transfer. What?! I am already done with my first transfer? Yep... more info on that coming later. Here's the excitement regarding this past week.

Monday: Preparation day, so we e-mailed and wrote letters and did our grocery shopping. We had an FHE with Magda and the Roundsville's (they are such amazing members. President Roundsville is the stake president so he's super busy, and they left early Tuesday morning for Disneyland, yet they were still willing to do this for us.)

Tuesday: It was one of those days where SO much happened... but it's mostly personal things with our investigators so I can't share details, but oh what a day. We were all exhausted by the end of the night. We had a lot of interesting lessons and... I don't know. It was interesting. But we did have 2 great lessons with Emma and Norma to end the night, so that was good.

Wednesday: We were in much better Spirits than we were on Tuesday. When we went to Magda's, she taught us how to use "dry brush" to paint a design on a lampshade. It was really cool! She is such an amazing lady. We went to the Luna's and Sister Luna gave us all a necklace. We also went to meet a recent convert family that President Roundsville has been telling us that we had to go meet. They are so funny! Too bad they're not in our area anymore--again, more on that later. We were having such a good time with them, and they insisted that we sit down and eat with them even though we didn't have time. We completely lost track of time and were late to our appointment with Norma. Oops! Not a good time to do that right before her baptism. But we made it there, just 30 minutes after we were supposed to be there. Her sister-in-law, who we are also teaching, makes jewelry and also gave us all something. I chose a necklace and earrings that are so cute!

Thursday: We had the last district meeting of the transfer. There are some good Elders in our district. 2 of them were transferred out of the area. I have made some good friends here. It was yet another interesting day that I can't really talk about. It's just been one of those weeks. We also found out that Lily and Alexis are postponing their baptism until the 24th because of the flu. But they will be so much better prepared, so it is really a blessing in disguise. They are going to be such amazing members someday!

Friday: Umm... let's just say that you can ask me about it when I get home. It was a wild planning day and we spent a good portion of the morning on the phone with the zone leaders... well, zone leader because the other one was with the Assistants training to be an AP, and he was on the phone with the APs to get our questions answered, and... yeah. We left our house in time for our 5:00 dinner appointment. Yep, that's right. Almost 6 hours planning, and it was the least productive planning day in terms of scheduling. I mean, here we are at Tuesday and Sister Michel and I are still clueless as to what our numbers are for the week! But really, it was a good day.

Saturday: We had lots of good lessons and worked hard. We stayed very busy. We also got transfer news Saturday night. You might have already guessed... I'm staying right where I am with Sister Michel. Sister Trunnell is headed up to Cortez, Colorado as I type this. But our area has been split, so we've only got 3 wards and 2/5 of Rio Rancho plus Bernalillo instead of everything. A set of Spanish Elders came in this morning. But really, it wasn't much of a surprise. Sister Trunnell has been here for 11 months... and this is still her first area. And there's only one other area for Spanish sisters, and the other sister up in Cortez is from Mexico and can't drive (nor can Sister Michel) so Sister Trunnell and I have to be with the 2 of them because our areas are too big to bike or walk.

Sunday: We again worked hard and made lots of visits as Sister Trunnell had to say her goodbyes. This was the first time she's had to say goodbye. She has before, but she's always been back for the appointments the next week. Not this week though. I wonder if it's hit her yet that she's actually leaving. Gee, by this time, she might be almost up there. At the very least to the point where she's meeting her new companion, who she actually trained here in this area a few months ago.

Monday: We didn't get much of a preparation day, but that's okay. Sister Trunnell said some more goodbyes. We tried to e-mail, but the library was closed. Then we headed down to Albuquerque to help with the training for the 3 new sisters who arrived. We took them out knocking on doors. This was a good experience for me because I'm still not very comfortable doing this because we don't have time in our area. But I had to step up and be the example. And ya know what? I did okay. Of course, all the contacts were in English which helped. But I'm going to have to start stepping up a lot more now speaking in lessons and when we do have time to go finding because there's only 2 of us. And I'm sorry Mom, but you won't get a hand written letter from me this week. We spent a good portion of our day in Albuquerque and had no time to write letters. We didn't even have time to buy food! But don't worry. We did that this morning. We were up really late, and by really late I mean 1:00. Sure 4 months ago 1:00 am was nothing for me, but that was difficult. I've gotten so used to getting about 8 hours of sleep, and we had to get up earlier this morning so we could load the car and be on our way to Albuquerque by 7:30.

Tuesday: I got to drive in Albuquerque rush hour traffic. Oh boy was that fun! It took us about 40 minutes to travel the 15 miles from our apartment to the mission office. I don't like traffic. I've gotten used to Rio Rancho, and even the outskirts of Albuquerque and the roads may have more traffic than I'm used to in Idaho, but yikes! I did not enjoy the drive this morning at all! We spent some time orienting the new Spanish Elders to their area book and gave them a brief over view of the investigators they'll be taking over. We headed back to Rio Rancho about 10:30 and made the drive in 20 minutes. Granted we didn't go clear back to our apartment, but we went a comparable distance to get to Walmart for food. It's weird just being the 2 of us now. We don't know what to think yet. I'll let you know next week.

Have a fantastic week! I love you all!

Hermana Good

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rio Rancho, NM Transfer 1, Week 5

Hello once again everyone!

Yep, that really does say week FIVE! Can you believe it? In another week I'll know where I'm going for the next transfer, or if I'm staying here. If the area is being split and we're losing all of our investigators or not. If I'm staying on one side of the area or moving to the other. It will be exciting to see what happens... though it will be sad to have all of our investigators passed onto a set of Elders. But, I know that the Lord knows what He's doing and trust Him completely.

It was a crazy week. Like really crazy. Read on.

Monday: P-day, but we didn't have a whole lot of time for letters, so if you've written me lately don't be offended if I don't write back quickly. Time as a missionary is very limited, especially with as large of an area and as many investigators as we have.

Tuesday: We taught a ton of lessons. We had to say goodbye to one of our investigators who moved to Georgia. That was sad. I didn't like that one bit. I am so not looking forward to the day when I find out that I'm leaving the area and have to tell everyone goodbye.

Wednesday: We taught a lesson to Magda, the woman I wrote about last week whose husband had been investigating the church a while back and we found her when we went to contact him and found out that he was dead. Anyway, we had an amazing lesson with her. She told us that she had been praying for someone to come help her to know what her purpose in life is, and just days later 3 "angels" walked up her driveway. In her prayer, she said that she has been hungering for the Lord in her life. It was so sweet. She is such an amazing lady. I feel so blessed to be able to know her. She told us that she grew up in Venezuela not far from a Mormon church and always saw the Elders, but never learned anything about the church. Her sister is also a member. She was so open and accepting to the message that we shared with her. We went down to Bernalillo for the day and, because it was super windy, got absolutely plastered with sand. I was very grateful that I don't have hard contacts any more--my eyes hurt bad enough as it was! I had sand everywhere when I got into my pajamas that night. But my day got even crazier when we went to the Luna's for our appointment with Lily and Alexis that night. She told us that she wanted to move her baptismal date up from the 24th to the 10th. Yep, 2 weeks. We had 2 days to arrange her interview... well, less, because we had to have it on Friday. And we taught a REALLY abbreviated version of all of the lessons. We've got to finish those this week... and have a long way to go. For those who know what I'm talking about, we still have lesson 3 and most of lesson 4 to do by Saturday. And we have to make it not boring for 11 year old Alexis. Yep, it's great fun. I actually got an idea of how to teach the Law of Chastity during Conference yesterday. We'll let you know how that pans out, but it's using the story of the Anti-Nefi-Lehitas burying their weapons of war.

Thursday: It was just a weird day. I was still thinking it was Tuesday all day long. Oh, and guess what! I hit my 3 month mark. That was kind of a weird realization. I am 1/6 of the way done with my mission. That really isn't a very big fraction in the long scheme of things. I can't believe how fast time is flying. We had another lesson with Lily and Alexis. They are both amazing. They are doing the things they need to do in order to be prepared for their baptisms next weekend... er... this weekend. Yep. 5 days. Wow.

Friday: We had weekly planning. That is always a process, and throw planning a baptism in there and it gets even crazier. But it was enjoyable. We also had the baptismal interviews. Elder Frey, our District Leader, did the interview for Alexis (he prefers English, but we had a Spanish-Speaking DL come up from Albuquerque for Lily). After the interview, Elder Frey asked Alexis if he has a tie. When Alexis said no, Elder Frey took his own tie off and gave it to him. That was so neat to see. We left the church after their interviews on a spiritual high. We went to see Magda and had another amazing lesson. She accepted to be baptized later this month as well!

Saturday: So I had a crazy dream Friday night. Actually, it was more half-conscious than anything because I clearly remember my actions. Yes, actions. I was roasting hot in the middle of the night, which is saying something because we don't have any heat in our house and it was FREEZING when we went to bed. I had a dream that Magda was in our apartment, in Sister Trunnell's bed. She was cold, so I told her that I was fine and she could have one of my blankets. I clearly remember taking the blanket off of my bed and putting it on top of "Magda." I also took my socks off and went right back to sleep. I woke up, who knows how much later around 2:00 am freezing. I wonder why, then look over at Sister Trunnell and everything comes back to me. I take my blanket back and find my socks and curl up in a nice little ball and fall right back asleep. It was quite funny, and Sister Trunnell got a big kick out of it when I told her when we got up. Mind you, it wasn't a lot of work to put my blanket on top of her or take it back because there's only about 12 inches, if that between each of our beds. It's quite cramped with all 3 of us, but we love it! I loved General Conference, as usual. I'll admit, I wasn't exactly looking forward to it, but that's because I remembered very clearly the RS broadcast and not being able to understand anything and I was dreading 8 more hours of that. But we had English translation headphones in the Spanish translation room. Great, huh? But I understood everything! And still heard it in Spanish. We had Lily come to all 4 sessions, Magda came to 2, and Manuel, Alexis, and Norma all came to one session. It was so neat, because the things that they needed to hear were the things that were really stressed during the sessions they attended. Oh how I have a testimony of the Leaders of the Church.

Sunday: The Hot Air Balloon Festival is going on right now, and their course took them right over our house Sunday morning. It was so neat to see all the many--hundreds--of colorful balloons floating over our house. Don't worry, I took lots of pictures. You just can't see them... yet. I'll get some sent home in the next few weeks for mom to post. That was fun to see. It really freaked one of the horses out though. Most of them were perfectly content eating and had no clue what was going on, but this one horse was pacing back and forth and snorting and it was quite obvious that he was terrified. We did our personal study and attended another 4 wonderful hours of general conference. The talks were all so amazing, and I can't wait to read them. Mom, in regards to my request last week for an Ensign ASAP, still please send me one because we only get one copy for the 3 of us, and the last one we got was a Spanish Liahona which completely defeats the purpose.

Now, going back to what I said on Friday about Elder Frey, I really look up to the Elders in this mission. Most of the Elders I have met seem older than me, though I know that most of them really aren't. They are so much more mature than other boys their age who don't serve missions. It is really an impressive thing to see. Now, mind you I'm not trying to talk bad about boys ages, oh 18-22. I'm just saying that one changes a TON while they are out here serving the Lord. I'm not the same person I was 3 months ago either. I've noticed a change in myself. I am definitely learning to rely on the Lord a lot more in everything that I'm doing. I wouldn't trade this experience for ANYTHING--despite all of the tears that I have shed for one reason or another. I am really learning to apply the Atonement in my life. I had a good application on that this week as I was feeling so extremely homesick and alone last weekend during the Relief Society Broadcast, not being able to understand anything. My two amazing companions helped me realize that if I apply the Atonement of our Savior in my life, things will be so much easier. And I have noticed a definite difference in my life this week. A good difference. Not that I don't still miss my family and friends, because I do. But it doesn't hurt like it has. I have realized that I am not here for me. I'm here for people like Lily and Alexis, and Magda, and Norma, and Emma, and all of our other many investigators. I am here for my Savior. This isn't my time. It is the Lord's time, and I feel so blessed to even be able to be here. Think about it, a year ago, I wasn't planning on being here. I was planning on being in Rexburg right now. I'd be done with the first month of my last semester. Wow. That's a weird thought. I was planning on graduating in April. But the Lord had other plans for me, and I'm glad He did, because I am seeing so many wonderful blessings in my life because of the service which I am giving to the people here.

Well, I'm almost out of time. I hope you all have a wonderful week. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers and support. I love all of you!

Alma 24

Hermana Good

Oh yeah! HAHAHA about the 35 degrees and SNOW! Our leaves are just starting to change and it's a wonderful 70 or so outside! I LOVE the weather here!