Monday, March 28, 2016

Week Twelve: Missions are such a blessing!

Area: Littlerock Spanish Branch
Companion: Hermana White

This week has been good and we have been able to teach lots of people who are really prepared. I am super excited for the work to move forward and for the people who we are teaching to continue to progress.

It is starting to turn into summer here. It feels strange because it is only March, but I think that everything will turn out fine. Hopefully I don't die. Apparently it is a lot cooler here in Palmdale than it is in Bakersfield, so hopefully I don't get transferred there. My first transfer in the mission is seven weeks long because they are trying to balance out the change in the MTC training schedule for the native language missionaries. Transfers are next week, so we will see what happens. There are only fourteen Hermanas in the mission, so it is not actually that hard to guess where everyone will end up.

One of the interesting things that has started to happen with the warming weather is that all of the families come out and sit in their lawns together in the evenings. A lot of people will bring out their charcoal grills and cook pollo and carne. A lot of times, we will come by and teach the entire group. They won't really accept the message, but they will give us some of their food. When we walk down the streets, there is constantly loud Mexican music playing. It feels like we are sharing the gospel with a soundtrack!

This week, we started teaching a really cool family. The mother is a less active member who hadn't been to church in like 20 years. One day, she just showed up to church with her two children. She said that she wants the church back in her life and she wants to help her children get baptized. They are super prepared. They have already been to church three times, even though we have only taught them once. I am super excited to teach them!

Both Hermana White and I got sick this week (although Hermana White was much worse than I was). We were out talking to someone on the streets and Hermana White was telling him about the First Vision. About halfway through, she started looking sick and almost passed out. At the same time, I was feeling sick to my stomach and was thinking about leaving to find a place to throw up. Luckily, we made it to the end of the contact. Afterwards, we kept on talking to people and nothing bad happened. We are better now. 

This week, we got to watch the General Women's Conference. That means that conference is almost here! I don't think that I have ever appreciated Conference as much as I am now. I feel so blessed to be able to listen to the words of the living prophets. The Women's Conference was so cool. I feel like I should be serving people so much more. I love that I have the opportunity to serve others literally all day long. Missions are such a blessing!

Easter was this week as well. It was super strange being here on a mission during a holiday. It felt just the same as any other day. I guess that this is how all holidays should feel when we are really focusing on the reason for them. Still, it was strange seeing other people celebrating with their families. Despite that, I am so glad for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and for the fact that I can live through him. I love that I am able to come out and share the message of the Atonement and Resurrection with others.

I love being here on a mission and being able to teach everyone about the truths that I love. I know that the work that I am doing is good. I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life every day.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers. I love you all.

Hermana Blau

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week Eleven: I love meeting people!

This was a bad week for pictures. This is about the best that I have. I'll do better next week.
Area: Littlerock Spanish Branch
Companion: Hermana White

This week, we have been having a lot of really cool experiences and have been meeting a lot of really cool people. The work is really coming along here!

It is super strange serving in the Spanish Branch. I think that one of the strangest things about serving Spanish speaking in the United States is that we speak Spanish to the adults and English to the youth. The youth groups and classes for the Spanish Branch and the English Ward are combined. Sometimes, it gets a little confusing, but I think that it is super cool. I wish that I was able to speak two different languages from such a young age.

About piano playing, I sure do get lots of opportunities to play. There isn't anyone in the ward who knows how to play the piano, so I play in every meeting that we are at. It is super cool. I love listening to all of the members sing here. They sure do sing with all of their heart and soul.

Recently, Hermana White and I have been trying to work with our members more. For the past couple of weeks we have been finding like crazy, but most of the people that we have been finding are not really all that interested in the message. This week, we decided to change up our approach. Instead of doing pure street and door to door contacting, we have started working more with our less active and part member families. This has the double impact of helping us to strengthen the ward and letting us find more solid investigators.

One of the part member families that we have really been working with is the Salgados. Our two investigators, Jenny and Kate, are in their teens. Their brother, Chris, is older and has recently moved back into the house. While he was living away from home, he met with the missionaries and was baptized and now that he is living at home again, he has asked us to meet with his sisters. They are super cool and really friendly. For the past couple of weeks, we have been trying really hard to get them to come to church. Last week, we even went to their house before church started, but they would not wake up. This week, a miracle happened. Jenny came to church with Chris! We were so happy because she had been feeling nervous about attending. After the sacrament, she said that she really liked it and that she would like to come back. Hopefully, she really will. 

Just because we are doing less street contacting doesn't mean that we have stopped meeting our share of interesting and strange people. For example, we met a lady yesterday who was super friendly. She was open to the message of the gospel and the Restoration and she asked lots of questions. She was one of those "student-of-the-universe" kind of people, but she was really kind. We were making small talk and she started talking about how she loved going to music festivals and raves. Then she invited us to go to one. We told her that we would love to go, but that we couldn't right now. After that, she told us that we needed to watch some movie on Netflix. We told her that we didn't have Netflix right now and she told us that she would give us her account information. She invited us into her house while she wrote it down, but as we entered, she said, "Don't mind the smell, I was just smoking weed. Next time you come, I will clean up first". She gave us her Netflix (the paper with her information is currently residing in my journal). In the closing prayer that she offered, she called us her "new friends". I hope that she really wants us to meet with her!

Last night, we went to visit one of our investigators who lives in a trailer park in Littlerock (actually that same trailer park where we were visiting when someone threw Barbecue sauce at our car). He lives in the very last trailer, so when we go in we always talk to everyone on our way to see him. Last night, we met this old man who was sitting outside his trailer. He was very hard of hearing, but he kept trying to trip us up by asking questions and not understanding our responses. For example, he asked us "Who is Jesus?" and we replied, "The Son of God". Then he said, really loud, "Huh?!". We had to repeat our response about 7 times before he finally understood us. Then he asked us how many scriptures were in the Old Testament. We were kind of confused. Then he said, "There are [how ever many books are in the Old Testament] books in the Old Testament. Go back to school, baby." We gave him a confused look and finished sharing our message. As we were walking away, the man started making this witch cackle. I always know that when we start walking into that trailer park, we are going to come out with an interesting story.

On Tuesday night, all of the appointments that we had set up cancelled. There is nothing stranger than walking around the streets at night looking for people to teach. That night, we found this man walking the biggest German Shepard I have ever seen in my life. When we stopped him to share the message of the Restoration, we asked him if he believed in God. He said, "I believe in aliens. So I guess that I believe that God is the alien that put us here." We asked him if he prayed, and he said, "I pray that they stop abducting me." When we started talking about Joseph Smith, he said, "Oh, I know about him. He is the one who was given the Book of Mormon by an alien." This entire time, he was straight faced and didn't even smile. I love meeting people!

This week has been a good one. I feel like the work is really moving forward. When we work with the members, I have noticed a special spirit enter into the work. We work with their friends and family, so it makes sense that the only way that we can really be successful is through helping them. I love the members in our area. They are so kind and they always willing to help. I am so happy to be serving a mission and to be in this area. I know that I am supposed to be here at this time. The Lord directs his work!

Thank you so much for all that you do and for all of the time you spend thinking about me and the prayers that you send my way. I am so happy for you guys and I hope that everything goes well for you!

Hermana Blau

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week Ten: Strange Things Happen in Mission Life

Area: Littlerock Spanish Branch
Companion: Hermana White

This week has been really interesting and strange. I love the mission life!

I guess to start out, one of the biggest things that has happened during this week is that I am now the designated driver in our companionship. This Thursday, Hermana White and I went to the gas station to fill up our car. All of the gas stations here are always super full, so it was a struggle to find a parking spot. I was outside the car directing Hermana White as she backed out and she started to get super close to the car right behind us. I tried to signal for her to stop, but I guess she could not see me. Long story short, we got into a small accident. Nothing really happened to either car, but mission rules say that you aren't allowed to drive mission vehicles if you have gotten into a preventable accident. So, I am now the driver. I feel so bad because I am a really bad one. I am 100 percent positive that we are more likely to get into an accident with me at the wheel than Hermana White. Oh, well!

The "massive" damage done in our accident
The weather here is going crazy. Some days it is super sunny and really hot. Other days, it rains super hard and is really cold. I thought that I was serving in the desert! I guess that they need all the rain that they can get here. The roads are not really designed for water drainage, so when it rains, the roads turn into giant lakes and rivers. It is a struggle (especially since I am the driver now).

Yesterday, I was really struggling. Everything that I did seemed to be really embarrassing. As an example, we went to a member's house to pick up some food. As we were getting ready to leave, we were giving all of the hermanas hugs. When I was hugging the last hermana, I don't really know what happened, I guess I didn't turn my head or something, but her nose ended up in my mouth. I didn't know what to say, so we just laughed and left the house. I think that I laughed about that for 20 minutes.
A typical road in Littlerock
Also, we were driving down a long dirt road in Littlerock. We were leaving the area when we saw a man walking to his car. He was old and we thought that he would be super cute, so we decided to stop and talk to him. He ended up being super strange. We were talking about the Restoration and he kept interrupting us and telling stories about his life. Then he stopped us and started telling us about an experience that he had. I will paraphrase it as following:

Jesus came to me and took me by the arm. Then he took me down to Hell. When I got there, I saw an angel. He tried to give me some food, by I know that they don't have any food in Hell (not even salsa). That was when I knew that he was a dirty angel. Then I saw all of the people there. They were crying and screaming and they were NAKED! There was a man and he had a long stick and he was hitting them with it. And my cousins were there. I went to Hell that day.

All during that conversation, Hermana White and I had to keep a straight face. Hermana White had tears coming down from her face and I was sitting there saying, "Oh, really!" and "Wow". We were dying, but he would not let us leave. We talked to that man for about 30 minutes and he kept saying things like that. In the end, we invited him to visit church and told him to read the Book of Mormon. He told us that we needed to accept Jesus in our life. Just normal everyday in Littlerock. What a strange town!

Strange things happen in mission life, but I think it is so fun. I love all of the people that we get to meet and all of the things that we get to do. I also love the spirit that I feel all the time. I know that the church is true and that we can all find true happiness through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love being a missionary. I am so glad that I can share the message of the Gospel with individuals and families everyday!

I love all of you back home. I hope that you are all doing okay and that things are going well for you. Keep up your good work!

Hermana Blau

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week Nine: We Can Do All Things Through Jesus Christ

At the Indian Outpost
Area: Littlerock Spanish Branch
Companion: Hermana White

What a week. I can't believe that I have already hit my two month mark. Time really does fly by in a molasses kind of way. Every day seems really long, but I get to the end of the week and can't believe that so much time has passed.

This week, the weather has been really strange. It started out being really hot and miserable. Luckily, the people that we meet when we knock doors will give us water even if they do not want to listen to our message. That keeps us from dying in the streets. Right now, on the other hand, it is constantly drizzling and kind of cold. I have to remind myself to be grateful for the rain in this desert.

This week has been really interesting, as far as what we have been doing. Last P-day, after we were done emailing, we went to an Indian Trading Post on the outskirts of Littlerock. They had all sorts of trinkets and strange things. I eventually settled on a clay ocarina shaped like a face and a machine woven Indian pattern blanket. There are actually a whole lot of strange stores like that in Littlerock, so I don't doubt that I will be able to pick up a lot of strange souvenirs.

The work here is really going and we are finding like crazy. One day, we were able to find 11 people! Hermana White has no fear of going into parties and sharing the message of the Restoration to everybody. The day that we found 11 people, we went up to a gazebo outside of a house and there were five teenagers sitting and playing the guitar. It turned out that they all spoke Spanish and wanted to learn more, so we picked them all up as investigators. It ended up being a good thing, but while we were there, it was a little awkward.

We always end up going to people's houses while they are throwing parties. One night this week, we went to an investigators house for an appointment. He didn't answer the door, but one of his party guests did. While we were teaching about the Restoration, the music was super loud and it sounded like a crazy party was going on. At one point while we were teaching, the biggest, most muscular man I have ever seen in my life came out, pointed at us, and said in a deep and scary voice, "You're Mormons?". I thought that he was going to kill us or kick us out of the door, but he just said, "I'm Catholic, but I respect what you are doing" and then he left.

We had a Zone Training Meeting this week and we learned about asking inspired questions. That day, we decided to start asking more inspired questions during out street contacts and door approaches. As soon as we started doing that, I could feel the spirit so strongly while we talked to everyone. The first lady that we talked to told us about how her husband was really sick and needed a transplant. We were able to tell her about how we can all find comfort through Jesus Christ and she started to cry. The spirit was really strong!

Yesterday, we talked to a couple of Seventh-Day Adventists. It was actually really interesting. I love learning about what other people believe and being able to share with them our beliefs as well. Anyway, one of the people that we talked to was in college and we talked for a while about religion. In the end, we asked her to read a chapter from the Book of Mormon and she told us that she would as long as we would read a couple of pages from her Bible study guide.Then she told us to come back in and hour and a half. When we got to the car, we had a crisis of conscience because it says in the missionary rule book that we are not allowed to read books that are not approved, so we had to go back and tell her that we couldn't read her book. She told us that she wouldn't read the Book of Mormon. In the end, we convinced her to keep the copy of the Book of Mormon and she let us keep the copy of the Bible Study Guide. #MissionProblems

I am so happy to hear about everything that is going on at home and about all of the things that you are doing. I love to hear from you and to know what is going on in real life. Spanish is coming along, but I know that we can do all things through Jesus Christ.
Hermana Blau

Hermana White and me with a picture that one of our members painted. He is a crazy painter, and there are tons
of paintings all over his house. So jealous!