Monday, April 25, 2016

Week Sixteen: Do you have to bang on the door like that?

A drawing that one of the primary girls from my branch made. I think she captured me pretty well.
Area: Littlerock Spanish Branch
Companion: Hermana Gonzalez

This week has been really short, but all of the individual days have been super long. I guess that that is one of the strange things about missionary service. The time is always flying past. I realized that next week, I will have been out on my mission for four months. Things are crazy!

I think that one of the reasons that the days have been so long this week is because we have been spending a lot of time walking. Because our area is so big, we go through the miles that we are given each month very quickly. It doesn't help that we have had to go to Lancaster (a city about 25 minutes away) three or four times this month. As a result of that, we have been driving to the areas where we are working and spending as much time as possible in each area when we don't have any set appointments. It is super interesting because we get to meet a lot of interesting people and knock on a lot of doors. The other day, Hermana Gonzalez looked at me and said, "You make me exercise more than any other companion that I have ever had!" The month ends this week, so hopefully we won't go over our mile limit too far. After that, we can go back to driving from house to house.

The other day, we parked our car and started walking around. We had been walking for about two hours when it was time to go home for the night. At that point, we realized that we had no idea how to get back to our car. We knew which street we had parked on, but we had no idea how to get to that street. We started walking, but we just got more and more hopelessly confused. We decided to try and ask someone for directions, but it was getting dark and everyone was inside their houses. We finally found a little boy who was out riding his bike. He told us to make a couple of turns and then we would find the road. When we got to where he said that the road would be, it wasn't there. Then the little boy rode up on his bike and said that he was mistaken and that the actually road where we had parked was really far away. Eventually, we were able to find our car and make it home.

I have recently become a little self-conscious about my door knocking. I guess that I knock a little to loud for the tastes of some people. A couple of the people who answered the doors to us recently have told us that it sounded like the police were coming to arrest them. The other day, a lady came out and said, "Do you have to bang on the door like that?" I guess that people don't appreciate that I want to give them every opportunity possible to accept the message of the restored gospel!

We have met a couple of really cool people this week. We met one lady who was cleaning her garage when we passed by. We asked if she needed any help (because we always ask everyone that). Normally, people say that they are fine, but she said that she would really appreciate it. It was super cool, because we were able to teach her a lesson and talk to her a little more than the people who we normally meet. She had some really good questions and seemed like she was really interested in learning more. We are going back to help her some more on Wednesday, so hopefully, we will be able to have success through service!

This week, we have continued teaching lessons to Jenny and her family. We got up to the lesson about the ten commandments. When we started teaching, I realized that I don't really have any idea what the order of the ten commandments are. When we started introducing them, I had no idea which commandment came next. Luckily, Hermana Gonzalez knows them a little better than I do. The lesson went really well and I think that Jenny really wanted to work on following all of the commandments. 

We have been doing well here. The work continues to move onward. I have really been noticing lately that the Lord puts us in the path of people who are prepared to listen to our message. I am so glad that I am able to be a missionary and to share the message of the gospel with all people in this area of the world.

Thank you for all of your prayers and for the thoughts that you are sending my way. I love to think that I have so much support. I love you all!

Hermana Blau

Monday, April 18, 2016

Week Fifteen: A Week of Stretching

Area: Littlerock Spanish Branch
Companion: Hermana Gonzalez

This week was strangely long and probably one of the weeks that has stretched me the most so far on my mission, but I feel like I have come out of it a better person and more able to share the gospel with everyone!

This week, I had my first Zone Conference. It was super good. I love listening to President and Sister Wilson. They are both so inspired and I can feel the spirit so strongly when I listen to them. I feel like every time that we speak, I want to be a better missionary. During the Conference, we received a talk about having the faith to reap. It talked about how we need to have more than the faith to try and the faith to start doing something. We need to have the faith that the lord will help us to accomplish all of our righteous goals when it is something that we need in our lives. I really liked the talk and it has helped me to improve.

One of the other things that happened at the Zone Conference was that all of the mission cars received the infamous TiWi units. They are little devices that are attached to the windshield and monitor anything and everything that we do when we are driving. We are not allowed to stop too  fast or make sharp turns or speed. I am generally a super cautious driver, so none of those things really affected me that much, but the thought of the TiWi has made me even more of a granny driver. The day after we had them installed, I found myself going 35 mph in a 55 mph zone because I was so afraid of speeding. Nothing has happened so far, so hopefully I will be able to go back to being my normal terrible driving self soon.

Things are super busy here, but I know that the work that I am doing is super good. It is really strange because nothing that we do is extremely physically taxing, but every night that we get home, I am absolutely exhausted. 

I don't know if Hermana Gonzalez has a blog, but I don't think that she does. Hermana Gonzalez says that she doesn't have a facebook, but she is cool. Funny story. When we introduce ourselves and say where we are from, she always says Mexico and when people ask what part, she says del D. F. (said como el de efe). For about a week, I thought that she was saying that she from de jefe. I thought that it was super weird that Mexicans called their capital the boss, but I didn't question it until a little bit ago. Then I realized that she was saying that she was from the Districto Federal. We have been laughing about that for a couple of days.

This week, we stopped at a Starbucks because Hermana Gonzalez had to use the bathroom. It all went well (we didn't buy any coffee!) and we went to walk out. When we were on the way to our car, this lady stopped us. She asked us, "Are you Mormons? Can you give my one of your Mormon books?" We told her that we could definitely give her one of our books. After we gave her one, she started talking to us about how she used to be homeless and how she just recently got a house off of the streets. It was super nice. I just realized how much the Lord directs his work. We got her information and gave it to the English missionaries. I don't know how much she will progress (I'm pretty sure she has schizophrenia. She kept talking to us about voices that she hears and that she is a prophet.), but I am sure that the missionaries can help her out, at least a little. I am convinced that there are no coincidences!

The Sister Training Leader came over to our area and did exchanges with us this week. I went out with Hermana Cartwright. It was super fun. She is super nice and supportive! While we were out, we were talking to this lady who had already talked to the missionaries before. Her one problem with the Book of Mormon was that it was not a part of the Bible. She kept telling us that she couldn't believe in the Book of Mormon because it was not in the same physical book as the Bible, it was always separate. We kept trying to tell her that you can buy copies of the scriptures with the Book of Mormon and the Bible included, but that we didn't carry them because they are more expensive and heavier, but she would not listen to us at all. We must have tried to explain at least 15 times, but we finally just invited her to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it.

Things are going well here. We have investigators who are progressing and moving forward. I have faith that the work will progress because the Lord wants it to. Nothing can stop the work of the Lord! I love missionary work and I feel like it has been helping me to become a better person each day.

It is kind of hard to believe that spring is just coming in some places in the world. Here, it is starting to get REALLY hot. Every day it is over 80 degrees. People are really nice though, and everyone always gives us bottled water even if they don't really want to listen to what we have to say. The trees had just lost their leaves when I came in February and they grew back about two weeks later. This is a really strange place. This week, I saw someone watering a cactus.

Thank you all for your support and your prayers. I can feel the difference that it makes and I love being able to know that I am receiving support and help from the home front. I pray for you all as well! Have a good week!

Hermana Blau

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week Fourteen: A New Companion

Area: Littlerock Spanish Branch
Companion: Hermana Gonzalez

This week has been crazy! I feel like everything has changed in the last couple of days, but I think that I am getting the hang of our new transfer. Everything is different now, but we are still having good experiences and growing a lot.

First of all, I have my new companion. Hermana Gonzalez is originally from Mexico City, but for the last three years on her mission, she lived in California (only about an hour and a half away from our area). With that being said, she speaks perfect Spanish and really good English. That is a good thing for me because she is able to help me with Spanish so much. I feel like I have become a lot better in speaking and understanding in this last week alone. Hopefully, I will be able to speak much better Spanish by the end of this transfer. 

We have been doing well this week going around and getting to know the area better. At the beginning of the week, we talked to a couple of really outspoken Jehovah's Witnesses. The first one only spoke English and he kept wanting us to show us scriptures in the Bible. We kept telling him that we only had scriptures in Spanish, but he wouldn't let up. Eventually, we were able to finish sharing our message and leave. Talking to people like that really makes me reflect on the way that I am teaching people. I don't want to be the kind of person who makes people uncomfortable and is confronting. Hopefully, I am not!

We talked to one really awesome lady this week named Hortencia. We found her while we were going through our area book and decided to try and see her again. She used to be an investigator, but she was always too sick to go to church because she had cancer, so the missionaries dropped her. When we went to see her, she told us that she loved talking to the missionaries and that she really like the messages that we shared. She even had pictures up in her house of the missionaries who had first taught her. We have started to teach her again. The best news is that she only has three more weeks of radiation therapy until she is officially in remission and is hopefully on the upswing. She has a super cool relationship with God and I hope that she will start to come to church. I am super excited to start teaching her again!

Another person who we started teaching this week is named Juan. He actually used to learn from the missionaries before as well, but was always too scared to come to church. Early this week, he called us and asked us to come over and share a message with him. He said that he has felt like he is missing something in his life and that he wants to gain a closer relationship with God. We told him that that was perfect and that we could definitely help with that! He is super cool. Normally, people try to avoid us, they don't ask us to come over and teach them. I have high hopes for him.

Hermana Gonzalez got sick this week. One day, she was feeling really bad, so we had stayed home for a while. We had appointments that night, so I went out with Michelle (one of the young women in our branch) and Hermana Gonzalez stayed with Michelle's mom. It was super intimidating and I felt a little scared to go out and teach a lesson in Spanish without my safety net, but I feel like I was strengthened by the Lord and I was able to receive a lot of help. The lesson went pretty well and we got a return appointment, so I counted the night as a success.

On Saturday, we had dinner at a ward party. The party was for a couple who had gone to the temple that day to get sealed. It was so beautiful and super fun. The family was so happy that they were able to go to the temple and be joined together for all time and eternity. I am so happy that I get to share that message with others during my time on the mission. I hope that I can make many other families happy like that.

This week has been a time of great growth for me spiritually. I feel like I have never been closer to Heavenly Father than right now. I am just so grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission and to be a representative of the Lord. I am becoming so much better and I feel like I am able to help other people become better at the same time. What a blessing!

Thank you so much for all of your support and for all of your prayers. I can definitely feel them and I really appreciate it. I love you all! Sorry that this letter was so lame. We didn't really do much this week. Next week will be better!

Hermana Blau

Monday, April 4, 2016

Week Thirteen: Exploration and Adventure

My district. I'm the only one left after transfers!
Area: Littlerock Spanish Branch
Companion: Hermana White

This week was super crazy! General Conference, transfers, getting lost in the mountains, and bomb rocking lessons. This week has been strange!

Starting with last Monday, after we emailed, our entire district went out into the mountains to go hiking and kite flying. I thought that our entire area was just dirt and Joshua trees, but the ride up to Devil's Punch bowl was so beautiful! The entire time, I was just in awe. I will send some pictures. While we were on the hike, we decided to go off trail and follow a little creek. It was okay until we had to get back up to the trail. Hermana White had decided to wear flats instead of tennis shoes, so it was a little hard for her to go straight up the hills. Eventually, we made it up to the top. It was so windy while we were up there, I was a little afraid that I was going to fall off the cliffs. Everything ended up being okay.

On the road to our mountain adventure.
The mountains are so pretty!

Later Monday night, we were knocking on some doors. At one of the doors, we started talking to this lady who was wearing pajamas and slippers. That night, it was only 45 degrees, so I guess that we were looking a little cold. After about three minutes, the lady stopped us and said, "I don't want to be rude, but it is really cold and dark outside . . . and I am sure that you would much rather be home . . . so . . . I'm just . . . going to close the door now." She looked so nervous and awkward. After that, she just closed the door. We stood there for a couple of seconds before we started laughing and we left.

On Monday night, we were looking at our area and we learned that there are actually three or four little towns in our area that we have never even been to. We thought that there must be people who need the gospel in Llano (about 15 miles outside of Littlerock), so we went thereon Tuesday night. It turns out that in Llano there are only old, retired golfers who already have their religion, so we decided to go to Pearblossom instead. There, we found a lot of really cool people who seemed prepared to hear the message of the gospel.

What had prompted our journey to the farther reaches of our area was the fact that we received a referral for a man who lives in a little town called Juniper Hills. In reality, he doesn't really live in Juniper Hills. He lives about five miles from Juniper Hills in the heart of the mountains. None of the roads that go to his house showed up on the GPS when we tried to go there, so we took directions from Google Maps and decided to try and see him during the week. It turns out that the only roads that lead to his house are something akin to four-wheeler paths that wind and twist through the mountains with cliffs on either side. We got about one mile into the path before we decided that we couldn't do it in the mission vehicle. We still have to contact our referral, so I don't know exactly what is going to happen.

The night that we went on our mountain adventure, we got our transfer calls. I am staying in Littlerock, but I am literally the only person in the entire district who is. Hermana White is going to Bakersfield. It is super sad ...

... especially because we are finally starting to see a lot of our investigators progress. Hopefully, it will turn out okay!

The Salgado Family (Chris, Kate, Jenny, and Mia) 

A member family ... The Lopez Family
General Conference was so good. I feel like I appreciate it so much more as a missionary than I did before the mission. I was so sad when it was over. We got to watch it in English. I feel like every talk was really good. I came to Conference with a lot of questions that I have been pondering for some time, and I feel like every single question that I had was answered in a really specific way. One of the impressions that I was feeling really strongly during the Conference was the need to do service. I feel like I am so much happier on my mission than I was before, and I think that at least one of the reasons for that is that I am constantly serving people. I think that the value of service is one of the biggest things that I have learned during my small time on the mission.
Me with Mia Salgado. She is six (almost seven) and just about the
cutest little girl ever. When we taught her family about the First Vision
she said that she wanted to try seeing God the next time she prayed. 
This week, we have had a lot of really spiritual lessons. The part member family that we have been teaching lately is really progressing. While we were in the lesson, we asked Stephanie if she would like to know if the Book of Mormon is true. She said that she already knew that it was. She told us that she had read and prayed to know, just like we had told her. We were shocked! Nobody does that after the first lesson. They are super prepared and I am so happy that they are progressing.

Everything is going well here. The work continues to press forward. I know that the Lord directs this work because it is so important for the happiness of everyone. I love being a missionary and being able to share the gospel with everyone I meet. 

Until next week,
Hermana Blau