Monday, July 25, 2016

Week Twenty-Nine: We Get to Wear Sombreros!

Me and mi novio [boyfriend], the Joshua tree!

Area: La Cresta Spanish Ward
Companion: Hermana Perry

Another week, another email. This week was super crazy and SUPER hot, but it was also really cool. We were able to see a lot of miracles. I think that I am just starting to get to the part of my mission where everything starts to go by really fast, because I can't even believe that everything has gone by so fast.

Speaking of the heat, I looked at the weather on the missionary website and it said that it was going to be about 110 degrees for the rest of the week. I heard that some parts of the missions are just randomly catching on fire. One part of our area was actually part of a pretty bad wild fire, but it is about 30 minutes away from everything else in our area, so we were really safe. I think that we will probably be okay in the heat. Recently, they changed the dress standards for missionaries so we can wear wide brimmed hats, so Hermana Perry and I went out last P day and bought some sombreros. It has completely revolutionized our street contacting. We actually have a lot of our appointments for the next couple of days set up for when it is going to be blazing hot, so I guess that the Lord has been blessing us in more ways than one. 

In the spirit of companionship unity (and also because our apartment is really hot at night and we were getting tired of wearing our pajama pants to bed. . .) Hermana Perry and I decided to get matching nighties! Here are a couple of pictures that we took of them in our excitement!

It is so interesting to be in Bakersfield for the summer. We have been getting so many grapes from the people that we talk to that work in the fields. I don't know how I ever survived without eating so many grapes! During the days, all of the streets are pretty dead and everyone asks us why we are out walking in the heat. When it cools down at night, everyone comes out and every street is a giant party. We see mariachi bands practicing and people practicing for their fancy party dances.

This week, we decided as a district to work on finding new people to teach. As part of that, we were doing a district fast. All week long, at least one companionship in the district was fasting at any given point. I have really gained a strong testimony of fasting on my mission. We were able to find a lot of cool people in the last couple of weeks.

One of the things that has also been helping us to find more people to teach is that we have started walking. . . a lot! Following our mission president's advice to use our car like a bus, we have been parking our car at least half a mile away from all of our plans and walking to them. It has made a huge difference. We talk to so many more people.

On Tuesday, we were about to go back to lunch after walking around all morning. Right when we got next to the car, we decided that we should try to knock on one more car. No one answered the door, so we were going to go back to our car when a guy walked out of his house and called out to us. We started talking to him and he was super cool. He learned a lot about religion and the Bible while he was in prison. We ended up talking to him for a long time. When we finished talking, he asked us if we could come by the next day. We were able to stop by again the next morning and we had another lesson. It went really well.

One night, we passed by an old man's house. We were talking to him and he said that he was a little busy at that moment but that he would love for us to pass by again. Most of the time, that is the signal that we aren't wanted there, but we set up a time to stop by again. When we went back for the return appointment, we weren't very hopeful, but when we knocked on the door, he opened it right up and we were able to have a really good lesson with him again.

We worked a ton this week, and we were able to see a lot of miracles in our area. We were really able to see the hand of the Lord and many prayers were answered. I love working with the people in this area. They are so loving and they always want to help us out! I am so glad that I get to help them to receive the Gospel in their lives!

I hope that you all have a good week and that you are able to stay cool! 

Hermana Blau

Monday, July 18, 2016

Week Twenty-Eight: Miracles

Area: La Cresta Spanish Ward
Companion: Hermana Perry

This week was really good. We saw a lot of miracles and we were able to talk to a lot of people. There was a lot of craziness, but by the end of the week, we were able to see the hands of the Lord in many different ways.

After emails on Monday, we went over to have dinner with some members of our ward. They live in the nicer part of our area and their house is pretty fancy, so we felt really cool while we were sitting in there. I asked to use the restroom and it was super nice. There was a really cool vase with flowers sitting on a table in the bathroom by the hand towels. After I had finished washing my hands, I went to dry them. While I was moving towards the towels, I accidentally knocked the vase off of the table and it instantly shattered into a million pieces. I was mortified. When I walked out, the members were really cool about it and they told me that it was not a very expensive vase, but I still have a little heart attack when I think about the sound that the vase made when I knocked it onto the floor!

We had interviews with President Layton on Wednesday. He is super cool and super in tune with the Spirit. While I was talking to him, I asked him for advise on how to find more prepared investigators, so he told us that we should start using our car like a bus. Based on that, we have started parking a couple of streets away from our front plans and then walking, talking to all the people that we see on the way. It has turned out to be a really cool thing for us. We have been able to meet a lot of cool people!

This week, we had an interesting adventure. We decided to go out to a rural part of our area where we had never been before. When we were there, we walked by a house with a gate that was hanging off of its hinges. We are never ones to pass up an opportunity to walk into a creepy yard, so we decided to go in. There was a ton of trash in the yard and there were about a million chickens and cats running around. When we finally got up to the door, it was wide open and creepy piano music was coming from the inside. We knocked on the door frame and I tried to ring the doorbell, but it was covered with spider webs. Nobody came to answer us, so we ended up leaving. It felt like part of a horror movie. When we were talking to the neighbors, they told us that a old lady lives there with about twenty snakes. 

The best part of this week was definitely church. We saw a lot of miracles there! One of our investigators comes to church every week. She was there even though she felt sick because she loves the feeling that she gets when she takes the Sacrament. We were a little late getting to Sunday School because we were getting information from a nonmember friend of a member who lives in our area who wants to start taking lessons from us. When we got to the class, we sat down in some empty seats in the front. When we sat down, we looked over and got a super big surprise. We had been teaching a lady named Dana for a while, but we decided to stop going by because she wasn't going to church or really progressing. When we sat down in Sunday School, she was in the seats next to us. When we asked her why she came to church, she told us that she had moved out of her boyfriend's house into the house of a close friend (who is also a member of our ward). When she was introducing herself to the Relief Society, she said, "Hi, I'm Dana. This is my first time here and I really like it!". It was super cool. We are going back to see her this week!

Things have been going along. I love being a missionary and getting to see all of the miracles that the Lord sends into people's lives. I am positive that he directs this work! Things have really started to groove and the days are flying by! I hope that you all have a good week and that everything goes well. I am keeping you in my prayers!

Hermana Blau

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week Twenty-Seven: Six Months Down!

Area: La Cresta Spanish Ward
Companion: Hermana Perry

This week was pretty good. There wasn't a ton that happened, but we were still able to meet a lot of interesting people, teach some pretty good lessons, and have a lot of good experiences.

One of the biggest things that happened this week was that we were able to meet the new mission president, President Layton, and his wife. They are super cool. They are very loving and want to help us do our best. They are really spiritual and I have already been able to learn a lot from being around them. I am excited to get to serve with them for the rest of my mission!

Another exciting event that occurred: I hit my first big mile stone. I have now been out on my mission for six months! It was fun being with Hermana Perry when that happened because we are the same mission age and we were able to celebrate together. Recently, we have been trying to make a goal to eat healthier and not go out to eat, but we threw that rule out the window for our six month extravaganza. We went to Sonic because they were having half priced ice cream cones and we enjoyed a little treat. I had the opportunity to think a little bit about what I have accomplished so far in my mission and all of the people that I have been able to serve. I am so glad to be a missionary right now and to have the chance to dedicate this short time to the Lord. I have already seen so much growth in my self and it has only been a couple of months. I am sure that it will be over before I know it, but I am really enjoying the opportunity to serve while it is here.

Our 6 month celebration pizzas!
This week, I was able to experience one of the greatest perks of working with the Spanish speaking people of Bakersfield: grapes! Most of the people who we work with work in the fields and right now it is grape season. I guess that they field workers are allowed to take home some grapes every day after work. That means that when we go over to teach our investigators, they often give us some of their extra grapes to take home with us. This week, one of our investigators gave us the biggest container of grapes that I have ever seen in my life. Hermana Perry and I have no self control when it comes to fruit, though, so they were all gone by the next morning. 

This week, we had exchanges. While we were on exchanges, I went with Hermana White to the park to have a lesson with one of the less active members in our area. After the lesson was done, we decided to try and talk to some of the people in the park. While we were talking to some ladies, I felt something strange on my feet. I looked down and discovered that I was standing on a giant ant hill and that the stinging ants were swarming on my feet. I think that the ladies that we were talking to must have thought that I was crazy because I jumped about a foot in the air and started shaking my legs around to try and get them off. Ever since then, I have been trying my best to avoid making any insects angry.
Hermanas Blau, White, Perry, and Martineau
While we were on exchanges, we were asking an English speaking person that we met about smaller communities in the area with lots of Spanish speaking people. He said that we should go try out in a little town called Edison. When we went home, we looked on the map and saw that Edison is in our area, so we decided to go and try. When we got there, we discovered that Edison is about six roads in the middle of acres of orange trees and grape vines. It is a little run down, but we were able to find some people to talk to and to do some good up there. It is definitely someplace where we are going to try back!

I guess that that is just about it for this week. We are just chugging along. We have an investigator who is actually pretty close to baptism and she will probably be ready in a couple of weeks. I will keep you all posted on that! The work keeps going and we see miracles every day! I love that I am able to participate in the Lord's work. I am growing a lot and I love that I am able to help others grow as well! Have a good week.

Hermana Blau

Monday, July 4, 2016

Week Twenty-Six: New Mission President

Our adventure that we took today in making tortillas. They actually turned out pretty nice.
Someday I'm going to be a sweet old abuelita!
Area: La Cresta Spanish Ward
Companion: Hermana Perry

This week was pretty good. It has really started to get hot. Unfortunately, in our car, the air conditioning goes out if it is over 100 degrees. We told the manufacturers about it, but I guess that it is something normal for the type of car that we drive. I feel like that is just about the worst design flaw that could ever exist in an air conditioning unit, but we just have to live with it.

Other than the heat, everything is going pretty well. The past couple of days, we have been trying to contact some referrals that we were given by one of the members from the Young Single Adult ward who lives in our area. We have been able to meet some pretty interesting people that way. We talked to one of the people who we were referred to, but he was super tired because he had just been working a night shift, so he asked us to come back another day. When we came back, we met his three daughters. One of them is about five and any time we walk down that street, she follows us around. She is super cute! It turned out that their dad wasn't very interested, so we don't go over to their house anymore, but they always talk to us when they see us walking down that street.

One day this week, our dinner appointment cancelled. We hadn't been expecting it, and it was the last day of June, so we didn't have any money that we could use to buy some food for dinner. We were a little concerned about what we were going to eat, but we decided to just continue on with our day and see what happened. While we were visiting with a member and his sister-in-law, they offered to feed us some quesadillas. They actually gave us quite a lot of them, so we were grateful and a little full. After that, we had a lesson with one of our investigators, Rocio, who works in the fields. Right now, it is grape season, so while we were over there teaching her, she gave us a huge bowl of grapes to eat. They were super good! After that, we were feeling even more full. While we were in the lesson, we got a couple of calls from one of our members. After we got out, they told us that they had made us food, so we went over to their house to have some more dinner. It was super good food! After we were done, we had had three dinners and I was so full, I could hardly walk to the car. I had to take a second to let all of the food settle in my tummy before we could go back out. I guess that just goes to show that the Lord will always take care of his servants.

This week, we were back on the street where the dog attack from last week happened and we were going to see a member. While we were there, the family who owned the dogs was back outside. We felt impressed to go back and talk to them some more. We walked up their driveway (making sure to avoid the dogs who were now safely chained up) and we met the mother of the family. We started to talk to her and she was actually super cool! She has had a hard life and has struggled with drugs and finding a stable relationship for a long time, but she really wants to become a better person and be a good example for her children. She said that she wished that she was more like us and we were able to teach her a little bit. She doesn't really speak Spanish, but she was super cool and we were able to tell the English missionaries about her. 

This week, the mission changed a lot. President and Sister Wilson are now home, so now our new mission president is President Layton. I haven't met him personally yet but I have heard tell that he is a giant man and that the only thing bigger than his hands is his heart. I guess we will have to find out. We have a Zone Conference this Thursday, so I guess that we will meet him there!

Well, that is about it for the week. Today we have all day Preparation day because the mission doesn't want us out proselyting with all the drunk and crazy people during the Fourth of July. We hardly know what to do with all of our extra time!

I hope that you all have a good week and that you can have fun during the Fourth of July. Make sure to light a firework in honor of me. Stay cool! I love you all so much.

Hermana Blau

A picture Hermana Perry took of me while I was driving. It is an adventure!