Monday, August 29, 2016

WeekThirty-Four: Cool Experiences Continue

Hermana Zambrano took this candid shot of me during the week.
 Area: Buena Vista Ward
Companion: Hermana Zambrano

This week was crazy. So many things happened and we were able to have a lot of really cool experiences. This area is a really great place to be and we have been able to see the hand of the Lord multiple times over this past week.

Things are finally cooling down a little bit over here. When we go out running in the mornings, it doesn't feel like we are dying from the heat. I realized that I have been becoming immune to the heat. When it is only 90 degrees outside, I feel like it is a real fall day! It is crazy to believe that it is almost September. The time sure does fly by!

On Tuesday, we had a crazy experience. We were walking down a street in a really sketchy part of our area to get to a return appointment. While we were walking down the street, we saw a giant pit bull walking down the street. I was a little freaked out by it (I guess I have picked up a negative stereotype of pit bulls), but we were close to the house and we decided to keep walking. When we got up to the door of the appointment we had, the pit bull followed us. Then it came up to us and was super nice. I don't think I have ever met a kinder dog! The person who we were meeting wasn't there, so we kept walking down the street. The dog followed us. Suddenly, two massive dogs ran around the corner and went straight for the nice dog. They were attacking it when a man ran out of nowhere and started chasing off the other dogs with a propane tank. The nice dog had an injured leg, so we knocked on all the houses on the street until someone was able to give us the number for animal control. Everything ended up fine! That wasn't the way that we thought we were going to spend our morning! We are now a little more wary in that part of our area.
After our district flour war last Monday.
Funny story for this week. We were in an area to try and meet with a former investigator when I remembered that there was a part member family in the area. I guess that I didn't really tell Hermana Zambrano who we were planning on visiting, so when the nonmember husband opened the door, she started talking to him as if we didn't know who he was (which I suppose she didn't). It was really awkward, so I decided to go along with it and we "found out" that his wife was a member of our ward. It was a little awkward, but not that bad. Then, while we were writing down his phone number, I asked, "Your last name is [his last name], right?" He gave me a super strange look and said that it was. It was then that I realized that if we really had just walked down the street and randomly knocked on his door, we wouldn't know what his last name was. He was a little creeped out after that. We are still going back to see him this week.

We had Zone Conference this week. It was super good! I love listening to President and Sister Layton and receiving direction from them. It really strengthens my testimony that this mission is lead by the Spirit and that we are doing the Lord's work.

Claudia, Jose, and the Tia
We have still been meeting with our really cool investigators, Claudia and Jose. They are really prepared. The other day, they fed us dinner (it was some really yummy Mexican soup). A different night, we had another lesson with them. Claudia's mother was visiting from Los Angeles, so Claudia invited her to sit in on the lesson. After we were done teaching them, the mother started asking us questions about if we worshipped Joseph Smith or not. We were able to explain a little more about the Restoration and Claudia bore her testimony about it as well. Later, she told us that before we came by, she had been praying to find more direction in her life. She said that we were an answer to her prayer. It was such a cool experience for me. Claudia's aunt, who is a member, is went back to Mexico this weekend. Before she left, she thanked us for helping to share the Gospel with her family. It was super sweet!
A fuzzy picture of our new car. They took the truck away. It was a sad day!
That is about it for this week. We have been having a lot of cool experiences and have been learning a lot as a companionship. I can hardly believe that we are already half way through this transfer. I know that this church is true and that we are doing the work of the Lord out here in Bakersfield. I hope that you all have a good week!

Hermana Blau

All of the planners I have used so far on my mission.
I am almost halfway through!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Week: Thirty-Three: Finding Those Who Are Prepared

Area: Buena Vista Ward
Companion: Hermana Zambrano

This week was really good. We were able to see a lot of miracles and a lot of good things have been happening in the area. Last week, we were just figuring out the area and it was taking a little bit to get started, but this week, things have been rolling.

One of the interesting things about opening an area is that you never really know where you are going to. The other night, we ended up in a relatively sketchy area. It is always pretty fun. The people there were interesting. This area of Bakersfield is full of really interesting people, but I am still having a lot of fun. I think here, we are dealing less with people who aren't really interested and we are able to really see who the people who are prepared.

While we were doing daily planning, we were thinking about who we could visit. We felt impressed to go and see one of the less active members in the ward. When we went over there, he was sitting down on his couch, playing his guitar. It was a little dark outside, but we thought that he could see us. Turns out that he couldn't. I don't think that I have seen someone jump as high in a long time. We started talking to him and we could feel the spirit pretty strongly. It was cool and I think that it really helped him. It really was a testimony to me that the spirit will help us to do this work.

Yesterday night, we had an appointment with a person who we met the other week. He was a little drunk when we met, so we didn't really think that he was going to be there. We got out of dinner a little late, but we headed over to his house. When we got there, he was waiting outside for us. He actually was really excited to talk to us and he was talking about how we were the first step to help him change his life. He asked us to come back.

One of the big events that happened this week was that we started teaching a family. I actually wrote about them last week. They were the family that have the Mexican aunt. We went back to see them two times this week. They are super cool and really prepared. When we were talking to them yesterday, the mom told us that she has always been looking for answers. She has gone to the Catholic and Christians churches and they didn't give her answers. Then she told us that we were able to give her the answers that she was looking for. It was super cool! The family is super cute and I think that they have a lot of potential. They are feeding us dinner on Wednesday and then we are going to teach them some more. We are super excited!

This week has been pretty exciting. Hermana Zambrano and I have been working really hard and it has been paying off. We have been able to see a lot of miracles and we are starting to figure out the area. I love this area and I love serving the Lord. The missionary work here is really good. The Lord is blessing us a lot.

I hope that you all have a good week. I hope that you are all enjoying the end of your summer.

Hermana Blau

Monday, August 15, 2016

Week Thirty-Two: I'm a Trainer Now

Area: Buena Vista Ward
Companion: Hermana Zambrano

This week was super interesting. I met my new companion, Hermana Zambrano, on Tuesday and we have been getting to know our new area. It is super cool and really crazy.

On Tuesday morning, we went to the stake center where we normally do transfers. Right when we got there, we got to know the two new Hermanas in the mission. We still didn't know would be going with Hermana Perry and who would be going with me, so it was a little nerve wracking until we found out. After a little meeting, I went with Hermana Zambrano and Hermana Perry went with the other hermana. Hermana Zambrano is super cool. She is from San Fernando and went out with the missionaries almost every day when she was at home. She is a native Spanish speaker as well because she lived in Ecuador until she was 12. It is like I am barely training!

When we left from the transfer meeting, the Assistants handed us our new phone and the keys to our car. They didn't tell us what our car was going to look like, so we went out to the parking lot and started to wander around trying to find it. We looked all over and couldn't find any cars that looked like they should be ours, so we walked in and asked one of the Assistants to help us find it. He took us out to the parking lot and showed us to a giant pickup truck. One of the areas up in the mountains in the north of the mission was closed, so we were chosen as the companionship that would get their truck. It is quite a sight to see two sister missionaries climbing into a four door pickup! All of the elders in our districts are jealous.

When we got to our new apartment, we realized that we didn't even know what our area boundaries were because they had recently formed the area out of two others. We went to turn on our phone so that we could call our Zone Leaders, but we soon found out that the phone was not activated and that we needed another working phone to activate the number. Luckily, the Zone Leaders stopped by after a little bit and were able to help us out.

Hermana Zambrano is super diligent and hard working. I have really enjoyed the past couple of days. When she came out, she was a little sick. On the second night, she started to feel super bad, so we called the mission medical elder and he told us to go to the doctor the next day. Don't worry, it looks like she is going to live! They put her on some medicine and it looks like everything will be fine.

It has been really interesting exploring this area. It seems like it wouldn't be that much different from my last area because it is only about 20 minutes away, but it is like a whole new world! There are a lot of Hispanic people down here, but there are also a lot of people from India. I feel like we knock one door and it is English, the next door is Spanish, and the next is the people from India. It is really interesting. During the beginning of the week, we were ending up in a lot of areas where there weren't a lot of Hispanic people, but we are starting to understand where all of the good areas are now. Adventures!

One of the coolest things that happened this week. We were walking down the street when I decided that I would like to have a bottle of water. We saw this group of people sitting on their lawn, so we went up to ask them. When we got there, it turned out that one of the people was an extremely active member of the church down in Mexico and that she was visiting with her niece. I guess that the niece had always wanted to talk to missionaries, but they had never stopped by. Her son had also talked to the missionaries before and was super interested in learning more. We taught them about the Restoration right there and the spirit was super strong! They went out of town this weekend, but they said that they would love to learn more and that they were super excited to keep meeting with us. It was a super miracle for our first week in the area!

That is pretty much it for this week. We have just been trucking along. I am super glad that I am here and that I am able to serve the people in this area! I hope that everything is going well at home! I hope that you have a good week!

Hermana Blau

Monday, August 8, 2016

Week Thirty-One: Miracles

Me with Rocio, our investigator. She is super cute and really nice.
Area: La Cresta Spanish Ward
Companion: Hermana Perry

This week was CRAZY!!! It hasn't been as hot lately (we have been chilling in the upper 90s. I think that I am slowly going crazy. . . I am going to get home and be immune to the heat!). This week is transfers. I will keep you in suspense for just a little bit.

This week, we had a couple of really cool experiences. We were walking in one of the lower parts of our area and we decided to walk across the road to an area where we had never been before. When we walked across the road, we saw a house and felt that we should knock there. Before the actual door of the house there was a little sun room. Hermana Perry suggested that we should walk into the sun room and knock on the actual door. That is what we ended up doing, but we felt a little strange about it. When we knocked on the door, it opened up right away and the people inside told us to come right in. We thought that they must have not known who we were, so we told them that we were missionaries. They said that they knew and that we could come in.

When we walked into the house, we thought that they were going to end up being ax-murderers or something because nobody ever lets us into their house like that. While we sat down, one of the people went to get her sister. When the sister walked in, she said, "I am so glad that you are here. I have been praying for the missionaries to stop by!" She told us that she and her sister were less active members who hadn't been to church in a couple of months because they didn't know where to find one. I guess that they have been driving around Bakersfield, trying to find a church building. Guess who knows where church buildings are in this area? We were able to tell them about the services here. It was super cool. I think that we are going to try and start teaching the other people in the family as well. Miracles!

This is for Dad. We saw a big old field of them as we were walking,
and it made me think of you!
Another day this week, we were going to check up on an investigator who we met the other day. When we got to her house, her husband opened the door. He has a bit of a drinking problem, but he doesn't want to drink anymore. He told us that he knew that we could help him and that he wanted to change his life. We have high hopes for him!

Funny story of the week: Today, I decided to try something that I have only heard about in legend. . . Chocoflan. It is pretty much flan on top of chocolate cake. I have been wanting to try it ever since I was with Hermana Gonzalez. She used to talk about it all the time. Today, I decided that it was the day. We went to Vallarta to buy a slice. I can't even describe my joy as we were driving back to the apartment. I even put it on a fancy plate. When I took the first bite, I discovered to my horror that it was probably one of the worst things that I have ever eaten in my life. The flan was really rubbery and the cake was super dry. It was the most depressing moment of my entire mission. We are still holding out the hope that it was just because we bought the cake from Vallarta.

The piece of chocoflan. That was the last moment of happiness that I felt
before all my dreams were ripped away.

Big news for this week. . . I actually won't be here to teach any of those people who we talked to. I am going to be going to open a new area in the southern part of Bakersfield (Buena Vista) that has been closed for Hermanas for a while. Hermana Perry will be staying here in La Cresta and we will both be training! It is going to be super crazy and we have been going a little insane thinking about it, but we are both really excited. Our two trainees will be coming into the mission today and we will be picking them up tomorrow. This next transfer will be crazy. All of the Hermanas around the mission have been joking that I am doing a mission tour. There are only two hermana areas that I haven't been to yet. Soon, I will have served in them all! I am sad to be leaving Hermana Perry. This last transfer has been a blast. Hopefully, the next transfer will be just as good.

Well, that is pretty much it for the week. I am super glad that I am out here in Bakersfield. I know that this is the best place that I could ever be in this moment. I have really been able to see the hand of the Lord this week! I know that he knows what we need to be doing and where we need to be going to help the people who need help right now. I hope that you all have a good week!

Hermana Blau

Hermana Perry and I decided to take pregnancy pictures because we are about to have babies in the mission. That might just be a mission thing, but I think that they turned out pretty good. [Mom note: When a person trains a new missionary, they sometimes refer to them as their "baby." That's why they decided to take the fake pregnancy pictures before they meet their "babies" this week.]

Monday, August 1, 2016

Week Thirty: Following Impressions

Area: La Cresta Spanish Ward
Companion: Hermana Perry

This week has been pretty crazy! All of the area around Bakersfield has been catching on fire, so the smog is really bad right now. We always go running in the morning out in the hills and we see a new burned patch every couple of days. When we are out driving, we can't even see the mountains that surround the city. Hermana Perry and I have been joking that we are going to become so accustomed to the smog before the end of our missions that we will leave and gain super powers like Superman did after he left Krypton to Earth (if that is too nerdy of an analogy, feel free to take that out Mom!) I love it here!
The Smog ... gross!

The last couple of days have been really hot. The thermometer in our car said that it got up to 111 degrees the other day. The people here are really nice about the heat, though. They are always helping us out by giving us water bottles and free fruit. Everyone has fruit trees in their yards and they will tell us to go and take what we want! The Lord really does send us tender mercies in our times of need.

Hermana Perry and I have been trying to work on following the Spirit. This week, we were driving down the road and I was joking with Hermana Perry that we should knock on the door of someone who would give us grapes. Then Hermana Perry said, "If we turn right, we will find grapes, but if we turn left, we will find a prepared person." We both laughed. We actually had someone to see on the right side, so we turned right. Our appointment fell through, so we decided to start walking to the left. While we were still on the right side of the intersection, we saw some grapes spread all over the ground. We laughed again. When we crossed to the left side, we knocked on a door and this lady opened and was super interested. At that moment, I realized that Hermana Perry was a prophetess! haha

The other day, we met a couple outside of their house while we were walking around. This week, we went over to see them again and we were able to talk to the wife. We talked to her for a long time and she told us that she really has been trying to make changes in her life to help her come closer to God. She wants a family that is close and loving. She was super cool and she loved talking to us. GOLDEN!

A couple of weeks ago, we picked up an investigator named Teresa. She was the one who saw a vision just like Joseph Smith (I think that I wrote home about her). We lost contact with her right after we talked to her, but we felt impressed to keep trying by her house. The past couple of times that we have gone over, her husband has answered the door. He told us that she had a stroke a couple of days after we talked to her. She finally came home this week and we were able to talk to her. She was super frail and sick, but we were able to talk to her some more and share with her about how the Atonement can help her through her trials. It was nice. Hopefully, we were able to help her out!

On Friday, we went up to have exchanges in the STL's area, Arvin. It is pretty much little Mexico! It is just a little town right in the middle of all of the fields, but pretty much everyone there is Spanish speaking. We went out running in the park in the morning, and there were a ton of old Hispanic people and they all said, "Buenos dias" to us. So cute. Hopefully, I will be able to go there for real someday. Dream area!

Yesterday, we were walking down the street and an old man was mowing his lawn. He started talking to us. It turns out that he wrote the book on butterflies and he has a giant collection. He was telling us about how there are a ton of butterflies out in the mountains, but how they are all in the same area as the marijuana growers. It really made me want to get into the butterfly scene after I get back.

That was pretty much it for the week. I hope that everything is going well at home. I am really enjoying my time here and I know that I am doing the things that the Lord wants. I love being a missionary! Have a good week!

Hermana Blau