Monday, December 26, 2016

Week Fifty-One: Baptisms and Temple

Lucas's Baptism
Area: Arvin Spanish Group
Companion: Hermana Luquette

This week was a doozy. Christmas was the best and we really did see a TON of miracles during the course of the week. The spirit of the Christmas really does exist!

We started out this week without a P day because we went to the temple on Tuesday. We spent that time trying to contact some referrals that we had been trying to see for a while. One of the referrals was for a couple of old ladies that a random man on the street told us to go and talk to. When we got to the door, we started talking to the lady and she wasn't super interested because she and her sister were about to have dinner. She was about to tell us to come back another time when her sister came up to the door and invited us in to eat. We weren't about to turn down a free meal, so we agreed. They actually ended up giving us some pretty yummy lentils and egg tacos and we were able to share about the Restoration afterwards. They invited us back last night. We went after our Christmas dinner with a member, but we discovered that they had prepared us an entire dinner for our visit. We tried to tell them that we just ate, but they told us to just eat one taco. That led to us each eating three tacos and some tamales. It was fun!

On Tuesday, we went down to the temple in Los Angeles. It was super fun going down there and seeing all of the hermanas from around the mission. I love the temple so much and it was a super spiritual experience. I am so grateful for all of the blessings in my life that come from the temples that we have!

At the Los Angeles Temple
It was a little swished in the back seat on our way to the temple.
Right after the temple trip, we went on exchanges with Hermana Zambrano and Hermana Badger. I was with Hermana Zambrano again! I always love going with her and getting to talk and work with her again. It is super fun seeing all of the ways that she has grown over the time that we haven't been together. She is super sweet. While we were out, we decided to go see one of our recent converts. When we went over to her house, she had some company over but she let us in. She invited her friend to listen to us, so we started sharing about the Restoration with her friend. It turns out that she already knew about all about it because our recent convert had already told her everything. She was already planning to come to church. It was super cool to see the member missionary work!

Friday was probably the biggest day of the week. In the beginning, we had a morningside with the Laytons. When we got there, we all had a big breakfast. Afterwards, we sat down and watched It's A Wonderful Life as a mission. It was so good. It was really strange watching a worldly movie for a little bit, but it is one of my favorite movies of all time, so it was a wonderful Christmas treat. Afterwards, we did a gift exchange. During the whole time, I felt so happy. It was nice to know that Christmas is a happy time, no matter where you are!
The hermanas at the morningside.
On Friday night, we had the baptisms of our investigators Jesse and Lucas. It was super cool. I was so happy that I was able to be a part of teaching them and helping them to progress to the point where they could enter into that covenant. We have been working with Jesse for a while to help him to overcome his doubts and his fears, so it was super special to see him get baptized. His mother is a member of the church, so he has heard about the gospel for a long time, but he was finally able to see all the ways that it could bless his family, so he decided to take the step of baptism. Lucas was super prepared right from the beginning and he has been super excited about baptism for a long time. Being able to teach him really let me see the way that the Lord has been preparing people. There were a ton of events that were leading him to the gospel before we ever talked to him. I felt really blessed to be able to teach them and to watch their baptisms and confirmations!
Jesse's baptism with Hermano Rodier, who performed the baptism.
Saturday was a super interesting day. We were walking around outside during the day because we didn't have a ton of appointments. It was cold and people were not acting super interested, so we were feeling a little discouraged. Our one hope was that we could convince someone to watch Joy to the World with us. It is about 45 minutes long, so we thought that we could combine a good teaching experience with an opportunity to get out of the cold. Before we left the car, we prayed that someone would let us watch the movie, but everyone we talked to was semi-rude to us. While we were talking to a group of men fixing their car, it started to hail. We thought that it was just the cherry on the ice cream to our day. Right after that, we saw a lady unloading groceries from her car. We offered to help her and she let us. After we brought in a couple of things, she asked us to share a scripture. We did and then offered to share the movie with her and her family. To our surprise, she said that we could. We were able to talk to the family until our next appointment and they were super nice. It was a Christmas miracle.

Exchanges with Hermana Zambrano
Christmas day was super nice. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and his sacrifice that he made for us. I am so happy that we can have happiness in this world through Christ and I am so grateful for this gospel in my life. I love you all and I hope that you have a happy last week of the year!

Hermana Blau

Christmas skyping with the family!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Week Fifty: Christmas Tamales

Me supporting Dad's Mizzou graduation
Area: Arvin Spanish Group
Companion: Hermana Luquette

This week was crazy and a lot happened. It is still getting a little colder every day, but I am sure it is nowhere close to what you are experiencing in other parts of the world. Things are really going well down here and we have been seeing lots of miracles!
Goodbye Hermana White
I guess that the biggest difference of this week is that Hermana White left for home and that I am now companions with Hermana Luquette. It was super strange saying goodbye to Hermana White. She and I had some really good times together and it is really strange to think that she isn't in the mission anymore, but I am sure that she is going to be doing good things. The night that she left, I spent a couple of hours working with some English sisters whose companions also were leaving. It was super strange being in English work for just a little bit, but it was fun! The next day, got together with Hermana Luquette. She is the nicest person that I have ever met and she really loves being a missionary. She was recently baptized, so she brings a really special spirit to the work and she has a really sweet testimony of the gospel. I really love working with her!
Hello Hermana Luquette!

This week, I realized just how close we are to Christmas. I don't think that I really noticed that the holidays were upon us until planning day. Christmas is next week! I am so excited. We have been trying to focus our contacts on the Christmas spirit. We have started opening all of our door contacts with caroling. The first time that we did that, the door we knocked on opened and the lady inside started telling us that she wasn't interested and that we should go away. When we started singing, she listened to us and was super nice to us. We were able to share a little bit with her. I think that the spirit really speaks to people through song.

We have been able to teach a lot of really interesting people this week. One of the coolest new people that we found belonged to a less active/part member family. We recently found the husband who is a member and we thought that the wife was also a member. We went over one day and found that she wasn't. We started talking to her and she was super receptive. She told us that she felt the spirit when we were talking and that she wanted to find a new church that would make her feel the peace of God. We were able to teach her about the Restoration and she was super excited. She told us that she would be reading the Book of Mormon right after we left her house.

We have been teaching a lot of lessons this week. One of our investigators, Julio, is just a little strange. He has been coming to church and progressing pretty well, but is an odd old man. We were in a lesson with him the other day and we asked him to say the prayer. He stood up and moved over to the wall of his house. Then he scratched his back against the wall for a straight minute while he was keeping straight eye contact with us. After that, he said a really beautiful prayer. In another lesson that we had with him, he gave us hot chocolate and told us to put baby formula in it. I don't know if he knew what it was, so that is the story of how I drank baby formula for the first time in 19 years. He is a card.

This week, we had our ward Christmas party. It was super fun. We ate a ton of tamales and drank atole. It is really interesting being able to see the holidays from the perspective of a different culture. I am so exited for Christmas!!

On Sunday, we were going around doing visits to get our investigators to come to church. While we were walking down the street, we started talking to a man. I guess we talked to him a couple of weeks ago, but he told us that he would be coming to church. We didn't really believe him, but we invited him anyway. When we got to church, he was sitting there and talking to all of the members. He said that he really liked it and that he wants to come back next week. The people here in Arvin are super cool!

That is just about it for this week. I am super excited for Christmas (I don't know if you all could tell) and I am sure that the Holidays will be a great time for everyone. I hope that you all have a very merry Christmas and that you remember the reason for the season!

Hermana Blau

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week Forty:Nine: A Little Winter Wonderland

Hermana White and I with our investigator, Julio
Area: Arvin Spanish Branch
Companion: Hermana White

This week has been a crazy one. It was the last week of Hermana White, so we were working extra hard to squeeze every little bit of the time and energy that we had to make the most of it. We saw a lot of miracles and we were able to see the hand of the Lord.

One day this week, we went out to go work before having lunch. We were talking to everyone and sharing with all with such intensity that we didn't realize that we hadn't eaten lunch until almost 3. We went home and ate a relatively large lunch rather quickly because we had a four o'clock appointment with our investigator Julio. When we got there, we discovered that he had bought us a TON of tacos and hot chocolate (he recently gave up coffee when we taught about the Word of Wisdom :)). We ate a ton there and taught him a little bit. After that, we continued on to our dinner that a member was giving to us. After that, I was feeling more than a little full, but we continued on to a lesson that we were having with a recent convert. When we got there, we discovered that he had bought pizza. I feel like I have never eaten more food in my entire life! Missionary struggles!

Arvin is a little winter wonderland! Most of the people around town keep their lights up all year long, but now that the Christmas time has come, all of the lights are up and it is absolutely stunning! As we drive down the street, I can't help but look at all of the beautiful houses and the Christmas cheer!

This week, Hermana White and Hermana Martineau went down to the temple with a couple of their recent converts who were taking their own family names with them. While it was going on, Hermana Zambrano and I were left to be companions again. We didn't have our normal P-day to do normal P-day things (except for emails), so Hermana Zambrano and I were on mini-exchanges for our P-day. It was really fun to be with Hermana Zambrano again and to go around Bakersfield running errands.

Last night, we decided to follow the spirit and let it guide us to the places that we needed to be for the last couple of hours of Hermana White's missionary service. We started out by stopping the car when Hermana White saw someone that she wanted to talk to. When we talked to him, he wasn't really interested, but he was able to refer us to his Aunt who was really cool. We finished talking to her and we went to go visit a part member/less active family that we met a couple of days ago. We weren't able to talk to the member father, but we did talk to the son, who was actually super cool. On the way out of the apartment complex, we saw a man sitting on his second floor balcony. We called up to him and shared a little with him while he was looking down on us. He actually had been through some really tough things and we were able to help him to find some peace in his situation. After that, we went to a trailer park and started talking to the people there. We were able to pick up a really cool investigator who was sitting with his girlfriend outside. That was the last moment of the night before we had to go home and do planning. It was a night full of miracles!

This upcoming transfer, I am going to be staying in Arvin with Hermana Luquette. I am super excited to be able to be companions with her. She is pretty much the nicest person that I have ever met and I am sure that we are going to have a blast this upcoming transfer! 

I hope that you are all having a good time at home and that you are able to appreciate the spirit of Christmas. I think that the Light the World campaign is so cool. I love how we can be like the Savior in that. We can't all make as big of a sacrifice as He did, but we can help all the world in our own little ways. I hope that you all are able to find service opportunities during this special time of the year!

I love you all and I hope that you have a good week!

Hermana Blau
The packing tornado of Hermana White

Monday, December 5, 2016

Week Forty-Eight: Following Christ

Area: Arvin Spanish Group
Companion: Hermana White

This week has been really good. We have been working hard down here in Arvin and teaching everyone that we see. It has been really fun getting ready for Christmas during these past couple of weeks. I feel like I have been seeing the influence of Christ during this last little bit in great abundance!

This week, we had a lesson with one of our investigators about tithing and fasting. It was all going pretty well and he agreed to live both of the laws. When we started explaining about fast offerings, Hermana White accidentally said something about giving away the money that we eat. It wasn't any stranger than any of the other mistakes that we make in Spanish, but Hermana White and I looked at each other and started laughing. Once we started, we couldn't stop for a couple of minutes. I am sure that our investigator and our member thought that we were going crazy, but they were patient while we got ourselves together. In the end, it turned out to be a pretty good lesson.
The Navarro Family. They are super cute!
Things have been winding down to the end of Hermana White's mission. Next week, she will be going home and I will get a new companion. That being said, she went on the departing missionary temple trip last Friday and I went with Hermana Luquette and Hermana Badger to live the trio life for a couple of hours. It was a really strange experience! I think that we spend a lot of time as missionaries working to get ourselves used to life in a two person companionship that when we change to working in something other than that, it totally throws us off. Despite the strangeness, it was really fun. We spent a couple of hours working in their area, which happens to be the only Hermana area in the entire mission that I have not served in. It was super cool to spend some time looking around and talking to people there.

We have been working a lot with our recent converts to try and help them to work on their family history. With one in particular, we have been going over a lot to try and help her to find a name to take to the temple. She was able to find some family information about her grandmother, so we went over to help her to set up an account on family search and to print out the name. When we got there, we discovered that she didn't have a computer, so we had to try and use her phone to set it all up. The screen wasn't big enough to let us see all of the web page and all of the instructions were in Spanish, so we were struggling a little bit. To make it all worse, her birth information was inputted wrong in the church records, so we had to find out how to work with that. About every ten minutes, we would have a break through and get a little bit closer to putting in the name. Finally, after two hours, we were able to get her a name to take to the temple. At the end, she told us that we have to learn how to do things step by step, but sometimes they are the steps of an ant. I am a little worried to have to use technology again someday!
Our district. It's a little hermana heavy!
This week, we have been showing a lot of people the new Christmas video from the church. I have been thinking a lot about the example of Jesus Christ. We can all learn so much from studying the life of Christ and doing the things that he did. I am so grateful for the opportunity to change and become better every day of my life through Jesus Christ and to be able to serve the Lord literally all day long, every day. It is such a blessing to be a missionary!

Well, that is just about it for the week. I hope that you all are doing good things and that Christmas preparations are going well for you. I love you all so much. Have a good week!

Hermana Blau

The dusty air in Arvin every time the weather changes. Scary!