Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Leaving the Mission

This is an essay that was included in the last Bakersfield Mission newsletter Savannah received before heading home. They included an essay from an elder who had just arrived in the mission field and from Savannah who was getting ready to leave.

Hermana Blau arrived in the Bakersfield Mission February 15, 2016.

As I have neared the close of my mission, I have been given plenty of opportunities to look back on my time here and how I have changed. When I first got off the plane at the Bakersfield Airport, I had no idea that I was in for 18 months of learning and growing. I had never experienced an afternoon of walking in scorching heat, and I had no idea how to speak to random people who I had never met before. I was more than a little bit overwhelmed. I have experienced some of the greatest spiritual moments of my entire life as I have taught people who are now friends. I have also faced moments of trial where I have questioned what I was doing on a mission and if I would ever be able to be a good missionary. I feel that the mission is a roller-coaster of emotions, but through it all, I have had my faith strengthened. I learned that it is actually possible for a human being to survive walking on days when it is more that 115 degrees outside. I learned that even if you cannot fully speak to people, all people speak the language of the Spirit. I have prayed harder than I ever had in my entire life and seen real answers come from those prayers. I have felt joy as I have seen investigators who I have been working with for weeks finally come to church or finally start keeping commitments and making changes in their lives. More than anything, I have learned to apply the counsel found in Proverbs 3:5-6: 

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

—Sister Blau

Monday, July 10, 2017

Week Seventy-Nine: I'm Coming Home!

Area: Delano Ward
Companions: Hermana Galvez and Hermana Ruiz

WOW! This week was an amazing week to end off the mission. I can't believe that it has already been eighteen months. We have seen some AMAZING miracles this week!

We celebrated the fourth of July this week in typical missionary fashion -- we went into our apartments early to avoid all of the drunk drivers and did our studies. It was okay though, because we were able to eat a festive dinner with a member before hand and to watch the fireworks through the window of our apartment. The only downside was that the air conditioning in our apartment has been really flaky this entire week and it was out on Tuesday night. . . it was a really sweaty time!

The biggest thing that happened this week was the marriage of our investigators, Victoriano and Luisa. It was one of the most exciting things that has happened to me on my mission. When we first came here to Delano, the elder that was leaving the area told us that Victoriano and Luisa needed sisters. Victoriano had been learning with the missionaries for a couple of transfers, but had not been able to be baptized because he was living with Luisa and they weren't married. Luisa had never talked with the elders and she told them that she only spoke Mixteco The first time that we talked to Luisa, she told us that she wouldn't get married until they were able to go back to Oaxaca and have a big Catholic wedding in three years. Over the course of the last couple of months, we have been working with them and have seen a ton of miracles with the family. Ever since they decided to get married, they have been super excited!

This week, we spent a lot of time working with the family. One day, we were in talking to Victoriano's brother, Gabino, and teaching him about tithing. Right in the middle of the lesson, Victoriano and Luisa drove up in their car. They hopped out and and ran to the trunk and pulled out five or six live chickens. They had driven all the way from Bakersfield to get chickens for the mole they were going to make for the wedding and on the way back, the chickens had started to get heat stroke and to die. Victoriano started putting them in the kiddie pool to cool them off, but it wasn't working. They had to kill the chickens before they died so that they could cook them, so they started stringing them up right in the yard and cutting off their heads. The entire time, we were just watching them. Needless to say, we needed to invite the spirit again after that! :) It was super funny!

Speaking of Gabino, we have been working with him a lot and he was able to get his baptismal interview this Saturday. He passed! I am super excited for him. He is going to be baptized this Saturday (a couple of days after I leave, but it is okay!) He is going to be a really good member of the church.

On Friday, we woke up really early to go down to the departing temple trip in Los Angeles. It was really nice. I was with Hermana Perry again. It was a bizarre experience to be living what we talked about a year ago when we were companions. I learned a lot as I went to the temple and I am super excited to go back when I get home.

Biggest moment of the week was the wedding. We were running around all morning long helping them to set up. It was pretty sweet. Right before the wedding, we were at Victoriano and Luisa's house and they told us that they wouldn't have time to fill up balloons, so they asked us to go and get them filled with helium. We figured that we would have enough time, so we went to the flower shop. When they gave us the balloons, we pretty quickly realized that we didn't really have any space for them in our car . We ended up squishing them all in the back seat with Hermana Ruiz. It was a fun ride!

The wedding was so cute! Our stake president here drove all the way from Bakersfield to preform the ceremony because Bishop was out of town. It was really nice! He doesn't speak Spanish and they don't speak English, but they were able to have some headsets and someone to translate for them during the ceremony! It was so beautiful. I am so excited for them to continue to learn so that they can go to get sealed in the temple some day.

This has been a really strange week, but I am so happy! I have loved my experience as a missionary and I am sad that it is over, but I am also happy with all that I have done. I know that I have served the Lord and I don't regret my decision to serve a mission one bit. I love the work and I love the gospel and all of the blessings that it has given me and everyone that I have shared it with! I hope that you have a good couple of days. I will see you soon!

Hermana Blau

Monday, July 3, 2017

Week Seventy-Eight: My Last Full Week!

Area: Delano Ward
Companions: Hermana Galvez and Hermana Ruiz

Where do I even start. I feel like the time is flying by so fast and I can't believe that I am in the last full week of my mission. This week was pretty good!

We had a pretty good week for finding and teaching. I feel like all of our investigators are doing really well. A couple of months ago, when we first came to Delano, the elders had been teaching a lady named Laura. She is super cool and she loves to read the Book of Mormon. She had been learning for a while and we were able to teach her about three times before she told us that she had to go to Mexico to help her husband finalize his visa to come to the United States. When she left, we helped her to refer herself to the missionaries over in Mexico. This last week, she came back with her husband and we started teaching them again. They are a super cute family and they love learning about the gospel. The missionaries in Mexico didn't go to visit them, so we have started teaching them all over again as a family. They know a lot about the scriptures and they really want to change their lives.

While we were walking around this week, we met some interesting people. One day, right before we were about to head back to our apartment for dinner, we met a lady and her husband working on their car. We started talking to them and the next thing I knew, we were sitting in their back yard drinking home-made blueberry juice, eating chips covered in hot sauce, and listening to her tell us about some little smurf houses that she had made for her garden. I found myself looking around and wondering how I had even gotten into that situation in the first place. It was bizarre, but nice. :)

Me with a member of the ward named Brother Morales. He is super funny!
Also, this week we have continued to teach the Luisa and Victoriano. They are super excited for their wedding on Saturday. When we went over the other day, Luisa was telling us about all of the food she was going to make: tamales, posole, mole, things like that. It sounds like it is going to be great! We have continued to teach Gabino and he is super excited about learning. He loves to read the scriptures and he is really good at keeping commitments. He is pretty much a golden investigator.

This week, we had a missionary activity in the park. We decided to have a little picnic and to draw the Plan of Salvation on the sidewalks. It was really fun. Gabino was able to come and he really liked it. It was fun seeing all of the little kids playing with the sidewalk chalk and learning together. It wasn't a really big activity, but it was effective!

On Wednesday, we went to the temple! It was so nice. Because the temple day replaced our p-day, we decided that we would go to the earliest session possible so that we could come back and have time to do our laundry and to go to the store. We wanted to go to the 8:00 session. The only problem is that Delano is about three hours away from Los Angeles, so we had to leave at 4:30. It was so early! We got a ride down with one of the members from our ward, Sister Intok. She is Filipino and she brought one of her Filipino non-member friends with her. It was fun listening to them speak Tagalog while we were on our way. Sister Intok is a lot more of a defensive driver than I am and she was weaving through the LA traffic like no one I have ever seen. It was an adventure.

While we were at the temple, we had a great time. There weren't a lot of people in the session that we were in. I think there were only three other women who were there, apart from us. It was nice because it kind of felt like we were in our own personal session. :) After we were done, we were able to go and do initiatories. I love the temple so much. I was able to feel the spirit really strongly and to find answers to some of my questions. I am super excited to go back next week for my departing temple trip!

Things are going well and I am looking forward to working really hard for the last week of my mission. It is strange to think about, but I know that I have done my best and that my mission has shaped me so much. I love the mission and I love my Savior. I know that this church is true. I hope that you all have a good week!

Hermana Blau

Monday, June 26, 2017

Week Seventy-Seven: Sooooo hot!

Area: Delano Ward
Companions: Hermana Galvez and Hermana Ruiz

This week was a really long and really hot, but by the end of it all, I have felt spiritually uplifted and fulfilled. I have been seeing a lot of miracles during the past couple of weeks and this week they continued to come. We have been seeing a lot of progress with our investigators.

I guess to start it all out, I must talk about the heat. This week was insane! I think that it was around 115 degrees every single day for the entire week. I didn't know that it was possible for a human being to handle the extremes of the heat for so long. I don't think that I have sweated as much in my entire life! Luckily, our bishop told us a tip from his mission. If your face is super sweaty before you talk to someone, you can take your name badge off and use it as a squidgy and wipe your face with a handkerchief while you are speaking. That has made us a little more presentable! Even with all of that, I have been trying to take some precautions to stay out of the sun. We dash in between patches of shade to find people who are outside who we can talk to. It is like a game.

This week, we started out with exchanges. They were super fun! We went back down to South Bakersfield in Buena Vista and we were able to work out there. It was super fun being there and seeing the Sister Training Leader's area. I love getting to learn on exchanges. The first person that we talked to on exchanges was a lady sitting in her car. When we went up to her, we asked her how she was doing and she said, "I am fighting with my boyfriend." I heard, "I am finding my boyfriend" and so I said, "That's great!" That lead to a pretty awkward silence. After that, we were able to talk to her about how she can find comfort through Jesus Christ and how the gospel could help her. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she was crying of happiness by the end. It was super sweet. I was glad to have that experience.

This week, we also had interviews with President Layton. It was a really nice experience. I was able to talk to him about some of the things that are going on in our area and about how we can better work with the ward and he gave me some great advice. He was talking to me about how there was a reason that we (Spanish speaking sisters) were put in the ward and about how we can do a lot of good. That really made me think. I feel that we are fulfilling our purpose here in this part of the vineyard.

On Saturday night, we had the pleasure of eating dinner at the house of one of the Filipino members of the ward. They were having a birthday party, so they invited all of the missionaries to come and eat the Filipino food that they had made. I don't think that I have ever eaten food that was more delicious in my entire life! I was so full of rice and shrimp when I left, but I wish that I could have eaten more. Luckily, we were able to take some to-go boxes with some food that we ate today for lunch.

This week at church was really good for us. On Saturday night and Sunday morning, we invited a lot of people to come to church and they all said that they would be there. We thought that it was just like it always is when people say that they will come to church, so we didn't really know what was going to happen. Then, during church, all of the people who said that they would come to church did come! Even the brother-in-law of one of our recent converts came to church. We had met him yesterday and he didn't have time to talk to us, but we asked him if he would come to church and he said that he would. By the time that they were saying the sacrament prayers, we had seven investigators in church. It was a miracle!

We have been seeing the hand for the Lord so much recently and we have been seeing a lot of progress in our investigators. I know that this is the work of the Lord and that we are doing his will as missionaries. I am so glad for this opportunity and I know that the church is true. I hope that you all have a good week!

Hermana Blau

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week Seventy-Six: Marriage Prep

Area: Delano Ward
Companions: Hermana Galvez and Hermana Ruiz

This week has been a doozy! It has been about a million degrees every day and I feel like we are about to melt into the pavement. I take comfort in the fact that when it is 112 degrees here in Bakersfield, it is 117 degrees in Las Vegas! :) We are drinking a lot of water and we are trying to stay in the shade during the day. Luckily, we have been able to be in a lot of lessons, so we are generally inside for those.

Biggest news of the week is that we were able to help the Victoriano and Luisa to get their marriage license. We got permission from President Layton to go down to Bakersfield with them and to help them through the application. It was so cute to be in the marriage license office and to see all of the people going through and so excited to be married. Victoriano and Luisa were super cute together and they are excited to be getting married! We went with Luisa during the week to help her get some wedding invitations made. She asked us for advise on her dress. The only problem is that she is SUPER short. I would say that she can't be taller that five feet, so any dress that she could buy would be way too  big. We were thinking about just looking in the First Communion dresses because they were closer to her size, but in the end, she decided to buy a dress and get all of the bottom part cut off. We are super excited for their wedding!

Aren't they cute?
This week, something truly tragic happened. I was getting in the car to back it up and Hermana Galvez and I saw a little kitten run underneath the car. I thought nothing more of it and got in to back up. As we were driving out, I felt a little bump. I thought that the front of the car had scraped up against the cement block. Hermana Galvez joked and said, "I think you ran over the cat Hermana Blau." I was sure that I hadn't. Then, right when Hermana Ruiz was getting into the car, Hermana Galvez said, "Hermana Blau, you really did run over the cat!!!!" It was lying on the ground, dying. There was nothing that we could do, so we just left. When we got to where we were going, I got out to check the wheel and found that the cat guts had gotten all over, so we had to go up to a lady that was watering her garden and ask her if we could borrow her hose. It was super sad! The worst part was that it was right outside of our parking spot and they didn't get around to picking it up for the next two days. Every time we came home or left, I had a reminder of the terrible deed.

We have also been teaching a couple of other people. One of them is the grandson of a less active that we have been helping to come back to church. He has returned to activity and he started taking his grand children to church with him. They are super cute and super excited to learn. They all came to church this week and had a wonderful time!

We also had Zone Conference this week. It was really nice. It was combined with all of the Zones here in Bakersfield, so we traveled down south and got to see everyone. We learned about faith and how we can overcome our struggles in the work. It gave me a renewed sense of purpose and helped me to know how I can help some of our investigators. 

On Saturday, there was a baptism here in the ward and we invited all of our investigators to come. Last minute, we decided to invite one of our investigators who likes us coming by but who has been really scared of coming to church. He was able to come and he really liked the service. After it was over, we were able to take him around the church building and show him all of the pictures. We ended up in the chapel and talked to him about the sacrament. He was able to feel the spirit and even asked us if we could meet in the church building for our regular appointments. He had a work commitment the next day, but he said that he would be there at church the next week.

Things have been going well for us here and I know that I am where I need to be. I am so happy to be a missionary and I am glad that I have the opportunity to serve. I am excited for what the last few weeks will bring and I am happy to work hard right until the end. I love being a missionary! I hope that you all have a good week!

Hermana Blau

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week Seventy-Five: One Month to Go!

Area: Delano Ward
Companions: Hermana Galvez and Hermana Ruiz

This week was a good one. It seems like the time is going by faster and faster, but things have been good and we have been seeing a lot of success in the area. I am really happy to be here, where I am right now, sharing the gospel with people.

We have been looking for a lot of service opportunities lately and we didn't have anything to do on Tuesday morning, so we decided to call one of the members who recently broke her wrist. Last minute, we asked her if she needed any help with anything and she told us that we could come over and help her to pull up some weeds from her yard and to trim down her rose bushes. It was nice to be able to help her out a little bit and to be able to do some yard work. I love serving people. It is one of my favorite parts of being a missionary!

We have been trying to work with our members more recently and we have been seeing some success with that. We decided to take one of our members, Hermana Perez, to a lesson, but it ended up falling through. We decided to try and visit a couple of people that we have been teaching, but no one was home. As a last resort, we decided to visit the mother of one of the recent converts in the area. When we went to her house, the mother wasn't there, but the brother was. He has never learned from the missionaries before, even though we have seen him a couple of times. He told us that he was Catholic and that he wasn't interested and Hermana Perez was able to bear her testimony about how her life has changed since joining the church. It was a powerful testimony. After that, the brother said, "If I go to your church, can I still go to the rodeo?" I guess he had never wanted to learn before because he thought that he wouldn't be able to do that. After we told him that he could, he was excited to learn and he let us teach him.

I guess that the biggest news of the week is that one of the families that we have been working with, Victoriano and Luisa, have started to make a lot of progress all of the sudden. We have been teaching the main couple for a while and all they need to do in order to be baptized is to get married. When we first got here, Luisa didn't want to get married until they moved back to Mexico in three years. When we went over this week, we were talking to her and she said that she wanted to get married at the beginning of next month. We were a little shocked by the sudden change of feelings, so we asked her why she wanted to get married so soon. She told us that the night before, she had a dream that she was getting married dressed in white. We were happy for her. Then she told us that when you dream that in her culture, it means that you are going to die soon. I hope that that isn't true! In any case, I guess the Lord works in mysterious ways to help accomplish his work! We have been praying for miracles with that family and they are finally coming. We are planning to go down with them this Tuesday to Bakersfield so we can help them to purchase a marriage license and she told us that we could come with her to pick out a dress.

We have also recently started to teach some other members of the family. We started teaching Gabino, the brother of Victoriano last week and he is super cool! He is about 21 years old and he really wants to learn more about God. We invited all of the family to come to church this week and they all came! After the sacrament meeting, Victoriano and Luisa had to leave to go visit some family out of town, but Gabino and the tia, Fransisca, were able to stay for all three hours. They were the only ones in the Spanish Gospel Principles class, but they really seemed to like it and they said that they would come back next week. The past couple of times that we have taught Gabino, he has asked us where he could get a name tag like us and he says that he wants to be a missionary, too!

Last night, we were just about to head in when we stopped to talk with one last person in the park. He was sitting on one of the benches, listening to music. We started talking to him and we soon discovered that he was a famous DJ, just chilling in the park. He talked to us about all of the music festivals that he has played at and all of the things that he has done in his life. He even taught us a couple of dance moves. I don't know if he really is a famous DJ, but in any case, it was a fun way to end out the week!

Things have been well and we have been seeing miracles. I know that we are in the Lord's work and that I am doing what I need to be doing. I am so glad that I am a missionary right now! I know that the gospel is true and I have really seen its blessings in my life! I hope that you all have a good week!

Hermana Blau

Monday, June 5, 2017

Week Seventy-Four: Tremendous Trio

Our new district
 Area: Delano Ward
Companions: Hermana Galvez and Hermana Ruiz

This week was pretty exciting and we have been working hard throughout the whole time. We have been able to see some really cool things as I have started to work in my first trio of the mission. Things are good here in Delano!

I guess to start out, I should talk a little bit about Hermana Ruiz, our new companion. She is really nice! On Tuesday morning, we headed out to Bakersfield and the entire time, we were wondering what she was going to be like. When we got to the training meeting, it wasn't hard to know who we were going to train because she was the only Spanish-speaking sister there. We knew that she was going to be a good companion the moment that we saw her! She is from Utah and has some Mexican heritage, but she is a language learner. It has been super fun to help her to learn a little bit of Spanish during the first week, especially because we have Hermana Galvez to help us both! :) It reminds me of my first couple of weeks in the mission. She is super excited to work and to learn, so it has been fun to go out and work hard during this week!
I got to see Hermana Luqette at the transfer point!
It is a little strange being in a trio. I never thought that I was going to have the chance to be in one, but now that I am here, it is super fun! It if really nice to be able to have three testimonies instead of just two and we are always talking and laughing. I already liked working with Hermana Galvez and like working with Hermana Ruiz. Sometimes, it is a little weird because there is never enough space on doorsteps for us all, but we manage to make it work. The other night, we were teaching one of our investigators and there was only one love seat for all of us. We just all squished in like sardines and sat really close together for the entire lesson (even though it was super hot in the house and we were all sweating). It has been fun!

We have still been teaching Eliseo (our eccentric investigator). This week, he invited us to come over to his house to eat carnitas. When we came, it turned out that he was having a giant family party. When we knocked on the door, they said that we couldn't come in and that we should come back later. When we said that Eliseo invited us, they let us right in and put us to work turning tortillas. It was all worth it because we had some bomb carnitas!

This week, we have been able to teach a lot of people. One person that we started teaching this week was a little old man named Gonzalo. He was a referral from the English elders and we talked to him a little bit last Saturday, but he was really busy and said that we could come back on Monday night. We only had a Plan of Salvation pamphlet, so we left that with him and didn't think anything else about it. When we came back on Monday night, he was waiting for us outside and said that he had read the pamphlet and told us about all of the questions that he had and the things that he understood. Then, he told us that he feels that he needs to be baptized and that he wants to come to church. It was really fun to teach him and he was super nice.

We have also still been working with Victoriano and things are going well with him and his family. This week, we invited him to come to church again and he said that he wouldn't be able to because he was going to work in the morning and later he was going to go up to Santa Maria in the afternoon to go to an Amway conference. We were really sad and when we went to church, we were praying for a miracle. When the service started, he wasn't there and we were sad. After the Sacrament was over, the priesthood opened up the doors to the chapel and Victoriano, his daughter, and his aunt were outside! It was an answer to prayer. Victoriano wasn't able to stay after the first hour, but his daughter and his aunt stayed for all three hours. We had never really talked to the aunt, but during the second hour there weren't enough people to do a Spanish Gospel Principles, so we decided to teach her the first lesson instead and then to take her on a tour of the church. It was super sweet and she told us that she liked the service.

This week was really good. We had a lot of fun and we saw some miracles. Things are going well here in Delano and I love being a missionary here. It was super strange starting my last transfer, but I am still working hard and it is good to have Hermana Ruiz here to instill us all with her greenie fire! I know that the gospel is true and that the gospel brings blessings! I hope that you have a good week!

Hermana Blau

This last one is a little funny. President told us recently to stop making signs in our pictures. The Zone Leaders and the District Leader were trying to demonstrate to us what we shouldn't do and Hermana Galvez's camera accidentally went off. This is the candid photo. :)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Week Seventy-Three: Last Transfer

Area: Delano Ward
Companion: Hermana Galvez

This week was really good. We have been seeing a lot of miracles in our area and we have really been enjoying our time here in Delano. I can't believe our first transfer here in Delano has already come and gone! It has been a blast and things are going great. Big news of the week: Hermana Galvez and I are still going to be serving here. . . but we are also going to get a new companion. We don't know her name yet because I am going to be training again! It was super weird to get the call to train for my last six weeks, but I am super excited and I am grateful that I am going to be able to stay with Hermana Galvez, too!

This week was so hot! It has just been starting to get SUPER hot in the mission. I feel like I am sweating all of the time, but it it all okay! I am wearing sunscreen and trying to keep in the shade when I can.

This week, we have seen a lot of miracles with our investigators this week. For one, we had a missionary activity with the ward. We have been planning it within our district for the entire transfer, but we did a really bad job with the publicity because we had Stake Conference last week and we couldn't announce it over the pulpit. We have been working with word of mouth to try and get everyone to come. When the activity started, there wasn't anybody there and I thought that we were going to be sitting around all night long. We had decided to do a "Minute to Win It" type thing and all of the missionary companionships were in charge of a little game. We had all of our stuff set up and it wasn't until about 15 minutes later that people showed up. After that, it was a really fun activity. We were able to have a lot of people from the ward come and two of the families that we are teaching came as well. They had a lot of fun and it was really nice to see!

On Saturday, we learned that one of our investigators that we have been working with, Eliceo, just came back into town. He told us a couple of weeks ago that he was going to go to Los Angeles for a day or two to get some stuff taken care of with the court. We called him on the first day that he was down there and he said that he was staying with his sister and that he would probably be back in the next couple of days and that we should call him the next day to see when he was coming back. Thus began the phone chase that continued until Saturday. Every single day he told us that he was coming back in the next couple of days. We got so desperate to teach him again that we started teaching him over the phone some days. When we finally saw him on Saturday, I could hardly believe that he was actually there! We were able to teach him a little lesson and invite him to a baptism that was happening in the area.

The baptism on Saturday was really nice because there were a lot of people there. We invited one of the families that we have been working with and they came and enjoyed it. It was nice to see them there and to help them to learn about the importance of baptism. We have been seeing a lot of progress in the area and we are super excited about all of the people that we are working with.

I can't believe that I am getting ready to start my last transfer in the mission. It seems almost unreal that the time has gone by so fast! I am super excited that I am getting to stay here in Delano during my last couple of weeks in the mission and that I get to see the end of all of our work here! I am super hyped to be out here in California and to see everything that is going on. I love being a missionary and serving the Lord!

Hermana Blau

Monday, May 22, 2017

Week Seventy-Two: A Doozy of a Week

Area: Delano Ward
Companion: Hermana Galvez

Oh boy! This week was a doozy. We worked really hard and we were able to see some miracles as a result. It was really cool (even though it is starting to get really hot here!). Things are going well and we are having some success here in Delano.

Like I said, it has been getting really hot the past couple of days. We have been spoiled by an unseasonably wet and cool spring, but summer is now coming on with a vengeance and it has been really, really hot! For some reason, a lot of people here in Delano don't have air conditioning. It has been the struggle of life. Every time we step outside of the door, we start to sweat and we don't stop until we get back in our house at night. Even with all of the sweat, the heat is nice because everyone is outside their houses and we are able to talk to a lot of people!

Last week, we had exchanges and one of the things that they suggested that we could do in our area was to look for more opportunities to do service. We have been wondering for a while what we can do to help out the community, so we set aside a morning to go on a service hunt. We went to the city hall and the Chamber of Commerce to get some ideas for places that we could help out at. They gave us a long list of phone numbers to call and we made every attempt possible and we were still not having any success. In the end, we decided to go to funeral homes and hospitals in the area and put our names down as clergy that people could call on if they needed help. Hopefully, all of our hard work will pay off and someone will call us back to let us come and help them! :)

We have been working with a family that the elders were teaching for a while. The husband has been taught everything and the only thing that he needs to be able to get baptized is to be married. We have been working on that for the entire transfer and we have finally been having some success with getting the wife on board. This Wednesday, we went with them to talk to the Bishop about what they needed to do to get a marriage license and how the marriage ceremony is going to be. Hopefully, they will be able to get the license this week and they can get married soon after. It has been really cool to see them working towards their goal!

Something a little creepy has been happening to us recently here. A lot of the people that we have been talking to on the street have been saying that they have talked to missionaries in the past couple of weeks. They are tall and have white shirts, ties, our name tags. They also say that they speak Spanish and they ride on bikes. All of the people that we have talked to have been super specific about all of the details and they all match up. The only problem is that there haven't been any missionaries that match that description for the past couple of months. We have talked to the other missionaries in the area, and they also say that they have heard people talking about the same missionaries in their areas. We don't know what has been going on, but we are conducting a low key investigation. Mission drama!

This week at church was really nice. A couple of the families that we have been working with were able to come to church and afterwards, we were able to do a small church tour. It was really spiritual and I feel like it helped our investigators have a renewed desire to come to church and feel the spirit there!

That is just about it for the week! It has been a really good one! I love being a missionary and seeing all of the miracles that the Lord gives in the work out here in California. I know that the church is true and that this truly is the gospel of Jesus Christ! I love teaching and learning all the time! I hope that you all have a good week and that all goes well for you!

Hermana Blau

Monday, May 15, 2017

Week Seventy-One: Blast from the Past

Area: Delano Ward
Companion: Hermana Galvez

This week was really good! We were able to see lots of miracles and we had a lot of fun! To top it all off, we got to call home, which always such a joy! I love my family and I love that I can be with them forever!

We started out the week with a surprise. . . facials with a less-active member of the ward. We have been going over to see her for a while and she loves that there are sister missionaries here in Delano. She always calls us the "Mormon Girls" and she told us that she wanted us to feel at home here. She owns a spa in town and she told us to come by last p-day. When we did, she told us that she was going to give us free facials. I guess she saw that our skin was terrible (at least on my part haha). She gave us super intense, hour-long facials and now my skin feels super soft!

On Monday night, we had a nice experience where we were in an area and a couple of our appointments fell through in a row. We were wondering what we should do and we decided to say a prayer and to follow the spirit. When we did, we felt like we needed to go and visit the house of a family that we have been teaching for a while. When we got to the house, it was already 8:45, but we felt like we needed to be there and so we went in. The father of the family started talking to us really openly about all of his doubts and how he wanted to be baptized, but that he wanted to be sure before he took the step. We were able to talk to him and share some scriptures that helped him to work through his feelings an we felt the spirit testify. It was a really nice experience and it helped me to learn that if I follow the promptings of the spirit, I will be led to where I really need to be!

On Tuesday to Wednesday, we had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders. It was super fun! They are now in Buena Vista in my old area, so it was also fun to take a trip down memory lane and visit some my old stomping grounds. :) I was with Hermana Dye. She is super cute and a wonderful missionary. It was a little strange going on an exchange and not being the one leading it, but I really liked it! I was able to get a lot of feedback on my missionary work and some tips about how I can improve. The most exciting part of the exchange happened on Tuesday night. Hermana Dye had planned to visit an family of formers that I had taught when I was there last year. I wasn't sure if they would remember me, but when the mother opened the door, she was super surprised that I was there and gave me a big hug. She invited us in and gave us dinner and dessert! It was really nice to see them again and to get to help them to start learning from the missionaries one more time!

On Monday night, we got a call from a member of the ward saying that her daughter and her daughter's friend had just gotten back from BYU and that they wanted to go out with us. We planned to go out with them on Wednesday night and we had a couple of adventures. We had a lot of appointments, so we planned to go out in splits. I went with Elise, the daughter of the member. It was super fun to go out and work with her. Our appointment for the night wasn't home, so we tried to visit another investigator that we hadn't seen in a little while. We were able to talk to her family. When we were heading back to the car, there was a man watering his lawn while his son was playing with a go-kart in the yard. We talked to the man for a while when we heard a giant crash, a car alarm, and a little kid crying. The dad ran off and we saw him walking back with his son, who had crashed his go-kart into a car. They went off to the hospital. Don't worry, we saw the little kid the next day and he had a little bandage on his eye, but he seemed happy and healthy!

We are still working with our investigators and we have been making breakthroughs with a couple of them. We have been working with a couple who is only needs to get married so that they can be baptized. We have been having good lessons with them and they are just about to get the marriage license. We don't know if they will be married right now because they only have a week or two before they temporarily move up north to work in the strawberries, but they are working on it!

I love being a missionary and being here on my mission! I hope that you all have a good week!

Hermana Blau

Monday, May 8, 2017

Week Seventy: Mission Chismosa

Area: Delano Ward
Companion: Hermana Galvez

This week was really fast and we were able to work hard and teach a lot of people. It was a pretty normal week, but we were able to see some miracles.

This week, the weather was super crazy. At the beginning of the week, it was SUPER hot. Hermana Galvez has been trying to teach my how to read the temperature in Celsius, so this week I learned that 44 degrees is really hot. Later in the week, it was super cold. I don't know why the weather has been going through such strange changes, but it is always a exciting surprise to see what the next day has in store!

The other week, I was spending some time snooping through the area book and I found a name that was recurring through a lot of the records, a man named Eliseo. On a lot of the progress reports, it said that he was preparing for baptism, so I thought that he had been baptized and I hadn't seen him in the ward. However, I was looking through the ward directory and I couldn't find his name. To my further surprise, when we went to the baptism last Saturday, I found a baptismal program that had his name on it, but nobody knew who he was. Over the course of my mission, I have become a chismosa on the mission and so I decided to do some more investigating and I found his phone number. When we went over to his house, he was a cute little old man who talked and talked to us about the corruption in the fields and how he loves to learn about psychology and read people's body language. We came back, and he had studied the pamphlet that we left him and took extensive notes about it. He is so funny. He says that he didn't get baptized the last time because he didn't like his fellowshipper and thought that he was running the Delano mafia. We told him that the member moved away from Delano and that he didn't come to church with us anymore. Then, he said that we are his only friends in the entire town and that he trusted us. He even took us out to eat at McDonalds the other day. He is a super strange, but super cute, old man!

It was Cinco de Mayo this weekend and the people here in Delano go all out! There was a giant parade and everyone was having parties. There was also a huge fair that came to town. We went outside of the gate one day to hand out cards to people as they were going to and from the fair grounds. That was pretty cool. As we were leaving, I felt something go into my ear. It sounded like a giant fly had gone inside and I could feel the little wings flying around, but we were already late to the dinner with our member, so I couldn't do anything about it. Hermana Galvez tried to see if she could see the fly, but she couldn't and there was no way to get it out. The entire way to the dinner, I am pretty sure that I looked like a crazy person because anytime that the fly started buzzing, I started twitching. It was one of the most uncomfortable car rides of my life! When we got to the member's house, Hermana Galvez and I flushed the fly out with some water. It sounded giant, but it was actually super tiny. I am pretty sure that the member was a little freaked out.

On Sunday, we were walking around trying to talk to people and everyone was pretty uninterested. Hermana Galvez asked me where all of the prepared people in the city were and how we could find them and I jokingly replied that we were going to find a prepared family of three that afternoon. After that, the first person we talked to let us into her house. She told us that she had been to our church that morning. We thought that she was a member and felt super bad for not knowing who she was. She told us that she and her three children (two baptismal age) had never been baptized but had been attending church off and on for the last three years. We were able to talk to her for a little bit and she gave us some lemonade and let us sit inside her cool house. It was really nice. We aren't sure if she is being taught by the English elders or not, but it was a really nice surprise to be able to see that there really are prepared people waiting in all places and at all times.

Also, all week long, we have been thinking about going to a little place in our area named Richgrove. We didn't know anything about it, but we have heard that there were a lot of Spanish speaking people there. In the past, I have been disappointed by the little places that I have gone to on the outskirts of my areas, but I was determined to go and see this one. We went last night, and it was the cutest place that I have ever been to! It was just a little place in the middle of the grape fields. Everyone that we talked to there was so cute and we were able to teach some people! I love little towns!

That is pretty much it for the week. We have been able to teach some cool people and I know that I am serving the Lord in his way. I am so happy to be a missionary and I love the gospel! I hope that you all have a good week!

Hermana Blau

Monday, May 1, 2017

Week Sixty-Nine: The Work Goes On!

Area: Delano Ward
Companion: Hermana Galvez

This week was super cool! We were able to see so many miracles and to have so many adventures! I love being a missionary here and being able to share the gospel to the people of this area. It feels like such a blessing.

We had one of our adventures on Tuesday afternoon. We were going to go check on one of our investigators when we noticed that someone had cut down a giant palm tree and was trying to get it out of the road. We decided to ask if they needed any help. When we got near, the man who was cleaning up the tree told us that he was okay and didn't need any help. Then, he warned us to watch out for the baby owl that was under a nearby car. We went to look and there really was  a poor, helpless owl that had fallen out from it's nest in the palm tree when they cut it down. We were worried for the owl and asked the man if we could use his phone to find the number for animal control. We tried to call them, but they were closed for the night. We didn't know what to do, so we tried to ask the man for help. He didn't really know what to do either. We had an appointment, so we had to go, but as we were walking away the man asked us if we were from the area. We said that we weren't. Then, he asked us if we had seen McFarland USA. We said that we had. He told us that he was one of the real life runners from the movie. I should have known that I would been meeting film stars when I got my mission call to southern California! :)

McFarland USA!!!
We came back later that night to see another investigator who lived on the street and we checked to see if the baby owl was still there. It was, so we decided to attempt to move it to the bushes so it would have a better chance of not being eaten by cats. After a couple of minutes, we were able to trap it under my jacket and safely move it to the bushes on the side of the street. What an adventure!

We had Zone Conference on Wednesday with all of the zones in all of Bakersfield. It was really fun to be able to go and see everyone! I saw Hermana Luquette and she told me about all that was going on in Arvin. Also, we were able to learn a lot about the Book of Mormon and how to be more effective missionaries. I love learning from President Layton. He is truly an inspired man! When I go to conferences like that, it makes me realize how much I have left to learn even as I near the end of my mission.
Our district
When we came back from Zone Conference, we went to a lesson with a part-member family. The only member in the family is the less-active mother and they have been visited by missionaries off and on for the past sixteen years. We have had a couple of lessons with the husband since we have been here, but we weren't really expecting for anything exciting to happen. When we went over the lesson, we talked to the husband. Really, he talked to us for about an hour of all the things that have happened in his life. His son recently died and the family has been through a lot of trials in the past couple of years. By the end of the lesson, he was telling us that he wanted all of his family to get baptized and to go to the temple to get baptized for his son. The spirit was super strong! On Sunday, him and his entire family came to church! It was amazing to see. We are super excited to keep teaching them in the future.
The halo factory. Everyone in Delano works here.
This weekend, there was a baptism in the ward and all of the missionaries did a special musical number. I always love seeing baptisms and there was a sweet spirit there. I know that this church is true and that it does bless individuals and families. There is such a special spirit in missionary work and I love seeing how we can bless people's lives.

That is pretty much it for the week. We have been keeping busy and trying to keep cool. The summer is coming and it is starting to heat up a lot. I love talking to the people and getting to know their needs. The work goes on! I hope that you all have a good week!

Hermana Blau

Driving to Zone Conference

Monday, April 24, 2017

Week Sixty-Eight: Welcome to Delano!

How I feel about being in Delano. (just kidding). Hermana Galvez gave it to me. :)
Area: Delano Ward
Companion: Hermana Galvez

Well, this week has been a big one full of BIG changes, but I have been having a great time here in Delano. It really is a wonderful area and I feel so blessed that I get to be here. I can hardly believe that it has only been a week and we have already seen so many miracles.

Tuesday morning was when we had transfer meeting. After saying goodbye to the cockroach-filled apartment in Arvin, we headed off to Bakersfield and to transfers. The only problem was that it started raining really hard while we were on the way. When we got to the building where we were meeting up, it was pouring. To make it all worse, Hermana Galvez sprained her ankle a couple of weeks ago, so she was in a boot and couldn't walk very fast. We ended up getting soaked, but we eventually made it to Delano.

It has been so fun working with Hermana Galvez. She only has a couple of months on the mission, but she is a really good missionary and we have been working really hard these past couple of days. Delano is a wonderful area. The elders who left the area when we came in were doing a wonderful job and there are actually quite a few people that we are working with who are preparing for baptism. It has been so fun coming into the area because there haven't been sister missionaries in the ward for at least a couple of years and there haven't been hermanas for longer than that. All of the people who we talk to on the streets say, "I didn't know that there were girl missionaries" and we have been able to talk to a lot of people that way. It is great!

There have been so many miracles this week. Some of them have been small, but they are still good ones! For example, when we got to the apartment, we realized that we needed some new bathroom supplies like body wash and toothbrushes. We didn't know where we were going to find the time to go to the store and buy them, so we were going to find some time on Thursday. Then, on Wednesday night, we visited the home of a less active member. She joined the church a long time ago and hasn't been back in a while, but she loves the missionaries. She was super excited to learn that there were sister missionaries and she invited us over. When we went by, she gave us tons of stuff, including body wash and new toothbrushes. It was a tender mercy!

We also saw a couple of miracles with the people that we are working with. When we got into the area, we learned about an investigator of the elders named Victoriano. He had been taught all of the missionary lessons and really wanted to be baptized, but he is not married to his girlfriend, Luisa. The paper that the elders left us told us that they had barely been able to talk to Luisa while they had been teaching Victoriano and that she had been really closed off to the missionaries. When we stopped by their house, we started talking to Luisa and she was super nice to us. We were able to share a message with their entire family and they all came to church this week. It was nice to see!

Also, we got a referral from the elders on Tuesday. They had talked to a lady while she was walking out of her house and she was interested in learning more about the church. When they asked if they could come back, she said that she was only comfortable learning from the sisters. It was really lucky because we just came into the area. We went over on Saturday and had a really spiritual lesson. She told us about some things that were going on in her life and we were able to teach her about how she could find comfort through the Book of Mormon and coming closer to Jesus Christ. After the lesson, we invited her to come to church and she was a little worried because she didn't know how her children would behave. We told her that it would be okay, no matter how her children were and we told her that she was welcome to come. We didn't really expect that she would be able to make it, but when we called her on Sunday morning, she said that she was coming. She was able to make it and she really liked it!

Being in the Delano ward is really fun! All of the leaders here are great! The Ward Mission Leader here is wonderful and I think that I felt the spirit for the first time in Coordination Meeting on my mission. The ward council was also really good and we were able to get a lot of help from the ward. The sacrament meeting itself is really interesting as well. There are English speakers, Spanish speakers, and Tagalog speakers in the ward and we all just sit in sacrament meeting together. It was super fun to hear everyone singing the hymns because they just sing in whatever language they want. I loved being in the ward!

That is pretty much it for the week. It has been really good and we have been able to see so many good things happening. I was a little sad to leave Arvin, but I am so happy to be here in Delano. We even got to see the legendary McFarland USA (one of the members owns a pizza place there and we were able to get some for free!). I am so glad to be a missionary and to feel the love of the Lord so much! I hope that you all have a good week!

Hermana Blau
Last night in Arvin with Hermana Luquette

Monday, April 17, 2017

Week Sixty-Seven: Change

Outside the Arvin building. I'm going to miss that place!
Area: Arvin Spanish Group
Companion: Hermana Luquette

This week was crazy. We spent a lot of time talking to people on the streets and meeting cool folks and at the end of the week, we got transfer calls. I will be LEAVING ARVIN! It was the saddest transfer call of my life, but I am super excited for moving on into the last couple of months of my mission. More on that later.
With Lucas. He is such a cute man, and I'm glad I had the chance to teach him!

With Refugio. He is so cute!

We tried to take a selfie with Julio.
I don't know if he understood what was going on. haha

One morning, we were walking down the street and we saw a young mother outside. She was sitting with her two-month-old daughter and we stopped to talk to her. She just talked about how much her family meant to her and how much she felt like her young baby was a gift from God. We were able to talk to her about how the gospel really does bless families and how she could feel more of God's love in her life. It really made me grateful for the family that I have and for all of the blessings that I have experienced from the gospel. I know that my family will be together forever and I am so happy for that! The gospel gives me hope and courage!

We are still teaching Guadalupe and Rafael. It has been really fun to see them growing and changing as we have been teaching them. Every time that we go over, there are seven or eight people who are wandering through the house and Guadalupe always invites them to come and sit in as well. Rafael always gives us fruits. I think that there are about 50 oranges and at least 1.5 watermelons sitting in our apartment right now. :) That is the benefit of being in this area of California right now. All of the fruit is starting to grow, so people give it to us. Everyone here is so nice and they always help us to feel comfortable, even if they do not want to hear about our message.
With the Familia Ocampo. I love them so much!

With Juanita. She is the daughter of a less active family.
Selfies with Herman Navarro. She is a super cute lady!

With the Familia Navarro.

This week, we got transfer calls on Saturday night. I was really hoping that I would stay in Arvin for another transfer with Hermana Luquette, but when we got the calls, we learned that I would be going with Hermana Galvez to open up an area called Delano for sisters. There has been Spanish speaking elders there for a long time, but we are the first sisters to serve there in the mission's history, as far as I know. It is going to be an adventure. Delano covers the now famous McFarland, USA, so we are pretty much living in a I am super excited to serve with Hermana Galvez. She is from Guatemala and she is one of the nicest people that I have ever met. She only has a couple of transfers in the mission, but she has a lot of excitement for the work and I feel like we are going to have a good transfer. I am super sad to be leaving Hermana Luquette, but she is going to be doing a good job in Arvin.
After church on Sunday.

We got a watermelon from Rafael.

Being Watermelon goofy.

Sunday was one of the saddest days that I have had so far on my mission. I had to say goodbye to everyone in the Arvin group and it was so depressing. They are some of my favorite people in the world. During the meeting, we sat with Refugio and Julio. I was conducting the music and while I was leading, I looked out over the congregation and thought about how much I loved all of the people in the group. They are so precious and I feel blessed that I have been able to serve around them for as long as I did. During Sacrament Meeting, one of the members gave a talk, but she started out by talking about how much missionaries have blessed her life and how much her life had changed because of the gospel. It made me grateful to be part of such a great work and to be out on a mission.
Our district.

All of the hermanas in our district.

Hermana Luquette after our district meeting.

That is about it for the week. I am super excited for the changes that are ahead and I know that I will be helped in all of the surprises as I rely on the Lord. This week, I was able to study the last week of Christ's life in preparation for Easter and I really do know that he died for all of us and that through his sacrifice, we can be happy and whole! I love the gospel and I am so happy to be a missionary! I hope that you have a good week!

Hermana Blau
Me sleeping after a hard day of work. Fun times!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week Sixty-Six: Time is Flying!

Area: Arvin Spanish Group
Companion: Hermana Luquette

This week was a blur! I feel like time has been flying the past couple of weeks and I can hardly remember what has been going on, but I will do my best to give you the highlights! Things are going well for us here in Arvin.

One of the biggest events of the week was that we finished out all of our exchanges for the transfer! We had our last exchanges with the Hermanas from Experanza (Hermana Badger and Hermana Perry). I was with Hermana Perry and we had a blast! It was so fun to be back together with Hermana Perry and to work in Arvin. We taught a couple of our investigators during the night time. The next day, we were walking down the street and we met the cutest old man in the world. He was 92 years old and he told us about all of his stories of fighting in World War II (turns out he goes to the Veteran's Post where we have our church on Sundays). He was super nice and had lived a really interesting life. I want to be able to have such wonderful stories when I am as old as he was!

We closed out our exchanges by eating dinner with Julio. It is always an adventure to eat with him. He takes a lot of pride in the fact that his new apartment has a full kitchen, so he always makes us food, but he is almost blind. He is going to get surgery to fix his eyes soon, but in the meantime, he makes us the strangest food that I have ever eaten. This week, he gave us full chickens that he had bought from the corner store and fried up himself. All of his food is as salty as the Dead Sea and cooked just enough so that is can't be called raw. I love Julio so much, though, and it is always a pleasure to hear him tell us his stories of living in Chiapas and working as a bus driver through Mexico and Central America.

After exchanges ended, things got back to normal. It has been nice being able to work full-time with Hermana Luquette. I really love her and she is so fun to serve with. I feel like during exchange season, we barely even see each other, but she is a good friend!

This week, we had Mission Leadership Conference and Zone Training Meeting. It was wonderful. We focused mostly on President Monson's Conference talk about the Book of Mormon and how it is our most powerful tool for conversion in our lives. We learned new ways that we can help people to learn how to read in the Book of Mormon and how we can better apply the power of the Book of Mormon in our own personal lives. I really love reading the Book of Mormon and I know that it is true. I have learned so much in my mission the power that the Book of Mormon has and I know that it has shaped me a lot during the past couple of months. I am glad to be a missionary so I can help other people to learn about that same power.

This week, we had breakfast with one of the recent converts in Arvin, Hermana Sigala. She is a super cute old lady and she loves to tell us all about her experiences that she has had with ghosts and spirits. When we went over for breakfast, she made us a traditional Mexican meal that people eat around Easter, cactus and shrimp cakes. It was a little strange, but overall it was really enjoyable. I never had tried cactus before my mission, but people eat it down here all the time and I actually really like it!

Hermana Luquette curled my hair one day. 
This week, we witnessed the cutest event that I have ever seen in my life. There is a less active family here in Arvin that joined the church in Idaho and have only been to the church here in California a couple of times. We go over to visit them pretty often, but they do not have a lot of contact with the ward. The mother of the family is really pregnant and she is due to have her baby in a couple of weeks. When the hermanas in the group heard about the pregnancy, they decided to have a surprise baby shower. It was the sweetest thing ever to see when Hermana Moreno walked in to the room when the baby shower was happening and started crying from happiness to see all of the decorations and gifts. It made her feel more ready for her baby to come and it was so cute to see everyone come together to help her out. I love all of the members here in the Arvin group! It was so cute to see all of the people from the group playing baby shower games. I was fed jello by another hermana and Hermana Luquette had to race to drink a baby bottle filled with soda. It was the most precious thing that I have ever seen in my life!

That is about it for the week! I love being here on the mission and I have really felt the hand of the Lord every day. I love being able to be here and to serve the people with all that I can and I have seen so many blessings through it. I hope that you all have a good week!

Hermana Blau

[In response to Mom's question about Easter traditions there] 

Easter traditions in Mexico are hardcore. We were actually talking to Refugio about it the other night. I guess that they choose from a couple of people who volunteer and they take them into the center of the town. Then they scourge the volunteer and parade him through the town, carrying his cross. When they get to the end of the walk, they literally crucify him in the public square. I guess that they take them down before they actually die, but it sounded pretty intense. After Refugio told us about his traditions, we told him that we look for colored eggs full of candy. There was a bit of a contrast! :) I don't think that I would want to do the Mexican version of any of the holidays that Catholics celebrate. They are pretty hard core!