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!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Week Sixty-Five: Conference is the Best!

Area: Arvin Spanish Group
Companion: Hermana Luquette

This week was pretty fun! I can't even really remember what happened because it all went by so fast. We did some more exchanges and had General Conference. It was so nice to be able to listen to the words of the living prophets. It really strengthened my testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ!

We started out this week with another session of back-to-back exchanges. That is always a fun time! We started out the week with the Hermanas who are serving in Buena Vista, Hermanas Torres and Arceo. I went with Hermana Arceo and I had a ton of fun! During the night time, we had a lot of appointments set up, but they all ended up falling through. As a backup, we had planned to go and see a less active that we hadn't seen for a long time. We went to the apartment complex where he lived and I realized that I didn't really know which apartment he lived in. We decided to go by the Spirit to find the apartment. I knocked on the door where I thought it was and a lady opened the door. It turned out that the less active man didn't live there, but a lady who used to listen to the missionaries a couple of years ago and who had recently moved did. We were able to teach her.

The next day with Hermana Arceo, we spent some time talking to people in the streets and had some good time to meet people. Right as we were finishing up exchanges with them, the Hermanas from Little Rock came down for their exchanges with us. I was with Hermana Latimer. She is a really purpose driven missionary and it was super fun to go around with her. During the day, we spent a lot of time walking around in the sun. The summer has finally started to arrive here in Arvin (right when spring normally comes around in other parts of the country), so it was hot and sunny. I am starting to get a little tan from my shoes! We were able to talk to some cool people and to contact some referrals, so it was a pretty productive day.

This week, we also had interviews with President Layton. The talk in General Conference about beholding and loving people really reminded me of him. Every time I see him, he shakes my hand and stares into my soul. He is a wonderful mission president and I love being able to serve with him. He always inspires me to do my best!

We have still been teaching Guadalupe and Rafael. She is super sweet and loves to learn about Jesus Christ. Every time that we go over to teach her, her husband waits for us in the parking lot of the apartment complex and they give us giant bags of fruit. This week, they gave us a ton of oranges and cantaloupe. The perks of living in a place with so much produce!

On Friday morning, we got a call from our District Leader. Hermana Galvez, one of the hermanas who works in La Cresta, sprained her ankle on Friday morning and so the other hermanas were not able to make it to the District Meeting. Normally, we have District Meeting in Bakersfield, but both us and the District Leader's companionship live in Arvin. We decided to stay in Arvin for the meeting instead of driving into Bakersfield, but there wasn't any building where we could meet. We ended up meeting in the park next to our apartments. We actually had a pretty good District Meeting, even though we were surrounded by drunk men playing cards and cool kids at the skate park.

The highlight of the week was definitely General Conference. I always love listening to the words of the prophets, especially here on the mission. I was able to go into Conference with a lot of questions that I had and I was able to receive some specific answers. It was the best! I love the church and I know that it is true. I am so glad that I get to be here on a mission. I love you all and I hope that you have a good week!

Hermana Blau