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