Tuesday, February 11, 2014

(mom note: still working on catching up. Making progress!)

October 28, 2013
                         HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Karee (October 26)

I still feel like I am trying to find my way around. Andy and Daneille, an older couple and friends of the missionaries, and a few ward members, gave us a gps the second day that I was here. We use it everyday! This part of New Hampshire is tree covered and the streets are twisty and turny. They all pretty much look the same, so I am very grateful.
Remember Martica? She is Brother Gomez's daughter, Ashley's mother? Well, she got baptized  yesterday! I wasn't able to go, but the Boston sisters texted us and let us know that it was a beautiful experience and that she was beaming after. I really wish I could have been there and can't wait to meet up with her after my mission (when I am fluent and can actually hold a normal conversation). She has really come a long way and I know that this is going to bless her family so much! I am so happy for her!
We had a really cool family home evening with the Petrie family Monday evening (mom you would like it here, this is just one of many families here in the area that homeschool). Sister Petrie was just released from being the Young Women's president and is now teaching Sunday school. There are five children  in the family, but only three are home now. They have a son on a mission right now and they are definitely trying to do their share of missionary work. It got Sister States and I thinking about what kind of things our families are doing back home. For family home evening, the Petries reevaluated their family missionary plan, occasionally asking us for some advise. They set some new goals and some ways to measure them. One of the goals that they have set is to pray each morning for an opportunity to serve someone. I found this one really interesting because sometimes we just look throughout the day for these opportunities, but if we were really serious about wanting to serve, then we would ask for some help from some one that could really help. This family is really trying to be in the missionary mindset and have really been trying to make it a part of their daily life. We showed them the glass cup with the aqua beads to show them that all the things that they have to do in their busy lives will be made easy because if you are concisely thinking of ways to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ you are thinking about Him often, and your life begins to be centered on Him.
Remember Rebecca? The little eight year old? (I hope I talked about her earlier). Her parents wanted the missionaries to teach her a few of the preach my gospel lessons before she got baptized so that she could really know what she was doing. It was such a sweet experience and what we realized is that she should be teaching us. So this week we went over and she taught us all about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. She was so happy and energetic about telling us all that she knew. She told us all about the Book of Mormon in a 2 minute summery. She quoted James 1:5 in her own words, "Ye who want to know something, ask Christ." She has such a strong faith and a desire to do what is right. I feel like a lot of children are like Rebecca. Another little girl in the ward told us about her missionary experience. "I invited a friend (Celia) to church once. She started to like it. She goes to activity day girls and she thinks it’s fun so she’s always going to come. We always play together because she’s lonely. I feel happy and I feel the Spirit." I met this little friend and she has been going to church, has a part in the upcoming primary play and is so happy to be coming. It is really amazing how these children see that they have something important and the more they share it the stronger their testimony becomes.
We finally had our first dinner/lunch with a Hispanic family since being here. Even though a lot of the Hispanic food is the same (rice and beans and chicken) I miss having it. I miss being able to speak Spanish. The family we ate with didn't speak to us in Spanish, but I made sure to say the prayer in their own language. This family is a really big family, five brothers who have all married and had children of their own. One family has two children out on missions right now! All of them, who are old enough to have served did serve. We are going to have a few of these returned missionaries come out with us. We actually took one of them out with us to find a few less active members. We still need to work on our planning, but we are starting to get more opportunities to take young women out with us.
We don't do very much tracting(this is when missionaries go door to door), but one day while we were looking for some less-active families, we talked to a few people. One of them was Larry, a pastor of a near by church. We had stopped to look at our map and try to see where we were going. As we were pulling away I noticed that he had a "Jesus" licence plate hanging by his mailbox. I thought, "Hey, he believes in Jesus Christ, just like us. I wouldn't see any reason why anyone who believes in Jesus Christ wouldn't look for ways to strengthen their faith in Him." We stopped and he actually came to us to see if we needed help. (We probably do look lost a lot of the time). We asked him about what he believes and we offered him a Finding Faith in Jesus Christ DVD. He said that he would for sure take a look at the DVD and possibly pass it on. We are going to call him and follow up (yes, he gave us his number). We might have found someone to teach!
Saturday was a bit out of the ordinary, day. The sisters made sure I had a special day, which was very nice of them. We went over to the Theobalds for a "Birthday Breakfast" which was very delicious! The Theobald family has five little children (also homeschooled) all under the age of 8. 
Karee with the Theobald family for a Birthday breakfast!

cute family!
They were all really excited to have a party and had a lot of questions. They had a special song to sing to me. It was really cute... but a lot of attention, I had no idea what to do with myself.  The people here are so nice! They are always asking what we need and how they can help us. Last night we were at a members house who had given the sisters before us a bunch of silverware for the apartment that we now live in. And once again they asked us what we needed, some how they found out that we didn't have a ice scraper for the car... we do now. I have asked a few families why they are so nice. It just so happened that each of these families have a son or daughter on a mission and their response is almost identical each time. "I pray each night that there are people where my missionary is serving that is taking care of them, so I need to be the one to answer the prayers of your parents." It is really neat and I feel so blessed to be served and watched out for in this way. I don't hardly feel deserving of it, but I am grateful.
Also on Saturday, Sister States and I were planning to go rake leaves at a member's home, but when we got there she said it was already done. We looked for yards to rake as we drove around. We found one, but she wanted to keep the leaves for compost. She said we could go to her father's house, but when we went to his house, he told us that he didn't want us to do it until they all fell. We ended up finding a random house and raking the yard. Hoping that we could fit all the leaves in the bags that Sister Petrie gave us. Surprisingly we were able to fit all but a medium size pile into just six bags. Some how we fit the bags into the back of our small car (a little bit of bad planning on our part) and then we had to drive around with them for the rest of the evening.
Karee raking leaves for others for her birthday!

Hermana States enjoying raking leaves

Hermana States loading leaves into the car after raking earlier in the day!

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Karee smuggling leaves into their trunk in the dark of the night
 But what better birthday could we have then to serve all day, to fill both physical needs and spiritual needs. And thanks to some loving family, friends and companions, I had quite the enjoyable day.
Karee's sister, Kamber sent this banner to Hermana States to put up for Karee's birthday!

Mrs. Guzman made a cake for Karee for her birthday-yummy coconut

fun ice cream that looked like watermelon
Karee opening gifts from home for her birthday

the birthday girl

Karee's sister Kamber made her a maxi skirt. Is she excited or what!
 For those of you who are curious about how my Spanish is going.... it is not going very well. There aren't very many Spanish speakers in this area and I seem to be losing more and more each day. I read and study in Spanish, but it would seem as though I need to be speaking it to keep it up. I translate (at least I have for the past 3 Sundays here) during Sacrament meeting, but I don't think that is quite enough. (I really do enjoy translating, though it is a little weird talking all the way through sacrament meeting. It keeps my brain working hard, but I need to learn some more vocabulary). I have set a few goals and have asked Sister Godoy (my old companion) to help me out a little bit so hopefully I can start to improve again. I think that is something I have learned here on my mission is that there is always room for some of that. Luckily for us we have the Atonement of Jesus Christ to lift us and make the difference when we fall short. I guess it can go back to what Rebecca said, "Ye who want to know something, ask Christ." Each of us can do better and each of us can use the Atonement of Jesus Christ to make those improvements, we just have to ask. Ask for help and guidance, and He will answer those prayers.

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