Monday, October 28, 2013

Honduras Style!


First we start with some questions I received:
 How is Jose doing? Still fired up and coming to church? 
Jose is amazing! He has the strongest testimony. When we're planning for the day, we usually try to make our appointments with Jose for 2 hours. He is reading the book of mormon right now, and so we usually end up just discussing what he read and answering all of his questions. He also got a calling yesterday- secretary for elders quorum! He is STOKED! He sent us a text telling us "I know you have p-day but I'll leave work early so I can meet with you right at 6."
Did he ever tell his family that he was baptized? 
I'm pretty sure. I know his mom does because she came to church yesterday and wow, she loved it! I was so happy because she was so happy to be there. This is the first time she has shown any type of interest, so we're excited to go over there tomorrow :)

And now....

My crazy week!

One thing I love about the mission: for all intents and purposes we are doing the same thing every day- wake up, study, eat lunch, go out and teach, eat dinner then come home. But every day is completely different. Everyday I'm teaching new people, or your english class randomly decides to throw a birthday party for "Mr. Dockendorf" so the lesson plan that day is learning how to say "may I have some cake, please?" 

The most exciting things that happened were zone conference, and the wedding and baptism.

Let's start with zone conference!

Conference was with President Ochoa, a member of the 70 who spoke in this past General Conference. ( He told the story about the little boys who left with the horses and played marbles). Anyway, he is really nice! He wanted to meet all of us, so we all went up in the front, shook his hand, and said where we were from. He has such power, and everyone was really pumped after he spoke. 

I learned a lot, but the best was when he had people stand up and share a miracle. After, he asked why they had that happen. It boiled down to two simple things: they had prayed, fasted, or both. I love it. It's so simple, but really that's all the difference.

I also found that faith, one day, over 3 months ago. I woke up. I was frustrated. I was new in my area, and my companion was stressed and frustrated because our area is one of the hardest in the mission. Didn't matter what I said, she was still frustrated. I was praying and praying, wondering what I could do, and the thought came, "Have faith". I still remember walking into the office, slamming my hand on the table and saying "Hermana, I have faith that we can find one person who is ready to be baptized!" Well, we talked to over 50 people that day, and the last one, right when we were walking home, was Rosa's mom. 

What had happened if I hadn't been praying that day? If I hadn't had the faith sufficient enough? Would God have still placed Rosa's mom in my path?

I honestly don't know. 

But I'm grateful I don't have to think about that. I just get to think about how happy Rosa looked as she came out of the baptismal font. I had the peaceful feeling of "you're doing it Aubrey, you are changing people's lives." 

They still have a lot of work and progress to make, but that's one thing I love about the gospel! There is always more that we can do. We are never perfect, but rather are all trying to be made more perfect literally every day. 

I love them so much. As we drove to church yesterday, 4 of us squished in the back and Allison in front on Rosa's lap with Rolando singing some Christan song and stuck in Honduran traffic, I  couldn't help but smile, perfectly content with my life and the opportunity to be here. 

Love you all!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The week I turned 20!

This week, I actually got better about writing about my week :)
Monday- After we finished writing we left the church to go back to our area. Hna C told me Paola (ward member who hula-ed with us) wanted us to come over to her house. I thought we should just go right then since she lives close to the church, but then she said that she didn´t want us to come until that night, so alright then.
We went and visited the family Salinas. Rolando wasn´t there, but Rosa was and it was the coolest thing. She was just talking about how she loves the church and the influence it has had on her family and how when she goes to church she just feels like she´s with family. I explained that that´s exactly how I feel! When I moved to Hawaii, it was the singles ward that really helped me feel loved, welcome, and safe. 
Well we left and I said, "so what exactly did Pao need?" Hna C. told me that because changes were coming up (we would be finding out the following day) Pao wanted to have family home evening with us. So we get there, sit down, the family comes, and we sing a opening hymn. Let the record show that in the taxi ride over, the thought occurred, "hmm maybe we´re having a surprise party" but we sang the song, did an opening prayer, had  a lovely lesson like everything was normal. The thought of my birthday or anything was completely out of my head. Then Pao said to bless the refreshments. She went to the kitchen and we stayed there chatting, then we were called in.

Well, surprise! There was a huge Tres Leches, with candles, cupcakes, a sign that said, "happy birthday to you!" and balloons. There were many pictures to be taken, a present from Hna C (a cute blue shirt)  and they sang happy birthday in english and spanish.  We went home half a cake and 6 cupcakes richer. :)
Tuesday- We had a  normal morning, then we went to lunch at Bishop´s house, then it was english classes. Because transfers were coming up the next day and Elder P. was probably going to be transferred  (he´s the ZL in the south) we decided to have a party in our English class. 

There was more Tres Leches, but before we could sing, our students said that they had a "presentation".  Rosa (not from the Salines family) was the MC and directed the different acts. One student who is 70 years old sang "Old Susanna," another recited poetry, the same 70 year old lady recited poetry first for me, and then for the elders. My poem was about how I break all the boys hearts because I won´t kiss them. Haha! We were going to watch a movie but couldn´t get it set up, so we just played Telephone instead. They loved it! 
We had a lesson with Jose after,

 who kept on prolonging saying the closing prayer because he thought it would be the last lesson with the three of us. Then we went to the family, read the book of mormon with them, and left. Hna C said it was probably too late to get a phone call about changes.... so no changes for us! We celebrated with... you guessed it. More tres leches :)

Wednesday-  There I was in bed, when I looked at my alarm clock and saw that it said "15." so I laid back down. Then my eyes snapped open and I saw that there was in fact a 7 before it! I jumped out of bed and said, "hermana, it´s SEVEN!"
 "are you sure?" 
I ran to grab the phone- yes in fact it was 7:15 and we slept in 45 minutes.
To test it, I set my alarm for 7:30 and it worked just fine. We still have no idea what happened, but accepted it as a sign that we are just working too hard! :)
Well, because we thought there were going to be changes we hadn´t bought any food on Monday, so it was off to the store to buy food. Then back to the house, then drop off our dirty clothes and then we went to visit a less active, but they were not home. By this time it was lunch and neither of us wanted to cook, so we decided to head to Tipicos. It´s just... well typical Honduran food! We´ve been meaning to go there forever, but never have had time so we finally decided we were going. We decided to share, and got this huuuuge plate wtih tortilla strips, pork, salsa, and Honduran Fry Sauce (that´s what I call it anyway. It´s the same color as fry sauce, and pretty much tastes like it, but they use it on different things). Oh my gosh it was huge and delicious and I´m pretty bummed I didn´t have my camera. :)
We swung by the Family Salinas to remind them about Mutual and make sure that they would be ready when we came back at 6:30. Rosa was gone shopping, so we just had a lesson with the girls.

 After the prayer, Hna C said, 
"Alright Katherine, now we finally have time to talk. What happened last Saturday?" 
She got quiet then said, "well, I don´t know, I think it was all the pressure of just being up in front of everyone and I was scared..." 
 Alison piped up, "Look at me! I went up in front of everyone and I did just fine!" 
Hermana C. and I were in shock.
Alison continued: "I was thinking about that," (remember, she´s 9) "I want all my family to get baptized! Can we baptize Katherine this Saturday?" 
We just laughed, "Yeah, of course Katherine can get baptized this saturday! Katherine, what do you think?"
 "umm, yeah, that would be okay."
Alison had a huge smile. "Great. Now Katia, when are you going to get baptized?"
 I think Katia was in shock that it was her little sister was asking her.
 " I don´t know... this month? Yeah, I´ll get baptized this month."
 I pointed to the calender on the wall.
 "Alright well you can get baptized this week, the 19th, or on the 26th."
 "the 26th!" Katherine said. "Mom and dad can get married then too!" 
Hermana C. and I just sat there in silence while all of this was happening. We talked about this more, then answered some gospel questions.
Well, then Rosa came home and walked in and was surprised to see us. She sat down, we chatted, then Katherine said, 
"Mom what are you doing on the 26th?"
 "uh..." "Great! Alison told me I´m getting baptized this Saturday, so I´m telling you that you´re getting baptized on the 26th." 
There was silence. 
Then, "Don´t I have to get married first?" 
"uh, yeah, you can get married on the 26th." 
"And my baptism?"
 "that´ll be right after the wedding."
 "oh, okay. Sounds good."
And that is how we´re having a wedding this weekend. :D

We went to mutual, and the girls loved it. Rosa and Rolando even showed up at the end! Katherine turned to me and said, 
"Hermana Snelson when can I get baptized?" 
I explained that we had to have an interview, get clothes, and schedule a date.
"Well, if I could I would just get baptized right now!"
The enthusiasm we feel every time we go over to their house is contageous. I love it. Now we just have to work with the rest of Rosa´s family :)
Thursday- The day I turned 20 years of age! I got up, Zumbaed (thanks again fam, those are the highlights of my mornings) studied and left to the church. Since there were changes we had Zone meeting and met all the new elders and one new sister. We split up into different districts so we can get to know our new DL´s. After the closing prayer, all the other people from the other district came in carrying a little cake, and sang happy birthday to me. Thanks guys.
We had lunch, where Hermana C and I were full and long story short, there was a bag of spaghetti in Hermana C´s backpack when we left. One thing you get really good at in the mission:  sneaking food when you´re full.
We swung by to visit other peopole, who were busy, so we ended up taking Rosa, the three girls, and Rosa´s sister to go to the stake center where we all took a bus for the temple. There were 7 of us in total, and after getting turned down by 2 taxi´s, we just split up and rode to the stake center.

Best birthday present ever: getting to visit the temple.

 We explained what the temple was, and missionaries bore their testimoies about the temple. Gosh, the spirit was just the sweetest and everyone felt it. 

We were talking to Rosa about how in a year she can go in and she became so excited! 

Friday- We had a lot of running around. First,we had to get copies of Rosa and Roland├│´s i.d's. Then we all went to the ZL´s. Next we had to find witnesses for the wedding and obtain copies of their ID´s. Weddings are a lot of work!
Saturday- English class! I was the star with my rendition of "head shoulders knees and toes". I still will randomly sing whenever I have the chance ;) We visited other members, and the family with the Relief Society Prez. Rosa hasn´t been able to visit Relief Society and we were hoping to get her excited about it.

Sunday- Alison and Katia were sick with a fever so they couldn´t go to church and neither could Rosa. But Katherine came and brought Rosa´s sister (who is 17) and they loved young women´s! Hooray! We had a meeting after church with all the presidency to plan the wedding and everyone was really stoked because we´ve been working with this family for so long.
WE are blessed, I´m 20 years old, I make chamomille tea with fresh chamomille, and I´m a mormon.
Love you guys :) 

Monday, October 14, 2013

This week!

Hi everyone!

Thanks for the package Chad and Chanelle! My comp and I were soooo stoked about the Zumba DVD´s!!
Today we went to a famous statue of Christ in Honduras, called Picachu. There was a huge park and we just played kickball, and explored and took pictures. It has been a fun day!

Now I'm going to talk about the family Salinas.

So last Friday, we were with Rosa and Alison,  just chatting about the day, and then Hermana Concoha shared some scripture. We were in a hurry because we had an appointment with Jose. I felt impressed to ask Alison if she wanted to get baptized... she said yes! So we put a date for the 12th of october. "sister snelson?" she told me later. "I really want to get baptized... but I want to do it with my sisters" "Alison, I know that you really want to, and we´re going to invite your sisters too. We´ll all pray that they want to get baptized too."
hermana Rosa walked in later, and said, "she wants to be a missionary you know." "what??" "Yeah, she told me the other day she wants to buy more skirts and dress more like you guys." "That´s so great!" "oh, and she watches less TV" "really?" "Yeah, I walked in the other day and she was sitting on the couch with her backpack and I asked her why the TV was off and she said it was because she was reading the book of mormon."

Did I mention she´s 9??!

Well, Alison, Rosa, and Rolando all came to Jose´s baptism and that just made Alison ten times more stoked for her own. When we went over on Sunday, we talked to Katerine and Katia about how Alison wanted to be baptized with her sisters. We challenged Katerine and Katia who both said they didn´t feel ready.

So to show them that they were totally ready, we went over the questions with them on Monday, which they were all able to answer! At the end, all 3 of the girls were positive and excited about being baptized. 

Thursday- Katia told us she didn´t want to get baptized, but Katerine was still all for it, so we just kept praying and praying she might change her mind. 

Friday- I found this for 50 cents... .happy aloha Friday!

 Saturday-  We went over to their house before the baptism, to help them get ready. Katerine pulled Hermana C. aside and told her that she didn´t want to get baptized, she just didn´t feel ready.

I was worried how Alison was going to take it, but she was more positive than ever that this was exactly what she wanted. We got to the church and she went to have her interview and we went with Hermano M. (1st counselor in the bishopric, an amazing convert, and has really helped a lot with the family) to talk with the family. He talked about how we have to make our descisions for ourselves and about how we can´t let others infulence our own choices. Hermano R. took the floor after and was talking about how grateful he was that we showed up in their lives. He started crying as he said that he really doesn´t want his children to live a life like his, and knows that being a member in this church can make the difference. 

It was amazing! There have been so many moments on my mission where the spirit can be felt so strong, but the people being taught are still learning to recognize it. The most we can do is plant the seed.

Next goal: getting Rosa and Rolando married, and baptizing the rest of the girls. 

This week was great, full of random fun adventures!
 Three weeks ago we went shopping in The Kennedy- this district of like, 20 thrift stores, scouting out all the ones that were 2 dollars or less. We were walking along when someone yells, "everything 10 limpiras!" (50 cents) so of course we took off running. That was where I found my favorite floral dress, and another skirt, along with this skirt. We were just about to leave the store, and the sisters said it looked a little big but I was wanting a grey skirt, and 50 cents?!
Later, when we get home I look and see that it is BCBG brand. It was a little big on me, but luckily one of my less active members we visit once a week is a seamstress (suuuper common profession) and I asked if she could take it in, and maybe cut it just past my knee.

this is what I got!
 "I made it shorter in the front, and longer in the back... that´s how they do it in the states, right?"

50 cent skirt!! :)

 Another fun story: 3 of the elders in my ward (there´s 6 missionaries in my ward in total!) also celebrate their birthday this month (elder P´s is today, I´m next) and soooo one of Elder P´s converts brought us lunch to the church to eat before English classes and she even brought pineapple cake. ;)

so delicious & nice!

Love you guys :) The church is so true, go out and share it!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week of Jose

The main things that happened this week:
-Watched general conference!
-Made a BUNCH of pancakes for the ward yesterday
-got a letter from Chanelley, Sister Johnson (California) and a lovely package from Aaron, thanks guys!
-and we had our first baptism! ...which is why this e mail is called the week of Jose.

Last Saturday (the week before Conference) we met with Jose. He called me the day before apologizing because he didn´t have any minutes, and had just bought some and we were the first he called. He came on Saturday and we asked how it was going with living the word of wisdom. He told us he was down to 2 cigarettes/day and choosing pepsi instead of beer. :) Then I asked how he was feeling right then. He told me "good, every time I walk in I just feel like all my cares are going away." I explained that´s because at the chapel, we can feel the spirit because it´s the house of the lord. I told him he could feel the influence of the holy ghost, but when someone is baptized, they receive the gift of the holy ghost. 
Well something clicked inside of him because he responded, "wasn´t I supposed to be baptized today?"
So we explained that he had to keep the word of wisdom for a week before his baptism, and the rest of his life. He got this real serious look, looked me in the eye and said, "okay, let´s do it." A game plan was made- he had to meet with us every day the week before his baptism, read the scriptures, pray every day, and of course, keep the word of wisdom.

There wasn´t any lesson plan- I honestly can´t remember everything I said as we sat in there, but I do know that the spirit was there, and it was helping guide Jose to feel that this was the choice he needed to make. At the end of the lesson I asked, "so what´s your goal this next week?" and he said, "to get baptized!" Woot!

Sunday- He came to church, and that night we met in the park and went over the baptismal questions with him. It was the best feeling because he is talker with a testimony! We reviewed the gift of repentance and he told us, "I think repentance is when we´ve done something bad and we know it´s bad but it´s hard to change. So we have to ask God to help us, but then we have to change. We can´t just tell God we want to and do nothing, we have to change too. Right? I think that´s right." 
And so it goes.

Monday- We were supposed to have family home evening with a member, but they canceled last minute so we ended up calling another member and ran over there. We decided to watch the restoration, and when we asked if we could watch a movie she told us the bad news- no dvd player. The computer maybe? No mouse. No matter! I´ve been trained by my brother Chad and was able to navigate and we were able to watch it.

Tuesday- On sunday we told Jose we didn´t have anything planned, so he invited us to dinner. He called us in the morning and told us to meet at Pizza Hut. Help me out here, when I think of Pizza Hut in the states I imagine maybe one, two tables, and a counter to order pizza and hot wings. Here it´s a classy affair- sit down, appetizers, the works.
 And I say the works because Jose wasn´t going to hold back. The first time I´ve eaten lasagna and quesadillas in Pizza Hut, while teaching the law of tithing. But that´s how we do it in Honduras. When the check came I said, "thank you so much!" 
"no, it´s nothing."
 "no really though, we appreciate it so much!" 
"really, it´s nothing. Compared to what you guys have given me, it´s nothing. And no matter how hard I try I will never be able to pay you back for the happiness you´ve given me."
And these are the moments when I wish I could just reach out and give him a hug!

Wednesday- We came to the church so he could learn about the family history center and temples and everything. We try to make sure they get the preisthood as soon as possible so they can go to the temple. He also had his interview with elder Preul, and passed! It was about a half hour long and I was worried but then I realized, like I said, he´s a talker with a testimony. :)

Thursday- Another family home evening! This time with the Elder Quorum and Relief Society President- they´re married.  Anyway, we talked about the preisthood and I am always so impressed by the way Jose handles what I consider "deeper" topics like baptims for the dead, and the preisthood as a whole. But he was stoked the entire time and loved everything. 

Friday- Jose called to say he was too busy with work, but would be at the church right at 8 for...

Saturday- the pancake activity!

 How do you lure someone to general conference? Promise them banana pancakes. Jose doesn´t like pancakes, so I made him eggs, but it was still pretty good and everyone loved the pancakes :) 

After the second session of conference, we were into action! Jose went and changed and we were running around trying to stop members from leaving. We had about 40 there, so not too shabby :) We took pictures (Jose is on the left, and Hno. M, elders quorum prez baptized) then went to the baptism! 

It was a great service and I just felt this huge amount of love. His baptism was exactly 2 months from the first day we met him and seeing the growth and change in him has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I felt so grateful to be able to be a part of this.

Hna. C and I were discussing what happened from that Saturday he decided to be baptized and before and we realized it was nothing we had done. We had done what we always do- talk to everyone, share our testimony, and share and teach the lessons. It was the spirit. It was God. It was a miracle.

Would Jose have gotten baptized if I hadn´t decided a year ago to serve a mission? Probably, yes. He was simply prepared by God to recieve the gospel at this time. But not only did Heavenly Father bless Jose by giving him the gospel, he blessed Hermana C. and I to be able to have the opportunity to teach him.

After the service we asked how he felt. 

"good. I feel good. The best I´ve ever felt, actually. Clean, and pure. And thanks to who?" "God?" "Jesus?" "Them too. But thanks to the two angels that God sent into my life to bring me the best present I´ve ever gotten. I will never be able to forget you."