There are so many things that I need to update you on and I have no idea where to start! Seriously though.
Well my new companera is Hermana S. She is from LA but is El Salvadorean- which means, yes my prayers were answered and I have a native speaker companion. She is so great! She is so loud and fun and all the members just adore her. For this weeks planning session we are going to figure out how I can use her spanish to help my own spanish. The language out here is a lot harder than the MTC spanish. But I am so excited to learn it. I know that the people I need to find and work with speak spanish so I really need to get going. I am almost done with el libro de mormon- finishing it in 1 week was too hard. I only have 20 more pages though so I am really happy!
Right now we are in an area called Gulfbank. It was reopened 2 transfers ago for sisters. It has been shut down for a little over a year to sisters because men were sneaking into the sisters' apartment. Sketch right. Well youll be happy to know that we dont actually live in Gulfbank- rather about 20 minutes out of our area. Which is definitely safer but really inconvenient because it takes forever to drive to where we need to work. In Harrison County there are more people than in 24 states. It is crowded all the time. But I love it because that means there is so much potential here. Honestly I might have just scared you a little bit, but this area is amazing. I love the people so much! The ward is awesome too. The Bishop's family is actually english speaking and we went over to their house for dinner last night. They have 2 daughters- 10 and 16. So fun! I feel right at home and they are taking great care of me. And it was nice to eat normal food for once. I have already had some interesting meals and its only been 5 days. I ate octopus... The members here are so giving. Even the nonmembers. Everyone wants to feed the missionaries. We can go over to just get a referral and end up inside eating a full blown meal. Its insane that they have all this food ready to whip up.
When I first met President Pingree, wow I knew that he was the mission president that I needed. I dont even know how to describe him! He is such a ball of energy and just so exciting about the work here in Houston. His family is awesome too! His daughter actually was reading my blog before I got here. They are such an awesome family though. I wish you could meet them because they have such a strong testimony and spirit about them that is so contagious.
The first day here was interesting. I definitely had culture shock and it was finally hitting me what I was actually about to embark on. I just wasnt myself. We meet a few members and went to less actives homes. It was interesting to say the least. Our final dinner appointment that night was with The S family. My companera told me earlier that day to have something prepared to share with them. Well I didnt know what was really being said between them and my companera at dinner but from what I thought it was about how life is hard and how Jesus Christ can help us. Anyways, the time was turned over to me to share my thoughts and boom. I just balled and balled. Not because I was nervous or feeling bad or anything but because the spirit was so strong because I knew exactly what I needed to share. I shared my favorite scripture in Alma 7 about how Christ succors us and how I knew he was going to help me understand this language because he wants me to speak it. This is all part of his plan. I am just struggling right now because he wants to humble me. I was reading in Eter this morning and it is ironic because it talks a lot about weakness. It helped everything click. I love when that happens! Moral of the story, I think Hermana S loves me now because I am so vulnerable and wanting to share my testimony. I really just want to talk to everyone here and let them know what I believe.
There is one widow that we visited that I have to tell you about. She is a spit-fire. She was telling me how I need to tell the members that I can't eat sometimes because it is against the word of wisdom to overeat. The funny part is, she makes us eat so much. She has a really strong testimony and was telling me about how hard her life has been because some of her children want nothing to do with her. However, we had a really awesome chat about God's love and his plan for each of us to return to Him. I then just shared about Ammon and how awesome he was because he just knew that through God all things are possible. I liked this visit a lot because it was in english. Some of the members out here know english as well and so whenever they see me, they speak it. In a way its nice because I can understand them 100% but its also frustrating because I want to learn the language and I never am if they are speaking to me in english. But its ok because this week, we are having a funeral for english. From now on, english is dead. Except in this letters hah I want you to know whats going on.
Now I am super excited to share with you these stories. I have been praying so hard that my companion and would be able to find people to teach and listen to this message. It is hard since it is a new area and you cant really tract in certain areas and you cant be out at night. But anyways, I knew that if I was doing everything I could the Lord would guide us to those people we needed to find. Anyways, on Saturday my companera wanted to visit a inactive member and then we decided to go see this boys family who could possibly be new investigators. The inactive member was not home which was a bummer because we tried going there the day before and she wasnt home then either. The first time that we went there I noticed her neighbors house and the high school musical dance pad outside. I thought how awesome would it be to teach them because they are a family. Anyways we didnt knock on the neighbors house or anything because it was my first day and I really didnt want to annoy my companera. Stupid looking back on it I know. But anyways when we went back to this area on Saturday and the inactive wasnt home again, I turned to my companion and said we need to knock on this door. So we did and this 17 year old girl opened it and immediately let us in to see her sick grandma who's apartment it actually is. We sang a song for them and the teenager was just crying and said how she wants religion in her life and all this other stuff. We set up an appointment to meet with them next week. The granddaughter also got really excited when we told her about the youth program. I really think this would be great for her and strengthen her so much in her life! The only problem is her mom is really mean and she is unsure about how all that will play along. But we have hope and we know that she will be taken care of. The second story is when we were trying to go visit this boy and his family. They werent home either but it was such a beautiful day that a ton of people were outside in this apartment complex. We decided to go up to this young mom and start taking to her. She was saying how she has a book of mormon and likes to read from it sometimes but wants to know more! Wow, ok of course we said that we wanted to teach her more. So we will be meeting with her this week to! I can't wait.
After all this, I was just on such a high that I wanted to knock doors so my companera obliged. We went to this nicer neighborhood. There was this family party and everyone was drinking except for this one man. So I went up to him and started talking to him. Not very well but enough to place a book of mormon! I know that there truly are tens of thousands of people that are waiting for our message. It is really humbling to be in Gulfbank. I sometimes forget I am in the US. There is a family in the ward that has 11 children and pregnant with another and they live in a one room home and all the children sleep in a shack. I think they are working with the church right now to get better living conditions which is awesome. I know that God loves ALL his children and wants them all to come home to Him. We are here to help people get there. There are 2 kinds of missionaries: 1. the best visiting teachers and 2. the baptizing missionaries. I am ready to work and be a baptizing missionary because that is what the people need. I am so excited for this area and I don't ever want to leave. Its already been really hard but I get refocused and excited when I write these emails because I remember all the tender mercies and miracles from the week. Always look for those in your life because they really do help you remember who you are and your purpose here.
Le amo muchisimo! Sea valiente!
paz y bendiciones
|GOOD LUCK TO THESE GREAT MISSIONARIES|
|First companionship - a friendship that will be treasured forever.|
|These cute kids getting ready to head out into the field!|
|Hermana Parry's MTC instructor...She gave the stretchy $1 St. Patty's Day tie to him. |
He collects ties so it was perfect! That makes 150+ ties in his collection.