Monday we went out to lunch with Hermana Hernandez and Carmen at Firehouse subs and it was so fun! I love that family so much. They taught us how to shop at Publix afterwards too! Apparently there are all kinds of 2 for 1's there! That night we drove off to the Lucio family's place and when we got there, only Brother Lucio was there! Sadness! But we got to sit and talk to him about how he feels about the things we've been teaching and it was comforting to hear him say that he knows it's something his family needs. Well we passed by a super cute country store on the way back to town that was full of fishing supplies and all kinds of kid candy! We loved it! I'm going to really miss the country and the small towns here. When we were about to leave the store a woman walked in and freaked out when she saw us- she was our server earlier that day at the firehouse subs and I have never seen anyone so excited to see us! She said she was so excited because no one lives or goes through her small town and she was just shocked to see us there! We gave her a pass along card and she told us to stop by and say hi at her work sometime! Well we were back in town and felt like we should try and find some people at Walmart and guess who was the first person we ran into when we walked in? Hermana Lucio! That's the second time now! Her and the boys were really excited to see us and told us to come back on Thursday night! We started talking to a couple towards the end of the night that had met with the missionaries before! The silly Elders before us had no record of them so I am so grateful we found them in Walmart! They have 3 adorable kids and they said we could stop by sometime next week!
Tuesday was a jam packed day full of fun! We left the apartment early to visit a woman who wasn't home :/ we met her husband though and he was super nice to us and was excited to talk to us until he found out we were with the church ha ha. People crack me up when they do it, why would you treat anyone different because of their beliefs? Silly people! We headed over to Olimpia's so she could teach us how to make empanadas afterwards. So fun! Not only did we learn how to make delicious empanadas, which I will make for everyone when I get home, but we got to know her a lot better finally. She opened up about her situation with her "husband" and it's just not a good place for her to be in even though they have 3 kids together. She said that she has her own house down in Guatemala that her two oldest are living in and she plans on going back in a year with Darion and her husband will probably stay here. I told her that I am for sure coming to visit in a couple years with my brother and our future spouses and I'm super excited! She showed us pictures if her house and where she lives- it is so green and so beautiful! Can't wait to see it in real life! I have completely fallen in love with Guatemala on my mission. We did a "power hour" later that day in an apartment complex that we have always wanted to knock. When we first got there we were like ummmm maybe Hispanics don't live here because we didn't see any wet mops outside or little Hispanic kids running around anywhere but we decided that there had to be at least one family for us to find! We first met a man names Mason who was super nice and we got his info for the Elders. Then we knocked on a random door and met a man named Kevin who told us that there was a Hispanic family in the building next door- bingo! We guessed which apartment he was talking about and these cute little Hispanic children answered the door-miracle! One of them looked like a Mexican Alex Monroe and was so cute! Their dad Romiro came to meet us and he was sooo nice! He just had such a good energy about him and invited us to come back Friday to meet his wife! Out of the thousand apartments we were led to the one Hispanic family that lives there! We were so blessed that day for our trust in the Spirit and out diligence. We also knocked on another random door and the girl who answered, Faith, immediately recognized us from the bus and was so sweet. Her family was refugees from Nigeria and she was super excited to have us send the Sisters over next week.
Hermana Santiago gave us a name of a less active who isn't on our roles that we love next to last week and we stopped by Tuesday night.
I was a little nervous at first because sometimes less actives aren't very happy to see us but Idis was soooo kind! She immediately let us in and started talking up a storm the second we sat down. Her mom and brother found the church in Honduras and she converted 12 years ago here in Tennessee. She told us that she believes in the church and the gospel with all of her heart, she just had a really bad experience with people at church and doesn't want to come back right now. We later found out from a member that she was a young woman's teacher and her young woman were really mean and would say horrible things to her during class, it totally broke my heart! Silly teenage girls! She is so amazing though and said that she will come back some day. I hope it's sooner than later. The Hermanas are going to start meeting with her regulars after I leave. We found out later from members that Idis has never let anyone from the church in her home in a couple years and it is a miracle that we got in! Again, I feel so blessed. I met her mom and sister too who were visiting from Honduras and they were so sweet. They had a massive pile, like humongous, of clothes and things they bought to take back home! It was crazy! I guess they don't have the same stores in Honduras! We ended Tuesday night with Jose and taught him about the pre mortal life. He's so awesome and is soaking everything up still.
Wednesday was such a fun/sad day! Our very last district meeting :/ Hermana Schmit gave a beautiful training on how the Atonement will carry us if we just give ourselves to the Savior. I trained on the Holy Spirit and our relationship with him and his role in our lives and his part in the plan that God has for us. I learned so much preparing for that training. The second Elder Cottam told us he wanted us to train the week before, I knew I would talk about the Holy Ghost. I testified that our mission is the place where God will teach us how the Spirit talks to us and how to follow it's promptings and that it is in preparation for what is to come after the mission. I ended by sharing a really incredible experience that my father had after his mission with following the promtings if the Spirit. It was a really spiritual experience for me, sharing my father's story. I hope my dad knows that he has given me, and all of his prosperity, a true example of being obedient to the Spirit and allowing The Lord to use us as instruments in His hands. You have left us a legacy dad. After the meeting was over everyone signed our notebooks and we had a piñata! It was SO fun!
We all had turns and then Elder Peterson destroyed it since he was last. He is so funny and was hitting so hard that when the pole hit the ground (it was a metal mop handle) he totally bent it out of shape! We were all laughing so much during the whole thing and it was a really great bonding experience. I love my district and will always be so grateful that I got to serve with such awesome missionaries. For lunch our companionship went to the Sushi Train one last time and enjoyed some crunchy shrimp rolls! Can't wait to eat REAL sushi when I get home though! We left a pass along card with a really cute family that just gave off this vibe of strength. The dad was super grateful and the mom was kind of creeped out when Hna Schmit told them that, it was the best! We tried to find some people to teach at Walmart as we grabbed something for Caterine but had no luck. That night we were able to meet a referral from the Assistants named Suyapa and she is amazing!! She had met with the missionaries before and loves learning about the gospel! She had been reading in the BOM before we got there!
She is from Honduras and has a really cute little girl. Weird/crazy story is that 5 years ago she was dating someone that she thought was single and got pregnant, then it turns out that he was lying the whole time and had a wife! Well they split up but it turns out that his wife can't have children so she's actually really grateful for Suyapa and that she shares her daughter with them. Suyapa is super humble and super giving. She has another daughter in Hinduras that's coming to live here in a few months! They haven't seen each other in 4 years!
When we invited her to church she was like, "Ya of course I'll come, I can't wait!" We were blown away by her response and can't wait to get to know her better! Miracle! We love referrals like her!
That night we went to Hermana Paty's house for Caterine's birthday party/to eat dinner with them! We couldn't go to her real birthday party, because we are busy missionaries, so we made it up by going to her birthday dinner and we gave her a cute photo album filled with pictures of us and notes for her. She loved it! I love that family so so much! The funny part was that Cat Cat told me that her birthday was actually the next day on the 10th but I assumed that she didn't know her real birthday. Then later on I asked Hermana Patty and she was like ya it's on the 10th, and then we told her that the day was the 9th and she just started laughing so hard. She thought it was the 10th all day and even before and we all died laughing with her. Things get crazy when you're practically a single mom bc your husband is gone 89% of the time for work! Bless her heart!
Thursday was a whirlwind of a day! We started off at the library and afterwards we tried our friend David. Welp, David wasn't home so we decided to knock the apartments around him. The first apartment we knocked was a doozy. David's cousin Karen lives next door and when we knocked on her door she had some unkind things to say tos about our religion. We explained what we really believe, because she had some weird misconceptions, and she would keep going off in these strange rants that honestly scared us. She would look off to the side of us, not at us, and go on in these long rants about what she believes but in a very possessed kind of way. I don't think I've ever been so uncomfortable at someone's door before and it was sad that the church that she goes to obviously preaches against us. After being freaked out at Karen's, we knocked on a door with a cute kitty in the window and a white woman names Amy answered. She was awesome but a little on the crazy side! She was in a car crash 20 years ago and almost died from it. She shared with us how she saw Jesus Christ in that moment and how it changed her life when she came back to it after being in a coma for a few weeks. We were able to relate and share Joseph Smith's experience with her and she after hearing a lot more about her life she said we could send the other missionaries over some time! She was so cute and told us all about her boyfriend who looks like Freddie Mercury and how they are both recovering drug addicts but they have completely turned their life around. She just got custody if her son again last year on her birthday and you can just feel how much she loves him and how grateful she is for her children. When we wrapped up with Amy, we decided to try David again and ended up meeting his mom!
She was nice but she goes to the same church Karen goes to so she also had some weird things to say to us. We testified in the name of Jesus Christ of the things that we shared near the end of our conversation and something incredible happened, she said she would want us to come back to teach her more about the Book of Mormon! And she also wanted us to keep teaching David! Well guess who pulled up right when we were about to leave? Yep, David! I feel like his mom and cousin really prepared us for our quick lesson with him because we were really bold with him about a lot if things and about how there really is only one true church. He is super cool and said that he will keep reading in the Book of Mormon!
That night we met a referral from the Elders- Ellie. I LOVE Ellie! She is the sweetest thing ever and is from Argentina. She's a heart doctor here and she did some school at the U in Salt Lake City and so she has a lot of Mormon friends. She is so full of life and just loves everything about everything! She emulates light and love! She already has two Books of Mormon and so we gave her a restoration pamphlet to look over for the next time we come by. The Elders saw her the next morning at the bus stop (Where they met her originally) and she was SO excited to tell them that she met us and she had her pamphlet with her and pulled it out to show them! I'm so sad that we're leaving and I don't get to continue teaching her but I'm so excited for her and the Hermanas! I told her I'm going to look up her friends in Utah! After Ellie we made our trek through the forest to get to the Lucios. We taught my favorite lesson in my favorite way! We taught the plan of salvation using chalk on their driveway! It made so much sense to Reina and she was super involved and had tons of questions, it was awesome! I love that family so so much and am really going to miss them! Especially Toni, he is such a special little boy!
Friday was CRAZY!!! We had an appointment at 11 with Alicia and she made us this way yummy sopa from Mexico for lunch. It was a tomato and chicken broth with these giant fried cauliflowers- it sounds weird but it really was SO delicious! She also made us fresh flour tortillas which was so refreshing because we always get corn ones! We read 2 Nephi 32 with her and taught her baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. She had a lot of really good questions about it since she was raised to believe that you get baptized as a baby. We left her Moroni
8 to read and I know the Hermanas will continue to teach her with love and respect. After that, we ran errands for like hours! We prayed that we would be able to find someone to share the gospel with in every place we stopped and we did! Our first stop was UPS and even though we were in the wrong one, we needed to be there. There was this super cute guy mailing some stuff to his brother in....San Diego! So we talked about his brother for a sec, found out from the guy working here that we needed to go to a different one and left. As we got in the car I told my companions that sometimes when I feel prompted to share the gospel with an attractive man, I don't know if it's coming from me or the Spirit! I still felt prompted to give him something as we were about to drive away so I had Hna Schmit stop the car as Hna Torres and I ran in to give him something. His name was Miller and he was SUPER nice and he happily took the POS pamphlet and said he would look up our website. Then the man working here said that his in-laws were Mormon! Turns out his wife is a member but hasn't been active since they were married! I invited him to really look into the LDS church because we have a really unique message for families. He said he would and he would talk more to his wife about it! Then we met a sweet woman in Target that shared the gospel with even though she ended up not wanting to meet with us again bc she has had horrible experiences with other churches. We went to the bank next and met a recent convert, Sister Gibson, from the Green Hills Ward who is living in a fairy tale! She met her husband last summer and he's a member and a good returned missionary. Within two weeks of knowing each other, they got married! She shared how the first week they were married her husband invited her to church with him and he even gave her a blessing before they left. As she started to go she began to fall in love with how we focus on families bc she didn't grow up in that kind of environment. With time she asked to meet with the Sisters and was baptized by her husband in January! Soon after her mom was baptized and they are going to be sealed in the temple next year with their little baby boy that's due this fall! Her husband is a country singer and song writer and she manages some country artists. Fairy tales are real life sometimes! AND PS they are both super gorgeous people! We also were able to share pass along cards with the people who helped us at Trader Joes and the other UPS store. We also met a man at the UPS, Henry, who was from China and when I asked him why he didn't believe in God he said because he's a scientist. I immediately thought of Ellie and how she actually talked about that. She said she had so many scientist friends who said they could never believe in God bc you can't prove it but she said that as a scientist she can't look at all of these things she learns and deny that God exists! She said that being a scientist and doctor has helped her more fully believe in God.
It breaks my heart that so many people refuse to believe in something they can't see when they put their faith in so many other things that they can't see.
We had a beautiful dinner with the Santiago's and Hermano just made me laugh the whole time. I am going to miss that family! Afterwards, We were able to see a woman we met at Aldi's that night and it turns out that her uncle Felix studied with the missionaries for a really long time! He liked everything they taught but got stuck on the sabbath day bc he's a 7th day Adventist. Again, it's so sad that so many church's teachings cause others to be blind when they come across the truth. He said that he would start reading in the Book of Mormon though! As we were trying to figure out what to do after we saw someone walking down the street and decided to talk to them. It ended up being our teenage friend Adolfo! We were able to teach him about prayer and he said he really had thought about the things we said last time. Even though his mom doesn't want anything to do with church right now, we feel like he will come to accept the gospel and that it will be his strength in his life. I'm excited to hear about how he's doing from the Hermanas! I felt like we needed to go to Save A Lot after that and we walked in and there was no one to talk to but there was a man in a wheelchair getting into he I truck so we asked if we could help him but he said that he was a pro now. His name was Michael and he shared with us his story of how he was in a car crash in 87- when I was born- and how he almost died but he survived and now he can't really walk. He said that every year on the day that he was in the crash him and his family to out and celebrate his second chance in life. He has such an incredible outlook on life! I felt really prompted to share a Book of Mormon with him and I don't think I have ever felt the Spirit so strong as I've testified of it. He gladly took it and said that he would read it. As we drove away I began to cry because I felt so strongly that he was one of the people that I was supposed to meet, even if it was for 10 minutes, and that he needed to hear my testimony of the BOM- I was called to this mission to share my testimony specifically with him. It was a really amazing feeling and I was just so grateful and will always be grateful for that experience. I hope and pray that he runs into the missionaries again or gives the Hermanas a call.
Saturday morning was a blast as usual as we helped at the pantry. It was really hard saying goodbye to everyone though. They are so sweet and they had a card for us and all gave us the biggest hugs and thanked us for everything. We in return thanked THEM for everything, especially Stacey. She has really been an example that dreams come true and that just one person can make a huge difference. I would love to have a pantry like that in salt lake someday. I will never ever forget those people and I am grateful for the example we were able to be to them as servants of Jesus Christ and for their examples of selfless love and the power of change. We went out to lunch to Sushi Train with the GH Sisters- Sister Peterson and Sister Reaman. I just love them so much and am really going to miss them! Afterward at the library I accidentally did something really stupid and was crying my eyes out afterwards because I felt so bad. I asked my companions to get out of the car for a sec so I could say a personal prayer. I poured out my heart to Heavenly Father and pleaded that the Savior would take my guilt and worry away. I cried all over the back seat and I literally felt like I was going to barf. Within an hour, I felt complete peace that everything would be okay. I am so grateful that The Lord gave me one more experience before I left where I could use His Atonement and understand more of how it can be used in every part of my life. We were able to see Elvin one last time during all of that and it was a really good visit. We were able to simply share our testimonies of the gospel with him and he said that he was really grateful for the time we have taken to teach him and that he knows everything we teach is true. He said he knows that it is true because it has changed him. He is grateful for the help he's received from the Savior in quitting smoking and drinking. He said that he will start coming to church again and I hope and pray that he will and that he will be baptized when it's his time. I pray that his family will be baptized and sealed together some day as well.
We had dinner at the Kimbers that night and it was amazing as usual.
Hermana Paty was there too with her kids and they made hamburgers on the grill- my dad's favorite- I felt like I was at home! We sang them "Divina Luz" and it hurt my heart to know that in a few days I wouldn't be able to come over for dinner and spend time with them. I am so grateful for those families, they have such a special place in my heart and I promised them that I will call them every week! I tried convincing them to move to Utah! They have become so involved in the missionary work since we've gotten here, I'm grateful for the change we've been able to see in them! We saw Alex that night and had a really good lesson about prayer and I am just so grateful that we were able to teach him. He told Hna Schmit and I that he was really grateful for us and that he has learned a lot about God and Jesus Christ from us. He told us that he is going to continue going to church and meeting with the Hermanas. That made me so happy to hear.
We took some awkward pictures with him, he is just such a funny character!
Sunday morning we had a beautiful breakfast with Hermana Maritza, who I call Hna Tinkerbell, and she shared her conversion story and how she found the church in New York. She is originally from the Dominican Republic and is a fireball! She is a single mother of two sons and is an incredibly strong person. Church was so amazing! All of the members were so sweet and said the kindest things to me and thanked me for my service, I hope they know how much I love them and what amazing examples they are to me. Weird thing also happened- my sister's ex boyfriend's cousin was in my ward that day! He asked if I was from SD and if I was Cheslea's sister and I was like uhhhhhh ya, who are you?
It was so neat seeing someone that has ties to my family! Good old Johnny! Apparently we met once but I vaguely remember it! We got to be in primary a little bit too and it was a dream come true. It was so funny to see how all of the native kids were perfectly behaved but the American kids were crazy and were causing a ruckus every other second.
After church we had lunch with Hna Vasquez and I just love her and her daughter Claudia. Hermana Hubbs was there too and told us really amazing stories from his mission in Mexico. After lunch we had dinner! Haha we went to the Linares place and made Papusas one last time! Even though I was stuffed from our last meal, I managed one down and it was so good! I love the Linares family, they will do ANYTHING for the Lord's work. We went and said goodbye to Alisa at her work and I almost lost it. I don't know how I'm going to handle not seeing her anymore! She has been such a huge part of my mission, especially in this area. I told her I would call her as soon as I get home! We said goodbye to Sergio, Adriana and Alicia after that and I feel so strongly that Adriana knows the gospel is true. I hope and pray that the opportunity will come soon for her to accept it. She's so cute and when we told her we wanted a picture she ran into her bedroom and got all dolled up! I LOVE her. We tried several more people that night and no one was home! I was so sad because all I wanted to do was teach the gospel to someone while i still had this name tag! We finally found Jose home and had such an incredible lesson with him. We taught the Plan of Salvation and when we got to the Atonement I just started crying. I shared my experience from the day before and I felt so loved by the Savior as I testified of the power that He can have in our lives if we just trust Him. It was a really emotional experience because I knew it would be one of the last lessons I ever teach. I just felt completely overwhelmed thinking about how the Atonement has blessed me in my life, especially during my mission. I will never be able to thank my Savior enough for the opportunity He has given me to serve a mission and the experiences that He has provided for me.
That night Elder Cottam and Elder Peterson tried to punk me but it didn't work! Silly Elders, I prank you- not the other way around!
Welp, I feel full of mixed emotions right now. I don't think my heart fully understand that I will be leaving in two days and that I will be released from this calling. This has been the greatest privilege that I have ever had. My mission is the greatest gift that God could have ever given me besides my family. I will never forget the things that I have learned and felt here in the mission. I will never forget these people. Never. I will never forget how loved I am by my Savior and Heavenly Father. I don't know what else to say right now so I will have to write another post when I get home and share with you my experience of my last day at transfer meeting, seeing my family for the first time again and being released. I just hope you can feel the love I have in my heart right now for the Lord's work. There is nothing as important or sacred as this.
I love all of you and am eternally grateful for your love and support.
18 months has flown by way too fast. I am broken hearted to leave but I trust that Heavenly Father will continue to use me as His instrument and that I will find other ways to share His love with others.
Welp, I'm off to go pack and clean now. The members are having a lil fiesta with is at the park tonight that I am really looking forward to.
See y'all on the other side...