Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Last P-day...

Over the past 18 months, I´ve seen a lot of really happy people, and a lot of people who are really suffering. There´s a lot of pain in the world, a lot of things that I honestly didn´t know existed. I´ve seen the consequences of divorces, addictions, disobedience, and pride. I´ve also seena lot of people who pass through big trials many times when it seems that they´re doing just about everything right. Now, my intention is not to focus on the negative, because I´ve also seen how the gospel has blessed and changed many families and many individuals. I´ve seen the power of the Atonement in action. It´s real! I´ve seen attitudes and behaviors change as the doctrine of the gospel is more fullu understood. But I think that one of the most important things I´ve learnd on the mission and I can bear testimony of, is that "it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things." (2 nephi 2:11)

David A. Christensen says "As long as we live in this world, there will always be opposition. Accepting that important truth helps us accept opposition without wondering why or when it will stop. We can then focus on learning from it and perhaps grow a sense of gratitude and glory. It´s a part of life. There´s a purpose in it."

So many people often ask themselves, (and ask the missionaries) "Why do bad things happen to good people?" 
Sometimes, there´s not a perfect answer, but I´ve learned that just about any question can be answered with the scriptures. In 1 Nephi 11:17 it reads, 
 "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." 
I know I have a Heavenly Father who loves me! 
His primary plan is that we grow and learn in this laboratory of life-complete with thorns, thistles, and noxious weeds. Sometimes that knowledge must be enough.
I learned a lot last week from my personal study in Ether 6. I chose to study for a sister in the ward who is going through a divorce. I learned that it was the wind and the waves that helped the Jaredite barges arrive in the promised land. (vs 8) There were "tempest and fierce winds" which helped the barges continue on. Did they get there overnight? No. Actually, it ook 344 days to get there! And as they were "burled in the depths of the sea" they "sang praises unto the Lord and thanked him all the day long." When their journey had ended, they "humbled themselves before the Lord and shed tears of joy." 

Each and everyone of us can apply this wonderful chapter to our lives! I finally get it. FINALLY! 
The adversity, trials, and hardships are what move us forward, help us progress, be humble, and learn how to rely on our Heavenly Father. and then, when we suffer them with patience and make it through, we must humble ourselves before the Lord and thank Him for helping us become stronger and better people.

President Lorenzo Snow said, " for everything you have suffered, for everything that has occurred to you which you thought an evil at that time, you will receive fourfold, and that suffering will have had a tendency to make you better and stronger and to feel that you have been blessed. When you look back over your experiences you will then see that you have advanced far ahead and have gone up several rounds of the ladder toward exaltation and glory. …
“Take it individually or take it collectively, we have suffered and we shall have to suffer again; and why? Because the Lord requires it at our hands for our sanctification” (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, comp. Clyde J. Williams [1984], 117–18).
For those we are suffering, who may have suffered, or feel down, just keep going! Don´t give up. Trust in our Heavenly Father. Seek revelation in the scriptures. Know that it´s all part of His plan. All he is showing you is that he wants you to become stronger and better, and sometimes we have to suffer in order for that to happen.
I testify that Heavenly Father lives; He loves us. When we are obedient and strive to know and do His will, He will bless us. I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can bring us comfort during times of sorrow, can heal wounded and broken hearts, and can help us become the sons and daughters of God that He would have us become :)
I love each and every one of you!
With love,
Hermana Melody Maki 

Time´s running out!

This week was a good one, very interesting and busy, as usual! I was able to go on exchanges with the sisters in Garcia Gineres (my first area) but Sister Brito is sick, so I went and took care of her so that her companion could work. Her companion had been in the house with her for a week after she got out of the hospital and was going crazy, she needed to go outside! I went and stayed with Hermana Brito for two days (She has a stomach infection, an swollen liver, and who knows what else!) and the 3rd day we hit it hard and went out to work. It was fun being back in my first area. While I was there, I was able to read a lot in the Book of Mormon and Liahona magazine. I studied this week a lot about sacrifice and the law of consecration. Our mission president invited us to study these topics, and then to ponder what we must do as missionaries to be more consecated in missionary work. I have always loved a small scripture that President Garcia always shares with us in his emails, "Look unto me in every thought, doubt not. Fear not." D&C 6:36. We must think of the Savior in all we do, and constantly remember HIS atonement. I know that if we can do so, we will have no reason to doubt or fear.  Being consecrated means giving ALL we have to build God´s kingdom upon the earth.  (material possesions, time, talents, etc) It means sacrificing and giving up wordly things, so that we can give time to the Lord to serve and help His children. As we do, he blesses us both temporally and spiritually. 

Yesterday we were able to watch the rededication of the temple in Mexico City. In stead of having normal church services, All members who were interviewed by the bishop with a current temple reccoment were able to attend in the stake center to watch the satellite viewing. It was amazing! Elder Holland Spoke, as well as President Eyring. My testimony was strengthened and I feel so grateful to have temples all over the earth, so that we can enter there and make covenants with our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ. Everytime I´m there, I feel my Heavenly Father´s love so strong, and feel so much closer to Him. In the temple we can leave behind all of our worries and frustrations, and focus on those things that will help us prepare to return to live in His prescence for all eternity. It is there were personal revelation comes flooding in, if we are prepared and always in tune with the Spirit. 

The work is giong just great in Madero. Karla and Edgar, an investigator and less active, and making plans to get married soon and are happier than ever. Last week, 15 less actives went to church, which also made me feel very happy because we have been working with them a lot in this area. 
That´s my quick update for this week, I love you all so much!

Hermana Maki 

Riding bikes in Mexico

Last week Hermana Sanchez and I decided that it´s been too long since we´ve been on a good ol bikeride, so on p-day early in the morning we walked over to the paseo verde (a park in our area) and rented bicycles! It was only 10 pesos (less than a dollar) for an hour. So we rode about 15 km and it was quite a blast. We even found a cool wall to pictures by. 

I´m really grateful for each companion that I´ve had on the mission, Last transfer I was really nervous to find out who my last companion would be, but I am so happy to be with Hermana Sanchez. She´s really great, really patient, and likes to work hard but have fun, just like MEEEE. 

Last Tuesday after our district meeting we had to do practices/role plays with other missionaries.  Everything was going just fine until the assistants decided they wanted to be funny. All of a sudden they switched up the groups and put one american with one latino in every group and told us that we had 5 minutes to teach the restoration, in english! It was a complete WRECK. Not because Hermana Estrada doesn´t know english, but because I couldn´t speak! I couldn´t teach, I couldn´t do anything. I opened my mouth and did not make any sense. It was the weirdest thing ever and scared me big time because I know I´m going to come home with broken english. I felt like an idiot. I´m just going to stick to spanish, I like it better, and Preslee, you´ll be excited to hear that I don´t have a super gringo accent. 

We found 5 great new investigadores this week. One of them is Maria Paola, a 19 year old who lives in front of the stake young women´s president. A year ago, she was in a terrible car accident and was in a como for a long time. I think that because of that and all that she has been through, she´s very receptive to the spirit. Although her parents are very catholic and haven´t joined us in the lessons yet (I know they will soon) they´re supportive of her decision to try something new. On Wednesday night she went to the relief society activity in the chapel with us. The sisters had a mini spa. They did facials, massages, and lots of other fun stuff with relaxing music and cute little plants for decorations. She loved it! It made me happy to see that all of the sisters were so nice and helped her feel welcome. So then, she sent us a message on Saturday night saying that she had too much homework to do on Sunday and that she wouldn´t be able to go to church. My companion and I both looked at each other (we were having a family home evening with some less actives) and said "nuh-uh. not happéning." and told her to at least go for an hour, and she did! actually she stayed for two hours and absolutely loved the gospel principles class. We talked about service, and the teacher invited everyone to do one act of service everyday this week and write it down. She even wanted to take a picture with us. 

Alma 29:10 explains how I have felt lately:

10And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me. 

I feel joy to see many of God´s children striving to make changes in their lives, and to also see many of them being bold and courageous to try new things. I think that´s really what this life is about. 

That´s all for this week, know that I love you all!!

Until next week,

Hermana Melody Mak

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Time to catch up!

Wow! I apologize for not writing last week, things have been crazy! So much has happened, I will quickly try to summarize it all, and I promise to include pictures today :))

First off, Jessica, Monica, and Karla got baptized 2 weeks ago. After fasting with them for 24 hours in the hot Merida heat, they received promptings that this church is true and that they needed to be baptized, even though their dad is catholic and very heard-hearted. Their mom is a member, and they knew that they have her support, our support, and a wonderful ward behind them. I think that it was the most beautiful baptism I´ve ever attended, I could feel the Spirit so strong. All three of them bore their testimonies to finish the baptismal service, and I think that there wasn´t a dry eye in the whole room! They are amazing girls and I feel so priveleged for the opportunity that I was given to be a part of their baptism and learn from each one of them and their strong testionies!

2) Wendy, a recent convert in Madero, invited us to eat pizza with them on Thursday night to thank us for helping their family. It touched my heart when we realized that they didn´t even have enugh money to pay for the 2 pizzas (their family is very humble and they have 3 kids to feed). We were able to help them and on our way home were so grateful the love and kindness of the members here. Many of them don´t have much, but I have learned here that charity, the pure love of Christ, is not sharing what you have left over, it´s sharing all that you have. What I loved is that Wendy, even though were sitting at a big table outside the restaurant, brought her hymn book and asked if we could sing a song and then say a prayer to bless the food. The waiter came while we were saying the prayer and loved it. 
The only sad part of the story is that the pizza made us sick, my companion was up from 2-5 am throwing up, and I later woke up at 6:30 with incredible pain and had to pass my language study in my hammock because the same thing was about to happen to me. 

3) Last Tuesday, Marilin and Eduardo got married! Marilin is getting baptized on Wednesday. We were able to go to the courthouse for the wedding ( we´re practically friends with the receptionists there after how many weddings!)
It was a beautiful wedding and they´re happy as can be.. however, just like usual, there´s always a BUT...
If you haven´t noticed yet, the people here LOVE to feed the missionaries. They took us back to their house (even though we practically said no because we were going to go home and study) and quickly gave us some tacos. Tacos de chicharon (pig skin) and then made me try morsilla. Morsilla is...
They clean out the large intestine of the pig, and then fill it with pig blood and cook it.
I ate tacos filled with that...
and I DID NOT sleep that night. 
It was a bad choice..but they didn´t really give me a choice. I ate it and THEN they told me what it was. Memories, that´s all it is, right? wow. It was quite the week!

and then! 4) Cristian got baptized on Saturday night. She´s a cute little 9-year old who is so excited about the gospel. Her dad is less active and doesn´t want much to do with the church but her mom is coming back and is doing great. Her dad offered her tea to drink the other day and she told him, "No, dad. The missionaries taught me that we shouldn´t drink tea. I´m not going to drink it." and then when he said they were going to go to the waterpark together on Sunday she quietly replied. "I´m not. I need to go to church." and she showed up. Children amaze me...they really do! 

With an upset stomach for 3 straight days, a lot of heat, and then a lot of rain, it has been a great week with much success. 
The work continues to move forward.
Today was transfer day. looks like I will spend my last transfer in Madero
My companion is Hermana Sanchez. she´s from Chile and I love her! We´re excited to continue seeing the hand of the Lord and the miracles that happen as we serve Him.

I love you all and hope all is well at home :))

con amor,

Hermana Melody Maki 

1- Marilin after her wedding
2- Morsilla. It was actually realllllllly good.
3- Monica, Karla, and Jessica at their baptism

This week was a hot one, to say the least.
Last monday my companion and I wanted to go to centro to look around at the shops, but it was the only day we can CHOOSE whether or not we want to be in the sun, so we decided to go home and rest. But it was so hot that we couldn´t even take a nap! we tried and it was a big failure.
My companion decided to take a shower, thinking that would help, but there´s only one setting on the water, in the summer it´s hot, and in the winter it´s cold. She took a hot shower and felt even worse, but the yucatecos loved it. I contacted a lady on the bus that same day who told me that what she loved most about yucatan was that you can take 5 showers a day here! That same night (monday) neither one of us could sleep. After about an hour my companion whipped out our little camping burner and heated up our awesome mexican soy milk and we fell right asleep. Not a boring day goes by in the mission, ever.

Last night I got up at 3 am to put an ice pack on my neck so that I could fall back asleep! I think the next time I see snow, tears will probably be shed.

This week we were teaching cristian, a little 9 year old girl who is preparing to be baptized. She´s the only one in her family that isn´t a member, they´ve been inactive for quite a while. We watched this video with her, https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2014-03-0040-video-presentation-walk-in-his-light?lang=eng
and we taught her about her divine worth! We taught the law of chastity and the word of wisdom, that if she keeps her body clean and pure, she can one day enter the temple, be sealed for time and all eternity, and have her very one eternal family. I almost cried during the video as I thought about her future. Years down the road she will be able to look back and remember that she kept the commandments from a young age and see the blessings that were received as a result of doing so. She ran up to us at church yesterday and gave us a big hug in her new sunday dress, it was so cute.
The work continues to go forth! There´s no resting in Madero, I know have 7 months in this area and hope that President lets me stay, we shall see. We´ve got another busy week ahead, so I must go.
Know that I love you all and pray that you will seek missionary opportunities everyday :)

con amor,

Hermana Melody Maki

Being happy with what we have! :)

I enjoyed eating with la familia filidor this week, they´re a cute couple in our ward with two young daughters. About two years ago, they started taking the self-reliance courses from the church (something that the church is stressing a lot right now in Mexico) to learn how to open a business, how to save money, etc.

Hermano Filidor quit his job working at Costco (12hrs a day) and they opened their empanada business from 7 am - 12. After that, they close, and they´re all 4 home together for the afternoon. They aren´t rolling in it, that´s for sure, but they have sufficient money to cover their needs. His wife shared with us that they turned off internet and cable when they really sat down and saw how expensive it was, and how much time it was taking away from their family. She also said that she was frustrated because they never developed the habit of family scripture study because her husband would get home at 8 pm everynight when the girls were going to bed. It was something that stressed her out alot, something that she knew they needed to do that they weren´t.

I enjoyed hearing their testimony of how simplifying their lives has helped their family. Each day, they eat lunch together as a family and read the sciptures for an hour together, sitting around the table. She said that her girls get so excited when it´s time to read! that they start and end with a prayer and pause at the important parts to explain them. I could feel the spirit in their home, and I testified to them that any one who enters there can and will feel it, because they are putting the principles of the gospel into practice, day after day after day..and their family is being blessed. Sometimes the most basic simple principles are the hardest ones for us to live! why is it that way?

Through small sacrifices and a lot of faith, their family now has MUCH more time together, and is living with less material things, but with many more blessings.
I was pondering all afternoon what they shared with us. Technology is great, it is such a wonderful tool in sharing the gospel, we just have to be careful and only use it for the right reasons. It´s easy to become addicted or too reliant on the cell phone or the ipad. It´s not necesarily bad to have one, as long as it fits into our budget, but I think that some of the most fulfilling moments we can have are when we set it aside for a little while and go do something as a family, or when we go and serve someone else. AND...because I´m a missionary, I´m used to leaving invitations! sooo..that´s the invitation this week..
Set the technology aside for a few hours, have a conversation face to face with someone, and find one way to show your love or serve someone in need!  Matthew 25:40 sayd "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren , ye have done it unto me. " Really you´re serving the Lord! 
Find ways to simplify your life and go without things that may be distracting or keeping you from progressing spiritually and I promise the Lord will help you on the journey, 

I love and pray for each of you and hope all is well :)

Con amor,

Hermana Melody Maki
Another amazing week flies by! Each day here is so full. full of work, and full of smiles. we have been receiving lots of referalls in the last two weeks. we have been trying to contact all of them but sometimes just can`t find the time when we`re running (sometimes literally running) from one appointment to another. We have 23 received referalls that we have yet to contact that could potentially turn into investigators, talk about work! Lemme tell ya, we are busy and that is how I like it!  I don`t think I`ve ever slept so soundly in my whole life.

I have really been enjoying my personal studies this week in Mosiah. I was reading Mosiah 10:10-11 on Friday...
"And it came to pass that we did go up to battle against the Lamanites; and I, even I, in my old age, did go up to battle against the Lamanites. And it came to pass that we did go up in the strength of the Lord to battle. Now, the Lamanites knew nothing concerning the Lord, nor the strength of the Lord, therefore they depended upon their own strength. Yet they were a strong people, as to the strength of men." 
I immediately then wrote this question in my study journal, "How can I work as a missionary in the strength of the Lord and not depend upon my own strength?" I immediately thought of a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that reads, 

"And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good —yea, to do justly , to walk humbly , to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit."
Instead of trusting in ourselves, we must trust in the spirit, because if we do, the promise is fulfilled that, ".. it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say." (D&C 100:6)

I never have really elegant words or special things to tell the people I teach, but what they need to hear is given to me when I pray for the Spirit and follow the promptings it gives. I`m so grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost and grateful to be led and guided by him, whether we`re in a lesson or out in the street.

We were teaching a recent convert family who are having family problems, they have three kids, 11, 8, and 7.. but before they were baptized they had a tough life and basically grew up in the streets. The two youngest girls do nothing but fight, and the 8 year old is very rude and continues to swear in front of her parents. We sat down with the whole family and as we began to teach the 3rd lesson, the gospel of Jesus Christ, both my companion and I felt impressed to steer off track for a minute and try something new. We went around the circle and had each child say something that they liked about each of their siblings and their parents, and the parents did the same, they all shared one thing that they liked about each family member. Immediately, smiles came to their faces and the youngest girls gave each other a hug, something that they NEVER do. It was amazing to see the smile on their mom`s face as she saw her kids calm down and show each other a little bit of love, and it brought tears to my eyes as she shared what she loves about each of her children because she was not a very nice momma before she got baptized.
It was a neat experience for me and I invite each of you to do the same during your Family Home Evening tonight! Give each one of your family members a compliment, and watch how everyone immediately feels a calm spirit of peace in the home and an increased love toward your family. I know that the family is ordained of God and that now more than ever we must do all that we can to protect it :))

con amor,

Hermana Melody Maki