Monday, December 15, 2014

The rumors about the big hills were true..

Warning: This email could be veryyyy scattered and full of lots of randomness...

However, Here I am, in good ol Campeche, absolutely lovin it! I even love the HUGE hills that we walk up and down all day every day, and showering out of a five gallon bucket in the morning. My life is the best. I´m not even kidding.

My companion and I both got sick this week. The weather here is a little more extreme than Merida in that it´ll get really cold at night, and then really hot during the day. I wake up literally shivering in the night, and because of the humidity, adding more blankets does absolutely nothing. The changes in weather make everyone sick, so the good thing is that we aren´t the only ones. With a little bit of orange juice and a whole lots of prayers, we´re feeling better :) Thursday I felt absolutely awful, but immediately thought of the testimony of one of the assistents to President who shared his testimony a couple weeks ago before going home, "Enjoy EVERY moment of your missions, the good days, the bad days, when baptisms fall through..everything," he told us. So, I decided to enjoy being sick. It was the first time I´ve tried, and it was fun! I just kept trucking on with a smile, and my wonderful companion did so as well. She is so wonderful, and she´s going to BYU next year so we are working big time on her English. She makes me pray in English, but I have kind of forgotten how and my prayers sound a little funny and I speak much slower. But it´s all good.

One thing that I LOVE about being next to the ocean is that everyone here eats seafood!! This week we ate with Hermana Carolina and she made us fishhhhhh. It was delicious.. She didn´t even give us utensils, we just used our hands and tortillas, threw a bunch of chile habanero on it, and called it good. It was probably the best fish I have ever had. It was the first time I had to take the head off of a fish before eating it, and then leave it sitting on my plate, but...there´s always a first for everything, right? :)

Our area is great. We are teaching a lot of teenagers here, a big change from teaching the old folks in Garcia Gineres. I love teaching them because they always have so many great questions. Usually they´re hard questions that make me think, or make me go home and study and then come back and answer them..
We´re really excited to work with the active members and less actives here, because they need help. We´ve visited a lot of them and realized that the their testimonies aren´t super strong and so we want to teach them the missionary lessons as well, so that they grow in their strength and understanding of the gospel, just like investigators! Sometimes, I think we focus so much on the investigators that we forget about the members too, that they also need our help! We have been visiting a less active named Erendida who is so happy to be back at church. On Wednesday, after our lesson, she made us some apple tea to help our sore throats and then told us, "Hermanas, don´t worry so much about finding new members, because there are old members like me who have fallen away and need help, and I´m so grateful you have come into my lives and are helping me come back to church. Don´t ever forget about the old members too." We left that lesson and had a lot to talk about on the walk home. It opened my eyes a lot and made me think about what the will of the Lord is for us in this area. Yes of course, he wants us to find, teach, and baptize, as usual, but also to really focus on strengthening and serving the less active and active members. Oh the things one learns in the mission, I could go on all day, but I won´t! 

That´s all for today. P-day next week is Tuesday, because we´re going to Merida on Monday to spend Christmas with the whole mission! Woohoo!! I love you all :)

Con amor,

Hermana Melody Maki

Friday, December 12, 2014

Waking up tomorrow to the smell of the ocean!

WOOHOO! After 7.5 months in my first area, I finally had transfers! I spent all day today travelling in a big coach bus. I am now way far from Mèrida, in a whole different state actually. I`m in Campeche on the beach, where every missionary and their dog want to serve. I love it here and am excited to be a sister training leader with Hermana Martinez, a latina from Mexico City. She is absolutely wonderful and I know I will learn a whole lot! I feel priveleged to be here serving the Lord and the wonderful people in Campeche..they, along with this state, are wayyyyy different from Merida. I`m excited to be out of the city :)
I`ll send some pictures next week!
Don`t have much to talk about from this week, it sure went by fast and was sooooo hard to say goodbye to the ward in Garcia Gineres and the recent converts, but I was able to hold back the tears and gratefully accept that the Lord is preparing hearts and people for me to meet and teach here and that it was time to move on! Part of my heart will ALWAYS be there. I attached a picture of my last visit to parque de la Americas near our house, and a family home evening that we had on Monday with the Relief Society president and her family. They invited the four investigators who got baptized the weekend before and taught them about family home evening, why we do it, and ideas of activities that they could do. It was great, and always makes me so happy when members are so eager to join in on missionary work!
As we get closer to Christmas (even though I feel like it`s July thanks to the weather) I`m reminded more and more each day of the countless blessings I, and my family, have received because of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of Him, I`m here on this earth. Because of Him, I can be forgiven of my sins. Because of Him, someday I`ll be able to return to live with my Heavenly Father. 
For me, this Christmas WILL be different. Instead of Christmas shopping or watching Christmas movies (not that these things are bad) I`m trying to lose myself in the service of the Lord, and think of Jesus Christ and how I can discover, embrace, and share this gift that our loving Heavenly Father has given us. 

Hermana Maki

Please take 3 minutes, each of you, to watch this wonderful video and then share it with everyone! :)) 

End it with a kiss and then dunk em!

Monica and Northon (who I have had the privelege to teach since I got to this area almost 7 months ago) FINALLY got married! and even better? We got to go to the wedding? It wasn´t anything big, we just went to the courthouse and they had the cute little ceremony, but it was so great, and they are so happy. and then...on Saturday, they got baptized! Along with our other investigadors, Hernana and Emire, some of my favorite people ever. It was a lot of exhausting work this week getting everything ready, but Saturday rolled around, the members all pitched in and helped so much, and it was such a wonderful baptism. As uaual, I love baptisms because there is a different spirit there. I watch people, who just months ago were so very different, truly humble themselves before the Lord, repent of their sins, and follow the example of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He showed us the way. To know that the Lord made me a small instrument in his hand to bring this about makes me grateful, happy, and humbled to be his servant for such a short period of time here in the wonderful country of Mexico! I didn´t do anything really, but I try to teach with the Spirit so that it brings the message to the hearts of the people, and that´s when their conversion truly begins. When they act upon the message the missionaries share, when they keep their commitments, and when they really want to be born again and enter into the straight and narrow path that leads back to our Heavenly Father. Monica and Northon are already talking about the temple, they´re going to do baptisms in about three weeks and we´re going to start a countdown to next November when they will be able to go through the temple and later be sealed as a family. What a beautiful day that will be! Oh, I just love this gospel, and I love missionary work more and more each day. It´s not easy, but it´s the work of the Lord and he´s always working side by side with us, softening the hearts of the people who surround us, so that they can accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ and enjoy the blessings that come from it for the rest of their lives!

Emire (one of the recent converts) shared with us that on Friday night she had awful dreams while she was sleeping, and woke up frazzled and not all that happy..but that all day Saturday she was excited for her baptism..and then said that Saturday night she slept like a rock, didn´t even dream! She could recognize that something as small as that was a blesing that came from her baptism and the Spirit that she felt, the knowledge that she is completely clean and has received forgiveness for all of her past trangressions. 

I mean, what more can I say? Now, we just keep moving forward. We gotta keep finding new investigators and keeping moving the work forward, while at the same time help these recent converts tor remain strong and faithful in the Gospel. Lots and lots to do, just how I like it :) Staying busy and focused helps me just lose myself in the work, not worry too much about my self or what all I´m missing back home, but just accept that I´m here for right now, the Lord has a work for me to do, and that if I serve with all my heart, he will bless me and my family forever. (sorry for the long run-on sentences) English has now officially become a weakness of mine for the time being :( 

Anyway. I love and appreciate all of you! Don´t ever forget it :) Your prayers make me stronger and give me the strength and motivation to keep working hard each day. Que Dios les bendiga :) 

Con amor,

Hermana Melody Maki

Happy Turkey Day!

Even though they don´t celebrate Thanksgiving in Mexico, I can still choose to be grateful for the many blessings the Lord has given me, and I feel like sharing!

1. I am grateful for a family who loves me and supports me in all I do.
2. I´m grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ which makes me happy and brings direction and happiness to my life.
3. I´m grateful for the opportunity and blessing it is to be a full-time missionary for 18 months.
4. I´m grateful for trials and road bumps along the way that push to learn and grow
5. I´m grateful for Mexico, for the people I´m meeting, teaching, and interacting with.
6. I´m grateful for little things that help make our lives more comfortable: clean running water, beds, washing machines, carpet floors, etc. (Things I had before that I took for granted!)
7. I´m grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ which allows me to repent and be a better, stronger person each day, and understand that I don´t have to pass any trail alone, that someday bigger and better already suffered for me.
8. I´m grateful for the power of prayer. Grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who hears and answers those prayers, always.
9. I´m grateful for brothers and sisters, with whom I could spend my childhood years laughing and making memories along the way that are always dear to my heart.
10. I´m grateful to be here on this earth, to have agency, and to understand the Plan of Salvation, to know what happens afer this life and to know what things I must do while here so that I can return to live with my Heavenly Father.

This week, we were teaching some investigators the plan of salvation, and they had some DEEP questions that really made me think..I loved that lesson, because I left even more grateful for the plan our Heavenly Father has given us. I know where I came from, why it is that I´´m here on the earth, and where I´m going. Heavenly Father has so much in store for us, and if we rise up to that potential and use the strength the Atonement offers us, we can become like Him someday. I hope that this week, each one of you will take a minute to reflect on all of the many things you have to be grateful for, and whether or not you are accustomed to pray, will do so and give thanks to our Heavenly Father, because all that we have truly does come from him. 
But...not justtt this week we should be grateful ;) I love what Alma 34:38 says " in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you."

I love each of you and pray that everyone has a happy, safe Thanksgiving! 

Hermana Maki

Beans & Chile for breakfast...

Wow. sorry to everyone that I didn´t write last week! I ran out of time due to some mission emails that were too long. But, good thing is that today I have lots to say. Lots of randomness...

First thing. I was thinking this week about how before the mission I couldn´t eat a jalapeño, let alone smell one! and now...just about everyday I eat jalapeños, habaneros, cerranos, etc. In the beginning of my mission, I always politely said no to chile, but then little by little my stomach began adjusting, or at least putting up with them. This week was hilarious. Tuesday morning, I made scrambled eggs for Hermana Thomas and I, and added some canned onions and chiles that one of our recent converts gave us! It has onions, jalapeños, habaneros, cerranos, and a ton of other stuff. We had that with beans and french bread...for BREAKFAST. That´s how we eat here in Yucatan..and I LOVE it! Then, Friday afternoon we ate with Hermana Primavera and she made us tacos :) The salsa she put on them was made with pure chile cerrano...super spicy. I loaded it on there and my mouth burned for a couple hours, but it was worth it..until I woke up Saturday morning (early) because my stomach was so upset! I definitely paid the price the next day, but it was sooo worth it. Sometimes we make poor decisions and then don´t think about the consequences, haha.
Point of the story? One day, when my mission is over and I go back home, I hope there are all sorts of chiles waiting on the table, because I can´t eat without them. and tortillas. I was laughing thinking about it this week that we even eat spaghetti with tortillas. instead of forks and spoons here, just use tortillas, so much easier! good stuff.

So, as if that isn´t evidence enough that I´m becoming Yucateca, the second thing would be that I got COLD this week. It got down into the seventies and I had to wear a scarf to church yesterday. With my hair down to keep me warm. I feel a bit ridiculous, but then I see the people here with their mittens and hats, and I fit right in! I wake up cold in the night in my hammock and add more blankets! I don´t know what is happening....

As to our investigators, we were teaching an Hermano a few weeks ago named Hernan, he must be in his late 60´s..and he´s been living with his friend Jesus Orlando, a recent convert in Garcia Gineres. They´re going to open a business together..anyway, everything was going good, but then he basically told us that he wasn´t going to live there and was just going to work there and live in his house (outside of our area) so we had to let him know that we wouldn´t be able to teach him. We were sooooo sad...but guess what happened??
He let us know this week that yes, he IS indeed going to live there, mainly because he wants to be a part of this ward. He loves the people here and can´t imagine going to another chappel. He talked to the bishop about it and agreed to just live here, since nobody else lives with him in his other house on the other side of Merida. Long story short, he´s getting baptized in the 29th, along with Monica and Northon, and he is soooo excited. When we talk about his baptism, he looks like a little kid on Christmas morning..He´s so exicted and ready to make this change in his life. I imagine that converts do feel that way. Like it´s Christmas morning, such a happy time full of smiles and joy. They are leaving an old life behind and being re-born, receiving forgiveness of all their past sins and transgressions. To be a part of this process is such a blessing, and strengthens my testimony each day. Without a doubt in my mind, this is THE true church upon the earth, led and guided by a prophet of God under the direction of Jesus Christ. 
How do we sum it all up? I´m adjusting to Yucatan, happier than ever,my testimony being strengthened each new day, and finishing up what I think will be my last transfer in Garcia Gineres. Gonna finish here with a bang! 
I love each and every one of you and always pray for you back home :)

With much love,

Hermana Melody Maki

Fotos--site seeing last week in Paseo De Montejo after our adventure to Walmart.


La Humildad

Humility- a Christlike attribute we all MUST learn to develop. The Lord is helping me be more humble each day in the mission.
This week....was so hard. I counted 14 lessons that fell through, and we walked so long and so far every day that my knees are sore still. (and that´s not a joke.) 
Everything that could´ve gone wrong this week, went wrong. Every contact that we had in the street didn´t want anything to do with us.. but I specifically remember Wednesday, just feeling a little frustrated, I looked down at my companion (because I´m 12 inches taller than her) and said, " We will keep moving forward with a smiles on our faces and learn what it is the Lord wants us to learn from this week." I don´t think it was any coincidence that Tuesday morning during personal study I felt very impressed to study in chapter 6 of Preach my Gospel about Humility. I read, " Humility is willingness to submit to the will of the Lord and give the Lord the honor for what is accomplished. It included gratitude for His blessings and acknowledgement of your constant need for His divine help. Humility is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of spiritual strenth." 
WOW! Maybe the Lord just wants me to be humble, and to remember that in these times I really have to rely on Him, because I can´t do it on my own. I´m grateful to have studied that this week, because I reflected back on it each day as lesson after lesson fell through, and I could then make the decision that I was just going to keep praying, keep working with a smile, and keep trusting in the faith that I have that Heavenly Father will see the hard work we´re doing, and in His time, will bless us and help us to see the fruits of our labors. And in a matter of days.....He did.

Yesterday, somehow......6 investigators came to church. In 7 months on the mission, that´s the most I´ve ever had come...I realized that it wasn´t anything that we did. It was the hand of the Lord. In D&C 112:10 it says "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand and give thee answer to thy prayers." I know that the Lord hears and answers our prayers, he really does! Always in His time, that´s the part we have to remember. But if we continue in faith, never doubting, he won´t let us fail. I hope we can all strive every day to be more humble and trust in the Lord, and I have a testimony that if we do, we will be able to recognize His hand in our live every single day, whether it be something really big, or something really small. 

Until next week,

Hermana Maki :)

Foto -- "Pibes" Tradicional Yucateca dish for Day of the Dead (1 november) Similar to Tamales..we ate pibes for 3 DAYS!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It´s a good day in Merida when you can wear your hair down!

Like I said last week, it continues to cool down just little by little. This week I wore my hair down twice, (all day) and didn´t die. It´s a new record! It´s still hot, but much more bearable.

Last Monday night we went to visit a member family and taught them the we were asking for referalls, Hermana Primavera´s face just got really sad and everyone got quiet...."Our neighbor, Emire," she said, "really needs help. Let´s go over right now and I´ll introduce you to her." So we went! We were already late for our next lesson, but we went, and I´m glad we did. Emire has a lot of problems, and because of that, is being humbled by the Lord. She´s willing and ready to start changing her life, and we´re ready and praying hard each day that we can help her do so. We had three lessons with her this week that all went well, she´s excited to get baptized at the end of November, and I feel the Spirit stronger than EVER in the lessons with her. 

Also, this week one of my favorite people in the whole wide world got baptized! Esthela, my little grandma I found in the mission :) She´s such a wonderful example to me and in one short month I saw a huge change in her as she came to know for herself that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God and restored the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the one and only true church upon the earth. It´s amazing what this Gospel can do, that´s all I can say!! 

Monica and Norton (our eternal investigators) are hopefully finishing up the paperwork for Norton´s divorce so that they can get married in November. They´re the best little family..anyway, last Monday, we taught them how to have Family Home Evening! It was way fun and they´re excited to do it each week as a family. We had a mini testimony meeting where everyone was able to share their testimonies, and I absolutely loved it! Last night, we helped them get going on their family history and put information into family search. They are loving family history and going to town, and haven´t even gotten baptized yet! When we finished, we told them that it was possible we´d have transfers today, but that last night as soon as we got home we would get a phone call letting us now. Norton said the closing prayer and ask that neither of us gets transferred just yet so that we can be present in their baptism. Then...this morning Monica called us, "Hermana Maki!! You´re not leaving, right? We said a family prayer first thing this morning that you would be able to stay in Garcia Gineres longer! You can´t go yet." I assured her that the Lord has more work for me to do here with Hermana Thomas and that I´m excited for another 6 weeks in this wonderful area :) and my 5th transfer beginsssssss!

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Melody Maki

foto 1- Esthela´s baptism
foto 2- teaching Hermana Bravo how to make chocolate chip cookies!! 

Yucatan winter on it´s way!!

And with the blink of an eye, yet another week passes! Hermana Thomas and I are starting our last week of this transfer, I can´t believe it´s already semana 6! (week 6) 
We had a great week. There´s a recent convert in our ward, Jesus Orlando...who is just on fire! He is so excited about the Gospel and having just received the priesthood a couple months ago. Two of his best friends have gotten baptized, and this week he gave us the referall of another friend who has shown interest in the church, Hernan. He´s already gone to church twice, and we were bummed that we wouldn´t be able to teach him because he lives outside of our area...but The Lord sure works in mysterious ways, because he now is going to be living in Jesus´s house which means we get to teach him! Them and the two other converts are opening a business together. They call themselves the 4 mormons, and they are quite a show, lemme tell ya. Well, Hernan is almosttttt Mormon. We taught him yesterday for the first time and he is way excited to get baptized in November. He understood the Restoration very well and was very receptive. He said that he felt the Spirit very strong during the lesson, and I was glad to hear him say that, because I did too! Especially as I recited the words to him from the First Vision..When I do so, I feel my testimony being strengthened as I have to hold back tears almost everytime. The more I share this gospel and my testimony of it, the more it´s grown. It´s perfect, true, and one of the greatest blessings the Lord has given me.

Something that we´ve done this week is visit more of the active members in the ward. I´ve enjoyed doing so, because we´re getting to know all of them better! When you have a better relationship with the members, they´re more willing to help you with missionary work! When they trust us, they´ll be willing to give us referalls of their friends and family. I especially love giving service to the members as well. There is one sister in our ward with polio, who has been in a wheelchair her whole life. As we sat with her in her little store and shared the message of the Restoration with her, I was amazed at all that she has accomplished over the course of her life. She hasn´t had it easy, but says that having the gospel has made it all possible. I was grateful that she was honest with us when we asked what we could do to help her. A lot of members respond, "nothing sisters, no worries! We´re fine!" But she told us we could pass by occasionally at nighttime if a lesson falls through and help her fill the refrigerators with all the beverages that she sells. This week we weren´t able to because we had a ton of lessons, but I´m hoping that soon we´ll be able to stop by and give her a hand. Service is my favorite!! 

It´s cooled off a little bit here (I never thought the day would come!) because apparently the hurricanes are on the way...I´ve enjoyed not being totally covered in sweat all day...we´ll see just how long it lasts! :)

Well, that´s my news for the week! So good to hear from each of you back home and all that´s going on! I miss you all and love you so much.

Hermana Maki 

1. P-day foto before we left the house this morning for the stake center
2. Mototaxi..We LOVE mototaxis. They´re cheap, (not all that safe) and very fun when you don´t feel like walking! 

Who would´ve thought that cats like tamales?!

Ok, funny story to begin..

A few weeks ago, we went to visit an investigator, Diego.. we just so happened to be fasting that day, and had to turn down his offer for soda before the lesson (we almost always say yes even if it´s kind we don´t like, because it´s so dang hot!) but politely said no..Then, during the lesson, the guy selling tamales rides by on his bike, and Diego jumps up and buys us we finished the lesson and he insisted that we eat them..but we wouldn´t! and we felt he put them in a baggie and sent them home with us...well..a little later that night, we were visiting another investigator, Rodolfo, and I had placed the bag on the floor next to my chair. Before I knew it, his cat had bitten through the bag and was eating the tamales! I was so bummed..because they have very quickly become one of my favorite foods here...but the good thing is that he only ate one of them, so the next day I was able to eat the other tamale (my companion doesn´t like them). and it was delicious. It was kinda funny, we´re all just sitting in the lesson and all of a sudden realize this cat is just going to town with my food, we laughed for quite some time as the dumb cat ran off! End of my silly story.

On Friday night this week, our zone leaders had a baptism not too far from our area, and we were able to take two investigators. The girl that got baptized was actually in our area one day, standing on the sidewalk smoking..and our ward mission leader, as awesome as he is, began to talk to her about the gospel and the word of wisdom. And here she was, two months later, being baptized...pretty awesome. Anyway, Bishop helped us get to of our investigators there and took us over to the chapel. It was a beautiful baptism and both Estela and Rodolfo felt the spirit very strong. They´re kind of our golden investigators right now, both preparing to be baptized this month. they say that 80% of the investigators who assist a baptism end up getting baptized afterward, and I know that´s true..because it gave them both the opportunity to see what it´s like and feel the Spirit that was present there. Love it!!

Also, last night we had a meeting with another General Authority, Elder Mendoza. He spoke with the full time missionaries, ward missionaries, and ward mission leaders about the members getting more involved in missionary work, a topic I´m sure you all have been hearing a lot lately. It´s so important, and it´s  something I did not understand before the mission. When the members give us referalls, it helps so much. When they invite friends to their houses and invite us to come, it´s the ideal setting to teach the Gospel. I encourage each of you to pray to know who you could invite to visit with the missionaries in your home, and if you do so, with real intent, believeing that Heavenly Father will put a name in your mind of someone who´s ready to hear the gospel,  He will!!  Members have such a huge role in missionary work, and I aspire to be a much better member missoinary after the mission, but for now, I have the opportunity for a short time to be a full-time missionary, the opportunity of a lifetime! It´s the best decision I´ve ever made and I wouldn´t trade this time for anything in the whole world. 

I´m seeing the gospel change lives, little by little, including my own.

I love each of you and hope that you have a wonderful, safe week. Until next Monday....adios!!

Hermana Maki

foto #1..just a boring picture of my area....haha
foto #2 picking oranges at Hna. Nidia´s house so that we could make orange juice last night!! 

Conference makes me happyyyyy

Oh how I love the people of Yucatan. We had been visiting a less active named Nidia about 3 months ago whenever we had time to stop by and see her. She has been inactive for like 40 years and says she´s catholic, but a wonderful lady and we just love her so much! One of her daughters, who must be in her 30´s, lives with her..and always was getting home from work while we were there. She never even said hi to us, usually scowled and walked through the room back to her room and shut the door..nice and tight..However, little by little, with lots of smiles and slowly trying to reach out to her, with time she warmed up to us. During one lesson, she even sang the opening song with us before leaving to go back to her room. Then, the next time we came, my companion kind of just put the lesson on hold and really reached out to her. She was sewing, and we began to ask her about what she was doing and really try to get to know her. After about a half hour of simply conversing with her, she let us share a sripture with them! About a month passed and we hand´t passed by to seem them due to such a full schedule lately. However, we were visiting their neighbors the other day, when Nidia and her daughter came outside, gave us both a big hug, and invited us to come over to dinner the following week. The daughter invited us! the nonmember daughter, yep. The daughter who 3 months ago wouldn´t look at us. I was blown away. So we went, and they had a humble little dinner prepared of white bread sandwhiches with ham and cheese, along with a pitcher of ice cold horchata, my favorite :) She began to ask lots of questions about the mission, what we do, if we miss our families (duh!) and if we enjoy what we do. Even though she is not interested right now in listening to the missionary lessons, I know that her time will come. Little by little, I have seen her heart change. I´m grateful we reached out to her and befriended her, because she is slowly becoming interested with more time. I was so grateful that they offered to make us dinner, although it was very meager and simple, it means so much to me when they people who have so little, give us so much. I was also grateful to be able to share with both of them my testimony about the mission, the best and most fulfilling work in the whole wide world. 

Ok, best part of the week though...CONFERENCE! I loved it. Loved it soooo much. The best part?  I felt the Spirit strongly, and really loved the emphasis that was put on the prophet and how we can sustain him. I´m truly grateful for a living prophet. I know he has been called of God and leads and guides this church. 
I don´t really know if I could pick a favorite talk, but one that really spoke to me was by Elder Jorg Klebingat..

He said, " Acknowledge and face your weaknesses, but don´t be immobilized by them, because some of them wil be your companions until you depart this earth life."

Wow, I needed to hear that! We want to be perfect, as least I do, and sometimes my weaknesses get me down. But it doesn´t have to be that way! The Lord gives us weaknesses to make us strong, to help us learn and progress on this mortal journey. We can choose to be grateful for them!

Also, anything that President Uchtdorf says immediately becomes my favorite, simply because I love that man! 

"I know of no sign on the doors of our meetinghouses that says ´your testimony must be this tall to enter´" 
 We all come from different backgrounds, have different testimonies, and learn at different paces. I have to try really hard to not compare my testimony to that of other missionaries. Because when I do, I let Satan win. That´s what he wants me to do, to feel inadequate compared to others, compared to their testimonies or knowledge of the gospel. But I won´t do it! Heavenly Father knows I have a strong testimony, and that it´s growing each new day :) 

this church is so true. I know that from the very bottom of my heart. 

That shall be all for this week :) I pray that we will all begin studying and reading the conference talks so that we can strengthen our testimonies and continue to receive personal revelation from the words of living prophets and apostles.

Hermana Melody Maki 

Teaching the old folks

This past Tuesday, we found a wonderfullll new investigator named Estela. I immediately just fell in love with her! She welcomed us into her home and said she would be willing to listen to our message, let us sit down on her big comfy couch and we got to know her a little bit better. She walks with one of those walkers that have a seat on em so you can sit down when you get tired. I would´ve guessed she was maybe 70 or 75 years old, but then proceeded to tell us that she´s about to turn 90! What?! She has 10 kids, 30 grandkids, and is catholic. The first lesson went well. She didn´t accept a baptismal date, but we left very happy and anxious to teach her again..We went back on Friday morning and that´s when everything just went uphill! she accepted a baptism date, said she wanted to go to church, had been reading in the Book of Mormon, was understanding almost everything perfectly, and wanted to visit again on Saturday. We brought a member along, Hermana Imelda, who is somewhere around 70, I believe. they immediately became friends, and Hermana Imelda was able to pick her up and take her to church yesterday! She stayed all three hours and just loved it. I´m still shocked.. I think it really just added to my testimony that we never ever ever know who will/will not accept the Gospel. Ah I just love her!! Our ward mission leader always teaches the gospel principles class each Sunday. The elders and us bring our investigators and also the recent converts and it´s always a good time. However, yesterday, he couldn´t teach because he had to help out in another class, and asked me to teach as we were about to start the class....I looked up with my mouth open..."um..sure?" ......
I mean it probably wasn´t the best class, that´s for sure, but I was grateful for the opportunity and have learned as a missionary to always be ready for anything! 

I was reading a conference talk this week from Elder L. Tom Perry about Obedience, and wanted to share just a quick little part that called my attention. "Those who solely rely on themselves and follow only their own desires and self-inclinations are so limited compared to those who follow God and tap into His insight, power and gifts." Sometimes, we are prideful and want to  do everything ourself!  If we humble ourselves and ask for the Lord´s hand, I know he´ll reach down to help. I´ve seen him reach down and help, when I kneel in humble prayer, reaching up, asking for His hand. We are His precious children, and loves each one of us individually and knows us :) 

I´m grateful that this weekend is general conference. I´m grateful for the opportunity we have to listen to living apostles and prophets of the Lord. The women´s session on Saturday night was so good, I got to watch it in ENGLISH! What what?! I felt the Spirit incredibly strong and am anxiously waiting for this weekend to come. I encourage each of you to take notes and seek personal revelation. I was grateful I did that just one year ago in the October conference, where I was able to receive an answer about serving a mission. Because I followed that prompting I received during conference, I´m here for 18 months in México, happier than any other time in my life, and I can´t imagine being anywhere else. 

All in all, life is good :) The mission is the best. I hope everyone back home is doing well and I continue to pray for each of you daily! Have a wonderful week!!

Hermana Maki 

I'm a mama!

Ah, this week has been so wonderful! I received a phone call last Sunday night that Hna. Janco and I were going to have transfers..which made me sad..but then I found out that I would be training a new sister, and then I got super excited. She arrived Tuesday morning, and we had a longgggg training with all of the other trainers and newbies, with President Garcia, his wife, and the assistants. It was super great and made me feel privileged to have this opportunity. 

So... my new companion is Hermana Thomas, from Bountiful, Utah. She is so WONDERFUL!  I love her to  pieces and know that we´re going to have a great time together. She is almost a whole foot shorter than me ;) She has such a strong desire to work hard and is so diligent. When I heard that 4 of the 5 new sisters were north Americans, I kind of new I would train a north american, and immediately got nervous because I don´t want to speak English and lose my Spanish, but she doesn´t even want to speak English, and that is pretty much a miracle. Of course, she asks me questions in English and occasionally without even thinking the conversation turns into a little English, but I´ve been really surprised, it´s almost always pure Spanish, and I´m grateful for that, because we´re learning from each other every single day :) The Bishop´s wife saw us running the other morning and then that day we had lunch with her..She said that when she saw us in the morning she thought that my little sister from Montana had come to visit me for the week! Haha. Everyone asks if she´s my sister. It´s pretty adorable. 

This week, the 16th of September, was Independence day in Mexico! Super fun, even though I was in meetings part of the day. Lemme tell ya, I´ve never been so scared walking down the street...almost everyone was drunk. It made me sad. I´ll admit we didn´t do much street contacting that day...haha

And so I begin my 4th transfer in good ol' Garcia Gineres, think I might be there for a while :) fine with me! If I have the opportunity to train Hna. Thomas for the full 12 weeks in Garcia, I´ll have 7.5 months there!! Craziness. It´s a great area and we´re finding lots of new investigators every week. My companion brought me a pretty wicked cold from the MTC and we´ve both been sick all week. Saturday, I felt terrible and complained a little during companion study..What am I gonna do? I asked my companion..I couldn´t stop sneezing and blowing my nose. She just pointed to a poster I have up on the wall that says "Forget yourself and go to work!" So I did! And Saturday was such a good day, I just brought my tissues, water, and cough drops, said a prayer to be able to forget how yucky I felt, and we went to work. That night, we found an awesome new investigator thanks to a referral from another investigator. I began to just forget about being sick and focus on our lessons and helping our investigators progress on this path and prepare for baptism. 

Elder De Hoyos, a general authority, came to our mission about two weeks ago and we had a wonderful training meeting with him about how to work with members more and get them more involved in the work.
Something that he said struck me big time, and I wanted to share! 

He said, 
Escucho y olvido. (I hear..and I forget.)
Veo y recuerdo (I see..and I remember)
Hago y aprendo (I do..and I learn.)

After 4.5 hours of training, I heard a would be easy to forget a lot of the stuff he taught, so I took good notes. And then when I review my notes, I remember. But now, I´m beginning to apply some of his advice and counsel, and I´m learning! It´s true. So true. I loved that and am grateful that I´ve already seen it work in my life. We have to put the things we learn into practice if we truly want to learn and grow and change. 

I am well. My thoughts and constant prayers go out to the Brown Family. Derek was a good friend in high school and will be missed. He was such a great example to everyone and always so happy. Please keep his family in your prayers! When tragedies such as these happen, it makes me eternally grateful for the Gospel. I´m grateful for my testimony of the Plan of Salvation. I know that families can be together forever. I know that this life isn´t all that the Lord has given us. There´s more, and that brings me happiness and hope when loved ones pass on. I sincerely ask each one of you to pray for the Brown Family each day :)

I love you all! Talk to ya next week :))

Hermana Melody Maki 

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Cute little poem to switch things up :)

I was just swinging in my hammock last night thinking about how crazy the emotions are that one feels during the mission. It´s seriously nuts!! I was reminded of a poem that the wonderful Sister Katie Toolan posted on her mission blog a few months ago and it explains my thoughts exactly. I´m glad I copied it down and brought it with me :))

A mission is a strange experience
It is a trial and a test.
A mission throws at you the worst
yet, teaches you the best.
I´ve never been so happy, 
I´ve never been so depressed.
I´ve never felt so forsaken,
I´ve never felt so blessed.
I´ve never been so confused,
Things have never been so clear.
I´ve never felt my Heavenly Father so distant,
He´s never been so near.
I´ve never been so discouraged,
I´ve never been so full of hope.
I feel I could go on forever,
I think I´ve come to the end of my rope.
I´ve never had it quite so easy,
I´ve never had it quite so tough.
Things have never been so smooth,
Things have never been so rough.
I´ve never traveled through more valleys,
I´ve never ascended more peaks.
I´ve never met so many nice people.
I´ve never met so many freaks!
I´ve never had so many ups,
I´ve never had so many downs.
I´ve never worn so many smiles,
I´ve never had so many frowns.
I´ve never been so lonely,
I´ve never had so many friends.
BOY, I hope this is over soon,
GOSH, I hope this never ends! 

Anyone who has served knows that this about summarizes it. The good always outweighs the bad though. The hard times or negative thoughts only last a couple seconds when we´re in tune with the Spirit and striving to do the will of the Lord. 
I love the mission!  Many exciting things happening this next week, will include details next Monday :))

Hermana Melody Maki 

P.S. The second picture, the one with the water jug..was such a nightmare! We walked like 9 blocks to fill up our water jug and didn´t have enough to carry it all the way home so we rolled it, kicking it with our feet, taking turns for a good 30 minutes!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Full on Fruitttt

Hello from Mérida! Something hilarious happened last week! Since we moved houses, we now live closer to the Bishop, who owns a fruit store like 30 minutes away. We very nonchalantly asked him where is the best place to buy fruit near our house, since we´re new in that part of town and don´t know where to buy our groceries. "Don´t worry sisters, we´ll bring you some fruit tomorrow from the store. Don´t go buy any!" Yes, our plan worked! He takes care of us. So he showed up the next morning with a box of fruit so big, we couldn´t even pick it up! a watermelon, 3 canteloupes, 3 dragonfruit (my favorite) 3 bunches of bananas, apples, pears, cucumbers, a pineapple, and grapes. Seriously? And then yesterday before church he dropped off like a 50 lb. bag of oranges so that we can make fresh orange juice. It´s those things that just make my day and make me grateful for the members who go out of their way to help us. It was a small blessing I saw this week :)

and a big blessing that I saw this week?! The baptism of Juliana! It was so beautiful, and she cried as she walked into the baptism font, because it has been a long time coming. She knew and understood the importance of this covenant, and was so overcome with joy to enter the waters of baptism. I felt so strongly the love that our Heavenly Father has for her and felt very priveleged to be part of her big day!

Also, I wanted to share a quote that another missionary shared with me this week. I immediately fell in love,
"You and I can put Christ at the center of our lives and become one with Him as He is one with the Father (see John17:20–23).We can begin by stripping everything out of our lives and then putting it back together in priority order with the Savior at the center." -Elder Christofferson

This isn´t something easy to do, that´s for sure. But it really made me think. It made me think about everything I think, say and do. If all of my thoughts, words, and actions are Christ-centered. And for those that aren´t, what I can do to strip them out of my life and do everything I do centered in Christ. I know it´s possible to do this, althought tough, it´s possibly and necessary to do so. It is something I am going to stive to do better. Strip negativity out of my life, fear, judgement, etc. and replace all of this with positive thinking, with more faith, with more love, with more hope, etc. I know that as I do this and you all as well, we will develop a more Christ-centered life, focused on Him more and all He has done for us. 

that´s all for today, after a long week, I think I´m in need of a little nap today :)

Until next week! 

Hermana Melody Maki

Friday, September 5, 2014

Guess whattttt? This week, on Tuesday, 5 of the lessons we taught were with members present! Little by little, our ward is getting excited to teach with us and come to lessons with us, and it is helping sooooo muchhhhh.

I´m starting to think more and more everyday that I am a Yucateca. I wake up three or four times everynight because with our air conditioner, I get so cold! This morning I woke up with socks, a sweatshirt, and two blankets. My companion sets it super low, and then I wake up like an ice cube and turn it off, and then she wakes up and turns it on again, and it´s a constant battle every single night. All I can do is just laugh :) anddd be grateful that we have air conditioning..

This week we are preparing a baptism for Hermana Juliana. She is the mom of a recent convert, and she is so wonderful! She is probably one of the most humble people I have ever met. She has hardly anything and doesn´t make much money at all, but already pays her tithing and is so excited to be baptized. Last night after our lesson, she made us empanadas :) Although she doesn´t have much, she´s always willing to share with anyone just about all she has. Such a great lesson to me and a great example. 

Other than that, not much news. It has started to rain just about everyday, and it makes the work hard because nobody leaves their houses, but we have had lots of lessons nonetheless and the work moves forward. I´ll attach the picture of my companionon Friday walking through the street in the rain, it was almost up to our knees.

Another perk of our new house is that we live near our Bishop, and we save money on Sundays. Instead of taking the bus to church, we ride in the back of his pickup! (Nacho Libre voice) It´s the besssssst. He takes care of us and is helping us get the ward excited about missionary work and find referalls for us! woohoo. 

That´s all. I´m happy and grateful to be a missionary. I´m grateful for the Gospel and to have it in my life, without it, who knows where I would be. Certainly not in Mexico! 

Much love!!

Hermana Melody Maki 

Nueva Casa, hooray!

Lots of good news from Hermana Maki this week.
First thing first, we moved into a new house on Saturday! I attached a picture of our bedroom, it has air conditioning! I feel super spoiled. It´s much nicer than our other house, buttttt it has a lot more cockroaches. 

Yesterday, I spoke in church about missionary work and how members can help us more. Because of a crazy busy week, I wasn´t able to prepare anything until 9:40 pm Saturday night, always happens that way, right? Anyway, as I sat in my hammock wondering what to write, I had the impression to begin with a prayer. I kneeled down, said my prayer, and asked for guidance and inspiration as to what the members in our ward needed to hear. Almost immediately afterward, I began to think of many different ideas, and many different things I had read in Preach my Gospel that apply specifically to members. Within 25 minutes, I had my whole talk planned, scripture references and everything I needed, and I was able to sleep soundly, my first night with air conditioning :) I was sooooo excited. It was a testimony builder to me. We can try to do things for ourselves, or we can say a prayer and turn it over to the Lord, asking for help and guidance, and I know that when we do so, he helps us. He gives us the words we need to say.

Cool experience. This week on Saturday, we had a lesson with one of our new investigators, Giner. He is the twin of one of other investigators who is preparing for baptism. Their brother passed away this week, and Giner feels lost and says that he really wants our help. He wants to know what´s going to happen with his brother...
Anyway, we arrived at his office and had a lesson planned, but he began to talk..and talk...and talk more..and at first I started to get frustrated because i just wanted to teach! Be quiet, i was thinking, we want to teach youuuuu.. But as I began to just listen, I realized that by doing so, I could really find what he needed and we could better learn how to teach him according to his needs. We learn as missionaries and are taught the importance to teach PEOPLE, not LESSONS. If what he needs right now is to learn the Plan of Salvation, that´s what we´re going to teach him, even though the Restoration would normally come first..
Later that night, as I was prepearing my talk actually, I thought of what Elder Holland says in Preach my Gospel about listening to the people we teach. 

 Elder Jeffrey R. Hollandtaught: More important than speaking is listeningThese people are notlifeless objects disguised as baptismal statistic. They are children of God, our brothers and sisters, and they need what we have. Be genuineReach out sincerely. Ask these friends what matters most tthemWhatdo they cherish, and what do they hold dear? And then listen. If the setting iright, you might ask what their fears are, what they yearn for, or what they feel is missing in their lives. promise you that something in what they say will always highlight a truth of the gospel about which you can bear testimony and about which you can then offer more. … If we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder whato say. It will be given to us—by the Spirit and by our friends” 

I have always loved this quote! We must listen before we speak, and we must listen with love. Some people have nobody to talk to, because nobody listens. Everyone has needs, and if we open our hearts and listen, we will know what it is we can do to help them! 

I love this Gospel, I love the mission life. I know that the Lord watches over his missionaries. I know that this Gospel is true! 

I send my love from Mexico to each and every one of you!

Hermana Melody Maki