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!