Friday, June 26, 2015
I learned something new this week from a conference talk by Elder Uchtdorf...
"Many of the things you can count, don´t really count. Many of the things you cannot count, really do count." As a missionary, you can count baptisms, lessons taught during the week, referrals contacted, and so on. But for Heavenly Father do those things REALLY count? What are some things that maybe we can´t count in the mission with numbers?
--giving to the poor and needy (I see them everyday walking up and door the littered streets of Mexico)
--giving the relief society president a big hug and telling her that everything is going to be alright
--staying up 10 minutes late to give comfort to an upset companion or missionary who is struggling...
the list goes on...and on...and on....
We had an experience last night that goes on the list of things that we can´t really "count" in the key indicators.
After our lunch appointment yesterday afternoon, Sister Bailey and I really wanted to go visit Hermana Lupita, an active member in our ward who lives alone. She is a grown lady, probably in her 60´s whose 2 hijos have abandonded her. It´s hard for old people here to get jobs, so she walks up and down the streets collecting plastic bottles to recycle. It´s a common thing here for people to set their garbage out on the street outside their gate and then to have it rummaged through by people like her who collect them. Then they tie the bag right back up and leave it all nice their on the sidewalk. So, she usually can get a big garbage bag full by the end of everyday, and then she takes it to the supermarket and they give her 20 pesos. (less than $1.50)..The sisters in the ward make lunch for her everyday. Just like us, she has a food calendar and goes to eat with them. One of the sisters in the ward who is older and widowed lets her live in the apartment part of her house for free. She invited us in yesterday and showed us her little kitchen (which consists of a faucet and sink) her bedroom, with her bed that she doesn´t sleep in because it´s too hot, her hammock, a small tv, and her bathroom. That´s it!!
We read with her in the Book of Mormon about the tree of life. She´s so smart! She was explaining the symbolism and how we can apply 1 Nefi 8 to our own lives. She told us a little about her past. She is a convert of 10 years. We felt happy to be there with her. As we finished the lesson, my companion asked her, "Lupita, is there anything we can do for you before leaving?" "No," she responded...
"Are you sure?" we asked...
She looked at us and sadly said, "Just a few things I need here in my house." And I immediately began thinking maybe a curtain for the window, or that she needed something repaired. with a sad look on her face she said, "even just some cookies and a glass of milk?"
"Lupita," I asked, "do you have something to eat for dinner?"
"No, hermana. No I don´t." she said.
"We´ll be right back! Stay right here!" I said before even thinking of what we were gong to do. We gave her a hug and set out on an adventure.
I remembered that at home we had hardly any milk (I don´t drink milk and my companion is almost out) but that a less active gave us some nutella the other day, so we could go make her a nutella sandwich and ask our neighbors who are members for some milk. We went over and asked them..They gave us a whole carton of milk, 4 pieces of bread with ham, cheese, and mayo, and a big stack of cookies. We thanked them and made it back over to Lupita´s house.
As we left, I felt many different emotions. I felt that in that moment, maybe helping Hermana Lupita was more important than trying to get a bunch of lessons in for the day so that we could finish the week with high numbers. I began thinking about where we live in the US, with Iphones, cars, good education, pantrys and fridges full of food, and my heart felt grateful. I feel grateful for what we have, but I also feel sadness at times seeing people here suffer and live off of so little. Not all of them live that way, but many definitely do. I know that the Lord has sent me here to help me be more humble and try to help whoever I can. I love Him and and am grateful to be here during this time serving HIS children in need.
Do I tell this story to receive recognition or a "Good job Hermana Maki"?
However, it was an experience that will always be with me. There´s no key indicator in our sunday night call in for service or reaching out to someone in need. Instead of counting those moments, we just remember them forever and more importantly remember how we feel.
I also loved this part from the conference talk..
Our mission president promised us, as a mission, that if we focus on retention and reactivation of the recent converts and less actives, that the Lord will bless us with more investigators. It makes sense, doesn´t it? If we take care of the Lord´s children that He has already given us, but who are new and confused or maybe older but have fallen away, he will see our righteous efforts and bless us with more people to teach! So, that´s what we´re doing. We always need more people to teach and are willing to do whatever HE asks.
This week we worked a lot with Hermana Betty, a less active who at one point in her life was very active in the church. Her husband was the bishop of the ward in Centro and she was the primary president and later the relief society president. She knows a TON of doctrine and usually teaches us more than we teach her! Because of personal and family problems, pride, and wordly things getting in the way, she has been inactive for a long time. When we first started visiting her a few months ago, she wouldn´t let us in. I remember one Sunday we went over to pick up her daughter, Arely (23) because she always comes to lessons with us. Betty was sitting outside having a BBQ with her family and introduces us to her family as "the hermanas from Arely´s church" and now, just a few months later, she has opened up and is humbling herself before the Lord little by little. poco a poquito. when we got there on Wednesday afternoon we yelled through the gate "Buenas tardes!" (because in Mexico we don´t knock on doors and couldn´t if we tried because everyone has fences outside their houses) so you just stand outside and yell until they hear you and come out.
Anyway, she heard us and came running to the door and then goes, "Amigas! I´m so glad you came!" she´s hilarious. She always calls us her amigas
anyway, we got her one of the triple combinations that are really big for people who can´t see well, because she wants to read the scriputres but can´t see too great, so we surprised her with one and have been reading the Book of Mormon together. We were going to invite her to church with us on Sunday and before we even could, she tells us, "Sisters, it´s going to be a long, hard process getting myself active in the church again. I may not ever be 100% like I was before, but I want to try. I think I need to fast and pray a lot." We told her that we would fast with her and she agreed and then told us that we would finish the fast on Sunday in the chapel, before we could even say aything! So, on Saturday when we went to her house to start the fast, she got a huge plate of pan dulce out and made us eat chocolate donuts and churros with nutella. It was hilarious and lemme tell ya we weren´t hungry the whole time....but we did have bad stomach aches for a solid 24 hours. It was so much sugar and there was no saying no to her. Hilarious. But she showed up to church and looked great. I hope that she will reactivate and get a temple reccomend because two of her kids are getting sealed in the temple between now and January. Wouldn´t that be great to be able to be there!
sometimes working with less actives can be hard, but actually, it´s really great. A lot of times they just need someone to listen to them, sometime to give them a hug and tell em that everything is going to be alright. they need love! That´s what we have given Hermana Betty, LOVE. We truly love her. I think that LOVE is the answer to just about everything.
The members helped us a lot this week. Hermana Evelyn who was just released as the Relief Society president, came with us to visit Maria and really reached out to her a lot. They switched phone numbers and have been in contact all week. It helped Maria have a friend at church and feel like someone really cares for her. There´s success in missionary work when members and missionaries work together.
I saw the hand of the Lord many times throughout the week. I testify that He loves and watches over His missionaries. I know that if we are humble and submit ourselves to do His will, he will lead and guide us, and more importantly, bless us and our families. Satan is attacking the family, I´m seeing it everyday. I have seen many families who are suffering, who are sad, who are being torn apart and have left or are leaving the church. I was touched by a conference talk that I studied this week titled "Defenders of the Family Proclamation"
Photo- Hermana Bailey and I headed out to church yesterday (we were excited that it rained again because we could wear sweaters!)
I know that "angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory." (Alma 13:24)
The Lord IS preparing HIS children to receive the fullness of the Gospel. This week while walking over to the farthest part of our area, we decided to contact a lady who was outside washing clothes in 5 gallon buckets like any old Yucateca. We asked her if we could help her and she politely said that she was finishing up. We talked to her for a little while through the fence and then she let us come in..however, it´s rare for people to let us into their house, so we sat out on the patio. I know it wasn´t any coincidence that she had a little table out there and four chairs around it! We sat down and got to know her a little better. Her name is Maria, her mom passed away a year ago, she´s married but has never been able to have kids. She feels sad and alone, and suffered from depression for a long time. My companion and I were both on the same page and felt that we should teach her the Plan of Salvation. I asked her, "Maria, have you ever wondered where you came from?" "no," she said. "Ok, have you ever wondered why you´re here on this earth?" "no" she responded..."Have you ever wondered where we will go after this life?" Her eyes got big, super big, and she quietly said, "YES! Now that I have asked many times..do you have the answer?" So we sang a hymn, she felt the spirit and had tears rolling down her face, and we taught her the plan of salvation out there on her little patio. As we began with the premortal life and we taught her a little about the war in heaven, she looked dumbfounded and just asked, "wait, so I chose God´s plan?" She understood EVERYTHING..As we taught her about the Atonement, her eyes watered again, and as we read in Alma 7 with her, I asked her how it made her feel to know that Christ suffered everything that she´s feeling and suffering. "Knowing about the Atonement know just helps me know and feel that I´m not alone." So then we went back on Thursday and told her that if she needed help washing that we really would help her. We got there at 3:30 and she had 5 buckets out there again full of clothes. "hermanas! I thought you had forgotten about me! I´m so glad you´re here!" that time she let us help her, so we got all the clothes washed and hung up and then she goes, "that was so much more fun with 3 people, wasn´t it?" she´s so cute. It amazes me how fast she´s learning and how excited she is. She couldn´t go to church yesterday because it was voting day and she was working with one of the political groups, but she told us she´s excited to go this Sunday. I could tell from the begininning that she has definitely been prepared to receive the gospel. She acepted a baptismal date for July and is so eager to learn more and more. I´m grateful that the Lord led us to her that day.
She told us that her fantasy is to go to the U.S, and see what it´s like..
I´m gonna have to take her someday! :) Everyone here just wants to know what it´s like. I think we don´t really understand how blessed we are to live in the United States. For me, it took coming to another country to open my eyes and really realize all that the Lord has given us.
our other investigators are also doing well- 2 of them still have to get married before they can get baptized which is always a blast! We´re finding great new people each work and the work continues on.
other news: Last week we were in a trio for a week because one of the sisters who is going to train was waiting for her companion to get here from Argentina, there have been lots of visa problems as usual. She worked with us for a week but it was hilarious having all three of us in our house because it´s tiny, and the room we sleep in is not big enough for three hammocks, so we had to make a hammock bunk bed, I slept underneath Hermana Bailey. It was pretty hot and I woke up on the floor in front of the fan with my pillow.....but I was so tired that I slept nonetheless.
That´s it for now!
Les amo :)
Photos: 1) bunk beds
2) in trio with Hermana Mejia escaping the rain. It rains sideways here, so our umbrella didn´t do us much good in the end. We got soaked. super soaked.
I had a ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUITY this week to be in a 3.5 hour meeting with Elder Bednar! He took a little trip down to Mexico and spoke to the whole mission. When he was asking questions, he kept calling on elders and then he goes, "Now sisters, if you raise your hands I will always give you first preference over the elders!" So I raised my hand and answered, and I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Anyway, I can´t really share or copy down what he said, because he encouraged us to listen to the spirit more than to his words, so I really don´t remember all that much of what he said. He told us to put our notebooks away and not write down word for word notes because we would never use them again and eventually lose them, it was hilarious! But true...
He began by giving some "guidelines" for the meeting. "I will not play ´guess what I´m thinking´ when I ask questions. I will not ask you to stand up and tell me what three things we promise to do when we´re baptized. Because you´d be standing in front of an apostle of the Lord, freeze up, forget, and get embarassed! I WILL NOT ask hard questions," he said. He sent us three talks to study about three weeks ago and asked questions about what we learned from them and then expounded on that. It was FABULOUS.
I was sitting in my hammock a few weeks ago talking to Hermana Bailey about how excited I was to see another apostle in the mission and what a privelege it would be, when I felt the strong impression that we really needed to prepare ourselves spiritually for this meeting so that we could get the most out of it, rather than just show up. I was reminded of the good 6 weeks of preparation that I put into general conference a while back when I then received the answer to serve a mission.. Because I had prayed, fasted, and studied the words of the prophets, I had questions in mind and received revelation that forever changed my life....and the exact same thing happened this last Friday. I don´t think I have EVER in my life felt the spirit as strong as I did during that meeting. I had questions answered that I didn´t even know I had! First time that has happened to me.
Something that touched my heart was one of the stories he shared, and this one I think I will remember forever. During the week that he was here, they were notified of some members in the area where they were with a young baby who was veryyyyy sick and was in need of a blessing. They called the family and Elder Bednar asked the father if he had given his baby a priesthood blessing, and he said yes. Elder Bednar then explained to them that he couldn´t give a better blessing than the father had done, and that they both held the same priesthood. He holds more keys, but it´s the same priesthood in regards to a blessing, right? Because of the tightness of their schedule with back to back meetings, they weren´t able to make it out to see the family. There just wasn´t time...the next day they had a meeting in one of the nearby wards, and as Elder Bednar finished his talk and walked out, he shook hands of a few members. He saw a mother, holding a young baby, but that the baby was covered in a blanket. He walked over to the young mother, asked if he could see her baby, and simply put his hand on his head, and then left the chapel. When they got into the van, his translator asked him how he knew that THAT was the baby,,and he simply responded....."I didn´t."
The Lord works in mysterious ways, and my testimony has been strengthened of the way the Lord speaks to his servants, the apostles and prophets. I know that they are called of Him to lead the church under the direction of Jesus Christ. Something that impacted me was that while he was telling the story, speaking perfectly fine, not even choking up, his translator right next to him could hardly speak. He was doing all he could to translate and keep speaking so that the Latinos could understand, but you could tell that he, as well as each one of us, fetl the spriti incredibly strong throughout the whole meeting.
It was a wonderful week to say the least, one that I won´t forget.
Today were transfers, but Hermana Bailey and I are staying together in Madero. They took the elders out so now we have the whole ward and a MUCH bigger area. We´re excited! We´re gonna stay busy and get to work with the investigators and awesome members over here.
That´s it for this week :)
Photos- meeting wtih Elder Bednar. I´m the tall one on the far right by the window.
2- trying a new fruit called "maracuya" that comes from Brazil! Some awesome investigators always make juice for us when they can get ahold of the fruit. I liked it so much I drank 4 glasses...or 5.
I can´t believe how busy this week was! We had no time to stop and even think.
On Monday, Adan and Wendy had to get all of their papers and birth certificates and copies to the registro civil (court house) so that they could plan the wedding and give them a date.
On Tuesday, they had to go to a marriage class in Centro that is required here before you can get married.
On Wednesday, Wendy canceled on us, (we were going to teach her the last lesson, but her neighbor passed away and she went to the funeral)
On Thursday, We went to their wedding in Centro, then went to eat with our Relief Society who is sick, (so she let us cook) and then over to Wendy´s house to cut the cake with them. After eating a piece of cake, we sat down under the tree with her on 5 gallon buckets and taught her lesson 5 and got her ready for her interview. Right after that, we went back into Centro, she had her interview with President Echeveria, and then we went to our missionary coorelation meeting.
On Friday, we had a NORMAL day, while trying to get everything planned and assigned for the baptism. Somewhat of a normal day…
On Saturday, She was baptized! We asked her to share her testimony at the baptism, and she said she didn´t want to. She asked me if I would share mine, and I told her of course I would! And then it came to my mind, “Tell her that you´ll do it if she does too!” So I bore my testimony first, holding back tears as I testified of how many times she shut the door on us or told us to come back another day, and then she stood up and bore her testimony, also testifying of how many times the sisters came back, and came back, and came back. She tried to get us out of her hair, but we were persistent. I saw something in Hermana Wendy. I saw a long life of pain and sadness inside of her that I knew the Atonement could fix. I was so grateful to have been a part of that baptism. My companion and I sang “I need thee every hour” with solos in both English and Spanish. After the baptism, the relief society sisters had a little party to celebrate her wedding and baptism at another hermana´s house so we went over there for sandwiches and cake. On Sunday, she showed up to church 20 minutes early instead of 20 minutes late and was dressed modestly! It was amazing the promises that were given to her as the bishop confirmed her a member of the church and confirmed the gift of the holy ghost. It was a long but wonderfullll week full of smiles and pictures.
I´ve really come to believe what President Boyd K Packer says about the influence of the doctrine of the Gospel on our lives, ““True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.”
She definitely didn´t have a very good attitude or behavior for a longgg time, but humbling herself before the Lord and accepting the Gospel and accepting Jesus Christ has caused a change in her heart and a change in her behavior, and it has strengthened my testimony to see this change!
It was a great week to say the least. This week is the last week of this transfer, and we have lots of work to do!
Until next week,
1)Baptism with Wendy and Adan
2) Learning how to make hammocks with Hna. Antonia
I´ve had the opportunity for the past 13 months to testify to many people about my wonderful mother :) I often testify of her patience, devotion, and love for her 5 rambunctious children that she raised, many times with her husband far from home serving in the military. I testify of her example of diligence, gathering the whole family together at 6:30 each morning for family scripture study and prayer, whether we were in seminary or not. I testify of her as my best friend, someone who always was there to listen to me, who was concerned about her children´s progress and spiritual growth. Someone who always sat down next to me and gave me the comfort and advice that I needed, or sometimes just quietly listened while I vented for hours on end. I testify of a woman who is full of a mother´s love and is one of the kindest, sweetest, strongest people that I know on this earth. I testify of the love and support she sends from home to her missionary, far away in Mexico. I truly love her. Thanks, Mom, for being the person that I look up to most.
We had another great week..well, another hard week. but with many great experiences and miracles. We are trying to stay excited and keep our chins up although many people are rejecting us left and right. It helps me to look for the hand of the Lord each day, even when the days are long and sometimes really hard. When I step back to see the bigger picture, I´m more aware of just how much He blesses, protects, loves, and helps HIS missionaries.
On Friday afternoon, we had to travel to the Elder´s area for lunch..to the farthest farthest part of their area. We got out of our lesson at 1:30 and grabbed a bus to be able to get there at 2..When we got to the sister´s house, she let us in and said, "Hi sisters! What can we do to help you?" and I responded..."It´s our turn to eat with you guys today!!!"..."No," she said, "you must´ve seen the list wrong." "Naal Hernandez is what the list says," I told her..and she just laughed and said, "Oh! that´s my sister in law, she lives four blocks that way. It´s hot! Do you want a popsicle while you walk?" Sure. thanks! jaja and we went on our way. When we got to their house, the sister answered the door and said the same, "hi sisters! What are you guys doing all the way out here?" I silently laughed and thought to myself...you are kidding me right? We´re fasting! (I was soooo ready to eat.) and she then explained to us that she accidentally signed up on our list and that the relief society president changed it to another day but for the elders so that we wouldn´t have to travel all the way out there, and that the president forgot to tell us.."and I didn´t even cook today, sisters! Otherwise I´d totally give you what we have." So...we called the relief society President who was getting ready to go to her shift in the temple, and she told us to just go over to her house (far away) and she would see what she could throw together. So we hopped in a mototaxi and went over, and she was getting back from the store with a small bag of food. We sat down and helped her as she whipped up a yummy lunch. Turns out she didn´t go to to temple, and when we called her, she said she only had 30 pesos ($2.00 USD) but that she has a testimony that when she feeds the missionaries, the Lord always provides a way. She remembered that she had some meat in the fridge from a few days before and some frozen vegetables in the freezer, so she ran to the store for salsa and tortillas and made a wonderful lunch out of it! I was humbled. She bore our testimony to us of being a newly wed (less than 2 years) and never really having money, but always being happy with what she has. "I´m sealed in the temple," she said, "My husband loves me, I have a calling, I have a house..I don´t have a car, nice clothes, or anything fancy. But I have the Gospel, and I have all I need to be happy." It was a testimony builder for me. I don´t need much to be happy either. I´ve got the Gospel, and that´s enough! I know that when we sacrifice other things to put the Lord first, he blesses us. He always provides a way.
Until next week,
Hermana Maki :)
talking to the fam on mother´s day and last monday washing our hammocks!
"The man with much finds it easier to forget his dependence than he who must ask with each suceeding day of need." (Jesus the Christ)
I don´t have much, and I think life is easier that way. That´s how Christ lived, right?
Humility. That´s one of the atributes of Christ I am trying to work on during this time that the Lord has given me to be a full-time missionary. I don´t ask Him in my prayers for money, for a car, or for less heat..I just ask for strength to keep going each day, and for the ability to keep a positive attitude and love each of His children here that I am serving.
Many of the people here don´t have much either, and that´s why they are such faithful, humble people, because they must plead with the Lord each day to help them. Hermana Wendy, our investigator who is doing great, told us that 6 years ago when she first started going to her alcohol group, she was one of the meanest people ever. She said that missionaries came by one time (because her husband is less active) and she threw water at them and told them never to come back. (It´s so hot here that I´m sure they loved it though...she didn´t know she was doing them a favor!) haha
But really, we´re seeing the Atonement change her life. We taught about tithes and fast offerings this week and she is exicted to begin paying them! We also taught her (with the primary president, who is fabulous) about the Law of Chastity and the importance of dressing modestly, and for the first time in three months she wore a blouse with sleeves on it to church yesterday and a skirt down to her knees! Progress..little by little :) I feel as happy as could be!!
It got "cold" for a couple days this week because a cold front came in, and it was the best thing ever. For two full days we didn´t sweat and I actually had to use my blanket to sleep. However, my companion got sick and now has a terrible cold because it was such a quick switch in weather, and when one companion gets sick, the other one shortly follows..so we should have a pretty fun week! (with two day exchanges planned as well) woop. woop.
We got a call on Friday afternoon that our ward mission leader is in the hospital in very critical condition. He has asthma and had some sort of attack similar to a heart attack..He has a 20% of living, so all I can do is ask each of one you to include him in your prayers, please! Hermano Freddy is his name. He got baptized a little over a year ago, didn´t believe in God before he met the sister missionaries, and just went through the temple two weeks ago.
I was on exchanges last tuesday in our area with Hermana Galvez, a new sister in the mission and as we were walking home we got really hungry and decided to stop by and see Hermano Omar. Him and his wife sell tamales a few blocks from our house every night from 7 pm on..and we stopped by to chat with them for a minute..halfway through our conversation he asks, "You sisters want a tamale to take home and share?" and of course we said YES! After we finished planning, I opened up the bag to find 6 tamales and a tomato salsa to put on top. I come to love Yucatecos more and more each day. They are such loving, giving people. Even Wendy, who has absolutely nothing, not even purified water for her kids to drink, gave us two dannin yoghurt things after our lesson on Wednesday. Even though it caused me a ton of pain later because of my wonderful milk allergy, I eagerly gulped it down because you just can´t turn down such humble people giving you what little they have. They honestly amaze me, and HUMBLE me.
We´re looking forward to another great week and pray for the same for each one of you!
I love you all! :)
Hermana Melody Maki
1. New friends we made on our trail run the other morning!
2. Hermana Bailey and I on our walk to church :)