Monday, October 21, 2013

This Week in the Field... (Up to date (10/21/13))

This week has been pretty hectic. I was feeling so down! I think that because I was trying to be the best missionary I could be and forget about myself and how I was feeling, I ended up getting sick! I almost never get sick! But I was just swallowing all of the anxiety and emotions that it affected my health negatively. I just didn't want to think about myself because that's not what missionary work is about! Forget about yourself and go to work, right?! But one evening on the drive back home Hermana Dotto and I were just talking and I just exploded in tears. Hermana said she would have never guessed about how I was feeling because I never showed it, so I felt like I had accomplished my goal but at the same time, I realized that it's healthy to show emotion once in a while so it doesn't accumulate inside of you. I think I'm going to get a priesthood blessing. :)
It was precisely that evening that I recieved the package and letters from home. What great medicine!!!! It was just what I needed.
So about food, they serve me Mexican food pretty much everyday and it is awesome! Unfortunately, that also means that I am slowly but surely gaining weight! We went to the Luna's one Sunday to have dinner, and they served me menudo. It is this soup they make out of a cow's insides. I am not a picky eater and like almost anything anyone serves me. But menudo was the NASTIEST thing I have ever eating. It tasted so terrible; I was so traumatized that the smell of it would follow me for days. Not about that life haha.
On Saturday we went to go play volleyball with the members and investigators. Not about that life either haha. I am TERRIBLE at sports, and volleyball has always been a sport that I have hated with a passion. But hey, I'm a missionary now so I had to forget about my insecurities and fears and go with it. It wasn't that bad! Besides the fleeting moments I felt death, I was actually pretty good at hitting the ball when it was close to hurting me haha. It actually ended up being kinda fun! :)
Friday night is la Noche de Hispanidad/Noche de Talentos! It is going to be a multi-stake thing with our ward and other Spanish wards participating. Ahhhhh, makes me think of Spring Lake! I will bring my Ecuador jersey to pin up!
They asked us (missionaries in our district) to do something. We have no idea what we are going to do :) It seems that as a missionary, we are limited in only singing hyms haha.
We got together as a district and wrote down the upcoming activities in our ward. Our ward will be having a New Year's dance, ahhhh so jealous we can't participate! One of the leaders was saying that it is programed to begin at 8 but with the idea that people will get there at 9 or 10. Ohhh Spanish wards. Gotta love them!
We went to an investigator's home and Prince Royce was on tv...all I wanted to do was run out of that apartment because I was about to start singing and dancing! hahaha love Hispanic music.
We are seeing progress in our investigators. One of them is a mother with 3 children ages 9, 6, and 5. We began to teach them this week, and could see the enthusiasm of the children as they learned more about the gospel. On Friday we invited them to come to church, and we told the mother she could follow us in her car so she wouldn't get lost. On Sunday we thought she had forgotten, but to our suprise, she and her three children were all dressed up to go to church and were getting in their car! She told us that her children were the ones that kept reminding her of going! When we sat in Sacrament Meeting, the children were all being reverent and paying attention. The whole family stayed the full 3 hours and the mother seemed to have liked a lot of the things that were being taught. I learned from this that children are very receptive to the Spirit. Every time we taught them a lesson, the children seemed to get most of it and pulled their mom along with them. They loved church and hopefully they will be able to go next week!

Sister Dotto is great, I learn so much from her everyday! We are working hard and are unified in purpose.
This work is God's work, and we strive to do our best everyday.
It may be hard, but so worth it. I love being a missionary. I have to enjoy every second of it!
P.S. Yesterday we went to knock doors in some apartments. A young man (who looked like he had been smoking something) opened his door and when we presented ourselves he just said no and closed the door. We turned around and knocked on the door in front of his. This guy who had closed his door on us began to speak behind his door in a reallyyyy creepy voice, almost a whisper, saying, "there is no God" and then banged on the door pretty loudly! The first time, we just ignored it and Hermana Dotto started to hum a hym to try to keep the Spirit with us. But he kept getting creepier and louder and started to bang on the door more frequently. Hermana Dotto and I just looked at each other and ran out of that building! Mad creepy!

Con amor,
Hermana Flores

Second Baptism!! (10/14/13)

Yesterday Johnathan got confirmed and also Stepahanie Luna, Johnathan's cousin, got baptized!

It was super special. It was beautiful. I love being on this mission! It is amazing to see someone you have taught be baptized. You just know of the love Heavenly Father has for them. We had another baptism yesterday and had two on date for next week. The problem was that both of those investigators would not have gone to church 3 times. One of them is moving right before the 3rd Sunday she would have gone to church, and one of them has a job that will not permit him to not work on Sundays. However, we continue to work with them and pray that they eventually, and by eventually I mean as soon as possible, get baptized!
The one investigator who is moving is Lorrie. She is amazing. She is the manager of the apartments where Stephanie lives and they are both best friends. Lorrie has such a desire to know what is right in the eyes of God, and feels the Spirit strongly everytime she comes closer to the gospel. Her husband treats her and her sons badly, but she is trying to be strong in her decision to be baptized. Yesterday was her first Sunday, and when we met up with her she had been crying because her husband gave her a hard time for her decision to come to church. After church was over we asked her if she would like a priesthood blessing and she said yes. After the Elders gave her the blessing, she felt at peace and said that it was exactly what she needed to hear. When we saw her at Stephanie's baptism, we asked her how the rest of her day went and she said that it was the most peaceful it had been in a while. We pray that she will continue to feel peace and comfort as she gets closer to Heavenly Father!
Something I have realized this past week is that Heavenly Father knows what our priorities need to be. Various times we had appointments with investigators or nonmembers that were not progressing which ended up being cancelled, and Heavenly Father lead us to new potential investigators that needed to hear the gospel at that moment. I know that Heavenly Father is at the head of this work! This is His work!
Sister Dotto is great, I am learning so much from her! I am trying my best to learn a lot quickly to be ready to become a trainer.
I love this gospel, I know this church is true! The church has truly been restored in the way Christ had intended it to be.
We will always be God's children, no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT. His love for us will never change.
Hopefully I will write more next week!

Con amor,
Hermana Flores


First Baptism! (10/07/13)

So on Friday I finally had my interview with President and Sister Murdock. They both kept saying, "we are SO happy you speak Spanish!!!!". They really need Spanish speaking sisters, and as far as I could tell, they want to keep me in Spanish for a while. President Murdock said that I would be a trainer soon! WHAT?! That is a very scary thought! But I feel humbled that they think I can do it even though this is only my second week being trained! They said that there are going to be 14 new Spanish sisters next transfer, and need me to learn from Hermana Dotto the best that I can because they want me to train to non-native speakers. But Hermana Dotto said that President told her that we might stay together for two transfers because he wants the blessings our companionship will bring to the mission. :) He told Sister Murdock that we were a perfect companionship! I am very grateful to have started off my mission with an amazing companion and trainer. Being companions with Hermana Dotto is a blessing, and we see miracles daily.
One of those miracles is Johnathan Luna. On Sunday, Hermana Dotto and I decided to fast for our investigators, especially Johnathan. On Monday evening we went to have a lesson with him. When Hermana Dotto reminded him that his baptismal date was on the 13th, he stopped her and said, "Wait, I'm getting baptized in two weeks? Can I get baptized this Sunday? I feel like I am getting a little colder with the gospel, and I want to have the assurance and guidance of the Holy Ghost." Hermana and I were just shocked. We told him "OF COURSE YOU CAN GET BAPTIZED ON SUNDAY!" Wow. It was amazing. We left the house so astonished and happy. And so yesterday, at 5, Johnathan Luna was baptized by Josue Luna, his father. I was filled with so much joy, that tears filled my eyes.
It was so beautiful. After he was baptized he came over to us and told us that he never imagined that he would feel so light and clean. He felt Heavenly Father's love stronger than ever before, and there was this light in his eyes! Everything was just so beautiful! His cousin is getting baptized next week and we are hoping to have 3 more baptisms by the end of the month. :)
I love being on a mission. It is HARD work. It pushes and stretches you in ways you wouldn't expect. I have learned quickly that exact obedience brings miracles! This past week, the mission's goal was to find 6 new investigators. We have found ELEVEN! It is so humbling to know that Heavenly Father has entrusted His children to us. We are doing our best to do everything we can to see miracles in their lives.
I know this church is true, and that Christ lives!
Hermana Flores

First Week in the Field!!! (9/30/13)

So starting from the beginning...

My companions and I had to wake up at 2 am to meet the other missionaries at 3:30 in front of the chapel because that was the time the bus was supposed to come. But the bus came an hour late! It took forever for the airport to check the bags of every missionary (there were around 30 missionaries all going to my same mission!) so many almost missed the flight. After the hour long flight, we arrived at the Denver Airport where the mission president's wife was waiting to greet us. She hugged every sister missionary. After she hugged me, she looked at my name tag and said, "Sister Flores! You're a native Spanish speaker, right?! That's good because we NEED Spanish sister missionaries! You will definitely use your Spanish as well as your English!" You have no idea how happy that made me!

The next day was transfer meeting where President Murdock announced the new companionships and whether we would be going over to the mountains or staying in the metro area. Soon it was my turn, and President Murdock announced, "Sister Flores with Sister Dotto in the Denver 1st Ward". She came over to hug me, and we sat down together. We both talked to each other in English and I found out that she is from Argentina. I looked at her name tag and realized it said "Hermana Dotto" instead of "Sister". So I asked her if we would be teaching in English, and she said no because we were the Spanish missionaries serving in the Spanish ward! I was so excited and happy!!!!!! It was such an awesome surprise!!!! I had no idea I was serving in Spanish in my FIRST area, because I still hadn't (and still haven't) had my interview with the mission president. I feel so grateful and blessed!!!!

I love Hermana Dotto. She is amazing. She is 27, but looks like she's 21! She is GORGEOUS inside and out. She converted a couple of years ago and is the only member in her family. She faced a lot of opposition from her family when she decided to go on a mission, but she knew that was what she needed to do. We get along soooo well! We work hard together, and we have seen blessings and miracles, but we want to work harder and receive more miracles! We work HARD. I LOVE IT. I LOVE MY MISSION. It fills me with purpose.

So if you haven't guessed already, I'm in the metro area right outside the city, and there are A LOT of Hispanics. It's like a mini L.A. from the movies, NO exaggeration! I was told that I might see some Latinos. Pfff, there is A LOT of us, and pretty much 90% of them are Mexican. There are so many taquerias and Mexican restaurants! There are businesses that have titles such as "Latina Clothing" or "El Catracho's Barber Shop". It's awesome! I serve in the ghetto pretty much haha. There are many poor areas. People don't have much but seem grateful for what they do have. Many of the stories from the people I've taught are pretty much the same; they came to America, but they haven't really been able to move upward from where they are now. It's so sad to see that a lot of them have been in this country for many years, and haven't been able to truly progress. However, it is so humbling to see how grateful they are for what they have.

One of the families we are teaching is the Luna family. I LOVE them! This family has faced so much affliction. The mother cheated on the father several years ago and left him with 4 kids. He took his kids with him and now they live with his parents in a tiny, really ghetto, old house. Josue (the father) is amazing. He is doing his best to move forward with his family. He was baptized as a teenager, but wen inactive. Josue Jr. (18), Steven (17), are also baptized but inactive. Kari, whose eight, just got baptized a couple months ago. Hermana Dotto taught her. :) Johnathan (13) is the only one who is not baptized and we are teaching him. I have this connection with him; I see him, and it's almost as if I'm looking at myself when I was thirteen and going through almost the same family problems he's going through. Hermana Dotto says that I'm the missionary he needs, because he smiles when I'm teaching him but never did with the past companionship. I love him and I understand how he feels. The last lesson we had with him, Hermana Dotto invited him to be baptized the 13th of October. He said no because he didn't feel ready. Then I talked to him and told him how this gospel helped me through my hard times, and even shared some of the things I went through. I told him that he could feel his Savior's love and healing power if he prayed with his whole heart and soul about everything he felt, and about the questions he had about this gospel. I promised him that if he prayed to Heavenly Father for help to help him prepare, he would be ready. So he said he would prepare to be baptized on the 13th of October. :D

I went to a ward activity and I met a man who served in DC South back in '92 (?)and knows a lot of people from our ward when it used to be the
Encinos Branch!!! He knows the Walters, Rocio Aguilera, the Colinas and more. I asked him what his name was. His name is Julian Luna. I was like, hmm that's not going to be hard to remember because I'm teaching the Luna family. Then Hermana Dotto told me he was Josue's brother! It's crazy how there are so many connections to why I'm here! I know it sounds silly, but I know that I was supposed to meet the Luna family. I love them so much, and enjoy teaching them with Hermana Dotto to help them become active in the church. I LOVE THEM. SO MUCH.

Yesterday was my first Sunday in the ward. We sat next to Candelaria and Julian (Josue's parents). Candelaria reminds me soooooo much of my abuelita!!!! Anyway, the consejero called on me to come up and present myself to the whole congregation. As I was presenting myself to the ward and giving my testimony, I was filled with a deep love for them. I am so excited to serve them!

Yea. I'm pretty much loving being a missionary.
"One of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work. If a missionary works, he will get the spirit. If he gets the spirit, he will teach by the spirit. If he teaches by the spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people, and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families because all time, talents, and interests are centered on the work of the ministry.
That's the secret. Work work work. There is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work."

I know this work is God's work. I know that He wants His children to come back to live with Him so badly, that He is providing many ways for them to be able to. This is His work. I cannot waste any time. I know that this church is true, and that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

Hermana Flores

Miracles this week:
-We were looking for a lady we drove past but Hermana Dotto and I couldn't find her. I said a quick prayer, and the next corner we turned we found her.
-We went to visit Kevin, an African American male in his twenties, who we met when we randomly knocked on his door. When we first met him, he told us that his aunt had just gone to the hospital. This visit, we asked him how his aunt was, and found out that it was the lady next to him. We asked her if she would like a blessing from the elders and she said yes. We told her we would contact them to let them know. As we were leaving, the elders pulled up! They said that they were just about to check on Kevin. It's amazing how the Lord knows the needs of His children and looks out for them.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Last Days in the MTC (9/20/13)

So one of the investigators we've been teaching is Gabriel. At the MTC, I've been struggling so much when practicing teaching. So when the time came to teach Gabriel for the first time, I was freaking out and soooo nervous. Before knocking, we knelt as companions and said a prayer that the Spirit may guide us in what to say. After letting us in, Gabriel told us about himself. He's from Chile, and says he came to America because he's "craaaasy, ju kno?" haha he says "ju kno" every three words! He loves his family soooo much, and says, "I don carrre if my children, nieces, or nephews are 30 years old, I love to give them hugs and kisses, muah muah muah ju kno?" while crossing his arms in the form of a hug. Well, I don't know what happened, but I ended up teaching the whole lesson of the Restoration, and Gabriel had his eyes focused on me and what I was saying. As I stated Joseph Smith's first vision, my eyes started to get teared up. Here was a man, a father, who reminded me of the people in my ward, MY own father, who needs to hear this message. I knew that what I was teaching him is true, and I wanted him to feel it in his heart, because I love him and I know God loves him. He was so touched from that lesson and he committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray to Heavenly Father to know if these things are true. I know that the Spirit was the one teaching that night, not me. I could not have done it by myself.
So we've been teaching him this week and today was our last lesson with him because we are going to Colorado on Monday. He was so sad that we were leaving and said flexing his arms, "I have to be esstrrrongg!!!" haha.
After we taught him this last lesson, we asked him if he would be baptized.
He said yes.
The spirit was so strong. As I shared my testimony and as Sister Joslin and Sister Peacock shared their testimonies, I know that he felt the Spirit too. I am so glad that I am going English speaking, because if not then I would have never met him. It is such an amazing feeling to see one of God's children willing to take the essential step of getting baptized to come closer to Christ and God. I know that God is so happy and proud of Gabriel, and will continue to bless him and his family.
This is an amazing feeling. I know that God loves us and that He cares for every one of us. We just have to take the initiative to follow him.

My first baptism, and I'm not even out of the MTC!!!!


Sister Flores


Friday, September 20, 2013

The Character of Christ

Hello all!

Last Sunday I had the opportunity to watch an exclusive MTC talk by Elder Bednar titled "The Character of Christ". He stated that even in our worst times, we have to turn outward instead of inward. That is the true character of Christ. Christ, in his worst times, never pitied himself but instead, would turn outward and focus care of. After having fasted for 40 days and after having an encounter with the Devil, he sent angels to strengthen his apostle John who was in prison, rather than focusing on himself. I really needed to hear this, on others. When Christ was hanging on the cross, his main concern was to make sure His mother would be taken especially because I had pitied myself for the first few days in the MTC! My goal is to develop the character of Christ on my mission. Even though I will never be perfect in this life, I know that through Christ's atonement I can become the best I can be.

Sooo I've ran out of time, but I will write another post soon with more info on what's happened in the mtc :) I leave to Colorado on Monday morning!!!!

Love, Sister Flores


The Happiest Place on Earth

Well, I did it. I survived what they call "the longest four days of your mission"! They are so long that you forget if things happened that day or the day before or the day before that! They truly have been THE longest days of my life so far. They've also been the best!

Let's start at the beginning. When I entered the MTC and they put on my badge for the first time, wow what a rush of emotion! I now officially looked like "Sister Flores". My whole life I had imagined how it would be to have that tag on. Let me tell you, it's pretty awesome! I love it. It reminds me of why I'm here and of my purpose for the next 18 months.

I've been assigned to stay at the West MTC campus which is Wyview and Raintree. I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't going to be on the main MTC campus, but I soon learned that it is such a blessing to be staying here! At the main MTC, there are six missionaries to a room and it is so crowded all the time; at the West MTC, I'm in a nice, full apartment with only two other sisters and everyone can breath. President Roach who is in the MTC presidency said, "you might have heard that Disney World is the happiest place on earth, but it's not! It's West Campus!" and I totally agree!
I have two companions, Sister Joslin and Sister Peacock. I was a little worried about being in a trio, but I love it! They are such awesome companions and I am always learning from them. I am so grateful for them. We have a mock investigator named Brian. Before each of the two lessons we've taught, we've knelt in prayer to seek inspiration in what Heavenly Father wants us to teach him. Every time we've been guided, and each of us contribute something unique to the lesson which points to the same purpose. We work together and see the fruits of it.

You know when they say that the mission will be the hardest yet most rewarding experience of your life? Well, IT'S TRUE. I'm not even in the field yet and I KNOW it's true! It's been especially stressful for me because even though I'm fluent in English, I struggle with the gospel in English! And it is so apparent. Everybody in my district memorized "our purpose" and the first vision the first day, and I could not memorize a thing. Later that day we were told to memorize and practice the baptismal commitment. My companions and I were practicing with each other, and it became my turn to be the missionary and theirs to be the investigators. One second I was teaching, and the next I was in tears. I felt like such a failure! Everybody seemed to have everything together and they had things memorized, and I couldn't remember a single thing. All of the stress that I had-and this was only my first day-came out in tears during that meltdown. My poor companions! They were just there and did not know what to do! I was so embarrassed! I don't know why memorization has been such a trial for me when I used to be so good at it in school. That used to be my forte! That's how I got by! I also struggle with understanding some of the English language in the Bible and Book of Mormon. Also, I freeze up right when I'm in the middle of teaching. It is so frustrating! But I know that if I continue to study and have faith that God can help me do this, than I'll be able to become better. Today I learned that "each of us is a masterpiece in progress. No masterpiece is ever created all at once". I will remind myself of that every day. :)

A few days ago, I learned of my purpose as a missionary. In Moses 1:39 it states that Heavenly Father's purpose is to bring immortality and eternal life to man. In 2 Nephi 31, it states that through the Atonement, the Doctrine of Christ is valid. The Doctrine of Christ is:
-Follow Christ/ Faith in Christ
-Receiving the Holy Ghost
-Eduring to the end
The Doctrine of Christ provides the tools needed to reach immortality and eternal life. The Holy Ghost testifies of these things, and therefore leads mankind to immortality and eternal life. Therefore, although God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate beings in the godhead, they are one in purpose.
Now, as stated in "Your Purpose", my purpose as a missionary is to "invite others to come unto Christ by Helping them receive the restored gospel through Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
My purpose is to teach the Doctrine of Christ. My purpose is to help lead mankind to immortality and eternal life.
I, as a missionary, have the same purpose as my Heavenly Father.
As I looked down at my tag, and read Christ's name on my badge, my eyes filled with tears. I feel so honored, humbled, and privileged to be able to serve my God and His children in the same purpose He has.

I know this church is true, and that these truly are marvelous times to be a missionary. I love it. I know that Christ lives and that through His Atonement, we can return to live with Him and Heavenly Father.

Love you all!
Sister Flores