Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Week 31: The 100-Pesos Baptism and a Children's Choir

Hola, familia!!!!

This week was pretty awesome. First of all........Hermano R was baptized this Saturday!!!!!

It was so awesome to see the changes he´s made in his life over the last few weeks, and I'm so ridiculously excited for him!!!!! Also, his aunt went to the baptism, and we're going to have a Family Home Evening [lesson] today with them, so we're hoping that one day soon she'll be able to follow his example :D

Hna Tovar is AWESOME [Tess’s new companion]. I feel like we were really, really, really good friends in the preexistence. She has two transfers left, and so we/I hope that she´ll finish her mission here, because she´s just AWESOME. It was kind of funny, but the first evening, when I was showing her where stuff was and everything, she was just like, "Hna Owens, JAMAS voy a hablar en ingles." Which means that essentially she REFUSED to talk in English. So that answers that worry that I had :D We're two happy Americans, talking in Spanish :D Her parents are both from Mexico, but she was born and raised in Salt Lake. She´s a really good egg :D

Nothing says México like beverages in a bag!!
 Anyway, the 100 pesos is because one of the many miracles that we were able to see this week. We were walking to an appointment Saturday, when I saw on the ground 100 pesos! I never find money, so it was like a moment of pure joy. But then I started thinking how I´d have to pay tithing, and 100 pesos is a lot, and so somebody was going to REALLY miss 100 pesos. So I picked it up, rolled it up, and then stuck it in a pile of bricks that were right there, so that if somebody was LOOKING for their 100 pesos, they could find it.

But about three seconds after we moved forward, we heard this lady call out, "Hey! Gracias!" And we turned to see this lady. She had been trying to pull out her cell phone when it had fallen out. She gushed out her thanks, and it was such a blessing that we were the ones that found the money, and everything. I happily believe that it really was her money because I feel like normally if someone wanted to take it, they'd just take it without saying anything, and she was just so grateful. It was pretty cool (especially because she happily gave us her direction and cellphone number :D)

For this second story, you have to understand that here there are a lot of "vecindads." They're like apartments, but more open and smaller.....I don't really know how to explain it, but normally there are about four families living there or so. Anyway, another miracle was that this Friday we got a little lost (I generally know Cinco de Febrero, but because there aren't street signs sometimes I get a LITTLE lost) but anyway, we were backtracking to get to the right place when we saw some kids that were watching us. So Hna Tovar said, "Let's go talk to them." so we talked to them, and they all wanted to learn more, so we put an appointment for Sunday.

When we came back, there were about nine kids, waiting for us. But the parents were all still sitting in their houses, but we wanted to talk to everyone, because it's so much better when we can teach families than just the kids. So, we asked the kids if they wanted to sing a song for their parents. They were all like, "YES! YES!" and just super excited, so we practiced "Soy un Hijo de Dios" I am a Child of God, and then we told the kids to invite their parents to come listen to them. Not all of them came out, but two moms came out, both of them looking a little put out that these two strange young women were talking to their kids. But then we explained that their kids wanted to sing a song for them, and then we started singing, and WOW. I honestly think that this was one of my favorite experiences in my mission, because the Spirit was just so strong. The instant after the kids started to sing, the one mom actually said, "wow," and they just listened attentively the whole time. It was incredible to see the difference that their kids made in teaching them. If Hna Tovar and I had just tried to talk to them and explain the Restoration, I don´t believe that she would have felt anything. But nobody could deny the power that these kids had, singing about their nature as children of God. It was incredible.

Anyway, after singing, we asked if the kids we originally contacted were able to read the pamphlet, and the oldest showed us her notes. We told her before that she could write or draw the things she understood, so that she could remember, and so she showed us her drawing of Jesus Christ, and she wrote the steps of prayer, and basically I feel like we've just encountered a neighborhood of gold :)

Well, there you go! Just know that I've had a really awesome week, and that they're just going to get better!

Love you all lots!

Hermana Owens

A really pretty sunset that doesn´t really show up.

It was getting a little cold, so I thought I´d warm up a little bit. 
(But really, people burn the leaves and stuff that fall in the street. 
It´s really common to see tiny fires in all parts of Chiapas.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Week 30: Transfers!!

Hola, Familia!!

First of all, we had transfers! Hna Padilla is going to Jardines del Grijalva [Tess’s first area]! It was funny, because when we received the call, our district leader said that Hna Padilla is going to Tuxtla Grijalva, my old stake, but then said that her companion is going to be Hna Garcia. And I was like, "Wait, isn´t that the companion of Hna Lopez? IS SHE GOING TO JARDINES DEL GRIJALVA???" And then I started to yell louder than Hna Padilla..... :) I’m pretty excited for her :D

For me, I’m staying here, but Hna Tovar? Tobar? Tovara? I’m not sure, but she’s coming here.....and she’s American! I think that this or the next is her last transfer, so obviously she’s going to be fine with Spanish, but I’m still pretty nervous... especially if people are beginning to have more problems with Americans ....but it’ll all be good :D

Rafael went to church!!!!! We will be having a baptism this Saturday at 5! Yay! Hna Padilla is pretty disappointed that she won’t be here for it, but she’s going to try and petition or beg or escape to come back here for it. It was pretty funny, the other day Rafael told us that after he told his aunt that he can’t drink coffee now, in the morning he went to the table for breakfast and there were two plates (we’re also "teaching" his nephew, but he’s only 7) with glasses of water instead of coffee :D That news made us pretty happy. He has help from his family, not just him alone, which is ALWAYS better.

I guess the news food-wise is that I tried a new fruit? I think that it may be squash, but it was in juice form, so I’m not sure what it looks like, but it tastes like pumpkin. Anyway, it’s called chilacayote. But it’s funny, because I thought it was called chilacalote, and "elote" is corn and "chilaca" is armpit, so I thought that the name of this food was basically armpit-corn. But then I heard correctly. Maybe this is just funny to me. But I got a good laugh.

I’ve been reading my Libro de Mormón, and I’m in the beginning of 2 Nefi, the Isaiah chapters, but I’m excited to say that I think I actually understand these chapters BETTER in Spanish than in English. I think it´s because there are so many words that he uses that are so different from what I normally read/hear/use, and so I spend more time and effort to REALLY understand, and not just skip over the things I don’t catch. Anyway, I really liked chapter 7, verse 1, when the Lord asks: Have I put thee away, or have I cast thee off forever? For thus saith the Lord, Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement? To whom have I put thee away, or to which of my creditors have I sold you?

It’s just such an obvious question, that HOW could the Savior abandon us? There’s nothing in the scriptures that say he would ever do that. It’s not the Savior that abandons us, leaving us alone, but our lack of faith and sins that we abandon him.

As a missionary, I’m still learning SO MUCH and I can tell that I will never learn everything I need to, but the Lord will strengthen me in my calling, even if I don’t KNOW everything. I know what the Lord expects me to know in this moment, and as long as I keep working to learn, and to get better, He’ll help me with everything in between.

I’m your biggest fan! haha
But really for what purpose is a fan such as this? 
Día del amor y la Amistad
[Day of love and friendship]
Well, that´s all, folks! Wait for a picture of a very happy baptism!!!! (And pray, too)

Hermana Owens

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Week 29: Familia!

Hola, Familia!!!!!

Well, we had an activity with our zone today, we went to see an exhibition of dinosaurs!!!! Animatronicos!!!!!! It was pretty good. And I learned a lot of things about dinosaurs....kind of. We couldn’t really hear much and we just took a bunch of pictures instead :D

Well the lighting is kind of frightful but oh well.
Hna Padilla and me with a tiranosaurio Rex! haha

Mother asked me about the food, and it’s pretty much the same as in Tuxtla, but it’s the time for a lot of fruit here, so basically I’m getting a really awesome delicious fruit overload. I ate two mangos the other day when we ate with a member, and I felt a little bad, but only a little because they were INCREDIBLE. I could eat down to the pit, right down to the white of it, and it was STILL DELICIOUS. Also, I need to note better all the names of the different mangos. There are a lot. Also, people eat mango green, with salt and chili pepper!

Mother told me about an insight she had about the sacrament, that Christ is willing and waiting for us in any moment that WE accept HIM, and it reminds me of when I was reading 2 Nephi 4 this week. It’s the psalm of Nephi, I think, and it talks about how we shouldn’t permit ourselves to "droop in sin" that really we can pick ourselves up, no matter what’s happened. And that just gives me a lot of strength, that it’s Satan that wants us to feel discouraged after we’ve sinned, but really that the message of the gospel, and the happiness, is that we can REPENT, and change our sins to learning experiences.

A miracle this week is that Rafael was able to go to church this Sunday! We had set up a schedule with him, that every day at 9:30 we would pray, and he would pray too, that he would be able to go, and he was! Our prayers really were answered. I was really happy to see him, REALLY REAALLY happy :D Also, he has a cousin, Davíd, who’s 7 and I think he’s one of my favorite people in the world :D

Also, something pretty cool is that we were waiting outside the house of an investigator when this lady came up to us and was like, "You’re Mormons?" and then told us that she was a member and she’d come here from Honduras 5 years ago but she never knew where the church was so she never went! So we followed her directions later in the week to find her house, but we just couldn´t find the house! But then I remembered that I wrote down some info too, so I looked at what I wrote, and following that combined with Hna Padilla’s info, we were able to find the house! I think that´s really what the gift of tongues is: maybe I didn’t catch EVERYTHING of what she said about where she lives, but I caught what was necessary, so that we could find her. It’s pretty cool :)

Well, that’s all!

Les amo mucho!

Hermana Owens

The compañerismo divino! In real life and in gummy bear form. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Week 28: 5 de Febrero in 5 de Febrero


I’m just going to start off with some really awesome news! Hna Lopéz sent me an email today, with a picture of her with Carmelita, Victor, and Jasseli [the family that were baptized in Tess's last area], and Jadiel (Jasseli´s brother) and his wife were baptized this weekend!!!! I’m so excited to think of a year from now when I can see this incredible family sealed together for eternity :)

Jadiel and the family in jardines del Grijalva.
I’m really happy about this, so EVERYONE gets to see the photo :D
We had intercambios [exchanges] this week, and I was with Hna Ilizarbe! Poor Hna Ilizarbe, every time that I looked away from her nametag I forgot how to say her name. I have to take about five seconds before I try saying it to think through the order of the "L" and the "Z" and the "R" and the "B" or I say Hna Ezibare. But now I’m the master of saying her name :D But anyway, I learned so much from her! She’s really good at having the exact question that helps us to get to know the person, but more importantly their needs. It was really cool to see and help teach with her.

The end of intercambios!
I was reading in "our Search for Happiness," the book by M. Russell Ballard, this morning, and I found a phrase that I think is my favorite in the whole world. "If you really concentrate on trying to walk the way He walked--loving, caring, serving, and obeying each step of the way--one day you´ll look up and discover that His path has led you directly to the throne of God." That really just hit me, how maybe each week when we keep the Sabbath day holy, each day when we kneel down to pray, each time that we open our scriptures, we´re really one step closer to Heavenly Father. Every act is a drop in the bucket, and before we know it it’ll be overflowing. Maybe we don’t have a PERFECT understanding of everything ever in the scriptures, but if we follow what we’ve been taught and do understand, Christ has shown us the way that WILL lead us to God. It was really cool to read that. 

We are still praying for hermano R, and looking for ANY way possible that he can come to church, but even though he hasn’t been able to go because his abuelita [grandmother] is sick, he still goes every day to seminary [an early morning church class] and absolutely loves it :) He’s really just an awesome person :)

We also received another reference this week, Daniel, and he’s really great. He’s already gone to church two times, so now he just has to come to OUR ward :) Really, he has a lot of questions about the church and he just really wants to learn. We’re really excited for him, ESPECIALLY because he’s a reference.

Speaking of which, we started a new thing in our zone, the árbol de la vida [tree of life]! Each family has an apple, and the goal is that each family gives us a reference. References are awesome, because the family that gives the reference already have the trust with the person, and so they can feel more powerfully the Spirit testifying. References are really awesome!

In Bonanza, the area of the capacitadoras [sister trainers]!
 I didn’t get a really good picture but there’s this SUPER rickety bridge
that you have to cross in the other area, and when I was crossing I kept thinking of
1) Emperor´s New Groove, with the crocodiles and scorpions and everything and
2) Shrek. When I crossed I said to myself, "That’ll do, Hna Owens. That’ll do."
But it really wasn’t that bad :D 
 Love you all lots!

Hermana Owens

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Week 27: Hola Familia!

Hola Familia!

Well, this Sunday a couple came to church, from the US, they’re on a cruise, and afterwards they came up to talk to me, and they asked me if I could introduce them to the bishop. So I went up with them, and translated the conversation! Like, it was a basic conversation so it wasn’t that hard, but it was just WEIRD. Like, maybe I can do that in the future....I don’t know, it was pretty cool but also kind of surreal...

I guess maybe you’ve heard that they changed some things for the mission. [The Church has made some worldwide changes to the missionary schedule.] It’s pretty weird, because now in the morning we can decide how we want to do things. Like, we don’t have to exercise and then shower and then study, we can prepare how we want....it doesn’t really sound like much of a difference, but it’s HUGE. It’s weird.

This week was pretty awesome. We received a BUNCH of references, which is totally different than normal! But we definitely saw some great miracles with these references. We went to visit the parents-in-law of a member, but when we arrived, there was a huge commotion and a car backing up to the house, so we asked someone what was happening, if the people we were looking for lived here, and then they told us that just minutes before the hermano had fallen and opened his head! So we called the sister that gave us the reference so that she could tell her husband, and then we talked with the hermana. It was just pretty neat that we could be there at THAT EXACT TIME to help out the family. The Lord really knows why we need to do what we need do when we do it. :)

We visited an hna this week, whose spouse is not a member, and so we talked with them. Wow. I love this family so much. They have two daughters, who are both in the mission right now. But they’re helping them pay for their missions by renting out the bottom of their house, and they’re living in ONE room, with all their kitchen stuff and everything they need. I just really felt a great love for them. Really, I’m so grateful to my parents, because they´ve shown that there is no sacrifice too great, which is like the love that Heavenly Father has for us. I’m so grateful for the gospel. People always say that it’s such a big sacrifice, to be here for a year and a half, but I guess this week after hitting the six-month mark, I can really say that it just passes SO FAST. I was reading in Predicad Mi Evangelio, and it just asked the question, "at the end of your mission, what changes will you want people to see in you?" and I’ve been thinking about that, and how brief the mission is, but I have time to get better and change. And like my new favorite scripture says, "If you believe in me, you will work in the day called today." (Wow. Now I´m translating from Spanish to English because I memorized the scripture only in Spanish.......but it’s D&C 64:25.) But I guess I´m just really grateful to all the people that have helped me arrive here today. I guess I just want to share my testimony that I´m here serving as a representative of Jesus Christ for 18 months because I really know that it’s the truth, and that this will help people more than anything.

Love you all a lot!

Hermana Owens

A cake that Hna Hania bought for us!
It was Hna Padilla’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, so we celebrated together :D 
Hna Padilla made me a flower for my six-month mark!
Oh, and Hna González also sent me some gummy bears and a couple photos and stuff
for my birthday which was really nice :) 
A birthday selfie....:l I don´t know why I’ve been taking selfies. It’s really weird.
Our cake, which we bought.
But our zone leaders gave us the "5" candle....for 5 de Febrero... :D