Monday, November 30, 2009

NOW I've missed Thanksgiving...ha ha

Hi familia! ¿Cómo están? Things are great for Hermanita Francis!

This week we had a baptism! Can you believe it? I´ve been here less than 2 weeks and already a baptism.

Her name is Delmis, she is 10 years old, doesn´t know her father, birthday or place, and her mom had to sign the baptisimal form with a thumbprint. But she knows the gospel is true and is changing her heart. The baptisimal dress was too big, she hadn´t even met Alfondo who baptised her, and everyone wore casual clothes except for Hermana Rosales and me. It was different, and yet the spirit was there. Hermana Rosales and I sang Joseph Smith´s 1st prayer to the tune of Come thou Fount.

An Elder Durfee in our District told me that I shouldn´t expect to get any snail mail here, that he´s been here for 4 months and hasn´t gotten a thing. And then on Saturday I received a letter from mom dated Nov. 8th. Yay for pouch! Thank you!!

This week we went to the house of the Branch President for a mission call opening. It was crazy... you know how mission call openings are super exciting in Utah? They are super sad here. I´ve never heard ¨Called To Serve¨ sung so much like a death march. He was called to the Guatemala South mission and doesn´t go til March.

This week I heard my first Gekko and tried my first sugar cane! Also I took less time washing my clothes in the Pila, but still it´s pretty hard. I´m so happy for this experience!!

Every time we go to the houses of the members I think of 1 Ne 2 verse 20, along with many other verses in the BOM which say that the righteous will prosper in the land. In general it´s easy to see who is faithful and who isn´t just by their standard of living. Very interesting.

We brought 8 investigators to church on Sunday, and 2 more were there with members. Out of those 8, 7 were children. It was fun and exciting to accompany them to church, and also a little crazy keeping track of everyone. We´re going to work more with their parents and hopefully convert families who can all come to church together.

We stayed in the apartment Sunday afternoon (from 1pm until Monday) because of council from President Cruz. I don´t really know what is going on with Politics, but we had time to write letters, and study lots.

I love you all so much! I´m learning lots and the language is coming slowly but surely I hope. I just want to help the work along, not be an obstacle for my companion. She is ever patient though, and we´re having fun! She´s a great friend.

I love you all (again)... (emphasis!). Take care and have a great weeK!

Hermana Francis

Friday, November 27, 2009

No Snow in Honduras!

Hello family!! How are you all? Things are so great here!
"Here" is La Entrada, Copan, Honduras. Copan is one of the two most coveted areas in the mission because it´s beautiful, in the mountains, and "cold". But "cold" is code for hot. Ha ha... Can´t wait to see what "hot" means.

On my first day here, we were hiking around to all the different little houses (the people are super poor) and there was a lot of trash all over on the ground. I had a few negative thoughts about it, just the mud and the trash and the smells. But then I raised my head and saw the beautiful mountains and green and sky and wow. It is SO beautiful. It reminded me that the things we pass through are for our good and we always need to have an eternal perspective.

So ya´ll had Thanksgiving I´m guessing if it still falls on the third Thursday of November. How was it? I actually didn´t realize it was Thanksgiving til the day after.

My companion is Hermana Rosales from Nicaragua. She knows a few words in English but definitely not enough to communicate, which means I have been praying a lot for the gift of tongues! And it is definitely real. These couple of days, though, I have understood a little more how important it is to put forth a huge effort to obtain it. When I concentrate on understanding and speaking Spanish with all my heart, might, mind and strength, I´m blessed and it truly makes a huge difference.

But more about my companion. She is amazing! She´s so excited to have me... I´m her first "hija" or the first missionary she has ever trained. Plus I´m a "gringita"... which makes me endearing I suppose. She works very hard, always takes opportunities to serve and teach, and is extremely patient with me as I am learning how to do everything over again... like shower and clean the apartment and wash my clothes. I am so grateful for such a trainer.

But speaking of showering, I totally shower with a bucket! Yep. And I want you to all try it. But you can use warm water, because we always boil water on our little stove first and then mix it with the cold water. Anyhow, it´s super exciting. Sometimes I take a step back and realize, I´m really here, in Honduras, showering with a bucket. Wow.

Hermana Rosales and her last companion were teaching some children, and so I met them my first day here. They´re super cute and love us a lot... they always run after us and hug as and say they don´t want us to leave. One is Maira (8) and her brother Armando (10) and another is Delmis (10). The thing that makes me kind of sad is that their parents aren´t opposed to us coming but they don´t have interest to hear the message. I know it will be difficult for them to come to church without the support from their parents, especially being so young. We´re working with the members to try to get people to help welcome them into the fold as they very well may be baptized this Saturday. THIS SATURDAY! Yep. I´m excited.

And another exciting thing. We met a man on Friday named José and talked to him for a little while while he rested from chopping wood. He seems about 30 (I´m still not sure his age) and has a girlfriend and children, sister and parents. He accepted our pamphlet with my memorized ("will you read this pamphlet before we come visit you again?") phrase. The next day he was waiting for us with chairs all ready to go and was very receptive. The spirit was strong and I was able to say what I wanted to with the gift of tongues.

We had invited him to a special District conference we had on Sunday, where all the members of the branch would take a bus to Santa Rosa (where Hermana Kochevar-my friend from both MTCs- and her latina trainer are working). Everyone was supposed to meet at the church at 7 30 am to go. Which means on the day of, everyone actually met at 8 and we left at about 820. José wasn´t there.

When we visited him last night, he told us that he had gone and was there at 730 but no one was there and he thought he had missed us so he went home. It was a shame that he missed it because he was punctual. But he said he would be at church this next sunday and also accepted our invitation to be baptized (not with a date yet but we´re thinking Dec. 12) and the Book of Mormon and said he´ll start reading it. He is incredibly ready for this gospel. Wow.

Talking to his mother that night, she said that Mormon missionaries had come by the house before, but they were worried about going to church because they´re very poor and don´t have anything fancy to wear. We assured her that God knows our hearts and that this gospel is for those who are willing to accept and live it. I have great hopes for them!

Anyhow, I need to wrap this up. I love you all a lot, and hope you never think I´ve forgotten you or anything.. but it´s going to be really hard to send snail mail. At least at first as I get used to everything. Don´t worry, mom, I´ve already written your snail mail, that you´ll get in a month or two. Oh also for mom, our secret... Christmas would be great. You know what I mean.

Love you! The work is amazing! I feel so blessed and happy to be here!!

Xoxoxoxox Hermana Francis

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oh Hermanos Adios, Pues Adios

Hello all! Thank you for your love and support! I received letters from mom, Aunt Janet, and the Judds today. I´ve always pleasantly surprised to see how many people still remember me back home. (smiley face)

This is my last week at the MTC, and then here comes the field! I was going to say, ´here comes the real thing´, but it has been pretty real so far. It is amazing to feel the spirit so strong and to have my testimony so strengthened.

Today we had an incredible devotional with Elder Costa from the 70. I was in a group of 6 (including Hermana Crossland who knows the Brough family) and we sang ¨This is the Christ¨in Spanish. The whole meeting was in Spanish, but because the Spirit was there I was able to understand all but a few words. He converted to the church after many years of having a hard heart, but being touched deeply by the Joseph Smith story decided to study and pray about it. He read in JSH for 14 hours, the next day was sitting on the Hermana´s porch, and took the first 3 lessons that day, the next 4 the next day, and had his baptisimal interview that night. He is an amazing man. The spirit was very strong! He opened his talk with a question and answer session, and when no one asked anything I rose my hand and
asked in Spanish what he had studied from the Book of Mormon this morning. He said they´ve been studying out of the New Testament lately but he reads 2 Ne. 31 20 every day. He is a powerful man.

He also cross referenced D&C 84 88 with 1 Ne 3 7. Look them up!

Tomorrow we have divisions again! I´ve been hoping I will be more brave and prepared this time. Pray for me that I will be able to bring some Guatemalans unto Christ before I fly out to Honduras next week.

Funny story... Hermana Romero and I have been having much better companionship studies these days. This week though, we were sharing some personal experiences, when suddenly a crash came from the ceiling a little ways down the hall and we saw a foot. I guess there were men working in the attic. You never know what will happen here... and it isn´t even crazy yet!

In class this week, Family Home Evening came up, and Hermana Leonardo (or teacher who served her mission in Temple Square) asked how many had FHE growing up. Only 3 of us. Out of 10. Wow. I am so grateful for you, and how I was raised in this gospel with so much righteous consistency. I think of Elder Bednar´s words from this last conference often and want to be a consistent, progressing, servant of the Lord.

I studied Temperance this morning... just felt it was something I needed to have more of, because most days are great, but if I have anything wrong happen, I´m not great at continuing to give my all, which is so important in this work!

Still loving the Book of Mormon, which I´m reading every day. I´m in Alma 8 right now, and it is making so much more sense as I´m really focusing on the stories and the chapters in context with each other.

This email doesn´t even express ´a hundredth part´of how I feel this week, but I need to go now. I love you all! I know the Lord is looking after me and I will be protected as I go to the field. This has been an incredible experience to be here! President and Sister Christensen are the best (she is my mom away from home) and I think my spanish has improved (sure hope so!!) I love the gospel, I love the Lord, I love being a missionary. I´ve been able to see some changes in me, and I hope and pray to continue to change as I come to be what the Lord wants for me to be.

I love you! Take care!!

Hermana Francis

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hello again!

What a week. I can´t believe how much I learn in a day, in an hour, let alone a week. There is too much to say.

I got letters today!! 7!!!!!!!!! Thank you all so much. It takes a long time for letters to come, but I know you all love me, so I don´t worry when I don´t hear anything. Thank you for your support.

When reading your letters I smiled and laughed out loud at a lot of things, big and small. I realized that my love for my family and friends is so big, that it almost doesn´t matter what you say, I just love to hear how you are. So thank you.

The new Latino missionaries are here, and they are wonderful! My roommates always serve me with every opportunity, asking if they can help do my hair or teach me words. They all like to get up early, and one of them, Hermana Pineda reads Spanish with me to practice my pronunciation every day. I am so blessed to be in this place! I love it.

This week has been a week of personal revelation. I´ve had a lot of questions of the soul, and several have been answered! One came from my patriarchal blessing, and I´ve been wondering about it since I received it 7 years ago, and this week I gained more understanding about it because of the Book of Mormon. I felt so happy that Heavenly Father loves me and listens to my prayers.

I was very impressed by a sister that I´ve known since day one, Hermana Fuka (from Tonga). She got an allergic reaction on her face which swelled up her cheek and her lip, and really drew attention. Her companion and other sisters were telling her she should just study and maybe not go to class, etc. She later told me that she did feel embarrassed and bad about it, but no one was able to tell at the time! She said ¨my voice still works, my body works, I can still work, I can still serve the Lord.¨ Also on Fast Sunday, she was the only non Latino to share her testimony. What a brave Sister and friend.

President Christensen always asks us ¨what did you learn today?¨ when we meet together as a big group. Recently the question was ¨what have you learned in the last 7 weeks?¨ I immediately thought of the principle of every day repentance. I used to think of repentance as an event. Now it is a lifestyle. I constantly feel the need to improve and I love the feeling of the Holy Ghost helping me know what specifically to work on next, and then peace when I am improving... even though my progress is hard to see.

I´ve also gained a lot of strength from D &C 6 this week. And The stories of Zeniff, King Noah, and Abinadi and now Alma the Elder in the BOM. I love the scriptures! There is so much to learn!!!!

Well, time is short. But I want you to know that I have a testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel and of the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ.. think about that... the actual church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on the earth. What a blessing it is to have this knowledge and to feel the Holy Ghost confirm truth. Please be missionaries and share your testimonies too!

I´m praying for all of you, and for Grandpa and his upcoming surgery. Let me know if my emails aren´t entertaining enough, or if they´re alright. I need to write for my audience here... and believe me, plenty of funny things happen too.

I love you! Stay true! Have faith, hope(patient perserverance), and charity.

Hermana Francis