Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Feliz Navidad!

¡Hola familia mia! This email may be tiny because I´ll be talking to you on the phone this week. Hooray!

Daddy-O wanted to know about Honduranian Christmas traditions. I´m sure I´ll see what it´s really like on Thursday (they do most of their celebrating on the 24th) and be able to tell you on the phone on Friday, but here´s what I know for now.
They have fireworks, they eat tamales, and they paint their houses. It´s funny to walk past a house that once was blue and see that now it´s bright green. It´s funny too because to take down someone´s address we write in our planner ¨Neighborhood San Jose, past the school a little ways, in the blue house.¨ And then they paint their house bright green. =)
We have un montón (quite a few) dinner appointments for the 24th. I´m sure I´ll be gordita quite soon! It´s a miracle I´ve maintained my weight thus far.
A quick spiritual experience and then I´m signing off... we haven´t had much success as far as baptisms, and we´ve been feeling bad because we´re working hard all day every day and with little results (as far as numbers that is). On Saturday during personal study I felt prompted to study fasting, and decided that I could still do more to find and bring souls unto Christ. We fasted, and during the time when we usually have lunch we had three great contacts, including a family that seems very receptive. I have great hope for the Family Castillo. I know the Lord answers our prayers of faith, especially when we seek to combine our will with His.

Even my short emails are super long winded!. I love you all and am thrilled to talk to you por telefono soon!

XOxoxoxo Hermana Francis

PS Dad also asked about my companion... Her name is Regina Verónica Rosales Arias and she´s from Granada, Nicaragua, close to the largest lake in the world. She´s amazing, and my best friend here.

PPS The members here don´t believe me when I tell them that there´s snow and snowmen in Utah. Could you email me a pìcture? Thanks. =)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ay No!

I just wrote you all a beautiful email, and the computer crashed. So... this may be short. Sorry. ¿Disculpeme?

On Saturday night we had a special Christmas activity that Hermana Rosales and I organized at the church. It was to start at 6 but we went at 5 to set up chairs and then go bring the Eugenia and her family. When we got to the church we saw the youth playing futbol (soccer) in the court and the church was completely flooded! Every room.. the offices, the bathrooms, everything. So we spent the hour sweeping and mopping water out of the church and turned on all the fans to help dry the tile floor. The youth and young men´s leader helped and it was actually super fun. We finished just in time to start a half hour late ( as is very normal here) and were blessed for our efforts by how many showed up! We both shared small talks and then showed the video ¨Joy to the World¨. Oh, how I love Motab. Hello, Brother Hendricksen.

One of the attendees was Marcos, age 11 who we invited the day before. We were surprised to see him... we gave him an invitation but he can´t read, but evidently he remembered. Also we had given him a pamphlet of the gospel of Jesus Christ which he brought with him, worn and battered as if it had been looked through quite a bit. He has something in his eyes, a longing and I just want to fix it. I know that the gospel can save his life spiritually. He was at church as well and we´ll be contacting him tonight in his home.

There have been times this week when I felt prompted to share something and as I opened my mouth I knew that it was what the Lord wanted that person to hear. What a blessing! All I want is to be an instrument in the hands of God and it is thrilling when I really feel like one.

I love Hermana Rosales so much, and the best part is, she loves me too! We sing primary songs in Spanglish in the streets and we really support each other. She´s teaching me loads and I just hope I can learn all I need to and quickly because she thinks she´ll be transferred in January. It´s kind of scary to think of myself here with a new companion who perhaps isn´t as patient and kind, but I know all things happen for a reason and that I will learn and progress in every experience in this beautiful mission. I truly love being here.

I love you all! I hope you realize how grateful I am for such strength in my home and among my friends as well. I receive a LOT of letters through pouch (including a beautiful poem from Aunt Julia.. please tell her it hit the spot).

XoXOXOXOX Hermana Francis

PS, 1 Corinthians 2.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Mission is Sort of Like a Roller Coaster

Ups and downs, and sometimes I feel like I want to throw up, but over all it´s really fun and I´m super happy to be here.

That ¨throw up¨reference doesn´t mean I´m sick. No worries!

But I can see why people say that the mission is the hardest thing they ever did. I have a lot more respect for all those who have served missions. And especially for those who did so cheerfully and full of the Spirit, like Nephi or Ammon or Joseph Smith, or Christ. I want to be like them.

We have a lot of investigators, and a lot of families (yay!!), but this week a lot of appointments fell through (boo). However, that meant we had a lot of service opportunities! One was with a man named Manuel who was all red from effort of repairing the road (moving dirt from the side to the road with a shovel). I asked if he wanted a rest and took his shovel and began to move the dirt from the road to the side, not understanding exactly what I was doing, just knowing I wanted to help. We laughed as I realized I was un-doing his work, and quickly I began to move the dirt from the side to the road. Hermana Rosales gave him a quick description of our message, and I helped maybe .0003%. But that´s okay! We got a good laugh out of it, made a new friend, and hopefully he´ll be there when we pass by again (we just left a note in the first attempt). Sometimes I feel very weak, but I know that who the Lord calls, He qualifies. As long as I´m trying my best and repenting daily, I know the Lord can make something amazing out of me. But to have the patience and to keep trying all the time! Let´s just say, I´m grateful for your prayers and support. I need them.

I didn´t really know I was a little homesick until last night, when we had the opportunity to watch the 1st presidency Christmas fireside (did you see it?) with all the members of the branch and an investigating family (yay!), Eugenia, Odilma, Eugenia (jr), and their little brother whose name I can´t pronounce. The program was translated of course into Spanish, but all the hymns from MoTab were in English. When I heard the Orchestra start ¨For Unto Us a Child is Born¨ I just felt so...healed. That is part of what Christmas means to me. And snow and the lights on temple square!

Anyway, don´t worry. I know this tiny bout of homesickness will pass and may return again but each time I rely on the Lord and remember that I´m here to do His will, I´m happy and able to carry on. This work really is incredible.

This week we had a lesson with that family I mentioned (Eugenia) and we asked them to follow the Savior and be baptized. Odilma (12) and Eugenia (10) had the desire, but their parents refused, saying they were too young for such a decision. Throughout the whole lesson I had the Spirit with me strong, although I was a little afraid to open my mouth. Their father, Pablo was going on and on in almost a battle of words with Hermana Rosales, and I just sat there listening, trying to understand everything, trying to listen to the spirit and be prepared to interject if He prompted. Finally I just felt almost like a voice in my mind (¨It´s okay, you can do it, I am with you!¨) and I read Moroni 10, vs. 4 and 5 and told Pablo that we could talk all night, but the only way that he could really know is to pray with real intent. We all knelt and prayed together. This family has so much potential! They are so poor, they rarely have clean water and the children are always dirty. But they are so humble. The girls are reading the Book of Mormon and the mother, Eugenia came to church and the fireside. Anyhow, keep them in your prayers. We know that the Lord wants them to have the blessing of the gospel in their lives as a family, and we´re just praying to know how to best proceed.

I love you all! Thank you for your emails of encouragement. Thank you for your prayers. It´s been a tough week, but also a wonderful one. And a fast one! I know my time is limited and I need to enjoy every minute, the good and the bad, the easy and the hard.

I love you! Alma 53, vs. 10. Ammon was amazing missionary, but he always gave the credit where it belongs.

Hermana Francis