Thursday, January 28, 2010

Good Week

It was a good week! Some highlights:

On Thursday when we do our weekly planning, the Jehovah´s witnesses came tracting to our door. We listened to their message and then shared the message of the restoration. I found it interesting and was happy to share the memorized 1st vision. A man who sells vegetables door to door from his wheelbarrow stopped to listen only for that part. I believe everything happens for a reason.

One night we stopped for ice cream on the way home and saw some people from the States! I started talking to them and it was so strange to speak in English! (´We are missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints´ doesn´t quite roll of my tongue like ´Somos misioneras de la iglesia de JesuCristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias´) They´re from Pennsylvania and here for a medical mission, as well as starting up a library in this town. As I reached for a pamphlet I realized I only had things in Spanish, but luckily one of them speaks enough. It was funny... I didn´t realize the melting ice cream in my hand... I was so excited.

I saw some children sledding down the road with a piece of styrophome, an empty gasoline carton, and empty plastic soda pop cartons (what are those things called?) as their sleds. Poor little things, they don´t have snow to cushion when they crash. But they still were having a great time.

We found a family!! Mom´s prayers (and mine) are being answered! They are the family Contreras and our lessons with them have gone really well. The father was a preacher in the Catholic church for several years but got involved with alcohol and was excommunicated (I think? I´m not exactly sure what happened.) Anyhow, he hasn´t been in any church for 14 years but is graciously accepting everything we say and inviting his family to listen as well. When we introduced ourselves to him, he was very open and we told him of the hope we can gain through repentance and living the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have faith that they will be baptized and be very strong and a big help in the work in this little branch.

Also, happy happy news! You know how I always talk about the family Cervantes? The whole family was at church on Sunday! We´re so happy and proud of them. It´s amazing to see changes in lives of people and to see the love of God for them. Hna. Cervantes is always studying the Book of Mormon and her church manuals and Hno. Cervantes led their family home evening last night. !

Attached is a picture of me making Baleadas with Hna. Cervantes and Hno. Cervantes was there (after work.. he works as a news anchor).

I´m learning so much and yet feel like I´m learning so slowly at the same time. But I have to be patient with myself. What a privilege to be here and to really be a representative of Jesus Christ. I´m trying my best to live up to the responsibility.

I love you all so very much. You´re in my prayers. Please never worry about me. I´m happy, healthy, and learning more how to be wise.

Xoxoxoxoxox Hna. Francis

Monday, January 18, 2010

Things are looking up!

Hello family and blog viewers! I think my last email was a little bit discouraged (well, I know it was because I was, a little bit), and thank you Mike and family and Marcie for your emails. I can´t even believe how much love I´m receiving from home. I know I don´t deserve it.

I got un montón de cartas I got a whole lot of letters from pouch, including from Gabe, Paul, 2 from mom, Aunt Fae, Aunt Joann, Sis. Harker and Bishop Payne. Thank you so very much! I don´t know if my snail mail will ever reach ya´ll so you just need to read my blog and know I love you.

It´s was actually a little bit cold in this part of Honduras! Either that or I´m becoming Latina little by little. Hermana Rosales and I were sleeping with several layers of pants and shirts and socks and even a jumper too. We finally got some blankets, hooray! It was funny to be out contacting people wearing hats and coats when really it´s probably as cold as Sept. 16th in Utah. Hermana Kochevar in Santa Rosa was using her blowdryer to warm up her bed. Haha..

Funny story.. we were on our way to an appointment doing contacts and we started talking to a couple sitting on the sidewalk holding hands. I started sharing my testimony (zealously) of families and how they can be happy and together forever in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They laughed nervously, and my mind left the missionary mindset for a second and I thought about how awkward that would be if that was me and my boyfriend being preached to about families. As we left we heard them laughing and we were laughing too... how awkward but also how true. They CAN be happy and together forever.... someday. I think I jumped the gun a little bit.

We had interviews with President Cruz, which are always great as I feel the spirit so strongly, feel so motivated and feel so inspired by him. He told me that I´ll be staying here in La Entrada for my next transfer but receiving a new companion. I´m praying and working to try to be ready... to know the streets, the ward members and the area, and to be learning Spanish as fast as I can. We´ve been promised a ward mission leader and Pres. Merren (the new Branch President who lived for a while with his family in Utah) is great! The whole Branch feels a little more structured and I have great hope that with their help we can do miracles in this area.

I´m reading the New Testament in Spanish and it´s been wonderful. SOmetimes I doubt my Spanish abilities when I make so many mistakes and am still so innocent and weak in teaching, but then am surprised how much I do understand. Every time I try to do my personal study in Spanish I feel I am developing a little more faith. Little by little, right? If I was the perfect missionary with all the knowledge in the world right now, how boring would that be? I need to learn and grow and progress and I knew it would be challenging.

I´m learning the importance of punctuality and feeling a little guilty about how late I always was before my mission... ha ha.

Hel. 14 vs. 30 and 31. How beautiful is agency and the ability to choose to be happy and learning in every circumstance.

I love you all! Thank you for your prayers and support and for everything!!

¡Nos vemos! Xoxoxox Hermana Francis

PS... ya´ll are writing Hermana Rosales pouch letters, right? Thank you.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Poco a Poco

Hola familia mia! Another rapido week! This mission is flying by.

But at the same time, I feel like the adjustment from MTC life to field life sure is taking a while. I´m trying to be patient as things are still different from my expectations. I´m trying to not be frustrated and to learn all I can here. It´s similar to what I learned in Sociology about culture shock... first is the honeymoon faze where every little thing is new and exciting, and after a while reality sets in.

However! I know Spanish is coming little by little (poco a poco) and I know I´m learning how to have more charity and how to be a little more grown up and responsible. I´m living each day with the end in mind, hoping to become what the Lord would have me become in this, His mission. And I know the way to do it is to focus on others. I can do a lot better with that.

Anyhow. This week we had a multizona in San Pedro and I was talking to Hna Alvarez who was with me in the CCM Guatemala. I mentioned something about our branch, and she said ¨you only have a branch there? We have stakes.¨ Our area is having the lowest amount of baptisms in the mission. I knew it was a hard area, but didn´t really realize it until it was put in perspective. I´m grateful for the opportunity to be here and to be learning and starting the mission in Copan.

And how funny that ¨hard area¨means still having baptisms every month and people so willing to let us in and listen to the gospel. I´m happy to be here in Honduras!

Also at the Multizona I was able to talk to Hna Story (my 1st companion from MTC Provo) and she speaks Spanish now! It was really exciting to hear her.

Because of how slow the work is progressing in Copan, the zone leaders presented a missionary plan to choose 10 families, and each of those families choose 10 families for us to teach with their help. Also, we and the members need to read from the Book of Mormon each day and pray in faith for those who we are working with. We´re excited and more motivated, and know that if we have faith, this plan will work and strengthen this area.

This week I had to explain what the red, yellow and green of a stoplight mean to Hna. Rosales. We have one stoplight in La Entrada.

We´ve been trying to find Frankling every day (I think I´ve mentioned him... 17 years old and we always feel the Spirit strongly in our lessons with him) but it´s been hard because he doesn´t have a phone and we almost always miss him. Yesterday though, with help from the Spirit we found him and talked to him again. I felt prompted that he needed to know why we knew what we knew (we´d talked to him a lot about his life and problems and he´s been to church once but we still haven´t taught him about the restoration) and after we told about Joseph Smith he said he knew that what we told him was true. He also said that he was able to find a new and better job after praying, and this one will keep him in the area so we can teach him! (his other job was going to take him to Guatemala) It´s amazing how we can see the hand of the Lord in our lives in the small things and the big ones. Hna. Rosales especially feels a strong connection with Frankling and wants to help him so much... she´s always thinking about and praying for him. I care about Frankling and want him to have this change in his life, but also am almost more excited because when we teach him Hna Rosales is motivated and happier. I know that she needs him... she´s a little bit trunky. (only 4 months left).

I´m sorry if this email is a little bit not-as-perky as usual. Please know that I am finding things every day to be very happy about, and that I´m fine. The members are good to us... feeding us and being patient with my Spanish. I love being a missionary and I´m growing ever so slowly but still.

I´ve been thinking a lot about the brother of Jared and how he presented his little stones and yet the Lord was able to perform a miracle because of His faith. (An insight Jason helped me understand when I was in Indiana this last summer) At this point in the mission, my stones are all I have to offer. But I have faith that there´s a reason why I´m here, and that I can do good with the Spanish I do know and with my testimony.

Wow, this is getting long. I love you all so so much! THank you for the pouch mail, it comes frequently. Please send a letter to my companion Hna. Regina Rosales. English or Spanish... I can hopefully translate the English.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Oh Crazy Honduras, Le Quiero

This was a great and crazy week!

This week,
Learned how to squeeze juice out of sugar cane and meanwhile testified of God´s love for us in things great and small (like sugar cane! mmm.)
Watched a boot maker make handmade boots (redundant... sorry)
Elder Beard from the Park Stake was transferred into the area and is our Zone leader
Helped Bro. Cervantes with family history... it´s only a matter of time, I know he´ll be active again
Saw both a funeral procession and a baby being born in the same day... both in the street and both in the bed of a truck
And... we had a baptism!

Elvin Nahum Arita (11 years old)... I will never forget his baptism. Saturday the 2nd of January.

When we woke up that morning none of the lights worked in the whole town. And it was raining. Cows blocked the path from our casa and when we finally got to the church only Nahum and Pres. Rodriguez were there, waiting for us (we were late). Also the church had no running water so there was no way to fill the font. Or so we thought!

Nahum was so put out when we were thinking we´d have to baptize him another day. So, Pres. Rodriguez suggested we hand fill the font. With excitement and faith we went to work.

Soon members of the branch showed up and we all worked together, bringing water from a source behind the church in with buckets. It was fun and took a long time, but no one got sick from the rain.

I feel like it was a good experience for all to work hard to welcome in Nahum to the branch. It was crazy watching Nahum who is smaller than John E. bringing in buckets of water bigger than himself for his own baptizm. He is already so strong and dedicated to the gospel. I know he will serve a mission someday.

When he shared his testimony, all he said was that he felt so happy when he entered the water, and then he started to laugh because he couldn´t express his joy. Hna. Rosales and I cried. The spirit was very strong. I know that Nahum is so loved by our Heavenly Father! We are working with his mom and sister and the Spirit is always there in our lessons with them. I have great hopè that they will join the church as well, and that their family can enjoy blessings together. Nahum is an example for them!

I love this work! I´m trying my best every day. Spanish is coming. Sorry this is short... the internet stopped working (pretty common here..) and erased my last attempt. Oh how I´m learning patience. =)

I´ve noticed mini pride cycles in myself... I need to learn humility as well.

The attached picture is Nahum, us, and Pres. Rodriguez. He is incredible and I´m so grateful for his help in missionary work. So faithful. We´re all wet from the rain and the lugging of the buckets. Hooray!

Love you all!
Hermana Francis

Friday, January 1, 2010

Les Quiero!

What a good week! We ate a lot of tamales, and I learned that they only eat them at Christmas time so I better appreciate it! They were super tasty.

Good news, Hermana Rosales and I aren´t going to be transferred! We have at least another 6 weeks together. Hooray!We go to the house of la familia Cervantes every day because Hermana Cervantes is our cook for lunch. It´s been interesting and wonderful to see the changes in their family. Hno. Cervantes is innactive and lately has had a lot of questions for us and we´ve been able to have some great discussions (reminds me of discussions with Daddy-O... hopefully we can have bastante when I get home someday!). I´m so grateful for the gift of tongues which helps me say what the Spirit indicates. A few days before Christmas we sang Chrismas carols in their kitchen while waiting out a storm, and last night our discussion was about the word of wisdom and also the importance of going to church. He has a new interest in family history, and they are eating together as a family now. I´ll keep you posted... but it is truly amazing to see the changes and to feel that I am an instrument in bringing the Spirit into their home.

And another miracle, was yesterday at Church when a boy named Elvin whom Hna Rosales and I casually invited to church two weeks ago told us he loves primary and wants to be baptized. We went to his home last night and met his mom, who proceeded to tell us that he woke up early and told her he couldn´t eat breakfast because he had to go to church, and later the branch president told us he was one of the first ones there. We shared the message of the Restoration with his mom (Candy) and the Spirit was very strong. She answered with a firm ¨sí¨ when I asked if she would pray to know for herself if Joseph Smith is a prophet. We´re praying that she can have the same excitement as Elvin, since he needs her support and we desire her salvation too. It was probably the best lesson we´ve ever taught, and I know that people are truly prepared for this amazing message and change in their lives.I´ve been thinking of Suzie lately and praying for her as she just has a few more hours until the MTC! I hope she loves it and learns all she can there. I am so grateful for my experience at the MTC and the CCM Guatemala. I hope she can remember that if Robyn is out there in France and I´m out here in the middle of Honduras, she can do it! Whom the Lord calls, He qualifies.

This morning I read Helaman 3 verse 35 and now think of it as my new mission scripture. It describes what I hope to become.

I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers and good examples! Please know I love you even if my snail mail never gets there... but I am sending it every week.

Love, Hermana Francis