Monday, March 29, 2010

Hello family and all loved ones at home!

So, I was transferred! I had felt for a while that I would be transferred but it was still hard to say goodbye. In the Latino culture, they have a tradition that when a missionary leaves, they go to all the houses in the ward to have a proper goodbye. Although it was good to get closure and say goodbye, it was an emotional rollercoaster. It was incredible to realize how much I've come to love these people, and how much all of them mean to me. My heart broke to leave them.
In some of the houses we shared testimonies or a hymn. As I asked which was her favorite hymn, I love what Hermana Rodriguez chose, "Come come ye saints". She has been so faithful, always helping us and with so much enthusiasm for missionary work.
And to say goodbye to Silvano and Sofia, that was hard. I truly will never forget them. Silvano even woke up at 4am to take the bus with us to the zone conference in San Pedro Sula. That’s how these people are… they’ll give everything to show their love. I hope I can learn to become more like that.
I think hardest of all was to say goodbye to Hermana Figueroa. She taught me how to be more sincere, to teach what people need, and to have more confidence. From the first day we were great friends. She is still in Copan serving with Hermana Jimenez who was with me in the CCM in Guatemala.
Anyway, my first transfer was hard. But I know that my heart can open again as I focus on the work at hand. There is a lot of work to do here, especially in retaining. The branch is small and meets in a house near a central park. Many that we contact on the street haven’t heard of the church, which is quite different from Copan. I’m excited to learn here and seek to be an instrument in the hands of God, doing my best every day.
I am now in Riolindo with Hermana Gutierrez from Guatemala. She is very kind and has a lot of charity for the people here. We've already practiced making tortillas(practice makes perfect, right) in our kitchen, and she pronounces well her English (she learned some in school before her mission).
Riolindo is very hot, calm, with less noise (La Entrada was more of a city with music pouring from the houses). I taught Relief Society (4 people) on Sunday, using Deiter Uchtdorf’s talk from Oct 2009 conference about the love of God. I’m so excited for General Conference this weekend!
I was impressed by a sister I met this morning who rode her bike an hour and a half to visit us. I still haven’t seen the whole area, but it’s quite large.
I love you all! Thank you for your love and support! XOXOXO
Hermana Francis
Ether 12 27

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Craziest Week of my Mission Yet!

What a crazy week. The big news is, I´m being transferred on Wednesday. I´ve felt for a while now that my work is done here and I need to move on. I feel sad to leave the members who have taken such good care of me, to leave Hermana Figueroa (we are so close... I feel pain when she feels pain, I feel happy when she feels happy. Can we all go to El Salvador in a year and visit her and her family? Thank you.), and to leave my sweet converts and investigators. But I also feel that it is right for me to go.

On Friday morning we had a zone meeting and almost impulsively afterward, Hermana Figueroa decided that we would do a companionship exchange and I was to be here in my area with Hermana Judd (from Michigan and with only 6 weeks in the field). My first companionship exchange ever, and I was to be the Senior companion! At first we were scared and thought it was crazy to put two junior companions together, but the day ended up amazing! I was so surprized. Hermana Judd kept apologizing and feeling bad that I had to ¨deal with¨her lack of Spanish, and I had dejavu... I remember myself saying that exact thing all the time with my trainer. It was amazing to hear her simple but so very sincere testimony and to teach with her. The biggest highlight was at the end of the day when we were going to go for Baleadas in the house of the familia Cervantes but the spirit prompted ¨Abner¨ so I said ¨Let´s go to one more house¨and we went to contact a reference from the Rojas family closeby. Hermana Figueroa and I had just met the son in the family, Marlo, before. They were all sitting around watching television, but let us come in and teach them a simple lesson about faith. Abner´s wife, Leslie, is a member of an evangelist church and their neighbor was there and is Catholic, and at first seemed pretty cold to us. But by the end of the lesson, all was quiet and I really noticed a change in their reaction. They said we could come back any day of the week after Monday. It was amazing. The whole day the Spirit guided us and we were able to bring comfort through many and had a lot of good street contacts too. Anyway, it really built up my faith and confidence, and I know now that I can´t use the lack of Spanish as an excuse. I really can do better than I have been doing. I need to trust more in the Lord and He really will make miracles happen.
Hermana (Rachel) Judd lived for a while in Bountiful Court Apts. in apt. 1 and knew a lot of my friends from there, so it was nice to talk in English when we were back in the casa. =)

Another huge thing this week!
Hermano Silvano Contreras was baptized on Saturday!! I can´t even tell you how happy and blessed I felt to see him baptized and to hear his longwinded but happy testimony afterward. I almost feel like he was the reason that I was here (I´m sure there were more reasons... I grew and learned quite a bit... but as I´m sure you can tell from my emails, Silvano and Sofia mean quite a bit to me). I´ll never forget the night we met, and all that has happened in the last 3 months. It´s crazy to relate so much with a 50 year old man who has troubles with alcohol but has found peace and hope through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I already miss them.
Sofia was there and also came to church with us on Sunday for all the meetings. She´s waiting to see if there´s a real change in Silvano before she joins the church, but I´ve seen a change and I know she will be baptized someday.

This week we were in the house of Glenda and Alex (every time we teach them I feel like we are teaching at the TRC in the MTC. They are so receptive and the Spirit is very strong with them) and se fue la luz or... the lights went out. Sometimes that happens in the whole town and as missionaries we are intructed to go immediately home. We left the house with the help of my little flashlight and almost before we could be afraid came a moto taxi... the only light we could see, and took us safely and quickly home. We were able to testify how Christ is our light and the only Salvation we can gain is through Him and His atonement. I am so happy to be so protected and blessed. I´ve almost never been afraid here... well... I´ve been afraid for the lessons and to speak and things like that, but never for my safety.

This week Hermana Figueroa read in Genesis 3:16 and shut her bible and said ¨ya no voy a leer Genesis¨. Ha ha.

This week I also ate crab for the first time. It was excellent but it´s pretty hard to eat in my opinion.

I love you all so much! Thank you for all the letters... I feel bad...I try to hide them as soon as I get them in the Zone meetings because I´m getting more in a two-week period than many get in their whole mission. (a.k.a. 6 or so) But I´m not going to tell you to stop writing! =) Know that I love you all very much and am grateful for your prayers and support. How blessed I am to be here and to be learning patience, charity, and faith.

I´ll let you know about my new companion and area and everything next week! Love, Hermana Francis

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I´ve been a little discouraged about Spanish and my lack of experience and all the little mistakes I make (culturally and generally), but I know that my faith is being tested and that things will improve as I trust in the Lord and try harder to focus on others. I didn´t want to worry you, but I haven´t been as happy as lately. I think part of the reason is that none of my converts are active, and I´m doing all I possibly can to help them. Here in these missions, it is really easy to baptize and really hard to retain. I think now in retrospect that we didn´t really teach as long and well as we could´ve, but I couldn´t argue... Hermana Rosales was the trainer and she said that I have to fight for my baptizms and do all possible to have them. Anyway, I´m trying to help them and learning from sad experience that 1. I have great responsibility as a missionary to do all I can before baptism to help them have a real conversion and 2. people have their agency, and I can´t be destroyed if they choose not to be faithful. But I am having a hard time about it. Please keep Delmy, Nahum, Evelyn, Maria, Reina and Cindi in your prayers. Also Hna Figueroa is amazing but not super obedient... as you can see we´re emailing our families right now at 7 pm and we should be prosceliting. But I´m learning and I know I need to do all I can to be obedient. Just wait... and don´t worry. In time I´ll be back to my normal, happy, slightly more wise self.

A miracle though! Maria (Brigida) has been off working selling things and I haven´t seen her in a few weeks and she hasn´t been to church. But because the Lord loves her and me and is answering my prayers, she was in our path twice this week and the second time she came to a lesson that we had with the Contreras family and felt the spirit. I was so glad she could be there, and the Rodriguez family has agreed to continue to help her attend church.

Silvano was preaching the gospel with us, introducing us to his friends on Friday, and he should be baptized this next Saturday. We´ve been working with his wife Sofia, but it seems that she´ll be following Silvano in more time... she still has doubts and hasn´t received her answer yet. Silvano has been waiting for baptism because he wants to be baptised with her, but because she´s hesitant and he needs to progress, we´re pretty sure he´ll be baptized alone on Saturday. I know someday the family will be all strong in the church.
Attached is a photo of them. (Finally you can know who I talk about all the time!)

I´m trying to forget myself and go to work! I know that not every day of my mission will be easy and the best day ever, but I have faith that the Lord is making me into who He wants, and that with His help I can do all things. I love my companion, we get along very well, and I´m being taken care of by the good members here.

I love you all so very much! Keep strong and endure joyfully every day!
¡Nos Vemos!
Hermana Francis Xoxoxoxoxoxox

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


HOLA familia mia! Como estan?
This week we had a multizona in San Pedro Sula on Tuesday with Elder Martino of the 70. The Spirit was so strong and I wrote pages and pages of notes. Sister Martino also spoke, and it was fun to hear her Texan accent and then the Spanish translation (Elder Martino served his mission in the Central America mission).
Then on Wednesday we had a zone meeting, and afterward outside of the church we did a street contact with a young man (age 19) named Carlos Hernandes. He looked sad and we talked to him for a while and then invited him with us to an appointment with the Contreras family (Silvano and Sofia). He happily came along as he had nothing better to do. We taught the plan of Salvation, and the Spirit was very strong and we had a lot of participation. We were also able to explain about baptisms for the dead. Silvano accepted the docterine with hardly any questions, but Sofia is still praying about an answer. When Silvano or Sofia didn´t know an answer to a question, Carlos surprised us by knowing. He is very bright.
Afterward we took a moto taxi with him to see where he lived and dropped him off suposively near his house. He told us it was easy, just follow the road and we´ll see a white house made of adobe on our right. The next day we went to find his house, and called out ¨buenas tardes!¨in every white adobe house and didn´t find him. We tried for 2 hours and had plenty of contacts and inviting to church, but no Carlos.
Anyhow, when we talked to him on the phone that night, he said ¨Oh, now that I think of it, the house is white on the inside.¨ Ha ha...
His family is also very receptive and we had a great lesson with them (the restoration). They said they´d come to church with us on Sunday, which was a satelite conference for Central America. Elder Costa, Sister.... I don´t remember but 1st counselor in the General YW Pres., Elder Christofferson and Pres. Eyring spoke. FHE was a big theme, as well as temple work.
One thing I liked from Elder Christofferson (he spoke in perfect Spanish) was that the father of the home should pray to know when his children need a priesthood blessing, not just wait for them to ask for one.
On Saturday we had a lesson planned with Silvano and Sofia and The Rojas family who are strong in the gospel. We went and to our surprise, Silvano wasn´t there. As we sat and waited, talking to Sofia (who is much more shy than Silvano and hardly said a word... only now after all this time is she willing to read and participate in the lessons with only us missionaries), we felt that Silvano was drinking. Sure enough, when we saw him the next day he was so ashamed. We were worrying about him the whole night, not knowing where he was and it was so sad to see him feeling the guilt of his sin on Sunday. But he has to feel this sorrow in order to change. We expressed our disappointment, but told him that true repentance is still possible, that we are here to help him, and told him to get ready to come to the conference with us.
Hermana Figueroa said that she feels like Silvano will be a great leader. Satan is fighting so hard against him! We had a baptisimal date (March 6th) and we were planning the baptism for the river behind his house, and now he has to wait more time because he drank. He was doing so well but still hanging out with some of the same friends and finally wasn´t strong enough. On Sunday night we brought the Rojas family and the Herrera family for a FHE, and they were very friendly with the Contreras family. I know that everything that has happened to Silvano and Sofia is for a reason, and that truly they are being prepared to be excellent leaders in the church. Please pray for them!
There´s much more to write, but time is short. I love you all so very much! Thank you for your letters, your prayers, and support. Keep the prayers coming... Satan is tricky and can sometimes make us feel like we don´t know Spanish or like we can´t do the work. But I´m here for a purpose, and I know I can do it! Right? Right.

Love, Hermana Francis