Monday, May 31, 2010

Flying to Fesitrahn

Hola familia! I´m now in Fesitrahn, which is close to San Pedro. I´m serving in a ward instead of a branch. There´s a piano! I´ll be playing for the church meetings. My companion is Hermana Salazar from El Salvador. Wow, can she Salsa! She is teaching me how for our exercise time in the mornings.

Fesitrahn is big and rich and quite different from the more-puebloish towns that I´ve been serving in. There are still dogs in the streets, but they are big and very well bred dogs. The houses are quite large and some families have 3 cars, where in Riolindo it was much less common to own a car. The people are colder and busier and everything is faster. It´s funny to see the difference in the missionaries as well... all chubbier.... for the first time in a long time I´m eating at Wendy´s and Pizza Hut. You may say this is a cushier area as well... we used to go out and bring in the purified water with a wheelbarrow in RioLindo, and here a purified water truck with a little purified water jingle drives past. It makes us laugh.

We do most of our work in Vera Cruz which is more of a pueblo, and the people are more receptive. The Montejo family (converts of Hermana Alvarez who was with me in the CCM in Guatemala) help a lot with the work there. Lenin is very bright... he´s 17 and has a huge testimony. I know he´ll be a great missionary someday.

My very first day as a missionary, all the new missionaries contacted a park here in San Pedro. Hermana Salazar was my companion for that day. It was major dejavu to walk past the same park with her today. She and I and one other Elder are the only ones in the mission who started off in Copan. It has been fun to reminice and talk about the people we know and love there. She also served some time in the mission office, so she has the answers to everything I want to know about the mission. It´s quite nice. :)

Also this week we had a multizone meeting and I listened to Hermana Rosales, Hermana Figueroa and Hermana Gutierrez share their testimonies as they go home in just a few weeks. It was a sad day... I´m really going to miss seeing them. But it was great to reflect and think of all the experiences I´ve had with each of them. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve and teach and sweat and pray and laugh and learn with my sisters from Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.

I´ve been reading about Abinadi lately in el Libro de Mormon and thinking about power and authority that the Lord gives His servants as we preach repentance and help people change. What incredible examples we have from the book of mormon of men (and women... Abish! :) )who were not afraid to stand for the truth and do as the Lord directed them.

I love this gospel and I know it is true. I know that the Lord answers our prayers and always protects us from harm. I´m trying to develop more faith to find the chosen. I know they´re out there!

I love you all! XOXOXOXOX Hermana Francis

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hola Familia Favorita

Hello family! It's so good to hear from you!

On Saturday, Maira and Jackie Argueta were baptized. It was also Hna. Gutierrez's birthday... and she felt like it was the best gift ever. We've been working with this family pretty much since I got here, and we feel so glad that they've progressed to this point and that now can enjoy the blessings of the gospel more in their lives. It was a great experience. Jackie (age 12) was so cute... nervous and scared of the river, but came out beaming.
And I felt happy in our gospel essentials class, which was about the atonement, and to hear the testimonies of Jonny Figueroa and Maira Argueta, our converts, of how they feel to have Jesus Christ personally as their Savior. They both enjoyed (with their spouses) a conference in Villa Nueva with Elder Clark, a seventy of the area.

A birthday package??! For me??!? :) I really could use a few Modbe sleeveless undershirts... a black one and a white one... and a few short sleeved size S shirts (modbe also), maybe a plain green one and a blue one, lightweight and good for hot weather. Through trading, etc. my clothes have become a little bit hard to match. :) Hooray!!!
I love you all very much!! Transfers have come and it's my turn to go. Changes are a good thing. I'll let you know all the details next week!
XOXOXHermana Francis
2 Ne 31:3.

Photos: The Argueta family, with the sister-in-law of Senen(the bearded man) and her kids, and Maira's father.
Hermana Ibeth made me fish! I don't know if you can see it well, but they eat the whole thing, eyeballs and all. Mmmm.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hola familia, como le han ido?
The last couple of days have been great, as Hermana Gutierrez has let me lead to see how well I know the area. I´m amazed to see that although I still feel like I don´t know the area very well, the Lord always helps us get to where we need to be.

Today we had a P-day de zona in Pulipunzak which is a beautiful waterfall in our area. We had divisions because Hermana Boiton had to go to San Pedro for a doctor´s appointment and Hermana Gutierrez has already been to Pulipunzak and didn´t really want to go again. I remember the very first time I did divisions and how worried I was that I didn´t know enough Spanish or that I would get lost, but it´s becoming a lot easier every time. We played Ultimate Frisbee as a zone and some of the rules didn´t exactly translate, but I love seeing all the personalities of all the missionaries come out and I know it increases unity to have activities like that.

Yesterday we taught a less active family, the familia Maradiaga who went to the temple, had callings and responsibilities in the church but now haven´t been to church in 8 years. We´ve been teaching their daughter, Heydi, and as they see the need for her to be baptized, they are starting to be more animated about the church and are going to come on Sunday! I was able to testify about what it means to me to have generations of faithful members of the church and how if my grandparents had gone inactive where would I be? I´m amazed at how at times I feel as though perhaps we´re not the most powerful companionship of missionaries, but when we´re in the right place at the right time and testifying with sincerity, the spirit has the ability to touch their hearts and we can see changes.

The brother of Hermana Ibeth (our cook and also the Branch President´s wife... and our mom here. :) ) was here for a day from Choluteca which is the very tip bottom of Honduras and which is where the Varela family are from. He said there he met Hermana Fuka (who was with me in the MTC and the CCM) and that she wasn´t doing so well there with all the heat, but that she was transferred and is now doing a lot better. I was really happy to hear about her and it was definitely a tender mercy for me.

Times are pretty hard as far as work for everyone here. Our mission leader, Hermano Inmer Guerra, has been working for a taxi company (Here in Riolindo the best jobs are the taxis and Aguafinca... a great big fish factory) and just found out yesterday that he lost his job. I´m not exactly sure what happened but we have a FHE with his family tonight and I hope I can say something to help him. I wish I could help the people in this beautiful country with all their temporal needs as well as spiritually.

Tomorrow are interviews with President Cruz again! Hermana Gutierrez goes home on June 16th and I´m not sure if I´ll be staying to teach my new companion the area, but probably so. Who the Lord calls he qualifies, and I know that with His help I´ll be able to do it. I can´t believe how fast time goes. I love the time I can share with President Cruz... I always feel so much love and motivated to do better.

I love you all so very much! Say Hello to President Brady for me and send all my love to the 9th ward! Also to my dear Aunties and Robyn... I received un montòn of letters all at once and I feel so grateful! I promise I´ll make time to write back. Perhaps I´ve become a little bit Latina... :) It´s not really part of the culture here to write letters.

XOXOXOX Hermana Francis

Monday, May 10, 2010

Hola de Lindo RioLindo

How amazing to talk to you all on the phone! It was pretty strange speaking in English but I loved hearing how all of you are! The kids sounded the same to me, except Emily... so grown up I called her Rachel! I couldn't believe how fast the hour flew by.

Today we had a preparation day with the whole zone. We went to Cojan which is a big power plant... 40% of the power in Honduras is generated by the water there. The Sisters in Santa Cruz (Meese and Nunez) hosted us with the Urbina family... they are great (a family of 6? returned missionaries) It was beautiful and really fun to be there. Honduras is so beautiful. I can't complain. :)

We had an activity this week which was put together in a few days (it was in the mind of Hermana Gutierrez until the end) and we had a lot of people come! It was almost the first time that this branch has had a missionary activity. We taught the plan of salvation by having one room in the church represent the telestial kingdom, one the terrestia kingdom and one the celestial kingdom. The Rivas family (they are great! Always willing to give references and help with baptisms) were all dressed in white and bore their testimonies in the "celestial kingdom". It was a lot of work to put it all together but a good experience and I know the Argeta family as well as the other investigators we had there were able to feel the Spirit.

I feel like in this area I'm seeing how a whole branch can come together and work hard for the righteous cause. A main part of this activity was to have a plane which would "crash" and then all those who were "dead" would enter the church and go to the "telestial" kingdom. We had everything figured out... the food, the parts that members of the branch would play, everything, and the night before the activity (Thursday) we realized that our branch President's son hadn't done anything to create the airplane. We had six poster size papers to work with and 3 markers. My companion was exhausted with everything we had done to plan, and I've never drawn a plane before but I got working on it, and with the help of the Varela family we were able to finish in time. TACA is for the airlines here in Central America but the photo says TAKA because Osmond (another son of the Varela family) got his hands on that part of it. :) We also covered the walls in the rooms with black trash bags and dozens of stars that Hermana Gutierrez and I cut out. It was a lot of work and kind of a disappointment that it was taken apart in just a few minutes, but I know it meant a lot to the members in this area to have this activity and it was a good experience. And I've learned how to do it for next time (and to plan a little better and more in advance... :) )

Funny story: we were with the Argeta family and Senin (the head of the family) had a question about the priesthood as he saw another brother in the ward be sustained to receive it on Sunday. I began to explain what the priesthood is and how it was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith and Maira (the wife) interjected and asked who was sitting next to him (meaning the brother in the ward who received the priesthood). Hermana Gutierrez didn't understand and said "Emma Smith". We all laughed quite a while. They are progressing, and we love teaching them.

Anyway, I'm doing well and learning to have more empathy. Something I didn't get a chance to share on the phone when Steve asked me how I normally contact people is something super cute that Hermana Gutierrez does. She pulls out her name tag a little ways and says "The church has a sign that says this. This is my name, but this is the name of the church". :) Every missionary shares the gospel in their own way, but it's the same gospel and what a privilege it is to be here and share it! I love it, I love seeing people feel the Spirit, and I love that I have trials, because I know the Lord is teaching and preparing me for the future.

Take care, all! Hasta proximo lunes
XOXOX Hermana Francis

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hello familia!

What a week! Jonny was baptized on Saturday in Santa Cruz and it was a beautiful baptism. He was dunked 3 times because it was the first baptism for Hermano Reynaldo but it was great. The Spirit was very strong and Jonny and his wife Marjorie cried when Hermana Meese and I sang "I need thee every hour" with one verse in English.

Wednesday is transfers but our district is staying the same, how it was.

I was reading this morning in Enos 1:15-17 and thought it interesting and beautiful that Enos could make a covenant with our Heavenly Father, and that his desires of his heart were answered. I want to improve still my relationship with Heavenly Father and know that we can make personal covenants with him too.

Congrats Jason and Marcie! Your baby is beautiful!!

I love you! Can't wait to talk to you on the phone soon!!

Hermana Francis