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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're so cute.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
This is Leonore. Cute right?

They were making snow. I was amazed, (This, by the way, is a Minnesota ski resort built on the highest hill around...the landfill)

Hey family! It's starting to cool down here in Minnesota, we've b been in the twenties all week, the next few days are warmer, upper thirties and mid forties, and it's supposed to snow on Thursday! People tell us over and over what a nice Fall it's been. I have enjoyed it while it lasted. I am waiting for the temperatures to take a nose-dive. It's been fun experimenting with tights and skirts and scarves and coats and all the things. Both this week and next week our full p-days are on Thursday (we're going to the temple next week!!) but we still have the time to email on Monday, so we still haven't had time to look for gloves. I don't know if you're already thinking about a Christmas package, but if you are, I'm requesting some thermals and fleece lined

I feel like a lot has happened this week. Lot's of new developments and stresses, but all good things. We are teaching a girl named Erika, she's fifteen and has been investigating since April or so. She expressed to us this week her desire to be baptized. I don't think she's ever been to church, but that is literally her only hurdle. We taught her the Law of Chastity and Word of Wisdom which you think wouldn't fly very well with a fifteen year old, but she totally got it. She agreed with us and even told us she had thoughts these things
on her own. She is seriously the coolest. She is probably the most spiritually in tune person her age that I've met. She has the deepest strongest desire to do exactly what God wants. I have discovered that I love teaching the youth. They are so perceptive to spiritual things and are always willing to at least learn more. There are so many youth we are teaching right now that are pushing their parents to be better. It's awesome. The youth are the future.

On Wednesday we had a cool experience that really strengthened our testimonies of finding through part member families and less actives and also of inspired back up plans. We had two appointments set up for
Wednesday night and at about 3 pm, both of them cancelled. One of them was in Chaska which with traffic is between 45 min and an hour from home, and the other was closer to home. Our backup plans had been made with the thought that we show up in Chaska and they don't open the door. So even though we knew there might be nothing for us in Chaska we decided to go any way because that's where our back up plans were. So it takes us an hour to get there because of rain and traffic. We get to the place where the first referral works and she wasn't there. Awesome. So we go to our next plan which is an investigator that we
haven't been able to contact for a few weeks. She opens the door, let's us in, and we gave a good lesson on the Plan of Salvation. She kept saying, "I just need to read the Book of Mormon." We also found out that her dad is actually a member. Plus we set up an appointment for tomorrow, Tuesday. Success. After her, we went to a less active that lives in that same trailer park. I was a little nervous because Sister Scholl had said that this member's daughter had just recently received? done? taken? her first Communion in the Catholic church. I don't actually know what they do. But I didn't know if we were going into hostile territory or not. This Hermana let us in right away, we introduced ourselves, got to know her a little, and then shared the
video "Because of Him"
It's our favorite video to share. It's so good. But she loved it, it brought the Spirit so strongly. We invited her to church and she got quiet and then said something like, "yeah, I would like that." We didn't want to leave because it felt so good to just feel the Spirit and remind one of our sisters that she was missed and needed. She didn't come even though we found her a ride, but it was still a good experience. Definitely worth the long drive.

On Saturday we went to Lakeville for the baptism of a lady that Sister Warmbier taught. Her name is Leonor, she's from Spain, and she is more than 80 years old. Let me tell you about Leonor. She is kind of scary
looking, I'll be real. She wears this hideous black wig over her gray hair, but the thing is that she doesn't pin up her gray hair, she lets it hang out the back of her wig. Her hands are really shaky, but she still insists on doing her makeup so her lipstick is a little all over the place and her mascara is really dark and also all over. And she doesn't really smile. I'll send you the miracle picture of her cute little smile. She is really sweet and it was a cool baptism because they had to have two people in the font because of how unstable she is. The less sweet part is that Sister Warmbier and I had the job of changing her back into dry clothes after the baptism. And she was wearing NOTHING under her jumpsuit. Never a dull moment. It was good though, Sis Warmbier was really happy to go, so it was good.

I get the chance to meet so many cool people here. I have told you a little bit about some of the people we do service with, but there's more. I found out that one of them was a refugee from Ukraine to escape the Soviet Union when he was four, but he grew up speaking Ukrainian, one of them has Russian parents so he grew up speaking Russian, one of them knows Greek and has a doctorate in music, like so many cool things. There are a lot of very educated people here in Minnesota. There are also a lot of really cool people that I have met thorough church. Bishop Volz, the bishop of our ward is one of the most incredible people. I think you have to be to be a bishop of a Hispanic ward. We went to ward council yesterday and was really impressed with how he runs things. He is very people oriented and just loves these people with his whole heart. He is incredibly humble. He learned his Spanish at BYU and from a month or two in Spain, so even though his Spanish is really good, he still has to ask all the time, "how do you say..?" or "wait, what does that mean?" It's really neat. In ward council we brought up that the missionaries haven't been fed much by the members lately, and he came up after and literally dished out all the cash from his wallet between the missionaries. We tried to refuse but he brought up the point that's more convenient than taking us out to eat anyway. And he would never take recognition for it. He is really amazing. He works so hard, and takes really good care of the missionaries. We at least have a full fridge now, it was getting pretty sparse.

Something hard that I've been thinking about a lot is our most recent convert, Martin. He has been telling some members of the ward that he doesn't have a testimony, and so there is that thought flying around
the ward that the missionaries aren't taking good care of their investigators and are just trying to get them baptized. Our district leader, Elder H says don't worry about it too much, because we have heard his testimony and we have been teaching him, not the ward. We know that Martin has a testimony even if it's not as strong as some of the other members. I'm just worried that he was baptized for the wrong reasons, like because the missionary that taught him for nine months was leaving that next week. It's a hard situation and we don't know how to help except to help him do the small things like read the scriptures and pray every single day. 

Everything is good here! We love missionary work! Don't forget that Christmas is the best time to share the Gospel! The new Christmas video comes out on Sunday, and we are stooooked. The things we get excited about as missionaries:))

I love you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Week 21

Meet Angela

Emily with Deb Zollinger and Sister Warmbier

Ok so I'm really dumb. I just deleted like almost a half hours worth of email. So here's round two of trying to write. Dangit. So this week's email is a bunch of stuff that I've learned and a couple of funny stories, so it's going to be pretty random. The first, and I think most important, thing I've learned this week is about the enabling power of the Atonement. I read a talk by Elder Bednar called "In the Strength of the Lord" and he really clarified for me what the enabling power is. He said "As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for strength to change our circumstances rather than praying for our circumstances to be changed. We will become agents who 'act' instead of objects who are 'acted
upon.'" He gave the example of Nephi who when his brothers tied him up to leave him in the wilderness prayed for the strength to loose the bands instead of his brothers changing or being magically released. I think that Nephi understood the power of the Atonement. Another example he ave was of some pioneers who got stuck without food. They tried eating the rawhide they had by making it into like a jelly. Disgusting right? Ew. Their stomachs literally couldn't handle it. But instead of praying for food to come or for help to bail them out, they
prayed that their stomachs would adapt. And they lived off of it for six weeks until help came. The enabling power helps us to be stronger, better, and more able to serve than we could ever be on our own. It gives us the strength we need to overcome our circumstances instead of our circumstances overcoming us. I think that's pretty amazing. I never understood it like that before. Next, at Zone Conference we talked about two things. 1: The new
Christmas video comes out on the 29th. As missionaries we are already planning on how to use  and share it. My challenge to you is to think of ways as a family that you can share it, and Facebook doesn't count. I'm talking face-to-face action. Start role-playing  and thinking of ways now! I'm extending an old-fashioned missionary invitation:) And the video is awesome. It is especially focused on youth. So Ryan, Sara, Lauren, Morgan, think of ways you can show your friends. It doesn't have to be hard. 2: the Handbook change. President Forbes invited us to watch the interview by Elder Christofferson about it and he says it way better than I ever could.
Here's the link:
and the page that clarifies:
I know that sometimes we don't understand the policies that are given at first, but I have faith that light will be shed in the near future. Especially Ryan, Sara, Lauren, Morgan: just know that these men are called of God. The laws of God will never change. He will never yield. It's such a blessing to know exactly where we stand with Him. We never have to wonder if what we are doing is right or wrong. In a letter a month or two ago, Josh said "Satan's greatest front of attack right now is on the leader's of the church." Satan will do everything he can to make us doubt the leadership of the church and to stray from the path because it's not of the world. Don't let him do it! These men are called of God and will show us the way in a continuously darkening world. I saw about the attacks in Paris on one of the TV screens at Timberlodge when we went out with Debbie. Scary. Case in point. We need guidance.

We went to Stake Conference yesterday in Crystal, and the theme here was member missionary work. It's hard not to cheer and applaud when awesome members get up and talk about their experiences and invite others to do the same. It was a really good experience and the messages were really good. The Stake President talked about how we can be obedient now, we just have to decide. He also spoke on the power of the scriptures. I don't know if I told you, but last week I finished the Book of Mormon again and started reading it in Spanish. The power
of the scriptures is real. IT acts as an umbrella of protection for us. When we read on a regular basis we will be more guarded from temptation. It's true! It's real! If you don't believe me, try! It's awesome. The power of prayer is real! We have had a hard time getting member meals and so we have been praying how to know to get more food basically haha but we had three meals this week, plus two or three members gave us food to take home. It seems so silly but we really are taken care of.

So that's all some pretty heavy stuff, so here's some funny stories. Hno Benjamin, a semi-less-active that we teach was giving us marriage advice this week, which is funny because he is 50 something and has never been close to being married. He is hilarious, I really want you to meet him someday even though he doesn't speak any English.
Last week we were out trying to get into an apartment building in the dark, and I walked into a tree. I actually do that quite a bit, but this time the tree got stuck in my headband! I had a twig stuck to my head for a couple of minutes before I noticed. Good thing it was dark:)
Me with a twig stuck to my head

On Wednesday we went out to Eden Prairie to meet a family we didn't know. It was raining cats and dogs so Hna Warmbier had an umbrella that she had grabbed from the apartment closet. This umbrella is psycho, it opens randomly and scares the dalyights out of anyone within arms reach, which is always me. But anyway we get to the
apartment building and Hna W puts the umbrella in her pocket. We reach the door, and Mariela opens. All of the sudden theres this huge POP like a big balloon and the umbrella handle hits the ceiling and lands at Mariela's feet. Remember we haven't met her yet. Hna Warmbier has a long spring hanging out of her pocket and is just as surprised as I was. Mariela was confused, we were surprised, and so she invites us in and we give a short thought, sing a hymn, the entire time gritting our teeth so we don't bust up laughing, and when as soon as the door closed behind us we DIED. We seriously laughed all the way down the hallway, into the car, out of the parking lot, and basically every time we have thought about it since then. Embarrassing doesn't even really exist anymore.

So that was basically our week. We had a lot more success with investigator lessons than we've had in a while. Saturday was the worst day we've had. Literally nothing happened. Que sad. But it's ok because overall the week turned out well. I appreciate your emails. Dad I kind of want to hear more about the evil spirit thing in Brazil. Do you have cool stories? And I love that the lady that spoke about the Sabbath day. That is such a hard thing.
Hispanics are such hard workers. So many of them work twelve hours a day or all night or three jobs just to make ends meet. It's so hard when we have to tell a single mom that she needs to keep the Sabbath Day holy even when it doesn't seem like she'll be able to make ends meet if she takes Sundays off. It takes a lot of faith, but I know there are blessings. Mom I really like getting pictures. Thanks for the one from the concert. I expect lots from Magic Mountain:) One of my favorite things ever would be if you and Dad come with me to visit Minnesota again and your Spanish was good enough so that I could really introduce you to some of my new friends! I would love it. Hna W says my Spanish is really good, but I'm not overly convinced. Some days are really hard and I understand nothing and can't string sentences together, And then other days my accent is good, I don't have to think too much, and I can get by. I love having a fluent companion, my accent has gotten a lot better, but one of the most frustrating things is when the people we're talking to won't listen to me because I'm not clear enough or as clear as Hna W. So frustrating
Lauren, I loved your email about normal life, it's easy to forget that life still goes on as a missionary! I kind of miss cutting wood, crazy right? I also love Sweeney Todd, but volleyball is so fun too. That's a really hard decision. Everyone keeps asking me if I'm freezing yet, but it has been SO nice here. Like low sixties upper fifties. It's supposed to drop to like the thirties this week, but as of now, I'm still not a popsicle! Dinner with Debbie was fun. I loved the Minnesota themed restaurant haha I had walleye and wild rice soup. Yummm. It was fun hearing about
how much fun she had with you guys. Today we had zone PDay and we did like a Thanksgiving dinner and played volleyball! I was so happy. I had a lot of fun. There are always one or two elders that get a little too into it but it was still really fun. Hna W and I mad pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Delicious. SPeaking of which I have done so much better at eating healthy this week. Still not perfect, but wayyy better. Hna W's sister sent her this workout that we've been doing and it's been awesome. I feel way better when I'm eating well.

Welp. That's about all I've got. Pictures to come in a few! I love you all, be missionaries!

Love, Emily

Week 20!

Wow can you believe it's already been almost five months! Hna Warmbier and I were discussing how crazy fast the time goes. Next month will be my six month mark! I can't believe it. It seriously doesn't feel that long. The weird thing is that you expect your mission to be this huge life changing experience every single day, but then all of the sudden you're six months in and are afraid that you're not learning what you're supposed to because it's so fast. It's really neat, but crazy at the same time. I also hear that it just gets faster. 
We have had kind of a hard week. It's always hard to remember how hard exactly, because in the moment you feel so done and tired but then looking back it's always "that was a great week." Haha I guess it works. We had a TON of stuff fall through, but at the same time we had some really good experiences. Also, I get lost a lot. We don't have a GPS and I do pretty well when we go places that I know well, but when we go to find less actives and stuff like that, we spend probably twice the amount of time and miles. It has been by far the most frustrating thing about taking over the area.

There were so many people that didn't answer their doors this week. Some of them even ask "who is it?" and then still don't answer!!! It makes me so mad. We have been hitting dead ends with finding new people, so we've circled back to the part member families, prospective elders, and children of record. We haven't had any luck so far, but it's a work in progress. We have a lot of potential, but nothing is moving too fast yet.
We had exchanges this week, so I ended up staying in this area and Sister Anderl came with me. So cool story, we were actually in the same ward our freshman year. We didn't know each other really well, but recognized faces and know a lot of the same people. It was cool. Taking over completely, Spanish and all wasn't too bad except that a lesson fell through so we ended up knocking a ton. But it made for some funny stories. One old black guy called Sis Anderl sweetheart, one lady opened and said "are you Mormons?" which is always kind of a scary question, and then said she went with daughter once and they sang to her and brought her bread #sacramentmeeting? and then promptly told us she had to go and then shut the door. One guy, Tony, looked legit afraid when he opened the door and said "what is this?" and we said we were missionaries, he said "...well...I've never done anything like this before..." and we said we share a message about Jesus Christ, and then he had something on the stove or something. To finish off the night, we met Brian. It's interesting that you asked me about gay couples. I don't know what you're talking about with the handbook change, we have zone conference on Wednesday so I'm sure it will be addressed. But Brian was actually probably the coolest, nicest person I've met knocking. We almost fell off the porch when he mentioned his husband. He was really interested in what we had to say, and we invited him to check out He was really chill, I hope that if he ever hears anything like Mormons hate gays, that he remembers that we had a chill, intelligent, friendly, fun conversation. It's such a hard topic. I think like any objection, we always refer people back to the Book of Mormon. Which sounds weird, but let me explain. If you know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, then you know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and if he was a prophet, then all of his successors were as well, and therefore, everything they tell us is also the word of God. Therefore, read the Book of Mormon, know it's true. Like a lady in our ward told us yesterday, if you don't have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, no tienes NADA. Martin, our newest recent convert is struggling because he doesn't have a really strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. He says he feels empty, which is bad, and we couldn't figure out why. Yesterday at coordination meeting, Victor, another recent convert of a few years, said he felt the same way after he was baptized because he wasn't reading his scriptures. It's a real thing. The Book of Mormon is so important and so true. I just started reading it again, this time in Spanish, and its cool how it feels the same even when I have to look up words:)
Hna Warmbier and I learned this week that talking to everyone doesn't necessarily mean teaching everyone. A lot of what we do is just let people remember what they felt when they talk to us. So we have been good at at least saying hi to everyone this week.

Along those same lines, we were doing weekly planning at the library, and the security guard came over and started talking to us. His family are all Baptist, but he has never been super tied to one religion because "no one could answer (his) questions." We asked him what some of those were, and literally every single one we could have answered. We left him with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. Converting the world one library security guard at a time.

Totally random note: we got our dishwasher fixed this week. Best thing ever. 

So a good experience this week was with Fabiola's family. I know I've talked about them before. But this week, we met with them and we read with them the story of the stripling warriors. The boys love the stories from the Book of Mormon. Also, Santitos loves the Primary songs that we sing, so we printed one for him and he's been practicing. So cute. But this last lesson they started asking awesome questions about temples, eternal families, and the qualifications. So we think they are ready to start the lessons again. We are really excited about the progress they made. So that was the awesome part. But here's the thing. They are convinced their house is haunted. And from their stories, I might be convinced too. I really didn't believe in scary stories like lost spirits, moving dolls, seeing things... until this week. Even now I don't know what to think. The Elders had an experience with a family in our ward that is really scary. Their little girl has been seeing a black figure without a face, basically described a son of perdition (according to the Elders, I don't know where they got their info), and the family is really (understandably) freaked out. The Elders went over to scope it out, and apparently had a pretty weird experience, like unreasonably cold rooms, weird feelings, things like that. I don't know how I feel about it. In Fabiola's house she was telling pretty freaky stories too. Like their five yr old girl seeing people that no one else can see, hearing crying and footsteps when no one is there, seeing faces, creepy stuff. I don't know. Hispanics are know to be more superstitious and believing in this kind of stuff, but Hna Warmbier suggested that it's because they have a "gift" or "blessing" of some kind that has always let their people be more inclined to see supernatural type stuff. Have y'all heard stories? I know I've heard of more than one missionary casting out evil spirits. I'm skeptical, but at this point I've heard enough that now I'm wondering. Plus I don't want to say that I don't believe because then I'm sure to see something scary and I definitely don't want that! What are some of your thoughts? I don't really know what to think.

Something that we do know is that reading the scriptures, praying, and especially singing make us not scared when they are telling us scary stories. We are discovering more and more the power that music has to bring the spirit. I hope you all still play and sing Primary songs and hymns. I have never appreciated them so much as in the last few weeks since we've been using them in our lessons (and since we've heard so many scary stories). Part of me is laughing on the inside, the other part is weirded out. soooo...
Anyway, after that little episode, we are going to dinner with the Zollingers this week! I'm excited! I'll send pictures.

I love the pictures from everybody. I wish I could be there to watch Ryan play or to hang around with Sara and Lauren, or to chill in Texas with Morgan and Shelley! Too much fun! I am really enjoying Minnesota, it hasn't gotten too cold yet, today is actually in the low sixties. We are going to Goodwill in a bit to see if we can find any more winter type skirts and sweaters. I got a bunch of tights last week, just in time. They've been nice. I think I am basically set for winter, minus some good mittens/gloves. I have no idea where to look. Where do you even buy mittens? 

Feel free to send me letters and emails throughout the week, I love even  just getting random pictures. 
I love you all!


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New Companion!!

Emily and Her Cousin Josh

Hermana Warmbier, Hermana Frank and Emily

We are Wackos

Ok, so as usual I don't really know where to start, so I'll just go sort of in order of this week! So the first big thing was transfers. We go to a meeting where all the transferring missionaries and companions are and President gives a short message about how change can be a good thing, I feel like it's probably a pretty similar message every time. I like President Forbes, his style is perfect for our mission right now. He is very laid back and informal, and it
creates a really comfortable atmosphere. At transfer meeting, I met a sister from Weed, CA that's here in this
mission too! Small world. After the meeting, we all go into the parking lot and swap suitcases and people, and it is pretty crazy but fun. It was also the coldest day we've had so far, so there were a lot of cold hands pulling bikes off and on the bike racks. Luckily the Elders are always really nice and help out a lot. Perks of wearing a skirt. I saw Josh! He is in W St Paul now, so hopefully I'll get to see him more. He is going from rural to straight city. He seemed to be doing good though.

After transfer meeting, Hermana Warmbier and Hermana Frank and I went to lunch and ran a few errands because Hma Frank had to wait for her trainee. With transfers, I am now the designated driver for our area. I love
driving, but we don't have a GPS, soooo I've only gotten lost a couple of times. Usually I know where I am, but if we are out in Chaska or Eden Prairie, it's way harder. Minneapolis and the surrounding areas are on a grid system, so that is insanely helpful. I love driving though. The craziest thing is that the one and off ramps criss cross on the freeway, but I really like the mental game. You have to think ahead, and it's fun! Taking over this area has been less stressful than I thought it would be. The hardest part is getting to places on time and without getting lost, but I'm getting better. It really helps that Sis W is already fluent in Spanish. We also get along really well. We probably have too much fun. We sing constantly. We have a lot in common, and we really enjoy being together. We get distracted sometimes because we just like to talk and laugh. We are learning to curb our distraction and to be
more focused in the times that we need to. She has a really strong desire to be productive and to do work, and to have fun at the same time. We are a good match.

As far as the work goes, we had a ton of people cancel this week. It has been frustrating, but like I said, Sis W and I are a good match. It's crazy that they put two greenies together like us but it's so fun. She has barely a transfer in the mission field, and I have barely two. It's a party. We have a lot of animo. We are hoping/planning that the work picks up this week. We really want to start work with Fabiola's family. They are the ones I talked about last week, where we are excited to be back in with them. But they have a lot of other people living in that house, uncles, cousins, friends or all of the above. They have been listening in when we sing and read with Fabiola and her kids, so we have plans for them. We were sad that Victors family wasn't home for our return appointment.
We had an appointment with Hno Benjamin again. He's being really stubborn and not coming to church so I got kind of sassy with him. It was actually perfect. Sis W and I are pretty in sync with our teaching, and she asked all the perfect questions and then Benjamin asked why I wasn't saying anything. I told him what I thought/ called
him out for a talking a big game about faith but then not acting on it. Benjamin is cool. We're tight so I can call him out on stuff like that. And he pinky promised to come on Sunday so he better be there. Also I think he tried to send pictures to you guys on Facebook, so if a Mexican guy se llama "Coach Moran" tries to friend you on Facebook or send a message, that's who it is. He has pictures of me eating tacos de lengua.

Halloween was pretty low key. We did service at the Bloomington ice gardens and just helped with games and candy and stuff for the kids. It was fun, and we got a lot of candy too which is good and bad. It sounds like you guys had a good week though. Let me know how Ryan's tournament is! The email from Josh made me laugh, it's so like him. I haven't written him in a while. It's sounds like he's is insanely insanely busy and loving life. The winter is coming and we've been slowly building up our stores. I bought a pair of medium winter boots and like four pairs of good tights in the last couple of weeks. I little bit of money, but they will be much needed. I hate spending money:P  I think the only thing I still need are gloves. I have little ones, but I hear what I really need are good mittens and then to wear little gloves underneath. Any idea where to get good mittens?

I found a song that Sara and Lauren need to sing! It's a children's hymn that's only in Spanish. It's called Estrella de Luz nĂºmero 146 in the Spanish children's hymn book. It's a Christmas song, and I fully expect a performance when we Skype. The harmony in it is so pretty. I hope everybody is good. I will probably be sending a package home soon with the stuff I don't use.

Mucho amor!