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Saturday, June 25, 2016

June 20, Happy Father's Day!

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This is what we did today. A little sightseeing.

Happy Father's Day Dad!!! lately I have been sooooooooo grateful for our family. To my siblings: you have no idea how blessed we've been to have such awesome parents that taught us the Gospel. It has been amazing to me how many missionaries are learning the stories of the Book of Mormon and things like that really for the first time. I have never been more grateful for our family scripture study and all the things we do together. Thanks Dad for presiding and taking care of us:) I love you!  

Seriously I cannot believe that today is the 20th of JUNE. Every few days I look at the calendar and hyperventilate for a second. This coming Friday is my ONE YEAR mark. At the beginning of your mission you think ahead and it feels like it will never end. Not that you'll never make it there, just that your mission will never end. And now, I'm on the downhill and I don't know what to do with myself. There's a pretty good chance that I stay in St Paul for the rest of my time here, which is only four and a half transfers from now. Anyway, like I said every few days I freak out for a second and then I'm fine. I'm just trying to make the most of it and enjoy every moment. Nathan Hughes sent me a really good email this week about just enjoying my mission. I think he's having a hard time adjusting. I appreciated his input.

This week has been really good and I think one of the first weeks where I just want to go out and work hard and that's it. I finally feel like I've learned how to teach in a way that connects with people and the productivity of our lessons has really improved. I still have a lot to learn and I'll never be a perfect teacher but I really like this new drive that I've been feeling lately. We had exchanges this week, which is the first exchange I've been on where I've had to kind of conduct and be the one "inspecting" or whatever you want to call it. I went with Hna Leavitt in the West St Paul area. Hna Leavitt is still in training and I really enjoyed working with her. I think it helped her and boosted her confidence to have to take over her area for a day and it really helped me to realize that I really do know how to be a missionary haha. We also met this cool guy named Ted. We were looking for an apartment building and our GPS took us to an old Orthodox church and Ted was sitting outside. His parents were Serbian? immigrants and he speaks Serbian and Russian. He sits outside this church all day every day as a volunteer curator and gives tours to anyone passing by. He gave us this picture Inline image 1  . So it's hanging in our apartment now, framed and everything. He said we could come back for a tour anytime:)

A couple of things I have been focusing on in the last week are 1. using the Book of Mormon and 2. asking inspired questions. In conjunction with that Hna Chavez and I were asked to give a training in District meeting this week about using the Book of Mormon and a multi-zone training tomorrow on asking inspired questions. It's like Heavenly Father knows what I need or something. Our training at district meeting went really well. It was really powerful and made me want to use the Book of Mormon more. When the doctrine of the Book of Mormon is applied and practiced, that is what changes our lives. That's where the power comes from. So we have to teach our investigators to understand and apply the doctrine, not just read the book. The training we gave wasn't powerful because of anything we did. We just asked the right questions and the other missionaries answers are what made it so impactful. We used the model of inspired questions from our MLC training the week before. It works!:)

I've been trying to apply inspired questions and the Book of Mormon more in our lessons. I especially saw results when I was on exchanges. People I had never met before were opening up about their lives and what their concerns were. I had never seen it happen that fast before. I know that we couldn't have done it without the Spirit. It's been so cool!

I met a member this week who is less-active but not for lack of testimony, she's just had a streak of bad luck lately. She hasn't been able to get to church because her car broke down, and then her phone stopped working and then she lost her job because she was late because she had to ride the bus, and it just never ended. Her oldest son has been in jail for multiple years because he was wrongfully accused of murder in Honduras and he just got released this week. She is a single mom with 7 boys. Only one of them lives here with her, the rest are on missions or in Honduras. She has 3 sons on missions right now and one about to put his papers in! Her faith has really impressed me. She never gives up even though everything it seems is going wrong. She had to have done something right to have so many missionaries in her family. 

We also had a ward activity for Father's Day on Saturday. We cooked carne asada and had tacos and hung out with the ward for a bit. We (the sister missionaries) actually ended up preparing and cooking the meat haha. As usual it was chaos. The hermana RS president that was in charge let her counselor know last minute that she wasn't going to be there, and so the counselor was basically solo. When we got to the pavilion there was an English ward there that was doing a lunch after their temple trip so we ended up sharing the space. It was really hot too. I got sunburned. It was fun though and I got to meet some new people. I think the counselor really appreciated our help too. 

Also totally random side note, my favorite summer treat is cold watermelon with tajin. I don't know if you still have the tajin I sent you at Christmas, but try it with watermelon. My favorite. It's so good. 
It's been good, I love being a missionary! Keep being my favorite family!

Love, Emily   

June 13, St. Paul Week 2

Our District - Saint Paul Spanish
Sister Chavez

So many things have happened this week. I feel like that is happening more and more. Before, the weeks seemed pretty uneventful but I think the longer I'm here the more and more things that happen. I don't know if that makes sense. Figuring out how to manage our duties as Sister Training Leaders and working in our own area is an interesting experiment. I am really grateful that Heavenly Father knows what he's doing. He doesn't let us mess up the work even when we have no idea what we are doing! 

We had the chance to go to MLC this week. MLC is mission leadership council. It is all the zone leaders and STLs in the mission. Hna Chavez and I are the only companionship that are completely new to being in leadership. Everybody else has at least one companion that has done it before. I'm telling you, the adventures never end. The meeting was so god. Basically President just gave us a main theme "how can we reach our mission goal of 100 date sets this month?" and we just counselled. We talked about all sorts of things, but mostly about the quality of our work as missionaries and training. In the next two transfers we have 60 new missionaries coming to the mission. In other words, more than half the mission will be training! So we talked a lot about the quality of training evaluations and how we can build up the next "generation" of missionaries. A sister from the Minneapolis Stake came and gave a training on asking inspired questions. She does trainings for major corporations for a living, and she is an incredible speaker. She talked about inspired questions and how we can be so much more effective if our questions are good. Specifically she talked about helping people to remember or imagine times that they have felt the spirit and then asking questions according to their experiences like, what do you notice? What does that mean? What are you going to do? etc. It was so good and I've been trying to use it more in my work. I felt really privileged to be a part of that group. I definitely had the thought "what am I even doing here? What do I have to offer?" It's been good reflection for me. I also got to see all my friends:) 

Hna Chavez and I are adjusting to each other. We get along well and I think she is most like me out of all of my companions temperament-wise. She is from Provo and graduated in 2008. She is the oldest sister missionary I've met I think. Her parents are both from Mexico City so she grew up speaking Spanish. She has only been in the area for 6 weeks and so we are both still learning the area. It's kind of a weird dynamic because she is older and her Spanish is obviously better, but I've been on my mission for a lot longer, she's only been out for 5 ish months. So it's kind of intimidating to give suggestions sometimes. I like her a lot, we have fun.   

I've decided/discovered that two of the things that I want to take away from my mission are 1) the ability to communicate with God through prayer and recognize revelation that He gives, and 2) the ability to study meaningfully and know how to look for answers in the scriptures. This week I had been praying about how I could make my studies better and the answer I got was that I need to study more about the Savior. So I made a list of all the events of his life that I wanted to study. So this last week I've been studying Christ as a premortal being, the prophecies of his life, his appearances to prophets before his birth etc. I have LOVED it and have never been so excited to study in the mornings. It has even affected my study during the day. I just want to read all the time. It was cool because the prompting I received to learn more of his life came from a conference talk that I was reading during lunch. I've been trying to read one every day. Revelation is real! 

Something less spiritual but cool that we saw this week was more cool to my engineering brain. There was an intersection where the police officers were monitoring how effective the intersections were. The were timing how long it would take for people to be able to turn, how often, etc. They would send pedestrians across every so often and would nail any car that didn't stop for them. It was really interesting. I was fascinated. For the record, that intersection really needs a stoplight. 

More experiences this week included going to the temple on Saturday! We attended a session in Spanish! I was really nervous that I wasn't going to be able to understand anything, but I actually understood basically all of it. Just a few words here and there. Plus they used the vosotros form which we never use. I loved it. It was a really neat experience, and I think it helped me feel even more love for my Hispanic family, and I saw some of my friends from Lakeville and Minneapolis. 

After the temple we were supposed to have a member come with us to a lesson with an investigator but the investigator wasn't there. Classic. I swear, if you want to make sure that a lesson won't happen, invite a member. I'm kidding, but that's how it feels haha. This member was so good about it. He returned from his mission in 2011 and still has a lot of passion for the work. We went and knocked a couple of other doors, and he brought a pamphlet with him, gave it away, and basically lead the discussion we had with a lady on her doorstep. I want to be a member like that. Also by the way, he has been working three shifts to take his wife on vacation. He works 13-17 hours a day loading big FedEx trucks. I was really impressed and touched by his desire to work with the missionaries. I love these people. 

In response to your emails, I have some stuff to say! First off, Kali's pregnant????!!!! That's so exciting. Hna Chavez knows who Kali is btw, they went to the same high school. It sounds like all the graduation festivities went well and everyone had a good time. I'm proud of Ryan for working hard. everyone is getting so old. Dad, I like your Portuguese, hola mi hija is Spanish;) How cool that Vicki Scott is getting baptized, and even cooler that Hunter gets to baptize her. That will be an incredible experience for him. I also want to meet this Spanish teacher man. Aka, baptize him so that I can meet him and talk to him! Which reminds me, remember Leonor? The old lady in Lakeville from Spain? Her daughter lives here in Saint Paul and want sot meet with us. We live at 1776 Maryland Ave E #208 St Paul MN 55106 if you guys ever want to send me stuff:) Ryan! read this talk- 
I thought it was perfect. These are all the things I would suggest too. I will follow up to see if you've read it! 
Dad, I want to hear some of you mission experiences. Tell me stories! About anything.
I love you all, I'm glad you had a good week! Keep me updated!

June 6, City Lyfe

Our sleepover apartment


Sooo many things

Thursday in a snapshot

This is Karen :)

Pitching to Elias

Good Week!!

I Love You Guys!

One Week until Mother's Day!

Friday, April 29, 2016

OK...I'm out of subject lines

Ok, now that I spent fifteen minutes writing a list of things I could talk about, I'm ready to write an email haha. The funny thing is it feels like we did nothing this week, but I keep thinking of things I want to write about. So I think I'll start with some of the people we saw this week. We had quite the combination of lessons. Everything from really really good to seriously weird. Lucio is progressing and as of right now has a date set for May 28th. This week we talked with him about baptism and confirmation and what they mean, the promises we make etc. He is fun to teach because literally everything is new to him, we have to teach really really basically. He has never read the Bible, never really gone to church, never really had a religious background even though he believes in God and Jesus Christ. So when we talked about baptism we had to start with how Christ himself was baptized and how important it is for us to be baptized. The lesson went really well and we're excited to keep teaching him. He didn't come to church this Sunday, and we're not sure why. Hopefully we can get with him this week and get him to church again. We met with Sol again this week and I was equally impressed with her questions. We talked to her about the Book of Mormon. We discussed what true intent means and what it means specifically for her. She is open to everything we are teaching and I think wants to know the truth but it's scary to change the beliefs that you and your family have always had. I seriously love her already. She is so easy to talk to and is just fun. She is really interested in repentance and asks us about it every time we talk. It's awesome to see the hope of the Atonement already working in her life. She picks up on what we teach really fast, probably understands faster than anyone I've ever taught. It just clicks with her. Now we just have to get her to act on it! We had a lesson with that SDA family and talked about the family proclamation. We showed them a video about Heavenly Father and His love for us. They really liked it and the mom especially is fascinated with temples. She asks us about them every time we stop by. Our weirdest lesson of the week was with Saida. We met her at service, and she thought we were Lutheran missionaries, and then Jehovah's Witnesses and then we finally got it cleared up. We were supposed to help her make decorations for her sons birthday, but we got there and she said nope, we did them already, so we taught instead. We were talking about the Plan of Salvation and she was not listening to a word we said. At one point she was breast feeding, at one point she was literally nodding off, and at the end we invited her to be baptized again and she said "I've already been baptized, who's going to say the closing prayer?" Almost literally in the same breath. Weird. Those are the most frustrating lessons for me. Like why do we even waste our time. It's so tempting to just walk out. Ugh. It's fine. They invited us to the birthday party, so that's fun I guess. 
This week Sister Hughes and I got up a few mornings and went for a run or a bike ride. It was really nice, I want to do it more often, but the last few days have been really rainy. Minnesota is getting green. It is so pretty and the temperature has been perfect. It's so much easier to find Hispanics to talk to when its nice outside because they are all outside their trailers on nice evenings. We taught multiple lessons outside this week. I have missed that this winter. 

On Saturday we had a branch activity where Sister Cupkie taught us how to make tres leches cake. It's only one of the best cakes ever. Basically all the women stayed int he kitchen and made cake and the Elders and the guys played soccer. Typical. I'd rather play futbol any day. The cake was worth it and we got to talk to one of our friends in the branch who just got engaged. We also saw the Stacey and Jeanette Magic Show. They're a couple of girls in our branch who really remind me of Morgan. I love them and they do magic tricks. 

Sunday was a great day. Probably one of the most uplifting Sundays I've had in way too long. <<This is a cool new initiative the church is doing, check it out, they have lots of really good ideas on how to keep the Sabbath Day holy. We had way more people in Sunday School than usually, probably twice as many. They do Sunday School first, so usually people don't show up until the last hour which is sacrament meeting. But we did good this week! The lesson was about feasting on the words of Christ and baptism as the gate we enter. We talked especially about covenants and how they are the strait and narrow path that we have to stay on. In Sacrament meeting there were two talks on charity. I think the best thing to talk about at church is love. We were teaching a friend this week (she's one of the daughters of the family we live with, long story) and she mentioned how church is frustrating for her because the two greatest commandments are loving God and each other, and how no one every talks about it. I thought it was a good point, so it was refreshing to have a sacrament meeting on the love of God and Christ. After sacrament meeting I asked the Elders for a blessing. I have been struggling with this thing called I'm too stubborn and proud to ask for help. It's like this mental block that I have where I don't want to inconvenience other people and usually I'm pretty confident I can do things myself. I hate making myself vulnerable in any way. The problem is that it's gotten to the point that I think it's inhibiting how I pray and act. I've been thinking about it a ton and how I can fix it, and it became pretty apparent that I can't do it by myself. So me asking for a blessing (for the first time ever BTW...EVER.) was kind of my way of surrendering and telling Heavenly Father that I'm ready to get over myself. I'm tired of getting in my way. I want to be better. The blessing was incredible. Obviously Elder Hodgson had no idea about any of this, and he talked about having faith, asking Heavenly Father for the things we need, and support we have in our families, leaders, and other missionaries. The power of the priesthood is real, and the Spirit really speaks, sometimes through others. It was like all this heaviness and darkness just evaporated. I felt almost giddy afterward. So cool. So for anyone reading this, don't be stubborn, let God help you, don't learn the hard way.

Sunday night we went to Mission President's fireside in Bloomington with Leo. He is one of my favorite people. Elder Lawrence of the Seventy spoke and basically outlines the first missionary discussion, but way more eloquently than we have ever taught it haha. A few converts to the church spoke as well. It was really good, and I think Leo liked it. I saw Elder Farish there and we talked for a while. He's struggling a little with Cambodian and his companion and area. Understandably! But he's a hard worker, he'll be alright. His companion is native Cambodian, and is kind of hard to live with from what I've heard. Basically if Elder Farish doesn't learn Cambodian to the point where he can translate, then Cambodian work in Minnesota will shut down when his companion goes home in November. No pressure. A few prayers his way wouldn't hurt! He's awesome, I'm glad I got to talk to him for a bit. 

From what I've heard, Elder Lee is doing well too. He is with his companion from the MTC and having a blast as usual. He is calling his mom early, because they're going on a cruise to Mexico over Mothers Day, and he's nervous. He spoke in Stake Conference there last week, so sounds like his Spanish is good too. That's basically all I've heard recently. He is dreading going home. 

Speaking of Mother's Day! We're thinking after church here, which ends at 330 here, so that should be good for you guys right? It probably wouldn't be until after 4 here. :))) I'm excited!
Sounds like y'all have been really busy and doing fun things. Thanks for keeping me updated! I love you guys!