Monday, February 24, 2014

Week Deicisiete

What A Great Week!

El Sol

Time is flying by! It seems like every other day I`m writing my weekly epistle. I`m so used to mission life now (almost four whole months!) that I can`t remember what my life was like before. This was the first week that I actually didn`t miss home, and was thinking about how hard it's gonna be to go home because of how much I love being a missionary.

Ok, yes I do miss home, but it`s different. It`s like I know that everything`s gonna be fine and I`ve come more to terms with being away for a long period of time. This week I realized how much I miss sewing. It seemed like every day in at least one family`s home there was a sewing machine and that made me miss it. I also miss dancing, not that I`m a good dancer, but it`s fun. And of course when you can`t do something, that just makes you want to do it even more! ;)

I had a dream this week about high school marching band. I miss being in the Timber Creek Regiment!! I can`t believe it`s been over three years since that time of my life.

So this week when I used my lint roller, was the first time my companion saw one. She was like  "Is this something new?!¨ Jajajaja. Something kind of interesting too is that people here don`t use their ovens, only the stove. The oven is used as storage, like another cabinet. :)

I`m not sure if I hear Spanish and translate it into English in my head or if I`ve gotten to the point where I understand Spanish and don`t have to translate it anymore. I can`t figure out what my brain is doing!!

Good news! People are finally staring to learn my name! Before this week only Liah and Jared (the little ones of a less-active) and Hermano Marco would call me by my name. Now more members are actually attempting to pronounce it.

Living with someone (especially another girl) 24/7 is hard but I am learning so much that I know I need before marriage. It`s SO IMPORTANT to SHOW your love and not just assume that your companion (or friend or spouse) knows that you love and care about them. You have to say it often, do service and find other ways to show it. EVERY DAY!!

Speaking of love, I have been so blessed to feel such a love for the people here. I`m grateful that I can find ways to express that love, especially when I`m limited with what I can say in Spanish. In my setting apart I was blessed that I would have such a great love for the people and that I`d be able to show it. I`m so grateful to see that coming true. :)

My companion this week said: ¨You know, you really do look like Barbie.¨ I pretended to be an actual Barbie doll for the little girls (Rebeca, Ruth and Ari) that call me Barbie. They positioned my arms and legs according to their liking and played with my hair. I`m their ¨Barbie en realidad.¨ Jajaja :)

One of the little girls, Rebeca, was having a hard day because he mom can be kind of harsh sometimes. I went over and gave her a hug and then my companion came over and said ¨Barbie doesn`t cry...¨ (although that`s far from the truth, I`ve had more than my share of cries on the mission) and told her that she shouldn`t cry because I don`t. It was so cute.

I´m learning to be more interested in others. Usually I wait for people to show interest in me, but I`m trying to overcome this shyness!! I`m doing my best to give kids attention now, just asking them questions or complimenting them on something I like. One little girl, Andrea (pronounced the way my mom hates her name to
be pronounced ;). ) has something wrong with her top lip and it affects the way she talks. I found out that she`s really self-conscious about it and so she doesn`t like to talk to people because of it. But she always talks to me a bunch now that I`ve been showing interest and love for her. It makes me so happy to know that she isn`t afraid to talk to me and that she knows I won`t judge her. I just love all the kids! I can`t wait to have kids of my own!!

All the kids here know more Spanish than me, which is kind of depressing if you think about it, but they`re also the best to help because they don`t judge and just want to help you with the words you don`t know.

Guess what?!? I had my first baptism!! Belen Valencia was baptized on Saturday! She`s the mom of Ari, who calls me Barbie. Belen was supposed to be baptized my first week in the field but we kept having to postpone the baptism for different reasons. It was nice to finally see her get baptized and feel that joy for her! Baptisms are so different, or I guess you just get a new perspective on it, when you`re the missionary. It was cool because she wore and undershirt of mine and one of my companion`s blouses for the baptism, because she didn`t have anything white and the jumper was way too huge on her. It was incredible the amount of joy I felt for her.

With Belen before her baptism. The necklace I`m wearing is from Belen. you like put your arms through it, it`s pretty cool!

I sang for everyone after she got baptized. People here go crazy over my voice. My companion begged me to sing for the baptism so I sang ¨I Know that my Redeemer Lives.¨ I switched between English and Spanish and it was cool. That song has become one of my favorite hymns! Afterwards everyone commented on it and one person in particular said that I have a gift. I know that this is one of the reasons I`m on a mission, to learn not to be ashamed of my voice and use it to bless other peoples´ lives. It`s like the parable of the talents. I`m the one that buried  my talents, but I`ve learned not to do that and when you use them, they get better and you get more.

In this month`s Ensign magazine, I love the article ¨Temple Blessings¨ by Elder Robert D. Hales. The whole of it is great, but I especially love the ending:

¨The sealing room itself represents our mortal probation here on earth. The lesson to be learned from this temple experience is that we have made the right choices to come to earth and experience mortality and that HOW WE LIVE OUR LIFE IN THE BRIEF PERIOD WILL DETERMINE HOW WE WILL LIVE IN ALL THE ETERNITIES TO COME.

¨You are preparing to meet the tests of mortal life. We voluntarily came from the presence of God the Father to this mortal probation with agency, knowing we would have ¨opposition in all things.¨ Our objective is to take upon us the whole armor of God and withstand ¨the fiery darts of the adversary¨ with our sword of the spirit and shield of faith, to endure to the end, and to be worthy to stand and live in the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, for all eternity--to achieve what is called eternal life.¨

Mmm I just love that. It reminds me of what is most important in this life.
With my companion and a recent covert, Marina. We always visit her in her bakery. I love her so much!
With Marina and the twins Rebeca and Ruth and their mom, in the bakery. :)

Also some cool stuff that the Mission President`s wife emailed to us about Mexico. This is stuff was said by Elder Oaks last week at the Mission President Seminar they attended. To quote Hermana Call:

¨One thing that was very interesting to me, and everyone here in Mexico really, is that Mexico has more temples per member than any other country in the world. He said he wondered why Mexico had been so greatly blessed and was given to know that the Lord had a great mission for this nation. He said that he did not know fully what that mission was, but he did know that our missionaries, YOU, would see the fulfillment of it during your lifetime. He did say that one of the great things about Mexico is that it is where a large number of the posterity of Lehi live and are to receive those blessings promised to them in the Book of Mormon.

¨He mentioned that he did not expect to see the Church continue to announce large numbers of new temples in the future since currently 90% of church members are within a few hundred miles of a temple.

¨He also told us that there are currently 83,000 missionaries serving in the field. They expect that number to reach around 90,000 by the end of the summer and to settle back down to around 80,000.¨

Wow, mind blown. Especially the part about seeing the fulfillment of these prophecies in my lifetime! I feel so blessed to be in Mexico!

Another thing Hermana Call said about what Elder Oaks said, I really like: ¨In regards to missionary work, the church feels very strongly about missionaries working together with members to find new people to teach. However, one thing they have learned is that when the emphasis was put of working with members to find, the missionaries stopped ¨rowing¨ and waited for the members to push their boat to shore. He said the work with members was improving and will continue to improve and should ALWAYS be out first priority, but that missionaries also need to use their own efforts to find. Then he quoted his missionary grandson who said, ¨the members are praying for the missionaries to find people to teach and the missionaries are praying for the members to find people to teach.¨ He finished by commenting that we both needed to do more than just pray for each other! I can definitely relate to both aspects of this, I think it`s something worth considering if you fall under this category or not. :)

Mucho amor,
Hermana Sara Slaughter
 Bonding with Ari, the daughter of Belen who was just baptized.
 With play-money. :D

 Hair braiding train... :)
 Lupita, Getsemani and Bella Ramirez... I french braided all their hair. They all have super thick hair and I`m so jealous!!!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Week Dieciseis

Good news! Our mission president changed our P-day to end at 6pm instead of 5pm! Whoo!! That extra hour is HUGE! I´m so happy! Also this week was great and it absolutely flew by! I understood a ton more Spanish this week which was nice. :) The little twins that call me Barbie said that I´ve learned a lot more.

Last Monday after we emailed, we visited the pyramids in Tula again, this time as a district. So it was nice cause I had Elder Koehler to talk to in English. I got better pictures this time because we spent more time there than the first time. I also bought three more traditional Mexican blouses, all of which are very orange. :D

We were with some members and they were talking about this place Teotihucan, that´s like Atlantis in Tula, but with more pyramids. It´s not in the mission boundaries unfortunately, so I´ll have to visit Mexico after my mission. ;) But it´s way cool looking. They showed us all these pictures and were talking about how they believe that this is the place where Christ appeared to the Nephites, not the place in Tula. Who knows? Either way it´s all really cool.
Transfers are in two weeks. My companion thinks she´s getting transferred, but we really still want to stay together. Pray that we´ll get one more transfer together! I´m scared that I´ll be staying and have to teach another companion the area... I don´t know it well enough yet! But, I know that whatever happens will be what the Lord wants and I know it will be for the best. But seriously, my companion and I compliment each other very well. She makes my bed every morning (something I´ve never seen the point of doing because I´m just gonna mess it up again in the night) and I sweep the floor every day. It works out well. ;)

So a couple weeks ago we were at a member´s house and she wanted us to buy Mary Kay products from her, but I misunderstood at first and thought she was giving them to us. So after I had picked out some stuff was when I realized she wanted us to buy, so I was pretty much obligated to buy something at that point. Well, this week another member gave my companion and I both a ton of Mary Kay products for free! Literally probably over $1,000 worth of make up (that stuff isn´t cheap!) for each of us.

My companion taught me the words to the song ¨La Cucaracha.¨ All I knew before was ¨La cucaracha, la cucaracha.¨ I had no idea there were more words after that. So this is how it goes:

¨La cucaracha, la cucaracha,
ya no puede caminar,
porque le falta, porque le falta,
las patitas de atras.¨

Translated (more or less):

¨The cockroach, the cockroach,
can´t walk now,
because he lacks, because he lacks,
his legs in the back.¨

Jajaja... not as catchy in English. ;)

One less active sister has been reading the Book of Mormon. This week she told us that she was up to 3 Nephi. We were impressed because last week she was in 2 Nephi, which meant she had read over 300 pages. Then she proceeded to tell us that she has skipped to 3 Nephi after 2 Nephi (skipping Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, Word of Mormon, Mosiah, Alma and Helaman) because she thought the third was supposed to go after the second. We thought that was pretty funny!

Part of the reason this week was so good was because I was able to help teach a lot more. On the mission, there are probably more hard times than really good times, but the wonderful thing is that you only remember the good ones. This week we had some not-so-good lessons I´m sure, but  we also had one really amazing one. It was with a less active sister and her husband. We simply talked about how our Heavenly Father loves us, more than we can imagine. The Spirit was absolutely strong, it was almost tangible. I mean, you could´ve almost cut it with a knife, it was so incredibly present. That was a huge testimony to me that our Heavenly Father really does care about us, and I know that the message we teach is true. My companion told me a few times this week that 
I´ve helped her to feel the spirit stronger, and here (as well as before my mission) people have told me that I have a special way of communicating the spirit. I think that´s what I have to contribute here. Without a doubt, I know 
I´m supposed to be here at this time and with these people.

Also, I know there are people here that I can help because of trials I´ve gone though. Trials are not fun, but it´s absolutely beautiful when you can help someone because you know what they´re feeling. I had two experiences like that this week. I love helping people so much! It makes me think of how the Savior helps us cause He knows exactly how we feel. I love Alma 7:11-13, especially part of verse 12 that says ¨...that he may know according to the flesh how to succor His people according to their infirmities.¨ I know that because of the wonderful gift of the atonement, we can receive the strength and comfort we need to get through hard times.

It makes me think of what a friend emailed to me about the scripture found in Matthew 11:28-30: ¨Come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.¨ When Christ invites us to follow Him, He´s not inviting us to follow behind Him but to walk side-by-side with Him. A yoke links us together with Christ and with Him we can find help and rest. I just love that!

I also love Jacob chapter 5. It talks all about the vineyard of the Lord, which represents all of the people in the world. Basically it´s all about missionary work in these last days. I love how it says in verse 72: ¨...and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them.¨ I know that the Lord only wants to help us, He doesn´t make us do it alone. And I´m so grateful for that.

I testify that through Christ, we can do anything. We need only have sufficient faith. If we feel like we lack faith, we can cry out to our Savior, like the man in Mark 9:24: ¨...Lord I believe; help thou my unbelief.¨ 

We had a meeting on Thursday as a zone with the President and his wife. We talked about the difference between testimony and conversion. A testimony is something you know, but conversion is what you do because of that knowledge. It´s possible to have a testimony of something but not be converted. For example, most people are aware that eating healthy and exercising is good for them, but not everyone does that.

We also talked about pride, a subject that I continue to learn more and more about and as I do I realize how much pride I have. Something interesting that the president said is that when we are nervous or embarrassed about something, that´s usually pride because we´re worrying more about ourselves and what we feel, rather than trying to help others.

Speaking of pride, I´ve been reading the Book of Mormon at a pretty fast pace. I never liked taking longer than two months to read it from cover to cover because I lose track of what´s happening. So reading it in six weeks has been great! It really helps me learn so much more and I´ve been able to notice just how often the pride cycle happens in it. Someone once told me that the main theme of the Book of Mormon is pride, and it´s so true. There´s so much to be learned in it about how to avoid pride and avoid the bad things in the world.

Alma 43 (specifically verses 19-21) and Alma 49 (specifically verses 1-8) teach a powerful lesson about us and Satan. In these chapters, the Lamanites can represent Satan and the Nephites can represent us. The first time, the Lamanites don´t have any protection as they go up to battle against the Nephites. But the Nephites have breastplates and shields and all manner of protection. Then, the second time the Lamanites go up to battle against the Nephites they learn from the previous time and come prepared with protection and think they´ll easily will. But they are astonished when the Nephites have build up and fortified the weak parts of their cities. This is like us and Satan because Satan learns from us and if we aren´t continually fortifying ourselves (especially in our weak places because that´s where Satan is most likely to attack) we will fall captive to him.

I also love 3 Nephi 3:14: Änd he caused that fortifications should be built round about them, and the strength thereof should be exceedingly great...¨ This is exactly what we need to do in order to win the great battle with Satan. I love the war chapters in the Book of Mormon. There is SO MUCH to learn from them!

I love this gospel of Jesus Christ and how it blesses my life. I know that it is true and that it can benefit everyone in their life. I know that we can live with our Heavenly Father again and that we can overcome the hard stuff in our lives by continually having faith and striving to do our best. ¨He that is faithful and endureth to the end shall overcome the world.¨ (D&C 63:47)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Week Quince LOVE

In the spirit of Valentine´s Day, I´ll share my favorite scripture about LOVE. <3 Genesis 29:20 ¨And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.¨ Isn´t that just so sweet and romantic?? ¨...they seemed unto him but a few days...¨ Every girl deserves a guy like Jacob.

I got a haircut this week. We were at one of the members´ houses and I said something about needing a haircut and then found out that the member knew how to cut hair. She was scared to do it because she didn´t want to mess up my hair. Jaja. But she did a good job. It was only a little trim, so not much different. I want my long hair back; like how it was in high school. :) I hope it´s long again by the time I get home.

Speaking of my hair, I significantly more honks and whistles this week than in weeks past. I always thought it was kind of funny because it´s so rediculous, but this week it started to bug me. It´s like, get a life people!! I feel like wherever I got, I can´t hide. Instead, I´m the center of attention, just because my hair is a different color. Hijole!

Hijole (pronounced ee-ho-lay) is my new favorite Spanish word. It´s just kind of a filler word or exclamation when something happens. :)

We had stake conference yesterday and Saturday night

. The topic was missionary work. They had all the full-time missionaries stand up at one point and when we sat back down my companion said ¨I feel very important.¨ Jaja I thought that was cute. It was a good conference. I actually understood a lot of what was said. There was a change in the Stake Presidency also, and it was exactly how it is back home, with all the former and new presidency bearing their testimonies and all. Sometimes it shocks me how the church is the same everywhere you go. Like exactly the same. :)

We work a lot with the daughters of one less-active family, the Ramirez Family. I affectionatly call them the Ram Fam. :) I love them so much!! We read the scriptures with the three daughters and I love it. It makes me wish I already had a family. I see how important it is to do daily scripture study as a family and know that´s something I want to always make sure to do.

This transfer I decided that I´m going to read the entire Book of Mormon in 6 weeks (one whole transfer). So I´ve been doing that and I love it! I´ve decided I´m going to do it every transfer for the rest of my mission. I think it works out to reading it 11 times. Plus I want to read it from start to finish in Spanish. My goal is to read it 4 times in Spanish on top of the 11 times. The Book of Mormon has such a power and I just love reading it! I know it´s true!!
Hermana Sara Slaughter

Our House

I curled our hairs

Stake Conference

Outside Stake Conference

My companion and I

I found eyes like mine