Monday, March 28, 2011

My Baby is Killing me!

Is everyone sitting down?
alright.  GUESS WHAT???? I got transferred!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yeah.  totally crazy.  When Elder Gardner called us we were totally prepared for him to say that Elder Archuletta would be leaving the district and we'd both be staying.  He said, "I have some good news and some bad news; the good news is three of us are staying. . .  Hermana Tingey. . .we're going to miss you."   There was just a huge pause as me and Gibson kinda looked at eachother completely confused.  Then I said "what?" and he said mmm hmmm.  so the next forty eight hours were a whirlwind of me trying to throw my stuff in my luggage as fast as I could while working around appointments and writing goodbyes to people.  I didn't get to say goodbye to anyone in the ward because we had ward conference and so our meetings were kinda focused on that.  I was up at four this morning trying to load my stuff in the car and get the 'ole bike rack out again, so I'm exhausted and I feel like I've got ten billion thoughts running around in my head.  I'm kinda in denial that I'm sitting here right now as a matter of fact. 
it's not over yet. 
Still sitting down???? gues who my new companion is???????????  Hermana WARNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I KNOW!   I'm sooooo excited!  You can't even imagine. hahah it's like a sleepover party or something.  We haven't stopped talking since we got together this morning at six forty five.  my throat is killing me. haha.  I can't believe my baby is killing me.  that is blowing my mind.  (and everyone else's as well).  So I don't know what went down but somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good.  haha.  I miss Hermana Gibson already, but I know Hermana Warner is going to pound it hard with me these last six weeks.  Also, our converts from last june (the last time me and warner were together) Claudia and Mariana Collazo from Broadway 2 have moved into this ward so they are hosting us tonight for family home evening!  she's getting ready to go through the temple come June and she has a calling in the young women's. does life get any better?  I submit that it CANNOT!  I can't express to you how happy I am right now.  We're going to make these the best six weeks of my mission.  I can feel it.  Oh before I forget, my new address is:
5718 Eskridge #9
Houston, TX 77023
Anyways, that's the big news.  As far as missionary work goes, Iris got baptized on Saturday!  It was such a nice service.  She got baptized around three in the afternoon in Texas, and her eight year old son got baptized at six in the evening in Honduras.  So they did it together!  Yesterday she got confirmed and then was asked to bear her testimony in sacrament meeting in front of all the stake leaders that were there for ward (branch) conference.  She did great!  She had invited us four missionaries over for dinner and she made us fish soup with bananas in it, coconut rice, and cow's tail.  hahaha.  but it was delicious!  she's a great cook.  Honduranean food is really yummy.  really sweet and lots of fruit. 
Our zone went to the temple on Thursday.  It felt so good to be in the temple again.  I am really looking forward to being able to go whenever I want.  (I know that sounds missionary goobery to all y'all, but hey, I'm six weeks out)  Speaking of six weeks...yeah, mom it's p.m.  sorry!  haha right after we got done e-mailing I told hermana Gibson that I had forgotten to write am or pm but we decided you'd realize it was pm since otherwize I'd be getting up at like two in the morning to get there on time.   But it was especially cool to be in the temple this time because we had a lady come a few months ago and talk to us about the process of building the Houston Temple and I didn't realize that they had artisans from all over the world come to work on the temple!  They have these glass walls that have been etched that are so beautiful and the woman that did them isn't even mormon but she's the best glass etcher in the world right now so that's why they chose her.  It was cool to go and pay more attention to the details. 
Let's see...I'm sorry this is so scatter-brained, but given the circumstances...let me look in my planner and remind myself what we did this past week. 
Alright.  So last Monday we went to dinner with a newlywed couple in the ward.  They are Cesar and Karla and they totally grew up here so they speak perfect english and are basically your typical mormon american couple.  She was telling us how they wrote his whole mission but then broke up when he got back because he was so weird.  For example, she said he used to ask her, "is there anything I can do for you?" at the end of their dates.  WEIRD.  hahahaha so anyways drama drama drama they ended up together happily married.  (sound familiar?)  BUT.   Now it has opened my eyes to MY OWN WEIRDNESS.   weirdness isn't the right word.  I will let you know when I think of one that is better to supplant it.  And for the record, I would NEVER ask that at the end of the date! I'm not THAT weird yet.  haha.  pot calling the kettle black, eh?  Naw, but I'm just a little scared of the real world.   It's strange because I know that I like things like TV and stuff, but I just can't imagine myself watching it.  I just don't want to!  I don't know why!  So everyone is just going to have to be kinda patient with me.  haha.  i'm sorry.  But I just don't want y'all to be havin' huge expectations.  I'm going to try to ease back into it all.   But not yet.  Right now I get to soak in the missionaryness of it all as much as I want!  Get ready to hear some miracle stories.  
Alright I'm not good for anything right now.  My head feels fried.  I'm going to go buy some groceries with the five dollars I have left on MSF (I thought I would be eating all the food I had been collecting all month!  there it sits in the jacinto city lay there on the table...).  and then i'm going to go to the chapel and try to write a few people back and then i'm going to NAP IT UP.  (haha warner disagrees.  she says that's lame and I should play soccer.  we'll see.) so anyways.  I love you all, Have a great week!
p.s. Spencer, you're a lucky dog!  and i think you owe me a letter and a story...."I am sixteen going on seventeen, I know that I'm naive...."  (apparently not)  love you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chiropractors are WONDERFUL.

All the Gang:
Hey! Happy week six of the transfer. That means we went slim pickins on the grocery shopping today because we weren't sure whether we'd be staying or leaving. The next week will be spent silently trying to tally and figure out whether we'll move or not and then anxiously awaiting our phone call on Saturday night. Pray for us! haha.
This was a somewhat crazy week. We had exchanges, a visit to the chiropractor, and a special delivery in the mail.
First off: Exchanges. I went to Baytown to work with Hermana Keele's greenie, Hermana Arbon. We had a blast. And I was able to walk out on a dock over the bay! so that was cool. We met some sweet people that want to learn more. They of course have lots going on and several baptismal dates...but I'm not bitter. haha. miracles follow greenies! It was an interesting experience though to be with her and remember back to the first transfer of my mission and all those feelings came flooding back. Lots of stress and fear but hope as well. Some days I feel like I'm still just the same as the day I walked off the plane but being with her was a huge reality check and I've changed a lot. Like, for example, I know Spanish (somewhat) now! She was asking me for some "words of wisdom" and tips for missionaries and it felt so weird to be actually vocalizing some of the things I've learned. Well...haha I hope I've learned! So that was a fun day.

Next: Chiropractor. Elder Gardner's back has been really hurting him so he set up an appointment with a chiropractor this morning. The doctor is actually a member and so he told him to bring us all in for a free "adjustment." Basically I got my neck massaged and popped and my back popped for free! It was so nice. haha. felt awesome.

Final: Special Delivery. Our trunky papers came this week! Let me explain: a couple nights ago Hermana Gibson went to check the mail and I was hoping a letter from my family would be there since I hadn't gotten one this week yet, and I was waiting outside the mail room when I heard her scream. She came running out, holding two manilla envelopes above her head and yelling "we got trunky papers!" and generally just freaking out. haha. so we took a bunch of papers and then opened them and wow. Talk about trunky papers. We had heard that they come but that was nothing to actually seeing them. They sent us our flight plans! and a letter thanking us for our service and encouraging us to keep up these good spiritual habits that we've developed in the field for the rest of our lives...such as, praying morning and night with our SPOUSE and family! what?! yeah. totally weird. So we of course had to call all of the hermanas that are going home with us and figure out who is leaving first and who is on whose flight. that was hilarious. Every time we called someone they would just answer the phone screaming. So funny. anyways. that was weird. 

okay that's enough of that! hahah alright I"m basically out of time. sorry, that spotlight took me longer to write than I thought it would. We had some cool miracles this week! We've got a teenage girl named Dulce with a baptismal date so pray for her! I love you all and can't wait for your letters. have a good one!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Journal Worthy Week

You wanna know what's weird?
As soon as I sit down at this computer to type it's like I lose all memory of whatever I've done throughout the week. haha remember the good 'ole days when I used to jot down in my planner what I wanted to write about?  yeah....
So let's see.  This morning, we drug ourselves out of bed at six o clock (it felt like five though because of daylight savings) to go get the Elders because they do laundry at our place on p-days.  I was sitting shot gun in my pajamas, and staring out the window at the rain as Hermana Gibson drove us on the freeway towards downtown.  I couldn't help but laugh at the irony (once again) in the fact that we live right next to the Budweiser plant.  Every morning when I jog around the park in front of our complex I can see the blue Bud Light sign glowing cheerfully.  There's always a lot of steam coming out of that plant, and Hermana Gibson and I joke that we may not be able to watch the news, but we'll know that everything's okay so long as steam is still coming out of that place. haha- Welcome to Houston. 
Last p-day was a blast.  We went to Broadway and played kickball.  My zone won (of course) and we all got to see eachother again.  I love that!  The other Hermanas had a cake and presents for Hermana Gibson and a few other missionaries who had March birthdays so we had a party.  I think this is the only time in my life that I'll actually be able to say that all my best friends are teenage boys.  But it is so true.  I don't know how I'm going to leave them all.  haha.  sad....
So anyways.  We had a journal-worthy week.  We contacted a girl who looked like a guy but she invited us in and started asking us lots of really good questions and telling us she was looking for stability and for a closer relationship with God.  She was way friendly and I think we were both getting pretty excited until she asked how we feel about gays.  Hermana Gibson took the bullet and said that we love all people and recognize all people as children of god, but that behavior is immoral and is not accepted.  Next thing I knew, she was showing us the door.  So yeah, we got run out by a lesbian this week.  That was a first for me.  That SAME NIGHT, we went to teach our investigator Julisa, a twelve year old girl, at her Grandma's house.  While we were there, someone knocked on the door in a pattern that among Mexicans is a signal for prostitution.  Weird... but I just figured it was someone making a dumb joke, until the girls ran to get the door and I heard a black man asking for "Mommy."  I thought that was weird because the grandma doesn't speak any english, but as soon as she heard him, she went really fast to the entryway and I could hear him say, "mommy, i need some grass."  Great.  So I'm pretty sure grandma is selling drugs and we were right in the middle of it.  It actually rattled me pretty bad.  We were right in the middle of a neighborhood.  Like, I'm talking actual HOUSES, which is rare here.  So I would have said it was SAFE.  But I guess you can find that sort of thing anywhere.  
This week we got a crazy referral from the mission office saying that President Moldenhauer had gotten an email from baton rouge louisiana's president, who had gotten an email from one of his missionaries who lived in our area before his mission, sending us to visit his girlfriend's family.  President Moldenhauer had requested a personal update on what happened.  No pressure!  We set up an appointment for Saturday night and when we got there, they were really nice and warm and welcomed us in but then proceeded to bear testimony against us and proselyte the catholic faith to us.  Bummer.  We ended the night with bottles of water and two books on "what it means to be a catholic" and "becoming friends with christ"  but no new investigators.  They were really nice people though, and their house was unbelieveable.  It reminded me of something you'd see in Utah.  I think they had molding and everything.  So we have to report that to President today. . . but that's alright.  What would a mission be without a few of those, right? 
Me and Hermana Gibson had a mini miracle yesterday!  We have really been trying hard to get 20 lessons each week to meet the mission standard and last night we had about twenty minutes to try and find someone to teach before our 8:00 appointment.  The woman we went to visit wasn't home, but as we were walking away, we saw a member of our branch walking out of the complex!  We asked him if we could share something with him and he said yes! so we were able to get our 20 lessons again for the second week in a row - something I've been praying pretty hard for. 
Another little miracle we had was that Hermana Gibson was feeling really really sick on Wednesday but we were at the chapel for a lesson and the zone leaders came by.  They were able to give her a blessing and I think that really helped her.  She's had a rough mission with lots of physical challenges but we were able to work the rest of the day so that was a miracle! 
Anyways, lots of good stuff going on here.  I'm getting my hair cut by the elder's investigator who is going to get baptized on the 26th at four o clock today.  She's way cute.  I hope she knows how to cut hair though- i'm kinda nervous!  haha.  It will work out I'm sure.  Just don't make fun if I walk off the plane with a round face and weird hair, okay? haha
CONGRATS SPENCE ON MAKING THE BBALL TEAM!  I've been thinking about you! that's awesome.  I hope you have fun.  I love you all!  thanks for all your love and support. Have a good week!

Monday, March 7, 2011

20 Lessons!

hey everyone:
first off:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERMANA GIBSON!  That's right.  Today is my companion's twenty fifth birthday.  Oh how I love her.  The elders suprised us this morning by taking us out to breakfast with our ward mission leader.  They came and knocked on our door with a cake and a present and sang to her.  it was way cute.  She was excited.  Then, after this we're going to meet up with our zone and the other spanish zone and play kickball.  haha let's see if we win.  (of course we will)  So i'm sorry if i'm a little distracted right now. 
We had a crazy week!  One of the many things that made it crazy was what we call the "mini-mission" which is a stake activity where each of the youth get paired up with a companionship of missionaries for the day so they get to see what it is like.  We had to be at the stake center at six in the morning and just about every spanish speaking missionary in the mission is there so it was crazy to see everyone again.  We had a great day and our young woman said she wants to serve a mission (success!).  But as we came back at the end of the day, they had a fireside/testimony meeting and I was playing the closing song afterwards, which is a spanish hymnbook only song called "placentero nos es trabajar"  which is all about working in the lords vineyard.  There was one line that says "o hermanos adios pues adios.  el momento de ir vino ya" which translates to "farewell my brothers.  the time to go has come."  I couldn't help but note the parallelism with our own lives at the moment and so I looked up and made a face at Hermana Gibson who was (of course) STARING STRAIGHT BACK AT ME from the audience!  (our companionship unity knows no bounds!)  So then we both just bust up laughing and i'm up in front of everyone, trying not to mess up and going bright red...story of my life these days. haha.  Anyways.  it was funny. 
We had a really really cool lesson this week with a less active woman.  We (somewhat randomly we thought) chose a scripture on the sacrament to share with her and wanted to invite her to come back to church.  The scripture was 3 Nephi:8-9 and we talked about how the sacrament will FILL our souls.  Then we asked her when was a time that her soul was hungry?  She started talking about the time before she met the missionaries and how she literally had a HUNGER to know God.  She started crying and apologized, saying "even talking about that time in my life brings back that empty feeling I had."  She then told us how the gospel had satisfied that hunger and that she needed to go back.  The spirit was very strong.  yesterday she wasn't able to come to church but her husband was there on the back row, for the first time in years.  They are endowed and everything!  Little by little, we're going to get ALL of familia Pena back in that chapel!  I know we will.
We had a goal this week to get 20 lessons, which is our mission standard.  Last night at 8:40 we had nineteen but we had worked sooo hard and we knew we could get twenty so we ran and visited a recently re-activated lady that lives right below us.  it felt so good to report twenty lessons to our district leader last night!  That is good.  We have a lot of new investigators.  Still looking for ones that will progress though.  Like Hermana Gibson says, "we're about to die, we don't have time to mess around."  And that is true.  haha. 
hey before I forget, mom; will you send me the crepe recipe?  I think I remember it but I better get a recipe just to make sure.  MaryJane could probably send it from memory. haha.  k thanks so much!  I hope the baseball tryouts went well for Spence and MaryJane I think it was inspired that you wrote a book about a girl named june because that is my companion's middle name! haha she was so excited when she heard that.  Thanks for the letters.  You made my week!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March already?!?!


so February...yeah.  that went by fast!  anyone else?

This week also went by pretty fast.  It's kinda hard to believe that I'm actually sitting in this library again already (with some little kid sucking on a cell phone and staring at me...why is it that little kids can just make eye contact with no shame whatsoever?  It's alright...I'm staring straight back in between sentences.  If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!).  But here I am and suddenly I find myself dreadfully unprepared to recount my week to the very beings that I love most in this entire world.  What did we do this week?  I'm whispering to my companion but she's just staring at an e'mail from her brother and asking me, with a bit of a blue glow in her eye from the computer screen, "I dunno... hey, what does 'dropping the L-bomb' mean?  Is that a utah saying?"  So I guess her brother is in love with his girlfriend, which is a real shame, because she was supposed to line me up with him once we got home...  But i'm not thinking about that.

There must have been something that we did between this jaunt on the good old e-mail account and the last.  let me see...

oh yeah.  missionary work!

We had three less actives that we worked with come to church this week!  That was exciting for us.  One is hermano Fernando Torres whom we had never met before wednesday but he came to a church tour we had set up with him and it was incredible!  We stopped in the chapel and just sat silently for about a full minute then asked him how he felt and he said.  Different.  Sooooo different.  When we finished, we took him to the relief society room and talked about the day he was baptized.  He was really intense.  He kept staring directly in between both of us which kinda weirded us out, but that made it all the more dramatic when he would suddenly look one of us in the eyes! haha crazy.  But I love seeing these hardened, dirt-under-the-fingernail, mexican men who suddenly wax incredibly poetic as they talk about God.  It is so...poignant.  I think  it's the contrast that makes it so great.  But he told us about the first time he met missionaries, and I think it's worth recounting:

He was living in Chicago and he said he was "real bad", he would wake up not knowing if he was going to be killed that day, or if he was going to kill someone else.  That's how dangerous things were.  But he said that one afternoon he saw two young men in white shirts and ties ride by on their bikes right through what he called the "field of battle" like it was nothing.  He said he literally felt their peace as they rode by.  And he wanted that.  He didn't even know who they were, but he remembered that feeling of tranquility and when they knocked on his door, he accepted them in.  That is cool.

So it was good to see him in a church again.  When we started the tour he asked, "how did you know I had strayed?"  And he promised that he is back to stay.  I think he's right.

The other man we had in church is named Eduardo Sanchez and he rode his bike for an hour to get there.  'nuff said.

And the final guy we got in church is our man Marvin Ocon Roque.  Mom and dad, hermana cannon might have talked about him.  He is one of her converts and he lives in a school bus.  No joke.  But we finally got him back in the church after a few months of not being able to find him and that was a miracle in and of itself.

Other than that, if anyone has an investigator pool hiding in their garage or something, we'd love to find one.  We've knocked a lot...A LOT...of doors this week.  Gotta love it though.   Tracting makes for some crazy experiences.  We met a man named francisco who had no fingers on his left hand but still managed to hold on to a taco and chew on that as he slammed us for being LDS.  hahaha that takes talent.  We had a prayer with a family who was waiting for their son to come home from work and worried if something had happened to him because he was several hours late.  We had crackers and a cheeseball with a woman named Rebecca (that was weird) who is probably the most christlike person I know and the only thing wrong with her is that she is english.  She has been in and out of jail and now she's working on getting her sister to pray.  She actually understood the whole idea of a need for authority and she's going to read the book of mormon and get baptized once she gets her answer!  that was a good afternoon.  We met another english family - mom, dad, and two kids, who just opened a framing shop and it's doing great.  We walked in thinking that the mom was there last night at our appointment and when I found out she wasn't I was about to sit down so I guess I kinda blushed (like I always do...) and the girl was like, "it sorta looks like you're blushing," which of course just made me flame crimson.  then I looked like a huge dummy as I'm trying to explain about our rules and get out of the house asap.  hahaha some things never change.

In fact, I had another awkward blushing moment this week besides that one.  We had a wedding in our ward and the ward members signed up on our food calender saying we could come eat at the reception.  so there we were, four missionaries, at a wedding.  soooo not comfortable for us.  But it was kinda fun I guess.  We were sitting with two recent converts of ours who are girls our age so that's what made it work better than the last wedding we were at which I hope to just erase from all memory. haha.  But one of the girls (named yaneth) said to me, "I want to line you up with Polo (her brother) once you're done with your mission."  To which I turned a nice pink and then she said "sorry, I think I made you blush." and I said "no,'s okay..." and turned that same (now familiar) crimson shade that I inherited from my mother.  WHY DO I DO THAT?  we'll never know.  So the good news is, I haven't lost that.  haha.

Anyways, I'm kinda just rambling now.  Oh sarah, for the record, Rindfleisch is pronounced Rhine - flesh.  Hermana Gibson and I think it is "incredibly ironic" (name that movie!) that we are here in Texas with Pres. Moldenhauer, and elder Rindfeisch, and elder Orndorff, and Elder Doerfler, and elder Hugentobler, while her brother is in the MTC waiting to go to Germany!  God has a sense of humor. 

Alright.  I love you all and I wish you the best of first weeks of march.