Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29, 2014 - It's Gonna be Great Week!

If I could describe this week, it would be "full". Not necessarily full of teaching (the entire San Diego bay area decided to go to Tijuana for the week....) but full of learning and refining and it's been one of the best weeks of my mission. I love it when the things you learn get all tied up with a nice bow, and you get to reflect and put it all into one cognitive lesson. Things are making more sense to me than ever, and I have loved my Father and Savior so much this week!
These past few days I have been learning what it means to have my "eye on the sparrow". My mission president challenged us to "find and help the people you were supposed to find and help on the daily, even hourly basis". We've tried to pay more attention to the people God has put in our paths, members and nonmembers alike. It's such a good reminder of the idea that every single action of ours must have a purpose behind it. It changes street contacting from "I have to contact this person or else I'll feel guilty" to "I am going to talk to this man because he needs this right now, because God has put him there for a reason". It's made the interactions we've made with members that much more significant. There truly is a purpose behind everything and it's a trip to be able to figure it out!
Oh my Gonzalez family.....they are still progressing. Slowly but surely. Cheyla, the daughter, came to mutual and loved it and the whole family came to the stake pioneer day activity last Friday and loved it as well! They're so ready for baptism. We were thinking about it the other day and Hermana Barnes and I were trying to figure out what we are missing, and why they won't accept a baptismal date. Mayra says she doesn't want to feel pressured. We were at their house the other day talking about it and she said something interesting, she said "if I had the chance, I would've waited and been baptized right now when I was older". It dawned on us that her kids being baptized scares the living heck out of her. She went inactive so fast and made a lot of mistakes and doesn't want her kids or Arturo to do the same. We are going over to their house tonight with a lesson that we know will change their hearts. I can't even call it a lesson, more like a testimony meeting. I'll let you know how it goes:)
This week we've had the coolest opportunity to just bask in the fruits of missionary work. We've had a lot of lessons with the recent converts in the branch and every time I've walked away from those lessons so grateful that Heavenly Father has let me be a part of His perfect work. Man, they are just so solid. Jorge Arellano, the entire Buenrostro Family, Antonio Escobar, they've been changed. And none of it came from us because I know we are not capable of that kind of miracle. Conversion comes from God, and I love looking at those whom I love who have been converted to and by the Spirit. I love being the mouthpiece, I love sitting and watching the Spirit work so intensely that I can literally see people change in front of my eyes. I love introducing people to the Gospel. I love being His servant and I am so glad that that doesn't have to change.
They asked me to give a talk on "happiness from being a disciple of Christ" last week at church and they said I'll have 12 to 15 minutes. And then the first two speakers took five minutes each.....when I walked up to the podium the branch president looks over and says "you have 30 minutes!!". WHAT THE HECK. But let me tell you, it was actually a really cool experience to have at the end of my mission. Having to rely 100% on the Spirit to help you with the words these people need to hear. It was an answer to prayer-"hey, don't worry. You've learned how to trust in the Lord to put words into your mouth. You've learned the Spanish language. You love these people. Go up there and talk for 30 minutes for heck's sake!". God is good. And very, very merciful.
I know you've heard it over and over again, but I want you all to know that I love this work with all my heart. I know that God lives, and He is an active part of our lives, if we let Him. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the Lord, and we have reason to be of good cheer, because He has overcome the world. I know with all my heart that Joseph Smith saw what he saw that day in the Sacred Grove because I cannot recite the first vision without tears in my eyes. I know the Book of Mormon is real, and that we can hold it in our hands and know that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. I know that if God can give man power to part the Red Sea, he can appear to a 14 year old boy. I know that heaven is found in small living rooms with dirt floors and no furniture, as well as sitting at our desks reading the Book of Mormon. I know that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives, because it changes hearts. I've seen it. I know that families are forever. I know that God's plan is so perfect. I know the Spirit testifies of truth and that we are able to feel it constantly. I know that I am a child of a loving Heavenly Father. I know They live.
It's going to be a great week.
I love you all,
Hermana Hess

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22, 2014 - Cantando Alabanzas (Singing Praises)!

I feel like I haven't slept or stop moving for 24682 years. Three exchanges in 5 days and I am ready for a nap, but it won't happen because who in the world has time for that?
SUCH a good week! It went by way too fast! Our investigators are doing so well-the Gonzalez family came to all three hours of church for the first time! It was pretty cool- I sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" in church and Mayra just cried the whole time. Turns out that it's the hymn that she remembers the most from when she went to church when she was a kid, and she's loved it ever since. It was cool to share my testimony through that song, and I'm grateful I was able to share it with my branch-I love them SO much. It's the best being able to look at their faces and know all their names and most of their stories-that's one of the billion benefits of staying in an area for a longer time. Elena went to church in Imperial Beach with her brother and told us that she wanted to start coming to our branch instead. I was in City Heights yesterday when Hermana Barnes went to teach her, but she told me that it was an incredible lesson and that she is preparing more seriously for baptism. Aw yeah!!
We weren't in our area a lot this week because of exchanges, but it was an incredible week. Last Friday we went to the Valley:) Oh man, that place. I don't know why it still has a huge hold on my heart but I don't think it will go away any time soon, at least I hope it doesn't. It's so familiar, but at the same time so much has changed in the past year. The sisters now cover more parts of Calexico and they've had so much success! The ward has had 5 baptisms this year already (which is a full out major MIRACLE!!!!) and they have so much work to do. I went with Hermana Squire, who came out with Hermana Oliver and we just went out and worked out tails off in the heat. Felt so good. We saw Layla Barrera and Hermana Acosta, both of whom have made so many changes this past year that I almost didn't recognize them because their countenances are so different. I am SO blessed that I've been given opportunities to go back and see the progression that area has made-it makes me SO happy. It still has it's little quirks that comes with being a border town, but this past year away from that area has given me more perspective and I look back now and see more of the potential it has. It's cool to be able to share it with those serving down there. Leaving was hard-I don't know the next time I will see "my" families down there. That part was not fun.
The missionaries over there have been trying to find Damian for the past several months- he basically fell off the face of the planet. Heartbreak. We went into that apartment complex and knocked and knocked but no one answered. The sisters had started to give up hope that they were ever going to find him, but as we left the complex we saw an advertisement for a woman named Sna. Noriega who cleans carpets. That's Damian's last name, and both of the numbers were one's we haven't seen before. We both felt that those phone numbers would lead us to him, so we left on Cloud 9. No one answered while I was on the exchange, but I know that Hermana Squire will find him soon. Tender mercy/incredible miracle!
I went on another exchange with Hermana DeAngelo (the MTC comp) and it's been cool to see how she has grown these past 17 months! We had an interesting exchange-usually I am "let's get to WORK" and we spend all day hitting the pavement. Exchange days are the only days of the week where we don't do administration stuff or we don't have meetings, so we like taking advantage of those days. But as I picked up Hermana DeAngelo, I felt like I needed to stop the car and LISTEN. She's going through a rough time and she needed someone who would listen to her and help her see things clearly. At the beginning, I was having the "we need to get out of this car and see people this is driving me crazy" heart palpitations, but as I listened to her I realized that this was more important. It was a cool experience and we still saw people, and I realized that our purpose is to invite EVERYONE to Christ. That includes our companions. Actually, if we don't invite out companions to come unto Him, how are we supposed to invite others? It was a good reminder. It was a great exchange!
Then yesterday I went up to City Heights (love that place-the night I was there there was a gang fight in front of our complex and we contacted-accidentally-during a drug deal. It was awesome!!!) and I went up with a sister named Hermana Shumway. We started our missions together as well, and she's one of my mission heroes. She gave me a lot of council and just put things into words so clearly. I asked her what was one of the things she had learned on her mission, and she said "I have learned how to learn the will of the Lord". It was a powerful statement-and she so easily put into words the thoughts that I've been having the past few weeks as I've tried to piece together the lessons I've learned as a missionary. She's a fighter and she has a lot of stuff going on back home, yet she is the most peaceful and strongest missionary I know. That is how the Atonement works-I have seen it in her.
I sang at my last Mission President's Fireside on Sunday. Me and the other departing sisters sang "One Voice". I didn't cry. Much.
But it's ok, because Antonio was there! He said he heard I was singing and came because he wanted to say goodbye and thank us for helping him find the gospel. I cried then.
I have been asked by so many people "how do you think you have changed?". To be honest, I don't feel like there has been this huge mighty change. I just feel like there's more of me. Not different, just MORE. More heart, more understanding, more testimony. I don't really know how to describe 17 months of sacred experiences, but they shape you into something more. And it's a good feeling, feeling your heart getting bigger. I'm grateful that my mission has taught me how to do that, so I can continue becoming "more" for the rest of my life.
I love you all. Have a great week-you better be happy!!
Hermana Hess

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15, 2014 - We Passed!

We had interviews with President Schmitt this week. Good news. We passed and will still be able to continue our missionary service.

Hey Fam!

It was actually a very different interview then the one's I've had in the past. President Schmitt said up front "due to the time you have left on your mission, this one is going to be different." He then asked me who I think would be good trainers and who should be the next sister training leader. I was pretty surprised, usually they don't ask for our input in such a straightforward way haha. It was pretty cool to say a quick prayer in my head and all of a sudden have names and faces pop into my head. I can't imagine being in charge of transfers, I had a headache for the rest of the day! But it was cool to talk about the state of the mission one on one and provide input-even though my input doesn't mean a whole lot in the long run. It was nice for him to do, because he really didn't have to. 

Elder Butcher says hi. 

The primary president asked us to help teach baptism to the kids this Sunday. Man, I love the primary. I am my mother's daughter in the thought that the Spirit is always the strongest in the primary room. I wish investigators were invited to that class, they would get baptized instantly. 

Yesterday was an INCREDIBLE day! I am learning that I need to have more faith in accepting the Lord's will haha. I always thought that faith was all about having high expectations and then knowing that they will all happen. That's definitely true. But there's a lot more to faith then I thought (again, thank heavens for missions, I know nothing.). I have learned that, at times, the will of the Lord is not to have 8 lessons a day. And while it is great to have high expectations, it's greater to do exactly what the Lord wants. For the longest time I could not figure out why He wouldn't want days full of appointments, but as the months have passed by, it's the moments where we seek for His guidance and direction when our plans have failed, when we draw close to him. And He always provides, and the days are always enriching and full. 
And then there are days where you teach the world, add 2 more souls as investigators, eat at three separate dinner appointments and invite 4 people to baptism with all of them saying "yes". Those are good days, too. 

The Gonzalez fam came to church again. This time Mayra couldn't come because of work, but Arturo brought all of the kids by himself. This is the first time he's come to church without Mayra's insistence. CHAMP. Bertha was there as well, and Elena (the miracle woman who accepted the baptismal date the first lesson) came as well!! 

We went to the Gonzales house a few days ago to talk about baptism and why we need to be 8 years old. Little Arturo was wondering about what it means to be accountable and he asked "when did I start listening to Satan? Sheyla [his big sis.], when did I start becoming like you??". I couldn't stop laughing. Poor Sheyla haha. 

I am so grateful to be a missionary. I know this Work is real, this is the most important work we can be doing. This is His gospel.  I love you and hope you have a great week! Love you all!!

Hermana Hess!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 8, 2014 - God Bless Amercia

Hey fam! 

Want to know who doesn't celebrate Independence day? Hispanics. So we were pretty hopeful that people would be home. But, any opportunity to celebrate and peace out to Tijuana is taken, so the 4th of July was pretty quiet haha. But the fireworks were pretty so I can't complain! Dad, i loved your email about the family reunion and it sounded like a blast! The next one should be in San Diego!! I know all the good taco shops, so life would be great! 

This week was great! We finally met our new mission president, President Schmitt, and he is SO COOL! It's %100 different! He's only 40 and has 4 kids ranging from ages 6-15. All of them got up to introduce themselves and we were all so impressed with the whole family. It's definitely a whole new dynamic-having a family at the mission home, but it feels so right. The minute they all walked into the room all of us knew that they were perfect for the mission and the ones who needed to be here at this time. President Schmitt was a lawyer, his wife is a physician, they come play P-day sports with the missionaries, she speaks fluent Spanish, the kids have stronger testimonies than I do, and they say the word "awesome" a lot. It's awesome! We love them already. We are especially grateful in the way they talk about the Claytons-they're so grateful for them and constantly tell us that they don't want to replace them, but build upon the foundations that they've already set. I have full confidence that they will guide the mission where it needs to go and I'm excited for the things that they will accomplish, even within these next few weeks! 

This week was a great one for recognizing small miracles! There wasn't tons of people home all week, but the lessons that we DID have were so powerful and spirit-filled that there is no doubt in our minds that it was a successful one. We had lots of chances to teach simple lessons on one solitary principle- faith, repentance, God is our loving Heavenly Father, etc.. Those lessons are always my favorite! We can simplify and intensify and the spirit so easily carries the truth of the message to the investigator. We were teaching Karina, who stopped coming to church and reading, a simple lesson about faith and the spirit was working so hard in that room. She asked such inspired questions-i love it when they ask inspired questions-and we KNEW that she felt something. Her countenance changed completely. That's the power of simple lessons, people. It's never worth over-complicating things or trying to cram tons of principles into one lesson. 

Remember Bertha? Our investigator who read the whole Book of Mormon in two months, bore her testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel in testimony meeting, and actively participated in church before she went back to Mexico? SHE"S BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do y'all hear that sound? That's the choir of heavenly angels singing their hallelujahs. All is well in Zion, and i am a happy camper. LOVE HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

AAAAAND the obligatory Gonzalez report. They are still coming to church and loving it. I looked over during the closing song and Mayra is balling her eyes out (" I know the my Redeemer lives" will do that to ya....). We went over to her house and she told us that the moments she loves the most are when we come over and cook with her and teach her family. They are all so different....understanding the Gospel will do that to ya. They are beginning to UNDERSTAND and not just KNOW the gospel. I feel like that's been such a big lesson that I've learned on my mission. What we teach is the same thing that we were taught in primary, but as we understand it more, which only comes by living it's principles, we change. We become better. And we are happier. I cannot say that i understand my Savior or my Father completely, but I've gotten to know them more these past months and i am grateful that I get the opportunity to understand them more as life goes on. Again, enduring to the end is a blastyblast.

LOVE YOU! I am boring. SORRY! Have a great week!!!!!!!

Hermana Hess 

July 1, 2014 - Mexico Lost

Don't worry, family, Mexico lost in the world cup so people are starting to answer their doors again! People are praying more for comfort and meaning in their lives, and the refiners fire process is taking place. Hearts will be changed as a result. All is well!
This week was a great week of a looooot of learning. These past few weeks a lot of the emails and letters I've gotten from friends and family have said a lot of the same thing- "The last few months of your mission is the one you will remember the most!". All my returned-missionary friends have said that that's when they've had the most success and seen the most miracles. These past few weeks have turned out to be some of the hardest and most frustrating haha so it's interesting to see how God teaches me. We've been working and trying and doors still remain unanswered, even though we both feel like we've been working harder than we ever have before. But in turn, I feel like I've learned the most these past few weeks about the nature of God, and about the purpose of the Work in general. So I guess they're right, you really do learn the most you're last few months. Thank heavens I still have a few more weeks to get all the kinks worked out of me.
President Clayton is now home and President Schmitt is now our man! I actually haven't met him, but we will tomorrow at mission leadership council. It was pretty cool, we were saying a companionship prayer and when we asked God to bless President Clayton, we both felt and knew that he wasn't our president anymore, but when we mentioned President Schmitt we both received that confirmation that he was here and doing exactly what he needed to be doing. It was pretty cool and both of us are excited to meet him! We had our last transfer meeting last Tuesday and the Claytons were sobbing during the closing song, which means everyone else was too. Why do people cry so much on missions?! What the heck have I turned into??
The other day we had an awkward amount of time before an appointment, and Hermana Barnes said to me "there' someone we need to go find!" so we drove around and tried to figure out just who was the person we needed to talk to. A few weeks ago we contacted this family outside their house and they weren't super interested, but we had a feeling to knock that door and try again.A father and son, Antonio and Octavio, answered and were SUPER nice. They didn't have a lot of time so we're going back later this week. God is good! And then yesterday we were running in the morning and this sweet old lady stopped us and started talking to us and basically begged for us to come over! Too bad she isn't in our area....but she's prepared and will be a big blessing to the La Mesa elders! We have definitely seen the hand of the Lord in the work this week. I feel like I've never paid more attention to the "small and simple" things and as a result I've been seeing SO many things that I've probably been missing in the past.
The Gonzalez family came to church again:) We're still talking about setting a baptismal date for them-they're super scared. They don't want to rush into anything and I think that they're getting some heat from family members. PLEASE keep them in your prayers!! Man there is so much potential in this family! I swear I've never seen so much change in a family before-every time i LOOK at them I just can't stop thinking about the power of God in the work. I love seeing them walk into the chapel in their church clothes. THIS IS HAPPINESS, PEOPLE!!! They're been such a tender mercy! Gerardo is beginning to read the Book of Mormon and loved the Plan of Salvation lesson......Slowly but surely, these people are getting it. They're feeling the spirit. It's the coolest thing to watch.
HEY! I LOVE Y'ALL!! I hope you know that I pray for y'all all the time!!! BE HAPPY!!!!
Hermana Hess!!