Monday, September 9, 2013


Hola querido familia bonita! Les amo tanto! Mas que todo en el mundo!!
I love being a missionary. And I am exhausted. We are exhausted. Exhausted, but I have never been happier in my entire life. How does that even work? No idea. I feel like we are running on a 1209830928098 speed treadmill, but I love it. This really is the greatest work. And it never ceases to amaze me that when I feel like I am going to fall over from being so tired, the Lord lifts my companion and I up and gives us the strength to carry on. I don't really get it, but I do. We can do all things through the strength of the Lord. There have been days when I just pray that I can have enough energy to do it, and I have been given it...time and time again. Just when I think I can't do it, I do. That is what happens when we rely on the Lord's strength and not our own... :) All I know is that I am happy.
Bugs continue to open up windows of opportunity for us. Well, this week I ate what they call "Mexican Popcorn." And lets just say that the LEGS of the popcorn where stuck in my teeth for like 4 hours after. Gross, right? "What is Mexican Popcorn" you might ask? Well, it is grasshoppers coated in chili spice. Delicious, right? I love eating bugs on demand. We had two options....1. eat the bug OR 2. Die of shame and be labeled as "gringas" for the rest of our lives. The Lord promises us the strength to do all things...even if it is to stomach a creepy crawler. So Hermana Wilcox and I reluctantly ate the bugs. Delicious. You should have seen our faces. What did it taste like? Well, a bug. It was crunchy and juicy...and its leg was stuck in between my teeth. The point was, is that because we ate bugs one of our less active members came to church this past Sunday!!! AMAZING MIRACLE!! Eating bugs and letting them laugh at your reaction of utter disgust brings people to church...apparently! It was either that, or the lesson (Hermana Wilcox and I are convinced that it was eating the bugs that did it). Because after we ate the bugs, we got to teach about church attendance and how it is crucial for us to go and to partake of the sacrament (while one of the legs of the grasshopper was in my teeth.) Yum. Oh, the things you get to do as a missionary. Did I tell you that I have never been happier?
I know for a fact that the power of prayer is very real. I am beginning to see and learn that the power of prayer is even more powerful when we pray with the intention to ACT on the answer and guidance that we receive. This week I have seen that power first hand on so many different occasions, but especially on Saturday. We were really motivated to teach a lot of lessons, and we knew that we could teach a lot and find a lot of people ready to hear the gospel if we were brave enough and just talked to everyone Heavenly Father put in our path. So we said a prayer. We told Him that we were ready and set to get "5 lessons in 2 hours." After we said "Amen" my companion and I looked at each other and couldn't believe that we had just resolved to get 5 lessons in 2 hours to investigators. WHAT?! It seemed impossible for a split second and then we looked at each other and SMILED. We have seen the Lord work so many miracles before, why not this? So we grabbed our Book of Mormons and restoration pamphlets and started to walk and knock. It was almost as if the people just came out of the woodwork. From a family in the car, to a man in his garden to a woman playing outside with their kids. We taught 5 whole lessons in an hour and a half! And what was even cooler was that they were all interested in learning more and being baptized eventually if they found it to be true! WOAH! Talk about miracles. When we got lesson number 5 we looked at each other in amazement. How were we doing this? That is when we realized that by no means was it us doing the work. The Holy Ghost was guiding our footsteps and timing everything just right so that we would run into the people that we needed to teach that day. What a miracle. The Lord could do this work in a split second, if we let Him. The trick is, and what I am still trying to learn, is to allow Him to guide me and to let Him use me as an instrument in His hands. I know that I am nothing, but when He uses me in His way I am happy.
Bikes and skirts are an interesting combination. There are lots of tricks to the trade, but mostly, I love being on a bike because we get to talk and help everyone! I love it so much. The other day I almost died laughing because a man asked us if we were training for the Tour de France. I was so tempted to tell him that the new fad for the race is skirts and massive backpacks with books in them. But I resisted. We shared the Gospel with him instead. Maybe someday he will remember those 2 girls flying down the hillside in skirts.....maybe. Also, I am loving the crisp autumn air of September. Loving the wind in my hair on the other hand....lets just say that the people aren't listening to the Gospel because my hair always looks nice--that's for sure. :) I am so happy on a bike.
Vanessa and Juana are back, and I am so happy! They scared us really bad because we lost total communication with them for a few days. Then by a miracle we found them again! Guess what kept them from us? Anti-Mormon materials. Man, that stuff is yucky. They had so many doubts, questions and weird assumptions about our faith that I have never even heard of! But after 2 lessons of questions and doubts being drilled at us, and thanks to some incredible members of our ward who came with us to the lessons, they have the desire to be baptized still! AMAZING! I thought they were long gone when they started asking about the most bizarre things, but it made me realize how hard Satan really is working to destroy the goodness of this work. We are so excited because Juana is getting baptized THIS SATURDAY!! HURRAY! Vanessa wants to get baptized, but she wants her husband to learn as well, so that they can do it together as a family. So she will be heading back to New York, where the missionaries will be teaching both her and her husband! Its been so incredible to see them progress, and change and truly come unto Christ. They are making such huge sacrifices and they seem so much happier now. Vanessa craves the Spirit. Whenever we are in her home she says "I don't want you two to ever leave! I feel so happy when you are in my home!" We told her that it wasn't us, but the Spirit. I can't wait for the day when she receives the gift of the Holy Ghost which will allow her to feel like that at all times.
Be grateful for food and a roof. There are a lot of people that we are teaching who haven't eaten in days....yes, here in America! It is so hard to see them struggling like this, and so Hermana Wilcox and I have been bringing them treats and their little kids devour them within seconds of bringing them. They have little kids, but yet they have no jobs, no money, no place to live and no food. The church programs are amazing and they work fast. But remember, when you get down on life, to count even your smallest having work or having food or having a roof over your head. I know people that would think they had died and gone to heaven if they had that!
I LOVE MY COMPANION. Yep, she is a shining star and I love her for it. I have learned so much from her example. She is so confident and truly is a self-less servant. I have learned so much from her and know that we will be friends for life. It has been really cool to watch both of us change and grow into better people (hopefully...haha). We are working until we drop and honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if this Hermana Wilcox changed the whole world forever. Shout out to her and her family--Thanks for sending me an angel!
This week I will be attending my first-ever major league baseball game. Since it is Washington D.C.'s day of service we will be doing service for the day and then attending the game at night as an entire mission! Apparently, the church is really excited for us as a mission (250 of us to be exact) to go and represent the Church on such a national level. So if you are watching ESPN look for the Nationals baseball game this may or may not see a bunch of us missionaries in skirts and suits! I will wave to you! :)

Mom, thanks for teaching me how to play the piano. I am now the pianist for our ward, the relief society and the primary when necessary. I have a blast doing it. Especially when the ward chooses songs that have never been sung by anyone on earth. Sight reading those aren't very fun especially when its in front of the whole ward....oops. But, none the less there was some type of music. But really, I was excited that I could contribute to the ward in some way, and music has been that ally! So thanks mom and dad for helping me learn the piano!! (all of those years of tears finally paying off!) :)
Thanks so much for all the support, love and prayers that you send to me. I need them so much. I hope you know that I am always praying and thinking about you! Being a missionary is the biggest blessing I have ever had in my thanks for letting me serve. I am learning that we aren't here on the earth just to endure. We are here to ENJOY. "Men are that they might have JOY." So smile. Even if it is hard, be grateful it is...because it is making you stronger. Much stronger. I hope you have a great week and that you, as am I, try to beat this natural man within us.
Hermana Weenig :)
Hermana Casteneda and I. She is the type of person I want to be when I grow up. Always serving and always loving. She made us Chilis Re-llenos! Incredible!

Yes, I ate that. That is a grasshopper. I still feel it jumping in my stomach.

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