Oh my. This is my Life

Well I hardly know where to begin with this one.... I'll try my best to get everything in there.

Okay, before I went on my mission I always wondered why missionaries who come home are so strange... well I can tell you all, that I perfectly know why now. It's because your mission is 18 months jam packed with some of the weirdest experiences imaginable. Here's a couple of these "Is this really happening in real life? Am I really seeing/hearing/doing/eating this?":

1. We went to the State Fair last p-day. Fun, right? Even more fun when you're dressed in your missionary clothes still and you're with a group of 16 other elders, and you become the freak show instead of the actual exhibits. 

Some of us from the trip to the State Fair (watching the Pig Races)

2. A member gave us a Sara Lee sweetcake thingy the other day. I saved it, waiting for one of those days where you really needed a pick me up. Well, I waited 3 days, and couldn't resist any longer. I open the package, waiting for the manna from heaven to reach my taste buds. What is that I taste? Hmmm it's faintly like a 13 year-old boy's socks and paprika. I promptly ran to the nearest trash can and yup...

3. During weekly planning, I suddenly became aware of something watching me. I turn to see a HUGE spider crawling on the wall. I grabbed a shoe, but the spider decided to hide in a crevice... so I couldn't get it. How in the world was I supposed to sleep with a creature of Satan crawling about? Well I decided there must be a way. The end result was a chopstick with toilet paper on the end to create.... a SPIDER KILLING WAND. 

4. Last night we had dinner at a member's house. It's kind of a long story, but she lives in an old man's tiny apartment as his helper. Well she asked us to wash our hands before dinner. No big deal, right? Wrong. We had to walk through his bedroom (where he has a huge shrine of Mary in his closet) and use his bathroom. I reach for the soap and what do we see. DENTURES STARING BACK AT ME. 

5. Casually we pull up to our 4 o'clock appointment. We turn down the street and what do you know... 6 police cars in front of our investigator's neighbor's house. We proceed to drive by and we see a huge section blocked off with caution tape #crimescene. We ask our investigator about what happened. Well, apparently their neighbor got stabbed and the stabber had tried to jump over their fence to escape and our investigator grabbed the guy and pulled him off the fence. The stabber ran loose, the stabee was on the way to the hospital, and us, well we were just trying to see if there was blood on the ground. Oh, and preach the gospel...

The scene of the stabbing... just another day in ABQ

Okay, on to the good stuff now! This week was a week of MIRACLES. We were able to really see the hand of the Lord in this work, leading and guiding the work here. I am humbled and grateful daily for the opportunity to wear the name tag that says "Hermana March". Together with the Lord, I know that anything is possible. The days may be long, but they're always filled with joy. Joy is really the common theme on the mission. Pure joy that comes only from living a little more like Christ each day. Here's just 2 of the HUGE MIRACLES I saw this week!

1. Jesus is still going strong for baptism! And his baptism even got moved up a day (to Friday!)! I cannot wait to see him enter the waters of baptism. It's really quite unbelievable how prepared he is to hear and accept this gospel. The missionaries only met him the last week of July and he has never looked back. He makes me so hopeful and excited to meet those other prepared people that will be placed in my path!

2. Okay, the hugest miracle of the week... Martin and Sara, a couple who haven't felt ready for baptism basically forever, are getting a baptized OCTOBER 3rd! Hermana Dearden and I have kinda felt at a loss of what to do to help them... they knew all the lessons, studied the scriptures daily, attended church every Sunday, etc. So we did the only thing we could think of. We prayed. And fasted. And prayed some more. And then on Sunday, we were walking down the hall and we were talking to Sara. She asked about the fact that Jesus' baptism had been moved up a day, and then she said "Well I hope that October 3rd isn't too late for Martin and I". We couldn't  contain our joy... it was pure and overwhelming for that cute couple and their 2 little boys. I think Hermana Dearden and I almost started singing hallelujah at the top of our lungs. We may or may not have had to excuse ourselves to the bathroom to do a quick happy dance. 

This work truly is the work of the Lord. You want to know why? Because it brings utter and complete joy. It's all throughout the scriptures that if something is good, it is of God. And the work of salvation is good. It changes people. Not only the people who we teach, but I can feel it within myself.

My favorite quote of the week: "Joy is guaranteed to those who are faithful" President Eyring. Try to keep up the faith this week, so you can feel that joy too!

Love you mucho para siempre!

Hermana March

 A quick redlight picture with one of our favorite members

An ABQ sunset



AND IT WAS IN SPANISH... FOLKS WE'VE MADE IT TO THE BIG LEAGUES. As you can tell, I was very pleasantly surprised waking up Sunday morning to remember my dream had been in Spanish. And to add to my pure and utter joy, my companion told me that I had sat up and started sleep talking in Spanish in the middle of the night. What could I be saying you might ask? Oh you know... the missionary lessons. Those babies are engrained into my very bone. 

So this week was another week typical to that of a missionary. Lots of work, little sleep, strange food, miracles, moments where you want to punch a wall, Satan being Satan, people wanting to learn more, tender mercies, getting creepy people following you and well, yeah, you get the picture.

Despite some of the more negative things of the week, I want to focus on the good, because quite frankly, the good is always really good. (And like I learned in elementary school, no one likes a Negative Nancy--sorry Nancys of the world... unfortunate coincidence. We know you're not all negative).

One of the most amazing moments of this week was with Jesus. (Okay sidenote... I know it's strange reading where I talk about Jesus... because I'm talking about cute little old Mexican man who wears cowboy boots, not Jesus himself. Sorry for any confusion that may cause... it messed me up for like the first 3 weeks here). 

Well anyways, we were in his neighborhood on Tuesday night trying to teach another couple, but they cancelled on us.  So what do we do? Head on over to see Jesus of course. Well, we talked to him a lot about faith and how faith motivates us to act... and his next action of faith is baptism. (He's one of the 4 we had fasted and prayed to be baptized in the month of September). He said that he didn't feel like he was ready for baptism yet, but luckily we had a strong member with us who bore testimony of their conversion. I told him that setting a baptismal date is like deciding to run a marathon. When you decide to run a marathon, you don't sign up to run tomorrow. You choose a day, some weeks or months out, and then train every day. That way when the day comes, you have no need to fear or have any doubt about being able to cross that finish line. 

My companion leaned over to me while the member was talking to him and said in English, so he couldn't understand "Ugh I don't know if he'll be ready to get baptized in September, maybe we should ask for October. I turned to her and said 9 simple words "Hermana, I have faith in the month of September". Well as we said that, Jesus turned to us and said "Okay, what about the end of September?". He is now on date for September 26. Faith is really the key to all. Faith is what has blessed Jesus in taking this next step. I cannot wait for the day he enters the waters of baptism.

Well another awesome part of this week was the branch mission activity we held! It was hard to get everything ready, since Hermana Dearden and I were the only ones in charge, but it pulled together at the last minute. Only about 35 people came, and about 20 of them were kids, but it seemed like everyone had fun! It was called "La Feria de la Vida" aka "The Fair of Life". Basically there were carnival games, "spiritual" and "temporal". There were green tickets given out for playing the spiritual themed games, and red for the others. At the end of the time to play games, the participants went into a room where there tickets were counted and they were "judged". 

They went to 3 rooms, according to how many green tickets they had acquired. Room 3 was all black. Room 2 had one lamp on in it. And room 1 was completely bright with pictures of the temple and soft hymns playing in the back. Well, at the end of the judging period, all of the people were eventually brought into room 1. The 3 rooms had represented the 3 kingdoms of glory, and the game time, well, that was life. In the end, the branch president shared a message about why we all want to be in room 1, the Celestial kingdom, together again one day and how the time we have to "play" counts for everything. And then of course we had food after that... we're Mormon aren't we? There's no church function without good food. 

This week I have learned patience in trials. The Lord is always mindful of us. Tender mercies always come paired with trials. God always makes up for bad days.  I love you all and bear witness that the Lord does as well. Try to lean on him a little more this week. You will see the blessings and tender mercies flood in. 

mucho amor para siempre
Hermana March


Satan... we're coming for you

Basically this has been my motto for the week. Once again this week has been full of unexpected miracles and full of stories to tell. I'll try my best to do it justice. 

So imagine this: I'm week 3 in the field, and I don't know much Spanish. There's a companion by my side, but wait, she knows no Spanish. And we're in the ghetto streets of ABQ trying to teach, visit, and contact Spanish speaking people. What could go wrong with that equation?

Well that's just crazy to imagine right? Wrong. It's reality. We had exchanges this week on Wednesday, and for some reason they though it'd be good for me to stay in my area and be in charge of the missionary work in the area for that day...aka I was responsible for choosing what to do, who to see, and where to go... aka it was death.

So intimidated and nervous to start the exchange, I gathered myself up, pulled up my big girl skirt, and went to work. And man it was tough. But man did the miracles flow in. We were able to come in to so many people who were accepting and willing to hear our message. In a matter of an hour talking to people on the street, we got about 6 return appointments with the people on the street. WHUTTTT? BASICALLY UNHEARD OF. AND the coolest part, was that I got to teach basically the whole first lesson on the Restoration of the gospel right there on the street. For being on the street with kids running around and cars driving by, the Spirit was there. This lady even accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and said she was excited to read more about her "Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ". Tender mercies are there if we open our eyes. Do it. You'll be amazed. 

Well on to the "Satan... we're coming for you" part 2. So on Thursday morning, Hermana Dearden woke up as the living dead. I kid you not. We called in to the mission doctor and found that she had some weird Bronchitis bacteria virus plague from Satan. The mission doctor advised we stay in the apartment until at least Sunday afternoon. Well you know what that means.... LOTS OF SITTING AROUND READING SCRIPTURES. And then I started to catch the plague on Sunday, but I refuse... there's work that needs to be done. And Satan's tool is unwork… ok, that's not a word, but he likes to get us as missionaries to not work. So therefore, investigators go untaught and people go un-contacted. 

Well guess what Satan, take that. Through a small miracle in and of itself, we have 4 solid investigators that we hope to see baptized this month. We got a sweet text from one of the ladies in the ward telling us that Jesus (investigator) came to church, actively participated in the discussion, and shared a personal experience and testimony of the Sabbath Day. They're all so close to accepting the gospel... I can't wait for the day they accept the invitation to come unto Christ more fully. 

I'm so grateful for the tender mercies and miracles I see daily in the mission. The Lord's hand is always extended to us. I'm also grateful for the hard weeks and the hard times on my mission though. There's nothing that drives me to my knees and makes me plead with my Heavenly Father like hard times. We should turn to him in all times, but it's comforting to know that when there is no where else for me to turn, he is always there. I think it's in the toughest moments, when we think we've hit rock bottom, that we realize how far the Atonement extends. It's infinite and eternal power can reach us at all stages and times in our lives. 

I love you all. I feel the prayers of the members of the church. It's humbling to think that such a strong group of disciples of Christ are praying for me and the other missionaries daily. It's the power that gets us all through the day everyday.

Hermana March

Here's a picture of my Mission President, his wife, and me on my first day! Take a second to admire the nice pre-historic photoshop work… yeah, I blinked in the original picture and I think she blinked in the second, so therefore... BAM  this is the result. Tape lines and all, I love it!

Spiders, Chickens, and other things... oh my!

Well, the only phrase I can think to sum up this week is "well... umm that was interesting".

The work here is very busy and the list of things to do never ever ends. The branch is about 15 families strong... and about 7 of those families are white families called in from other parts of the stake to help. We have been working so hard to get lesson numbers up and to increase our teaching pool, but this week we had over 10 lessons cancel on us last minute like 5 minutes before the lesson. So we always decide to head to the ghetto... our best area to teach and find. While in the ghetto this week, we heard a gunshot or two, ran into some fighting chickens, saw a forensic crime scene team doing their job, and saw this sign (see below). Dang I love Albuquerque. And I mean that in all seriousness!

The worst day of the week and probably my mission was definitely Thursday. It's something I can laugh at now, but at the time it was rough. Here are 3 defining moments of the day that pretty much sum it up perfectly:

1. We had dinner at a someone's house.... at one point in the 45 minute dinner, the person said "if you translate something super white into Spanish like "santa vaca" (holy cow) in front of me, I will happily cuss you out in English and in Spanish... I'm good at both." uhhhh okay? How do I respond to that...? I politely laughed and hoped the conversation would move along.

2. I found a spider in my skirt that had been there for who knows how long... Hermana Dearden thought it was hilarious and proceeded to sing "spider skirt" *Spiderman theme song

3. We asked a member to help us by giving a blessing to some potential investigators we had met on the street. He came, taught them all 4 missionary lessons, told us what scriptures to read, didn't give them the blessing, and told them they needed to show up to church to get them--aka ultimatum-ed them. In other words, our lesson got hijacked haha. 

Aren't those situations crazy? Like is this real life? Does this really happen?! Yes. Yes they do. I can happily verify that for ya. 

There were miracles everywhere this week despite some of the struggles! The work is steadily and surely moving forward. We have 4 progressing investigators this week (1 with a baptism date) and about 21 investigators otherwise! Oh and our investigator Jesus came to church again and brought his grandson this time. Basically his grandson became the most popular human in the branch in just one Sunday. When he saw a white man speaking Spanish in the branch he looked up to him wide eyed and said "hablas Espanol?!" ("You speak Spanish?!"). He's 4 and probs the funniest and sassiest kid I've ever met. Anyways, Jesus is so prepared for this gospel. I know that he will progress and grow to know his Savior more and be baptized. I have come to love him so much in the past two weeks... plaid shirts and teal cowboy boots at church and all! 

*fun fact of the week: I'm related to President Thomas S. Monson.... holla. 9th cousins for life.

I hope we can all be a little more like the Savior. He's our perfect example. He came to Earth to give us an exact way to guarantee us eternal life. It's hard to follow that example sometimes, but it's easy to know what to do because His life is recorded in the scriptures. Please read the Book of Mormon. It's all about Christ. I know that we can know Him better through reading those pages than by any other means. That's what I'm doing all day everyday. Asking, inviting, and encouraging all to get to know their Redeemer a little better by reading from the Book of Mormon. It's the most powerful and correct thing we have on this earth. Read it and see. 

Thanks for all the love and support. You are the best!

Peace. Love. Preach. 
Hermana March

A picture of the sign as promised!

 Me and my companion! A missing face to the previously missing name! An old man named Milton who is a part of the group that we play Bingo with at the nursing home gave these to us after winning 6 times. He's a crack up.

An Albuquerque sunset... the best part of the day.