Oakland Temple

Oakland Temple

Friday, December 25, 2015

Week 13-Transferred to Modesto





Well surprise surprise.  After we'd already got transfer calls Monday, saying I was staying with Hermana Alcaraz in Turlock, President Palmer called us Tuesday during companionship study and told me to pack up all my belongings and head into the mission office.  That means one thing.  I was getting transfered.  I didn't know where or with who I'd be with. So that was a hard last minute goodbye to all the missionaries in Turlock.  Well I'm now in Modesto with Hermana Kyrie Carpenter.  She was my sister training leader the first transfer.  I was very intimidated of her but now it's great.  We are a lot alike.  She is from Spanish Fork and has been out 14 months.  I can't wait to learn from her and experience a new branch that is almost a ward.  This branch I am in is so different and so welcoming.  I love them and serving them this week was incredible. They help us in the work.  The branch president is Presidente Martinez and he is a convert of 3 years.  He is the best.  He works so hard in the branch and this branch is nearly a ward.  Baptisms here are crazy.

We have an investigator named Socorro who is 58 and just so prepared.  She has a baptism this Sunday and is already part of the branch.  All of the members love her and have taken her in.  She reads and reads all of the church manuals and Book of Mormon.  She downloaded the app on her phone so she does it everywhere she goes.  Gloria and Allen are both 20 years old, she is pregnant of 3 months and was baptized but is less active.  We are preparing Allen to be baptized, Gloria wants to be married in the temple.  Allen is being very attentive.  He has a baptism date for January 16 (still in this transfer so I'd be here) and then we are hoping that means when we invite them to be married first since it is a prerequisite for baptism at this point, that we will be having a wedding before then.  We believe it's possible they are very ready as well as they do not have a lot of money or any family around. 

Funny story about Allen and Gloria, so we were going to have a lesson with them at the church with a member present.  Well we knew that this member had to stay afterwards and Gloria and Allen don't have a car so she brought them.  She couldn't stay afterwards because she was helping with the baptism there.  And after wards the branch party was happening-they were already planning on going to to the lesson and the branch christmas party.  But we surprised GLoria and Allen with the baptism in between.  They were stuck at the church so they got to go to a baptism whether or not they liked it.  Lol.

My companion is still a Sister Training leader so lots of time has been spent traveling places for meetings.  That's been nice, meeting new missionaries as well as the fact that that means I am going to be going on a lot of exchanges.  Since she has to exchange with all of the sisters she's over in Stockton and Lodi, I will switch too.  I'll get to experience a lot of new things this transfer and can hardly wait.

We are having a Christmas devotional meeting as a whole mission the 24th of December me and Hermana Carpenter are singing in. so we'll see how that goes.  This is such a great time to be here.

Thanks for all the love and support back home.  I can feel it.  This Christmas Season is so special.  I am constantly reminded of what it means to have a savior.  In my studies this past week, I came across a scripture in D&C 123:17
 17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

I love this scripture and I have thought about it a lot this week. Do all we can possibly do with cheer.  You know what you need to do.  It's a gospel with straightforward doctrine and simple.  I hope as this new year rolls around you can reflect back and think what more you could do and if how you are going about things is cheerfully.  Keep remembering that we aren't perfect but become perfected through him.  I know living the gospel brings me the most happiness as well as supports me in my journey to become a better person.  

I pray for you all.  I really do.  Loves from Modesto California.

Hermana Waters
xoxo




Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Week 12-Still in Turlock! Yay!




I AM STAYING IN TURLOCK WITH HERMANA ALCARAZ AND SO ARE THE ELDERS IN OUR BRANCH.  There is still work for me to do!

So near the end of the week things got crazy.  So starting from the end, this past Saturday Elder Smith was not feeling so hot.  Him and Elder Guzman are in the same branch as us so we had lots of meetings that day.  He was puking, green, and in tons of pain. He insisted on going to the first half of the meetings but then we got a call from the nurse Sister Gilbert saying he needs to go to the emergency room.  Me and Hermana Alcaraz have a car but President asked that they look for a ride first since they have bikes. After no success, the stake elder's quorum president- Brother Ross Day said to just take our car and go to the hospital. They rushed to Emmanuel Hospital and we stayed to finish up the meetings.  After the meetings we realized that he'd taken our car keys with our apartment keys and we were stuck at the church with a cello and their missionary bags. We couldn't get a ride home with anyone since we aren't allowed to ride with Brethren.  So we hung for like 40 minutes until the Zone Leaders came and got  the cello and we geared up for the hour walk to Emmanuel Hospital with the elders 20 pound bags.  It was awesome.  That is when I felt like a real missionary.  Well after we left, Elder Smith and Guzman spent all day and most the night in the Emergency room-Elder Smith found out he has appendicitis. They scheduled him for surgery the next morning and so they spent 2 nights at Emmanuel.  Most of our time since Saturday has been spent at Emmanuel running the elders food, goodies, clothes for overnight, blankets, you name it. He came home today at 2:30pm and before he came back, we went and decorated his house and made a cake to welcome them home since it hasn't been too luxury for them.  
Well I was supposed to play piano in sacrament meeting with Elder Smith playing the cello but since he was in the hospital I was left to solo it.  I luckily had brought some other pieces so I planned to play one of them.  Well I get there the music director was upset and likes to have it all in control so when I told her I would play this piano piece for the intermediate hymn she straight up told me in English- FORGET IT.  I wanted to cry... So I just played a basic hymn but it's okay.
We had a Noche de Hogar (Family home evening) with this member Karem and her crazy little kids 7 years old and younger.  We had planned to teach the new church campaign and how God loves the children.  We gave them a pass along card of the video that has a picture of Jesus Christ as a baby on it and the 7 year old boy straight up took it and said he hated Jesus as he tore it up into shreds.  You should've seen my face.  I couldn't cried I was in rage.  My Book of Mormon was open and ready to start teaching about it and I just slam it shut and say, "You don't know what you're talking about." We are working with him.  But he also dreams of putting bombs underneath the benches in the church and setting them off when the people start singing, killing them all.  We are working with him, lets just say that.  I will not leave this area with this kid acting like that.
One of the members Hermano Luna (a convert of 6 months and is the branch mission leader) made us some jalapeno cream cheese bread.  It was so good.  New favorite thing.  Try it out :) 
The branch Christmas Party was so much fun. It started 2 hours late due to us waiting on the costco chickens to be delivered but when they came, we all were in the kitchen of the church tearing them apart together.  It was a blast.  We finished cutting up all 30 of the chickens in 30 minutes.  It was the best part of the night.  
Funny story, a lady named Concha submitted herself as a referral so we went to go see her.  That rarely happens here.  So we go, and get talking.  She's a sweet old lady that lives with 10 cats alone.  We found out she has dementia quickly into the lesson when we asked her about why she referred herself.  She didn't know what we were talking about.  Then she told us the same story 5 times.  It was so sad.
We found out one of our investigators was trying to scam the church.  Martha... yeah apparently she does this with a lot of churches.  She is a drug addict and prostitute. She sales her food stamps for drug money.  3 of her 5 kids have already been taken by the government.  
It's been a crazy week but time is flying.
Shout out to Elder Jarvis who is reading this.  Creeper status. but esta bien.

Love you alllll

xoxo

Hermana Waters





Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Week 11 - Turlock




Hola amigos y familia!

Sorry for the confusion, I was confused too.  Transfers are this upcoming week so we'll see what happens.  I really hope to stay here with Hermana Alcaraz!

Well today we were at Target having our weekly session of Retail Therapy as me and my companion call it when a lady just approached us smiling.  She has  a  missionary in Chile and is from the Turlock 3.  Her name is Sister Hamilton and she invited us over for food on Christmas and told us we could skype too if we wanted to.  We'll see, I could be skyping from her house.  So I have 30 minutes skyping with mom and 30 minutes with dad.  She was way nice and it's members like her that keep me going and really support a struggling spanish branch.  Love this church.

This week there were 3 investigators who went to all 3 hours of church! That is unheard of! Rocio (38), Laura Gaspar (55), and her son Gustavo Gaspar (28) came.  Gustavo Gaspar is one of my favorites because when he was 6 years old, he got in a car wreck- limiting his capabilities.  He has the ability of a 10 year old.  When we left their house after a lesson he came up to me and Hermana and told us how grateful he was that we came.  He asked when we'd come back.  So sweet that we get to have people like that here.

I had exchanges with Hermana Carpenter where I went into Modesto for 24 hours in her area.  I was so scared because she's my sister training leader and I just made her out to be this perfect missionary that was perfectly obedient and had it going.  Well we became good friends in that 24 hours and we had a funny contacting experience too.  We were trying to give out Libros de Mormon as we were knocking on doors.  We met this lady who refused the idea of a book other than the bible-which is common and just when we were about to give up, hermana carpenter starts going to the basics of telling who wrote in it and how it was buried then Joseph Smith was given the revelation to unbury it.  Well soon she starts saying 'Darmelo' before we are even done and then she interrupted and said, 'Darmelo eso libro!'  in english- 'Give me it, Give me that book'.  She took it, caressed it in her hands and said she was going to read it.  Those are the people we were looking for.  People that will treasure the book of mormon as much as it deserves to be cherished.
Tires were at 10 psi in the car this one day so we had to go fill it up with air thank heavens for the elders to help us out.

We have an investigator Martha who is 28, has 5 kids, no papers, no job, and a non supportive family.  She is so strong.  Apparently some church came to her door saying that they'd pay all her bills, give her food and give her a job if she was baptized into their church.  I want to tell you this lady is desperate.  They are without food, landlord is trying to hunt her down, and it's horrible.  She said 'No, I will not be getting baptized into a church save it be Jesus Christ's and Jesus Christ doesn't bribe.'  She's amazing.  What faith she has.  I probably wouldn't have had that must trust or let that offer slip by if  I were in her shoes.

We have a member having  a baby and we stopped by the baby shower with a gift and to get some food because it was our dinner.  Well we get there, no one is there and we have an hour until our next lesson.  We socialize as people come, welcoming them.  Then before we know it the hour is gone away and we are starving but have this lesson.  We had to do a McDonald's run at 8:30.  That was crazy because I'm so used to dinner at 5:00 pm every night so it was hard.  But people are more important that food.

The church's campaign "Ha Nacido Un Salvador" is crazy.  It's been awesome to bring members, less active, and investigators to this video that has been released.  It's short but powerful.  How great it is that we have a savior.  I know he's here to help us with the pains of life.  He loves us.  Check out the video if you haven't already.

oh and send me your home address if you want a christmas card.

Love you all
xoxo
Hermana Waters


Friday, December 4, 2015

Week 10 - Turlock





So lets talk about Thanksgiving.  We went to the Paniagua's house to eat and holy cow.  I had turkey, ham, a potato, green beans, typical thanksgiving food thank goodness.  Later this past week I ate something called Menudo- it has cow intestines in it... The texture is horrible I couldn't swallow it.  The thought of a cow's intestine being in my intestines... Never again.  I am going to claim to be allergic to it.

Last night we got a text from one of our investigators who we believe may be lesbian saying that she wanted to tell us something personal when we had the chance tonight so we might be having a hard discussion tonight.  

This week was so hard.  Our baptism that was supposed to happen-Rocio-cancelled on us.  Her husband doesn't believe she's ready because she's not committed.  She is so prepared and ready but her husband wants to see more from her.  Her husband isn't a member but recognizes it's a big decision.  She's still planning on getting baptized, not sure exactly when.  
Transfers are next week and I am hoping I am staying in Turlock with Hermana Alcaraz.  That means we'd spend Christmas together.

I want to share a little about our part member family the Partida and Navarro family.  The little boy who is 5 is the cutest.  His name is Uriel but his nickname is Woody.  He always volunteers to say the prayer and insists we get on our knees too.  He often uses the word Senor, meaning Lord in his prayer and is so sincere.  He is such an example to me of a humble prayer.
The day before Zone conference I got a call from the Zone leaders to give a training on the Christlike Attribute of Virtue and I was so nervous.  I was responsible for leading the zone on a discussion.  I studied hard.  When we got here (after biking in the cold because we didn't recognize it was as cold as it was) we were all waiting to start the meeting.  Then the sister training leaders walked in-they intimidate me sometimes.  I mean I love them but just get so nervous.  I start sweating.  Literally 2 minutes before we started, the assistant to the President, Elder Jones walked in.  That only means one thing. That President Palmer was here.  Then he walked in.  I began to sweat like crazy.  It went so good though and he said some really nice things to me.  I am so lucky to have an awesome mission president like President Palmer.  Such a great leader.
The following day, me and my companion were going to help with a baptism since ours fell through and we have an investigator named Laura Gaspar who we are helping prepare for baptism.  I played the piano, Hermana Alcaraz was offering a prayer.  Before we left- we get a call from President Palmer's wife, Sister Palmer.  That can be scary.  She just called us up and invited us to go to lunch on her since she was coming out for the baptism. At the baptism Laura our investigator felt the spirit and told us she felt so good.  We cannot wait to talk with her more about everything since she's had several years of lessons but never was invited to attend a baptism.  We think that is just what she needed.  We went to lunch at Olde Tyme Bakery here and it was so good.  I learned that my president and his wife met because He was Her home teacher when they were students back in the day at BYU.  I thought that was cute.  

I do have to say the work gets really hard when I start focusing on me.  When I catch myself thinking about myself, I try to turn outwards and that is when we see miracles happen.

Funny story- we were visiting a member who broke her hip and is in a rehab facility this week and were reading the book of mormon with her.  Afterwards when we asked her what we could bring her, she said cookies.   We said okay and started heading out when she said, 'wait i'm diabetic... you could bring me water.'  lol we were like, oh okay that's probably a good idea. We'll figure out some good food we could bring that wouldn't mess too much with her blood sugar levels.  if You've got any ideas please share.  

I was sick for part of the week with a fever, dizziness, and migraine and so one of the days I was passed out on the floor of our apartment (during our lunch time) when I wake up to my zone leaders at the door.  Elder Andreason and Elder Sheppard.  I popped right up, wiped the drool off and said, 'hello.'  They laughed a little.  They heard I was sick and just wanted to check up on me.  We laughed for a little and I think that combined with my nap was exactly what we needed.  
The weight gain has stumped and I'm starting to lose again thank heavens.  It's an answer to my prayers.  
The people here I love. The place is great.  Hope to stay so I'll let you know next week if I'm in the same area with Hermana Alcaraz.  Time is flying.  I love you all.  Be so safe.
love,
xoxo
Hermana Waters




Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Week 9-Turlock







It has been 2 months since I entered the MTC and I feel like time flies. I love it here and am dreading March 23, 2017 already.  I appreciate all the love and support from home.  I hope you all know I love you and pray for you daily.

This week was another great one.  I went on Splits with the Sister Training Leader-Sister Carpenter and I was so nervous.  She is so intense but it was good because she never lacked the confidence to talk to someone. While we were contacting, we encountered (my first) a lady who told us we were completely wrong.  She said we were wasting our time and that we didn't know what we were talking about.  I was kind of bummed about the whole situation but now just isn't her time apparently. 

I used my bike for the first time to bike to Rocio's.  The lady who is getting baptized this saturday.  It's been a hard process.  She is having doubts and her friends aren't helping her. Her same friend that recommended the missionaries to her decided she wants to through a party the same day as her friend's baptism.  Of all the days she wants it the same day and time.  Rocio really wants to go to her party but we are teaching her the importance of priorities right now.  We are praying the baptism will happen this Saturday...

My companion Sister Alcaraz is a trooper, she learned to bike 2 weeks before we came here so we've been practicing using gears and stuff.  She's so awesome.
We had a person on the street literally run away from us on the street.  I can't believe it actually happened but esta bien :) The things we do for that one lost but prepared sheep waiting for missionaries.  

Funny story: my companion wasn't feeling well while at a member's house and they noticed.  Hermana Luna (the member whose house we were at) offered her an ibuprofen.  She took it and 15 minutes later I hear the word Oxicodone in the mix of spanish.  We ask her about it later because my Hermana started to act weird.  She said, 'oh yeah, I gave her Oxicodone'  I wanted to cry.  I get on the phone with our Nurse, Sister Gilbert and she freaked out at me.  I was in the pharmacy already buying prescriptions for my companion and I had the phone up to my ear, and my companion was so out of it.  I wanted to cry.  But long story short, Sister Gilbert told me to take her home and have her lay down for the rest of the night.  It was 6:30 and so we just went home, she fell out of her bed and hit the ground in her sleep- that was interesting.  I decided to make cookie bars for all the people that helped us that day while she slept.  It was a stressful day to say the least but she's alive!

We had a great experience in a part member home.  This family is dear to my family and we have been trying to invite them to church and become active.  The father was a Jehovah's witness then wanted to start his own church.  The mom is going through her fair share of trials.  We went over to read the Book of Mormon with their daughter Gizelle who is determined to activate her family.  Her father usually kicks us out of the house and doesn't welcome us at all- swearing he'll never read the book of mormon.  Well a miracle happened. He came, sat down with us, and read.  He said a prayer with us and has been so open.  Miracles are happening before my eyes.  We went back again and he even said the prayer for us.  Seriously feel so lucky to be with these people.

We have not been able to have a service activity opportunity yet.  We were on the phone with our district leader, Elder Graham just mentioning if he knew anywhere we could volunteer and he said no.  Not longer than 20 seconds after we hung up, Turlock 3 elders called us- Elder Brough and Elder Brower- and said they were putting a service project together for the following day.  There was a tornado in Denair-part of our area- earlier that week that destroyed multiple homes so he had gotten in contact with someone affected. We couldn't believe that we had just had an answer to our prayers.  We screamed for joy.  So the following morning at 8 am, 10 Elders and my companionship went out and cleaned up debri.  It was so special that they trusted us to care for their home they loved so much.  The husband was emotional and I felt so much love for this sweet older couple who gave us this priviledge.  What a great way to help out.

Well yesterday was crazy for me.  I gave a talk in Sacrament which was way cool but the night before I found out that me and Hermana Alcaraz would also be teaching the Gospel Doctrines class on the law of chastity but that's my favorite topic to teach so it was exciting.  We were just scrambling to prepare it.  Then in Relief society I played a song that only exists in spanish for the first time as they sang it and it went well.  But then get this... The sacrament piano player wasn't here so I played in the same sacrament meeting that I talked in.  It was good.  I butchered a couple of them but hey... I know that by stretching myself  I will become better. It has been awesome to be so involved in such a small branch.  I hope to live in a branch in the future.
Anyways.  God loves all his children and invites everyone back.  I know that this is Jesus Christ's church and through him, he is the only way.  God is ready to bless you.  To love you. and to strengthen you. 
Con gran amor,
xoxo

Hermana Waters







Wednesday, November 18, 2015



WEEK 8


Hola friends and family!

So Goodwill is my new favorite thing.  Mom- if you see me in any clothes you don't recognize, it's probably from there because cheap and not too shabby.  I actually was shocked at what I found.  I don't know if it was good stuff but yesterday in church, a branch presidency member came up to me and told me that I looked like a hippie.  My hair was natural, i was wearing my black Dansko dress shoes and some beige tights and the dress I wore to my farewell.  I was like ok cool... He said I should go to Hollywood and be a hippie actress.  not sure how I feel about that but all i said was thanks and nodded my head up and down.  
We got dropped for the first time here.  I hadn't met this guy yet so it didn't completely tear out my heart but it's still sad.  I made my companion a cookie cake, covered in cream cheese and we just had a sad session during companionship study.  He said he was appreciative of  all the hard work he's just been busy and unable to put the effort he wants.  He will be ready later, just now isn't his time.  
I got a watermelon and cut it up.  You can only imagine my excitement.
On Tuesday- we were knocking on doors and having no luck.  A drunk guy had opened one of the doors, several homes where no one answered, a guy who we couldn't understand at all (my companion is a native so that's saying something) he said something about a fiesta and Jesus, and then a fall out appointment and you wouldn't believe how God blessed me and Hermana Alcaraz.  We knocked on this one door and a beautiful man, with light brown eyes, tan skin and one shade darker hair-curled just enough to tell it's wavy, came out.  I was left in shock.  This was the house where I was supposed to do the talking according to my trainer but I was like hushed.  So my Hermana stepped in and saved me.  He said he would love to talk about it sometime so my Hermana made an appointment and I got his number.  I didn't recognize that I didn't say why (to send a reminder text because that's what works best) and she saved me then too explaining why.  I am a retard. Whatever though.  awkward hermana right here.  Pray for us.
We had dinner at the Gonzalez family's house. The husband is a Jehovah Witness and wife a member.  They have a 17 year old with a baby, a 12 year old girl Gizelle who lovessss the elders, and  a 7 year old girl who has sass.  I love it.  The mom had to leave for a little bit and of course the little 7 year old girl runs and grabs her paint kit.  She starts begging to paint my face.  Of course, I tell her if she promises me she will be baptized in a couple of months when she turns 8 that I will let her paint my face.  She promised so of course I got my face painted. Paint was in my hair, nose, ears, eyes, and mouth despite her promise to not get it anywhere else. Long story short it dyed my face purple and we had appointments afterwards.   At one of those appointments, our investigator had pet bunnies so of course I wanted to hold them.  Well I did and they both peed on me.  So I came home looking pretty beat up. but esta bien. 
Grandma sent Beano because she thought it would be funny so I thought it would be funny to give it to the elders.  The Elders doorbell ditched us, leaving their dress slacks for us to fix up because they are torn.  This morning, me and Hermana grabbed the Beano, put a bow on it and wrote a sweet note on a card 'Note from the Sister Missionaries' saying that we heard their 'toot'ing horns at a member's house when we were there for dinner and we wanted to return the favor.  We told them we think they could actually use this and that we knew it wouldn't go to waste with them.  We dropped it off and ran off laughing.  All the neighbors in our apartment complex were laughing and having a good time with us.  I feel right at home here.
Daisy, she is progressing so awesome! I am shocked.  She lives with her boyfriend and commited to live the law of chastity.  She is so ready and knows why it's so important to God.  There are some difficulties to work though but she has a bright future. 
It was miracle too because Daisy's boyfriend-Donald I thought hated us.  He would always just hang somewhere else and act like we weren't even there.  Well this week, we came for a lesson and the whole family was sitting together on the couch.  He turned off the tv and I thought he was going to get up to leave.  Nope, he stayed.  At first he was making fun of prophets and the bible so were were worried.  But within 10 minutes his heart was softened. He was helping Daisy understand.  We were shocked.  He loved it and we asked when we could come back again, he said you can come back tomorrow, and the next day and the next day, whenever you want.  It was awesome the insight he contributed.  We are hoping they both will prepare to be baptized.   We screamed when we got back in the car.
My companion doesn't have her boot anymore wooohooooooo.  so no more crutches we just have 1 week of driving only still until we can bike.  She has pink eye right now so I'm glad that she doesn't have the boot too.  
Food is good as always.  
We are looking for more investigators who are ready to progress.  We have done contacting and had a cool day Saturday.  We were stopping by a less active members house and were leaving a note on her door because she didn't answer when a guy on a bike pulled up and was friendly. He also believed that God, Jesus, and the Holy ghost are 3 seperate beings and he's catholic! I was so excited.  He took a book of Mormon and headed out right when a homeless woman biked up to us.  It was so sad.  We had a good talk about God and about the plan and she took a book of mormon. He uncle was a mormon and recently passed away, she said he would probably want her to have it.  We had a lemon honey water night because all the missionaries in Turlock were sick so all the Elders came standing outside our door coughing. We made some warm lemon honey water and gave it out too all.  We all were so sick.  
Rocio is getting baptized this Saturday and we are so excited for here! So that is where I will be next Saturday!
We were street contacting Saturday and it was hard.  It's hard to walk up to someone and just start talking about religion.  After many people had brushed us off and I was really discouraged, I said out loud, 'God please send someone to come up to us for once and talk with us.' Hermana Alcaraz laughed and literally 10 seconds after I said that, God sent us this man walking up to us.  He said, 'Hello! How are you guys?' We responded, 'so good.' and he asked us what we were doing.  So we were so set up to share it was crazy.  We explained a bit and withing 2 minutes we had all of his contact info because he wanted to know more.  You better believe I was praising God all night long.  Prayer is the realest thing.
In closing, me and my hermana had a really awesome companion study where we read 'Crying with the Saints' by Glenn L Pace from 1980's it was so awesome.  Look it up.  I know it can be hard to be a member and have sinners laughing at you but just because someone thinks what you're doing is weird or different, it's okay.  You have strength from the other side.  You are never alone.  

Love you all,
xoxo
Hermana Waters











November 11, 2015

Hi!  It is me from Modesto - Turlock!  Wow is this place AMAZING!  The members care so much about missionary work.  I go to a branch of about 100 members.  It's so small since only 30 usually show up on Sunday.  Relief Society consists of 8 other ladies next to me and Hermana Alcatraz.

You all would love to hear, there are so many stray cats here!  It's unbelievable!  Every night I try to have a moment where I can just sit outside my apartment and pet them.  (Of course, I then wash my hands).  They love the attention so I am willing to give it to those that are interested.  Today I had a sad experience while knocking on doors.  At one door, after explaining who we were, the guy said, "Oh I am catholic so we aren't the same you know?"  I responded "Who is God to you?"  He replied, "No one, nothing."  It was a shock to me and my companion that we were not prepared for.  It was sad and as we headed back to the sidewalk to the next house I couldn't help but think of how much knowing who God is has blessed my life.  I didn't think I would be this passionate about our beliefs.  That God is our literal father, who loves us as a father would and does.  I want you to know God is everything to me.  You guys add to my testimony of that because I know our family was created by God, a perfected being.  He doesn't get these things wrong.  I promise.

Love Always,
Hermana Aguas

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

WEEK 7



Hola from Turlock.   It's so real.  I love it here.  The latino people take such good care of us.  Lets just say I'll never go without food.  Beans, eggs, rice, arroz con leche, y bolillo is life. 

Dad surprised me at the airport. Turned out he bought a plane ticket on the same plane so it was nice to see him and talk.  I also saw the the Zabriskies.  That was cool since he was the man who gave me my patriarchal blessing.  

So when I came they have been having a drought.  Well today and the last couple of days it's been pouringgggg.  It's so good.  The people love it and I do too.  My new companion is Hermana Denisse Alcaraz.  She has only been here 6 weeks and she is awesome! She is from the Bay area of California and speaks both spanish and english.  She is a great help and she always knows what to say when I need help.  We get along great.  She is beautiful too.  She popped out her Cuboid bone in her foot 4 weeks ago so she has a huge boot on for a brace.  We have driven everywhere so it's different than I thought.  We go to the Doctor's this Wednesday to check in.  Hopefully then it'll all be well.  It's been pouring a lot of rain so no complaints about having to use the car.  We get it anyways but we have a limited amount of miles.  So it's so helpful.

The first night I slept at the Mission Home, where Presidente Palmer lives. it is beautiful! It has a pool that we just look at and imagine ourselves in it. So it's hard but we can at least dream.  
Our theme is "We are One with the Son Doing the Will of the Father." It is beautiful. 

First day they threw us out in the streets of Modesto to talk with people.  It was really difficult.  I am not sure how I feel about street contacting yet.  Knocking on doors is great.  

My first lesson taught here was with a real investigator who this was her first lesson! So both of us were in for a treat.  Her name is Daisy and she has 2 kids, 11 yr old girl, and 9 yr old son.  She lives with her boyfriend (not the father of the kids) and is 3 months pregnant.  She doesn't have a job so it's really sad.  She is so prepared and we've returned multiple times.  She told us she killed someone one of the lessons and we didn't ask too much about it so we are afraid to find out the details because then it has to go through the Mission president if she's ready to get baptized.  Hope that talk goes good.

I got asked to give a talk on following the prophet in my branch and I'm so excited.  The 22 of Novemenber! My branch is awesome. Presidente Hernandez does all he can to help out and goes way past the extra mile.  He is thinks of the smartest things to do.
We are so well fed. Like I eat nearly 3 dinners every night.  Members here are so passionate about God's work.  I love it.  

We have a baptism for the November 28.  Her name is Rocio Vasquez and she is so prepared and has a family who we have begun teaching. We went to a baptism in Modesto to show her what a baptism was like.  She was unsure but afterwards she knew that's what she wanted.  We celebrated by going to Ihop with her and a couple of elders.  it was a joy.  The day she was promised for baptism the first lesson happens to also be the day that her husband doesn't have work for the first time all month.  She couldn't believe it.  the 28th is literally a blessing from God. Her son is so cute, Jorge, He told her if she was going to get baptized, so was he.  He's 9 by the way. 

We have been working a lot with the less active members.  Hermana Ruth Paniagua is literally my second mom here.  She cooks so well and is always inviting us over.  She has such a passion for the gospel and for taking care of us.  She recognizes that we don't have a mom here so she's taken on that role.  We had really nummy street tacos she made.  best food i've ever had.  I ate 7.  yes.  I'm going to be rolling back to utah.  She has a son who is 19 named Angel and when he introduced himself it was way awkward because he just shook my hand and said 'Angel' and I was like what... I thought he called me angel.  but apparently not because then he said, 'oh my name is Angel,  sorry....'  Okay cool.   lo siento.  

Our Elders- Elder Emmett Guzman and Elder Steven Smith as well as Elder Jory Brower and Elder Jordan Brough- take such good care of us.  They are always coming over  to help with groceries, whatever we need.  We make them Abuelita hot coco in exchange for their pancakes some mornings.  They live nearby and that is a huge blessing.  Sometimes they steal our car but for the most part they bike in all the rain and cold, no complaints.  They are trying to teach me spanish so estoy muy agradecida por lo.

Alexa (18) is a girl who is an active member but her brother, Fransisco (20) is baptized but not active and her mom Ana is not a member.  I love her.  She tries so hard to bring her family all together and hold a lesson but it's been a struggle.  

We had a Relief society activity- nearly 4 women were there and we knitted together and ate cake.  It was good but as all the women were hard at work knitting away, all these scarves for the homeless, I was stumped.  They would try to explain to me how to do it but I didn't understand them because it was all spanish.  spoken quickly.  So my scarf was 2 inches long but heyyyy I think they got the memo I needed one of them to finish it for me....  

We really are all working together to gather God's family once more. 

I am going to live here when I come home.  Love this place and people.  Missionaries have a good reputation and are respected here.  So it's been really great. I feel so lucky to be here.  Time is flying.  Love you all. Hope it's well. 

Love,
xoxo

Hermana Waters
 
4300 Dale Road









Modesto, CA 95356

Sunday, November 1, 2015

WEEK 6



Okay apparently it's Halloween, like what?

This week was really exciting and tender and sad all at the same time.  Lots of lasts. Tonight is the last night of our time with our teacher Hermano Christian Clark and we already had our last lesson with Hermana Hope Thomas.  They have definitely aided me along this challenging yet great journey.
  
Neil L. Anderson gave a devotional here just on Tuesday and the spirit was so strong from the moment he walked in the door.  I go to the MTC choir and we sang More Holiness Give Me before that devotional and know that Heavenly Father loves us so much.  At one point that night he said, 'The Savior never receives a sacrifice in which he does not return a thousand times.  He just doesn't.  Give it to him.  The Lord never has us in his debt." and that a sacrifice is something that is what you normally wouldn't give up but for the Lord you will.  Make sure you're sacrifice is acceptable for the Lord.  Are we really giving this life all we can, making the most out of our time?  I know I haven't been doing all so it really got me thinking.  I decided to create a list called 'Hermana Abigail Waters' Alter of Sacrifice'.  On it, I've chosen things that I have not quite let go of yet and need to, in order to move on and grow from this experience.  I know I haven't left all that I could've at home so this list has been a constant reminder for me.  It aids me in every decision because if it's on that list-ex. my ungrateful heart-it's done and I've given it up.  I love it.  It has become the greatest strength.  Recognize what you are giving up and what you need to so you can become closer to Heavenly Father.

I got released as Sister Training Leader this week which was sad but it probably was a good thing because troubles arose and no longer was it on our shoulders.  So it was nice having somebody else make sure all the companionships are doing well.

I had my last gym time and nearly sobbed because that means that no more four square as a zone.  I had gotten good too.  Who would've thought four square was my thing but I love it.
I have ran into many missionaries heading to Modesto (but english speaking) so it's exciting to think we will all be headed out together to hit the ground running in Modesto.

Last lesson with Benjamin and it was incredible.  I feel like my teaching skills have skyrocketed here and feel so grateful to have been. here.

I saw Elder Taylor Kofford the other day as he came into the lunch room so I jumped out of my seat and ran over.   Mis companeras knew that I had been looking for him so we were all excited.  He looked so happy to be a missionary.  It definitely was nice to see a good friend here too.
We had a member skype appointment with a man named Eduardo Rico who lives in San Jose California.  He is 25 and him and his brothers are the only members in his family.  It was cool to talk with him.  He shared a lot about his family and the struggles.  I shared the DC 100:1,2 scripture about families being in the hands of God.  He was so awesome he said, 'Can I share a scripture with you?'  We were excited.  He said DC 31:5-6 He asked a question and I didn't quite catch it so once we were all looking at those verses, I asked who he wanted to read.  he said, 'you' and pointed at me through the camera.  I was like ok! So he had asked me and I didn't recognize it but it's definitely a spiritual lesson I hope to never forget.

In a lesson, we got asked a challenging question about why nearly everyone will be in one of the 3 kingdoms since her son was in Pakistan and fighting in war getting hurt by them.  It's a hard question to answer in english let alone spanish.  I left that feeling frustrated and not satisfied with the answer I could give back.  

Infield Orientation was yesterday. 8am-5:30pm of straight lessons which was crazy but so beneficial.  They taught us how to use the ward in missionary work.  Members are essential.  It seems when the members get involved, work is just pedal to the metal.  I learned about how I should be a missionary worthy of referrals.  That if I want members to suggest friends and family to receive a visit from the missionaries, I need to act like the type of missionary that members know I wake up at 6:30, that know I follow every rule with exact obedience, and one that they know is here to serve. I want to work my tail off and be really close with the ward.  It's important to me. I hope it's important to my companion.  I cannot wait to meet the spanish people of Modesto, and my mission president, and his wife, and life is good.

God loves you.  He's real.  I invite you to create your own Alter of Sacrifice and think about what God wants you to give up and what you already are giving up for him.  You'll love it. I promise that you will enable Jesus Christ to be a bigger part of your life and you will see improvement.  

xoxo
Love you all,
Until Modesto,

Hermana Abigail Waters
D&C 31:5-6




Sunday, October 25, 2015

WEEK 5



So yesterday was a month and at the same time that this feels like it  I have lived here my whole life.  This past week I was really sick: fever, congestion, head pressure, fainting, and coughs but it's all ok.  I just got my voice back today thank heavens.  I sounded like a dying frog. I dreaded when the spirit prompted me to speak in lessons with investigators because I sounded horrible; like a teenage boy.  pero, está bien.  I was stranded to my residence with another Hermana on Sunday and we spent most the time buying food from the vending machines and talking..with naps in between.  One of the hermanas is a witch doctor, and has all the doterra oils.  She helps me know where to put them all.  All of the Hermanas are volunteering to give up their meds for me to use because they all didn't want to get sick.  So I tried about any drug I could get my hands on, legal ones of course.  I went to the doctors office here and that was nice because I was able to leave the MTC campus.  I had to get some prescription drugs from the BYU Health Center, so me and my hermanas were on the loose.  I felt like I was so rebellious.  It was so weird... We didn't know what to do with ourselves.  People looked at us and stuff.  You just don´t get that same look when you are here surrounded by many other missionaries.  I was on 4 different meds to cure the symptoms and they work great, so no complaints.

This week we got our flight itinerary. I leave Nov.2!  There are 20 in my travel group leaving from SLC airport at 9:50 am and arriving in Oakland at 10:44 on Delta.  It's awesome to think that me and 19 other missionaries will be traveling together with Jesus on our name tags.  Elder Felis and Hermana Parkinson are flying with me so I will know people.  But guess what time they are having us meet at the travel center?? 4:35 AM.  Wow!  So maybe there will be some early calls.
Me and my hermanas taught our teacher (hermano Clark) who is acting like an investigator the other day the Chastity lesson.  It was our first time but heyyyy it went good.  Hermana Seamons looked up all the awkward words and in the lesson forgot one of them.  She said the word like 10 times and then gave up.  Then after a little bit she remembered it, because me and hermana Parkinson didn't, and she yelled it out.  Kind of awkward but way more funny.  Trying to help him recognize the importance of marriage... it's a work in progress but we always have a good time.
We went to the Provo temple this morning as a district.  It was so great.  We did a 7 am session, then all had breakfast at the temple afterwards.  Best food.  It was so sweet, this precious older Polynesian couple in front of us saw that we were missionaries and bought us all breakfast.  Once we set down our trays, we went over, shook their hands, and thanked them. We were shocked but it was neat to receive service.  

Me and the Hermanas had our first skype appointment with a member from Costa Rica.  She is 17 years old, a member, and her name was Nady. Her computer was having problems so we called her but it was great to be able to teach someone who only speaks Spanish as well as lives in a completely different part of the world.  It was a hard lesson because over the phone it's hard to read what they are thinking or feeling.  But I am looking forward to our skype appointment next week.

My zone got a new district this week- 6 hermanas and 6 elders! They are great and I know they'll enjoy their time here.

We had our last lesson with Ivette and we were not really looking forward to it because she hadn't been keeping her commitments and we felt like she wasn't really trying.  Before the lesson we were like, 'hallejuah, this is our last lesson,' so I was like, 'I want to say the companion prayer' before we go in.  I asked that God help us have Christlike love for her, despite our problems 'con usted' I meant to say 'con ella' I just told God we have problems with him....  So in the middle of the prayer i'm saying, 'lo siento' aka 'i'm sorry'  'you know what i meant' and I said please help the spirit be there. There was no way that this lesson was going to go good, but it did.  It was our best time with her.  We all felt the spirit there so I know God is a loving and forgiving Heavenly Father.  At the end of that lesson, she gave us all a hug and as she came in to hug me, I said sorry I'm sick and went for a elbow bump, when she said, "O es no importante" like it doesn't matter and hugged me anyways.  We need to be that person for other people.  When someone is spiritually sick, be the one to say it's not important and love them anyway.  It heals that spiritual sickness.  I feel grateful that she still wanted to hug me.  It meant a lot and I know it means a lot to those who are sick and are without feeling loved by God.

I had a cool experience with the new district. We were having the New Orientation to the MTC with them as Sister Training Leaders and with the Zone Leaders.  Near the end of the run down, I all of the sudden felt like I needed to talk about blessings.  It was not part of the discussion nor had I ever felt like how blessings work here needed to be shared.  But this time I did.  I looked at my companions and ZLs and said, 'can I talk about blessings?' They look back at me like I was crazy and said, 'it doesn't say we need to...' Then I just start talking.  About how it's available. How it needs to go through the branch president for an Hermana to receive one.  About how if they feel like they need it, it can be done.  I didn't know why.  At the end of the night,, a sweet hermana came up to me and said with tears in her eyes, 'I want a blessing but didn't know how to ask or if I could. My grandpa died this morning.'  I could instantly embraced this small Hermana in my arms and said, "okay we'll make it happen."  I am so grateful the spirit was there to tell me 'hey, you need to talk about this' I don't know what I'd do without it.

I related the gospel to sports this week and I never thought that would happen because you all know I'm not super athletic.  But we were talking about how God enables the devil to tempt us.  God saw our practice time in Heaven, he wants us to be able to play when he needs us.  He's not going to sign us up for something we can't do.  He says 'bring it on, they've got this' to the devil.  'bring on your best team satan because I've but together my best team.' Like a loving father wants his son to have hard competition, God does to.  They sign us up for it because they know we can take it and have room to grow.  God watches the game, calling the plays and putting in players in knowing that they are matched for it if not, greater prepped for the game against Satan's follwers.  God plays ball too.  Competitively. So we should too.

I had a really cool experience with the BoM.  So I had gotten stuck on 2 Nephi 11:1-2 and had been stumped for a couple days because it addresses the fact that polygamy was accepted by the women because they didn't want the shame that came from having their own last name.  Well after much supplication during gym time (when i was sick) as I was pondering, it hit me.  It is that these people wanted to be so obedient to God's law.  God asked that they have children.  I believe that polygamy was started because our ancestors wanted exact obedience to all things God asked, whatsoever they be.  Who said it was easy? Most things asked of us are hard.  We should be shameful about not keeping God's commandments even when they are hard to keep.  They feared the consequences of disobedience. In verse 2 it says 'the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious' that day.  We are here today and strive for exact obedience too.

In a devotional by Jeffrey Holland, he said why is salvation so hard? The reason it is hard is because Salvation is not a cheap experience.  Why do we expect it to be easy when it never was easy for him.  The road to salvation goes through Gethsemane, it comes with a cross, and steps up to Mount Calgary.  We are going to need to experience some of the same things Jesus Christ went through.   Gethsemane wasn't easy, bleeding from every pore wasn't easy, or the cry to the father wasn't easy.  If we do life how we are supposed to do it, it will not be easy.  

"then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  for whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
-Matt 16:24-25

My new favorite is the first line of Malachi 3:3

"and he shall sit as a refiner"  Why does Christ sit as a refiner? Refiners sit by their work because it's risky to leave it alone.  If their work is in the first oven for just a couple seconds too long, all the refiners hard work would be lost.  How does he know when to take it out? When he can see his reflection looking back at him in his creation.  It's comforting knowing that Jesus is sitting right next to us while we are in the fire, just waiting for the day when He can see His reflection in us.  He will wait, keeping His eye on us, watching us become like Him. I love that.

until next week friends and family
love you all,
xoxo
Hermana Waters