Wednesday, December 14, 2011

'Tis the Season

So, it is crazy cold when we are out and about and have to potty, we go in a gas statoin and buy a hot chocolate or something. Well, the other day Hermana Grass opens the restroom door at this Chevron and there is a homeless man havin a good old time! I turn around from the hot cocoa machine because I hear her say, "Oh, so sorry!" and the door slam. HAHAHAHA! I was dying! She kept trying to hide behind some chips for when he came out and it was just too much. I laughed and laughed for the next day or so. :) Who does not lock the gas station potty door! I mean come one man?!

So, our mission goal is 711 baptisms in 2011/this transfer that goes a bit into January...well, we are scraping the barrell and we don't mind getting our hands dirty because we know the Lord will provide...with the Christmas season here I  have been thinking a lot about when the Angel Gabriel came to Mary and her confident response was, "For with God, nothing is impossible." The mother of the son of God said that...WOW! I have no room to be a, we are making good progress...daily new investigators and we have been teaching 2 families! You heard me, families! They are listening, they are loving and we can see how faithful they already are without the gospel, so we can just imagine the assets they would be to the branch! (La familia de J. y A. and Galino y Sofia) We have a branch Christmas dinner and program this Friday that the branch is known for, so we have invited everybody and are going to do a church tour afterwards, so we hope everyone comes...because J and A pooped out on us at the last second before sacrament yesterday...we were fasting and crossing our fingers and we still have faith that the Lord knows best and if it is His will to get them to church, He will. :) There are many other stories I could tell ya, but time is as of right now, just know that I am praying the hardest for these families to feel the spirit's pushes and then for Esme who I can't remember if I told you about her, but she is an 18yr old who just had a baby and is the girlfriend of a less active. The baby is not his, but he takes great care of her and she hardcore believes in everything about the church, but put off baptism to  have the baby 2 weeks ago. So, we are trying to get a solid date out of her this week, because it is critical that she doesn't lose this opportunity...she came to church yesterday and the branch loves her. :) As we were fasting and praying with our whole hearts for these investigators to come to church yesterday and brainstorming how to make them feel welcome and have a positive experience and feel the spirit, we asked certain members before church to make sure and fellowship them and be proactive...but we cannot force. It made me miss you guys for the mere fact that each and every one of you would never have to be asked. I said to Hermana Grass, "Gosh, I just wish my family was here because each of them would be perfect for each investigator and their kids. I can think of how proactive and how each of my family member's personalities would match up perfect with each investigator...I need them on my mission, I need them in this branch!" The branch is great, I just have a really great family is all. :) She totally agreed with me and said that she has had the same feelings about her family too.

I am memorizing Joseph Smith's first prayer from the JSH in spanish right now, because so far it is my favorite thing to teach. Telling his beautiful experience to investigators has been my most beautiful experience on the mission to date. When they say, "Everyone says they have the truth and I am so confused." I get to say, "Well, there is someone who was just as confused in 1820...and because he had the desire to know, he read his scriptures and prayed with real intent and for that effort, he received many answers and all of them were true because they were from God." I also have loved having investigators read the book of Enos. It is clear, concise, powerful and very personal because while Joseph Smith was a prophet called to restore a church and for that he literally saw God and Jesus Christ, when we pray for answers it usually comes like Enos's experience..."words or a voice into our mind." Reading this book does not make the investigators feel overwhelmed because it is so short and it gives them a great example of how and what they should do and how and what will happen if they are sincere. Ok, enough rambling...gotta go, ADIOS! :)

Love you all

Monday, December 5, 2011

Vancouver and such...

Weekly Highlights
·   My new companion/Trainer:
Hermana Grass from New Mexico. She is a great...a ginormous relief. She likes to work and clean and me likey that mucho. Our dynamic with teaching is going well and she has only been out 6 months on the mission. I'm sure I will have more stories of ours in the future, but so far we have no complaints about each other. :) We are in the only sisters in our area and the only other spanish speaking companionship so we cover a wide range.

·   We live with Sister Wise:

An english member from Vancouver who is probably in her 60's and her husband passed 6 years ago. She is very easy going and loves her dog, Molly and she has severe pain from Fibromyalgia (spelling?) and really misses her husband. She teaches a small preschool out of her home to 5 kids since she was a school teacher all of her career and had 6 kids. Since living alone and being physically challenged it seems that she has kind of left her home I am glad to know how to clean, I just wish I had more time to do so. Ok, one funny thing and one spiritual thing about her and her home this week. So, above the her living room T.V. is a painting of her husband...but it is a painting of a picture of him and he's got these awesome 80's glasses on...but the thing is that it totally reminds of Magnus' painting that chases Trunchbull on "Matilda!" A bit creepy...but he's the center of the room and I have to just look everywhere else, otherwise I will laugh or scream. Haha! Ok, spiritual thing with we had a couple of our evening teach appointments fall through on Saturday and we are not supposed to go home early. So, we kept trying to visit other people etc. and nothing was working and this week has had a lot of changes in the mission that have prevented us from really planning or studying or organizing anything to be better prepared to teach. So finally, Hermana Grass said that we'd go home and do that so that we wouldn't be giving up early, but still doing what we needed to do at home. Well, we walk in the door and Sister Wise is trying to put lights on a small Christmas tree and just looked totally depressed and sad. So, we immediately start helping and she gets all cheery and says, "Thank you. I have not felt like putting any Christmas decorations up since my husband passed and having you here is the first year." She told us stories about each ornament and admired the tree the rest of the night. Although we didn't find more people to teach that night, we think the spirit forced us home to be there with her.

 MTC Stuff I wanted to tell ya:

  First, here's a picture of Hermana Wright & I in our silky robes.
  Okays, so finally in the MTC I begged and forced everyone to watch Elder Holland's "The Miracle of a Mission" and finally we did on our last night in class and everyone was enthralled and afterwards it was the most spiritual meeting our District ever had together as everyone shared some pretty personal and cool stuff about serving. Afterwards everyone thanked me and I just told them to thank my brother who actually talks, acts and thinks just like Elder Holland. 

Current Missionary Work
·   Maiah - 28 year old gorgeous girl who started dating a recent (2yr.) Latin convert and noticed that his family had a happiness and wanted to know more so she came to church twice and then the Hermanas before me taught her a week and 1/2 and then she got baptized last weekend. So all of that happened in less than 3 weeks...basically while I was at the MTC. Anyway, we are continuing to teach her and Hermana Grass kept telling me about her and she was a "golden investigator", then I met her and I call her a "gleaming gold" because she is the happiest, most loving person I have met because of the gospel in her life. She and I really click and she actually only speaks english. We are continuing to teach her, but she is really meshing with the branch.

·   Francesca - Early 30's, from Mexico and has 2 young boys. She is very confused why everyone claims to have the truth and she was very interested in the concept of Modern day prophets. I told her that she reminds me of a man called Joseph Smith who was also confused...BINGO! However, she is very angry with God and has not prayed to him in 2 years because she feels that he has not blessed her for leaving her family behind in Mexico. This has been my most spiritual lesson because I was able to answer many of her questions through listening to her and the spirit very intently and answering clearly and concisely. In the middle of her explaining her past, she suddenly stopped and said to me...your gaze is so intense and so really believe in what you are doing here! That touched her and she is letting us come back. I found out later from Hermana Grass that she has been approached before but nobody could get through to her and having me there, Hermana Grass was amazed that Francesca shared so much and wanted to hear more. We've had a couple more of the same kinds of situations where Hermana Grass can't believe that after chatting with me that they are letting us come back! I am not magic...but of course I instantly feel the love that God feels for His children when I meet them and apparently they can feel that through me, so at least I am doing that right...I'm still getting used to the is weird...but it is good. Haha!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

MTC: I'm Outta Here

So, I jet out of this joint on Tuesday, November 29. I'm flying on Delta and have a quick flight to Washington, with no stops. I'll be there by the early afternoon.

Now time to fill you in on more MTC life...

So each Sunday after Sacrament, our Branch President randomly announced missionaries to give talks on the theme. That means that during the week we all individually prepare a 5 minute talk in Spanish on the week's theme. Last week's was "The Gift of the Holy Ghost by the Laying on of Hands" and guess who he called up....ME. :) I knew it before he even announced it. Hahaha. It went well...a little less casual than I would've liked since I wanted the doctrine to be clear in spanish...anyway, it is good to have the talks prepared each week even if you don't speak because then you have them for your mission because randomly having to speak will not become so random anymore for a missionary.


Elder Christofferson of the 12 apostles spoke to  us on Tuesday...I was stoked! And I sang "Come Thou Fount" (Alex's favorito) with the choir. He started his talk out by telling us that one time he was visiting a Spanish Ward and the pulpit had a sign by the mic that read, "Please speak slowly, you are being translated." HAHAHAHA! Love the gospel jokes...but really that's a good one. :) He discussed D&C 112 and thanked us over and over again for serving...that we are companions with the 12 and the Quorums of 70, "We are honored to be your companions. We go shoulder to shoulder in this apostolic work." He also talked about serving his mission in Argentina and how Elder Richard G. Scott was his mission president, so that was cool. Also he talked about yielding our hearts to God (Heleman 3:25, 35) and said "Everything that ocurrs to you in your mission will be swallowed up in the Joy of Christ." referring to Alma 31:38. He then felt impressed to bless us and that was really special telling us that God is who gives us the increase and carries the burden, "Do what He asks; it is not that much." "Bind yourself to Him and it all comes out well."

Then if that was not enough, Elder Nelson and his wife Wendy surprised us Thanksgiving morning...I can barely describe to you how it feels to have one of the Lord's special witnesses walk in and to stand in silence...we were all so full of way to celebrate. Of course Elder Nelson's address was amazing as he shared the miracles that happened when he was a Junior apostle called to open up missions in Communist countries and specifically in Russia. It would take too long and be too complicated to just trust me. However for me, Sister Nelson was the real heart surgeon yesterday...full on open heart surgery on Hermana Alard. I was enthralled with her and her words. She gave 4 situations of where men were asked to do something the Lord's way and not after the manner of men.
1. "Nephi's Impecable Obedience" - He had no clue how to do what the Lord asked...EVER. (Laban, The Ship, His brothers etc.) 1 Nephi 17:8
2. Joseph Smith building temples - The Architect disagreed with circular windows and said that that made no sense, but Joseph knew what the Lord had shown him.
3. Dr. Russel M. Nelson (Elder Nelson) - He honored the scriptures more than his medical textbooks and pioneered "open heart surgery" against conflicting medical views/beliefs because passages in scripture inspired him to think on how this could be done and the Lord showed him how. Also, when he was called to be an apostle, he immediately "Laid down his nets" (Matthew 4) because he did not want to live his life after the manner of men and he closed his practice after he was a world renowned surgeon accomplishing incredible medical feats.
4. Parley P. Pratt - had a dream of a man asking him to join a greater work, the Lord's work and to CEASE working on his crops and fence...but he ignored the dream and planted his crop. Later he wrote, "I never reaped." meaning literally from his crops and spiritually from the Lord's work because he followed after the manner of men.

She then had us all promise to our Heavenly Father outloud, "I will serve my mission for the Lord after the manner He will show me and not after the manner of men." This was super powerful. That's all I have time to tell you but, this topic was amazing because this is something that I have really been studying and working on because all the things that used to work for me being effiicient at church, work etc. do not seem to be working for me here and so my "best"/Raven's way has been must be done in the Lord's way.

Ok, I'm over my time...Love you all and please pray for me! LOVE YOU and hope to talk soon!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

MTC Week 1

Nov 17th, 2011

As of Monday I have been moved to Advanced Spanish and will be leaving the MTC in 2.5 weeks. I am in the same Zone, but a 
different District which means new companions, new room and new Mailbox #.
·   Zone 47, District D
·   Companions with Hermanas Franck (Fresno, CA Mission) and Harding (Phoenix, AZ) spanish speaking
·   Mailbox #284 (My address stays the same, just the Box# changes.)
·   Residence 17M, Richards Building
·   Class 7M, Kimball Building
·   Pday on Thursdays

The cafeteria served Graham Canyon Ice cream for lunch and Marionberry for dinner...that is the extent of my excitement these days...oh, and the temple was great of course!

I'll have to tell you about the craziness of the Spanish class they placed me in when I get back...but I feel so grateful because I love my first District so so so much! A huge blessing in my life...and then this whirwind happened and I have fun with the Advanced District (Elders all 1/2 or full Latin and Sisters both white). The class is at my level and although I get frustrated with myself teaching, the new companionship is trying my patience the most. But it is all good...I am adaptable and the Lord knows what is best and the sooner I can serve the better. I do miss my other District a ton though.

The MTC is not my fav...but it is not terrible. :) I mostly just don't like so much sitting, standing and eating (processed/heavy foods)...I use gym time to the MAX! I love Predicad Mi is the BOMB and I would die without it. I also really love the CHOIR! Singing has been a major stress release and the Director is super duper funny! We sang "Be Still My Soul" for the devotional Tuesday and me and Alex's old Raintree Stake President conducted the choir that night. He is incredible..booming voice/testimony and I sat on the front row and he asked me to was cool. And I am trying to get out of the habit of saying "Guys, Dudes, Gals, Ladies" etc. and use Elderes y Hermanas. I call my new district Elderitos/Doritos...they love it and they love me. :) Most of all I am in love with the Sabbath...the sacrament and Music and the Spoken word rock my soul. ;)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Just going on a mission...that's all.

I have been called to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the Washington Kennewick Mission, Spanish Speaking and I report to the MTC (Missionary Training Center) on November 9, 2011! My mission scripture is Doctrine & Covenants 6:36-37.

My best friend Carmen will be posting my mission information and my letters on my blog if you feel so inclined to know what I am up to. Otherwise, I'll see you in 18 months...but I would love to hear from you too! It doesn't have to be long, just a quick update on a postcard or a note will do.

MTC (I am scheduled to be there 9 weeks/end of December 2011)


Sister Raven Alard

MTC Mailbox # 340

WA-KENN 0110

2005 N 900 E

Provo, UT 84604-1793

MISSION HOME/OFFICE (Since I will be a vagabond, you can always rest assured that whatever you send to this address will eventually get to me.)

WRITE ME ONLINE (Regular Postage Costs Apply)

Sister Raven Alard

Washington Kennewick Mission

8656 W. Gage Blvd Ste 205

Kennewick, WA 99336

United States