Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Week 5

Well if it isn't "Missionary Monday" yet again! How is everyone doing? I have got to say that this week was one to share about. Too bad I never write in my journal and am going to have a hard time remembering the things which happened. So bear with me as I talk about everything and nothing all at once.

This week I went on 3 different exchanges (when you go with other missionaries), and well in one of them it was really overwhelming because I didn't know the area or the investigators and Hermana Carlson wanted to give this sister (Sister Halestone, from Cedar City, only person we know in common is Sister Fife) a chance to take over the area. Good thing this was an English speaking area, because I needed that little boost of confidence when I basically took over her area. I also went to Hermana Lister and Hermana Wilsbach's area with our sister training leader, Hermana Wilsbach. (I have a story about her that I will share later), and I became really discouraged because in these 2 days that I was in other areas our area had a lot of growth and success. So I did what I seem to do every 6 weeks and had a pity party and blamed our lack of success on me and my inability to teach and speak the language. So I was just sobbing, yada yada, and so I went to get in the shower.  I came back and Hermana Carlson had written me all these nice notes on post-its that covered my bed, and they all said the nicest things about me and why she loves to have me as a companion. This was SO SO SO helpful. She also told me that I'm learning a lot faster than other sisters she's trained and that Satan knows that, so he's trying to bring me down because he knows how many people I will affect if I continue on the right path. So that was conforting. Really it was. 

But then the next day, we had another exchange and Hermana Elmer came here with me. She was great. I loved having her here.  She just had a really fun personality, and I really liked her.  Also she let me take the lead in the lessons (she's the only other spanish speaker in Hermana Carlson's group of sisters so she thought it would be best to do their exchange first), and so I took the lead, and she just helped where needed. She also told me (which I've never heard before, apparently I'm the only one) that one of the prophets made a promise that when you finish the Book of Mormon in your language you will be fluent in the language. Guess who's made it a goal to finish the Book of Mormon in Spanish by January 1? This girl. Yep, it's crazy, 4 chapters a day and I actually have to read a few of them in my "spare time," so during all my meals basically, but I want to learn the language, and I want to be fluent in the language that I am preaching in, so I'll do it. I'm also telling you all so you can reward me when I do it or send me rotten tomatoes in the mail when I don't. But where progress is recorded, progress is made, so some encouragement would be sweet. :) I would also encourage you guys to try and finish it by the end of the year too. From the beginning or from wherever you are, I know that you will feel the presence of the Lord in your life when you do so. Also, if I can do it in spanish, you can do it in your native tongue, in your spare time, on your smart phones, yada yada. But seriously. I want to challenge you. I can testify that the Book of Mormon changes lives. It has helped me so much in mine and I know if you read it with the intent to learn, you will, and you will feel our Heavenly Father's love for you so much more. 

Before I forget I'll tell you the Hermana Wilzbach story. As sister training leader for our area, she's supposed to check up on the sisters and find ways to help them in whatever way possible. Well, she had been praying about how to help me with my problems and recieved an answer in a dream. She had a dream that I was this really successful missionary and that I had all these people surrounded around me in white, and I was teaching a lot of people, baptized a lot of people and had just changed the lives of many, and so that was so encouraging to hear. 

I have experienced miracles though.  Many. Ramon and his family have been in the process of moving. They don't have a phone or a car, and so we lost touch with them when they forgot that they had an appointment with us. So we were just riding our bikes around the area where they said they were moving for maybe 45 minutes or so, and no such luck but we just had faith we would find them. Yesterday after being held up by random things on our way home from church we got cut off and looked out the window to see Ramon and his wife on the sidewalk. It was a miracle because there was no way that was coincidence.  We should have been on that street 10 minutes earlier, and all these little things that added up. I know it was God blessing us for our faith and our diligence the day before. 

Another miracle came when we were trying a referral who we've had for probably more time than I've been here. No one has been able to come in contact with him, but last night we finally met him! He wasn't really interested in our message, but after we bore testimony and asked him if we could pray with him. He said yes and then we prayed, and he asked if we could pray again for his friend, and then he asked where our church was. Success! I know that this church is true, and I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us. I know that we go through hard times, but with faith anything is possible. I want to challenge you to read the scriptures daily, but also I want you to pray as famililies (or as roomates or whatever) to find someone that you can invite to learn from the missionaries. I know that we are all children of God and He wants us all to return to him. I love you all very much and hope all is well. Happy Birthday to Jessica! Keep the faith!

Love always
Hermana Groves
P.S.  Shoutout to Suzie for the package. I loved it and used that fake cockroach on Hermana Carlson :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Week 4: Breaking up is hard to do...

Hey my loving people! This week, like all the others was quite a week. Where to begin? Well, I'll start with just my studies today so bear with me. Our president has asked us to read in the Bible starting with Matt, Mark, Luke to learn more about Christ, and I'm in Matthew right now. Read Matt. 14 and just think about Christ's love for John the Baptist.  Then think of His love for us.  Also think of how even though Christ was in pain, he went out and served.

So, this week my beloved Hermana Watkins was taken away from me. What the heck?  I was crying like a baby for like 3 days.  Haha.  What happened was, one of the sisters in our district was a Temple Square sister, and they stay for a transfer and a half, and are replaced by other Temple Square sisters, but they didn't replace her with a Spanish speaker.  SO we got a call on Wednesday at 3, telling us that Hermana Watkins had to be all packed up and at the mission office by 5. We were in shock. Especially since she's my "mom" here (they call your trainer your mom and you're supposed to stay with them for your first 12 weeks…) (Hermana Carlson is my great grandma because she trained Hermana Watkins' "mom."  It's very complicated,  haha.) But no. She's with Hermana Shill now. Luckily we're still in the same district and ward, so we see her maybe 2 or 3 times a week.

Hermana Carlson is a sister training leader for another zone,  so she goes on exchanges twice a week. There is a major problem with this that gives me major anxiety. Hermana Carlson's sisters are all English speakers. I have  to take over the area twice a week with sisters who don't speak Spanish.  Don't cry for me; I already cried for myself. Haha. But on Saturday I was lucky enough to make special arrangements for a native Spanish speaker to come with me because the Victoria sisters (who Hermana Carlson went with) wanted to stay together that night because they had an important appointment. So also I drove to El Campo(halfway to Victoria). Driving back with no gps. I drove on the Houston freeway. Freeway. City. I am a new woman.

So me and my 2 day companion Hermana Beltran really bonded. She was from New York and really helped me with my Spanish. Can I just say I not only led, but basically gave 3 lessons on my own this weekend. In Spanish. Yeah hold the applause please. It was still broken Spanish, but my favorite investigator Ramon committed to baptism when I extended the invitation. Holla!!! So this week was a good one for my Spanish I'd say. It's hard though,  because I've really been praying for the love that the Savior has for my investigators and it's hard. I am feeling it, but my heart literally breaks when they don't keep a commitment and things like that. My heart aches, and I never would have thought that to be the situation.

Yesterday at church the Houston temple president and his wife came and Hermana Carlson had to translate on the spot in church. She did great and I was so jealous. Seriously.  One day that will be me!

My cat lady rep lives on. We have a cat that just lives in our complex and one day last week I meowed at it, as a JOKE. BUT, it didn't take it as a joke. It comes to our car when we pull up, waits by our door when we exercise in the morning and even looks through our open windows. What have I done? It's like I can't even where my cat shirt around because I'm afraid it'll give it the wrong idea!

One of our investigators Marichuri finally opened her door (for the first time with me, she had been taught previously).  She's progressing really well, and I'm excited for her.  I've really grown to love her.

Hermana Groves and Hermana Watkins

On the road with Hermana Carlson

Hermana Groves and Hermana Beltran
I would also like to give a shout out to Grandma Glenda and Grandpa Lloyd for the great package with the homemade bread that was eaten within 20 minutes of opening it, and also a shout out to Staci and the Groves side for the cute Halloween notes! The package was torn up and the only remains they had were the notes and one tootsie roll taped to the package. Thanks for all your love and support, I pray for you all! Have a great week and keep the faith! :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 3

Well guys, week 3 has been one to remember. But they all should be, shouldn't they? Well, this past week we had a zone conference and a member of the 70 named Elder Golden came, and although he was more strict to the rules, it was really cool and really spiritual. I was spiritually and intellectually overwhelmed with some of the things he was telling us about. He talked a lot about charity and having the pure love of Christ, as members and as missionaries we often think we need to "convert people to convert them" that is wrong; we are talking about the salvation of souls here. We are there to love them and show them the love of Christ and show them that they can have that feeling with them constantly. It was really great, I loved it. President Ashton talked about the importance of following up and just letting people know that you do care about them, and you are concerned about how they are doing. Now to the experiences, this week we had some spiritual and funny stories. Where to begin? We'll go spiritual. We have a member family in our ward who have been preparing to go through the temple as a family and they have been kind of putting it off, so we were teaching them and the husband just said he didn't feel ready. Hermana Watkins had a prompting to ask him if he wanted a priesthood blessing, and at first he said no, but was lead to yes. Elders Clark and Ramirez came over and gave him a blessing, and his whole countenance changed. I felt the weight lifted off his shoulders, and now they are getting sealed this week. It's amazing how the power of priesthood can have such an impact. My testimony of the priesthood was increased so much by that experience. I also lead a discussion this week in my broken Spanish.  It was incredible feeling worthy to be blessed with the gift of tongues.

This week we had some funny experiences. So first we'll start with… the transvestite story. Really short, but so funny in the moment. We went to Papa Murphy's because we hadn't shopped enough on Monday for groceries, and we were just trying to decide what pizza we wanted to have.  This transvestite comes in and we let him go ahead of us. Some other things were going on, and we ordered, and he came over to chat and said, "Oh, I see you decided what you wanted." Hermana Carlson says, "Oh yeah. Did I hear your name was Jared? I have a friend named Jared, " and he/she looks are her, appalled, and says, "Uh! My name is Jennifer!"  Then awkwardly turns and walks away. Hahaha, she was so embarrassed and we were literally holding back laughter tears at this point, and when we got in the car we busted up. So the next thing that happened... Well prepare.

After dinner I was doing some dishes while I was waiting to go in the bathroom (where Hermana Carlson was), and so Hermana Watkins and I were just joking around having a good time. We both took a drink and apparently she said something hilarious because I was laughing so hard that water came out of my nose and my mouth.  And eventually down my leg. That's right guys, I peed my skirt. And my slip, my garments, and all over the kitchen floor. I could not stop myself.  I was crossing my legs crying so hard but I couldn't hold it in. *It's about to get graphic. On our wood floor there were 2 giant pee puddles. Both of them mine. Oh my lanta,  we still can't stop laughing about it. It took 3 or 4 dish towels to absorb and plus we still had to mop some of it out. Guys, it was one of the worst times I've ever peed my pants. Hahaha, but it was so hilarious. I'm never going to grow up apparently.

That same night( I know, a pretty weird day), I held a cockroach the size of almost the palm of my hand. We found it outside. Hermana Watkins said she would take a picture of me holding it so I picked it up, and IT WASN'T DEAD, so the picture I have is of me squirming holding it. Haha it was gross.

This week I got to wear my raincoat for the first time, and I have driven multiple times. There's this system in the car called tiwi and it's already yelled at me like 30 times for speeding.  Once a speed demon, always a speed demon.  Also the primary program was yesterday. I was dying;  it was hilarious. The primary is the same wherever you go except that in this primary the girls all had red shirts and headbands and the boys had red ties. It was cute, BUT it made me so sad I missed Preston's.  Well, that was my week. I will try to respond to emails/letters better this week. I keep getting more and more every week and I want you guys to know I read them all, but an hour isn't a whole lot of time to respond to a lot of people. I love you and still would like to hear about conference.... Have a great week and keep doing good. The work is true and the church is true. Love you guys!

Hermana Groves

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week 2 in the Field

Hey guys, it's Monday, which means you all get to hear from me. Lucky lucky you! Just kidding, I'll try to make this email worth your while.

This week I have settled in a little bit and have gotten used to the schedule. For the first time in my life I am usually asleep by 10:45 and wake up before the alarm at 6:30, so there's something no one would ever think would happen. We are constantly going; we are supposed to finish our daily planning in a half hour, but for some reason we can never get it to that, and it's more like an hour. When lights are out at 10:30 it limits preparing for bed and journal writing. I have written in my journal twice this whole time I've been here! So hopefully I don't miss out on anything important.

On Tuesday we got to go on "exchanges" aka splits.  Hermana Carlson is a sister training leader so she had to go to a meeting with Hermana Lister's companion (who is Hermana Watkins old comp), so Hermana Watkins, and I got to travel back to her old area (the ghetto) and ride our bikes! The first time in the mission! Not gonna lie, the half hour of exercise we're required to do in the morning is done at the bare minimum by me (shocker I know) so I was a little out of shape... Okay, a lot. But it was fun nonetheless. The members and investigators in that area are a little more loving towards us then the ones in our area. So it was fun and I really enjoyed the people.

Our investigator, Junior (the one who was baptized but didn't show up to get the Holy Ghost) has basically flipped since I first met him. He was able to receive the Holy Ghost on Saturday night but before that I had watched him progress. We explained visually that baptism was the doorway, and he was standing in the doorway, but he needed the gift of the Holy Ghost to get through the door.  When he got through the door he could see a picture of Christ, and we taught him to always strive for The Savior. It was a really good lesson.  Since then I've seen much change in him. He's reading his scriptures and is even memorizing a scripture to help distract him from his old habits and temptations. I can see the light of Christ in him, and I honestly love it.
We also have a new investigator that I just know was prepared for us. We taught her for the 2nd time last night. She is a new mom who is working and going to school. She had a really hard life growing up; her mom had some really harsh drug addictions and things like that. She went between her parents’, grandparents’, and friends’ houses and has experienced cancer and depression, but she is so positive. She knows that God is there because despite all the bad in her life she has seen more miracles. I look at her, and I see so much potential. I am so excited to teach her.
General Conference was great as well! I got to watch 3/4 in English, but unfortunately the one I watched in Spanish was the session when President Monson spoke. So hopefully I'll get an Ensign or something to read it. I loved how they talked so much on member missionary work (nudge nudge) haha so just think about that...

Hermana Carlson meditating (really! not a joke!)

My bitten legs (they're a lot worse than they look in the picture)

How we have to do our laundry

Me, Hermana Watkins, and Hermana Lister getting ready to bike for the first time
My Spanish is going alright, but I'm working on it. I just get really nervous talking to members because they are always correcting me, BUT I'm working on it. I just want you all to know that my testimony was confirmed this weekend. I know that we have a living prophet on the earth today and that he receives revelation for the world and it's problems today. I know that I am serving the Lord in the best way possible. I love you all and hope you have a good week!

Hermana Groves

Saturday, October 5, 2013

New Missionaries at Texas Houston South Mission

Our cutie, Hermana Groves, is in the orange, naturally!

September 30, 2013

Well guys, everyone was right. You never know what to expect from the first week in the mission field. But before I even get in the field I'll give you the happs on before that (sorry for the repeat to the family that got my letter).  After a long morning in the Mexico airport (where no one would even make eye contact with us or help us with the payphone), I got the phone to work and was able to talk to mom for a little while, which was exactly what I needed because I was worrying WAY too much. After arriving in Texas everyone else was calling their parents, I on the other hand, could not because it wasn't accepting my card. While everyone was on the phone and calling their parents I was just sitting around waiting for President Ashton or Sister Ashton to come and was just sitting down. I started (attempting is more like it) talking to this Mexican lady.  She was very sweet, and I started talking to her about religion and actually got her to agree to try and read the Book of Mormon and truly pray about it. Apparently my charm is what talked her into that, so I’m glad I still got somethin' ;) Haha, what can I say, old ladies love me! So I placed a Book of Mormon at the airport and my confidence was pretty high. We met up with the others (the English speakers ick, jk), and there was only one other sister.  She was a visa waiter (who is now in Victoria, lucky.) So that first day we just went to the mission office and familiarized ourselves with it and went to the mission home for dinner and testimony meeting. The real American food (enchiladas, made by someone in the president's ward) was the best thing I had eaten in 6 weeks. Honestly. So after our long day of travel, we sisters went with the married missionaries to stay at their apartment for the night until we got placed with our companions the next day. The Sanders without a doubt remind me of Grandma Pat and Grandpa Ted. They are very loving and I like them.

The next day I was assigned my companions. That's right, companions. I have two. We're a tripanionship. I have Hermana Carlson, who is from Idaho and is about to hit her year mark. She is fluent and is so patient with me,  and then I have Hermana Watkins from Vernal, UT, she reminds me so much of Tara (my cousin for those not in the family), and the way she talks about her family they remind me of Suzie and Shannon and their family. She's also very good at Spanish but her testimony is out of this world. Seriously I am going to learn so much from these girls. I can tell this is going to be a very healthy companionship because we're very open and we do try to work hard with one another, and they are constantly building me and my spirits and hopefully vice versa. So far so good.

We are in the Houston 1 West area which isn’t a bad part of town we're limited to a few apartment complexes though due to the amount of Spanish speakers in our geographical area. We have an investigator who was baptized a few weeks ago and still hasn’t received the Holy Ghost. It’s hard because the church isn’t within walking distance, but we've arranged rides for him, and he just forgets (he has a very strong drug background) so we're really discouraged by that. And we have a few other investigators that I’m getting really excited about. But I want to tell you guys that you have GOT to help the missionaries. We aren’t tracting any more in this area and so we are only teaching by referrals. Member lessons are also a main focus so please let the missionaries in for 5 minutes, or offer to give a less active a ride, have the missionaries over for dinner. If you have the time go out on visits with them. We are all here to do the Lord's work. So I ask you all to please think of me, and the other missionaries you know and help them by helping the missionaries serving in your areas. We're trying our hardest and praying our hardest. Do it for me... pleaassee?

I want you all to know how much I love you and how much you mean to me. Sometimes I feel discouraged but then I think of all of you and think to myself "You are sacrificing your time with them, so why not make it worth the time you are spending. You are with your family forever, go out there and help their families be together forever". I hope you all have a good week and keep doing good out there in the world. Do me a favor, watch conference and tell me about your favorite talk and how it applies to you in your life. I love you guys!!

Love always,

Hermana Groves

The "Tripanionship"

Maddie and her companions, Hermana Carlson and Hermana Watkins