Monday, February 2, 2015

Stretchin' on home to the home stretch...

February 2nd, 2015

This is so bad. This last week was such a blur I feel like speedy Gonzalas all over the place, I can't believe it. So wish me luck. Hopefully this email (the last real email) will be worth it. Here we go.
On Tuesday we were able to visit Martha Linarez and her baby Joshua, she asked me to hold him.. me.. trying to be obedient had to turn that down. But everyone knows that I'm counting down the 8 days I have until I can hold a baby. So if you want to bring one to the airport for me good.. that'd be great ;) haha just joking. we totally saw a miracle on this day though cause later on in the day I was like "Hermana Call, I have an old investigator from our new H1 area that I think we need to visit" so we went and knocked on Maria Duarte's door. (At a time that she's usually not at home, mind you) and she opened the door. She looked at me with this wide eyes and gave me a big hug and said "I didn't think you were ever going to come back" I don't know what the whole story was with her, but Hermana Bonhard said that it was impossible to find her at home so they just stopped trying. There she was SO excited to see us! Her daughter Emily was like "My mom thought that you got mad at her and that's why you didn't come back" wait what? False. We thought she was mad at us! They went back and saw her while I was on exchanges later on and they said they are just so excited to have the missionaries back in their home. MIRACLE!!

I can't remember if I told you about Severiana, who's husband hit her when he found out we were visiting her, I talked to president and he told us not to go but while I was on exchanges Hermana Call went by, get this, at the same time that the Jehovah's Witnesses were there. Apparently there was a big discussion going on.. I wasn't there, but I am afraid to know what was said. I am just hoping that the sisters were acting like the representatives of Christ that they should have been. We'll see.

I was able to go on exchanges with Hermana Irhke on Friday/Saturday and we worked our buns off. We had received the confirmation that they could baptize someone in their area that weekend because they had 10 people who had that potential. So we went out and we worked as hard as we could for as long as we could until we could honestly say that we had done all that we could do and we prayed for the grace of Christ to be enough. None of them were baptized this week but a few of them are planning on being baptized this next week. 

So I had mission leadership council on Thursday, so not a lot of work was done in our area. But We learned a lot about being disciples. I am fortunate enough to give a training on that in zone meeting this week, but all I could think of was the talk from Elder Holland in conference from 2012 I'm just gonna add a little of what I kept thinking about 
"Here I ask your indulgence as I take some nonscriptural liberty in my portrayal of this exchange. In effect, Peter said to his associates: “Brethren, it has been a glorious three years. None of us could have imagined such a few short months ago the miracles we have seen and the divinity we have enjoyed. We have talked with, prayed with, and labored with the very Son of God Himself. We have walked with Him and wept with Him, and on the night of that horrible ending, no one wept more bitterly than I. But that is over. He has finished His work, and He has risen from the tomb. He has worked out His salvation and ours. So you ask, ‘What do we do now?’ I don’t know more to tell you than to return to your former life, rejoicing. I intend to ‘go a fishing.’” And at least six of the ten other remaining Apostles said in agreement, “We also go with thee.” John, who was one of them, writes, “They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately.”3
But, alas, the fishing wasn’t very good. Their first night back on the lake, they caught nothing—not a single fish. With the first rays of dawn, they disappointedly turned toward the shore, where they saw in the distance a figure who called out to them, “Children, have you caught anything?” Glumly these Apostles-turned-again-fishermen gave the answer no fisherman wants to give. “We have caught nothing,” they muttered, and to add insult to injury, they were being called “children.”4
“Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find,”5‍ the stranger calls out—and with those simple words, recognition begins to flood over them. Just three years earlier these very men had been fishing on this very sea. On that occasion too they had “toiled all the night, and [had] taken nothing,”6‍ the scripture says. But a fellow Galilean on the shore had called out to them to let down their nets, and they drew “a great multitude of fishes,”7‍ enough that their nets broke, the catch filling two boats so heavily they had begun to sink.
Now it was happening again. These “children,” as they were rightly called, eagerly lowered their net, and “they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.”8‍ John said the obvious: “It is the Lord.”9‍ And over the edge of the boat, the irrepressible Peter leaped.
After a joyful reunion with the resurrected Jesus, Peter had an exchange with the Savior that I consider the crucial turning point of the apostolic ministry generally and certainly for Peter personally, moving this great rock of a man to a majestic life of devoted service and leadership. Looking at their battered little boats, their frayed nets, and a stunning pile of 153 fish, Jesus said to His senior Apostle, “Peter, do you love me more than you love all this?” Peter said, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”10
The Savior responds to that reply but continues to look into the eyes of His disciple and says again, “Peter, do you love me?” Undoubtedly confused a bit by the repetition of the question, the great fisherman answers a second time, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.”11
The Savior again gives a brief response, but with relentless scrutiny He asks for the third time, “Peter, do you love me?” By now surely Peter is feeling truly uncomfortable. Perhaps there is in his heart the memory of only a few days earlier when he had been asked another question three times and he had answered equally emphatically—but in the negative. Or perhaps he began to wonder if he misunderstood the Master Teacher’s question. Or perhaps he was searching his heart, seeking honest confirmation of the answer he had given so readily, almost automatically. Whatever his feelings, Peter said for the third time, “Lord, … thou knowest that I love thee.”12
To which Jesus responded (and here again I acknowledge my nonscriptural elaboration), perhaps saying something like: “Then Peter, why are you here? Why are we back on this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me, and loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do. Ours is not a feeble message. It is not a fleeting task. It is not hapless; it is not hopeless; it is not to be consigned to the ash heap of history. It is the work of Almighty God, and it is to change the world. So, Peter, for the second and presumably the last time, I am asking you to leave all this and to go teach and testify, labor and serve loyally until the day in which they will do to you exactly what they did to me.”
Then, turning to all the Apostles, He might well have said something like: “Were you as foolhardy as the scribes and Pharisees? As Herod and Pilate? Did you, like they, think that this work could be killed simply by killing me? Did you, like they, think the cross and the nails and the tomb were the end of it all and each could blissfully go back to being whatever you were before? Children, did not my life and my love touch your hearts more deeply than this?”
My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one‍ commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.”13‍ And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments,”14‍ Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection‍ of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian‍ life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles without “a single synagogue or sword”15‍ to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live."
Along with that I am thinking about my discipleship as a missionary. Am I just going to "go back to fishing" or  days filled with netflixing or doing things that may keep me back from the potential I have? Or will I go and change, make sure the effects of my mission don't just carry on in my mission, but have a lasting effect? The goal is the latter. To let my mission go through me, and not me through the mission. I know that the mission is exactly what the Lord knew I needed to change my outlook, to change who I would become. 
So here I am, at the end of my mission, I honestly never thought this day would come, and honestly it makes me sad. I want you all to know that my mission has changed me, I am not the same person I was before. My appearance hasn't changed and my personality hasn't changed, but the desires of my heart have. I know without a doubt that the Lord loves me and had this as a part of His plan for me before I came.
I love you all and am so grateful for this opportunity I have to be a missionary. Thank you for all your love and support throughout this year and a half, you have all kept me going so I could be my better self. Please remember how important you are to me. I love you! Keep strong and carry on!
Hermana Groves
This video will change your life. Watch it. haha

Temple days are happy days :)

January 26th, 2015 

First things first, I would just like to clarify that I am coming home in 2 weeks but my homecoming won't be until like March 8th due to stake conference, a wedding and fast Sunday. So those planning to travel, put that date on your calendar. 

So as you read in last week's letter I was able to go to the temple with Margarita and Sergio when they went through their first time. Plot twist. They asked Yolanda and Wilson to be their escorts in the temple. All the people that I worked with so hard in my time in H1 all went to the temple together. What a tender mercy. That was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my mission. But on our way there we were stuck in traffic for a good 2 hours and were almost late for our session. It was so funny though, Hermana Hull and I were just eating up all the weird stuff going on. Example: we were talking between the two of us and we look up to see Sergio driving, pretend to punch himself and then right after Margarita pretended to punch him and he proceeded to go along with it and dodged it. Don't ask me why I was laughing so hard, probably cause we woke up at 4 30 in the morning that day in order to finish everything we needed to to go to the temple, but also probably cause it was hilarious. Not to mention we actually went to the 8 oclock session so we didn't get home till like 11 30. I can't remember how long it's been since I've even been awake that late. #oldladymissionaryproblems

We had interviews with president on Wednesday and it was just what I needed. Fancy this, I'm stressed. Haha but I don't know what he expects when he writes "sprint to the finish line" in his letter to me when I feel like I've been sprinting to the finish line my whole mission. He told me I'm stressed and that's why I can't keep any food down. (TMI, sorry) but he gave me a blessing and told me that everything would be alright, I just gotta keep working as I have been. Oh also that I have to find Wendy and Jean Pierre and get them teaching the missionaries again before I go. 

So as ya'll know we gained some new people to teach from the other missionaries. And it's been a struggle. Some of them really miss their missionaries. But we just have to show them that' we're not that bad and we all bring the same truths. We seem to have a problem with those we're teaching that their husbands are SUPER against them getting baptized and listening to missionaries. I wish they would soften their hearts a little bit. 

I went on exchanges to like the richest area in the mission. Richmond. with Sister Polanco from temple square. We had dinner with this member family that was really awesome, when they were on their way to pick up their daughter from her mission they got in a car accident and lost 2 of their children, and one of them is now severely handicap. I only spent an hour with these people but my faith in the knowledge of eternal families grew so much. I know that it's not easy for them to be without their children, but I know that Heavenly Father has a plan for their family. 

I hope you all have a great week, you are all amazing. keep strong and carry on! 
Hermana Groves

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Miracles happen!

January 20th, 2015

First off... CONGRATULATIONS to Jess and Tyler :) Can't wait to claim my title as bridesmaid! In comparison to that my week was lame.. Even though it was pretty good. So let's just get this bad boy rolling.
There was zone meeting on Tuesday and because I'm over the sisters from my old zone I went to their zone meeting. I have no idea who the missionaries are in my zone. Whatever, I guess someday we'll find out. Haha but I had to do a training on teaching skills and I just.. I don't know my role play of it was good but.. I had a rough go of the actual training aspect. Nothing says humble pie like stuttering over your words. But it was a really good experience. Public speaking has never really been a problem for me so I think Heavenly Father just wanted to remind me who gave me that spiritual gift. Haha. But it was really good. We were reminded of our purpose of missionaries the first being loving one another and treating people as children of God. I loved it. 
We got our new area up and moving this week. I was able to visit some of the members that I knew from before like the Morales and Mariana Lyra but also we got to visit the familia Avalos :) They remember me! Well for the most part haha. They all told me I don't look as fat anymore. Don't worry, hispanics do not have filters. The other Hermanas also took us to meet their investigators that we gained. These people are so prepared! It's awesome, they've done a great job at teaching them and helping them to know the purpose of our visits. That makes things so much easier when they know we're not just there to sit and chat. Flor, Antonio and Carmen are all really awesome and I can't wait to work with them more. 
We accidentally dropped in on a birthday party at the bishop's house and we got to meet some non members, that was cool! We stopped by a less active's house and they sat us down to eat and told us all the things they hated about the church. Including us. The elders handed us off a person to teach, she's really awesome, she's working towards her citizenship. She's passed the written test 3 times but she can't do the verbal test, so we're helping her with her pronunciation. She's super cute! 
We were able to watch the CES devotional from last week with the YSA's from the ward. It was really good! There was a part where it talked about doing things for the right reason and observing the whole situation of things. It was so good, I'll just send you the link :)
Yesterday we had a meeting with the leaders of the mission so we were on exchanges. Hermana Hull wanted me to meet someone that she thought that I knew. So we walked up to this door that I had never knocked before and knocked. The door opened and Angelica Rodriguez started jumping up and down and gave me this big hug and was kissing me on the cheeks and started crying saying "I lost touch with you, but I never want to do that again!" so then we went on to teach her a lesson and she said "If I wasn't catholic, I'd be mormon because of your example" ummm.. What? That was as she continually called me Madeline and tried to set me up with her nephew that's coming to visit them. It was a really cool experience because she remembered everything, and she still had a strong testimony of it. So I got bold, the spirit told me I had to be bold, so I was, I invited her to be baptized before I go in 3 weeks. And guess what. She said that as she starts to listen to the missionaries again she will be baptized. We then had to go, but she just gave me a giant hug and kissed my cheeks again and just wouldn't let go of my hand as we walked to the door. I miss this woman so much. My whole mission would be complete if she got baptized before I go. 
And yesterday, after working with the Cervantes for a long time they invited a friend to come listen to the discussion. It was well worth it after our dinner at Sam's club. haha. The spirit was so strong in that lesson. I almost started crying. 
Today Hermana Hull and I are going on exchanges again. Margarita is going through the temple and she wants me to be there.. Because I was the one that baptized her.. I can go :) So we're ending Pday early to go. Totally worth it. 
This week had all the great miracles I have been begging for for the past few weeks. Missionary work is so awesome. I love ya'll and hope you have a great week. Keep strong and carry on!

The alien word of wisdom breaker...

January 12th, 2015

So last week my email saved as a draft. I feel so loved that everyone emailed me anyways. Thanks :)
I'm just gonna get to the goods this week. I'm sick of the pleasantries so I'll just give you the highlights from this week. So on Wednesday we went to visit one of our less actives, Hermana Rosa (the crazy) and we were just chatting having a good time and as we were leaving she saw that we were on our bikes. She then asked us "Did you get your bikes from your planet?" "Our planet?" "Aren't you aliens?" "ummmm no.."

The next day we went to another Hermana's house and she fed us ice cream. After she had served us the ice cream I just was kinda like "hmmm... this tastes interesting" but I couldn't define what it was and then she came, sat down, took a taste and said "hermana, what is this taste?" and I said "I don't know but it tastes a little bit like coffee smells." Her eyes got HUGE and she went and got the ice cream container and asked me to read it and see if there was coffee.. I did.. there was coffee in it. I told her and she started freaking out she was like "oh my goodness I made the sister missionaries break the word of wisdom I'm going to be excommunicated!" and all this stuff, I told her it was fine cause it was in ignorance so it would be fine. 

I tell you that story to lead to the next one that includes me breaking the word of wisdom again. Hermana Lister came here for exchanges and we decided to go tracting. So we did and we met this lady who told us to come back in about 40 minutes so we could share with her and her husband. So we came back and this people.. They were pretty cool, laid back people. The woman is an artist and the husband was a musician. These people were hippies. I felt like I had stepped back in time when I was in their apartment. It was really weird. So they hear us out and we actually have a really good lesson with them, despite the fact that Hermana Lister and I struggled to teach in English a little bit. They told us we had a special hora about us, even though they thought we were British because he saw us on bikes in our "nice coats" haha.  They started to share with us some of their philosiphies and we left them with a Book of Mormon and they gave us "The Fellowship Bible: The bible of Love" or something they wife offered us some uncomfortably long "grace hugs"and then then brought out some brownies, we accepted, not thinking anything of it. We left that place laughing our heads off and laughing for the rest of the day. After lots of laughter and some unstraight thoughts, we came to the conclusion that we had some marijuana brownies. 

Then in that same complex we came across a guy that wanted us to free him from a demon but not right then, and so we tried just talking to him and he told us that we need to prove to him in the bible that God rids the good of demons if they ask Jesus people to do it for them.

This week our boundries changed, we're in a different zone :( and we gained a greater area. Guess what, it's part of the same area that I had when I was in H1. I guess it's safe to say Heavenly Father doesn't want me to be done over there yet. There's something I have to do for a few weeks... Baptize the world. Probably. So they disolved the spanish stake and just merged them with the English stakes. The whole world was balling their eyes out yesterday. It was crazy.

Also as a mission we're trying to reach 60 baptisms this month. So if you could pray specifically for that it'd be great. And that a few of those could be ours :) We've also been asked to make a sacrifice mine is thoughts of home. So stop making me think about it for the next few weeks okay? February you can make me as trunky as you want okay? Alright well I love you all and hope you have a great week. I know that the Lord is watching over each and everyone of you. I pray for you all and wish you the most success. I love you! Keep strong and carry on!
Hermana Groves 

Happy New Year!

January 5th, 2015

I need to stop putting off my group email until the last little while of my email. Sorry :) Let's see how detailed I can make this in the little time I have. 
Monday, nothing. Tuesday, we took a few young women out with us on our bikes. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm in awesome biking shape. They are not. So since I was leading the way I just thought we were all just breezing along. I look back and see that I'm sailing all on my own.. I thought I was pacing myself pretty slow too.. So that's a thing. We were able to visit one of the less active young women in the ward. I think it was really good, because they weren't even aware that she existed. But because I was used to timing things out based upon our speed we were super late for our next appointment and so the hermano (who this was our first time going to his house) was calling us and calling us asking where he could pick us up and telling us that it's not safe to be out on our bikes in the dark and all this stuff.. So.. we're not allowed to ride alone in the car with him without an adult female.. so I just stopped answering the phone. Whoops.. haha it was fine. No worries. He got over it. 
Wednesday New Years Eve came around, we had to be in our apartments by 8 so you know what we did? We took my usual holiday photo shoot (forgive us we kinda look like Kesha) and then we hit the hay. I think I was asleep by 9 15. Too bad Elder Jarvis called to ask about the Hermanas in his district at 10 20 (cause that's what district leaders do). So rude. Haha basically I told him he was lucky he was far away cause I was ready to punch some lights out. haha jk.
Friday we had MLC and we had this really long talk about confidenciality(spell check?) and then we were told some confidencial information that after next week I can share. For me it is really exciting so cowboy up for that. 
Friday we went to visit one of our investigators Maria. It was a rough go of it. We had a really strong lesson about the book of mormon then she said "I want you to come visit me every day. But I am not going to change. I will forever drink coffee, I will only read about the life of Jesus Christ. I won't read the Book of Mormon or go to church, I wasn't baptized 30 years ago and I'm not going to be baptized now" And I said "well Maria we'd love to come visit you every day but Maria our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ through faith in Him by being baptized so if you don't want to change, that's fine. But we can't come back to visit" she sat there for a minute and then said "My feelings didn't change, but disregard what I told you before and just come back." So we're just gonna feel that situation out. 
On Saturday we were able to contact a less active family named the Delgado's that I have never met before. We have an appointment with them this week. I'm so excited!
I don't have much more time but I want you all to know that I love you very much and that I hope you have a great week. The church is true!
Hermana Groves