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