Thursday, December 19, 2013

From the Edge of Town, Yo. (and my Pday is now Monday!) December 12th, 2013

Arizona is a desert.  If you weren't aware, well, no you know.  Literally. Dirt. Cactus. Dirt. more dirt. And rocks!  People just drive right up on to their yard because they have no grass. So bleak.  But my skies are beautiful.  I saw a meteor fall my second night here. Incredible.
Basically what I have experienced so far is your usual, pretty standard home down to the very lowliest places I have ever seen in my entire life.  It breaks my heart. Some of or our area has trailers in it.  A lot of these families have so little and give so much.  The branch is the tiniest thing you've ever seen and the missionaries play a big part in that.  My first time walking into Sacrament Meeting (which...I've only had one here haha) they asked me if I would play the hymns for the meeting! Bah! I am a terrible sight reader haha and I didn't end up playing because I didn't know the hymns they had already picked out.  But a lady from the primary asked me if I would play the new songs for the primary starting in January.  Since they don't really have anyone else, I agreed.  If this is what I need to do, I know the Lord will help me.  Speaking of songs and singing...they don't sing here in this little branch.  They howl. haha I have never heard anything like it.  And one of the songs was off of an iPad held up to the microphone.  It's just so different from anything I am used to.  But it was good.  It was still church. 
Ah...let's see.  Well, we actually have taught more in English than Spanish lately, which I am definitely grateful for because I know what's going on! But there is definitely a lot of Spanish too!  And since the Lord called me speaking Spanish, and that is the language that He wants me to speak in, I will get better and keep practicing so that I am not totally handicapped without my companera. She is great.  She is so diligent and a great example to me.  I look up to her a lot.  (:
We are teaching a few different people so far and that has been fun.  One that we see everyday is Frank.  Frank lives against a wall near Lowe's.  He has a drinking problem but has really really stepped it up.  He is preparing to get baptized on the 11th of January.  The only problem is that he keeps saying "I'll try...I'll try" He thought that if he had enough faith in Jesus Christ that he would be healed.  We have had to teach him almost every lesson how faith requires us to actually do something about it.  He is just now starting to get it and it is fabulous! Heaven bless that man that he will be able to do this! We have already seen miracles. 
Ivon is someone that my companion had only seen once before I came here.  (man, it feels like I've been here for a month!)  But Ivon has 2 children, is divorced and just lost her job.  We have taught her how the gospel blesses families and that trials help us grow.  I got the chance to ask her to be baptized, also on the 11th, and she agreed!  But we went to see her the next day and she wasn't there...It really worried me.  We haven't seen her for a few days...I am nervous.  But we just pray that something came up and so that's why she wasn't there and we still plan for her every day.  There is hope! (:
Manny was a funny guy we met on the street one day.  Haha we asked if he believed in God and he kept saying "I don't know, but I believe in love" hahaha oh dear. And we also got hit on in Panda Express. Gotta love that.  A creepy middle-aged man.  Asked us if he could take us out to dinner.  No thank you (:
This was funny also: a lady in the branch yesterday, in her broken English, told me I was a Barbie.  That cracked me up.  
We have another investigator named Aishah.  She is completely Islamic but wants to learn about different religions.  Let me tell you, she is the smartest 15 year old I have ever ever met.  She asks us the most complex questions you could ever imagine.  And she comes back so quickly and clever. The only thing that can strengthen her would be to read the Book of Mormon.  It is the keystone!
 One last story about the people we see.  We went to this home the other night to see a lady and her children.  At the closing, we asked the little girl if she would say the prayer. She asked us again how to do it and so we told her, "well, you start by saying this...then what you're grateful for...then you ask God questions to find out if it's true..." and so on.  So, this sweet little girl, 6 or 7 I think, starts to pray.  She literally asks God, "what does it look like where you are?" "what does heaven look like?" and "What do YOU look like?" it was so sweet...and so funny! Because we didn't realize we weren't very clear about that.  Just a cute little story (:
Well. That's about my week for ya.  It was not too bad! I hope all is well with you, too.
Love you!

Tucson, AZ, December 10th, 2013

This is it!  I actually made it to Tucson.  I only left at 2:30 am and got 2 hours of no big deal (;  (p.s. I am on a real keyboard that I understand! whooo)!  It actually reminds me a lot of UT here despite the fact that it has NO snow! How weird. And Christmas is in what? 14 days? See, I never would have guessed because I have been shut off from the outside world for so long and then I came in to no snow.  But it is surprisingly pretty chilly here.  At night time especially.  I brought, hmm, nothing! for the cold. haha fun surprise (:
Word of the week, I love my new companera.  She is so fun! She is so nice and we are very similar.  My last companera and I were very very opposite, so this will be an easier adjustment I think! (I did love my last comp. just sayin!)  haha (:
Pues, estoy muy entusmiado!  I got here yesterday afternoon and we really just spent the day kind of learning the routine around here and our expectations.  Not too bad!  We went to the mission president's home and had dinner and a little testimony meeting and got to go home early! Whoo! OH and our Mission President is SO awesome! His wife is just the bubbliest thing you've ever seen!  She was the first person I saw when I walked down the stairs at the Tucson airport.  She gave me the biggest hug and just started talking like she's known me her whole life.  They are super chill and super awesome! Like I said, estoy muy muy entusmiado!  (:
I was just so tired and nervous when I got here that I didn't really know how things would play our for the first few days.  This morning I still didn't know what area I would be in or who my companion would be. Then my companion ended up getting off of the wrong exit and being late to our meeting this morning.  I was the only one without a comp for a little bit and that made me even more nervous! I was pretty much just held together with a forced smile.  THEN #1 I met my companion.  #2 I loved her already! and thennn #3 we had the greatest first experience I could have ever asked for! 
Basically, we were walking simply from the relief society room to the room down the hall for some training workshops.  There just so happened to be a maintenance man working on the light switches in the chapel that we passed by.  We ended up talking to him and found out he wasn't a member.  My companion did most of the talking at first because I didn't feel adequate enough.  But as I stood and listened for a bit, the spirit whispered and I was its voice.  I got passed my fear and I spoke the feelings of my heart.  (This was all in English heh)  It went so well and we got his number and he wants to hear more! I even whipped out a scripture for him to read and ponder about and I know I did not do that one on my own. Okay, so talk about the perfect, perfect experience to get me so absolutely fired up for this!! All my doubts went away.  All my fears, gone.  I am so grateful to be here. SO completely grateful and I cannot wait for what the next 17 months have in store!!! (:
 I will be serving in a Spanish area for my first transfer! Which I love and am very excited for!  I will end up serving in some English parts as well!  And, of course, where ever I go, I will be seeing many who speak English even in my Spanish areas.  The Hermana I am with knows Spanish very well so I am not worried about my picking up on it.  I think I do alright as of now ( but LOTS to learn!) Wahoo! Adventures. (:
I just would like to say to you all: Never miss an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life.  Spread the good word (: it really is not as hard as it seems at all! Just simply start out by being kind and being a good example.  The spirit will work through you.  People are being prepared all over to hear what you have!  DON'T you miss that chance. One more quick experience.  On the plane we sat by the nicest man!  I knew he believed in God because he said something about it, but he did not know what missionaries were.  At the end of the flight, I just thought that I should leave him with a card, but I was so scared!  I just couldn't fight the feeling that he might be searching for this and that if I miss this opportunity, it would be my fault! He is my brother, so I had to.  I gave him the card and told him that he could find out more about us if he looked it up.  Then, hahahaha, (here's a skill to use) I asked him if he liked the Killers.  Then I asked him if he knew who their lead singer was, Brandon Flowers.  He said yes and yes and so I said "Cool! Well Brandon Flowers has a cool video on there if you want to look that up!" hahaha golden.  Way to be, Brandon Flowers. 
Anyways! Stay true and remember that your Heavenly Father loves you! Keep that spirit of Christ this season.  Which is truly, serving. Love you! 

This is it! December 8th, 2013

Well! This is it (: I am actually headed off in about a day and a couple hours...This is my little goodbye for the time being.  I am not sure when my next Pday is!  But thank you for always writing me (: I am SO excited! But I am also pretty nervous.  Yesterday we had in-field orientation. It was an all, ALL, day long workshop.  It got me very excited, though!  I had never felt so nervous, yet so completely at peace, at the exact same time!  I just had the feeling that I could do this. This thought kept coming to my head: You can do this! You can do this because you are called of your Heavenly Father to do this and you wouldn´t be here if that wasn´t the case.  I am so excited for this adventure and I hope that I can do all that is in my power to make this experience mean everything to me; to allow it to change my life!  Until Later ¡Hasta Luego! I love you all!
¡Paz Y bendiciones!
Hermana Hurst

One last thought! December 3rd, 2013

I walked out of my classroom the other day and I saw the most marvelous sky.  It was incredible.  All of the sudden, it hit me! And I knew.  The reason that Jesus descends from the sky is because they are perhaps the most beautiful thing on this earth! They resemble His power, His love, His mercy.  We can learn from this world around us, every day, that we are because God is.  And God loves us so He gave us all of this beauty.  I am so cheesy and I loved this idea so much that, of course, I wrote a poem:

It´s no wonder the Savior descends from the skies:
They hold the power in His eyes.
The glory and light in the morning sun;
The sounding of peace when the storm is done.
The compassionate rain that falls with our tears,
The embracing wind the sends away fears.
The snow that blankets pure and pristine
And resonates through mountains where riverbeds sing.
And the thoughtful moon that guides our feet
To be the glorious stars we are destined to be.
Yes, I´m sure that the Savior descends from the skies,
Because they hold the power in His eyes.

I love you all.

First of all...SHOUT OUT TO THE BRO! - December 3rd, 2013

JARED, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! I was SO stoked when I realized that it is my Pday on your birthday and I get to say...HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND I LOVE YOU! (:

So let´s has officially been over a month that I have been gone.  I have not seen my family for over a month.  I have not seen a boy (that is not an elder) for over a month.  I have not eaten a normal meal for over a month.  I have not waken up after 7 for over a month...and the list continues....Why did I choose to do this? Sometimes I wonder. And then I realize--Duh! It's because I absolutely love it!!!! (:  (:
I cannot even believe how fast this is going! I didn´t know how I would make it through the first week and now I am going to be soooo sad to leave this Garden of Eden and travel off into the lone and dreary world. Haha that analogy was given to us the second week we were here, in Relief Society. Anyways. I cannot believe it! And our district has gotten so close.  The second day that we were here, I talked to some hermanas that had been here for a while.  They were telling me how I would love my district and they would become like my family.  I just thought "pah, well okay..." and guess what! It is totally true.  I love them so much! I couldn´t imagine it any other way here.  If one of them weren´t here, it would be a whole different experience. It´s kind of cool because I don´t even remember becoming friends.  We just were.  We´re all connected in this work; brothers and sisters. I am truly loving this.

This was something I thought was funny: we were all talking one day about where we´re possibly going in the long run and such and all the elders in my district said "yeah, Hermana Hurst will get married first" Pah! what in the world? I am a child. (:

Thanksgiving here was strange. It literally felt like any other day despite the fact that we knew it was a holiday in the states! The cooks in the comedor were very thoughtful, though!  They made us their version of a Thanksgiving dinner.  It was definitely not your average meal for Thanksgiving, but it was better than any other meal we´ve ever had here for sure!  (: 2 holidays in the CCM? CHECK. Thank heavens I will not be here for Christmas.  I think I would cry.

I am definitely not used to a December like this.  When we sang a Christmas hymn the other day, I was so confused.  Then I realized that it is December! What. Crazy...So let´s see, it´s about 73 degrees right now.  Not even kidding.  After I worked out the other day, I decided I deserved a nap! So for the rest of gym time, while everyone else played soccer or something (which I am terrible at), I laid out on the grass and fell asleep!  My point of this story is this: Sunburn in December.  Hello.  It can happen.
So that´s some getting used to.  Don´t get me wrong though, the mornings and evenings are freezing! And it´s actually a little warmer than usual.  We can see our breath in the morning.  Ya know, that´s saying something (; haha

Last night I had a dream that Mom and Dad came and visited me in the CCM.  I woke up crying! hahaha ohh life on the mish. (: 

I guess my Spanish has been picking up! We did TRC yesterday which is where we teach each other lessons.  We got to be taught be the new district in our zone who just came in last week.  It made me feel better about my Spanish (; hee hee just kidding.  That´s not nice to say! But after that, we taught them.  This was pretty cool because we taught an elder who knew some decent Spanish and after we were through, he said that we said words he didn´t understand! That was pretty sweet!!! (:
Spanish is dificil, but I am loving it at the same time and I´m not quite sure how that works to be honest. 

Here is a great story!  Now first let me say that I do understand this scripture: 3Nephi 13:3-4 "But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; that thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly."  (p.s. great scripture!)
So with that being said, let me tell you of the time I chose to do something nice for my companion. haha I will pretty much write this straight from my journal.
All 3 of the girls were in the different bathrooms and so I had no where to go.  I decided that it would be nice of me to fold my companions clothes that were in her basket.  (side note, a few days earlier, our cleaning lady randomly lined all of our shoes up in a nice, orderly fashion). Entonces, When my companera came out of the shower and wen to her basket she said "no way! the cleaning lady put our shoes away AND folded all my clothes!" hahaha I just smiled.  Then the other girls came in and she said "I can´t believe this" She folded my clothes! She must love us." And they all were talking about how they´re going to write her the nicest note ever and leave her a tip or something! It was just the greatest moment ever.  I just laughed to myself. (: Good deeds, people.  Good deeds. Do them in secret and your Father who sees will reward thee openly.  (That was not the point I was trying to make by telling that story, but I figured that it´s a good thought).

On a more spiritual thought, this week has been my favorite by far.  I tried so much harder than I ever have to have the Spirit with me this week.  For my sake and also for the sake of the investigators.  What I learned was that, yes, you can just have the spirit with you by doing good and being in good places.  BUT, what I truly found, was that if you sincerely strive to have the spirit with you, with the intentions of having Him with you, always praying, and always striving to make decisions according to have the spirit, you will gain His companionship.  But not just gain it; it will work through you.  When my mind started to wander, the Spirit pulled me back into focus. It silently guided me throughout the day.  This is probably one of the most real experiences I have ever had with the Spirit in my life.  The beautiful thing about this is that once you have that, you never want to leave it.  This new perspective has changed the way I view things: it has changed my perspective on the mission.  I know that by continuing to practice this, it will become easier, and more prevalent. (: I suggest to any eyes that read my words, pray for the spirit in your life! Let it work through you, let it work with you.  You will have never known such joy. (:
Also, one other thing I realized this week was what an example we are to people.  One of the elders from the new district bore his testimony on Sunday and said " I just want to say thank you to the district who will be leaving next week.  You guys have really been a great example to us"...I had no idea that anyone was watching and I wished that I would have realized sooner.  It made me want to be so much better! It made me want to give them a reason to look up to me! I challenge us all, myself included, to become someone that others would want to look up to and become.  Become that person that your Father in Heaven has designed you to become.  (: Anything is possible through Him who created you! Do NOT forget. (: 
Learn to love yourself for who you are! And change the things that you do not wish to be any longer.  1Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?...Become a worthy place for the Spirit of the Lord to dwell in.   If you are honest with yourself in every way, you can love yourself more because you will have peace of mind and self respect.  Watch the video ´Stay in the Lines´ by Jeffrey R. Holland (my hero!) It is a good one to watch and reflect on yourself.  No matter what kind of problems you are facing. 

The last thing on this 2.7 mile long email I want to say is to know that everything always works out when you put the Lord first.  As you read the scriptures, ponder what is being said and what you´re learning/what principles apply.  Look for the invitations to act!  And then, most importantly, look for the blessings that the Lord promises us if we do choose to accept these simple invitations.  The Lord blesses us far beyond comprehension.  (:

I love you all!
Paz y bendiciones!