Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Week of Firsts

So I have decided that every day, and thus every week, in the mission is best described as weird.  Haha but I love it so much and there are so many great things to be found in every day! This week had a lot "firsts" in it, which were crazy, fun, miraculous, and heart-wrenching.

First baptismal date! One of our investigators committed to baptism! President Wilson challenged us to be inviting to be baptized in every meeting with every person.  That has really been a challenge for us, because it is such a personal decision and we don't want to be forcing it on them or be annoying. But as we have been working hard to do what he (and what God) has asked of us, we have really felt the Spirit, and had some great experiences! Including this one. I'm so excited for her, she is really focusing on doing what the Lord wants her to do.  She is so amazing.

First real drop. (aw! Sorry Heidi!)  One of our investigators has been loving the glorious news of the Gospel and the Plan of Salvation.  Her mom just died and she has found great joy in the knowledge that she can be with her again.  However, she is renting a room from her sister, and takes care of her sister's kids pretty much all day, every day.  Her sister apparently didn't know we were coming over, and found out last week.  Because she doesn't know us, she doesn't want us coming over and teaching which totally makes sense and I'm so glad to hear that she is worried about what her kids are learning. It was so sad though, because our investigator wants to continue to learn with us. She has a Book of Mormon and all the pamphlets though, so she will continue reading and learning and growing closer to God

First exchanges! (Exchanges are when the missionaries go out for the day with someone who is not their companion.) So Sister Training Leaders go on exchanges with us, just like the Zone Leaders do with the Elders.  So much fun! I learned so much from Hermana B (Hermana is sister in spanish).  Then, halfway through our exchange, we had to do more exchanges haha because someone was being baptized and so the Hermanas that had taught her wanted to go, and they were just all over the place.  So I ended up with the English Sisters that we live with for the last half of the day, and had a great time with them! Which leads into my next first...

First time speaking Spanish without anyone there to save me! As I was with the English Sisters, we went tracting for a bit.  We knocked on one house, and started talking to a 17 year old boy there. I had the feeling that I should ask him if he spoke Spanish, but I didn't want to seem racist and be like Hey, you look Hispanic, do you speak Spanish? So I was kind of reluctant to bring it up (which by the way, DON'T do that. If the Spirit prompts you to do something follow it, no matter how weird it seems). He was about to close the door on us, when one of the little kids in the room behind him said "Esta aqui!' THEY SPOKE SPANISH! So really quickly before the door was shut, I asked him if he spoke Spanish. He said "ya...but I can speak English," and gave me the weirdest look like Hello, where have you been? We've been speaking english this whole time did you not understand me? So then I explained that I was a Spanish misisonary from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and talked a little bit about what we do (which is exactly what the English Sisters had done before me, the only difference was that this time it was in Spanish).  He called his mom over and as she came to the door I realized... OH NO. This is all on me. Hermana C isn't here to save me if I don't understand something (which actually happens about 93% of the time).  But I wasn't alone.  The Lord was with me.  I was able to speak and understand in Spanish with this wonderful lady. We talked for a couple minutes, and I thought she was going to just say no, because she was going off about how little time she has with work (Story of everyone's lives here) but right as I was about to give up she said that her whole family back in Guatemala is Mormon and if we speak about God, she would love to meet with us! Whoohoo!!! So we're going to try to meet with her on Thursday. I'm so excited!

First interrupted lesson.  So we were teaching one of our investigators and the kids were outside and then they ran in and told us that our friend was here. We looked out the window and coming up to the trailer was a girl that none of us knew, so we were all like HUH? She came to the door, and started talking to our investigator, and turns out she's a Jehovah Witness missionary! So our investigator tells her, oh ya, i'm already meeting with you missionaries, look, here's your sisters! The lady looks at us, realizes who we are, and apologizes and leaves.  It was just so funny though because we were all so confused and it was definitely a bit awkward.  But I'm glad to know that there's other people serving the Lord and helping others come to God in the best way that they can.

And to end, another miracle: four weeks ago, the English Sisters in our apartment lost their church keys.  They were stressing out about it a lot because they felt irresponsible and annoying to the church leaders that they had to keep asking for keys.  Sister Roosendaal finally decided to pray about it on Thursday, because it was bothering her so much (lesson #1: always pray in the beginning of a problem).  The next day, we were walking out to their car, and something drops behind them. We look back, and it's their keys!!! Four weeks and there they are! It's seriously like they fell from the sky.  So ya, God answers prayers!

I hope you are all having an amazing week! My testimony about the Atonement has really grown a lot this week.  I have been listening to a song by Josh Groban that is absolutely AMAZING you should definitely listen to it sometime this week! It's either called Don't Give Up or You Are Loved or Weight of the World. I don't really know, but those are lines most repeated in the song so it's something like that.  Whenever it seems like we ar alone, Christ is there.  He knows exactly how we feel and He will always help us. 
A Dios,
Hermana Albright

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Real Missionary

(Heidi was reassigned to Richmond, Virginia while she awaits for her visa to come.  She arrived in Richmond last Tuesday and has been busy being a missionary!!)

So guess what! I'm a real missionary! How crazy is that? I have two amazing companions, Hermana (Which means sister in Spanish) C  and Hermana H and I love them both so much! They picked me up on Thursday and we just jumped right into the work! I definitely didn't talk much (That's not like Heidi at all!)  at all that first day, I was having a hard time understanding what in the world anyone was saying! But then on Friday we did some English lessons and I felt a lot better. Haha but only a little but it's still hard to understand some of these southerners even when they speak English! Oh goodness. It's a party down here!  Also, the mosquitos have discovered that they love me.  I have 18 bites from the past four days on my shins.  Don't worry Mom, I'm buying bug spray today!

We have some AMAZING recent converts that we're teaching.  They are seriously so strong, inspirational, and hilarious! And they all speak in English! And then all of our investigators are Spanish. They are also amazing.  One is named (not given), and he is so strong already.  He went to church three times before we started teaching him! We taught him the restoration (The re-establishment of the ancient church and gospel of Jesus Christ in the latter days as revealed by God through Joseph Smith and the prophets who have succeeded him as president of the Church. The term “restored gospel” is used to emphasize its restoration from New Testament times) on Thursday and he had read the pamphlet and was basically telling us how it goes! Haha he's so great. 

 And then we have another one, who I met yesterday. His name is (not given) and he works on Sundays so he's been really hard to get to go to church. So last night we took him on a church tour! The Spirit was seriously SO STRONG there it was incredible. And I was speaking Spanish! I answered some of his questions, we flowed in unity and all took turns speaking, it was great! So basically, I love church tours. Haha but we saw the picture of Christ calling Peter James and John to be fishers of men, and someone we were teaching got excited and was like I know this one! Thats Christ calling his Apostles! Peter, James, John, Moses....    Hahahaha it was so hard to not crack up laughing right there! But we got past it and had a great time.

Speaking of church, that was an adventure! We go to an English ward, and Sister C translates all the talks and everything into Spanish right then and there (no pressure!) for our one active Spanish family, and any investigators we have there! It is so crazy. We have another brother in the ward that served his mission spanish speaking ten years ago. He helps out as best as he can and we are so blessed to have him! I am so scared for when I have to translate but it'll all be good!

 Our talks yesterday were about pioneers so we were all struggling with those words (anyone know what a handcart is in Spanish? No? me neither...) but Sister C did her best and Heavenly Father filled in the rest! The invesitigator said she did great (he's so nice) and that he felt the Spirit (YAY!). And his nieces that he had with him wanted to stay for Primary (the organization the church has for children 4-11 years old), so he stayed all three hours! So great!

I'm so excited to serve here with these wonderful people! They don't have much but the Lord blesses them greatly. I love talking to them about their answers to prayers, they have so many crazy cool stories! They really know how to find the miracles in life! In Spanish, "mira" means look, and one thing that I've learned this week is that there are so many little miracles throughout the day if we look for them.

 Oh man  I'll tell you an amazing thing about our weaknesses turning into strengths again. Ok here is the story: So a missionary I was teaching with has a struggle with depression. But she is a fighter and it is so impressive to see her push through the hard timesFriday morning she had an attack of depression, and through the Lord was able to get the will to get up and go to work! She still wasn't feeling that great, but she was doing her best for that day! One of our appointments fell through so we knocked on some random doors, and got let into to a house where the lady had problems with a mental disorder, I think it was bipolar. As we were talking about it, this particular missionary shared Alma 7: 11-12, (click for scripture) about the Atonement and how Christ understands ALL of our pains and feelings and will help us and comfort us as we come to Him. She started crying and the Spirit was so strong and it was just an amazing reconfirmation that our weaknesses really can become our strengths. Because nothing else that we were saying was helping this lady, but this particular missionary knew just what to say because of her experiences. What an amazing blessing the Atonement is! The Lord loves us all and will always give us the miracles that we need.  Check out Alma 37: 16-17 and think about the promises that we have been given by the Lord.  Pretty awesome! I know this church is true and I know that the power of God is real.  I love you all and hope you have an amazing have an amazing week!
A Dios, Hermana Albright

 opening her call!!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Last Week in the MTC!

Hello all! How ya doin? Hope you're having an excellent time back home! So let's start off with the REASSIGNMENT because I'm sure you're all wondering where in the world Siser Albright is going? (Heidi, 'Sister Albright', is going to go somewhere state side for a few weeks while she waits for her via.)  It's a great question.
 So we get reassignments every Thursday and Friday, but it's kind of random which day it is so we don't really know when we're going to get them. So yesterday lunch came...with no letters. But that's ok! We've still got dinner! The whole day we spent at In-field Orientation, which is a little meeting where they teach you all the last minute things they want you to know about how to be the best missionary you can be and basically getting you super psyched to go out in the field. So Dinner comes and we are all dying! In case you don't know, getting a reassignment is just like getting your call all over again.  All the excitement and anxiety comes rushing back! We planned where to meet after dinner so that we could all open our reassignments together, and sent our good District Leader on his way to get the mail probably much sooner than he wanted to haha but we could not have waited.  So there we are, bouncing up and down, quietly screaming, and generally trying (and sounds like failing) to contain at least some of our nerves.  And then....we see Elder Keetch coming with a huge amount of mail in his hands. He smiles and waves and heads over. We all thought we were going to die. He reaches us, and finally says "They didn't come." They didn't come! Ah! We were all so dejected.  But it's ok! Hopefully it comes tonight!
Anyway, besides that bit of excitement, we have had a really AMAZING week here!
After I emailed last week, we got to go clean the temple! Woot woot! Elder Keetch and Elder Palmer were security while we were there so they got to wear ginormous badges and check everyone's temple recommends.  Everyone else went through all these inside rooms (kitchen, laundrey room, a room with lots of pipes, etc) and feel super legit, and then we cleaned the men's locker room! Which, by the way, is waaaaay bigger than the women's locker room. Kinda ridiculous.  But it was fun, we sang lots of church songs while we worked, and of course some of us even whistled while we worked haha. But it was a great experience and it definitely made me appreciate the temple a little more.
 Then on Friday night, we got to have Family Home Evening (as Latter Day Saints we place a big emphasis on spending time with family.  Family Home Evening is a night that families set apart and try to have no other commitments, but to be with one another.  During this evening, there is generally a lesson about the Gospel that is taught by a family member.  Our family always included a game and treats after our FHE lessons.) with one of our (pretend) investigators! Hahaha that was super awesome.  So our "investigator" kept saying that he wanted us to meet his family, so finally Hermana Stanley and I asked when would be a good time to come by and teach a short lesson with them, and he said Friday night! Later, when he was in teacher mode again we asked him if that really was going to happen or if we should plan a real lesson to teach to him on Friday. But he just smiled and said to have faith, so we did! Haha it was great, he got three Spanish missionaries from another zone to act as his kids, and we had a real FHE with them! It was so amazing. I think that was the lesson we felt the Spirit the strongest so far. We sang Love at Home (in Spanish) and then had him lead his blindfolded kids through a short maze to represent how God leads us through life even though we can't see Him. We talked about the importance of family prayer and scripture study, and our investigator got so into it and would jump in and help explain things to "his kids" and talk about how easy and great it is....oh man I hope we have a real FHE like this sometime it seriously was the best.
 Sunday was a great devotional, as usual. And since it was Fast Sunday, (On the first Sunday of every month the L.D.S church holds Fast Sundays.  Fast Sunday is where you fast and pray for whatever it is you or those around you stand in need of. During Fast Sundays, a testimony meeting is held in sacrament (the first meeting at church) so the members can hear each other's testimonies and be lifted up by one another.) we had a mission conference! It was really cool, all the mission presidency talked to us.  I don't have my journal with me right now so I can't remember exactly what it was about but it was great! Afterwards, we walked into our room and Hermana McChesney was freaking out. One of her granola bars had been opened and nibbled on, so she thought there was a mouse in the room! (yes it does happen, even here)  And poor Hermana Stanley sleeps with her head right next to the food! And so returns Mouse-Hunter Sister Heidi Albright! (cue music) Haha I used my mouse hunting skills that I gained at Camp Whittle last year, and went through the room.  Luckily, I saw no evidence of a new little friend and we have had no more mousey experiences!
Wednesday we got to host again! (Hosting is where the missionaries go to meet the new missionaries coming into the MTC.  They pick them up from their families and help them find their way around their new home.) Hosting is seriously so much fun! I love it.  And I got to host Sister Webster Woot Woot! I love seeing all the new missionaries come in, ready to serve the Lord the best way that they can! At the end of the Joseph Smith movie, after seeing all the things that Joseph and the Saints went through, there's one line that definitely stands out to us all here: "Shall we not go forth in so great a work?"
So this week one thing that has really stuck out to me is the importance of recognizing your differences and what you can do with them.  Like that "where ever though art, act well thy part" stone, we all should be working to be the best that WE can be. We all have different weaknesses and strengths, and we are all put in a position where those are needed and if we focus outward, we can use them to help others in exactly the way that they need.  Also, our weaknesses really CAN be our strengths if we bring them to the Lord. We had an awesome experience today, our teachers wrote us a letter with a picture of Christ, and what our Christ-like attributes, our strengths, are.  I noticed that every one of our strengths were based on our weaknesses.  And as we have all worked hard to overcome our weakness, they have become the best part of us.  It is so crazy to think about how much Chirst has done for us and what He continues to do to help us today.  I know that if we turn to Him, He will take our weaknesses and turn them into strengths.  I love you all and wish you the best of luck this week.
A Dios!
Hermana Albright

Fourth of July Fun! 
Loving Some Utah rain!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

One Month Anniversary!

(This e-mail is a long and good one! But there is a picture at the end!!)
Hey everyone! News straight from the CCM or MTC in gringo lingo.  We got to stay up past our bedtime!! (Missionaries are normally in bed at 10:30  every night and wake up at 6:30 every morning... early bird gets the worm!!)
Fourth of July was yesterday and it was a FIESTA! We had so many treats from everyone's parents, so we brought them up to our classroom and had a party all day! Don't worry, we were learning too.  Then we had a little patriotic devotional, followed by..... 17 Miracles!!!  (17 Miracles is a movie about Pioneers in the Willie handcart company.  The Willie handcart company are people who were Latter Day Saints that traveled from Iowa to Utah.  They left late in the season and had many trials, but were blessed with more miracles.  Click here to learn more about the movie You can also watch it on Netflix if you have an account).  Such an amazing movie, you should definitely watch it if you haven't! Or watch it again if you have haha.  But it definitely reminded me of how easy our life is.  And how much our Heavenly Father loves us and helps us. I know that He truly cares for every person and miracles really do happen
After that, we got to stay out until around eleven to watch the fireworks!! So much fun! They were super awesome.  It was way cool because we started singing all the patriotic songs that we know as we were watching them.  We are so blessed to live in this country at this time, with so much freedom and a great government system, and so many people out there fighting for our rights. I hope you send a little prayer out to our leaders and our soldiers, because they need all the help that they can get to defend such a worthy cause.
Wednesday we got to host the new missionaries, which was SUPER fun! You know all those missionaries that were on the sidewalk when I came in, welcoming everyone, and one of them helped me with my suitcases? Yup that was me this week! It was super awesome to see the reinforcements come in (haha we really do feel like an army sometimes.) We get to help them and give them a mini tour as we find their room, stuff, and classroom.  It's real fun because they have an immediate friend here.  I've already been able to see my missionaries that I hosted multiple times after that, they're so great!
Anyway back to answering questions:
Sister Training Leader is kind of like a zone leader for the sisters. We interview them and help them out however we can. But we still answer to our own district leader and zone leaders (who are elders, or boy missionaries). It's an interesting dynamic but definitely a necessary one.
Normally we get to go to the temple on our P-day,  (the missionaries get one day a week to get their personal things taken care of.  This includes doing laundry, grocery shopping when they are not in the MTC, writing letters etc.)  then on Sunday we walk around the temple, and we exercise in the field in between the MTC and the temple pretty much every day.  So that's the most of the outside world that we get but it's all that we need! But the temple is closed now for cleaning so no more temple trips on Pdays.  But our district was asked to help out the cleaning which will be super fun! I'm super stoked because I've always wondered how they cleaned it and now I get to see! I feel so much like a secret agent sometimes, going into all these restricted access rooms here in the MTC and now I get to go to the temple and clean some rooms.. ya we're legit!
So class is three hours at a time.  Some days we have two classes and some days we have one.  Both of our teachers are AMAZING though! Seriously.  I love them so much.  they help us with everything and always know exactly what we are struggling with, even emotionally when we try to hide it, and they know exactly how to help us everytime.  It's so crazy.  The Spirit is definitely helping us all out so much. I know that the Lord gives us direct revelation everyday!
Haha I can speak a lot in Spanish, so now the problem is understanding paragraphs! Normally I can understand like a sentence or two but as soon as our teachers or investigators just start going off about something.. I'm a goner! Haha and they're so easy on us too it's going to be crazy hard understanding real people out in the field! Oh and the intermediate class is for people who have had like seven years of Spanish in school.  I'm definitely in the beginning class.
Oh I almost forgot! TODAY IS MY ONE MONTH ANNIVERSARY!! Woot woot! So my district pretty much claimed that half of the fireworks last night were for our own celebration.  And one of my sisters' moms sent us those confetti / popper things so we're going to pull them tonight to celebrate together.  So much fun! It's so crazy though it definitely just FLEW by! Ah! I cannot believe it! This time next week, I might have my travel plans for my reassignment! I definitely don't feel ready yet, but I don't think I ever would. But the best part is when I remember that the Lord is on my side, so it doesn't matter what I know because He knows all things!
I want to challenge you all to think about how the restoration applies to you this week.  It's so crazy how many lessons we can continually pull out of it, but it's just so easy to just think about it as just a story in history.  I know that God and Jesus Christ really did appear to Joseph Smith in answer to His prayer.  And I know that this is the true church, restored though the power of God.  How blessed we are to have this knowledge! I know that in weakness, God makes us strong.  Think about how little importance Joseph would have seemed to the world at the time--an uneducated, fourteen year old boy! But through the help of God, he was able to accomplish so many great things. When we rely on the strength of God, we too can accomplish great things.  I know this to be true.  And  I hope you all pray about it to know for yourselves. 
I love you all! And I hope you have an amazing week!
Here's a picture of Heidi cleaning the shower.  Looks fun, don't ya think?

A Dios, Hermana Albright