Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Small and Simple Update :)

Well hello everyone!!!!!!

I don't have much time today.  I just want you all to know how happy I am.  I love being a missionary and it is the greatest thing I have ever done in my life.  I am so blessed Heavenly Father gave me these 18 months.

The more you keep the commandments, the more you see God's blessings in your life.  BUT they are always there.  Sometimes you're just too human to see them.  I can't explain how amazing it is to see that God brings to pass so many great things through such imperfect people.  It's still just really hard to believe HOW MUCH God loves His children.  "Man is nothing."  Well, yes, I am nothing...But those are not my words.  I think they're Moses's.  Anyway, all he is saying is that WE are so very small and simple.  How can it be... that God trusts us to share in the same work that is His, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man... That is a big deal.

Recently I have had many spiritual experiences and confirmations of my testimony. I have never been so humbled in my life.   I owe everyone a very sincere apology for any way my faults have affected your lives.  I do love you all and hope to show that love always.  I hope that doesn't sound too gloomy because I am really happy :)  The mission is just a humbling place.  You see in bright RED all of your many imperfections.

It is hard not to feel...small and simple...because we are, BUT God still helps us to feel His unconditional love and peace with where we are and where we are going. 

Well, really, I had an AMAZING week and not too much time to share about it because I have my first zone activity today.
Look what I made!  My beans came out just like mom's! And...I ate them with a tortilla... I hope I'm still part Puerto Rican by the time I get back :)

First, I love that I have met some Puerto Ricans here.  They are AWESOME! And everyone makes fun of their Spanish.  Second, I gave my first talk in Spanish in sacrament yesterday and it was AWFUL, but someone told me they could feel the Spirit and I almost cried because I was so grateful.  Again, God is always helping us.  Third, my companion refuses to hand feed me.  She'll come around. And when she does, I'll let you know :)  Fourth,  I PREFER TO EAT THINGS WITH HOT SAUCE! What?! I know... There is a large Mexican population out here and I just eat what they feed me :)  Tortillas, hot sauce...It doesn't always sit well in my stomach, but my taste buds have been enjoying some very different and spicy things.
Cooking enchiladas with Abuelita! Hot day...

My ward is on FIRE! They are so pumped for the work and we are doing ALL we can to help them.  We are planning ward activities, catching the vision of the bishop, committing to improve on whatever he asks us to.  The people here are soo very sweet and they all LOVE us sister missionaries!

Oh, and my companion is wonderful.  I totally love her.  I didn't get a transfer, so same one. Yay!  She is also a perfectionist. I'll tell you more about her later :)

My companion and me!

I love you all! Find out who your ward missionaries are and talk to them! They need your help!~

Que les vaya bien,
Hermana Sanabria! <3

PS - An hermano from my ward said this to my companion and I with tears in his eyes:

"You come out here to baptize, but I want you to know that you already fulfilled your purpose because I have never seen my dad's heart be so softened.  Especially not by missionaries.  Thank you for coming on your missions."

His dad isn't a member and you could tell he was so happy that we could be instruments and help him.  <3

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mi Nueva Vida

The famous Portillos! I got to go just like Hermana Fisher told me to!
Okay! My dear family and loved ones!

Oh, what a beautiful day!!!!! I want you all to know that miracles happen EVERY DAY!  My companion and I experience and hear of multiple...and those are just the ones we are actually aware of at the moment. 

It has been probably the most amazing week of my mission yet.  There have been so many tears, but so much joy.  Where do I start? 

We had a HUGE miracle.  And here is the disclaimer: It had nothing to do with us.  We are just the harvesters.  We got a referral from the English elders about this family they tracted into that didn't speak English.  The son translated for them.  That was on Friday.  We went to see the family Saturday, had a lesson and invited them to church on Sunday.  It's a mom, her 5 sons (and one on the way), her "husband" and his brother.  They ALL came to church!! Her boys are just amazing little spirits.  She's worried about the older ones and really wants them to have the gospel.  They are soooo prepared!!!

We went to their house before church to help them get ready to go and the mom was just so excited.  The boys really didn't seem too upset about waking up early either!  It is just amazing.  This miracle.  I don't know if you sense the gravity of it! 

When the mom was 15, missionaries taught her for a little bit in Mexico.  It was absolutely God's hand that the Elders came to her door on Friday and not us.  She remembered their white shirts and ties.  She remembered those name-tags and she knew that it was an answer to the struggles she was facing.  I am so grateful that their family will have the gospel in their lives.  They loved church and the members were soo helpful and welcoming.  Yay!

I really am so blessed for the health and safety and happiness of my family.  There is one very very sweet lady in our ward who just lost her only son two months ago.  He was only 18 and I think it had to do with drugs.  She has no family in the states and no husband.  She is now living alone in an apartment and we are doing all we can to support her.  Thankfully, she has crazy strong faith- even after being inactive for four years- and she is doing amazing.

We made her a Book of Mormon study journal and let her write the title on it or decorate it.  It was a really tender moment watching her write, "Mi Nueva Vida."  She said she'd write in it that same night.

We can all start a new life with a new attitude and with new hopes and dreams as often as we'd like.  Just decide to.  God can take us where we are, with what we have, in any point in time and make us exactly who we need to become.  We just have to let Him.  What a blessing.  My companion and I were talking about how it's great to know that we can't mess up God's plan.  We just can't.  When we make a mistake, when we don't follow a prompting, He still provides a way for his eternal purposes to be brought to pass.  How wonderful!!

She really made me think that I would go through any and every trial if it just brought me closer to my Father in Heaven.  I would endure any heartache and sadness, any despair and trouble, any difficulties just to be closer to God.  And we have the assurance that everything is made up through the Atonement.  I know, I should be careful of what I say because it's not as easy as it sounds, but I think we'd all agree. 

We got lost and ran into this awesome couple.  We helped them carry stuff to their car and talked a little about the church.  They were off to a birthday party, but they said we could stop by their apartment any time!  Let me tell you about this hilarious interchange:

---He had mentioned earlier that he had one son named Isaac---
Me: I'm Hermana Sanabria
Man: I'm Abraham
me: En serio??!
Man: Yes, It was meant to be that way because Abraham in the bible really inspired me. My name was Orville, but I had it changed to Abraham.
Us: Wow...that's really cool...
---This is when we both look at his wife---
She chimed in: No no no. I'm just Julie. Not Sarah. He tried to get me to change my name to Sarah, but NOPE. I am Julie. Just Julie.

Hahaha. Hilarous, huh?!

There was this other time we were at a garage sale and started talking to this Spanish lady.  We had been talking to her for a while when a man interrupted (very nicely) to tell us that we were bringing a foreign God onto his property and we couldn't hand out material unless we took some of his.  Of course we did, but he kept us there for a long time talking about how we don't put Jesus first.

The lady had walked away and we thought we wouldn't see her again, but she came back and interrupted the man to shake our hands.  She gave us her address so we could go teach her more and said, "Mi casa es su casa."  The man didn't understand Spanish ;)  He was super nice though.  We left on great terms :)

Listen to this one :)  We had a lesson on the Word of Wisdom in church this Sunday.  Do you want to know what they talked about? *Keep in mind that I'm in a completely Hispanic ward.*  You should not put so much salt on your watermelon.  Then you really can't taste the fruit that God made for us."  I agree.  Limit the salty fruit.

Remember,  we cannot be or do anything without Jesus Christ.  We would not have anything if it weren't for His Atonement.  Every minute is precious so please use it on what matters.  It works out pretty well when your daily schedule is to exercise, study, teach and serve.  All day long.  Days are like weeks, weeks are like days. How true that is.  Oh how I WISH I could stay on a mission forever!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey, pleeasseee go out and teach with the missionaries.  They need your testimony, people in this world just need some good friends.  Help the missionaries by being a good friend to the people they are teaching.  How GREAT will be your joy!

Your missionary,
Hermana Sanabria

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

HARVEST that field!

Hello!!! I will probably print all of your letters today because I don't have much time to read them before I write this. Sorry! WOW! Well, where do I start?! I tried to control my emotions when writing last time, but that is sooo HARD! So, I'm just gonna let it all out today :) 
AH! Okay, we have a ROCKIN' investigator.  I'll refer to her here as Ellie.  She is about 46 years old.  She was the last house we knocked on Saturday.  When she opened the door she just stared at our name tags.  It looked like she was concentrating really hard.  So... I just started our little introduction, "Hello! We're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ..." As soon as I finished she said, "Like with Joseph Smith and all that? Do you want to come in?" ABSOLUTELY! "Sure, thanks!" :)
So someone on a line at the store had brought it up to her before.  ~Thank you very much for helping prepare her, sir.~  Long story short, she knows the Bible soo well and goes to church, but REALLY wants to find out from God if what we teach is true.  Talk about golden.  After our first lesson she studied the Book of Mormon for two hours and prayed her heart out to know.  Guess what? She also quoted James 1:5 before we brought up that Joseph Smith was inspired by that SAME scripture! 

So, she wanted us to come back Sunday and we did! She sat down quickly and said, "Okay! Vamos a empezar.  Tengo hambre!"  And she folded her arms for the prayer :)  She was again referring to the Bible and the spiritual hunger she had for truth.  Cute, huh?!
We are going back tonight.  Three days in a row so far.  She told us, "I wish you could just come every day and that I could study this all day long."  THIS is the definition of a white field. READY TO HARVEST BABY. 
What else?... The 3 teenage boys we taught last time were outside playing basketball this past week and hid from us.  Sad :(  They started hanging out with some different boys and I'm pretty sure they're getting into drugs now.  Stupid Satan. 
My comp is awesome!  The mission realllyyy has got to be good practice for marriage.  We have a DTR like everyday :)   I'm memorizing Moroni 7:45-48. You should too!  It helps me to remember that I need to have love for everyone all the time.
Oh!!!!! One last thing!!! Okay, last Monday.  It was a long day right?   We get home from teaching and my companion wanted to throw some stuff in the dumpster.  She threw THE KEYS into the DUMPSTER!
I have ALWAYS ALWAYS wanted to go dumpster diving ALWAYS! You can't imagine how excited I was.  I jumped inside that dumpster---- skirt and name-tag and all.  IT WAS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!! Talk about a tender mercy from God.  Ah. I am still SO EXCITED about it.  It was dark and smelly and something splashed on my ankle when I jumped in, but it was AMAZING!
Okay, I have to go now!  I love you all! Keep studying the scriptures, sharing the gospel and praying your hearts out. 
Hermana Sanabria

Monday, August 5, 2013

Two weeks feels like two months

Well, things really are getting better and better :) The boy that was getting baptized probably won't get baptized on the 10th :( His parents want to postpone it. I'm really glad my companion is who she is.  She and I have our differences of course, but we love each other and are becoming more efficient teachers by the minute.
Yay for cereal!

I had my first really scary encounter yesterday.  We decided we'd see what it was like on the other side of the river.  It's in our area, but we hadn't been yet.  It was different. We talked to this girl who was about 16 years old (only 3 years younger than me) and she said she would like a Book of Mormon, so we gave her one and told her a little bit about it. 

We then went on to meet different people in the neighborhood, and 10 minutes later, the girl's mom with a big dog approached us.  The terrified (and now very uncomfortable) girl was lagging behind. The mom yelled to us and was verryyy angry.  She handed back our Book of Mormon and chastised us hardcore.  "Why do you think it's okay to just walk up to a child like that?! This is a very tight-knit community and if I ever see you doing that again I will call the police!" 

We told her we were really sorry and wished her a good night in the nicest way possible.  I think she was mad that we didn't get mad back, but what can we say?  We're missionaries.
I felt bad for... whatever exactly it was that made her so angry.  And from now on we will definitely consider a 16-year-old as a child and never talk to them, but it was just really a funny experience.  I hope she feels better now.  Well, that was one of the craziest things.
Out on the road :)

Did I tell you that an atheist prayed with us?  It was a great experience :)  Oh! Get this!  A couple of days ago we met a man that ONLY spoke Italian.  And we totally understood him!! We just responded in Spanish and he understood pretty well too! It was soo cool. 

I can't believe I actually kind of know Spanish for real.  It's such a blessing.  Can I say again how extremely grateful I am to have a journal?  I am trying to re-read my entries every week now and it's just SO AWESOME!  Not because I write well or my hand-writing is nice... or that it even makes sense a lot of the time... 
Cute story! Ask mom to translate ;)

It's just amazing because you forget soooo much.  And things change sooo often.  Also, read D&C 6.  When you need more of a witness, remember the ones you have received in the past.  How?  By writing them down.  And reading them again.  I figure someone will be blessed through my advocacy of journaling. 

"The elect will hear my voice and harden not their hearts (D&C 29, I think)." You ARE the elect of God when you heed his words. We had this tender experience the other day too. These are some of the elect of God for sure. We met a kid named Rick (age 18/19) and we asked if he would like a Book of Mormon, to which he responded, "That's whats up." :]

So, we gave him one and went to visit another boy we had been teaching down the block who is about 17- yes, we got permission from his parents. That boy...let's call him Tommy...was outside playing basketball and then we sat down to teach him more.  Awesomely, his friend P.J. showed up and started asking us a bunch of questions.  He joined to listen to the lesson and then Rick from down the road showed up again too because he wanted to listen some more!

It was so cool that these 3 teenage boys had read the Book of Mormon and were so impressed with the fact that the Atonement could wash away their sins, that they had a purpose in this life and that God could communicate with them through prayer.  How amazing is that?!
I cut my own hair. Spontaneity keeps life exciting.

I wish I could write forever, but that will have to suffice.  I am still trying to gain weight.  I am loving it here more and more everyday.  We tracted in the rain and it was fabulous.  If anyone wants to send me some jokes, I've exhausted all of my old ones :] Miss you all! Make sure you have studied or re-studied chapters 4 and 6 of Preach My Gospel!  Missionary work is so incredibly amazing.  Choose the right!


Hermana Sanabria!!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

LET'S DO SOME GOOD! My first week in the field

AHHH!!!! I'm in the field!!! And the library is SOOO quiet!!! Do you think they'll get mad if I scream REALLY loud? Just once?  Ah.  Nobody understands.  Well. well. well. WELL! Where do I start?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Ah!!!!! I'm on a MISSION! I'm not yelling, I promise.  I am just... writing with feeling... in a loud tone...but just in my head...Don't worry about it.  Ah! Okay... where to start?  I'm just too excited! My companion is Hermana Trimble.  She is great and OH! I have so much to tell you all.  The only person who is going to want to read this crazy letter is my mom :P  But that's good.  Oh mom, I love you sooo much :)  Deep breathing.

I'm okay now.  First, I am very excited because everyone from my MTC districts just sent me a bunch of emails and I love them and they make me so happy :)  They are serving so well! Second, I was in the MTC on the night of ...the night before I left. I set my alarm for 2am so I could make sure everything was ready before I got to the travel office at 3:30am (my assigned time).  Long story short, one of my companions woke me up at 3:15am.  It was scary :) Because if I had stayed in the MTC any longer I may have cried.  BUT I got there right at 3:30 and it was great.  A bus full of happy and wide-awake missionaries drove to the airport. 

On the plane, I sat next to Gerald.  He was a sweet old man who managed to live in Utah 30 years without being Mormon.  We talked about religion the whole way and read a little from the Book of Mormon.  He was great.  And he was a hugger.  When we said our goodbyes he tried to hug me was weird.  But don't worry, I only shook his hand.  I want to tell you every detail, but... let's get to THE WORK!

So, I got to Illinois and was congratulated as I got off the plane (by those who were LDS, of course).  I ate Israeli food with my mission president and his wife, the zone leaders and the sister training leaders.  They taught me some technicals about the field.  I met my companion and the sight of her was wonderful!  We ran to get some food from Walmart before p-day ended and then we went straight to our appointment.  My very first! AND GUESS WHAT? I invited him to be baptized and he committed!  August 10th!  It was our first appointment with him too.  Am I allowed to give details about my wonderful investigators?  I never checked on that...

This is a long email.  What else?  I haven't even gotten to the good stuff.  We are opening up a brand new area so that is really exciting.  They are all just dying to hear the word. My companion uses metal utensils when she cooks with pots- I told her you wold not approve, mom.  Spanish people are sooo sweet.  My first Sunday in the ward was amazing.  The people are SO excited to have sisters after 2 years.  They've been feeding us well.  Over feeding us?  Yes.  No gross food yet though. 

My Spanish is improving.  You don't want to hear this.  I just dont know what good stuff to put in here! I'm a little too excited.  I LOVE IT HERE.  It is soo much like NY! I love the humidity, the people, the little branch, the FIREFLIES!, the fact that there are actually non-members here!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. 

We have been working so hard.  Moving every minute. P-day is 11-6pm, but we just had to meet with one of our investigators during prep time.  She likes having us over to teach her and her family, but she just likes talking about religion.  She has so much desire to do what God wants.  We've done all we could for her and she just hasn't been keeping any commitments.  She hasn't read the Book of Mormon really, prayed, or attended church.  And she isn't willing to. Lesson here:  Learning is great, but if you never *apply* truth to your life you will never ever KNOW (Ether 12:6 etc.) and things will never ever change.  "If nothing changes, nothing changes." -Someone wise.

I love my little apartment. It feels so much like home :)  We've only been in the area a week, but the other elders (2 companionships) have been there longer.  All of the members are pumped about the work and helping a ton.  I lucked out being called Spanish-speaking.  You get to give hugs and be hugged (just by the women) all the time! 

I love always having a reason to smile.  It's all about thinking about other people.  A happy missionary helps the ward a whole ton and so I'm striving to be that kind of missionary.  I have to give a talk in church in a few weeks.  We'll see if anyone can understand my Spanish!

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is real and powerful.  The Book of Mormon is the word of God. Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God that restored His church in this dispensation.  Gather truth, increase in light.  The more you put faith in action, the more light you receive.  The more light you get, the more truth you understand. Then you keep growing and learning and becoming more like Christ.  Yay!  Be anxiously engaged in a good cause and exemplify charity like you've never exemplified it before!

Sorry again. I'll have a more normal update next week.  I'll jsut write it out beforehand or something :)   I am just, I'm just too excited to function right. 

Hermana Sanabria

Friday, July 19, 2013

Last week at the MTC - Fingers crossed!

Well let me tell you... Haha.  I love writing these letters home.  I apologize for the fact that they've been mostly preaching, but I assure you all that it is so I remember to take my own advice :)  I intend to condemn no one.  I wasn't sure what to tell you all about this week! Generally there are tons of things to rant about, but- oh I can feel the inspiration coming.

My new pretend family
First, let me tell you about what mom has referred to as my "new pretend family" :) That's my district.  They're sooo great! I am also the only sister in a class of 12 elders.  They just call me "The hermana" because they can.  Hermana Asay is doing well since her appendectomy and we totally had a party last night, and the night before, telling jokes.  This one is slightly... anyway, I thought it was funny:  Why do missionaries have such big bladders?
Because they only get ONE p-day per week!
If you have any jokes to share I would be delighted to read them :)
Me and Hermana Asay with no appendix!
I bought 1,500 pre-made flash cards because I started to see the need for an extended vocabulary.  Elder Remund from my first district (he is out in the field now, of course (Virginia)) and he got assigned to TRANSLATE sacrament meeting from English to Spanish every week.  Are you kidding me?   Are you kidding me??   I have no idea how that is going to be possible after only 6 weeks of "studying" Spanish!  BUT the Lord is with us and I know Elder Remund will do great.  Hopefully I won't get that assignment until I at least finish my flash cards :)
One exciting thing is that I speak in Spanish in my sleep.  Apparently I will say whole sentences, but last night I just called out, "Bautizarse!" Which means, "to get baptized."  Haha.  Oh how I love being a missionary. 
Things get crazy at nighttime
Have I actually told you all about the MTC?  Well, its like this:  We are trapped in this tiny community BUT we could walk out at any time and no one would know until they realized we were gone.  The Spirit here is SO strong and you can feel it every minute.  Our schedule:  Wake up at 6:30.  Exercise.  Breakfast. Personal study. Class for 3 hours. Lunch. Class for 3 hours.  Language Study.  Dinner.  Language study.  Personal study.  Planning.  Bedtime at 10:30.  It is a beautiful life.  Literally, a dream come true.  You don't know how many times I've tried to implement the missionary schedule in my life.  Now I really get to do it successfully (for a whole 18 months) and its AMAZING!  But as much as I LOVE the MTC... I'll be excited to add some variety to my day and teach the gospel to real people in a little bit.
Some other important things I may not have mentioned: Here at the MTC they've got a tree that smells like cream soda.  It's rad.  Slip-extenders are not allowed.   Bring headphones to watch mormon messages at 2m- that is allowed.  Don't bring any extra books, you won't need them.    Is that all you need to know about the MTC? I think yes.
Now to share my more spiritual thoughts... I woke up with these lyrics in my head from the soundtrack of Joseph King of Dreams, " Maybe knowing I don't know is part of getting through.  If this has been a test, then faith has made it easy, to see the best thing I can do is put my trust in You.  You know better than I. You know the way.  I 've let go the need to know why, for You know better than I."  Of course I can't be sure those are right, but thats what I woke up to.  I testify that as long as we are living on this earth we will need faith. 
One of my favorite scriptures: Porque por fe andamos, no por vista (2 Cor 5:7, I think).  We walk by faith, not by sight.  Part of the covenant we make at baptism is to endure to the end.  I know that as we strive to do this we are blessed.  We may not always know what the exact plan is for us in the future, but we don't need to.  I think not knowing really is part of enduring with faith and learning to trust God.  Press on and rely on the covenants you have made or can make with God to give you added strength and comfort.
God loves us.  Jesus Christ's sacrifice for us is real.  It enables us to become more than we think we can.  We can't be perfect, but we can be perfected through Him.  I so desire to live His commandments exactly throughout my life.  I am very grateful for those people in my life that help me do that.  I love you all.  Every member a missionary.  The world needs the RESTORED GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.
Hermana Sanabria

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Most Intense Week Ever

This email will probably come in a little bit late because I spent 10 hours out in the real world today!  So, here's how it all began...
First, let me inform you that I am a solo sister now in a trio since my district left. Oh! And that's just a whole separate story.  My district is amazing and I know God hand-picked them just for me.  They all left by this Wednesday and so now I get to help out with things here in the MTC.  I just can't wait till I see all of my district again.  They're going to do SO great!  Okay, so I woke up at 6:30 and got ready for the day.  At 7am I started to do some exercise while my companions finished getting ready and then BAM! At 8am the craziness commenced...
Sucio Saturday
My companion was in a lot of pain.  She said it was her side that was bothering her and it even hurt to walk.  To try to simplify a long story I'll say this...  We went to the MTC Health Clinic, then they sent us to the BYU Health Clinic where my comp got an iv for dehydration.  Then off to some random place for a ct scan...and finally, we were sent to the ER for surgery because she had appendicitis :( 
She was such a trooper.  We finally got taken back home at 6:30pm tonight!  It was right in time for dinner which was great because we lived off of vending machine snacks all day.  Yummm :)  My companion is staying overnight in the hospital, but the surgery went well.
Dispensations day! I was supposed to be Adam, THE Adam
There were SO many great parts to my day.  One huge blessing was that one of the BYU students that shuttled us to the MTC was spiritually and temporally prepared.  He asked if she would like a blessing and beamed as he pulled over and laid his hands on her head right there in the van.  The Spirit was so strong and I was immensely grateful for his diligence in living the gospel so that he was worthy to give my companion a blessing.  So, more waiting...more studying... and more freaking out.  I was very much aware that I was around REAL people and not pretend investigators.  I struck up a conversation with anyone I could, but until I did I was sitting there thinking, "Who should I talk to?  What should I say?  What is the Spirit telling me?  Is that person giving me that weird face because they want me to talk to them? I don't know what to say. What if they're anti-Mormon?..." It went on and on. 
In memory of our forefathers!
Anyway, I spoke to this old couple who definitely were not anti-Mormon.  The old lady just grabbed my hand and wouldn't let go.  It was all wrinkly and warm :) She said cute grandma things like, "You're so precious."  I almost took her back home.  She also kissed my hand twice....that's cool too. :)  An old man shared some missionary wisdom.  So did another.  Of course everyone is Mormon- or so you'd think! In the emergency waiting room I walked over to these native Spanish-speakers.  She spoke broken English and was mildly anti-Mormon and the man spoke no English.  They were both kind of catholic.  It was so much fun! I could actually communicate with them! Or at least I thought I was :)  The man had strong faith and also believed in faith AND works, but he focused on his independent relationship with Christ and couldn't fathom the idea of one church under Christ with a modern-day prophet.  So, it was a lot of fun.  The anti-Mormon lady gave me a goodbye hug and a peach.  Score.  The native man shook my hand and said thanks.  I was talking with them for about an hour and I'm sure if nothing else they enjoyed the entertainment.  Hispanic people are great.  Julio and Elba... I really enjoyed getting to know them. 
Our missions!


I didn't have much time to write today... My apologies.

I love you all!
Hermana Sanabria

Friday, July 5, 2013

I'm a missionary for REALZ

Yesterday was THE BEST day of my MTC experience yet.  I wish I could expain to you why and how... but I will just say that it was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life and absolutely confirmed my faith in my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.  I KNOW Heavenly Father loves me.  And, although I don't know exactly how much, I know that He loves me a whole ton.  Isn't it amazing that even when our faults seem to outweigh our strengths, God blesses us and answers our prayers and is STILL there to protect us?  Isn't it amazing that God is aware of EVERY detail of your life?  Isn't it so incredible that the Atonement of Jesus Christ reaches to every single soul, in every single situation, in exactly the way one might need it to?  
Sand volleyball... It's what we do :) And no, I don't always look that gangster. It's just a good day.

I can absolutely relate to the lyrics of this hymn,  "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me.  Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.  I tremble to know that for me He was crucified,  That for me, a sinner, He suffered, he bled and died.  Oh it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me!  Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me!" 

My district with our teacher!
I cannot wait to complete an honorable mission and someday be sealed in the temple to my family.  I think about my future family and try to live as they would want me to live so I can tell them sweet stories about my mission!  I think about my ancestors, my grandma and everyone that has gone before me that have made me who I am today.  This gospel is about families.  And I am going to do everything I can to make sure that my family is sealed together for eternity.  Past, present and future.  Did you know that two companionships in my district have found out that they are related to each other?? That just makes me sooo happy! Please tell me you can see the amazing things God is doing among families. 
I feel so blessed that God has given us the opportunity to make covenants with Him.  When we follow our covenants with exact obedience we are blessed beyond our ability to comprehend.  I know God has wonderful plans for me that I would never even imagine for myself.  I look forward with hope to those blessings of service and peace and strength.  I want to bear my testimony to you all that God loves you more than you could ever imagine.  He is mindful of you and is not waiting for you to meet any requirements before He reaches out His hands to help you.  I testify that God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, live.  I know it.  And I know that there is NO OTHER WAY to return to Their presence except through our choice to follow The Plan of Salvation.  We must have faith, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.  This is a gospel of hope.  God is merciful to all those that come unto Him and He is pleased with every effort me make... even when our efforts are pathetic at best.
Please just take the steps.  Start with faith and if you feel like you don't have faith, start with a desire.  If you feel like you don't have a desire, start with a desire to desire to have faith.  It is simple and God will help you every step of the way, whether you feel Him there with every step or not.  The trial is to stick with it and hope with all your might that the blessings that God has promised you will be brought to pass.  I know they will.  God has done this for me in my life even when I believed my faults were too great.  Even when I fully believed I was the exception to the Atonement.  Even when I thought the pain I was feeling could never ever go away.  The Atonement covers any kind of grief.  
More Christmas!!!

God lives and loves you.  There is proof of that in your life this very minute.  Count your blessings and know that you have amazing potential.  God's work is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."  That is what He wants for you and as our Father, He has shown us THE ONLY WAY.  I can't stress that enough.  Remember, after baptism, the Spirit can be your constant companion.  Tune into His voice because promptings come every minute of everyday.  Pardon my preaching.  What can I say?  I'm a missionary :)  Oh, and this missionary is now stuck at the MTC for an extra 2 weeks.  I don't leave till the 22nd of July.  Happy fourth of July! I'll be watching the fireworks with you all tomorrow! Life is short and God needs us to be awesome so let's get to it!

Hermana Sanabria

Friday, June 28, 2013

Christmas in the MTC

OH MY GOODNESS! OH MY GOODNESS! I am so very excited. This week was sick.  Okay, let me start with the devotional.  I got to be in the choir and that was SUCH a beautiful experience, but that also meant that I got to sit pretty close to all of the apostles.  When they walked in I felt such a strong, comforting spirit.  By that point my week was already made, but get this:  Elder Richard G. Scott LOOKED AT US and gave us a THUMBS UP.  I would know because I was staring at him the whole time.  What a precious man.  I finally got to see him in person!! Oh, how GLORIOUS! Elder Russel M. Nelson looked at us sisters in the choir with an astonished grin and said to Elder Oaks (I could read his lips),"Wow! There are so many of them!"  He seemed surprised to be looking at so many sister missionaries at one time :)  I mean no disrespect by saying this... but the general authorities of the Church (among others things) are some of THE cutest men alive.  Is that bad to say?   I'm sorry.  I just so much enjoyed seeing them in person. 

At the broadcast!
Anyway, yay for the use of more social media and things!  I'm loving life without it all, but if it is going to further the work I'll have to manage.  So, something has really been bothering me.  EVERYONE in my district is taller than me.  I am by far the smallest person and sure... in the real world, maybe you could say I'm average-sized... but here in my district I am the baby of the group.  They actually call me Cara Bebe (baby face).  I don't know how I feel about that... Anyway :) Life is looking up here in the mission field.  Our pretend (but still very real) investigators Josue and Lydia and taking well to our visits.  We've had some very spiritual experiences with them, but I figure... for lack of time I'll only share the real life ones when they come.  If I'm even allowed to share a little about those kinds of things... what are the rules for that stuff anyway?  I'll find out. 

My District :)  Notice I'm the shortest
So, yesterday was half Christmas!  We made a tree, sang Christmas songs all week, decorated as much as we could, our whole district wore red and green, and the best part is: SANTA CAME.  Us missionaries don't have much, but we all put together little presents and snacks and woke up to them under our tree!  Conveniently, a special someone provided us with cinnamon rolls and sparkling cider :)  (Thanks Kel!)  Oh and on Christmas Eve we were blessed to have a little bit of precipitation.  Not exactly a white Christmas... but a wet one :]  For the past four days, the sisters in my district have asked that I tell them stories in my baby voice and whistle them to sleep.  The first night, that nonsense lasted for almost a whole hour and a half.  We've been more responsible since. Hahaha, sister missionaries... They are easily pleased. 

Christmas in June! (Half Christmas!)
My Spanish is coming very well.  Now I know what I need to know, feel me? Listen to these crazy connections in my district:  I am going to Chicago-- Hermana Fisher is from Chicago. Elder Remund is from Utah-- Hermana Fisher, Elder Reis, Hermana Lawrence, and Hermana Arnell are serving in Utah.  Elder Smith is going to New York-- Guess where I'm from? New York!  Hermana Lawrence is from Missouri-- Elder Keine is serving in Missouri.  Hermana Woolstenhulme is going to Arizona-- And that is where Hermana Carr is from.  Isn't that cool??  We are all so close.  They're a huge blessing to me :) 

Sleepy at 9:30 p.m.
Some words of wisdom for you all:  If you are ever discontent with life, please count your blessings.  If you ever feel alone, write down all the ways you've seen God's hand in your life.  I don't want to have to say it again... but I will :) WRITE IN A JOURNAL! It is such a blessing; however, the blessing is magnified when you consistently reread your journal.  And don't forget to practice self-mastery.  Deny yourself of all ungodliness and focus on overcoming the natural man.  When you're tired and you should be working - keep working.  When you want to eat that third mint brownie - No no no. Get some cantaloupe.  We all can have faith in God because He can do anything and everything, but have some faith in yourself as well... because of your faith in God.  You can be so much better than you are and do much more than you are doing. 
As the army of Helaman...
Oh, and here's my personal thought... You can kind of gauge how close you are to the Lord by how much peace you have in your life.  Satan is the father of all lies and imitates every kind of emotion, but the one thing he can't imitate is peace.  Find the peace that only comes from Christ and turning your will over to Him.

If you want to find greater happiness, charity, faith, strength and peace: READ the Book of Mormon.  It is what it is.  And it's wonderful.
Love you all!
Hermana Sanabria

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Come Unto Christ semana pasada...fue muy bien!!!  My district is INCREDIBLE.  They are all hilarious and so exactly obedient in everything they do.  Not every district is like ours and I feel so completely blessed to be with these amazing people. Yesterday was a really spiritually uplifting day.  First, some of us decided to read 2 Nephi 31-33 and pray to receive answers to our questions and receive confirmations to our testimonies.  We got on our knees and prayed together.  Eight 19-year-old kids in a room pouring out their hearts to God and studying His word.  There is nowhere else I would want to be now than here at the MTC. The spirit was so strong in that room.  To top it off, during class time our teacher didn't have any lesson plans so we requested a testimony meeting.  That was the second one that day.  Jeez... I almost can't take the awesomeness.  
Here is a picture of our zone! I'm not standing next to my companion, but I think I already sent you a picture of me with her.  The other girls in our district are the first four from right to left on the front row, and the Elders are a little scattered. Hopefully I'll have more pictures to send next week!
God lives and loves us.  And for anyone that is concerned about the missionary work nowadays...  Man, I promise that the missionaries I know will astonish the world with their sincerity, love, obedience, and faith.  Wanna know something that you already know?  Kay, I'll tell you: The scriptures (I mean the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) are FULL of promises from God.  Some are super duper super cool... Like: ALL of your sins will be forgiven.  Completely deleted from your book of life.  If you don't want it there, God will FORGET it.  Or,  how about... Ask a question.  ANY question. And God will answer it.  How about the promise that God promises to love you always and forever no matter what?  One of the beautiful things that the scriptures do for us is give us hope.  How amazing is that?  And why do they give us hope? Because God makes promises and He DOES NOT LIE.  If He says it, He means it. And sure, it's not completely a free ride.  What good parent would offer that?  Still though, He asks so little in return and it's so simple too.  Just look at the darn serpent on the stick for crying out loud!  
We went to the temple today as we do on any good p-day.  What a great place to be.  Always stay worthy to enter the temple.  Overall, the theme for my week has been: Come unto Christ.  What we say here a lot is to be God's investigator.  I think that came from one of Holland's devotionals.  If you want your investigator to pray more sincerely... Guess what? God wants YOU to pray more sincerely.  If you want your investigator to exercise more faith... God wants YOU to exercise more faith.  Cool to think about, huh? We as missionaries, no matter where we are, we're all trying to come unto Christ.  The reason for that is simply because coming unto Christ is not an event... it's a journey.  And being a worthy disciple of Christ is a constant effort.  Don't have any big sins to worry about?  Work on those sins of omission.  Only because it's fun to improve :)  Anyway, I'll stop ranting.  I'm way to used to writing in a journal... PS: Totally wrote 12 pages last night. BAM! I love you all. I really do.  I'll try to make my report more interesting next week.  Stay strong fellow disciples!
Hermana Sanabria

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Second Week in the MTC!

Well, I am on my second week now! Can you believe it?? It has been a crazy ride, but I absolutely love it here.  The MTC is a huge blessing.  They say you either love it or hate it here; however, I'm not sure why anyone would hate it...You do gain weight here.  I've already gained 8 lbs.  Just kidding, that's impossible ;)  I have gained one though.  Whooo!!!  We had our last Tuesday night devotional at the BYU Marriot center and it was the first time they have ever had to do that because of the fact that we have an enormous amount of missionaries now.  On the 23rd there is this big deal missionary broadcast and I'll be singing in the choir so maybe you'll all see me! 

 We had a surprise assignment at the TRC yesterday.  It was our first time and we were all so scared, but it turned out to be a really spiritual and uplifting experience.  It increased my testimony about the power of bearing testimony.  That is what my mission is.  I am to testify of God and of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.  It really is a relief to finally understand that because when I am feeling inadequate about teaching lessons and always inviting the spirit and saying what I should, I just feel so relieved when I remember that the most meaningful thing I have to share is my testimony... It's simple, but I can never deny it.  God lives and loves me and all of His children.  He wants all of us to return to Him.  The worth of every soul is great in the sight of God.  Sometimes it can be hard to believe that I am of great worth and that I can really make a difference here in the mission field, but it’s not about me.  Nothing is about me or what I do or say, it’s about how God can use me to bless other peoples lives by blessing me with strength and wisdom beyond my own. I am eternally blessed that I can rely on my testimony.  It is such a comfort to me that I truly know these things and that is what will help me to faithfully endure to the end. 

I loved my care package!  Thanks, mommy!

Pray *sincerely* morning and night.  Don't be lazy.  Study your scriptures for at least 30 minutes each day.  You need extra strength this day and age and the gospel of Jesus Christ provides a simple way to obtain it.  You really come to know God and our Savior through scripture study. Consistent and sincere scripture study.  You will change faster than you can imagine when you put all of your faith and trust in the Lord and let go- seriously... just destroy all of your worries and fears and ungodly desires.  The Book of Mormon is true.  It is another inspired testament that testifies of Christ. Read it with a sincere heart (Moroni 10:4-5). 

I think that is all I have to say this week.  I hope you all know that you are very important to me and I miss you all.  A week is a long time to wait to express these things to you, but its a good thing I’ve been keeping busy with the work.  I’m remembering you all in my prayers.  Choose the right.  Let go of all of your selfishness and serve everyday of your life with all of your heart, might, mind, and strength.  I'm working hard to progress and improve so that I can be the kind of person the Lord can use for good.  Love you all!

Your missionary,

Hermana Sanabria 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

First Week in the MTC!

Well, FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!! I wonder if it is even possible to describe the MTC.....It is simply AMAZING!! I am convinced that the Celestial kingdom is going to feel pretty darn similar to this place.  Excuse my language. I promise I won't be using those words around investigators...

Okay, First day here: I was just so happy I was somehow physically exhausted.  I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry... and ironically...I've done both every day till now! They say the MTC is like a rollercoaster of emotional ups and downs and all over.  Its so true.  Thank goodness for prayer.  Yesterday during study time I told my companion, "I'm just going to say a quick prayer." When I lifted up my head 25 minutes later all she could say was, "Well, you look happy!" And I felt happy because taking time to talk to your heavenly father- like really having a conversation with Him- is incredible!  Of course I have always prayed and at times in my life I have prayed more sincerely than others, but mission field prayers are in a realm of their own.  
My district here is SO close!  They are all so obedient and righteous and humble.  There are 12 of us- and not to brag- we are told that we are everyone's favorite district.  Hooray! I am so blessed to have been put with them.  And with my companion also.  She is so sweet and patient with me and my faults.  We try to speak spanish all day long.  Can you believe I already know enough to do that?!  Its only been a week!  I LOVE the MTC.  
I keep thinking about how my call is so inspired. I can't help but get emotional when I think about my family members in Chicago that I can help come to Christ and changes their lives for the better.  Here's some advice: Study Preach My Gospel along with your Book of Mormon study as often as you can.  I'll be honest- I forgot how amazing it was! My email time is almost up. Oh no!  I love you all SO much! Please write me! I didn't think I needed or wanted letters and stuff from the outside world, but it's lonely here without your usual family and friends! Not in a bad way... Just in a "man... I love those people" kind of way.  I cant wait to write more next time!
 Hermana Sanabria