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