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!!