Monday, May 18, 2015

Hunucma - Week 11

Hello everyone!

This is my second to last letter before I'm HOME. Can't believe it. Everyone has been asking how I’m feeling- and I've just been saying "excited!" I've been enjoying the little time I have left, because it's almost gone!

This week I learned how to make horchata. A member named Mayita, who used to sell it for a living, taught us how to make it. So if I get home and can't find it anywhere, I'm prepared, haha.

Saturday and Sunday we found two really great people. Earlier in the week, we passed by a member (Tere) who was outside talking to her friend.  We took advantage of the moment, introduced ourselves, and asked if she wanted to listen. She told us she was really busy, but Saturday at 2 pm we could visit her. We showed up Saturday and she was outside washing clothes.  She said she couldn't listen to us because she had a lot to wash. To help her finish faster, so she could listen, we jumped in and started helping her wash what she had left. While we washed, we started talking and she mentioned that a lot of her family had died- parents, her husband, some of her kids. She asked us what our opinion on death was and we talked to her about the Plan of Salvation, and she was really interested. She said she worried a lot for those that died, and never accepted Christ while they were alive. She told us that she would like to know if what we were saying really was true, because it gave her hope that everything doesn't end when we die. She also told us about her situation and how she helps her daughter who lives next door. Its was her daughter's clothes we were washing, and that's the only way she has money to live, she said. From what she explained, her kids treat her really awful. She makes their food for free, and they just pass by to pick it up. They aren't good either about making sure she has money to live, because a lot of days she says she goes without. I think it meant a ton to her that we were willing to help her, because she has no one who does that for her. Unfortunately, after we finished helping her wash the clothes, we didn't have time to teach a lesson. But for next week, I should have more details!

On Sunday we had a lesson with a guy named Richard.  He was another reference from Tere and her daughter-in-law,  who lives in a house behind her.  When we showed up NO one was home, so we went a little down the street to Wendy's house (Tere's daughter) and Michelle (a guy who is living with Wendy and her family) told us that they'd left and that Richard started drinking again and was with his friends. We were super disappointed, but Michelle told us "if you want, you can teach me!" Every week we with Wendy, so we've gotten to know Michelle a little, but we've never really invited him to listen because we didn't know his situation. Apparently he's had a rough life, and that's why he's living with Wendy. He said for a long time he never wanted to listen to missionaries, even though Wendy and her mom always insisted on it. He's 29, and said he started drinking at 21 or 22 yrs because of problems in his family.  He became really addicted, until a month ago. He had an accident while driving his motorcycle drunk, and the whole time he was injured, none of his drinking buddies came to see him. He said he has had 8 other accidents like that, and really has the desire to change.  He's been sober a month now and started reading the Book of Mormon.  A year ago, he listened to the missionaries and had all the lessons.  He was one Sunday short of being able to be baptized, but he fell into his addition and never made it. He said he feels like it just wasn't his time, but this last month he's thought about it a lot and really wants it. He accepted the baptismal invitation before I could even finish the question, so Hunucma will have one baptism, for sure, in 3 weeks!

Hermana Harper
Happy Birthday Hermana Harper #22

Hermana Harper's Birthday Celebration

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hunucma - Week 10

I Hope everyone enjoyed their Mother's day!

This week was pretty average, a little low on lessons too because my companion was sick Tuesday.  At church, it was super disappointing because NO one we invited came. And they all promised they would. We're thinking it was for the holiday though because the church attendance overall was lower than usual.

Throughout the week, we found 3 new people. The first was a reference from someone we met on the street. She said her neighbor (Jaime) was sick and suggested we visit him. His wife received us really well, and we found her husband on a hospital bed in their room. He had an accident 12 years ago, and was paralyzed from the neck down. It is such a sad story, because all his kids were little when it happened, so all growing up the wife had to care for her husband and kids. The one good thing I could see from it is that their whole family is really united and really sweet. They go to church every week too and have strong testimonies that God exists. We were only able to meet him and talk to him for a little bit before his physical trainer came to do exercises with him, but we scheduled another appointment. I hope it goes well because he says he's received lots of missionaries, but has never been interested in anything else because he believes all the churches lead to the same God.

The second person we met was Armando. We met him when he gave us a ride in his mototaxi, and he said he was interested to learn more when we talked to him. We brought a member to the first visit with him and he listened really good to the entire lesson of the restoration and accepted to be baptized. We invited him to church and he said he'd come with his wife and 2 little girls, but they didn't make it, unfortunately.

The third was a young kid (16 years) named Edwardo. We found him while looking for someone else, and had a little mini lesson on the spot with him. He said he's listened to lots of different churches and loves learning. I had a lot of hope with him, but he didn't come to church like he promised, so we will need to follow up with him.  That’s the life of a missionary though- getting excited after a first lesson, but you never really know until you get the chance to verify!

On Monday in our district "council" meeting, we were brainstorming what we needed to change to start seeing more miracles in our areas, because all of us are struggling. Everyone in our district (3 companionships) is in a pueblo, so we have a lot of the same weaknesses as far as people we are contacting. One of the companionships is a married couple, and the wife (Sister Lopez) made a comment that brought tears to all of the sisters eyes! She said she felt like we were all trying to give so much to our areas, but you can't give what you don't have.  We all know what we need to do, but just aren't quite making our goals because discouragement gets to us too often throughout the day. She gave the idea that we ask for priesthood blessings. My whole entire mission, I've never asked for one because I always felt like there was something else we needed to be doing, but I really felt the spirit when she made that comment. When we're falling short and need extra strength from God, we shouldn't hesitate to use the priesthood that God has blessed us with as members of Jesus Christ's church. I feel super thankful honestly to have that resource!

Love you all and see you SOON!

Hermana Harper

Monday, May 4, 2015

Hunucma - Week 9


This week at church we had TWO new people! Yay!

One is a guy that scuba dives for a living and drives a mototaxi. We met him like a month ago because he gave us a ride in his mototaxi and he was pretty interested, just that he didn't have the time. We've run into him twice since meeting him.  He told us, because of the weather, his work got cancelled, and he wanted to go to chuch.  He actually went! It was really sweet because he said before coming he felt nervous about going, but once he sat down he felt a peace come over him.

The other was a guy who the missionaries before us taught and who's called randomly from time to time asking for them. He called Friday and said he wanted to go to church, and he went too! A member introduced us to him and he wants to start listening again.

Berenice was also at church and 2 of her kids. She's ready to be baptized pretty much, just needs to decide if she's moving or not. Her situation is a little complicated because she's separating from her boyfriend, but she's not positive where she's going to go yet.

Other things this week...

I celebrated my 22nd Birthday!!!  It was pretty normal except for lunch. We ate with a member who's husband ALSO had his birthday May 3rd.  They invited the other missionaries and put out little decorations that they had,  which was really cute.

One thing our leaders have been bugging us to do is ask for references. They've been telling us to be almost obnoxious about it and try and get the names of all possible people from them.

On Saturday night, we went looking for a guy who wasn't home that we'd contacted like 2 weeks ago and we met his neighbor (and sister-in-law) instead. We invited her to listen and she told us politely no, so then we proceeded to ask if she knew anyone who could benefit from our message. At first she said she didn't know anyone her, even her neighbors, because she's in the house all day. But, we kept insisting on who she knew who was passing through difficulties and she ended up coming up with the names of 3 of her neighbors.

The first was one we'd already met, the second wasn't home but has a super cute family that told us the next day we could come by and the third was a super awesome lady named Betty. We showed up at her house and met her son and husband who were super nice and let us in. A few minutes later she walked in and after we started talking to her a little bit she said what a miracle it was that we showed up right now in her life. She barely discovered that she had a tumor in her brain, and she said she's in need of comfort. All of her family (4 older kids that live with her) are really nervous about it too. We started teaching plan of salvation and she liked it a lot because she said she'd never heard about the pre-mortal life.

One thing that was disappointing this week is that we found Pedro passed out and drunk when we went by to see him. When we saw him later in the week, he confessed that he gave in and drank. With him, reality is starting to hit and I'm pretty sure he won't be able to get baptized super fast because his addiction is really strong. He has the desire though and asked if we could check on him everyday to help him not drink. Poor guy.

This week  we had to be in Merida again, THREE times!  Thursday they talked to us about a topic that I really liked. They said that the prophet and apostles had recently felt that as a church, we're missing something to strengthen our relationship with God.  In order to find out what that was, they all prayed and fasted together and all came to the same conclusion, which was how we're keeping the sabbath day holy. When I thought about that, it really is so true.  When I was younger, I always thought sunday was boring and how it was a chore not to get to do "fun" stuff on Sunday. I think a lot of times we feel like if we go to church, that's good enough, but it shouldn't be like that. A day is 24 hours and if you try, there's a lot that can be fun, but helps you feel the spirit too. One example I like is of charging a cell phone. If you let it only charge 10 minutes, the battery doesn't last very long. But if you leave it until its completely done charging, it lasts for days. The sabbath does that for us, gives us spriritual energy to face our week with an eternal perspecive in all our decisions.

The best news of this week...we just found out Elder Bednar is coming on the 22nd of may to speak to all the missionaries and members. And apparently he speaks Spanish. Cool right? So I’ll get to end my mission with a visit from an apostle!

Well, see you all in 3 weeks!
Love Hermana Harper

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hunucma - Week 8


This week was SO long because every single day we had to be in Merida as a zone. We talked about eight missionary topics that you learn as a new missionary and review every year. This year was a little different because each companionship had a topic and got to teach it.  Sister Lugo and I  talked about the importance of having investigators at church, and it went pretty good I think!

One thing that wasn't too fun is that I got sick.  I think it was just food poisoning.  People here have told me that hot food and sun don't usually go really well together, and I'm starting to believe them! Tuesday I started feeling not that great and didn't feel like eating anything after lunch that day. Wednesday was the same, but I woke up feeling like throwing up and was going to the bathroom every little while. In the van on our way to Merida, luckily the van wasn't too hot and the chapel wasn't either during our meetings, so the sick feeling kinda went away. After we finished, we walked out by the temple with Hermana Pitcher and her companion and I all of the sudden threw up in the temple garden - gross, I know :( It was super embarrassing because we were talking, and a guy waved me over that was outside the gate and had a bunch of questions as to what we believe and everything. He was a SUPER awesome guy and I was able to explain a bunch of things, but right at the end the other sisters came to join me and out of no where I felt really sick and that's when I had to step to the side, and yeah. After that, I started feeling a lot better. I bought a bag of ice and held it the whole way home to Hunucma. Then, we went straight to eat with the member we were assigned that day, and since I didn't feel like eating, I slept in their hammock for about an hour. ( haha)

Besides getting sick, we did a lot of contacting this week. Thursday we didn't have much success, but I was happy because we at least had Pedro to go visit. But, he wasn't there when we went to visit. A miracle happened when we left his house - there was a group of guys drinking in front of Pedro's parent’s house and one of the guys called us over. At first I thought they were just bored, but the guy had real interest. He says he's felt really confused and wanted to know more what we believe and if we can answer his questions. He's a fisherman so he isn't home a lot, but wanted us to at least visit his wife and told us where she lives. All the next day we tried to look for her, but what he explained to us, where his house was, didn't make sense. The one good thing about that day is that we visited a new family and they were really happy to have us over. We spent two hours with them because they had a lot of needs. We watched the video with them "Because He Lives" and the mom and two daughters cried after. They told us about their family and how they struggle showing their love for their dad because he drinks and doesn't behave well when he's drunk. One thing we taught them at the end, to help strengthen their family, is family prayer. None of them pray they said because they didn't grow up doing it. All of them felt really happy after we prayed with them, and they committed to do it every day as a family.

On Sunday, it was disappointing because Pedro wasn't there when we went to look for him in the morning, and Berenice and her kids left.  Those five, I was hoping I'd see baptized before I left, but I think their time will be a little more down the road. One good thing though it that Azucena (15 yrs, from sisal, recent convert) came to church after we committed her Monday. She brought her mom too, which is a huge miracle because the mom isn't a member, and before would always hide when the missionaries would come. I think she's starting to realize that she needs to support her daughter in good things.  Otherwise, it’s a lot easier for Azucena to fall into temptation with things she did before becoming a member.

That’s all for this week,

Hermana Harper

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hunucma - Week 7


This week our P-day got switched up because we went to the temple this morning. Yesterday we spent most of the day in Sisal, but we didn't end up finding very many of the people we went there for. We did find one guy though, named Omar, that is really interested. There's a guy who just barely got home from his mission and he contacted Omar while he was in Sisal selling hotdogs with his family. Omar is super interested in what will help his family because it turns out his wife was unfaithful, but she told him asking for forgiveness, and he's trying to forgive her, but is struggling with it. They have 2 young boys together, so he really wants to fix things with him and his wife.

On Wednesday we visited a family (Hilda & Mario) that I hadn't visited before, at their house. Its kinda cool because their family makes shoes for a living. In their house they have all the stuff to do it, and when we showed up they were right in the middle of it and I got to watch a little. I think its so neat how a bunch of families here have some talent that they use to make a living off of.

Pedro, the guy I wrote about last week, we visited again. I told my companion he's my favorite person we visit because he's so sweet! The last time we taught him we got to know him and taught who God, Jesus and the holy ghost are. This week we started with the restoration, but focused more on prophets and that through prophets we have commandments like the word of wisdom. We wanted to make sure he was willing to stop drinking completely and he is! It was so cute because his parents live behind him, and since he wasn't answering when we showed up, we went around the corner behind his house and his dad was sitting out front. His dad was super glad that we were teaching his son because he loves listening to messages about God too. His dad sat through the whole lesson and really liked it. He kept telling us he liked how we would just say things like they are. One thing that was SO sweet was when I showed them a picture of the Salt Lake City temple, I gave the example of how God compares our bodies to temples. Then I asked if they thought it would be as beautiful if it had graffiti all over it and was abused- trying to explain that when we don't take care of our bodies its like if the same were to happen to the temple. Pedro didn't completely understand though and said really softly and sincerely like he always does, "if someone did that, I would take my friends and we would clean it all up."

Another sweet thing Pedro told us was that last week(when he went to church after having worked all night)is that after he ate the bread and water, he said he was so happy and wasn't hungry the whole day. He said how his mom offered him lunch, but he told her he wasn't even hungry after the bread and water he had at church. That really touched me because after the sacrifice to come to church, he recognized that as a small blessing.

From this week's studies- I read in Jacob 5 about the parable of the olive vineyard. I really liked how much effort the owner of the vineyard puts into his trees and all his careful planning and care to have good fruits. It makes me think just how much God worries and thinks about each one of us. There's a part where after all his work, he sees that the fruit is starting to go bad and he says "And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: What could I have done more for my vineyard?"
I feel like in a small part I've felt like that with investigators...that frustrated feeling when you've put in all this work with someone but they don't appreciate all that you've done and won't embrace what you've taught them. You know how much it will help them and bless them, but they won't give it enough of a chance and trust that if they're patient things will change in their lives for the better. Even as members, God still is pruning us and trying to get us to change and be better, but a lot of times we don't put forth the effort we ought to. Even as a missionary, I know I fall short to a lot of God's council's for me. I love knowing that God really is so aware of us and especially aware of when we're not okay. One thing with the example of the harvest though, it that at some point the harvest ends. If we put things off too long- at one point its going to be too late. We have to be quick to respond to what God asks of us!

Until next week-
Hermana Harper

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hunucma - Week 6

Mileybi's Baptism

Last night we got our changes- and it turns out we didn't have any! Sister Lugo and I will be staying together in Hunucma until I DIE. Hahaha. I'm glad nothing got switched up because so far we've been working well together.

This week they've been pushing us to ask the members for references. The goal is talk to at least 18 people either as a street contact or while we're with members and ask who they know that we could visit. So far we've been doing pretty good with the goal, even though it's a little hard sometimes when we're running from house to house.

We found a guy this week named Pedro.  He’s really amazing. We were knocking (more like yelling- that's what they do here) at the door of a less active, but she wasn't home. Pedro was passing on his tricycle and told us she wasn't home, and we took advantage of the moment and asked if he wanted to listen to a message about Jesus. Usually people say, "Sure, but not right now." but he told us "yes" and headed for the sidewalk so we could talk for a second. We sat on the curb with him to get to know him briefly and write his address down. I honestly didn't think much of it because I could smell alcohol on his breath, but he confessed he really wanted to listen and said we could come visit him the next day at 6pm, and he'd be waiting. I gave him a word of wisdom pamphlet and told him not to drink before the appointment with us, and he promised he wouldn’t drink (like many drunk people here tell us!). We went the next day, but got a little lost finding his house, so we started talking to a bunch of his neighbors, but no one knew him. At like 6:40 he showed up on his bike because he said he saw us and he showed us where his house was. I felt bad because he had 3 chairs set out on his porch and said he'd been waiting since 6:00 and hadn't drank any alcohol!!! We started with the lesson and asked why it was that he wanted to listen to us and he said he wants to change his life and do things right. He got all teary when he told us about his wife and how she passed away 10 years ago and how he really misses her. He has 3 boys that are 19, 20 and 22, so he must of have been the one to raise them without his wife. He accepted everything we taught him and accepted a baptismal date! The next day (Saturday) he said we could come again at 5 and we went, but he left us a note asking for our forgiveness, because he had to go to work. His little note touched my heart because NO one does that for us. They always just leave as they please and have some excuse for us the next time they see us. Pedro's note was so sweet because his spelling is like an elementary kid's level and he put so much care into tying strings on either side of the paper so it wouldn't fly away. The next day (Sunday) we passed by to see if he could still come to church with us and the poor thing had barely gotten off work from working all night, but agreed to come even though he was super tired.

Friday- we had Mileybi's baptism! It was at 12pm, so not that many people were able to show up.
Mileybi's Baptism
Everything went really well. On Sunday she got up and bore her testimony and opened up a lot more than I’ve ever seen her. She said that a year ago she didn't believe much in God and couldn't understand why her family prayed to all these different dolls pretty much. She said as missionaries started coming, and when she started to get to know the members, she started praying and has felt like the weak person she saw herself as before was starting to be stronger. Really, she was probably ready to be baptized sooner, but the missionaries before chatted more than taught, and never got to that point with her. It was cool because she wants her family to get baptized one day and says that little by little they'll get there. She brought a sister though who seems really sweet and interested!

One funny thing I wanted to share was Wednesday when we went to Sisal. We visited the less-active family that lives on the coast and we just talked with the grandma and her daughter's 3 little boys. At the end of the lesson, the son (uncle of the 3 boys) came out to talk to us. He'd been drinking and his mom explained to us that his wife left him like 2 weeks ago with his baby boy. He came to talk to us though and tried to swoon my companion! First, he brought us coconut drinks and sat down and quoted the Nefi scriputure mastery "I will go and do..." and grabbed my companion's hand and said he couldn't go back to church because things had happened but he needed us to shed our light to his family because they needed it. Then he randomly left, came back in, and wanted to leave us a blessing because he said he had received the priesthood of Aaron and of Melchizedek. But he just did it with words- he didn't touch us haha. Then he left again and as we were leaving, one of the little boys gave us a piece of styrofoam from him that he had written his number on. THEN, as we were walking out of the house through their jewelry stand he saw us looking at some of the rings and earrings and grabbed one of each and gave them to Sister Lugo and told her he never wanted her to forget him. Hahaha! He tried to give them to her in exchange for a kiss, but luckily she pulled away. I was laughing so hard the whole time, but I don't think my companion enjoyed it so much!

Well, that's a little bit of what happened this week. Everything has been going really well, especially with our extra efforts to be diligent. Hunucma still hasn`t ceased to amaze me!

With love, Hermana Harper

Sisal Beach

Jewelry store owned by one of the less active members

Sisal Beach

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Party

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hunucma - Week 5


I Hope everyone enjoyed Easter/Conference weekend!

This week was definitely eventful! We did exchanges with the sister training leaders Wednesday. That morning we traveled to Merida, switched companions, and I came back to Hunucma with Sister Mejia. That same day we went to Sisal, our beach area, and had only 2 lessons, then had to come back for another lesson in Hunucma. In Sisal there were tonssss of people. A bunch of the youth in the ward were telling me that tons of Americans go and party there for spring break, and since its spring break here too, it gets really crowded. When Sister Mejia and I went, we saw the little carnival that was set up, and the booths, and it looked fun! We switched companions again Thursday after weekly planning, so those two days felt long, with all of the traveling!

Friday we did our special activity- The Easter Egg Hunt!
We took an idea from the Liahona on the page for kids, and hid pictures in the eggs that had to do with Easter.  The main "Sacrament Room" is where we all sat, and outside is where all the candy filled eggs were that we had hidden before we sat down.

I introduced everyone and explained the tradition we have in the US that the Easter Bunny comes and hides eggs the night before Easter.  We told them that we had invited the bunny to come that night, and he left us some eggs that they could find at the end of the activity. I don't think the kids quite grasped the concept until we actually did it, but they went with it!!! haha

To start, we called 2 kids up as volunteers, and one hid an egg with a picture inside and the other closed their eyes and had to find the egg.  Everyone in the audience was yelling "hot" or "cold" while they looked for the egg. Everyone caught on fast to the game so it was fun. Then after we saw what was on the picture, a missionary took a turn giving a mini lesson about the picture. I taught the second time around about what the sacrament has to do with Jesus and his sacrifice. Something funny, I had a volunteer read how the bread represents Jesus' body, and when I asked after, "What does the bread signify?" A little girl shouted out "food!"

For the actual egg hunt, we had maybe 20 kids there, so each got to find 2 eggs (they were all really  well hidden!).  We let the littler kids go first and find the easy ones, then after the bigger kids got to find the eggs that were left. We had the outside blocked off really well, so everyone was excited to see what was out there. Then after, we had ice cream and juice for everyone that the Bishop had arranged.

For Conference, we watched it in the prayer house. We thought originally that it wouldn't work because the internet and projector were giving us problems the night of the egg hunt activity, but it mostly worked Friday. The other sisters in the ward got there at 7am to get things arranged, but we didn't end up getting things working until like 45 min after conference started. To give people time to eat, we started the second session an hour late too. Sunday and the Priesthood session, however, were much smoother!

I enjoyed Conference, but this is the first year I've had to see it completely in Spanish- so I think I got less out of it than the last times. I did really like the talk about the relation of dance to the gospel and music to the spirit. It made me think how many times I've done things I ought to do as a member, but either don't look for or enjoy the spirit as part of that. Simple things like praying, or reading the scriptures are like parts of the "dance" as a member of the church, but without the "music" or the spirit, its just not the same. I feel like that motivated me to look for the spirit more and enjoy it.

Sunday night they notified us that we had a multi-zone meeting instead of regular district meeting Monday morning. It lasted until about 1pm and the president, his wife, and assistants talked to us about how to find new investigators and be more bold in opening our mouths. It was a really good meeting. After, we went contacting in parks nearby to practice. After that, since it’s the last P-day for one of the sisters in the ward (Hermana Hernandez), we talked the bishop into taking us to Sisal! We went and saw the beach and ate fish at a little restaurant nearby that a member owns. It was fun! :)

One of my favorite scriptures right now is in Luke 22:

31 ¶And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

I have it written in my Journal, but with my name where it says "Simon, Simon." One thing I've been struggling with is motivation because walking outside in this heat takes all my energy it feels like. I like those verses because to think that Jesus is praying for us, after all He has already done, is motivating. We have to be strong like He was and is, and help our brothers and sisters be strong too!

Have a great week!
Hermana Harper