(This is like 2 weeks' worth of emails so buckle up! haha)
Can you believe it?!?!?!!! The night we all checked our missionary portals online and saw our missions change to our reassignments was unreal. It felt like reading my first call again for the first time! Hermana Weller was reassigned to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Hermana Norton was reassigned to New York, New York South, and Elder Bowler was reassigned to Nashville, Tennessee! It was so cool to have that moment together as the remainder of our district. We were so ecstatic! At first I thought maybe it was a mistake because I'm FROM California, but I know now it's where the Lord needs me to be!
The last few days at the MTC were so great. We felt a lot more motivated once we had travel plans and felt like we really had something to work toward. We had several opportunities to teach the younger districts grammar and things like planning and got to feel more comfortable teaching in Spanish.
On Sunday we had an amazing day! You'd think it was rough not being able to call home when I should have already been in the field, but we had a very great, very edifying day. In Relief Society, we had Janice Kapp Perry speak and wow, what an incredible lady! She wrote several Primary songs like "I am a Child of God," "A Child's Prayer," "I'm Trying to be Like Jesus," "I Love to See the Temple," "Love is Spoken Here," "We'll Bring the World His Truth," and "As Sisters in Zion" in the Hymn book. At one point we all sang a medley of her Primary songs, and I felt the Spirit so strong!! I realized how blessed I am to know the truths of the Gospel since I was little and how much those songs have impacted me growing up. I heard a conversion story from a sister here who went to two other churches as well as the LDS church when she was growing up because her mom, stepdad, and dad all went to different churches. As a child, she loved Primary the best because she got to learn about Jesus, while at other churches she just colored Bible coloring pages. I am so glad that we teach every person, old or young, rich or poor, no matter who or where they are in the world. Everyone should know about this! Sister Perry also shared with us a new version of "As Sisters In Zion" that she re-wrote for the Sister Missionaries, called, "The Sisters of Zion." We sang that all together and all started to cry even more! It was amazing, and we were the very first people to sing it! The Spirit was amazing there. Good music can bring in the Spirit quicker than anything. We got to meet Sister Perry afterwards and she is such a sweet lady. I thanked her for all she has done because she truly has left an amazing legacy.
In Sacrament Meeting, I gave a talk in Spanish about Enduring to the End... The Lord knew I needed that, haha. We had a great last temple walk and went to choir practice. We sang "Come Thou Fount" and the choir director-- plus the devotional speaker afterwards, plus Elder Holland in a video we watched later-- really drove home the point that our missions will be a defining event in our lives. We have the responsibility to work our hardest and to let it be an experience that will change us forever. I was SO ready to get out to the field at that point... estaba EMOCIONADA! (excited)
Monday morning, Hermana Weller and I said goodbye to Hermana Norton and Elder Bowler, which was super sad. But we will all see each other after the mission! Hermana Weller and I spent the rest of the day getting ready to leave-- she left at 8:30 Monday night and I left at 5 am on Tuesday morning. Saying goodbye was the WORST! We got super close and are best friends. I have learned SO much from her and we got along so well. We were the longest-lasting companionship in the district! We have this running joke in our district that our MTC experience was like Survivor because most of us left one at a time... their "torches" were extinguished, haha. So that left me as the "Sole Survivor" because I was the last to leave. I outplayed, outwitted, and outlasted!! Haha.
So that night I was in a trio for a short while with the new STL's and then early the next morning I left for California. Driving through Provo on our way out was weird! I have a ton of great memories and great friends there. It'll be great to go back after the mish, but for now I'm happy to be here!
It was so awesome to get to call home at the airport and hear y'all's voices! I love my fam! I sat next to a man named Doug on my first flight and it was really cool to get to be a real missionary with an actual nonmember. He had some questions that I was able to answer and was so impressed when I told him that there are over 65,000 missionaries serving right now. He had nice things to say about the church and we talked a lot. He wasn't very interested in learning more, but hopefully a seed was planted there!
We had the world's shortest layover in Phoenix and then we were in Ontario shortly after. We were met by Elder Winward, who works in the Mission Office because 20 missionaries had come before us and President and Sister Becerra had already got them and headed to the Stake Center. We had lunch once we met up with them and then had our pictures taken and then had interviews with President Becerra. He is awesome! We talked briefly, but he says I have a lot of faith because I told him about my decision to serve a mission and how I chose to go and received confirmation that my choice was right pretty much once I actually got on my mission. So that's pretty cool. Also, Sister Becerra is the sweetest lady and is so classy. She looks good all the time and reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. I already just think the world of the Becerras!
We got our companions shortly after, and since there are 7 of us "visa waiters" that came, we were all put in trios because we could essentially leave at any time. My companions are Hermana Aydelott (pronounced kinda like "idle-it") and Hermana Richards. Hermana Aydelott has been here since January and is awesome. I look up to her so much! She has been the perfect trainer. Hermana Richards has been here one transfer so far and so we're both newbies. They are so great and we all just enjoy each other. We are serving in San Gabriel, which is in the East LA Stake, and we are in a Spanish barrio (ward). San Gabriel used to not have sister missionaries because it was "too dangerous," but since it opened up for Hermanas there haven't been any problems. It's not ghetto here, but it's definitely poorer than some other areas. It's cool because in this mission, we drive a car and have a cellphone and stuff. I wasn't expecting that in Peru, so it's funny to get call and text and then also to get to drive around in an air-conditioned car!
Our barrio is the best! The members are so nice and so welcoming to me. I feel like I've been here longer than a week! The women in the ward take care of us missionaries with meals and everything and are so sweet. It's so funny when I tell people around here I'm from Northern California because they're like, "Oh, it's so COLD up there!" HA. HA.
On Wednesday night, we played volleyball at the capilla (church) and it was so fun to get to know the members better and play some ball! On Saturday night we went to a traditional Mexican boda (wedding) at the capilla and it was a cool experience. There was a taco truck and we got to have as much as we wanted, but a lot of the meats were... interesting (cabeza, lingua, tripa, etc.). I tried a tripa one (tripe/intestines) and it was NASTY. But now I can say I tried it! Haha. I just never want to eat part of an animal's digestive system again!
Most importantly, the work here is going well! My companions have baptized some people before I came and so we've been helping them learn more and are just there for them because the adversary works hard on people after baptism too. Two of them are teenage girls named Karen and Miriam. I LOVE them! They are so sweet and pure in heart. They went to the temple for the first time this weekend and loved it! They know Spanish but only speak English (most kids here don't like to speak Spanish). We have a couple new investigators and some people that my comps have already been working with and we are hoping and praying for great things to happen with them this week! I am getting to speak Spanish quite a bit and do things like give the scripture at the end of a dinner appointment or a lesson and extend an invitation/ask for a referral. I can say mostly anything I need to say, but understanding really fast Spanish is what I'm working on now so I can contribute more to conversations. I've been pushing myself to talk a lot though so it's been good so far! We still teach a good amount of people in English (like Karen and Miriam) so I've had a lot of opportunities to teach in those kinds of lessons.
I am so happy every day to be a missionary. It's work, but it's also FUN! I realized that there isn't one part of our schedule that I just dread (besides waking up at 6:30!). Studying, planning, teaching, all of it is really cool because I feel like I'm doing something that's actually important, that will change someone's life. I love meeting new people and sharing what I know with them. We try to talk with everyone we can and have found a lot of people that way and also through member referrals. They are the best! I would encourage everyone reading this to think of someone you could refer to the missionaries because referrals make a world of a difference! I know it's scary... trust me! You will be doing that person the greatest service because this will bring them so much happiness and purpose.
I am also so so happy to be in the California Arcadia Mission. I know The Lord needs me here, in this area, at this time. There are people here ready for the Gospel that I need to teach. Every day I look forward to finding them! President Becerra told us that according to L.Tom Perry, there will be 100,000 missionaries out in the field by the end of this year. The Lord is doubling the amount of missionaries because there are tons and tons of people READY! :) More than ever before. Once we believe that, it makes this such a happy work. Rejection doesn't feel so bad because we can't even dwell on it, we just try to find someone else who is listo (ready)! "No hay nadie tengan tiempo para eso!" (Ain't nobody got time for that! :))
I love and miss y'all! It's so crazy to be back in LA right now! This morning all the Sisters and Sister Becerra went hiking up Eaton Canyon and it was beautiful. I love my home state :)
Con MUCHO Amor,
My new desk!