March 2014 Letters

Week 38: My Interview with President Rowley (3 March 2014)

So we had interviews this week. Always so good. Here is a play by play of my interview haha so that you guys can enjoy what I got to enjoy:

“How are you doing Alyssa?”

“Good!” We prayed, he asked Spanish or English and of course I said English and then we started talking about my family, how everyone’s doing. He asked me about what I learned in my personal study that morning, I said I was reading the talk about getting closer to God where the authority said we have to make God the center of our universe. He asked me how I was going to make God the center of my unverse, I said I felt I needed to improve my personal prayers. he said, “One thing I do in my prayers that could help you is just have something to write on always as you pray. That way you dont lose as much. Sometimes if you dont write it down then you lose it, you forget. Sometimes you can’t get it all down. But just always write as you pray. Work on that for the next couple weeks or months and then ask God again what you can do to get closer to Him. He will answer you.”

We talked about some other things, like if my thoughts were pure and all that good stuff. We talked about getting the members more involved in their family history. We talked about how the branch needs to hurry up giving out callings and he said, “I know you can’t give out the callings but I need you to keep things moving. Do your Alyssa thing and get it all worked out.” He asked me if I had a question for him, I said yes. I just wanted to know what he wanted me to do for Talara. he said, “You know, I have been thinking about that. I was thinking about it as you prayed. You are so incredibly talented, Alyssa. You bring joy wherever you go. You touch people so easily with your smile. Do not underestimate the importance of what you are doing for the saints here just smiling at them. You bring them so much happiness. You are doing miracles with your smile for this branch.” Then he got really quiet. He started writing and then he looked up and said, “I want to start institute here in Talara. I dont know how we’re going to do it, but I want to. I need your help.” So I have just been thinking about that this weekend. Who will be our teacher? How will we get the members involved? One thing we struggle with is that the missionaries like do everything here and it is super tempting to just do it all for them. But that is not what they need. So yah that is where I am at.

I just feel better after talking with him. As missionaries, we have this stress manual that is so awesome, so don’t worry about me not being able to handle stress. One thing that really helps me is just talking with Heavenly Father about everything. He really is my best friend. I just tell Him what happened during the day, how I feel. I ask Him what He would have us do. I can not do everything but I can do something. He lets me help Him, and that is why I am happy. There are just so many things I can not do. But He, knowing that, gives me jobs to do and lets me learn how much I can do.

I am grateful for my mission president. He loves me and he understands me, and he trusts me. And I feel happy because of that. And he knows my talents, and he wants me to keep using my personality and the brightness of my spirit to keep drawing others toward the light of the restored gospel. As much as we have here in Talara, we need more depth. Deeper testimonies, stronger members, better attendance, more involvement. And I just want to do it all for them.

I love my calling. I love Talara. I love our branch. I love my companion. I guess what I love most is that working so hard alongside the Savior makes you feel so full. It makes sin so untempting, temptation so irrelevant. It makes life so much more worth living. Yah I am stressed, I understand the Lord of the vineyard in Jacob 5, “What more could I have done for my vineyard?” But it is all good here.

I love you guys! I love showing your pictures when we teach aboiut family history. “This is my dad. He’s a dentist. He just likes to get in there and drill on people, make em hurt! This is my mom. She’s an angel. She married my dad in the temple and now we have the promise of living together forever.” It’s awesome.

Week 39: sad (10 March 2014)

I just lost my message I was going to send you guys….

Week 40: This week…. wer du eye beagin? (17 March 2014)

well. This week was good. Rough. But good!

Today we went to the beach and saw sea lions! Which in Spanish are called ocean wolves, and “wolf” (lobo) sounds a lot like the same word for “balloons” (globo). So I was really suprised when the ocean balloons I had imagined and expected to see were actually sea lions!

It’s been rough because it’s mostly been busy. We had a wedding and a baptism of a young couple. It wasn’t our investigators, it was the Elders in our branch, but still a lot of work to get it all together and still take care of our people.

Other reason is that one of our recent converts has had a rough week too. She is 15 and she got baptised in January.

She was so on fire in the beginning and she has been so on fire up until this weekend when her family started talking to her about the possibility about becoming a nun. Like pressuring her. On Saturday we went to the baptism with her and her brother and we gave her her new member package. Then she didn’t come to church yesterday and we went to her house twice to go find her, and when we found her last night she was crying and she just told us how confused she was and how she just wants to serve God and how she doesnt want kids, she just wants to be a nun and serve others. We just talked to her about how what God needs is that all of His children make and keep sacred covenants with Him and how that is the kind of service He needs! Helping others make those covenants! It made me think of the song from the Living Scriptures video about the Tree of Life when it says, “Feet on the path, hand on the rod, moving steady, moving toward God! Heart on the truth, eyes on the tree. Hey, friend, are you coming with me?”

Or, other good song, “He Sent His Son,” when it tells us, “What does the Father ask of us? What do the scriptures say? Have faith, have hope, live like His Son, Help others on their way! What does He ask? Live like His Son.”

We are going to have a family home evening with her tonight with another active family and we have decided we are going to talk about recognizing the Spirit. I think I am going to tell her the story of how I decided to serve a mission. Because even though I never felt like super sure about it, I didn’t feel confident when I thought about other options. I just felt super comfortable and confident when I thought about serving a mission. And I just felt like if it wasn’t what God wanted, He wouldn’t have sent me a call. And then after I had entered the MTC I got a blessing that said that I was EXACLTY where the Lord wanted me. So we kind of have to act in faith, and doubt our doubts.

Other thing is Sister R. Last night we had a good long talk that just really helped me understand everything we have ever talked about together up until this point. She told me how sad she was that she felt like she was leaving Talara after having 6 months here and that no one was going to remember her or be sad when she left. She said that her whole life all she has ever wanted was for people to love her and she has never been able to feel the love that she longs for. I know that feeling! I think everyone does!

We ended up talking about how when we do our service just to glorify God and not ourselves that is when it is really valuable to Him, when it has eternal worth. And how much better for us if we never get anything here on earth for our service! Because the Savior taught us that when we start trying to accumulate acclaim and reward here on earth we lose eternal the reward and opportunities to grow! She seemed a little better this morning. She said that she is happy that we have spent our time together serving those who aren’t necessarily the kind who do and can throw farewell parties. I wanted to stand up and cheer.

So yah, lots of tears this week but it’s all been worth it. I love you guys. I love you Aubrie. I love you Mom. I love you Dad. I love you Kayla. I love you Grandma Cardon. I love you Grandma Sherri. I love you Grandpa Bob. I love you guys so much!

Week 42: CAMBIOS! (24 March 2014)

OK so Hermana R. left this morning at 5:30. I cried…. a lot… like to the point I actually almost think she was embarrassed to be with me in the bus station haha our zone leaders were like, “Sister Cardon! Wipe those tears away! Your new companion is gonna come and feel super bad!” Of course that was totally a liberal translation on my part of what they actually told me.

Right now I still miss Sister R. a lot. But I’m not gonna tell my new companion Sister M. (from Buenos Aires) because she is brand new and I don’t want her to feel bad. Plus she seems really awesome! She just finished her training and she had six baptisms in her first three months! Which is awesome because we had one haha…. but righ now we have eight with a baptismal date which is stressful-exciting.

We are juggling a lot right now I feel and we just got another part added onto our area! But I am happy, I think we are going to be able to do a lot this transfer.

I love you guys! Sorry I dont have more time!

Week 43: Talara (31 March 2014)

I dont know what I want to tell you guys this week! I guess just that I am happy. My new companion is really great. She is definitely an Aubrie.

We have had so much fun this week with our investigators. One of them is a young couple named L. and J. They are MARRIED and they have a little baby. I feel the Spirit so strong when we teach them and they really get what we teach…. the problem is they still think of themselves as like people that are just willing to listen to the word of God. I was really sad because they haven’t been reading the Book of Mormon but we’ll see what happens. I can see they have a lot of unity as a couple, they are really special to me. They told us they feel closer to God since they started listening to us.

Other investigator that is awesome is named Junior. He was walking in his neighborhood when he heard us singing “I am a Child of God” in his neighbor’s house and so he decided to stand outside the house and wait for us to finish the lesson so that he could meet us. Sounds creepy but it wasn’t at the time…. He is really super prepared in that he believes that there is only one true church and he is looking to find which church that is. He is also helping one of our less actives (A.—we were waiting for his neighbor outside his house and we saw him on his balcony and he didnt have a shirt on and then when he saw us he went inside to put his shirt on and so then we thought, “Ok we have to talk to this guy because clearly he is listening to the spirit.” And then he told us he was a actually member and he got baptised in Lima! We want to help him get back to church. His problem is that he is SUPER into boxing and he usually fights Saturday night and sleeps all day Sunday so that has been a problem.

Another investigator that is named V.R. He is a sweet little old man he used to be a professor and now he is really excited to get baptized on the 12th.

Another investgator named Victor Hugo was watering his garden when we met him and he told us he always felt something inside him that made his feet want to enter the chapel but he never let himself enter seems really promising. He is an economist which makes me happy because we got to talk about how much we love Adam Smith for a little bit. This is going to sound weird but it is exactly how it came across to me: I feel like he was really just using us to get a copy of the Book of Mormon because as soon as he saw me take out my copy he started acting really antsy and then I let him read from mine and he wouldn’t let it go and then I told him he could have another one that I had in my bag and then as soon as I gave it to him he asked if we could have the closing prayer. Hahah it was pretty hialrious to me. He has been in Lima this week but we stopped by on Saturday to see if he was home yet and we ended up teaching his sister and she said that it is a miracle that we found him because he needs our help and she wants it too. So I am excited for them too.


February 2014 Letters

Week 34: February! (3 February 2014)

Wow the Lord is blessing us so much! Every day I feel His love, and I am learning to really see His hand! I guess that is why it is so important to live worthy to have the Holy Ghost with us, because that is how our eyes are opened to see His hand! For example this week we have been looking up a lot of less actives on the ward roster and there were so many times when I felt like the Lord made it possible for us to find His sheep. A couple of the less actives we found actually said that that was the only time of the day they were at home, what a miracle that we were led to them at just the right time!

Also, this week we went to teach a family for the first time whose son recieved the first lesson last week when we were waiting for a member to accompany us that lives near him. We were teaching about the Restoration and I felt prompted to ask the son how he felt about Joseph Smith, which I was afraid to do because I didn´t want to put him on the spot, especially because his family didn’t seem that interested. But he responded, “Baca.” Haha which is not really what I expected (“baca” is just like exactly how we use the word awesome, you say it like baKAW, you will never find it in any Spanish-English dictionary because its pretty heathen) But wow! That is definitely the beginning of a testimony!

Also, a less active sister invited us to teach her husband because she told us she wants to get married in the temple! We taught him yesterday and I am really excited because he loves to read, he is super interested in the Book of Mormon. He wants to meet again on Tuesday! And she went to all three hours of church yesterday!

Three of the less actives we taught for the first time this week said something similar to, “It’s not that I don’t know it´s all true, I’m just going to return to full activity when I am really ready.” Which is exactly what Amulek teaches us about in Alma 34 when he told us not to delay our repentance… so I have been studying that and thinking a lot about how to teach that TODAY is the day to return to full activity. TODAY is our “day of decision” like that Billy Graham always talks about… (thank you Brother Millet for teaching me everything I know about protestant ministers…)

One of our investigators put his OWN baptismal date yesterday. Our church starts at 11 so we went over to remind him at 10:30 and right there we asked him how he feels about baptism. He said he wasn’t sure. We told him to think about it during the sacrament and then tell us what he wants to do afterward. After sacrament meeting he said, “I am going to get baptised the 20th of February.” Haha so that was awesome! The spirit does all the work, that is all I can say.

As I am learning to see and recognize the Lord’s love and His influence in my life and the lives of our investigators I am learning so much. More and more I am seeing that this life is NOT fair. The odds are totally stacked in our favor! Our Heavenly Father is doing everything possible to help us succeed, and I love helping my Peruvian brothers and sisters see that. I love learning to see it myself too.

Oh and great news…. people no longer ask me what part of the U.S. I am from…. I take that to mean my Spanish has gotten that good haha someone even assumed I am from Lima! I was very flattered. Probably because I have been with Limanian companions for 6 months.

Week 35: Beginning of a new transfer! (10 February 2014)

So first off this week I got a HUGE package from Sister Dirks filled with goodies and printed letters from Katie. I almost have her letters memorized I read each one of them at least three times all the way through. One of my favorite things she said was that on Christmas they went to see some donkeys and she said, “I quoted shrek to them hahaha they liked it.” Hahahahaha!! I keep quoting Katie to myself in my head because no one here speaks English haha.

This week our branch got discontinued and we got put with another branch. The priesthood leader who announced the change was crying while he did it and so were we, it was really sad and I didn’t expect it to be. But we are excited to be part of the other branch! President Rowley called us last night to tell us he needs me and sister R. to help keep things gelling here, help everyone adjust well and get to work. So yah.

I am really excited because one of our investigators went to the adult session and the Sunday session of district conference (we aren’t a stake) and he really enjoyed it, and when we were praying in our weekly planning session I felt like the chapel would be the key for his conversion, that it would be in the chapel that he would really feel that this church is true. We have a lesson with him tonight and I can’t wait to ask him how he feels!

I feel like Sister R. and I have a little bit of work to do to help our branch president understand that this change does not mean he failed or that he is not needed in our new branch. He was SO depressed all week, and Sister R. and I can help them feel excited to be an active part of our new branch.

I have to be honest, I really thought that our area was going to be closed and that both Sister R. and I would get transferred. But when we got the call from our zone leaders that no one was going anywhere I knew it was the Lord’s will, and so I began to pray, kind of asking why, what does the Lord want me to learn?

I felt the Lord’s love like a big hug and felt the Spirit whisper that the Lord has an important work for me to do in Talara. He needs me to become who He has in mind, and I find out who that is by following the promptings of the Spirit and further magnifying the talents and abilities He has given me! I am good at certain things, I need to use these gifts to bless others as much as I possibly can.

I have been studying a lot about commitments and how to help people keep them this week because it seems we are not excelling in that area because we have had a consistent 1 or 2 investigators at church this transfer, and that is never the goal. So I am getting to work on my inviting, promising blessings, and following up. This transfer will be different!

I am so sorry this message is so short and kind of boring but I am like totally out of time. I will write more next week! I love you guys!!

Week 36: Found a Baby Cat at the Beach Today! (17 February 2014)

So today we went to play soccer at the beach (and I made a goal with a headshot… classic) and we found a tiny kitten!! I attached an awesome picture of it with my thumb!

So this week we were teaching one of our chronic less actives, Hermana N., and I just talked really straightforward with her, basically like “Hermana, you are doing a lot of good things, but you are neglecting what God requires! It is a commandment to go to church every Sunday, He wants you there more than anything. And when you start doing what God really wants, you will start to see His choicest blessings in your life.” I’m normally not that direct but I just felt like she wasnt getting it. Afterwards I came away kind of like, “I dont know if that was the right approach…” But then she came to the branch activity! Sister R. and I were shocked!! But she didn’t come to church on Sunday. So we will keep trying, both Sister R. and I feel that if the Relief Society sisters go visit her WITHOUT us that will be the key.

One of our other less actives came to church though!! It was awesome!! And everyone just loved her up, it was a great Sunday to attend because everyone was introducing themselves.

I don’t know what else to say! This week I felt like I was walking on air because I know that not to far away from here Elder Cardon is working with me haha and that puts a big smile on my face… I was talking with Sister Johnson about it because her brother is in Lima and she was like, “Oh I hope you can talk to him and let him know it will all be ok!” and I said, “Yah, that it gets better…” and she said, “Don’t tell him that! Because it doesnt get better! WE get better!” It was awesome. So yah, Dallin. WE GET BETTER!

Our new branch is AWESOME but it is crazy too because now we have four sets of missionaries. there is not another branch in the whole mssion, not a WARD in the whole mission with this kind of horsepower. I am excited, the eitght of us are a great team and with our AWESOME branch council who knows?? Maybe its the next city of Enoch haha just 300 more less actives to activate and we are totally there!

Week 37: Good Week! (24 February 2014)

So we haven’t had running water for the past 10 days which has been haha um interesting. We left the faucet on the whole time and a bucket under it so that we would hear it when it came back or so that the bucket would collect the water that came when we were out. At like 6:10 this morning I heard it and there was much rejoicing between the two of us. We washed dishes, we flushed the toilet, we took showers! It was a great way to start the day!! We had some good ones though during the apartment-wide draught…. like that we were adopting catlike bathing techniques…

But yah other than that it was a great week! Yesterday I was just praying all morning that in Sacrament Meeting one of our investigators named J. would feel the spirit and recognize it and would want to get baptized. He’s been going to church for three weeks in a row now but whenever we talk about baptism he just says he’s not ready. He is so awesome though, we met him at the beach and miraculously he lived in our area. We started teaching him and he told us he used to like in a Catholic community but he left because he was so disturbed by the behavior of the youth there. So he started living with his Grandma. He has a really strong testimony of the power of prayer, he knows Heavenly Father is listening and aware of us. He just really wants to do what is right. I gave a talk in church about missionary work and I talked about how when I was younger I never felt really strongly about the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith, rather I just always saw the examples of my faithful LDS friends and I wanted to become like them so I chose to read the Book of Mormon every day and live the standards and from there I knew it was true. After the meeting there was such a light in his eyes and I just knew he felt it. So yah, tonight we are meeting with him, hopefully we can help him out!

January 2014 Letters

Week 30: Dallin’s Out Too! (6 January 2014)

Woohoo Dallin came out to join the party! I am so excited!

I guess I don’t have much to tell you except for a cool thing that happened this week. So last Monday I asked Sister R. how many baptisms she wanted to have this transfer and she said 2 which sounds pretty humble but I think that’s great and totally doable so this week we focused on finding those two people who we are going to baptize this transfer. Well we started with the area book, contacting old investigators and people that other missionaries contacted but never ended up learning more. As we were going out looking for those people there was a lady sitting outside one of the houses we went to. They weren’t home so we just talked to the lady and she was telling us about her life when my companion asked the INSPIRED question, “Do you believe in God?” to which the lady replied NO! She told us that all her life she has tried to be good and honest and kind and yet God has abandoned her. She always wanted to get married and she believes that that is evidence that God is cruel.

Wow! My companion led out telling her that God LOVES her, and WANTS to bless her. We talked with her about agency, and about how in this life we experience joy and suffering, but that it is all part of God’s plan so that we can learn and become something!

I have been thinking a lot about her plight and her questions for us this week. My companion and I are praying every night that we can keep visiting and teaching her so that she can finally have peace!

That’s all I have time to tell you guys right now! I love you all! Be safe and warm this week! MUAH!!!

Week 31: Changing Our Nets! (13 January 2014)

Wow I have so much to tell you I don’t know where to begin!

First we had an inspired zone meeting this week. Our leaders told us all about president’s vision for the mission to “change our nets” by REALLY FOCUSING ON LESS ACTIVES and working as a team in ward council. Also to focus on helping people CHANGE by keeping their compromisos… I have no idea what the word for that is in english

I feel like a new missionary! My understanding of my role and vision for what we can do here has totally expanded while at the same time narrowed in focus! Sister R. and I have completely changed the way we plan our lessons and our days now. It is almost completely compromisos-centered. Our weekly planning this week was driven by two questions: with what compromiso is this person struggling with and how are we going to help them accomplish it. We just followed the teaching record, compromiso by compromiso. It is in an inspired order.

This is what God wants! I know it because SIster R. told me yesterday she is happier than she has ever been in her whole life and her whole mission—she finally feels like she is fulfilling her purpose! I feel the same way! President Rowley is so inspired! He directed us in this way!! I am praying to know every night to know what more we can do. The funny thing is is that I really feel like He is responding, “well, what do you think would be best?”

As a result I started really thinking about our branch mission plan. What are we going to do this year as a branch to hasten the work of Salvation??

This is what I got and our Branch President loved it!

Goal for January: Each member prays daily (personally and in family) for missionary opportunities, that the hearts of their friends will be opened to the spirit. By the end of the month they need to have at least one friend or family (less active or non member) in which they have chosen to focus on.

February: Invite friends to a family home evening (perferably with us, the missionaries), or to a chapel tour with the missionaries, or sacrament meeting. Depends on the comfort level of the friend, thats why there are three options. The goal is that they provide their friend with opportunities to feel the spirit that month to prepare them to accept the missionary lessons.

March: Goal for each active member to Invite their friend (non member or less active) to take the missionary lessons. the GOAL is that by the end of the month they have accepted the invitation to be baptised or interviewed by the branch president if less active.

April: The goal—friend is baptised or rescued!

We call it our Branch Plan of Salvation!

I had an exchange this week with our sister traning leader that was LIFE CHANGING. She made me feel so loved. I talked to her about [some of my trials]. She just hugged me and let me cry and told me how much God loves me and that He is just cleaning me up! She told me about an experience she had where she got really bad road rash and her dad, who’s a doctor, had to clean her up. She said that each little rock he pulled out hurt SO BAD and she still cringes when she thinks about how much it hurt but that it was necessary! And she also said that as her dad was both inflicting pain by cleaning her up he was also holding her hand and crying with her as he did it… she said it was almost harder to watch him have to do it than anything! And she said that that is what Heavenly Father is doing with me! I am better for it and closer to what God wants me to become because of it. And she told me all about her experiences in Las Vegas because she served there for three months before she got her visa… I felt a great desire to raise the bar as a result. I have to be able to testify the way she does that God is our Father and the great love He has for us because if I can get my investigators to feel the way she made me feel they will never want to do anything wrong ever again! I have decided that in order to testify with greater power of His love I must spend more time praying, really seeking to do His will. I feel that if I do all I can to put in practice what we learned in our zone meeting, that is seeking to bring about His will!

Yesterday Sister R. and I talked with our Banch President about our ideas for the ward mission plan. He loved them! He asked us to type up our plan and go to each active family and explain it to them the way we explained it to him. We talked to him about our goals for the week and he talked to us about his vision for the ward. I just feel like we are getting so synchronized, that we are doing what President Caceres needs and what the members need! He and his councilors are still forming our list of less active families to focus on but I am sure they will have it ready soon.

I just feel so good and happier and just BETTER! Today we went to the beach as a branch and I just felt so much unity and love! We threw rocks in the water and found cool stuff (a whole bunch of baby OCTOPUSES!! and sea urchins and living, moving starfishes!) it was so awesome!

Week 32: No Time (20 January 2014)

I’m just going to have to copy my letter to president this week because I have no time!

Dear President,
Thanks for your direction this week in our multi-zone meeting! I love specific directions, THANK YOU for your invitation to talk with at least 10 people every day. Sister R. and I have started planning how many people we are going to talk to in between lessons and that really helps us stay brief in our visits so that we have time to meet our contacting goals. Thank you!!

This week in Talara we set a huge goal of 19 lessons with a member present. We set it prayerfully, and decided that in order to reach it we are going to try to plan 4 every day and so if one falls we can still make our goal. It also means that we have to employ more helpers, and so we have been talking to EVERYONE in the ward about when they can accompany us. I am so excited!!

The reason we set such a high goal is because we aren’t seeing a ton of progress in our investigators and we have no one with a baptismal date! I believe that these lessons with the testimonies of the local members will help a lot. I can’t wait to tell you next week how it went!

Thank you for your faith and prayers on our behalf! I love Talara and our branch!

Week 33: As We Serve We Grow in Faith! (27 January 2014)

This week I was thinking about how I could help Sister R. in her English study because she’s kind of bummed out that she’s had north american companions for 4 months now and the only thing she can say is “I need to go to the bathroom.”

This is the idea I had and where it came from: One thing that really helped me learn Spanish fast was to memorize little phrases in Spanish. Now, every day I pick a phrase from my Spanish for Missionaries book and Sister R. and I practice that phrase in English all day long. She dominated, “Our bodies are sacred” and “As we serve, we grow in faith.” She´ll be fluent in no time!

I just have to say that Sister R. is the bomb. She is such a blessing for me. I think the reason we work so well together is not that we agree on everything because we actually don’t agree a lot of the time, but she is just super straight forward and honest and RATIONAL. She always has an opinion on things which is awesome because it’s just evidence of how focused she is on the work—every time she explains her ideas you can tell she has put a lot of thought into it. But she’s never irrational about her opinion, she is always willing to talk and listen to mine. Except that when she explains her ideas I usually am totally sold on her idea by the end of it…

This week I made a huge mural in our room one night that has every investigator, less active, and recent convert we are teaching. I made a pool called the Pool of Progress and put all the people who were progressing in the Pool. The mural has all the commitments necessary for lasting conversion and where everyone is. It just came into my head and I thought it was so brilliant I had to make it happen on our wall. I am so excited to get everyone in the Pool! Haha I will have to send a picture of it. It is helping me stay focused on thinking about how we can get each person in the Pool.

My mission president’s wife came with us to teach on Saturday night which was such a blessing! She makes us feel like the best missionaries in the world!

I love you guys and I think about you every day! I am growing so much in faith in our Savior, I want to do whatever He wants! I love His ways and I love working to serve Him!

December 2013 Letters

Week 26: Feliz Navidad! (9 December 2013)

Wow the Christmas Devotional was AWESOME! I just cried the whole way through… it seems like that´s all I know how to do anymore!

ALSO, great news, Hermano D. got baptized this week! The love I feel for that family is a love that makes me feel committed to do absolutely everything I can to help them stay active their whole lives and get to the temple. The Spirit was so strong in his baptism, testifying to our hearts that this is what God wants for us. He told us afterwards that when he stepped into the water a dark shadow was behind him, but when he went down into the water and came back up again, the shadow was gone. In his mind, this was the shadow of who he was before, and the fact that it was gone meant that it wasn´t part of him anymore. He told us he felt truly forgiven. Yesterday as he walked up to the stand to recieve the gift of the Holy Ghost he was BEAMING. I was too haha it was a good day.

The miracles we are seeing here are incredible. Hearts hardened by sin and suffering are softening, including my own! For example, one of our less actives has now attended church THREE Sundays in a row after SEVEN YEARS of inactivity. like, HOSTILE inactivity. Throwing rocks at missionaries type inactivity. His story is so cool. The first time we met him he said, “I know I am not keeping my covenants. I served a mission.” But as we`ve been visiting him and ESPECIALLY reading the Book of Mormon with him (that book is so good!) we are seeing the Spirit is touch his heart. How do we know that this inward change is ocurring? Because of the incredible outward evidence! He is a different person everytime we see him! Kinder, humbler, more hopeful, just BETTER! Yesterday we read Ether 12 with him… wow it was a good read. A very good day!

I love the Book of Mormon. I feel real peace, real HEALING as I read it, ESPECIALLY those days when I feel low, confused, upset, or even when I am stressed (because that`s how I feel more often than I would like or probably should) But more than that I love the Book of Mormon because of what it teaches me about Jesus. I really do believe in Him. I want to do what He taught us, and I´m trying every day to learn more about what that means. I really do believe what He offers is real. I know He really was the literal Son of our Father in Heaven. I just feel it, and I feel it in a way I can not deny. I want other people to come to know it too. Luckily, the Book of Mormon with the Bible help us so much.

Week 27: UVASOL! (16 December 2013)

This week we went to the mercado here in Piura which is the closest thing I have experienced to like a Bollywood movie in my life. Not because there was music and weird dancing but because it was like exactly like what the streets in India look like in those movies. A bazilion people and carts with umbrellas overflowing with fruits and vegetables, huge bags of grains and spices. It was really fun, but I was really glad we had one of our investigators with us to help us find our way around. The different merchant-people were all yelling about their produce and one of my favorites was “UVASOL” (which came out sounding like wassail) and just meant that one kilo of grapes was going for one sol, which is like 25 cents or something in American money.

One really cool thing that happened this week was that we had a baptism of this little guy named Pierre whose uncle is an active member. One of our investigators came to the baptism which was so good because she’s been having a lot of doubts. The Spirit was so strong in the baptism and afterward when the Bishop gave the welcome he took Pierre under his arm and started crying as he was talking and said, “I feel so much love and appreciation for you and for your example of faith today. One day when I am no longer here, you will be the Bishop.” That was really powerful. There was such a feeling of closeness in that room, everyone just hanging on to every word the Bishop said. After the baptism my companion and I had a few visits to make and then we came back to rehearse a Christmas choir that we are planning and when we returned to the chapel like an hour and a half later nearly everyone who had been in the baptism was sittting on the floor in the Bishop’s office and he was at his desk telling them something, but still there was just a reverence and a closeness and a unity. It was so cool. They were all just crammed in there like cats or something, listening to Bishop. When we saw them, the ones who were in the choir came and sang and all the others went to go visit less actives and recent converts. I think the Bishop had given them all assignments.

It’s been a good week, a long one. I leave Miguel Grau and this awesome ward on the 30th! I am going to miss our ward mission leader and our Elder’s quorum president and our Relief Society President and our Bishop so much. Ward council Wednesday is like my favorite day of the week.

Week 28: Merry Christmas! (23 December 2013)

This week was AWESOME. I had my interview with President Rowley and his wife which was SO GOOD. I am going to tell you guys all about it on Christmas!!

One cool thing that happened this week was that one of the less actives we are working with finally accepted an interview with the Bishop! I was so happy I almost jumped out of my chair! In my experience here it has been kind of hard to get less actives to attend church but it´s been even harder to get them to interview with the Bishop. They think he´s just going to judge them or he can´t help them or that they don´t need him…. Maybe I ought to let them know how I feel about interviews! Because they are like one of my favorite perks of being a member of the church! Why try and duke things out on your own when you have an authorized representative of Jesus Christ who can light the way?? We have been praying for weeks that he would accept an interview because he kept saying no because he didn´t feel comfortable taking that step. But finally he said he feels ready!

I just have to tell you guys about how cool interviewing with President Rowley is. When you go in his office, there is a wall of pictures of all the missionaries, all paired in companionships. And they are all organized according to where we are in the mission. And all the pictures are well worn, you can tell he has handled each one of our pictures a lot. I know he loves each one of us so much, even though we are all imperfect missionaries. He calls us by our first names, which makes me feel so loved because no one here knows my name and I haven’t heard it in months. We talk about all the things that are happening, the assignments he has given us and how they went. One of our assignments was to read chapter 8 and to come to our interview prepared to tell him how we improved our use of time. In my interview he took my agenda, flipped through it and said, ¨You´re doing a great job. You just need to have fun. ¨ hahaha!! He really knows me! I just felt so understood and loved and ready to get back to work and have fun doing it!

That´s just a little bit from this week but I will talk to you guys in TWO DAYS!!!!!! Merrcy Christmas!! I LOVE YOU ALL!!!

Week 29: Happy New Year!! (30 December 2013)

I would say talking to you guys on Christmas day was better than I could have dreamed! Thank you so much for being the best family ever! haha but seriously. One thing that Sister Rowley told me was that if I gain NOTHING else on my mission but an appreciation for my family, all of this would have been worth it. At least I have definitly gained that!

So drum roll…. I am in Talara right now! we had a 2 hour bus ride in some jungly slash deserty stuff (me and six elders) and now I am here! It’s awesome, the coastal breeze here is heavenly. Saying goodbye to Miguel Grau was rough… even right now I am wondering if Sister H.’s new companion) has realized what a gold mine she has landed in! Some major highlights from my last couple days in Miguel Grau is that one of our recent converts who just started his papers to leave on his mission in April said, “Sister Cardon I hope that my trainer when I get out in the field is just like you.” That felt good. Also, one of our investogators wrote me a letter in Spanglish in which she said she finally feels ready for baptism and that she wants to serve a mission next year too. She’s 29 and still single so that is totally a possibility for her! She said (in English) “You are doing a FANTASTIC job for God. Look! After all that you have taught me, I am a new person. Different, and I like it.” I think I am going to frame her letter, it is so sweet!

I am so excited to get to work here in Talara. My new companion is the bomb. Her name is Sister R. from Argentina, her trainer and last companion was Sister P. from Texas who was my traveling companion when we left the MTC and Sister P. told me when we made the switch that she has been praying this past month that I would get sent to be here with Sister R. She didn’t tell me why but I guess we will find out!

This last week with Sister H. was the bomb. We worked and played and laughed and took a zillion pictures together. Lots of tears too, especially last night. One funny thing that happened with this transfer is that one of the Elders that has been in my district since I got here six months ago and who trained with me these past three months finally got transferred too…. to Talara! Elder A. and I will not be seperated! hahah everyone was joking, “Finally Sister Cardon and Elder A. are leaving San Miguel….” Haha now we’re hitting Talara!

I love you all and can´t wait to hear from you next week! I will take pictures of Talara so you can see it it is gorgeous!