Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hermana Zuñiga

Hola!!!!

Well this week was all about Hermana Zuñiga. My poor companion has horrible back problems and we still do not know what the problem is. We were back at the hospital again on Tuesday. I feel like her mom. Signing all her medical forms and filling out her paper work. They wanted to do an MRI but it was gonna be almost 7,000 pesos and our mission insurance does not cover it. President is trying to figure out if it would be better to do it all here in the mission or if it would be better to send her back to her house to recuperate and then come back to the mission to finish without problems. We will see what is going to happen, but I feel like it is really likely she will be going home this week or sometime in the next one. I HOPE NOT THOUGH!!! President and Hermana Greer have fasted for her, the area doctor has fasted for her, she has had a bunch of blessings, we are doing all that we can do. But even if we cannot get out to work that much, I have decided that my calling is to serve my companion and I am doing that full throttle. She does not tell me when she is in pain or needs help, but now it is like I have developed a 6th sense for it. I love her a lot!! It hurts to see her in so much pain. I almost lost it Tuesday night. We had gotten back from the hospital and the drugs were wearing off and she was bawling and sobbing and clenching up and the elders finally came over to give her a blessing and I was trying to make sure she had taken all the pills she could take and with just EVERYTHING GOING ON I started crying - not hysterically though - too. The poor elders did not know what to do and one went to get a hymnbook from my table and he started singing and the other just sat on my bed. We had literally been doing everything in our power. Hna Z finally calmed down though thank goodness and we made it through the night and here we are!!........well I am not going to erase this all but President Greer just called us, my companion is going home Wednesday. Other than that....no idea what is going to happen with me. He knows what is best for us though!

Moving on from the stressful part of the week though - Hna Chio, an hermana who always helps us with our laundry and just loves us so much is pregnant! I love her family so much hahaha I hope my future family can be as cute as theirs. We were eating with them on Monday and Chio and Marcos - her husband - were joking around and he said he was only going to wash the dishes because she was pregnant. We thought we did not hear right though but then we went back to their house that night and we asked and were confirmed! We were the only ones in on their secret until they decided to tell their kids and the rest of their family hahahah we are just so happy for them!!! Marcos also is WICKED smart with a lot of deep doctrine, my conversations with him are some of my favorite conversations ever! Like what language does God speak? I KNOW. Something more to think about....in John 5:19, Christ says that he cannot do anything that His Father has not done. Meaning, if Christ was crucified to be our Savior, then our Heavenly Father did something similar, and His father before him, and it goes on and on!! WOW. My mind is completely blown every time I talk to him! I have a lot of studying to do to be as knowledgable as him.

Matilde - still so great!!!! But she has a lot of challenges. She is recovering quickly from what happened to her leg, and is reading everything that we leave with her to do! SHE IS PERFECT! She told us that she thinks she had to pass through these trials so that she could be closer to God. That is like pure gold!!!! It is amazing that she can see that for herself!!!! She also asked us what we drank. Sometimes, when I hear that, my heart sinks a little because we talk about the Word of Wisdom once we have a decent relationship with the investigators because they trust us more and are more receptive to what we have to say. Well, I told her we do not drink coffee or alcohol and she kind of just paused....my heart sank a little more......and then she responds I always drink coffee with my mom in the mornings, but I will tell her I would rather have juice now. AAHHHHH YAYYYYY!!!!!!!!!! What an amazing girl :) Her dad is a problem though. He does not want us to visit her and put a lock on their gate so we cannot get in....we are going to need to try to find a way around that.

Eucebia - her grandkids are completely off the walls, but it is obviously from a lack of parent supervision in their lives. Poor kids. She is changing though. It is like I can see a light growing in her eyes. When we show up to talk to her or help her grandkids with homework, she is so receptive and obviously wants to learn. She tells the kids to turn off the TV so she can focus on what we are saying. She is not confident in herself though because she cannot read or write, but we are working on building that and also her confidence in us!

An hermana from the ward - Isabel - was able to help me out a couple of days this week and she is honestly a saint. I am so grateful for her! She served her mission in Tampico, and has such a strong testimony. What a great example for me she is. I have always been so blessed to be in wards with amazing members!!!

Random news - Elder McGlinchy and Rojas had emergency transfers and we now have Elder Knudson and Klouse.
I finally de-decorated and threw out the Christmas branches we had in our house. If it was my choice I would have Christmas decorations all year round.
Oh yeah, I celebrated 1 year in the mission this week! WOW! I made pancakes with peanut butter and lechera and bananas for Hna Z and me hahahah they were great. She celebrated 7 months in the mission the day after, and I made her some snowflakes and bought her A LOT of pan, because I think she loves it more than I do. No one here knows how to make snowflakes from paper, so they always think it is wicked great. Hna Westergard with her American preschool skills hahaha

A great quote I ran into reading a General Conference talk: "Courage is....the form of every virtue at its testing point." - CS Lewis. We need to be courageous in all things, no matter the situation. If we can remain firm, even at the testing point, we will be blessed! It isn´t easy to do, but the hard things are always worth it.

Love, Hermana Westergard



                                                                        Cacalas

ONE YEAR!!!!

 complete with pancakes


 Hna Z trying to find relief for her back pain

 our feelings about being in the hospital

lost in paradise lol (cheesy paintings on the walls to try to make people feel like they are not in the hostpial)

pie we made with Hna Chio!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Things are not what they appear (Pocahontas 2 song)

Well this week was such a fiasco!!!!

To start off, Tuesday we had divisions. So after district class, all 4 of us went to our area to work. I was on my way to the comida with Hermana Vite, and I got a call from Hermana Duran - the leader of the hermanas for our zone -  and she sounded like she had something she was not telling me. We finally showed up, and I look at the couch and Hna Z is all clenched up and could not move!!!! She grabs my arm and - while bawling her eyes out - is like Hermana help me stand up, I cannot stand up! I of course start to freak out just a little....and the only thing I can think to do is call the elders to give her a blessing. So then, like a crazed woman I just keep repeating ´Necesitamos los elderes, necesita una bendicion´. And of COURSE when you need señal....or service?.....there is not ANY. So then I run out of the house and down the street looking for señal, with Hna Vite trailing behind me. They finally show up and give her a blessing, and the hna for the comida is going on and on about a clinic around the corner for 30 pesos.....SHE OBVIOUSLY NEEDED MORE HELP THAT A CLINIC FOR 30 PESOS. We get to Hospital Angeles, and Hna Duran goes in with Hna Z, and the rest of us just wait in the lobby from 4:30 till 1:30. It was a wicked long day. The ófficial´diagnosis is that she had a kidney infection and problem with her spine/sciatic nerve, and all the pain together was intolerable. My poor companion. It still hurts to walk, but she is suffering through it and will not tell me if her back hurts. She is probably frustrated by now hahahahah I ask her about every 20 minutes how her back feels.

Crazy though, in the hospital, 3 different members came up to us in the time we were there and asked us if they could help with anything. We did not tell anyone we were there, they just showed up! They gave us money for a taxi, which was really great because it is like 50 pesos to get to the hospital. The mission leader showed up and brought us tacos and a big, huge, amazing blanket. We are very loved.

AND while we were in the hospital, around 10:30, Hna Vite told me she did not feel so good, so we went to the bathroom. Then she starts barfing her brains out, and since there was no one in the hospital so late at night, all the elders and people in the waiting room could hear her barfing. Poor girl!!!!

AND, 2 days later, the elders ate something bad and were barfing their brains out the whole day also. It seems like when something goes wrong, everything goes wrong! BUT, hopefully now it is all behind us hahaha and we will not see any more catastrophes for a while. Good news though, everyone is feeling better and Hna Z is walking pretty normally again!

Matilde and Estela - This little family is still so humble. Matilde has started walking a little, but its wicked hard because she has screws in her leg and cannot bend it. Every time we go to visit them, Matilde always has the Book of Mormon on her bed and the pamphlets we have left!!! That always makes us happy :) It is hard for her to leave - which makes it difficult to go to church. I know M does not want to feel like a burden! But we are here to help here! If I need to carry her down the hill where she lives, on my back, I will do it con mucho gusto!!!

Eucebia - we got to see her last night, and we have realized we need to teach her like a child. Speak really loudly, use pictures, and repeat ourselves a lot. That is what we did last night, and it was as if I could see something in her eyes changing. It was amazing. Her daughter left this week - not to return - and she now is alone with her 4 grandkids. Now that we know how to work with her, I am sure things will go a lot better :)

There is an hermana here named hermana Conde. She reminds me of Grandma hahah she loves us a lot and gives us salad whenever we go to eat at our house. If we go to visit her, she always has guayaba tea or atole de fresa and cookies. Sweet little old lady who loves us, and we love her right back!

Something I know I need to remember, is seeing the hand of the Lord in my life. I know even if the days seem rough, that I have TONS of blessings. I just need to look for them. I know that each one of us is so very very blessed. More than we realize. Our Heavenly Father loves us, and I  think we often forget that He is there.

We watched The Best Two Years and a Noche de Hogar with some members, and I want to be like Elder Calhoun!!!! Seriously, he is great. Every missionary should have his enthusiasm and desire to invite everyone to be baptized hahaha.

THANK YOU CHRIS AND JILL FOR THE PACKAGE!!! It was so amazing!!!!! I love the letters from all the cousins and the Christmas stories! And my companion and I are enjoying the chocolate and headbands too! We put up the Christmas decorations anyway, even though it is almost the end of January! Thank you Tabitha for your letter! You are getting so big!

BIG NEWS!!!! The stake in Xalapa is dividing!! Now it is going to be the Xalapa and
Macuiltépec!!!! SO EXCITING!!!!!! The church is growing here in Mexico!!!!! A member of the 70 is coming in March I think to finish all the final things!

Random - We were walking to an appointment and some man was yelling because he was selling his mandarines. If you do not want what they are selling, you just ignore them, that is the way it always is. But then he starts yelling at us and is like Oh, Guerita, no me entiendes. Being very fed up that people think I cannot speak Spanish, I yell back SI ENTIENDO, NO GRACIAS. We kept on walking....and then I realized that I had basically yelled at the man. I did not yell....just spoke really strongly. Hna Z and I started dying hahha because she knows the frustration I feel with the language some times hahahaha but we both agreed it was not Christlike and that I can work on my responses when it comes to situations like that.

The church is true! Heavenly Father loves us!
Love, Hermana Westergard



Hermano Manuel going back to the US to work

Mexico is full of crazy words

PACKAGE :)

 day in the hospital


hahaha

Monday, January 12, 2015

Reflecting

Hola, 

This week has honestly been one of my most difficult weeks in my whole mission. I have felt like we have been doing EVERYTHING in our power to be diligent, humble, obedient, effective and more like Christ. And everything seemed to fall through. I feel like I have reached an interesting point in my mission. I have developed an incredible love for the people here. When they do not want to listen to us, my heart actually hurts and my eyes are usually a little watery as we walk away. I have a profound knowledge of God´s plan for us and I know what awaits us if we can be obedient and faithful in this life. I have felt my Savior´s love for me and for God´s children. I have seen miracles and felt disappointments that I never would have thought I would feel. I have so many jumbled thoughts with the power of faith and the conflict with the agency that every person has. I know if I can have a perfect faith that I can see miracles. But i also know that every person has agency and will make choices for themselves. I know that I need to sleep at night but I know that Satan never rests, so I need to work a million times harder to make up for lost time. Sorry hahah these are just a bunch of jumbled thoughts in my head right now.

The weather has been very cold and very rainy, not trying to help our moods hahahaha.

One of the best things as a missionary is seeing converts who remain active in the church after years. It gives me so much hope, and I am so grateful for them and their examples. We went looking for a recent convert whose information was is our area book but we had never seen him at church. We went to find him, and turns out he travels a lot for business but goes to church in the areas that he is! He has been to the temple and everything. After a hard week, taking with this man yesterday made us so happy. Little did he know that he gave us a little bit of light and joy in our hearts.

I know that we just need to put our trust in God. I KNOW that he is our Heavenly Father and that He loves us more than we can comprehend. If we trust him, everything will work out ok.

We have been looking for references like CRAZY!!! We are going to find the chosen people in our area!!

Maria Louisa - her landlords ar extremely Catholic and threatened her that if she talked to us they would kick her our of her apartment. Poor woman, so we have not seen her. Hna Z actually got shocked pushing her doorbell so maybe is was like a sign

Matilde - a 7 months pregnant,19 year old who we contacted with the dad of a recent convert. She is literally passing through the trial of a lifetime. She lived in a pueblo outside of Xalapa, was walking back to her house with her husband one night and there were men waiting for them. They shot and killed her husband and shot her in the leg and her bone completely broke in half. She is with her mom now in this little apartment, but in the lesson there were a lot of tears and a lot of emotions. She is obviously so nervous for what is about to happen in her life, but I know we were able to bring her a little bit of peace. We are going to visit her tomorrow so hopefully all goes well!

Eucebia - a sweet fat old lady who cannot read. We went to talk with her, and little by little her grandchildren came into the room, all of them with their homework asking for help because they have no one to help them. It is so sad, because we can see the desire to learn, but they don´t have anyone with the capabilities to help

I love you all! I love this church and I know with my whole heart that it is true!!!

Love, Hermana Westergard



rosca de reyes

 reyes magos activity in the church

slide of death

foggy

video

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Feliz Nuevo Año!!!!

WOW CAN YOU BELIEVE IT IS 2015!!!!!!!!!! SANTA VACA!!!!!!!!!
We were working on making New Years Resolutions this week and I realized that in my list, I had goals for before and for after the mission. It feels so weird to say that I am going home this year. I know the time is going to fly by! This past year has honestly been the fastest year of my life, it seems like yesterday I was saying by to Ruth and my Dad in front of the MTC and there was a Samoan guy or something like that with his very large family - in size and stature - in front of us. Then Ryan Hansen walked by us in this crazy moment of confusion and mixed emotions and gave us a smile when none of us really could and were all doing our best just to swallow the tears. AND NOW, I am in Mexico and I could say that I feel like I am at home. wow.wow.wow.

So this week was really difficult to find basically anyone. I thought Xalapa seemed empty during Christmas, but it was even more deserted during New Years. We have basically been on our feet the whole day, every day, each day. We only sit down during the comida and then again around 5:30 we take a break and sit down on the curb because our feet are bruised from walking the whole day. BUT, Hna Z and I help keep the other animated and happy and it is still so great to be a missionary! Weeks like this really make me appreciate A LOT when I get the chance to teach. I feel like I am so full with so much to share that it is incontainable!!!!! AND, we did get to meet some really great people this week. I know that we were placed in their paths or they were placed in ours for a reason, and we HAD to be walking to find them!! Just another thing that shows that EVERYTHING happens for a reason. Every. Single. Little. Thing. The Lord guides us every day, and we just need to be able to learn to trust His judgement in everything. It is hard, because we are proud and think we know best hahahah BUT we don´t. I love the mission! I love that I can learn every day and that I can see my weaknesses so I can improve. I never thought about how much the mission would help me learn about myself personally. Wow. I am just so blessed, my words cannot describe these feelings that I have. Ok, sorry for that rant!

This week we found 2 very humble women who are going through some really tough times.

Mireya - she is the aunt of 2 teenagers who just got baptized. She was a reference from her nieces, and we have been roaming the hills of an entire colonia for 2 weeks trying to find her house. FINALLY, we found her!!!!!!!!!! AND SHE IS AMAZING!!!! She was at Kassandra´s house one time when we had a Noche de Hogar with them, and she was hiding in the kitchen listening. We watched a really touching movie, and we all heard sniffling, and she was crying by herself back there! SO, I knew we had to teach her! We had to find her! She invited us in and we were just doing the pre-talking kind of stuff, trying to get past the awkwardness hahahah but then I asked her how her relationship with God was. It sounds weirder to say that in English, but anyway, it was the key question to ask and she just starts bawling and starts telling her whole life to us. Poor woman, she has been through so much, and feels so much guilt and wants to make a better life for her granddaughter than she gave to her own children. She lives with her daughter and her granddaughter, she watches the baby while her daughter goes to work. Her daughter is also pregnant again, but she is not with the dads of either of the babies. We talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ with her. Faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end, and it was a beautiful lesson. She is just an amazing person! I love her so much already. We tried to visit her a couple other times this week, but she sent us a message telling us that her daughter told her that she could not meet with us. AGH. Her daughter is really grosera and just feels like a cloud on a sunny day. We are not scared of the daughter though. Good always wins.

Maria Louisa - we were looking for another reference but never actually found them. We struck up a conversation with her in the street, and she told us a little about her life too. Her son has to go to the hospital every other day for dialysis because he needs a kidney transplant or something. She told us that she does not know much, and we told her that is totally fine! Because it is! We do not know everything either, we just share what we know to be true! Hna Z and I walked away from our first conversation with her so happy and smiling hahahha because we know how much peace and love she can feel if she does the right things! We have so much hope for her. 

I have noticed how much love I have started to feel for people automatically. It is something I have been praying for A LOT. I know if I can feel this love first and foremost, then I will not be nervous to talk to people, and I will go out of my way to share EVERYTHING I know. I can feel it kicking in, and it is FABULOUS :)

We have really been focusing on the importance of the Sacrament when we talk with people. I have been taking it my whole life, but have honestly never really thought about the TRUE meaning behind it. And wow. It is so important!!!!!!!!

We have been working on how we can help EACH of our investigators specifically. We pray for them, we use their names, say the specific things we want to help them with, it is all about them!  Something I think we need to help them realize is that ´After much tribulation comes the blessings´D and C 58:2-4. It is hard to have the eternal perspective in things, and I think THAT is what we need to help them realize. The eternal perspective. That the hard things will pass and they will pass easier with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!!!

We have been making a lot of goals with recent converts to go to the temple on the 17th!!!! SO EXCITING !!! :)

On the 31st we made tamales and they turned out great! Cheko - the mission leader - said they were some of the best he has ever had, so I guess I am a natural....not to toot my own horn or anything.

Something they do here in Mexico is make a viejito - or an old man - with old clothes. On the 31st, everyone dresses up like old people and then at midnight they burn the viejitos they made. Interesting.

I feel like my Spanish is really improving a ton!!!! And I am so excited for it!!! People ask me how long I have been in Mexico for and I tell them 9ish months and they are like WHAT. How did you learn Spanish so fast!!!! YAY :) It also makes it a lot easier to talk to people when I am not worried about them laughing at my accent or worrying about if they will understand what I am saying. This week though......I was talking about a picture, where Christ is holding a lamb in His arms. Stupid me, I said abeja instead of oveja. Bs and Vs are pronouned the same here...but abeja is bee and oveja is lamb. Whoops. No wonder Mireya gave me a weird look.

I LOVE YOU ALL :) Make great goals!
Hermana Westergard



kids dressed up as viejitos

viejito waiting to be burned

 FIREWORKS

New Year´s Eve

 rosca de los reyes

México is beautiful