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Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012 - Livermore

Hola!! Coma estan? Todas estan bien aqui :) And I got the card reader. My companion and I were both very happy when we got it. And all the other missionaries that want to use it are very happy as well. Thanks for sending it! And I got Andrea's package and I already opened it haha not the wrapped present though. I'll wait for christmas. I'm going to write Jessica and Andrea letters later today. We have a christmas tree to put presents under so it'll be fun to have presents to open on Christmas. What is everyone else doing for Christmas this year? What are the chances that you could send a tiny bottle of pure vermont maple syrup for christmas? Even if it's after won't feel like christmas without it! So you said you got my message about the gps from matt...does that mean you want me to send it home? Or should I just keep it? I'm not sure how much time I'll have next pday since it'll be Christmas Eve but I could probably still find time to send it. And my eyes are getting kind of bad..I can't see long distances very well anymore so I might need my glasses if you know where they are. Thank you for sending a christmas package. It hasn't arrived yet but I'm REALLY excited to get it :) Oh and will someone tell the Moody family and the Godfrey family thank you SO much for sending me a christmas card. They were both so nice and thoughtful and it made my day to receive them. I'll try to write them thank you cards but I don't know if I'll have time.
So this past week was AWESOME. When I first got here we only had 3 investigators and none of them were progressing but this week we got 9 new investigators and almost half of them are progressing and one of them has a baptismal date for jan 26. His name is pedro and he was a referal from one of our recen converts (antonio). It was crazy because we had planned on going to the english sister's baptism that day with one of our investigator families but they cancelled and every single one of our plans seemed to fall through and our dinner appointment got changed at least 3 times. But it ended up working out so that we could meet pedro that night and he agreed to be baptized in our first lesson. I got to recite the first vision and extend the baptismal invitation. It was such a neat experience! We taught the lesson outside on his porch in the rain because we couldn't go into his house without another sister but the spirit was still so strong. It was just so amazing how everything ended up working out perfectly and I know it was God's will.
My Spanish is slowly getting better. I can say what I want to say but I really struggle with being able to understand them. I can understand all the Spanish missionaries and other white spanish speakers but the natives are SO hard to unerstand. I think Sunday is the day I am the most discouraged. During branch council and church I just try so hard to follow what's going on but I always end up getting lost. And once I get lost it's really hard to focus again. And it's hard not to know anyone...but I'm slowly making friends. There are a few families that I already feel really comfortable with. I found out yesterday taht our branch is super inactive. Only 25% of the members are active right now. So we're definitely focusing on teaching the menos activos.
Without fail every lesson we go into, someone will ask us about december 21 being the end of the world. I think it's funny but at the same time I realize that it's a real fear these people have. We're so lucky to have the gospel to be able to teach us what to do to be prepared. One sister that has been meeting with the missionaries for a long time all of a sudden decided that she wants to be married THIS tuesday so that she can be baptized. We told her it would take longer than that and she was so frustrated. We couldn't figure out why she was in such a hurry all of a sudden and then she said "well you two don't have to be worried because you're baptized but I have to be baptized before december 21" hahah we both thought it was pretty funny. But She hasn't ever come to church because of work so we definitely have some steps to take before she can be baptized but maybe it's a start.
Last week when we were contacting, two people asked US to come teach them before we even offered. I don't know if it's the fear of the end of the world or the christmas spirit but people have been very receptive to us for the most part.
In preach my gospel it says that the number one reason why people reject the true gospel of jesus christ is not because of doctrinal issues it's because of social concerns and we definitely see proof of that every day. And in 2 nephi it says that satan wil lead people into carnal security. People are content with their lives right now but it really is sad that they don't realize that their eternal salvation is at stake.
One nght we had dinner at a members house and they took us out back to see their chickens and he made me hold one. It was the scariest thing I had ever done, I really didn't want it to poop on me! and then it started flapping it's wings so I threw it at Elder Perez. But chickens are really soft...did anyone else know that? Oh another funny story of the week...they have a program here called "vandalists to vango's" is that funny to anyone else? So they give benches and park garbage cans to kids to paint in hopes of keeping them from vandalizing. one our of investiagators is in the program and he's actually a really good artist.
Just about all of the latino's struggle with saying my name. Who knew it was so hard? And they all ask me how I have blue eyes and dark hair. And then they'll just STARE at me for what seems  like forever. I used to feel really uncomfortable but it happens so often now that I just sit there and smile until they're ready to stop starring at me.
Tomorrow we get to help an investigator make tamales so I'll definitely teach everyone when I get home. Who knew that I actually liked mexican food? But i've really loved all of the meals we've had so far. We even went to a real mexican restaurant and I think I liked was hard to tell because my mouth was on fire. Oh and remember that blanket we made for one of the sisters? I finished it on Saturday and it actually turned out pretty terrible but she still liked it. Also on Saturday we had a zone breakfast with the stake leaders and I realized how important faith is. We exercised so much more faith on Saturday and Sunday and it was AMAZING to see the results. For example, we exercised our faith and promised pedro that if he prayed right then and there about baptism that god would answer him and...well he did! I know we can do all things through god if we have faith. God just really wants us to have joy.
Last thing...did Brother Dowdle call? He's going to tell you how to set up google something or other so that we can skype (only with a different program) and do 3 way so that we can talk to Andrea and Jessica too on christmas. With this program we can have as many people as we want. I guarantee scott and or justin and or matt know what it's in google plus. So please ask them if you need help! and let me know exactly what time we need to call.
Okay I have to go but have a good week and I'm sending pictures in another email! Merry Christmas
Love, Sister Billings

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