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Monday, March 25, 2013

March 25, 2013

Although our numbers don't show it...this week was great! First, I want to talk about someone we just barely started teaching. Her name is Graciela. One night, we met the Elders in the McDonald's parking lot to pick something up from them. Right when we got there, Elder Perez said he needed to use the bathroom so we were waiting in our car for them to come out. About 10 min later we got a phone call and the Elders told us to come inside and we met Graciela. She told us she had talked to missionaries before and we asked if we could come visit her. She didn't seem very interested but she said we could so we set an appt for Tuesday @ 130. On Tuesday she went to her friends house to help sew and was debating the whole time while she was there if she should go back home in time to meet with us. She wasn't sure what to do so she said a prayer. She didn't really feel like she got an answer but then at 1 o'clock she said she just stood up to leave. Her friend asked her where she was going and tried to get her to stay but she said "I have to go meet the missionaries". She got home at about 120 and waited for us to get there. She said if we didn't show up by 2 that she was going to leave. Luckily we came and I'm SO glad that we did. Before we knocked on the door I saw a sign that says (in spanish) "This house is Catholic and we do not accept propaganda from any other sects. Jesus Lives (with a picture of mary)" So my thoughts were that this appointment was going to be a waste of time. But I was so wrong.
 We explained to her about the book of mormon and she immediately fell in love with it. She said "I KNEW that God was taking care of the people over here too" She told us that she had heard about the Book of Mormon but she didn't know that it was a history of the people who lived here anciently. At the end of the lesson we invited her to prepare for a baptismal date and she ended up talking herself into it. We didn't even have to. It was very humorous actually. She said, "Oh no I can't be baptized I was baptized in the catholic church" Silence "Well I am going to Mexico for awhile. I guess I could get baptized when I come back" Silence "Or Maybe I could meet with the missionaries in Mexico and get baptized there" Silence "Actually I think I want to get baptized before I go back to Mexico" It was awesome. We're not sure when she'll be moving back to we haven't set a date yet. But we're meeting with her again tonight. Since she's moving to mexico she's trying to sell her house so all the missionaries have been helping her paint and it's been a BLAST. And she absolutely has fallen in love with the book of mormon. We'll be painting in one room and she'll be reading in the other and then she'll buy us lunch and we all talk about what she read.
On thursday, we were leaving from our lesson with blanca and marco and told them that we were heading up to help someone paint. Marco said he wanted to come help and brought a ton of helpful painting supplies. It was so nice of him to volunteer. It made her so happy to have so many people in her house -her husband recently passed away. I have a huge testimony of service after this week. I could see the impact our service was having in her life. It was like she changed over night. And she said she had never thought to pray before she eats before she met the missionaries but now she does it on her own. Anyway...I could go on and on about her but I'll leave it at that. She's actually the Elders investigator because she lives in their area. But we'll probably end up teaching her a lot since she lives alone. Keep her in your prayers!
Oh...One last story about Graciela. The english sisters came with us to paint one day and there was a bottle of green leaves on the table. Sister Barker leaned over to me and asked what it was. I didn't know so I asked Graciela "que es eso?" and she said "Marijuana" and I've never seen Sister Barker's eyes so big haha But don't worry....she only uses it for the outside of her body.
On Saturday we had a missionary conference with all the missionaries in my mission and Elder Holland. It was so awesome. We all got to shake his hand and meet him. It was really amazing to receive counsel and guidance directamente from an apostle of the lord. I wrote down a ton of things that he said that I liked but my favorite was "There is no other reason in the world to be here on a mission besides the fact that it is true" It just made me realize that everyone has their reasons for serving a mission. But the only thing that matters is our testimonies of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. It really is all that matters.  Elder packer of the first quorum of the 70 also spoke and he told us that he has committed to giving away one book of mormon every week for the rest of his life. He prays every day to receive an opportunity to give the book to someone and then he asks them if they'll read his favorite book. I definitely want to have a goal like that after my full-time missionary service is over.
In district meeting this week, Elder Perez invited us to write a letter to Heavenly Father. As missionaries, we spend so much of our p-day writting letters to family and friends and it was such a neat experience to pull out a piece of paper and write Dear Heavenly Father on it. It changed my perspective with my prayers a lot. It's something I think everyone should try!
Gisel and Arturo said that they got to talk to mom and dad. Were you able to find tickets for them? Unfortunately, our branch president didn't know that he could request tickets. That'll be SO awesome if you get to meet them. They're an awesome family. Arturo is the reason why Gisel and her whole family got baptized. He's an awesome missionary and her family is now one of the strongest families in the branch.
Mom, Blanca gave me a whole bunch of information that she wants me to send stuff. It reminds me of melaluca. It's called Nature's Valley or Sun Valley. Something like that. But I'm working on getting it in the mail. Also, you should check out the website I haven't looked at it but a member told me all about it.
I spent too much time writting about Graciela so I have to go now! But  this week was great and I can't wait to hear from everyone SOON!!! :)
Love, Sister Billings

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013

Good morning/afternoon!! Hope everyone had a happy st. patrick's day. Apparently it's not a holiday that the latinos celebrate. I tried to explain it to one of the members in the branch and then I realized that I'm not even sure why we celebrate it.
 We finally got to take our bikes out for the first time this week. It was a blast!!!! It's honestly almost as good as going out for a run. The only bad thing is when we get to our appointments we're usually all hot and sweaty. And of course my face is usually bright red. People keep telling me I need to use sun screen and they don't believe me when I say that it's just because I'm hot. So our first day on the bikes was Tuesday or Wednesday (I can't remember) and we had gone about 20 ft when I realized that riding a bike in a skirt is NOT easy. My skirt got caught in the back wheel about 7 times that day and it now has 3 huge burn holes in the back as well as black tire marks. Believe it or not I'll probably keep wearing it too! Also, that same day as we were riding home to get our car for the night a bird pooped on me! I felt something wet hit my leg so I looked down and sure enough...bird poop. I think I made a really good impression on the people walking down the street when I turned around and said "HERMANA! A BIRD JUST POOPED ON ME!" Now that I think about it, I'm not sure how much I love the bikes. No just kidding ....they're wonderful. We told President how much we loved them so he's going to get two more for our apartment (we live with 2 other sisters) so that we won't have to fight over them. I think having four bikes and two cars in our one apartment is a sign that the area might be spliting. Or something. But we'll see in 2 weeks I guess.
We had zone conference on Friday and president announced that the first presidency changed the email rules. We now have more time to email on p-days and we can email whoever we want. If we're emailing converts or someone of the opposite sex  living in mission boundaries we just have to get permission from president (ah-hem Matt).  So feel free to give people my email address!! I think I'll still write hand written letters when I have time or in response to those who still write me hand-written letters. But I think emails will save a ton of time.
Jessica I do have your new address and I found your letter this morning so I'll write you back today! I hadn't even read it until today!! Letters are like gold...I don't know how I lost it.
I can't believe Braden Hess is leaving for his mission. I feel way too old to be out here. Where is he going?
Andrea I got your pdf file and it is currently downloading. Hopefully it'll be done downloading so that I can look at a couple pages before my computer time is up. And I got your other letter. Probably the same day that you got mine. I told sister wallace that you lapped me in letter writting and she said "of course you would use a track reference for something like that" I'll write you back today but I won't send it until you comment on my last letter.
I'm already out of stuff to say. I guess this week wasn't very exciting! The only thing that I can remember is one of the lesson we had with Blanca and her husband marco. We had a member over (which means the member talks for an hour about everything and anything gospel related...usually starting with tithing or the word of wisdom. Just get it all out in the open is their philosophy I think) and he said that even if they have doubts that it's normal and they're making the best decision etc. and then Blanca cut him off and said "I don't have any doubts" and then she bore her testimony and it was amazing.
Oh I forgot...we started working with the YSA in Livermore this week. It was a BLAST. I already really enjoy working with them. We met with the YSA coordinators and I just realized how much help the spanish branch needs. THey're seriously barely staying alive. It was like a breath of fresh air to talk to some of the leaders in the YSA ward. They have so many resources and everyone is so eager and able to help. We've been reallly discouraged with the branch. And now I think even more so. But the branch has the potential to become a properly functioning ward as well. As a spanish speaking missionary I have a feeling that I won't get the opportunity to work with YSA again. So I hope it lasts for a least another transfer. Keeping my fingers crossed!!
Well that's it for the week. Feel free to email me and I"ll actually have time to email back!! Have a good week and I love you all :)
Love, Hermana Billings

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 11, 2013 Pictures - Oakland Temple

Oakland Temple 
Kristen, Blanca's husband, Blanca, Sister Wallace 

Blanca, Kristen, Sister Wallace

Kristen, Sister Wallace at Oakland Temple

March 11, 2013

I saw and ran a track today for the FIRST time in SIX months! It was absolutely wonderful!!! But it made me miss track a lot. Speaking of or mom will you email or mail me the news of how the WSU track team did with indoor conference? And other meets throughout the season if you can find them. They'll probably have stuff on the website. Thanks so much!
Okay now about the important stuff....We went to the temple with Blanca and her husband on Friday and it was perfect. Blanca got dressed up in her nicest dress. Her husband has only listened in on a couple lessons. Random ones too. I think he was there when we taught tithing and part of the plan of salvation. But at the temple we watched the Joseph Smith movie and afterwards he couldn't stop talking about it. He told us how he had helped build one of the catholic churches when he was young in Mexico and he liked how everyone helped with the temples. He also told us that he knows Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he wants to be baptized with his wife!! It was so unexpected. We haven't set a date yet because we are still trying to figure out their divorce/marriages. They both came to church on Sunday too. Dad wrote me a letter right after we found out that Blanca couldn't get baptized and he said that maybe it was a blessing in disguise so that her whole family could accept the gospel too and I thought "ya right" because they hadn't shown ANY interest at that point. But this really will be such a good step for them to make together. They were both so happy after the temple and so were we.
We're still slowly progressing with Ana and her family. They didn't come to church on Sunday though...and they promised us they would. They go to Catholic mass every Saturday, and the kids don't like it so I think it's hard for them to want to sit through 3 more hours of church the next day. But they both know they're going to be baptized. We invited some members of the ward to come visit them with us one night and they asked Ana what made them open the door to the missionaries and Ana explained the "coincidence" of how we met and then said "opening the door to these missionaries was opening the door to christ". She said there was one week that we didn't go visit them at all and she told her husband that she really wanted us to come over. He told her to call us, so she did and we came over the very next day. I was happy to hear that because I sometimes feel like we're intruding. But then I remember that their salvation is at stake.....and that makes me feel less annoying.
Every week our goal is to contact 150 people with some sort of pass-along card or invitation etc. and one day, as we were waiting for our car to get an oil change, we contacted a lady sitting on top of a small hill. We gave her a card to receive a free book of mormon and then as we turned to leave sister Wallace tripped on something...not really sure what happened....but she fell over and rolled all the way down the hill to the side walk. It was  a small hill...but still. I think we left a really good impression on her.
I think I'm almost caught up with my letter writting so hopefully I'll get back to everyone. The weather here has been AWESOME! Is there still snow there? I think I got sunburned today at the track. By the way, I got pulled over for speeding yesterday. First time in my life! Definitely learned my lesson. The officer was so nice though and didn't even check my liscense, registration or insurance. Then I tried to shake his hand....apparently officers aren't allowed to do that.
I hope everyone is doing well and I can't wait to hear from you! Have a good week :)
Love, Hermana Billings

Monday, March 4, 2013

March 4, 2013 - Livermore

Thanks for the emails and pictures! The kitchen looks AMAZING!!! I'm excited to see it in day. And I'm sorry that I haven't written anyone the past couple of weeks. There never seems to be enough time, but I'll hopefully get to a couple letters today.
This week was really good. I'll talk about Blanca first (but I don't pick favorites). We had a really good book of mormon lesson and then we talked about her baptism and she said she doesn't want to ask her husband to marry her because he should do it. She said "would you propose to your boyfriend?" She made a good point. Then he showed up about ten minutes later and we awkwardly started a conversation about the law of chastity. I never thought I would teach something like that to 50 or 60 year olds. Oh and their 16 year old son was there too. Anyway....he didn't really get it until we said that Blanca couldn't be baptized until they were married. He asked her if she wanted to get married and she said "well I want to get yes" then it was silent for a minute and he said "well I don't want to get married" super awkward silence after that....and then he started laughing and said "okay let's get married". The marriage part won't be hard, it's the divorce papers in mexico that will be hard. But very possible. Oh also, we asked marco (blanca's husband is named marco polo...honestly) how he felt about the baptism, meaning blanca's baptism, and he said he wasn't ready YET but that she should do it now. He's super suportive and he loves the members of the church. Blanca had a class for her work on Sunday so she couldn't come to church but marco came all by him self. That family is amazing it makes me so happy. And we have a trip to visit the oakland temple planned this week!
As for our other investigators we got a new baptismal date with a woman named maria alforo. We had our second visit with her on Saturday and after we told her about Joseph Smith we asked her what she thought and she said "Well I think it's true". After she said yes to be baptized on March 30 (easter weekend!) she was just glowing. It'll be hard for her to come to church 3 times before her baptism though because of work. But not impossible.
I don't have time to talk about all of our investigators so I'll give a quick update on Ana. We dropped by last night and taught them about repantance because she has told us that she feels guilty for a lot of things that she has done and she doesn't know how to forgive herself. We talked about the steps/conditions of repentance and then shared Moroni 8:24-26 where it says the first fruits of repentance are baptism. It was a super super spiritual lesson and the spirit was really strong. I think people forget or don't realize that baptism is the FIRST step to a very long journey. They can't progress without baptism. So many people want to learn more before their baptized but they have their whole lives and eternity to learn what they need to after baptism. Their 9 year old daughter gave the closing prayer and it was sweet and simple but afterwards I felt really strongly to ask Ana to offer a prayer as well. So she did and  I think I felt the spirit stronger during her prayer than I have during any other time on my mission. In her prayer she asked God to help them be baptized soon and then she said really soon. We've asked her so many times to pray about baptism but she never would. I think she was scared about the answer they would receive. Now we just have to help Luis receive his own personal witness as well.
President bought us bikes!! We came home from church yesterday and there were two cute blue bikes by our beds! I'm so excited to start riding them around. We still are going to have our cars but he just told us to use them when we can. I'm guessing that they'll start spliting areas pretty soon and more missionaries will need to use the bikes. As soon as we buy helmets I want to ride them to every appointment possible! (I've been craving exercise since Sister Green left)
Okay last thing....funny story: Sister Wallace called the dentist to tell them that her teeth have been hurting. They didn't answer so she left a message. She meant to say molars but instead she said (after saying that she was a sister missionary) "I'm having problems with my morals" I started laughing so hard. She tried to say that her morals were fine but she was laughing too hard.
Thanks to everyone for the letters/emails. They always make my week! I love you all -les quiero muchisimo!!!
Love, Hermana Billings