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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October 30, 2013 - Redwood City

Happy almost Halloween!!!! Transfers were this week and I have been moved to Redwood city in the Menlo Park zone. If I could have chosen where to go it would've been here. Besides the fact that I think it's 10 degrees colder here, I love it! We're assigned to the Redwood City 2 Ward which is an all Spanish ward. The ward is incredible and has 7 missionaries (5 elders and us). We're on bikes 3 days out of the week which makes me really happy! I was wishing for an all bike area but I'll take 3 days out of 7!
 
My companion is Hermana Bair from Orem, Utah. She came out when she was 19 and has been in the field for 3 transfers (same as my last companion). She's fluent in Spanish because she did a Spanish immersion program in elementary school. She seems great and I know I'll be able to learn a lot from her!
 
I really thought that I'd be released as a Sister Training Leader but I wasn't. My new assignment is now 7 companionships of sisters so I'm excited to get to know more sisters and see more areas in the mission when I do exchanges.
 
I had a whole list of things that I wanted to write home about but it's in my other planner so I can't remember any of it! There's a reason why I write everything down now....but what I can remember is how hard it was to say goodbye to Gilroy. The 7 months that I spent there went by way too fast! It felt like I was leaving my home all over again. Saying goodbye to Amber's family, especially her kids, was the hardest. But I gave all of them a CTR ring that Andrea sent me. if I have time, I'll upload pictures.  But even though it was hard to leave Gilroy, I know I'll be back for some baptisms. Violet, Margarita and Amber are all very close. I told Amber that I would go back for her baptism even if it was after my mission ended.
 
As far as my new area we got a new investigator yesterday named Enrique. He seems very prepared so I'll be updating all of you about him and our other investigators as soon as I meet them. For halloween tomorrow we're going to hand out candy and pass a long cards at a member's house. Pretty fun right? What are all of your plans? I can't wait to see pictures of the boys in the costumes!
 
Well I hope everyone has a good week and I can't wait to hear from you all soon!
 
Love, Sister Billings
 
ps- our address is
1033 Jefferson Ave Apt #5
Redwoord City, CA 94063
and I'll be emailing on Monday's from now on :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 22, 2013 - Gilroy

Margarita is back!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know if you remember telling you about a lady named Margarita. The one who was reading Alma 29 when we came over and called us her angels? Well she went to Mexico last month because her husbands mother was really sick and we didn't think we'd ever see her again. Her kids weren't sure if she'd be able to come back but she did!! We had been stopping by her house about once a week just to see if she was there and then on Friday we decided to call her son and he told us that she was home! We went to see her the next day and she was so happy to see us! Her mother-in-law passed away so she was really sad. She was also really sad about the way her kids were living their lives and she asked us what she could do to help them. We testified of how the gospel blesses families and asked if she'd like to go to the Oakland temple after church on Sunday. She said yes! It was the most short notice temple trip we've ever planned but it was amazing!
 
We watched the testaments at the temple as well as the presentation that they have about families. Margarita just cried and cried the whole time we were there. All 3 of us were fasting that she would receive an answer about what to do for her children. She said it was her fast time ever fasting and on our way home from the temple she told us that she knew what she needed to do. She said she wants to keep coming to church with us and she wants to see the baptism for one of the elders investigators this Sunday. Hopefully I'll be making a trip back to Gilroy pretty soon for her baptism!
 
Other than our exciting news about Margarita nothing else has changed. Our district went to a pumpkin patch that some members in our ward own to pick out some pumpkins to carve next pday.
 
When we talk to people on the street about our missionary service they always seem so surprised at our sacrifice but I'm learning that my sacrifice is only a humble reminder of His "great and last sacrifice" on my behalf. I really am so thankful to be a missionary! I hope all of you are praying for missionary opportunities.
 
Since this week's email is short, I'll include some pictures!
 
Hope everyone has a good week! You may not be hearing from me for 2 weeks if I get transferred. Love you all!
 
Love, Sister Billings

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

October 16, 2013 - Gilroy

Hi family! How is everyone doing? How's the weather? Is it snowing in Utah yet? It's still pretty warm here in Gilroy. There have been a few cold days but for the most part it still feels like summer.
 
This week we had an awesome lesson with Amber! Remember how I was sad because we weren't going to be able to teach Amber anymore? Well there is a less active 13 year old (ivory) that we have been teaching and we realized that she is going through exactly what Amber went through when she was that age. We decided to invite Amber to our lesson on Sunday and it was a huge success. Amber really bore a powerful testimony about the gospel and how she wished so badly that someone would have shared the gospel with her when she was 13. It was so neat to see an investigator be the teacher to a member. I was so proud of Amber! She's progressing so quickly and has even been talking to the bishop about going to a singles ward. No matter where I am when she decides to get baptized, I'll be there. Long story short, I can't believe what some 13 year olds experience and go through at such a young age. It makes me so so so grateful to have been raised on such a strong gospel foundation. Thank you mom and dad!
 
Another neat experience this week was with Fatima. She's the one who has a little boy with cancer who wants to see the Oakland temple. At our lesson last week we asked her if she had been reading the Book of Mormon and she said that she had so we asked her to go get it so that we could use it for our lesson. She looked so sad and said that she didn't have it anymore. I asked her what happened and she said that she had been reading it at her friends house and they got to talking about it and her friend asked if she could read it. So Fatima gave her friend her Book of Mormon. She felt bad that she had given away the book but we were thrilled! We ran out to our car to get another copy and she was so grateful that we had another one for her. I love when investigators do missionary work!
 
We also had a pretty special contact last week. We were about to go into the hospital where we sing to a sister in our ward every week. We stopped a lady on the street and asked her if she'd like to learn more about Christ. She took our Mormon.org but didn't seem too interested. We went inside to sing for the sister in our ward and about 10 minutes later the same lady who we had stopped on the street walked in the room! She said, "excuse me but could you two come and sing about God to my mother as well?" She was so polite and seemed almost embarrassed to ask us. Maybe because she hadn't been very receptive on the street but it turned out that her mother was in the room right next door to where we were. We sang her some songs and even went back on another day to sing to her too. God really works in small and simple means.
 
I don't have much else to report for this week. The best part of the week was our lesson with Amber and Ivory. While we were in that lesson all I could think about was how incredible God's plan is. It's like a puzzle and sometimes you really can just see all of the pieces fit together. I know we were supposed to meet Amber and teach her for a period of time so that we could get to know her and part of her story. I also know that we were supposed to stop Ivory on the street that one day on our bikes so that we could hear her story as well. And I also know that those two were supposed to meet. Now Amber is going to be giving Ivory a ride to church every Sunday. Again, it's the investigator doing the missionary work. The gospel really does change people!
 
A funny-ish story for the week was this last Sunday during sacrament meeting. They asked Elder Olsen and I to translate when usually they just ask one of us. (If there are two of us we can switch off during speakers and help each other find scriptures) but anyway I felt really awkward sitting next to an elder even though my companion was close by. Some part during the meeting I looked at my companion and she was laughing so hard. Afterwards I asked her why she was laughing so hard and she said I looked so ridiculous because I was sitting as far away from Elder Olsen as I could. I was completely on the edge of my seat and if there wasn't a wall on the other side of me I probably would have been sitting even farther away! Hopefully I didn't make Elder Olsen self conscious that he has bad breath or anything!
 
Well that's it for this week. I hope everyone is doing well! And I HOPE TO HEAR FROM YOU SOOOOOON!!!!!! :) I love you all!
 
Love, Sister Billings

October 8, 2013 - Gilroy

I made it a year!!!! One year on the mission has come and gone and I can't believe how quickly the time is passing by. It's been a great year and I hope to make these last 6 months even better than the first two.
 
For my year mark Sister Burch and I (who came out the same day) burned a shirt. Don't ask me why. Stupid tradition if you ask me. But it was still fun to celebrate one year with all of the missionaries. We also got some Fro-Yo but that was it....not much else we can do to celebrate as missionaries. Oh but that night was pretty exciting. We were getting ready for bed and all of the power went out. Of course we got scared so we called the elders and they were scared too....which made us even more scared! One of the elders, with complete panic in his voice, kept telling us not to panic. Then he told us to turn off our flashlights and stay low. That really made us panic! Even the security lights from our apartment complex to as far as we could see were out. It was pretty eerie.  About an hour later all the lights came back on but Sister Champlin and I were still scared so we put both of our mattresses on the floor next to each other to sleep.
 
So this week started out pretty slow and we were starting to get discouraged with some of our goals. On Wednesday night we decided to fast together and sure enough we saw some miracles! They were all small ones...but we know the Lord works by small and simple means. One of the miracles was our encounter with a young woman named Alexis. We met her outside the apartment complex of a lesson that fell through. We had already met her at the park once before and she recognized us. We talked to her about how the gospel blesses families and she just started crying. We also taught her a shortened version of the restoration, focusing on prophets, and invited her to general conference. She downloaded the general conference app on her phone right then and there! She was so excited to learn what she could do as a single mom to help her 2 year old daughter. I love being able to provided the answers to those type of questions! The gospel is always the answer and I take for granted how many people don't know about it.
 
Violet and Rosa are still progressing quickly. We invited them to be baptized and they said they want to pray about it first. Then they asked for some scriptures about baptism so that they could study it. Those are the kind of answers I like when we invite people to be baptized. When people say yes right away it makes me nervous because I don't know if they're taking it seriously. But I know violet and Rosa are taking it seriously. Which means they'll get an answer (verdadera intencion!)
 
How did everyone like General Conference? I LOVED it! I can't wait to study the articles in the Ensign when it comes out. My favorites were D. Todd Christofferson, Holland, Uchtdorf and Nelson. All of the missionaries watched conference together at the church. We had a few investigators show up for a couple of the sessions and our less active,(Ivory 13 years old) came to two of them. She reminds me so much of Amber from the stories she tells us about when she was 13. I hope she doesn't go down the same path that Amber went down. But at least she came to Conference! I even saw her taking notes :)
 
For pday yesterday we went on a beautiful hike with some members who just got back from a couple mission in France. I think it was Leon, France. They showed us all of their pictures and I think I would love to go to France one day! Dad, do you want to go visit your mission when I get home?? :) But the hike was really fun even though my legs are sore today....I'm definitely not in shape anymore.  I'll send some pictures!
 
Well I hope everyone enjoyed conference and I hope everyone is doing great! Hope to hear from you all soon. You're in my prayers and I love you all!
 
Love, Hermana Billings

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 1, 2013 - Gilroy

The first day of October started out GREAT with a trip to the temple! Which is why I'm not getting an email out until tonight. I loved the new presentation but I especially loved being in the temple again! Really, the spirit is just so peaceful and it's so easy to sit back and think. Only 6 more months and I'll be able to go again! Speaking of the temple, the members that took us tried to send a picture to dad's phone but I couldn't remember his number. Let me know if you got it...if not, I'll look up your number and have them send it again. Who knew I would forget everything I knew before my mission?
 
Well this week was really good....not great because we didn't have any investigators at church. But we had sisters retreat and it was so much fun. My mission president said that we have the highest number of sister missionaries besides temple square. We currently have 110 sister missionaries. I don't know about the other visitor centers but that's what he says...so I think it's true. We had a few guest speakers and the Sister Training Leaders put on a skit. There are now 7 STL's and I requested to have the smallest part in the skit so OF COURSE I got the biggest part. It was fun though and people laughed. Maybe out of pity but still, at least it was fun! The whole day was honestly like a mini girls camp. So think of what goes on in girls camp and mash it together in one day and you get sisters retreat!
 
The funniest thing that happened this week was when I was on exchanges with another sister. We stayed in Gilroy and went to visit an older lady from the Spanish branch who is suffering from alzheimers. She is usually sleeping when we go there but this time she was awake so we decided to sing some songs for her. Towards the end when we were about to leave I noticed that she was starring at my name tag so I took it off and handed it to her. She stared at it for a long time and I told her that we were representatives of Jesus Christ. She looked up at me and then brought my name tag to her mouth. I thought she was going to kiss it but then she started sucking on it! My mouth literally dropped open and from what my companion told me I had the most disgusted look on my face. I wasn't really sure what to do so I just sat there frozen watching this lady try to eat my name tag and meanwhile my companion was dying of laughter. I finally gently tugged my name tag out of the lady's mouth and told her that it wasn't food. She looked confused but didn't get upset. I never quite imagined missionary work to involve such bizarre experiences.
 
The saddest thing that happened this week is that we had to give Amber to the other missionaries. The change has brought me close to tears just about every single day this week. She's always lived in the other ward boundaries but she had requested sister missionaries and at the time we were the only ones in the area so she had been coming to our ward. Well the other ward has sisters now too (our roommates) and Amber went to her "correct" ward (as far as boundaries go) and loved it because her and her kids recognized so many more people that live close by. I guess they have ward boundaries for a reason right? Anyway, she decided to go to the ward where she would know more people. Which is what she should be doing because she lives in those boundaries. But it also meant that we won't be teaching her anymore. I know she's in good hands though. And her testimony is so strong that I'm really not worried about it. It's all selfless reasons why I want to be able to teach her because my testimony grows a hundredfold every time we visit her. What she's been through compared to how she's living her life is the biggest inspiration to me. So keep her in your prayers even though I probably won't mention her very often anymore.
 
I hope everyone has a great week this week and enjoy General Conference! I've been looking forward to conference for quite a while. Something we've been telling everyone to do in order to prepare for conference is to think of a question or specific concern. I know we've all heard it but just another reminder that the Lord will answer your specific question! Try it :)
 
I love you all and I hope to hear from you soon!
 
Love, Sister Billings