Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chula Vista - Week #35 - Dec 31, 2013

Feliz Navidad y Año Nuevo!!

Semana loca! I loved talking to you lovely people on Christmas!! It was fun to hear about all the good changes happening, including hearing the changes of puberty from some of you, sheesh! Blew my mind! Haha Christmas here was wonderful. After we talked to you, we all went to our bishop's house and opened the packages from our families. Then we went to a Veteran's hospital and sang to the residents. It was probably one of the most touching experiences I have ever had to see their faces light up as we sang the Christmas hymns. There is so much power in music, especially on Christmas to people who don't have many loved ones near by. All of us missionaries scattered and talked to the residents one on one for a little while after that. So much love in that hospital on Christmas.

After that, we visited a few of our investigators who didn't have family around.  I have never felt the true spirit of Christmas so strong in my life. This Christmas was a Christmas I will never forget. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas with the family. But a Christmas as a missionary is such a unique, spiritual experience to be able to totally forget about yourself and serve others.

We've got a few investigators on baptismal date right now. The Sanchez are going through a rough patch so their baptism will be postponed for a little while. But please, please, PLEASE pray for them, that they'll be able to overcome the temptations and obstacles that Satan keeps putting in their way. Also pray for Manuel! He is super solid and so excited and ready for his baptism on Jan. 11. Siga fuerte Manuel, siga fuerte!

All of the missionaries taught the 5th Sunday lesson to the entire ward on Sunday, super cool! We talked all about doing member missionary work, and after the meeting, several of the members came up to us and asked when we can go visit their friends with them. YEEEAAHH!! That's what I call instant application!

I hope you all have a wonderful New Years! What are your goals for this year? All of the missionaries have to be in by 7:00 p.m. tonight to ring in the new year by doing a long study assignment given by President Clayton... Wahoo!! I'll try not to party too crazy! Feliz Año Nuevo! Love you!

Hermana Barnes

1) My district and a little girl that played the piano for us at the Veteran's hospital! (this picture is from my artsy district leader's camera, hence the black and white)

2) Manuel! Coolest Cuban ever!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Chula Vista - Week #33 - Dec 17, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... or should I say springtime...

Hola familia!
More miracles! They just keep coming!! I love missionary work. I wish I could just tell you everything. So the Sanchez family are progressing so well, it's insane. They act like they're already members, it's so cool. They've come to church every week along with all the activities and they're even feeding us tonight. We had a lesson with them last night and they asked us, "Can you sisters come over every day? We really want be as prepared as possible for our baptism because it's coming up!" We were planning on telling them that we needed to come over every day anyway but they were just one step ahead of us. So solid.
Manual is another one of our super solid investigators. We had a lesson with him last night as well and the first things he said to us was, "Hermanas, I read the chapter you assigned me, and then I loved it so much that I read the next chapter. Then I read it again."  What?! Haha I have never witnessed such prepared people in my life! We invited him to a baptismal date and he prayed about it right on the spot and then accepted it. He is so awesome, he's this super intelligent 54-year-old Cuban guy that has traveled all over the world! His family lives back in Cuba. But this guy knows how to dance! We had our ward Christmas party this past Saturday, and he came and showed everyone down! It was so cool! I'l try to send a video. But he told us that right when he walked in the church building and saw the painting of Jesus Christ, he thought to himself, "This is my place!!" Haha so prepared. So solid.
Randon stuff this week:
--I got to go on exchanges with Hermana Hughes last week!! It was quite the reunion! It was cool to see each other's progress since we were companions two transfers ago. We saw a lot of cool miracles with her investigators. Loving investigators and everyone is the most important and most effective way to be a missionary. Hands down.
--We went Christmas caroling to some of the members' non-member friends last night and it was so powerful! So many of them cried! Spreading the gospel through music around Christmas is the best!!
--The weather has been so perfect lately! Last week it felt like Utah but this week it feels more like Spring or Summer. Try not to get too much frostbite up and Utah and I'll try not to get too sunburnt down here in Chula!
During this week, I want you all to imagine yourselves being present at the birth of Jesus Christ. What gift would you have given him? What would you give him this Christmas? My amazing companion asked this question to a less-active family in our ward and they committed to coming to church one time before the year is over as their gift to Jesus Christ. So cool and powerful! So I just want you to think about what you want to give Him for Christmas this year. Maybe more time? More service to others? Jesus Christ lives! I love you all!
Hermana Barnes
1) My awesome companion and I.
1) My awesome district at the ward Christmas party!
2) Some people leftover after the dancing showdown (no missionaries allowed). Manual is the tall guy in blue in the back'

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chula Vista - Week #32 - Dec 10, 2013

There can be miracles when you believe!!

WHAT. A. WEEK. Oh man! I don't even know where to start. Things are getting lit on fire down here in Chula Vista!!! Even though it is much colder than you all think... sometimes it feels like good ol' Utah. So we had been struggling the last couple weeks to find new solid investigators so we started praying very specifically that we would find the people that God had prepared to receive the Gospel at this time. Ready for this? 
Miracle #1: We contacted the Sanchez family last week and they are so solid!! They came to church on Sunday and participated in all the classes. They accepted a baptismal date last night for Dec. 28!! Wahoo!!
Miracle #2: The Casto Family are friends of a member in the ward, and they've come to church twice and they participate in all the classes as well. I totally thought they were members at first. Wait for it...
Miracle #3: The Enrique family. We contacted Alberto Enrique and this is basically how the conversation went:
Alberto: "Is there a way I can get a Book of Mormon?"
Us: "Yes, Alberto, yes there is."
Alberto: "Okay great, I need to learn more. Can you hermanas teach me what I need to know?"
Us: "Yes, Alberto. Yes we can." 
Alberto: "Perfect. Also, I need to go to church. Do you have a church nearby that I can come to?"
Us: "Yes, Alberto, yes!!"
Ahh!! WHAT?!?! We have an appointment with him tomorrow and I am stoked! Haha I've got a lot of hope for this family.
Miracle #4: Manual! Oh man, basically the same scenario as Miracle #3. Where are all these prepared souls coming from?! Prayer is so real, people. Coolest week EVER!!
Love you all! Que tengan una buena semana!
Hermana Barnes
1) Mi componera Hermana McBride y yo
2) Our ugly sweater family district photo on p-day!
3) We got to take some investigators to see the temple lights! So beautiful and spiritual! I'll send more pictures later


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chula Vista - Week #31 - Dec 3, 2013

Lupe and Estreya's baptism!!, Guess where I got transferre​d..., Thanksgivi​ng, and other great stuff

Hola familia!
Lupe and Estreya got baptized on Saturday!! Happiest day ever!! They were both so happy. Just watching Lupe's face when her daughter was getting baptized was priceless. I love the happiness the Gospel brings to families. It's been so amazing to see them grow. Whenever Estreya gets in trouble, she reads from the Book of Mormon. That is her punishment but... she told us she secretly enjoys reading it so maybe Lupe should change punishments and take The Book of Mormon away from her instead... Haha.
I'm in... Chula Vista baby!! Wahoo!! It is 100% different from Ramona but I love it! I'm serving in the exact area that "The District" was filmed, how cool is that? We are even teaching one of the investigators from The District, Ofelia! She's the lady the sister missionaries were teaching and gave a church tour to. You'll have to watch it. She's so awesome! She's been investigating the church for a couple years and has been dropped and picked up again and again over the years. She has so much potential but has problems commiting because of her husband, it's tough. But she is going to get baptized this transfer, I can feel it :) My new companion's name is Hermana McBride, she rocks! She's from Holiday, Utah and has been out a little longer than I have. We graduated the same year. The area we're serving in is super cool, one part of our area is super duper rich and the other part is super duper poor. We're 10 minutes from the border and the ocean. There are so many awesome/crazy people here it's great!
It sounds like Thanksgiving was wonderful for you all! I hope you ate a lot of extra turkey and pie for me! I know you're all wondering what Thanksgiving was like for me so here you go. We ate at a member's house, The Gallegos, for Thanksgiving. It was great. Definitely not normal, but still good. We had fettucine alfredo, little bit of turkey, potato salad, and Flan... haha too good. Gotta love Mexican Thanksgivings! I was surprised we didn't have tacos. Maybe for Christmas with the Tamales. That night, my district went and Christmas-caroled to the people waiting in line for black Friday at the mall and gave out millions of pass-along cards and tried to teach the Gospel! It was actually pretty successful.
Well, I sure had a lot of gratitude on Thanksgiving for you guys and the fact that we have the Gospel. I love you all so much and I hope you have a wonderful week full of miracles!
D&C 78:19
Hermana Barnes
1. Lupe and Estreya's baptism! Cutest mother and a daughter ever.
2. Thanksgiving at the Gallegos! Hermana McBride was pretty hungry
3: I wish I could take you all to meet this investigator, Maria. She's from Spain and she is the most insane lady I have ever met! I love her so much! Just imagine the craziest, funniest, sweetest, oldest Spaniard grandma that you would see in the movies and that's Maria. Please remind me to tell you stories about her when I get home. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ramona - Week #30 - Nov 26, 2013

TTFN... Ramona :( But Happy Thanksgivi​ng!!
I just got the news that I'm getting transferred out of Ramona tomorrow... :( But right when the Zone Leaders told me, I felt right about it. It was cool. But I'm going to miss everyone so much! All of the members and investigators here aren't just members and investigators. They've all become such good friends and I love them all too much! I also love Hermana Contreras to death and we only got one transfer together... so... that'll be a tough separation. Haha it'll to be hard to leave, but I know that the transfer is right.
What a past couple of weeks! Sheesh! Hermana Contreras and I have been having some crazy weeks full of a lot of hard work and success. What a great way to end the transfer.
--Such good news: Lupe and Estrella had their baptismal interview on Sunday and they're all set to get baptized this Saturday!! Wahoo!!! I am so grateful for the revelation we have received for them. It's a pretty big miracle this is happening this week. I'm so happy for both of them!! Depending on whether my new area is close enough, I'll be able to go to the baptism so that'll be awesome.
--Miracle: one of our investigator's brothers, Carlos, was completely closed off to listening to us last week. He doesn't like to talk at all and he seems pretty stand-offish and doesn't believe in God. He loves to play the piano though, so one day we went over there and just jammed with him at the piano. He would play one song, then I would play one, then he would, and we would just keep taking turns. It was so cool because he started opening up to us! He started asking us questions about what we believed and told us how he felt and said he wanted us to come back. WHAT?!?! Haha miracle! It was confirmed to me that it is SO important to build a relationship and show the people that you really do care and have interest in their lives so that they trust you and have the desire to listen and accpet the Gospel. So cool.
--I've had a lot of opportunities with music lately, it's been so sweet. The branch is going to sing at the Mormon Batallion for Christmas so they've been having choir practices the past couple weeks... and they basically put me in charge of teaching everyone their parts. Haha it is the funniest thing, because a lot of the members have never sung in a choir in their lives. So it's been a challenge, but also so cute to see them get so excited when they learn their part. They are so grateful for my piano playing, I didn't realize how grateful these people would be. I feel so bad that I won't be able to help them out anymore! But I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father has been giving me so many awesome opportunities to share that talent with others. I got to play a special musical number in sacrament meeting with an Elder and some others that left to go home today. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to see Heavenly Father bless others through our talents. Don't hide your talents!! Heavenly Father gave them to you to bless other people so go bless other people already!
Well mi familia, I just want you to know that I am so thankful for each and every single one of you. I love you all so much. I hope you can feel my love and gratitude, because I can barely contain it! Have an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving! Eat some extra turkey and pie for me, because I might be eatin' tacos instead! Haha les amo tanto!
Alma 34:38
Hermana Barnes
1 & 2: Some of the members were able to take some of the missionaries to Barona, a super sweet buffet/casino, for dinner (totally looked like the great and spacious building in the midst of all the wide open land space and fields in Ramona) to celebrate a birthday... I'm surprised we were allowed to go. We only did a couple slots ;) Just kidding mom and dad, we were obedient I promise!
3: Last district picture in Ramona!



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ramona - Week #29 - Nov 19, 2013

Continue staying tuned...

Hola familia!

Good news... We went to the temple today!!! One of the members in our branch (Cesar Chavez) got his endowments out because he is leaving on his mission soon and we were able to go!! Missionaries are allowed to go every 90 days. Wahoo! It was incredible, and always is. The temple is my favorite place to be in the world, hands down.

Bad news... I don't have any time to write again. Sorry! Next week for sure! Keep praying for our investigators! Every prayer matters! Les amo con todo mi corazon! Sigan fuerte!

Hermana Barnes

Ramona - Week #28 - Nov 12, 2013

Stay tuned...

Mi familia!

There have been problems with the computers so we don't have any time to write today. I will write next week! Be good! Love you!!!

Hermana Barnes

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ramona - Week #27 - Nov 5, 2013

Wonderful week in Wamona!

Mi familia!

Wonderful week in Wamona!
I told you already about the member in our branch, Hermana Chavez, who was just diagnosed with stomach cancer and had to have intensive surgery last month. Well, they're having three big fundraisers this month to raise money for the surgery and chemotherapy and everything else they need. So we've been able to help out and it's been so amazing to see so many people come together for this great cause. We washed cars for 4 hours on Saturday! I'll send a picture. Pray for the Chavez family! 
A few days ago, we brought their son, Cesar Chavez, out with us for some appointments. One of the investigators we taught, Adrianna, had a best friend that just barely got diagnosed with cancer. What a blessing directly from God to have Cesar with us to testify of trusting in God through hard times because his mom had just been diagnosed with cancer too. It's amazing to me to see how much God really is in the details. Miracles, big and small, are happening people!!
Have I told you that the majority of the people we talk to are illegal? Haha I love them all. Most of them are just trying to work and save money for their families that still live in Mexico. It's hard for me to see them struggling like that without their families and security, but it's such a blessing to be able to teach them and help them see that there's more joy, peace, and blessings for their families they can find through the Gospel. We are so blessed to already have the Gospel. My testimony of that grows every day, it's insane.
Les quiero tanto!
Hermanita Barnes
1. Hermana Contreras, me, and Hermano Pastor Salmoron: the cutest old man in the entire world! He gives us dulces every single time he sees us.
2. Part of the branch and some of the missionaries at the car wash fundraiser for Hermana Chavez. Mucho amor!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ramona - Week #26 - October 29, 2013

Consecrati​on, hope, love for loving people
Mi familia amada!
I loved this week. President Clayton's wife invited all of the missionaries to read, "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary" and then apply it. I invite all of you to read that talk, it's intense! And it doesn't just apply to missionaries, it applies to every member. Becoming consecrated is such a process, but is so possible. I've been setting small goals to help me get there. I've learned so much this past week to just enjoy every moment--every chance to love someone, every chance to learn something, every chance to serve someone, every difficult trial to overcome. Time is just going by too fast to take any moment for granted here. I don't even want to say this but it's already been 6 months... Dad stop praying for the time to fly! Haha.
I had to give a talk on hope in District Meeting the other day. Hope is such a deep word. Man, I love hope. Hope is what has gotten me and what gets me through everything. Having the opportunity to give people hope is one of those things that just melts my heart. I don't know if it's just part of wearing the plaque or if this part of me has been uncovered more on the mission, but my heart has been so sensitive to people--their feelings, their situations, everything. I'm so much more emotional, it's embarrassing! Haha. I feel like I've been able to love and understand people more in the way that Christ would. Yeah okay it's definitely not me. Haha but I don't want this gift to go away when I come home! I have a love for loving people. It's amazing how much God can expand our hearts as missionaries. I love this work.
3 of our investigators, Lupe, Estrella, and Oscar have a baptismal date for November 23! Pray that Satan leaves them alone. Haha I'll keep you updated on them. One of the members in our branch got his mission call to the Utah Salt Lake City West mission! Speaking Spanish! Wahoo! Everyone was totally making jokes that he'd get sent to Utah and it totally happened. Mwuahaha. Keep a look out for an Elder Cesar Chavez, he'll be coming in with a boom at the end of December! Shout out to Debbie Byrne who enters the MTC tomorrow! Wahoo!! Brazil is not going to know what hit them! Happy Halloween this week! Love you! 
Hermanita Barnes
1. Check out that sunset!! Ramona has some of the coolest sunsets in the world!
2. If this isn't a cowboy town, I don't know what is.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ramona - Week #25 - October 22, 2013

I felt the 'influenza​' of the Holy Ghost yesterday.​..

Hola familia!
It's been a crazy week! Guess what? I got the 24 hour flu yesterday... no bueno. I definitely felt the 'influenza' of... something opposite of the Holy Ghost. I still felt the Holy Ghost though. Haha we had to stay in all day yesterday, it was the worst!! I wanted to go out and work especially because we had appointments, but I was forced to stay in by my district leader, the mission nurse, and the mission president. Haha I didn't win. It was probably best too because it got worse and I probably would've gotten everyone sick... that would've been bad. My advice: don't get sick on your mission! It's bad news. I'm good now, no worries parents.
My new companion is so wonderful!!! I love her so much. Her name is Hermana Contreras. She is a Mormon Batallion sister too! (Every Mormon Batallion sister gets the chance to be a full-proselyting sister for 2 transfers) So it's been a learning experience for her to not be serving at the Mormon Batallion. AND to be serving in Ramona! Haha she did NOT see that coming. She was born in Mexico, but grew up in LA. It'll be good to get some extra help on my Spanish :) She's so stinkin' cute though! And guess what?! She's shorter than me... SHORTER!! That happens once in a blue moon. She's been out almost a year and I am so excited to serve with her...  she rocks. It's also crazy because the first night I got here in San Diego I slept at the Mormon Batallion and it was in Hermana Contreras' apartment! It was meant to be that we'd be companions some day :) I wasn't expecting to get her as my companion now though because everyone had been telling me that I would be training but there haven't been any new Spanish-speaking sisters come in the past 3 transfers! So I guess I might train when there are Spanish-speaking sisters.
We've witnessed quite a few changes of heart in some of our investigators the past few days, it's been AMAZING!! One of our investigators, Isidro, that dropped us a couple weeks ago, basically told us the other day that he wants to keep learning. WHAT?! Sweet. That rocks. Also, Rita's husband who is very closed off and says stuff like, "I'm Catholic and I'm going to be Catholic until the day I die" told us the other day to pray for him and he might change his mind and join this church... WHAT?!?! Haha so funny/awesome. I love seeing miracles. Go look for miracles this week! They're everywhere!
Hermanita Barnes
1. My new companion! (I don't have any good pictures of the two of us yet... stay tuned)
2. We carved pumpkins last week on p-day!
3. Hermana Hughes, me and part of Pablo Rodriguez's family! She had to say good-bye :(
4. Hermana Hughes, me, and the ward mission leader and his wife (I missed the memo that we were smiling for the picture, apparently)
5. Me and part of the Mendez family



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ramona - Week #24 - October 15, 2013


What a maravillosa week! PABLO. GOT. BAPTIZED!!! Wahoo!!! It was such a beautiful and powerful baptism! Man, I didn't know it was possible to be this happy for another human being!! Haha I love Pablo so much. He is going to be a stellar member. He bore his testimony after he was baptized, and it seemed like he had already been a member for years. He has such a solid testimony. The picture doesn't show it very well, but he was beaming with joy that whole day (It's pretty rare to see a Hispanic person smiling in pictures) It was so touching to see the instant countenance change. This Gospel is true! I wish you all could have been there! Hermana Hughes and I got to sing/play a couple of special musical numbers too. His confirmation at church the next day was so powerful. One of the branch presidency members confirmed him and told us that the spirit was telling him that God has huge plans for Pablo. I believe it!
Well, we just got the news of transfers and... I'm staying in Ramona!!!! Yeehaw!! This is such a blessed little cowboy town. But, Hermana Hughes is leaving :( We're both so sad. We have grown to be the best of friends, basically hermanas (Wait, or were we already hermanas separated at birth? People ask us if we're twins 5 times a day). I'm sure going to miss her a whole ton. We've seen so many miracles together out here in Ramona and learned SO much from each other, it's insane. She has changed my life. But, it's all about the prepared souls, not the missionaries, and God needs us in different places for different people at different times.
Well, thanks for all the love and prayers for my investigators! If you're going to pray, pray for them :) Love you!
Hermanita Barnes 
1. Pablo's baptism!
2. Dysfunctional zone picture at zone meeting
3. Rockin' our raincoats in the biggest rain storm EVER in Ramona! We almost broke a mission rule by accidentally swimming in the streets, sheesh!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Ramona - Week #24 - October 14, 2013

Last weekend, a family, the Aquiars, from Bri's ward came up for General Conference.  They had dinner with us on their way back home.  I am so grateful for the Aquiars and families like them that take such great care of our missionaries. Hermano Aquiar today sent me these two videos.  If you miss Bri's piano and singing you will love these videos of two Spanish hymns her and Hermana Hughes are practicing for their upcoming baptisms.


O My Father

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ramona - Week #23 - October 8, 2013

General Conference, exchange, Pablito!

Mi familia!
What a stellar week! General Conference always makes the week stellar, right? I absolutely LOVED conference this year! It's amazing how almost every meeting, whether it be Stake Conference, General Conference, firesides, or sacrament meetings, so many of the talks are centered on missionary work, specifically member missionary work now. AHHH!! So sweet. Is this as awesome to you guys at home as it is to us missionaries out in the field?! Man the Lord sure is hastening His work. A really cool theme I caught from conference this weekend is that every weakness, every trial, every commandment, everything that we receive from the Lord, is just another opportunity for the Lord to use His power to strengthen us and send us blessings. So don't allow the imperfections of life to weigh you down... just use your agency to become more perfect through Jesus Christ every day! 
Pablo had his baptismal interview last week and passed with flying colors! Wahoo! Keep praying for him! I'll keep you updated!
I went on an exchange with a sister serving in Santee and it was sweet! Our Spanish is probably on the same level and it was my first time taking over my area without Hna. Hughes so that was a little scary, but the Lord seriously works miracles with his imperfect children. We added 4 investigators and taught 7 lessons that day! My testimony of the fact that God is in the details of this work and in our lives increases every single day that I'm here. Man I love being a missionary. I can't say that enough.
Well, I sure do love you all. Tengan una maravillosa semana!
Hermana Barnes
Picture: Me on Hope street, the world famous mailbox street in Ramona! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ramona - Week #22 - October 1, 2013

We almost left the mission this week! Oops...

I don't have much time to write today, so excuse my typing mistakes or confusing sentences. We are going to the Hospital to visit one of the members in our branch up in La Jolla. She just had major surgery on her stomach this week. She has cancer in her stomach so they had to remove most of her stomach... so sad. She is going through chemotherapy this week as well.  Along with that, their son who just put in his mission papers just broke his collar bone and has to get surgery next week! His mission will probably be delayed. :( They don't have insurance, so their whole life savings will be gone after next week. But they are such a strong family though! They have been through so much, and have kept strong in their faith in the Lord through it all. Anyway, a lot of miracles this week!
--Pablo, the one I talked about last time, miraculously came to church last Sunday! That means, he can get baptized next week!!! Wahoo! Please pray for him!
--We did a ton of service at a pumpkin patch in town... crazy fun! They let us take pumpkin home the size of me and my companion COMBINED!! We are going to carve it out and sleep inside. I'll send a couple pictures.
--Cool miracle of the week: A few days ago, the Spirit prompted us both that we should explore a part of our area that we had never worked before. (our area is pretty big, mostly wide open space for farming) So we started driving down this super long and windy road for what seemed like an hour. It was so beautiful though. There were so many times we wanted to turn back because of the far distance we had gone, but the Spirit kept saying, "No! Keep going!" So, we kept going and finally Hermana Hughes was like, "Stop! Pull over!" She didn't even know why she said it. So I pulled over in front of this old dairy farm... super random. We sat there for a few seconds, not really knowing what to do next, and all of a sudden, a Hispanic family walked out in front of our car... MIRACLE!! Haha it was crazy awesome!! We started talking to them and they told us to come back and also gave us 3 referrals! We have started teaching some of them and are seeing a lot of potential so far. So cool. We found out that these families are on the very edge of our area and the whole San Diego Mission!! Haha if we had gone any further, we would have been in the Carlsbad Mission. Coincidence? I think NOT!! Yeah, cool stuff.
Well, that's all folks, gotta go! Muchisimas gracias por todo lo que hacen. Les quiero tantisimo!!
Hermana Barnes 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ramona - Week #21 - September 24, 2013

Mi familia bonita,
I sure love you. I want to tell you some things I've learned this week:
1. Agency is the WORST sometimes!! (and also... super duper wonderful and absolutely essential for our eternal salvation and  happiness) We found out this week that Marisol and Jose have decided to separate and that Marisol and the kids are moving to San Marcos (out of our mission). The human part of us was obviously completely heart-broken to find that out. But we know that God still has huge plans for this family and that he will continue to take care of them. We are still praying for miracles, because we know their journey in this Gospel is not over. They've just taken a couple side roads that Satan has put in their way (full-throttle). But thank you so much for all your thoughts and prayers with this family, you have no idea how much that means to me.
2. Work truly is the cure to every trial and disappointment that happens on a mission. My testimony of that has been strengthened this week for sure.  After we found out about Marisol, we decided to WORK! And that day was incredible. We contacted so many people, got so many referrals, and added some new investigators! We added 12 investigators this past week! It's been a hard, heart-breaking, wonderful, successful week.
3. The way we access the power of the Atonement is by living the Gospel, right? So, my purpose as a missionary is to give people access to the Atonement by teaching them the Restored Gospel! I've always known that, but it has hit me so hard this week seeing all the changes our investigators have made through the Atonement.  Pablo, one of our investigators who is getting so close to baptism, has made so many changes. He stopped drinking completely, and also stopped drinking coffee, all at once. The only thing holding him back from getting baptized is that he works every Sunday. We're working really hard on overcoming that with him. He's SO close!! Every time we have a lesson with him, he says, "Hermanas, I just want to get baptized. I'm ready!" Golden? 
This week, we got to teach the "Preach My Gospel" class where everyone in the branch is invited and we just teach and help the members do their own missionary work. It was so successful! We talked about following the Spirit in talking to strangers or long-lost friends about the Gospel. Wanna know the cure to that? JUST DO IT! We also had Zone Conference this week! It was awesome. The main theme of the conference was also "JUST DO IT." That's basically the theme of the whole mission. I'm so blessed to be here in San Diego to be serving with all these amazing leaders, missionaries, members, and investigators in this beautiful place. Missionary work is so stinkin' hard and wonderful. 
Hermana Barnes 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ramona - Week #20 - September 17, 2013

Ramona has been experienci​ng some sunny skies and drama...
Ramona has been experiencing some sunny skies and a little bit of drama here and there... haha I don't want to say anything about Marisol and her family yet, but... their baptism is back on again this week!!!! Haha I love drama... I'll let you know the details later, but keep them in your prayers!! "The Plan of Action and Support" has seriously been working miracles! MAN!!
Creepy story of the century (for a sister missionary at least): Yesterday, Hermana Hughes and I put up a bunch of flyers around town for the English class that we are teaching. We went to go put one up in a restaurant and there was a 25ish-year-old guy sitting on a table and we invited him to the English class and he said he'd love to come, nothing too creepy yet. Then last night, we had 3 missed calls from a random number. We called it back, and it was this same guy we had invited to the English class. We were thinking he had a question about the class or something BUT... he asked us on a date and started saying things that I will NOT repeat... AAHHH!!! Oh man, it made us sick to our stomaches!! Then later that night, we found out from the other Hermanas serving in Ramona that they thought they were being stalked that night too, and it turns out, it was the same guy who thought they were us so he followed them all the way to their car! He had walked back to the restaurant to get our number on the flyer, and that's why he had called 3 times, to try to get them to come back!  How creepy is that?! SUPER CREEPY!!!!  Man, being a sister missionary is dangerous sometimes! We will be praying a lot more for protection this week... haha.
Well, on a much less creepy note, we had a SWEET Talent Night in our branch this past weekend! It was awesome!! Mexican people really know how to party, sheesh!! They went ALL out for this Talent fiesta night. There were so many cool talents too! All the missionaries did a skit to "You are Special" and part of the skit was that we all did short talents and depending on how good it was, we'd run around giving each other a gold star or a black dot. It was awesome! Hermana Hughes also forced me do another talent and play the piano upside down for everyone. The whole branch went CRAZY!! Haha everyone ran up to me after, I felt like a celebrity! Haha I love this branch so much. I just want to stay in this little farm town forever! I love you all so much! I'm still waiting to hear how your missionary experiences are going... digame!! Dios es bueno!
Hermana Barnes
1. Bike sisters for a day... crazy fun day!
2. We went golfing at a driving range for P-day last week, so sweet!
3. The whole Relief Society did an intense dance they'd been working on for months. It was so awesome!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ramona - Week #19 - September 10, 2013

Cool stuff!

Hola fam!
This week flew by! Sheesh. Some cool things from this week:
--Went to Stake Conference where my mission president spoke and it was completely about missionary work!! It was so intense!
--Helped an investigator pick a ton of fruits and vegetables from her garden and then made an entire meal for lunch from her garden! It was delicious. I even ate cactus and cactus fruit! It is now my favorite fruit. Coolest and sweetest fruit in the world.
--Went on an exchange with one of the sister training leaders in Santee, she is 6'3". I'm pretty sure people driving in their cars started laughing everytime they saw us walking down.
--Went to the Mission President's fireside and sang in the choir
--Had an awesome FHE with one of the families in the branch, the Mosquedas. This family has been struggling to stay active in the church and are having a lot of family problems as well. But last night, they were on fire!! They all volunteered to invite at least one friend to church this Sunday... we didn't even ask them. That was a quick change of heart. Haha it rocked.
--Rode a bike for the first time in like 8 months!
Thank you all so much for your prayers for Marisol. I've been getting emails from people telling me they've been praying for them... that rocks!! That means so much! They are still struggling pretty bad, but I know Heavenly Father is going to come through for them, just like he came through for our family during all our family trials. My branch here is working on a "Plan of Action and Support" that we presented to them at branch council where the members are going to start getting really involved in helping this family make it. Coolest branch ever. I'll update you on how this plan is carried out.
Hermana Hughes and I became bike sisters yesterday!... just for one day. Haha some Elders in our area have bikes that they let us borrow for one day because we wanted to do a lot of street contacting and finding. It was SWEET!! We were the two sweatiest, blondest, little white girls riding down the streets of 100 degree Ramona but it was super fun. We got a lot of referrals and water bottles from strangers. Haha at one point, Hermana Hughes' brakes stopped working (is that dangerous?) so we had to stop. Right where we a stopped, we saw a man come out of his house so we asked him if he knew anything about fixing bikes and he was like, "actually, yeah! I love working on bikes." Instant miracle from heaven? Yeah. He even gave us a referral! Such a successful bike dilemma pit stop.
Well, Hermana Hughes and I are still working on changing the world out here in Ramona! I love her to death! And I love all of you! I do have one invitation... will each of you pray for the opportunity to have a missionary experience this week? I will follow-up on it next week so be prepared to let me know how it went. :) Les quiero mucho!
Hermana Barnes

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ramona - Week #18 - September 3, 2013

Emotions are runnin' high!

Man, what a week. Marisol and her family didn't end up getting baptized this past weekend :( They were so ready, but they started having really big problems in their marriage again the week before their baptism and they decided to delay it a little longer. We had a big fast for them and a lot of missionaries and members joined in with us. It was an emotional week for them and for us for sure. I'm starting to understand more of why missionary work can be so hard sometimes... because when you love your investigators so much and something bad happens to them, it hurts you too! But I know that God has plans for this family and that he is going to take care of them. It means so much to me that you guys have been praying for them! Please pray for them more than for me! Seriously! Haha I love you guys.
On the bright side, I got like 4 cakes from investigators, members, and other missionaries for my birthday last week! (I'm 10 lbs. heaver now) Mexican people really love to party! Haha one of their traditions is that the birthday boy/girl takes a bite out of the cake with their mouth, and then someone smashes the rest of their face in the cake. So I got a lot of face full of cake last week! Haha I'll send a couple pictures. I was spoiled big time by everyone. One of the members even gave me a beautiful ring and his watch! Haha he's the coolest old man ever. These people are so kind and giving, it kills me. The ward council even threw a surprise party for me at coordination! What?! I feel so loved.
Also, I'm done with training!!! Wahoo!! And guess what? I get to stay with Hermana Hughes in Ramona for another transfer! We were super excited about that. We have a lot of work to finish and people we still need to baptize before we get transferred! We had 8 people with a baptismal date last week! 8! We were super excited about that. love this little farm town so much! It such a blessed place. Have I told you how much I love being a missionary? I love this work! Anyway, thank you so much for all the birthday love and care packages! Ustedes son los mejores!! Les quiero tanto!!
Hermana Barnes
Cake pictures:
1. Super delicious cake that Pablo (one of our investigators) got for me. I love him!! 
2. COOLEST CAKE IN THE WORLD! My ward mission leaders made me a piano cake. A PIANO CAKE!!
3. My district at the surprise party the branch council threw for me! They're the best!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ramona - Week #17 - August 27, 2013

Do I really have to turn 20?

Loved this week. First, we had MTE's (Missionary Training Experience) where we focused on asking for referrals, getting people to pray in the moment, using the Book of Mormon, and street contacting. So for a whole day, we had a sister trainer on an exchange with us and we did all those things hard core all day! Hard to explain but I only have like 10 more minutes on email so I'll leave it at that. It was SUPER awesome though.
Marisol and her family are getting baptized on Satuday!!! AHH!!! I am so incredibly excited and happy for this family. So many miracles have happened with this family and I wish I had time to just tell you everything. Please pray for them though because Satan is really shooting some fiery darts their way... it's driving us nuts! On Sunday, Marisol was super sick, and she still came to church with her husband and all the kids. Solid!
Last night, we had the coolest two hours. We taught 4 lessons and added 5 new investigators! All in two hours. It was super cool. And we prayed with two people who were swimming in a pool... It could've been weird, but these people were totally receptive and are now new investigators. So cool. We also had a special training for all Spanish-speaking missionaries yesterday. It was super cool and we learned more about how to be polite and strengthen trust between us as the missionaries and the hispanic community. Guess what the number one key is to building the most trust? FOOD!! Of course. So far I've done a pretty dang good job at building trust then. God has given me the gift of an expandable stomach. Haha get ready to see me 20 lbs heavier in a year and two months ;)
Well, I don't have anymore time, but I love you all! Tengan un buena semana!! Next time you hear from me I won't be a teenager anymore :( ...well, only technically ;)
Mucho amor,
Hermana Barnes
Picture: Me, Hermana Hughes, and the coolest AP's ever!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ramona - Week #16 - August 20, 2013

Hola mi familia!
This week is Senior Week! It's week 11 in my training (there are 12 weeks total) and I am basically the "senior companion" this week. So I take the lead on all planning and teaching opportunities... agh! Scary. My companion is basically acting as a little greeny. Oh that little greeny, I love her so much.
Guess what? I got to go on an exchange with my MTC companion the other day! What are the odds of that? Like a one percent chance. Can you imagine both of us, little greeny trainees, running around the streets of Poway? It was awesome though! That definitely got us out of our comfort zones being on our own. The Lord definitely blessed us though. I understood and was able to speak in Spanish a lot better than usual! And she was too.  It was a pretty big test of our faith.
MIRACLES are continuing to happen with our investigators!! Pablo, one of our investigators that usually has to work every Sunday, came to church on Sunday!! His baptismal date is September 28 and he is probably the most prepared person to get baptized I have ever met. Wow. He has so much faith and is making so many changes in his life, it's incredible. Marisol and her family came to church on Sunday again and their baptismal date is August 31! (what better way to celebrate my birthday than with a baptism?!) They've  been to church 4 times, but now the husband just needs to come one more time so they can get baptized. Please pray for them!
The other day at a lesson with this same family, Marisol and Jose were telling us that before we found them and started teaching them, they were about to separate and get a divorce. And ever since we started teaching them, they said their relationship has gotten stronger and their whole family is more united. We were all in tears! It was incredible! That was just another testimony to me that the Gospel really does work miracles in families if you live it. We all know that. So... LIVE THE GOSPEL.
Hermana Barnes 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ramona - Week #15 - August 13, 2013

BEANS, bears, battle star galatica!

First of all, you're not going to believe this...  I'M STARTING TO ENJOY BEANS... I NEVER THOUGHT THIS WOULD HAPPEN.  EVER. The first month or so being out here, I had gotten very creative in avoiding eating beans as much as possible, using my napkin or extra chips to hide the evidence that I didn't finish my beans, sometimes my companion would even help me out and finish them when no one was looking. Finally, I gave in and decided I would eat all of the beans on my plate no matter how excruciatingly painful it was. I even prayed that I would enjoy them... (I already know I'm pathetic) And guess what?! My prayer was answered!!! I can now say I can stand beans. It's a miracle. I don't know if you really understand the real extent of this miracle, but just know that God is quick to succor his missionaries. Hahaha.
Second of all... I got spanked by a 98 year old woman this week... the people are sassy out here! I love them.
So, Marisol and her family are still progressing very well.  We had to move their baptism to next Saturday because of different things that have come up (dang Satan) but I know they will get baptized. They are so prepared! We had an FHE with them last night at a members house and it was such a success! They even said at the end, "Next time, we want to have the FHE at our house and we'll invite people!" It was super cool. This family is incredible. I say that every week. Even the little 10 year old girl, Valerie, has been marking in her scriptures and has been reading to her little brothers out of the Book of Mormon. She probably has the strongest testimony out of all of them. She said that all of the good changes in her home have been because of the Holy Ghost. Siiip!
We had another President's Musical Fireside on Sunday. These things are so popular in this mission, the whole place was packed with members, missionaries, and investigators. We sang in the choir again but our investigators didn't come this time because it was in English.  But Hermana Hughes and I are still planning to do a special musical number for the next one with another Sister who is 6'3" and played on the U 0f U volleyball team. She's one of the sister training leaders and one of our best friends. Can you imagine that trio? Haha but Hermana Hughes and I have been praying for ways to use our talents to serve and now we 4 special musical numbers coming up! President's fireside, Marisol's family's baptism, one of the members of the branch presidency wrote a song and wants me to write music for it and perform it (haha I love Mexican people), and then the missionaries have to sing a song in sacrament meeting next week. What an answer to a pray that was! Pray for opportunities to use your talents and they will come!
Les quiero tanto!
Hermana Barnes

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ramona - Week #14 - August 6, 2013

Shook Elder Ballard's hand this week!

Hola mi familia bonita!
This week was AWESOME!! First of all... ELDER BALLARD CAME!!! And it was amazing. I even got to shake his hand! Oh man. I wish I would have brought all my notes from the meeting with me to share with you, but I didn't. But WOW. He is definitely an apostle of God. The theme of the mission conference was basically "Do more, because your Father sent you" (3 Nephi 27:13) All of the missionaries in San Diego have been on fire since he came. He challenged every missionary to contact at least 10 new people a day, so 20 per companionship. That's a lot! But Hermana Hughes and I have been doing it. We have been talking and walking (and chasing people down) so much this week. It's been awesome. We're dead tired all the time but it's so great at the same time. Our hard work is truly paying off.
So we had zone meeting yesterday that re-emphasized everything Elder Ballard said about doing more and contacting 20 people daily. After the meeting, my district went to Wendy's and all of us as companionships basically contacted every single person there! Haha it was so cool. That's what I call immediate application.
We have 6 baptisms planned for this month now! And 4 of those are happening on August 17 (11 days... eek!!) Marisol and her family are so ready to be baptized. We ate dinner at their house a few days ago, and they told us that they've been praying and reading the Book of Mormon every day, and that God has answered their prayers, that they know they need to get baptized. It was such a powerful night. I wish you could watch this family's progression and conversion like I am, it's incredible. They have changed so much the past 5 weeks. Es muy bonito!
Pablo, one of our investigators that has a baptismal date for August 31, came with us on an awesome hike today! For P-day today, my district hiked a mountain called Mount Woodson. It was beautiful and super fun/steep/mildly dangerous. My legs are on fire! Pablo isn't in the picture I sent because you can't see anyone in the picture with him in it. But I will send a picture of him at his baptism :)
Well I gotta go, but I love you all! Thank you so much for your love and prayers! Les quiero tantisimo!
Con mucho amor,
Hermana Barnes
P.S. Here is the address to send everything to throughout my whole mission:
Hermana Brianna Barnes
California San Diego Mission
7404 Armstrong Place
San Diego, CA 92111

Mount Woodson 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ramona - Week #13 - July 30, 2013

What a week! I've been out 3 months in two days... The time is going too fast. First of all, Elder M. Russell Ballard is coming to speak to all the missionaries in San Diego tomorrow!! WAHOO!! I'm super duper excited. How cool is it that he is my mission president's wife's dad? President Clayton was telling us a few weeks ago that he got a phone call from Elder Ballard, and he picked up the phone and said, "Hey dad." Haha how cool would that be to be able to call an Apostle of the Lord, "dad"?
So many awesome things are happening here in Ramona. I don't even know where to start. Missionary work is the coolest thing in the world!! You really can see the Lord's hand working in EVERY single detail of this work. I love it so much. I know I say that like every week, but it's because my love for it grows every time I see a new miracle.
Here's one miracle of the week: The other day, Hermana Hughes and I were doing some finding and we weren't having a ton of a luck. So we stopped the car, said a prayer, and immediately after we finished the prayer, we both spoke at the same time and said, "we need to go walk around that apartment complex." It was crazy! Especially because this certain apartment complex is like impossible to get into unless you live there and have the code to get in. So anyway, we started walking, trying to find some way to get in, and all of a sudden a guy drives up in a car and we asked him if he knew anyone that spoke Spanish in the complex and that would benefit from our message and right away he gave us two families, and then said, "oh and... you guys are cool and you're probably trustworthy so... here's the code."  WHAT?! Haha it was a miracle!! So awesome. We got in and met two new awesome families! They will hopefully become progressing investigators pretty soon :)
I taught the Word of Wisdom three times yesterday! And all three times we a had a member with us, and all three investigators accepted to live it... And they all had a baptismal date! That was a good day. So we will hopefully be having 6 baptisms in the next 3-4 weeks. I'm super excited for all these people, you can just see the immediate changes from the blessings of the Gospel already. The Gospel changes people! Les quiero tanto!
Jacob 7:5 (be more like Jacob) 
Hermana Barnes

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ramona - Week #12 - July 23, 2013

Transfers, bed bugs, Mormon Batallion!

Hola familia!

Transfer 1 in the mission field---done! And both Hermana Hughes and I are staying here in Ramona!  Here is a cool fact: Hermana Hughes and I have added a fourth of all of the investigators in the whole stake this transfer... the WHOLE stake, and that's including in Poway!... What?! Wahoo!! So I guess that gives you an idea of how many people we've chased down on the street or waved down in their cars.  Haha I don't know what got into me, but even the first week I was here I had sudden urges (promptings?) to chase and wave people down. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to save those people God has prepared!

So, it's official. I had bed bugs this whole time! Haha nasty, right? My whole bed got thrown in the trash last week. I finally got a new bed a few days ago so we're all good! I think I've conquered my fear of bugs now, maybe. We'll see what bug adventures we have next.  We even found a huge tarantula at one of our member's houses the other day. I'll send a picture.

Guess what... Marisol and her family are getting BAPTIZED!!!! Wahoo!!! On August 17.  We will hopefully have 5 baptisms that day because we have another promising investigator with a baptismal date! How cool is that?! I have never been happier in my life!!  Especially because we started out with nothing when we got to this area, and now we have 5 getting baptized. Ahh, I love this work of happiness.  This family came to church and then we went to the Mormon Batallion with them and it was such an awesome experience for them all! I will send a picture.  I love this family so much, they are incredible.

Well, I guess I'll share something I've been studying a lot for one of my investigators. Repentance isn't just praying and asking God for forgiveness for our sins.  It's also praying and asking God to change our desires and our hearts to be in line with His. So if there's ever something you don't want to do, like read your scriptures, go to church, or even share the gospel with other people, you can ask God to change those desires, but not without faith. That's just one more amazing way to access the Atonement every day.  Les quiero tanto y espero que tengan una semana magnifica!

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Barnes

 Mormon Battalion with some of the kids of our investigators!

Check out that sunset!

 Man-eating tarantula