Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ramona - Week #8 - June 25, 2013

Week 2 in el campo de misional
 Hola familia!

Como estan?! Man, this week has been magnifico.  I'll cut the chit-chat and get right to it.  We added 14 new investigators this week! And we've invited all of them to be baptized and almost every single one of them has said yes! We have a few with a baptismal date already, with hopefully more after tonight. Haha I am taking advantage of that authorized gift we are given as missionaries to invite people to be saved. The baptismal invitation is a beautiful thing.  It helps the investigator know why we're here, and it gives them a goal to work towards.  There is so much work to be done here! It was hard at first opening this new area with no investigators. But our finding has really paid off.

I don't know if it's just me, or if it's because I've been set apart as a missionary to serve here, but I automatically fall in love with every Mexican person I see now! (the appropriate kind of love. Don't worry, parents) But I really do love the people here! They are all so kind, humble, and giving.  I have never been fed so much Mexican food in my entire life!! Every single thing I've eaten has been so good, too! I better be careful or you might not recognize me when I come home... haha no, I'm learning to eat slower because otherwise the people just keep piling the food on your plate.  It's actually really funny.  The first meal I ate at a member's house, I was so hungry because we hadn't eaten all day and made the mistake of inhaling my first plate of food... the next thing I knew, I had two more plates of food coming my way. I was full for like 2 days after that. Haha I'm working on eating slower though.  It's just so hard when the food is just so good.

So I went to my first Zone Conference last Friday in Poway and it was AWESOME!! I love zone conference.  My mission president is a spiritual powerhouse.  One of the counselors', President Morgan's, wife's parents are in the Springville stake (Brother Brown, the secretary I think) so we had that connection the first time I talked to him. Anyway, he called me up at the end of zone conference to recite the Missionary purpose and bare my testimony about it in front of EVERYONE!!! It was almost 100 people  (3-4 zones) plus President and his wife! Ahh!! I didn't know my heart could beat the fast until that moment. The spirit definitely helped me remember the words though, so that was a blessing. Haha. I was the youngest, shortest missionary there! It was a great experience to get me out of my comfort zone, as I'm sure there will be many more experiences to come.

My Spanish is starting to come along more each day.  It's still slow and broken, but the people are patient and always willing to help. And they love learning English!  We teach an English class every Thursday at the church and we actually get a pretty good turn-out.  Members and investigators come, so it's been a really great finding tool.  Anyway, my companion was pretty much fluent in Spanish before her 2nd transfer so I'm working and praying really hard for the gift of tongues like she did.  It's so awesome to see the expressions on people's faces when they see two short, and super white, blonde girls walking around speaking Spanish to everyone they see.  My companion and I really do look like sisters.  Every single person we talk to asks us if we're sisters. Every time.  It's so fun being companions, we get along super duper well. She's the best!!

Wasn't that World Wide Leadership training amazing?!?! Oh my goodness! I had chills running through my body the whole time.  It would've been cool if I had still been at the MTC for it, but I'm happy to be here in Ramona right now.  You guys need to be doing just as much missionary work as I am! Haha I know it's kinda hard in Utah, but there are all kinds of ways to be a member missionary. Do it!

Pues, muchisimas gracias por su apollo en todos aspectos en mi vida y la mision.  Ustedes son la mejor!!  Tengan un buena semana! Les quiero tanto!!

Hermana Barnes

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ramona - Week #7 - June 18, 2013

AHH!! First week in San Diego!
Hola de San Diego!!

Wow, I don't even know where to begin.  This week has been INCREDIBLE!!  I LOVE SAN DIEGO!! I'll just give a few highlights (sorry, you might not care as much as I think you do, but I am too excited about everything not to share, haha)  Let's see..

I had an awesome experience on the plane to San Diego. Long story short, I pretty much gave the first lesson to a 20-year-old guy and gave him a pass-along card and he was way more interested than I thought he'd be! He doesn't have religion in his life but he said he really wanted to know more.  So that was my first official missionary experience in the field. It was super cool. When we got to San Diego, we stayed at the mission home all day and had more training and practice and ate some really delicious meals. I love the mission president and his wife, they are absolutely wonderful.  The new sisters got to sleep at the Mormon Battalion, so that was also really neat! We got a tour of the Battalion and then off we went to meet our new trainer.

First of all... I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MY COMPANION!!! Her name is Hermana Hughes and she is seriously the type of missionary I want to become.  I learn so much from her every single day.  She has only been out in the field for 3 months and she just barely turned 20 a few days ago.  We look like sisters too, that's what everyone says when they see us for the first time.  We're both really short and blonde, it's hilarious.  Haha I didn't take very many pictures this week but I'll send you what I have and some from the last day at the MTC.

I can't believe it's only been a week... I feel like too much has happened for it have only been a week.  My first area is called Ramona and it is AWESOME!! In the branch I'm serving in, there are 4 companionships of missionaries... can you believe that?! The world is changing! Miracles have been happening every day.  I don't know how to even describe to you what is happening.  Me and Hermana Hughes were placed in an area that has never been worked before.  It's like a farm town, definitely not what I expected in San Diego. But I love it and it is still so beautiful!  So my first week in the missionary field has been a lot different than normal.  We have been doing a lot of finding and contacting on the street, it's been super crazy and exciting! It's scary sometimes but I am getting more comfortable just talking to anyone in my broken Spanish and everyone is so willing to help.  I have already fallen in love with all the members and people/potential investigators we have met. It's amazing. The members in this branch are so missionary-oriented. It truly is a celestial branch.

Some other cool news... I invited 3 people to be baptized, and 2 of them said yes! We have appointments with them again tomorrow, and I am so excited to continue teaching them.  They have a ton of potential. It has definitely been a trial of our faith to find investigators in this small town, but we have truly been blessed with miracles every day.  So many people have been placed in our path that have led to a lot of unexpected opportunities. I seriously can't describe to you every thing that has happened, but just know that I am being spiritually blown away by miracles and my Savior's love for me more every day. Being a missionary rocks.

Well, thank you everyone for your love! I'm glad to hear things are continuing to go well!  Les quiero mucho!

Con amor de San Diego,

Hermana Barnes

1. Famous map picture
2. My MTC district and one of our spiritual beasts of a teacher
3. My district in San Diego at coordination (plus a birthday surprise for my companion)  Did I mention I have THE coolest district ever?! Man I'm blessed. They're all super awesome missionaries too!

Famous map picture in the MTC

My MTC district and teacher

My district in San Diego.
My Companion Sister Hughes.


Monday, June 10, 2013

MTC - Week #6 - June 10, 2013

They gave us a little bit of time to email while we do laundry one last time before we leave.  I leave for San Diego TOMORROW at 5 a.m.!!! WAHOO!! I can't believe the time has finally come.  I have absolutely LOVED my experience here at the MTC, but I am so excited to get out to the field to start spreading this beautiful gospel.  Excited/anxious/nervous/happy/ready/but-not-ready/mostly-excited... to be more specific.

A lot of awesome things happened this week at the MTC... let's see.  I got to host the new missionaries again and guess how many new missionaries reported to the MTC this week... 944!!! Can you believe that?! It is a record-breaking amount of missionaries reporting at the MTC in a week, which record will probably continue to be broken every week.  Although the MTC is becoming more and more crowded each week, it is SO cool to see how many people are willing to dedicate themselves to the Lord.  The Lord's work is definitely hastening on!  Because of the large amounts of missionaries, starting this week the Tuesday Devotionals will now be held in the Marriott Center instead of the MTC. Crazy? Yeah. Also, because of the large amounts of missionaries in the U.S., tracting is pretty much going to be done away with.  Member referrals are going to be the main way to find investigators because there will soon be more than one companionship of missionaries in most wards. AHH!! So stinkin' awesome. The answer to President Monson's announcement in October absolutely amazes me.

A few things I've learned at the MTC or that have helped me at the MTC:

1. Forgetting about yourself and putting your companion first will make everything so much easier

2. Humility is key to success in every aspect of the work and life in general

3. Continually praying for charity is absolutely necessary

4. You can't convert anyone past your own conversion... so begin now converting yourself more and more to the Gospel every single day.

5. We are nothing without the Lord and the Spirit to guide us.

6. Dedicating yourself COMPLETELY to the Lord is absolutely key to success

Well, I love you all!! Next time you hear from me I will be in... SAN DIEGO!!! LES AMO MUCHO!!

Con amor de CCM one last time,

Hermana Barnes


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

MTC - Week #5 - June 4, 2013

Cinco semanas!

Buenos dias!
It's really hard to believe that this is my last real p-day at the MTC.  These past 5 weeks have been the fastest 5 weeks of my life and I have loved every one of them! Tell the Urmstons thank you SO much for the awesome package of food they sent me this week! Wow, people are too good to me.  And thank you all for the letters, I really appreciate them.  
Some highlights of the week: 
Last Tuesday, my district got to usher at the devotional! It was way cool, we all felt super cool and important. Haha we even got front row seats, oh snap.  The speaker was from the first quorum of the seventy, Elder Zwick. His talk was about developing Christlike attributes and how essential they are for every person.  It was really good.  The next day, we got to host the new incoming missionaries and it brought me back to when I got dropped off! It was kinda sad to see all of the missionaries say good-bye to their families... it made me miss all of you! But it was really cool to be the one to show the missionaries around and help them feel welcome and more comfortable their first day at the MTC. We get to host again tomorrow so that'll be fun!
I got my travel plans and a letter from my mission president this week!!! That made everything a lot more real.  We leave the MTC at 5 in the morning on Tuesday.  I think I will be calling home from the airport at around 7:30 a.m. so be ready.  I think we get 5 minutes or so to talk so I will basically just be saying, "I love you... uh... I'm about the board the plane... I love you. I'll see you in 16.5 months! I LOVE YOU!"  Haha that's about all the time we'll get but it'll be good to hear your voice(s?) one last time before I leave.  My mission president told us to be prepared to jump right into missionary work the second we get to San Diego so I'm really looking forward to that!  This week, 3 of our investigators are getting "baptized" on Saturday! Haha I am so happy and excited for them.  It's weird how much you grow to love even a fake investigator in the MTC. I can't imagine what it will be like out in the field.
So there are these early morning sister gym classes that the hermanas and I have been going to and they took pictures of the class one day, so now me and my companion are on fliers in every one of the sisters' residence halls at the MTC! We're FAMOUS!!! Haha I'll have to take a picture and send it home to you sometime, but they are hilarious.  We sat and laughed for like 10 minutes when we first saw them. The hermanas and I found this really ugly skirt in the give away box that fits all of us, so we've been taking turns wearing it every day this week and the Elders have been so confused. Every day, an Elder will come up to one of us and say, "I like your skirt... wait... I could've sworn someone wore the same one yesterday..." Haha we're going to be the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirt" once we get out to the mission field and send it to each other every transfer or something.
On Sunday, we had a wonderful fast and testimony meeting.  Since it was the last one for most of my zone, almost everyone got up and shared their testimonies and it was so awesome! The spirit is so strong EVERYWHERE in the MTC. It's amazing.  I love my zone.  It'll be hard to say good-bye to them but I am stoked to get out to the field.  Since my whole district is going to San Diego, there is a high chance that I could be companions with any of the Hermanas sometime in the future. How cool would that be?!  My calling as music coordinator is still going well. I have to go to like 3 or 4 leadership training meetings every week because of it which is kinda funny, but it's great.  My district is singing a special musical number this Sunday since it's our last Sunday so that'll be neat. I'm looking forward to seeing the Mansfields one last timeon Sunday! I love them dearly, they are absolutely wonderful. They said we'd take pictures so you'll probably see those on Sunday
Alright my time is about up, but just know that I love you all very much and I really appreciate all of the support! It means the world to me. Thank you Rebecca for being so on top of things and sending the bedding! I can't imagine how busy you are, wow.  I can't believe you are moving into the new house this week!! That is crazy. I hope things go well, I wish there was some way I could help out! But good luck with everything.  I think we are emailing one last timenext Monday before we leave the MTC so I will talk to you then! Les amo mucho!!
Con amor,
Hermana Barnes