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

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ramona - Week #11 - July 16, 2013

Fire in Ramona! Baptism, President'​s fireside

Como estan? Espero que todo bien.  This week was awesome!  On Saturday, there was a baptism of one of the Elders' investigators that has been investigating for about 3 months.  It was beautiful to see how converted to the Gospel she is when she shared her testimony after she was baptized.  There really are people so incredibly prepared to receive this Gospel.  And there are those people that aren't quite ready yet. It's interesting to see the difference in the two.
So I will try to answer all of your questions in this email. 1) I have P-day on Tuesdays because that's the day that President felt was best for our mission. It's the day before transfers so if people are getting transfered the next day, they have time to pack and get everything prepared during P-day. 2) The weather in the area I'm serving in (Ramona) is really hot, actually. It gets to around 100 degrees every day and we walk quite a bit so we get pretty drenched every day. Haha it's not that bad though.  It's perfect weather in actual San Diego and closer to the coast and border. But I love Ramona, it's like a little Mexican farm town, and totally does not look like San Diego at all.  I feel like I'm in a different country. I have to remind myself every day that I still live in the U.S.  3) My Spanish is coming along pretty well. I'm understanding more and more, and I'm speaking more and more.  We actually do still speak English sometimes whenever we're in the nicer neighborhoods and trying to get referrals, but we speak mostly Spanish.
We had a fire in Ramona on Saturday! It was actually pretty scary. They had to evacuate a lot of the houses that are like 5 minutes away from our apartment complex.  Luckily they maintained the fire and put it out before it traveled into the city, but there is a huge area that is completely black, it's crazy.  There were millions of sirens going off all day and we had to cancel a lot of our teaching appointments because the roads were closed off.  But, all is well.
So in this mission, there are musical firesides once a month (English and Spanish) and this past Sunday we got to go to the Spanish fireside and some of our investigators came! It was amazing. Hermana Hughes and I sang in the choir with like 50 other missionaries and it was super powerful.  There are a ton of special musical numbers and they show inspirational videos. It's a perfect opportunity for investigators to come and feel the spirit through music and to hear from the Mission President. Hermana Hughes and I signed up to sing a duet in the next fireside so that'll be fun! I'll let you know how that goes.
Well, we are seeing more and more success with our progressing investigators. (I forgot to explain that picture I sent last week of the family... it's the amazing family of Marisol and Jose we are teaching that are getting so close to baptism!) It is so amazing to see how much the spirit works in people. I know that God trusts us 19-20 year-olds because it's not us doing the teaching or converting, it's the spirit hands down.  I love you all so much! Tengan una semana maravillosa!
Con muchisimo amor,
Hermana Barnes

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ramona - Week #10 - July 9, 2013

Chicken pox, eating dust--brok​en knee, 4th of July, more miracles.

Hola Familia!

Did I scare you with the subject?  I sure hope so! :) Haha I don't have the chicken pox, but it sure looks like it from all the bug bites I have. Our apartment was infested with bugs the past couple weeks and we finally got an exterminator to come.  My companion and I started to feel lonely without all of our insectos amigos hanging around.. chiste! (joke)  The other day, we were playing ultimate frisbee with our zone for morning exercise and one of the Elders threw me a low pass and I went to stop the frisbee with my foot and ended up doing the splits and tumble-rolling onto my knee! Haha! I landed pretty hard and scraped up my knee pretty bad but I have a bruise the size of an cantelope which is pretty cool.  It was probably the funniest eating dust experience I've ever had or heard of. My whole zone was laughing their heads off... haha luckily there's no long-term damage.  Man, from the dog bite, the chicken pox bug bites, and my eating dust experience, it sure seems like some adversary has some evil plan to stop me. But his plan has failed so far... HE CAN'T STOP ME! Mwuahaha.

So, we have this amazing family with 7 kids that we are teaching right now and everything about them is a miracle from the time we found them 2 weeks ago until now.  The parents' names are Marisol and Jose and they are so incredible.  I invited them to be baptized during our first visit with them and they said yes. Every single time after that, they say they feel better and better about this church but are still praying for a confirmation on whether they are ready to get baptized yet.  One of the daughters, Valerie who is 10 years old, is such a huge factor in this family's success.  She always asks us how much she should read from the Book of Mormon, and said she reads every night! Then she told us she has been praying really hard to receive an answer about getting baptized. She's 10 years old! What a little angel and great example for the rest of the family. I love this family so much, please pray for them!

For 4th of July, we had a big breakfast with many of the wards and branches in the area I'm serving in.  It was a huge success! A bunch of our investigators came which was so amazing to see.  We gave them a tour of the church and they really enjoyed it.  We went to a barbecue at a less active member in our branch and that was really fun as well.  But this year is the first year that I haven't seen fireworks on the 4th!  Instead, all the missionaries received things to study because we had to be in our apartment a lot earlier than usual.  I hope you all had a fun 4th of July boating without me! That is one of the things I ALMOST miss, boating with the family. ;) I really do love all of you though, I just love it here too much!

We visited a less active family that hasn't been to church in over a year, and they must have felt the spirit during our visit because they came to church the very next day! It was another miracle.  It was fast and testimony meeting and I bore my testimony! It was the coolest gift of tongues experience I have had so far.  One of the members of the branch even came up to me and gave me his tie after sacrament meeting! Haha I love all those members so much.  They are so humble, grateful, hilarious, and so willing to do their own missionary work.  It's amazing.  I feel so blessed to be serving in this area at this time. I know the Lord has huge plans for this branch.  Apparently it is where the entire mission wants to be right now, that is what everyone has been saying.  So much work is to be done here and I feel so honored to be a part of this marvelous work!

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week! Make sure to tell Mom happy birthday as many times as you can!  Les quiero tanto!

Con mucho amor desde Ramona,

Hermana Barnes

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ramona - Week #9 - July 2, 2013

Temple, dog bite, miracles, etc.
Hola Familia!
I don't have a lot of time to email today because... we got to go to the temple today!! WAHOO!! All temples are like Heaven on Earth, but that San Diego temple killed me! Man it is absolutely incredible!! I'll send a picture.
Guess what happened this week? I became a real missionary!! How, you ask? I got bit by a dog!! Right on my ankle! Hahaha. I have a big red mark and bruise now, it's actually pretty cool. The owner felt so bad, but it really wasn't that bad and the dog didn't have rabies or anything so no worries.  The day before it happened, I told my companion that I wasn't a real missionary until I got chased away by an angry dog.  I think Heavenly Father has a sense of humor because I got bitten the very next day, and then  every single day after that, I either got chased, or almost bitten again! Haha.

What else does it take to be a real missionary? Maybe you shouldn't tell me.
Before I forget, HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY MADISEN!!! I know I'm late, but please tell her I love her so much, more than a chocolate ocean AND a beach full of chocolate M&M sand.  I hope she had a wonderful birthday.  And I hope you all have an awesome 4th of July this year!  All of the missionaries have to be back to the apartments at 6:00 p.m. for safety precautions. So I'm not exactly sure what we'll be doing, but probably not partying like the rest of San Diego, haha.
Well, I love this work. Being able to expect miracles, and then witness them every day is an absolutely amazing blessing.  God is a God of miracles. I really love this scripture in Moroni 7:29: "And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men." Miracles will never stop! Especially in the Lord's work. 
Well, I'm out of time but I will finish telling you about the miracles that happened this week next time. Stay tuned.  Les quiero tanto!
Hermana Barnes