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!