Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Santee - Week #77 - October 21, 2014

This is the Work that never ends!

Hola familia!

This week was so awesome! MILAGROS. Keep praying for the Gonzalez-Ambriz! They are so excited for their baptisms! These kids are going to change the world and already are. We've started doing missionary role-plays (practices) with them and they are already sharing the Gospel with their friends! 

My favorite quote from 10-year-old Arthur:

"The other day, I was talking to two of my friends, one of them was Catholic and the other one didn't have a church. I asked them if they've heard of Mormons and they told me that going to church wasn't cool. Then I started talking to them about God and then they changed their minds." 

What a great privilege we all have to invite and help people to "change their minds" and hearts by helping them understand how to access the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I love this Work with all my heart. The great part about it is that it is the Work that never ends! I love my Savior, I know His Atonement is real, and I know that He lives! His Gospel and Priesthood have been restored through a prophet Joseph Smith who translated the Book of Mormon so that we could be happy and return to live with Him, Heavenly Father, and our families for eternity! I love you!!

Hermana Barnes

Las fotos:
1) At the Mission President's fireside with the Leon Family, two of our recent converts from Ramona with their parents who are preparing for baptism! Their family is going to be together forever!
2) I love Hermana Fairbourn!
3) "I think I found one!" This is how we find new and prepared people to teach. They are everywhere if you just open your eyes and mouths! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Santee - Week #76 - October 14, 2014

AAHHHHHH!!! The field is WHITE. Part 2

Hola familia!
I have no time but are you ready for this?...
CHAYLA IS GETTING BAPTIZED WITH ARTHUR AND CASSANDRA (Lulu) ON OCT. 25!!!!! AHH!! Prayer is so real and powerful! After so many months, Chayla finally said, "I think I'm ready now. I want to get baptized!!" Mayra burst into tears when she heard Chayla say it. She was crying throughout her whole prayer of gratitude at the end of the lesson, which then in turn made us all cry. I love this family with all my heart. So many tears of joy. This family is one of the greatest change-of-heart miracles I've seen my whole mission. Don't stop your prayin'!
This week was so awesome but I'm out of time! I love missionary work! And I sure love you!! Please go be a blessing to someone else! Have a wonderful week!
Hermana Barnes

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Santee - Week #75 - October 7, 2014

AAHHHH!!!! The field is WHITE.

Hola familia!

I'm going to skip the chit-chat and tell you that...


Okay, here is the run-down story: Thursday night, Hermana Fairbourn and I felt really strongly after 6 months of trying to get the Gonzalez-Ambriz family with a baptismal date, that we should get at least Arthur on board to get baptized because he has literally been begging. After desperately praying in the car on the way to a last minute set up appointment, we were able to set him with a date! The spirit definitely guided that lesson. It was such a miracle!! We were hoping also that it might help motivate the others.
--THEN, just yesterday, we received a call that Lulu got permission from her dad to get baptized!!! After weeks of praying and fasting as a family, her dad said YES!!! We were screaming for joy at the news. It is hard to describe the extent of the miracle but, ahh man it was amazing! AHHH!! Sorry I'm screaming so much in this email. Miracles really do happen when you don't stop praying. Just don't stop praying, ever.

Also, Chayla, the oldest daughter, is so close to accepting a baptismal date! We have a lot of faith that she will. Also, Mayra told us last night that she is ready to get married and she is just waiting for Arturo to propose! She really wants him to get baptized so they can get sealed in the temple. This family is literally SO close, it's literally killing us! Haha it's so amazing to see so much progress!! Ahh! I love missionary work and the Atonement!

District miracle: After an inspired district meeting about the Book of Mormon, a member from the branch invited all of us to eat at an Asian Buffet for dinner. Our hostess take us to our table, asks what kind of missionaries we are, and then runs and grabs something. She then returns and slams down the Book of Mormon in Chinese on the table! She asks us if we could teach her all about the book. We taught her right there, using the things we learned in district meeting, and then she gave us all of her information, including facebook info and email address. We invited her to conference and she accepted. She is so excited to learn more from the Mandarin Chinese missionaries! How SWEET is that?! It was so cool to see our district all come together to help this one lil' lady.

Wasn't General Conference awesome? I loved so many talks, especially Elder Bednar's and the one General Authority who laid it down and told us not to make excuses and take responsibility for all our actions to increase spiritual confidence. I love it when people are bold. Conference was so perfect for so many of our investigators. I love how the Spirit works that way. Julian even came to conference in his white shirt and tie! Another miracle.

I've had a huge realization the past few months. Sometimes, God doesn't allow you to feel too confident in something or else you would become complacent and stunt your growth. I am so grateful for that. I don't think I've ever felt so inadequate in my life! It's a blessing. Just don't get discouraged if you're not constantly seeing progress in yourself. God will give you sneak peaks here and there, but just always strive to be better because every single good choice you make gets you closer to becoming like Christ whether you realize it or not.

I love you!!
Hermana Barnes

Las fotos:
1) The 4 sisters about to fall off a cliff.
2) Snake charmers on Potato chip rock. A super sweet hike our whole zone went on today for P-day. Bring on the soreness!
3) Les quiero a los Hermanos Lopez! These two are like everyone's grandparents in the branch. They take care of us. 

Santee - Week #74 - September 30, 2014

I'll just bap-a-tize myself!

Hola familia!
Another cool week!
We had exchanges in Chula Vista this week and I got to be a bike sister for a day! It was awesome! I was with a new missionary in training and it was cool to see her stop her bike at even the most inconvenient street contacts. She knows her purpose!
I'm sure you've heard about the new film, "Meet the Mormons" coming out next weekend. Well, all the missionaries in our mission got to watch it with our mission president! How weird is that?! I felt worldly for a minute, but it was really good! You should all check it out and see it next week. There are many invitations by General Authorities to invite everyone to go see it to show the world that Mormons are actually normal people! I think you'd all like it.
Update on the Gonzalez-Ambriz: We had a lesson with them the other night about the temple and eternal families, and here are some priceless quotes from the kids:
Arthur (10 yrs. old): "I love the temple because even though we just got to go inside the lobby, I felt like God was walking with me." Who is this kid?! 
Cassandra (8 yrs. old): "Mom, can I please just get baptized? I want to go inside the temple so bad!!" Cassandra is the one that has to get permission from her biological father before she can get baptized. Here is what she said, "Why do I have to get permission from dad if this is MY decision and this is something that I need and really want to do?"
Arthur again: "If dad won't bap-a-tize me, I will just bap-a-tize myself!"
Hahaha these kids are the most ready and prepared kids I have taught my whole mission. We are pretty much just waiting to hear back from the parents on both sides and they will most likely be able to be baptized soon! Please keep praying for this family! Your prayers are really making a difference!
Hermana Fairbourn and I have been seeing miracle after miracle and finding more and more people to teach. We met a girl named Areli who was a member-referral from Laura in our branch. The first thing she asked us before we could even say anything after we introduced ourselves was, "So I heard about general conference and it sounds so cool! Are you ladies going to the conference this weekend?" She is super solid and super excited to learn. Those referrals we get from members really are gifts wrapped up with a bow on top. I love you members.
I love you. One more thing. Keep reading in the Book of Mormon every day! Don't ever underestimate the power of that book and how much it can bring you closer to Christ. It is so true.
Hermana Barnes

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Santee - Week #73 - September 23, 2014

Miracles and Boxers

Hola familia!
We had a super cool week.
One of the big miracles we had was the Gonzalez-Ambriz family again. Every week they get closer and closer, even if it is only small baby steps. We were talking about setting goals and having a vision. We asked each family member what one of their goals was. Mayra, the mother, had been saying these past months that she wanted to get married in at least a year but when we asked her during this lesson she said, "Arturo (boyfriend) is holding me back from accomplishing a goal I have to be sealed in the temple. He just won't propose!" We were shocked. It was a miracle and we have been praying so hard that Arturo will change his heart and have a greater desire to get married and baptized. Keep on prayin'!
Julian is continuing to progress! We had a sweet visit with him last night and Uriel, a recently returned-missionary in the branch. Julian has had a hard time wrapping his mind around prayer and the Godhead. We showed him a powerful mormon message about finding God and then Uriel bore powerful testimony about his past experiences and Julian's heart totally changed! It was so cool to hear him say he has a greater desire to pray, read, and go to church. Uriel is the perfect friend for him. Missionaries really can't do this work without the members' help.
Funny miracle: We knocked on a random door yesterday and a big hispanic guy answered the door in his boxers! Haha! He was more embarrassed than we were but we were still able to teach him for a couple minutes and add him as a new investigator! He is also very interested! He told us he found a Book of Mormon and has been reading it! WHAT?! Miracle! Haha we walked away from that laughing our heads off. Only the prepared people will let you teach them in their boxers. Hahaha. 
Hermana Fairbourn and I have noticed that God is showing us every single tiny little weakness that we have. It's been hard but really cool at the same time (as weird as that sounds)! We have had to set a lot of goals and just go back to the basics with everything. We never thought we'd have to still work on some of these things towards the end of our missions but it has just shown us that God loves us enough to help us overcome even the smallest lil' things. I love this work.
I sure love you. I'm so grateful for you. Have a wonderful week!
Hermana Barnes
Las fotos:

1) Our zone at Zone Conference! I gave my first parting testimony... it was the most out-of-body experience I've had in a long time. I have at least 5 more of those to go.

2) Hermana Fairbourn, me, and some members at the mission president's fireside. The lady right next to me (Areli) and the guy right in front of me (Emelio) are two of our recent converts that we taught in Ramona! They are so solid!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Santee - Week #72 - September 16, 2014


Hola familia!
It's official, we just got the news that Hermana Fairbourn and I will be staying together here in Santee! We will both most likely finish here. We literally jumped for joy again. Wahoo!!!
This week was sweet.
--Went on exchanges down in Calexico again! I have so much respect for the missionaries serving down there in that heat every single day. It is literally a desert.
--Got to be part of the event staff and man a booth at a big emergency fair down in Jamul (country town 30 minutes away from Santee). We were the Spanish representatives. That Sunday, we got to go back down to Jamul to teach the young women there and answer their questions about missionary work. It is so cool to see the young women with that fire as they prepare to serve. I love it! Even if they don't end up serving a mission, the best thing any young woman can do is prepare themselves as if they were. We have been working closely with the ward down there to find the hispanic people down there. There was a lady that speaks Spanish that is interested in meeting with us this week!
--Went on exchanges in City Heights. All their appointments fell through, so the other sister and I spent a lot of the day street contacting in the hot 105 degree weather. Everyone has been saying that San Diego has never been this hot and that it's super abnormal. Second coming?
--Gonzalez-Ambriz are progressing poco a poco! We had a super awesome lesson with them at the temple again and they expressed that their family goal is to get sealed in the temple and they all want to get baptized. Keep praying that they will be able to overcome all their money issues. Also, please pray that Mayra's ex-husband will have a softened heart and allow one of the kids, Lulu, to get baptized. They are also praying really hard for that!
--Julian Arellano is progressing so well! He told us this week that he had never felt ready to learn when the missionaries would come to teach his dad the lessons before his dad's baptism, but that he finally felt ready when we met him at the restaurant. It's cool to see that many prepared people really do recognize when they are ready. Some don't quite know it until they find themselves accepting a baptismal date. Haha it's cool to see people change. It's the coolest thing in the world. Watching the Atonement change people in even the smallest degrees is a miracle to me.
I love you! Go change something!
Hermana Barnes
Las fotos:

1) Temple

2) Last p-day, the Gonzalez-Ambriz met us after our session at the temple and then we drove up to the most beautiful viewpoint in San Diego! You can see it all! I spy with my lil' eye... the temple!

3) Zone meeting. Hna. Fairbourn used her magic art skills and made us all bookmarks with our favorite Book of Mormon or Bible story. She's a saint.

4) You can't really tell, but that pizza is as bigger than both of us! Two party sized New York Giant pizzas can almost feed our zone full of Elders.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Santee - Week #71 - September 9, 2014

It's all inspired!

I hope you're enjoying the nice weather over there. It's been 105-110 degrees and humid this week here in the Santee-El Cajon area! The perfect, year-round 75-degree San Diego weather is only found in the movies!
Super cool miracle: The Gonzalez-Ambriz family told us that last week, they were really struggling with money and even paying their rent. They didn't know what was going to happen and whether they'd be able to make it to church. Then they said, "We decided to put our faith to the test and go to church." In tears, they told us that the very next day, they somehow received the perfect amount of money to pay the rent. Then they said, "We knew it was because you hermanas told us that we were going to be blessed if we showed our faith and went to church." It was so cool!! Our lil' hearts melted a lil' bit. Their faith is increasing so much. Pray that things work out and that they will be able to get married. If they don't get married, the kids will most likely still get baptized. It will happen! We are putting our faith to the test! Haha.
We have been adding some awesome new people to teach this week! We found a cute lil' family yesterday, and the mom, Christina, said to us, "I've been searching for a church to bring my family to. I want to bring my kids to your church." Well, c'mon then, let's go! I love families.
We had an awesome Mission Leadership Council up at the SDSU Institute buildling this week. We were instructed by two General Authorities, Elder Brent Nielson and Elder Saben. It was incredible. The Spirit in that room was out of this world. They talked a lot about what it means to be a good leader and the main idea was that good leaders ACT and are not acted upon. We can't wait until "they" do something because WE are the "they" that must act. It was super cool. Elder Nielson asked each one of us what we felt the mission did well and the challenges of the mission. It was a very inspired and powerful discussion as he pointed to each of us and I could definitely feel that these men were General Authorities. Everything about the church is inspired of God. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be so true.
Well, I love you. Be good!
Hermana Barnes
Las fotos:

1) Part of our zone at the USS Midway Museum last p-day! We are all wannabe fighter pilots. The Sister missionaries have to wear normal clothes to this museum because we climb up so many ladders to each of the different parts of the ship.

2) In front of the big military ship. If you turned this 60,000 ton ship sideways, it would be twice as tall as the tallest sky-scraper in San Diego. So sweet!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Santee - Week #70 - September 2, 2014

Rejoice in being uncomfortable.

We are headed to the USS Midway Military Ship tour for dia de preparacion and don't have much time today so don't mind typing errors!
Our area is getting lit on FIRE!!! It's always a lil' bit crazy for us during MTE season because we aren't able to spend as much time working in our area but check it out. I know these numbers might not mean to much to you, but all our goals were blown out of the water this week! We had 6 people at church, 10 referrals, added 5 new people, two with a baptismal date, and 13 member-present lessons! It's another testimony to me that God really does take care of your area even when you're not there if you trust Him. Haha we're giving Him all the glory for sure.
Our investigators are all doing really well. The Gonzalez-Ambriz are doing awesome and basically act as if they are already members minus the marriage part. We haven't had enough opportunities to see our investigators with baptismal dates, Cassandra and Pedro, but they are doing well. Please pray for them! Cassandra's husband is not very happy with her decision to get baptized so pray that his heart may be softened. We have started teaching Julian, the son of a recent convert, Jorge. He's so cool! He has SO many questions, some of them are super weird, but he's coming to church this Sunday with his dad! I love part-member families.
You all have asked about my companion... She's the BEST!! I LOVE Hermana Fairbourn way too much. We have too much fun sometimes but we are working harder than we ever have before at the same time. It's the greatest combination ever! Haha we have this goal of "Rejoicing in the Uncomfortable" these last few transfers and it's motivating us to just give it everything. The quote, "There is no growth in comfort and no comfort in growth," is one of our mottos. Haha we are doing everything we can to get each other out of our comfort zones and giving everything we have. It's the greatest feeling in the world and we are seeing so many miracles it's INSANE. So I guess my invitation to you all is to go do something out of the ordinary, out of your comfort zone, to help someone out this week. You will grow! I love you!!
Hermana Barnes
P.S. Thanks for the birthday love! You are all the greatest and I don't deserve you! I forgot you all asked about how that day was but it was just a normal day with some extra miracles and lil' piece of cake! Haha love you! 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Santee - Week #69 - August 26, 2014

Milliones de milagros ( Millions of Miracles )

Hola familia!

This past week has probably been one of the most miraculous weeks of the mission! Sheesh! Maybe I sound redunant. Today is going to be a bullet-point kind of day.
Some miracles:

--One of our investigators, Lyanne, had a change of heart experience. Every time we would try to commit her to come to church, she would come up with every possible excuse in the book. The other day, we applied what we learned at MTE's about church attendance (the acronym WHOA: Explaining the Why, How, Organizations, Attendance invitation) and here is her reaction, "Hermanas, nothing is going to stop me from going to church next Sunday! I really feel like I need to be there." Whoa... really? Alright Lyanne, you rock.

--We had a powerful lesson about receiving revelation with the Gonzalez-Ambriz family and at the end of the lesson, Mayra (who has been less-active for 20 years) said to us, "Hermanas, I was thinking today and I decided I want to be a real member of the church again. Like go to church every Sunday and do the things that members do." Then she turned to her boyfriend, Arturo, and told him he needs to get baptized. All the kids are already ready to get baptized. AAAHHHH!! We teared up a little bit! Haha. It might not seem as significant to you as it is to me. But seeing the progress in this family is unreal. Please keep praying for them, Satan is working real hard.

--Yesterday, we had a member with us at every lesson. We had an awesome first lesson with a new investigator named Cassandra and she accepted a baptismal invitation and also a baptismal date for Sept. 27! She is so awesome!

--Then, we ran into this guy named Luis, an extremely potential bible basher. All he wanted to do was bible bash. We were like, "Uh uh." So we told him to just listen to our message, and then he could tell us his opinion. So we simply testified of the Restauration of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon and I can't say he perfectly accepted everything, but his heart was softened and he accepted to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and told us to come back and follow up with him. No way!! How did that happen? The Spirit is real, people.

--Then, we had a lesson with Hermana Solis and her non-member nephew, Pedro, and he also accepted a baptismal date for Sept. 27!! AHHH!!! It was so awesome! Especially because Hermana Fairbourn and I had set a goal that we were going to focus more on getting people with baptismal dates. God saw our real desire and He made things happen the first day! My testimony of goals real with intention sky-rocketed.

Yesterday will probably go down in history for our zone. We added 12 new investigators and set 5 people with baptismal dates in one day! That's out of this world!! We have all been adding new people to teach like crazy. It's been so cool to see that as we work together and cheer each other on, we see more miracles.

Keep being missionaries! I love you!

Hermana Barnes

Santee - Week #68 - August 19, 2014

MTE's and Eternal Families

It's MTE season again! I don't know if you remember what MTE's are, but I'll copy and paste the definition I gave last time just in case:

MTE stands for Missionary Training Exchange/Experience. Meaning: Each zone or a group of zones at a time get a jam-packed training from the mission president in the morning and then they go and apply it like crazy for the next 24 hours with a coach, making each companionship a trio. The AP's, Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders are the coaches for all the zone's MTE's. So Sister Fairbourn and I went on loads of exchanges this week! The coolest thing about MTE's is that you see TONS of miracles because everyone is focused on working super hard to apply all the principles learned. The main thing that was focused on was church attendence.

My favorite MTE miracle, or should I say, MRE miracle? (missionary rear-ending experience): I was with two sisters serving in Chula Vista, and after the meeting was over, we pulled into get gas before heading back to their area and all of sudden "BOOOMM"... Rear-ended. AAHH! Haha no one was hurt, no worries. The lady behind just wasn't paying attention. Anyway, we got that all figured out and then we all turned to each other and said, "Okay, what miracle are we going to see from this?" Haha anyway, later on that day, we street contacted this guy who was smoking up on his balcony, who appeared to have no interest whatsoever in talking to three lil' sister missionaries. We went to talk to him anyway. At first, he was still pretty stand-offish, not really saying much back to us. Then we started applying what we learned at MTE's about church attendance, and he bolted down the stairs and said, "I have a church, but I feel like I need a change. THIS is what I've been searching for." NO WAY!!!!! It was such a miracle!! He committed to come to church and the sisters were able to add him as a new investigator. It was the fastest Alma the younger-change-of-heart experience I've ever seen. Anyway, moral of the story--if we wouldn't have gotten in the little rear-ending accident, we wouldn't have met Tony because all our plans got changed around, leading us perfectly to Tony. Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways? Very, very mysterious.

We haven't been able to spend a ton of time in our area due to MTE's, but things are still going well here. We had 7 investigators at church! That was definitely God taking care of our area. I will update you more next week! Love you!

Hermana Barnes

Las fotos:

1) We got to take the Gonzalez-Ambriz familia to the temple grounds! It was the coolest experience. They loved it. The Spirit was so strong and all the kids kept saying, "I just want to go inside! What do we have to do to go inside?" And Mayra, the mom, said, "Well, you all need to get baptized (including her boyfriend) and then we can all go together to get sealed as a family." The spirit of Eternal Families was everywhere! They couldn't deny it! They know what they need to do. We are learning patience, haha.

2) All of them at church for all three hours the next day!

3) Lili's "go-to" face for every picture. I don't know how Lili and Hna. Fairbourn can do that face and still look cute. I look like a monster.

4-6 More pictures at the Temple

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Santee - Week #67 - August 12, 2014

Talk to everyone, even cows.


What. a. WEEK. I don't ever want to leave this place. Missionary work really is the greatest work in the world. 
My new companion is the GREAT, the BEAUTIFUL, the ASIAN... Hermana Fairbourn!! Weighing in at 120 lbs of love, laughter, and the Spirit. I LOVE this hermana so much. When we found out we were companions, we jumped for joy. She was born in Japan but her family has lived in Draper, Utah for the past 4 years. She's going to BYU when she gets back. We flew into San Diego on the same plane! Anyway, we're happy.
I'm still saying this every week, but we saw so many miracles this week, it's insane!

One of the most obvious miracles I've ever experienced:

--A few days ago, we decided to contact this referral we've tried for weeks and haven't had any luck. Anyway, before we got out of the car, we prayed that there would be some way we'd be able to get into the locked gate that surrounds the entire complex, and that we'd be able to find Breanda home.  So we got out, tried the first door and it was locked. Then we tried the second door... also locked. We almost lost hope until all of a sudden, the big gate for cars miraculously opened, with no one in sight! We walked in, no questions asked. It seemed as though Heavenly Father was like, "Hermanas, it's time to find Breanda." Haha so we tried knocking on Breanda's apartment door... no answer. "No! This can't be!" we thought. Then, a split second later, we looked to our right down the stairs, and there was a lady walking up the stairs and we both knew it had to be her.
"Are you Breanda that lives here?" we asked, con mucha esperanza.

"That is my name, but I don't live there. I live two doors down," she replied. Oops. 

So miracle #2, Heavenly Father placed her perfectly in our path because otherwise, we wouldn't have found her because we had been knocking on the wrong door all those weeks! Anyway, we were able to talk to her, teach her, and then she told us to come back! We bothed walked away from that apartment complex with the biggest smiles on our faces. Later that night, we found another prepared soul who is living with a member family (who didn't think he was ready yet) and he's super excited to learn so that he can get baptized. Obedience brings miracles and blessings, like awesome, prepared people!

--Gonzalez-Ambriz are doing well! They continue to come to church every week. It's been a crazy week for them, but keep them in your prayers!

--Hermana Solis (member) set up an appointment with us, her, and her nephew so that he could start receiving the missionaries! Go Hermana Solis! The members in this branch are rock stars.

Yesterday, Hermana Fairbourn and I got to teach a portion of zone meeting. We talked about the concept of "Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work." We focused on talking to everyone. Sometimes we pray to be able to find prepared people, but we forget to "get on our feet and work" when we expect those people to just come to us and don't take the opportunitiy to talk to everyone with the fear of inconveniencing or annoying them. We won't know they're prepared until we get on our feet and talk to them! We did a super funny skit with some of the other missionaries in the zone at the beginning to illustrate it. But it's true, even for members. We are so afraid of offending people sometimes that we fail to give them the opportunity to partake of the greatest gift in the world. It is always worth it to try! Maybe I sound all preachy and what not, but I dare you all to talk to one new person this week, whether it be a less active or a non-member. Even just a simple act of service softens people's hearts to the Gospel. You got this!

I love you! 

D&C 123:17

Hermana Barnes

Las fotos:
1) We ate dinner with the Oteo family who basically live on a farm. They have 6 of these cow dogs! (great danes)

2) The cow was after us more than his hay!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Santee - Week #66 - August 5, 2014

Week full of food, love, and the Spirit.

Hola familia!
I just got back from dropping off Hermana Hess at the airport... I love her and miss her so much already. It's definitely not something you'd want to experience every day. It was so hard to say good-bye to everyone. You gain so much love for these people, including the missionaries, and especially your companions. It was crazy to see the 27 departing missionaries with their suitcases and faces full of anxiety, sadness, happiness, excitement, and tiredness all at the same time.
Side note: We ate meals at 5 different people's houses yesterday because it was Hermana Hess' last day. FIVE. I think I can go hibernate now.
It was such a good week full of food, love, and the Spirit. We saw so many cool miracles, and some of them we feel were just tender mercies from the Lord because it was Hermana Hess' last week. Haha here, I'll name a few:
--A less active member who hasn't been to church in over a year came to church on Sunday!! We were literally jumping for joy when we saw her walk in. Her husband has been trying to get her back to church all this time... his whole countenance was beaming all day as his family was reunited on the church pew. He bore a simple testimony in testimony meeting and the Spirit was so strong. It's amazing what the power of a visit from a visiting teacher can do.
--All of us, missionaries in the branch, planned a special musical fireside and everything went really well!! (it seems like there's always something that goes wrong with these missionary-planned things, but not this time!) We had musical numbers and testimonies and the Spirit was so strong. Arturo and the kids even came without Mayra! That's another miracle. Arturo is feeling more and more comfortable in the church and with the members. It's so stinkin' cool.
--We had an amazing lesson with them about the Restoration and at the end, Mayra (who is the one most hesitant to let the kids get baptized) said, "If this church really true, I want me daughter to be able to be baptized before she's 18 so I'm going to talk to my ex-husband this week to get his permission." WAHOO!!!
--Last night, we had the most amazing Family Home Evening with them at our branch president's house. It was Hna. Hess' last lesson as a missionary. Boy did she end her mission with a bang. The Spirit was out of this world, you could not deny it. They opened up a lot to the branch president and his wife. I know they are going to make a huge difference from here on out. I love the members in this branch. Members really do make a huge difference in missionary work. They are absolutely necessary for the progression of investigators.
Something really important I was reminded of this week is that in every single meeting in the church, all the way from General Conference to simple presidency meetings or coordination meetings with the missionaries, Jesus Christ must be talked about. No matter what the topic or circumstance, we must always keep Jesus Christ the center of everything because that is what He is. "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." What can you do better to keep Jesus Christ the main thing in your life?
I love you! Keep being wonderful!
Hermana Barnes
Las fotos:

1) Our district plus Laura Calvillo bowling with our zone on P-day (Laura stole one of the Elder's name tags)
2) Part of the Solis Family and one of the many "good-bye" desserts (Hna. Solis looks a little angry at the world, but she is one of the funniest people I know)
3) The beautiful Gloria came out on visits with us. She has such a solid testimony.
4) District picture at church--Hna. Hess' last one :(
5) Mayra and the kids at the Mormon Batallion
6) District at the temple

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Santee - Week #65 - July 29, 2014


Hola familia!
Wasn't I was just barely at the computer writing to you? Sheesh, the time is slipping right from under my fingers. AHHH!! Make it stop! My companion, Hermana Hess, goes home in exactly a week. I am going to miss her so much. These past three transfers we've had together have been crazy awesome. We have seen so many awesome miracles worked here in Santee.
People have been asking us this a lot lately (and then Hermana Hess gave a talk on it): "Why are missionaries so happy?" Because they have front row seats to the biggest miracle of all--Watching the Atonement change people. That's why I'm constantly excited and talking about the Gonzalez-Ambriz family. They are constantly changing and it is incredible. Watching people change, no matter how small the changes are, makes me so happy. The Atonement is real.
I love what Elder Solis' said in his general email: "When you're a missionary, you feel like Superman (or Superwoman) every single day. You have an unrestricted desire to find those who are suffering and who are praying to come closer to Christ. You literally wake up and think to yourself, "Whose life can I change today? Whose life can I change by providing them with loving service? Whose life can I change with my beautiful smile?"
There's that 'change' word again. Change brings happiness! Go make someone happy today! Love you!
Hermana Barnes
Las fotos:
1) We went back in time about 200 years at the Mormon Batallion! We finally got to take the Gonzalez-Ambriz (minus Arturo) and they LOVED it.
2) Just look at that temple.
3) Now take a look at that lil' miss sassy pants in the front. She reminds me so much of Madi. This is la familia Buenrostro, super solid members in the branch who have been members for less than a year. The mom, Berta, is on the left of me and is one of our progressing investigators. Keep praying for her!
4) District picture at the temple

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Santee - Week #64 - July 22, 2014

MontaƱas de exchanges, Music fiasco, Innocent children.

Hola familia!
Crazy week. We don't have much time because we are headed to the temple today! Wahoo! But I'll give you a quick glimpse of the week:
--We went on montaƱas de exchanges this week! It was awesome. I'm about to collapse. First one in City Heights, then one in Calexico in 115 degree weather, and then one here in Santee with another sister from City Heights. I love those sisters.
--It has been a week of musical numbers! Sister Hess and I did a special musical number at a baptism on Saturday, a special musical number in Sacrament meeting the next day, and then we did two musical numbers at the Mission President's Fireside that night. People are probably tired of us! Haha. I love music. It touches people's hearts with the Spirit in such a powerful way that many other things do not.
--The Gonzalez-Ambriz are reading the Book of Mormon together! One of the simple joys of missionary work is when you see a dysfunctional, non-member family gathered together around the dinner table reading the Book of Mormon together and actually enjoying it. Beautiful scene. 
--Another simple joy is the innocent questions of a 9-year-old. Here's a quick story: We were talking about avoiding temptations of Satan with the Gonzalez and lil' 9-year-old Arturo was like, "What age does Satan start having power over you?" And we asked him what he thought and he then turned to his 12-year-old sister, Shayla, and asked in a most innocent voice, "Shayla, when did I start becoming like you?" Hahaha. Shayla became slightly offended at the question as we all tried to keep our histerical laughter to a minimum. I love innocent children.
--Elena and Berta are progressing super well! They love church and are working through their doubts about baptism. Pray for them as well!
Keep being good! I love you!
Hermana Barnes
P.S. I'm doing a 40-day fast thing from writing anyone but family so if you don't hear from me, just know that I still love you.
Las Fotos:
1) Old Town on P-day with some missionary friends.
2) Mexico border. How easy do you think it would be to climb that 40-foot fence?
3) I love these Calexican sisters. We meet again. The sister on the left is Hermana Squire from my MTC district who's from American Fork near Pleasant Grove just 5 minutes away from us. She's the best!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Santee - Week #63 - July 15, 2014

World Cup, Interviews, Primary praise, purpose.

Hola familia!

Good news: The World Cup is OVER!! Which means people will finally start answering their doors! We've been trying to make our message more important than the World Cup, but we only succeeded half the time. Welcome to almost Mexico.

Interviews with President: It was the most different President's interview I've had. Because he is brand new, we basically had a mini Mission Leadership Council in our lil' interview as we talked about my input for transfers, which sisters should train and which sisters should become the next sister training leaders because two are leaving this transfer. He is getting input from the leadership in the mission because this upcoming transfer is going to be a big one. It has been neat to go from an experienced Mission President to a brand new one who has had to depend on the missionary leadership. Also, President Schmitt told me to tell my parents thanks for your sacrifice in sending your amazing daughter on a mission ;)

We were asked to help out in sharing time in Primary as "Special Guest Baptism Experts" on the "Good News Network Primary News report" haha. The kids LOVED it. We were celebrities for 15 minutes as they all shot up their hands to ask questions. I've realized that teachers and leaders have to get creative sometimes to compete with technology and facebook. We failed with the World Cup, but succeeded in Sharing Time. Ahhh yeah.

Cool miracle: We street contacted and added a solid guy named Fabian who then helped us find a referral who we ended up adding as well! 2 miracles in 10 minutes! 

Update on Gonzalez-Ambriz: They are still doing well. Mayra wasn't able to make it to church, but Arturo (the dad) brought the kids by himself for the first time on Sunday! Before, if Mayra wasn't able to make it, no one would come. So it's progress! Your prayers are still working!

Well, I sure love ya. I love the challenge made by your ward missionaries to pray about specific people on the ward directory for missionary and service opportunities. Our missionary purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ so whether people are members or non-members, we can always invite them to come more unto Christ. Thanks for your examples of Christ-like service. Les quiero mucho!

Hermana Barnes

Las fotos:
1) My district at the pier at Ocean Beach. Some of us weren't quite ready for the picture. Haha.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Santee - Week #62 - July 8, 2014

New Mission President has arrived! 

Happy late 4th of July! I hope you had a wonderful day. There weren't a lot of people home here on that day, and then all the missionaries had to be home before 7 p.m. to keep safe from the partying and drunk drivers on the road. It definitely didn't feel like a holiday, but it's all good. I'd say a great way to celebrate our freedom and our country is by sharing the Gospel!
Our new Mission President, President Schmitt, has arrived! We had a 'Meet the President' meeting with him and then we had Mission Leadership Council. Although he's brand new, he knows how to get things done. He is going to be great for the mission. He is very young, and his four kids with ages ranging from 6 yrs. to 14 yrs. will be staying the whole 3 years. They are an awesome family! He's a lawyer and his wife's a doctor (who also a Spanish-speaking mission in California). Can you imagine the future of their children? Sheesh.
Update on the Gonzalez-Ambriz: They're doing super well! Here's a cool miracle: Mayra (the mom) was supposed to work this past Sunday and was really bummed because she's been praying for ways to get Sundays off. Then she looked at the schedule again later on and someone had switched her days without telling her so that she could come to church! She was like, "Hermanas, it was a miracle!" She was so excited. How cool is that?! They keep praying that they will be able to have Sundays off and Heavenly Father keeps answering. Also, every week they are more and more open to marriage. At the beginning of this all, they basically said "NEVER" to marriage and now look how far they've come. Please pray that they will have the desire to get married sooner than later. They are so close! The kids are such good examples to them.
Sometimes, your investigators get deported to Mexico. Two of some of our really cool investigators just got deported! We were so sad. They are going to get in contact with the missionaries down there. It's a good thing the church is true wherever you are, right?
Sister Hess and I taught part of Zone Meeting again (meetings we have with the whole zone once a month) and we taught about effective planning and raising our faith and expectations. When we put our trust in God's timing and planning, we will realize that He already has miracles planned. We can't make our own miracles happen, so we might as well do everything God's way. When we skip an hour of studies in the morning because we want to go out and teach more peple, we're not doing things God's way. When we hesitate to pray because we want to put off receiving an answer we're afraid to receive, we're just putting off the miracles He already has planned. Doing things God's way and being exactly obedient brings the exact miracles you need. There's a lil' spiritual thought for the day haha. Love you!  
Hermana Barnes

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Santee - Week #61 - July 1, 2014

Be prepared to find the prepared!

Hola familia!
We had a cool spiritual prompting experience a few days ago. We had an awkward amount of time left before a branch activity, so we decided to say a quick prayer to know how to use the time wisely. The idea of "go find someone" popped into our minds but we didn't know where. We decided to start driving and all of a sudden another idea of, "try that family you met a couple weeks ago that wasn't interested" popped into our heads. So we pulled into their trailer park, knocked on their door, and they were completely open to learning from the missionaries! We were able to add them as new investigators. It was cool to see how Heavenly Father prepares people for specific times and He will guide you to them if you just ask with faith. Is it really that simple? Yesssss.
We were running around town for morning exercise yesterday, and we ran into the cutest lil' hispanic lady named Ortancia Morales. She was so excited to find out that we were missionaries and we were able to teach her a mini gospel lesson right there on the street in our workout clothes. Haha it was the coolest lesson. She told us she wants the missionaries to come teach her and her whole family! So cool. Whether it's 6:45 a.m. in your workout clothes, or prime proselyting time at 6:45 p.m., there are people to find. People are prepared these days people!
I love you!
Hermana Barnes
1) Saying goodbye to Elder Martin Solis at the branch activity. He's off to the MTC today. He's going to tear it up!