Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Santee - Week #52 - Apr 29, 2014

Hola familia!
Miracle of the week: The Gonzalez family came to church for the first time on Sunday!!! THEY CAME TO CHURCH. The mom, Mayra, is a very less active member who hasn't been to church in 25 years brought her non-member family to church!! It was neat to see all the members of the Branch Council greet them during the meetings. Our branch president even invited them to his house. There is a lot of fire for missionary work in this branch, it's incredible. So many prayers answered this week! Keep praying for them!
Sister Hess and I got to go to Calexico (city right on the border of California and Mexico = Calexico) this week to do an exchange with the sisters down there. It's about a 2-hour drive from Santee and not too far away from Arizona. It was HOT! It gets up to 130 degrees down there. But, coolest exchange ever!! I went with Sister Bradshaw. It was a cool experience, because she was the Sister Training Leader that I went on my very first exchange with right when I started my mission. Then she got released from being Sister Training Leader and goes home in just a couple weeks. How crazy is that? It's weird how things change. I felt inadequate at first as a brand new Sister Training Leader going on an exchange with an incredibly experienced, retired Sister Training Leader but during the day it just felt like two companions going hard out to work. I'm learning so much about just being an instrument in God's hands on these exchanges to help the sisters. It's the coolest calling ever.
The topics of pride and humility have been on my mind a lot lately. But I've come to realize more and more that pride is the sin that we ALL need to continually repent of no matter how humble we think we are. You should all read the talk "Beware of Pride" by Ezra Taft Benson. It'll humble you as it slaps you in the face a little bit. I would splurge all my notes into this email but... no I don't think anyone of you would want that. But will you all go read it? Do it. Have a wonderful week! I love you!
Hermana Barnes 
1) Part of our zone went to the temple for P-day last week!
2) The miraculous Gonzalez family
3) Exchanges in Calexico! I look like a small child. But these sisters rock!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Santee - Week #51 - Apr 22, 2014

Easter miracles

Hola familia!

I'm glad to hear you all had a wonderful Easter! We had a great Easter here as well. Guess what I got to do? Give a talk in sacrament meeting! Wahoo! Haha the topic was 2 Nephi 2:8-9 about the importance to make the Atonement known to the inhabitants of the Earth so it was a good topic to testify and invite like crazy. During the meeting, my extremely talented companion, Sister Hess, and another missionary, Elder Dingman, sang a duet while I played the piano so we had a pretty busy Easter Sacrament Meeting. They have incredible voices and the spirit was super strong. We ate some Mexican soup at a members' house for lunch and then the rest of the day was just a normal proselyting day. I have never felt the Spirit of Easter so strong in my life, so it's definitely an Easter I will never forget... just like the rest of the holidays as a missionary. The best way to celebrate that Jesus Christ lives is by testifying of Him to the world as one of His representatives!

We had a super cool miracle with the Gonzalez family this week. I think I've talked about them the past couple emails, but their progress is incredible! They're the family that didn't want much to do with the church at all and now they're on fire! Last Friday, we had a powerful lesson about receiving guidance and personal revelation, and at the end of the lesson, the dad (who was usually the first to run and hide when the missionaries would come) said, "I've been praying for my kids to be able to learn about God and you hermanas just keep coming back." Wow. Piercing spiritual moment right there. And then the mom invited us to come to their house the very next day for dinner and then dinner the next week without us even asking. The 4 kids LOVE it when we come now and they're all well-behaved and raise their hands to ask questions throughout the whole lesson. WHAT?! It's an Easter Miracle! I wish you could understand the whole extent of this miracle. Please pray for them!

Something we have been thinking about and learning a lot about lately is the attitude of gratitude and the attitude of miracles. We have been super focused lately on getting miracles because of the huge loss of our area and investigators. It's amazing to see that when you have that attitude and expectation of miracles, you WILL see them. Sometimes you have to search, but they are always there. When you have that attitude of gratitude, you see even more. Every morning before we leave the house, we say, "Alright, let's go get some miracles!" I love this work. I'm never coming home.

Love you!

Hermana Barnes

1) Awkward candid companionship.
2) Demasiado amor

Santee - Week #50 - Apr 15, 2014

I'm dreaming of a white... weekend!

Hola familia!

Beautiful week. So many people were dressed in white this weekend! Including the bride at a wedding that almost stopped 3 baptisms from happening... But all is well!

JOSE GOT BAPTIZED!!! Wahoo!! We got to go back to Chula Vista for his baptism. And guess who baptized him? Manuel!! It was probably one of the most touching moments I've had on the mission to watch one of our recent converts baptized another one of our recent converts. I will never forget that moment of pure joy. It's amazing to watch the Gospel have a domino effect on one life at a time.

ANI GOT BAPTIZED!!! Wahoo!! Haha she was one of the little girls we were teaching. She is the cutest little 9-year-old hispanic girl in the world. She started crying while she bore her testimony at the end of the baptism. All of our hearts melted a lil' bit. Two more investigators the other Elders were teaching got baptized that same day as well. 3 new members of the Santee 5th branch this weekend! So much white.

Part of being a Sister Training Leader, we go on exchanges once or twice a week with the sisters under our jurisdiction. That includes all the Spanish sisters in Poway, Imperial Valley, Ramona (whoo!) and part of a zone in San Diego. This past week, I got to go to Poway on an exchange with a sister named Sister Sanchez. It was way awesome! She is amazing. I'm excited to continue to help the sisters in the way Heavenly Father would but also to learn from them at the same time. This is the coolest calling ever. And I have the best companion ever. I don't have words to describe my love for her.

I hope you all have a beautiful Easter Weekend and remember how blessed we are that Jesus Christ overcame all so that we could, too. I know He is our Savior and that He died for us then and LIVES for us now. Love you!

John 16:33
Hermana Barnes

1) Ani at her baptism. Isn't she preciosa?
2) Jose's baptism! Recent convert baptizing recent convert. So beautiful.
3) Some of the people at the baptism in Chula Vista

Santee - Week #49 - Apr 8, 2014

Hola familia!

Muchas bendiciones esta semana. This week has probably been the most eventful week of my mission. Bullet points, here we come.

--So, guess what happened at transfers? I got transferred to be a Sister Training Leader in Santee with Sister Hess! Wahoo!! We served together in Chula Vista and became the best of friends!! SHE IS INCREDIBLE!! It was always our dream to become companions someday. The whole first day we were together, we kept saying to each other, "Is this real life?! THIS IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE." I'm super excited and very humbled to have the calling as Sister Training Leader. What is a Sister Trainer, you ask? We'll find out. There are district leaders, zone leaders, and APs on the Elders' side of leadership, and then there are four Spanish Sister Training Leaders on the Sisters' side of leadership. So there's a little visual. My mission is about to get CRAZY.

--The very next day, we had Mission Leadership Council with all the leadership in the mission. It was insanely cool. There was so much power in that room. I'm so excited to see behind the scenes of the work and how it is carried out at the perspective of our mission president.

--General Conference was amazing!! Did you all LOVE it as much as I did? General Conference is like Christmas for all missionaries, it's so funny. My favorite talks were those by Elder Holland, Elder Uchtdorf, and Elder Bednar. They spoke to my soul.

--We've had so many miracles it's insane. A new companionship of Elders were given half of our area and all of our progressing investigators, so we have been expecting miracles to happen. One of them: We are teaching a family, the Gonzalez, who have wanted nothing to do with the church until now. We had a super powerful Plan of Salvation lesson with them last night and they asked us when we would come back and where the church was. Miracle! We both see them in white very soon.

--Update on Jose (the one who wants to get baptized but his divorce is not final). He is set to get baptized this Saturday!! Wahoo!! He is breaking up with his girlfriend and will not see her until his divorce is final so that he can get baptized. MIRACLE. Keep praying for him. We also have a baptism of a girl named Annie from a part-member family on Saturday. Many will be dressed in white this weekend!

--April fools karma: Last week on April Fools, Sister Pendleton called us in the morning in desperation and needing a ride to the hospital because he companion can't drive. We drove 15 min. to their apartment, with everything packed for the day and expecting to spend the day at the hospital. We got up to the door, and there they were, holding 2 beautiful plates of breakfast. "April Fools!!!" they said. Oh we were so mad. THEN, it gets better (worse?). During P-day sports later that day, we were playing soccer in the gym and Sister Pendleton ran to go kick the ball (she was wearing slippery socks) and totally ate the dust, slipped and fell on her back, and slid into the wall, leaving a giant gash in her head. We had to use one of the Elders' white shirts to stop the bleeding. The ambulence came and took her to the hospital. She had a minor concussion and had to get 3 staples in her head... CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?! It was the craziest April Fools day I've ever had. She is doing better now, but that is one for the books.

--Sister Hess and I got to teach part of zone meeting yesterday. It was intense. We taught about the Prophetic Priorities (1. Individual Conversion. 2. Strengthening Families. 3. Strengthening priesthood quorums and ward councils. 4. Using missionaries in the hastening of the work). and how if they are the priorities of the prophet, they are the priorities of God and He KNOWS we can make miracles happen so we need not be afraid to have a big vision for the work. It was so neat to feel the spirit working in us to say what all the missionaries needed to hear. We as missionaries have visions for the mission, for the zone, for our individual proselyting areas, for our branch, for each investigator, for ourselves. What is YOUR vision for doing missionary work as members? What do you want to see happen in the ward? With a friend? With yourself? Think about it!

Sorry for the ridiculously long email. I love you! Cuidense!

Con amor,
Hermana Barnes

Picture: Making tortillas for service with Hna. Fernandez! Way too many delicious tortillas in my belly.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chula Vista - Week #48 - Apr 1, 2014

Hey family,
I AM getting transferred out of Chula Vista :( After 3 incredible transfers here, it's time to go. I will miss everyone so much! I LOVE this place and the people here. It is so special to me. I will miss Sister Capareda too :( But she is going to great things here because there is already so many crazy miracles happening in our area every day.
Curve balls always come when everything seems to be going wonderfully, right? Our golden investigator, Jose, needs your prayers. He really wants to get baptized, but he told us his divorce is not final after 13 years being separated from his wife in Mexico. He has a girlfriend right now so he is doing his best to get the divorce finalized so that he can get baptized as soon as possible. He said he is willing to making the necessary sacrifices so that he can get baptized. If something happens that doesn't allow his divorce to be final, he would break up with his girlfriend. That's dedication right there! Please pray for him. He's a trooper.
We have been finding so many awesome people to teach. We had some cool street contacting experiences this week. We contacted this super cute hispanic girl and started talking to her in Spanish. She wasn't responding in Spanish so we started speaking English and she still didn't respond. She realized we were trying to talk to her and then started doing sign language! It was so cool! We whipped out a pen and paper and started writing notes back and forth, it was the coolest thing ever. We got her contact information and she said she would like the missionaries to come over. How cool is that?! You never know who's prepared unless you talk/write notes to them. :)
Well, I always run out of time so quick, but have a wonderful week! I love you!!
Hermana Barnes