Monday, March 30, 2015

Lessons of Forgiveness & Service

I'll start with the funny things first! 

Sister Martinez was making a Mexican dish for a church party so we went to un mercado. While we were eating lunch, she leans over to me and says, "You know everyone is staring at you, right?" They were. For the first time, I think people were staring at me, not because I'm a missionary, but because I was clearly not Mexican. It was the best! Another funny thing is that I always try to avoid speaking in Spanish with Sis Martinez because I don't want to mess up.But while we were in the store, I begged her to speak to me in Spanish so that people knew that I understood. The tables definitely turned!  

We are super lucky in Roswell, as we have a ton of work to do. Lots of people here are ready to hear the gospel. Unfortunately, we can't really find them! Most of our investigators were handed over because they lived outside our boundaries and other missionaries needed to teach them. So we have zero progressing investigators right now, and that is kind of hard. We are teaching a few families, but no one is progressing.

We've been praying a lot to find these people, but with no luck. Unfortunately, this made me pretty frustrated and upset. I knew my pride was getting in the way, but I just wanted to be mad for a minute. 

We were in a lesson with one of our families, and things took a turn for the worse. One of the family members got very upset at something we said, and wouldn't listen to the rest of the lesson. It was so hard to be in there because I was already very discouraged. we left the lesson without words because we felt so discouraged. 

Another family brought a different experience, but the same frustration. The family was fighting and screaming in front of us, saying bad things about their own family members, and no one was happy. Needless to say, these two appointments left us broken. 

The next day, the first family called us and apologized. She then asked us to come over so we could talk. When we got there, we saw that she needed help packing her home up so she could move on Saturday. My pride got in the way, and I didn't want to help because I was mad. But I knew I was a representative of Jesus Christ, and he would help this woman pack. So we packed and chatted, and laughed, and quickly, all was forgiven. My heart felt happy again and I felt more equipped to represent my Savior. 

The second family lived outside our boundaries, so we ended up having the other missionaries teach that family. Those Elders called us a few days after our lesson with this family and told us that the mom had watched a video we left for them about strengthening families. Then she watched it with all her kids together. She was sobbing as she told the Elders that she wanted to be a better mother. She made specific goals to strengthen her family, and promised to take steps to be better. 

We knew these miracles came from the Lord and we were just lucky enough to see them. 

I learned more about forgiveness with this family. They are so special to me and I watched as them love this week as they found it in themselves to allow Jesus Christ to heal them. Forgiveness is essential to our happiness. 

There is a woman named Paula who is about 95 years old. She is very handicapped. She is blind, can barely hear, and has depression. Her daughter is a member of our branch, but doesn't often come because she is always tending to her mother. We visit Paula weekly and sing hymns to her. She hold and kisses our hands saying things like "May the Lord bless you with health and strength" and things like that. She is the best part of my day. 

We visited Paula and Gloria (her daughter) yesterday before our church meetings. Sister Martinez felt like we needed to just check on them. Gloria desperately needed someone there to hug her. She works diligently to care for her mom, with no rest. We feel so privileged to be able to spend time with them. I can absolutely feel angels around Paula whenever we are there. She is so close to our Heavenly Father. 

We have felt discouraged, but we have found peace. We have been humbled through service. 

As we serve, we find the answers to our prayers. As we seek Jesus Christ, we find Him in others. 

I love this work! It is so hard but I have never felt closer to my Savior. I know He lives. As this Easter season comes up, make sure you watch the video about Jesus Christ. 

With lots of love, 

Hermana Abram

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Latin America Melting Pot Mission

Turns out my flight didn't actually land in Atlanta. I'm in some strange country with a lot of different people from a lot of different places that all speak Spanish. Serious culture shock! 

Okay so cool story: I really have had a kind of hard time with the language. Which I expected, but not this much. I can communicate, but not all I want to say. BUT the other day we were in a lesson with the Urueta family and we heard some of their questions and doubts about the gospel. Hna Martinez was doing most of the talking, but I had a sure prompting to begin speaking. So I opened my mouth, and out spilled the words, "As a representative of Jesus Christ, I promise you..." I don't remember what I promised at all, probably because it wasn't me promising anything. I took a back seat and Spanish words just came flowing out in a way that they never have before. It was incredible. It gave me the strength and push that I needed to keep opening my mouth about Jesus Christ. 

The other cool story was when we were tracting (knocking doors). We were on exchanges so I wasn't with Sister Martinez. My new companion Sister Stout didn't speak any Spanish, so I prayed we wouldn't run into a hispanic family. Of course we did! I silently begged Heavenly Father to help me speak and as I began to speak in Spanish, I was able to teach her a principle, and get a return appointment with her and her family next week. This was so cool for me because I didn't have Sis Martinez there to catch me. I had to rely on what I knew and I had to rely on the Spirit. 

This week, Elder Zwick from the Seventy came to our Zone Conference. It was a great experience and I learned so much, especially about working with members. Okay, if the missionaries ask you for help, PLEASE HELP THEM. I wish I could explain how important members are in missionary work! He said something that really stuck with me: "It's one thing to have 4 missionaries in a ward, and it's another thing to have 15 million in the world." You are all missionaries!
Elder Zwick shared a lot of really great things that I wish I had the words to explain. Needless to say, it was a wonderful opportunity :) 

Now for the crazy stuff...

I had my first baptism yesterday!!! 

Clarissa Urueta was baptized and confirmed a member de La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias. 

People aren't kidding when they say everything falls through right before a baptism! We lost our speaker, our director, our piano player, our jumpsuits, our plug to fill the font, and our sanity. 

BUT, through the help of the Lord, everything went smoothly and the family had a wonderful experience. 

SO! On Saturday, a very cool video will be coming out called "Because He Lives." 

I am so excited to be a missionary with this video! It is right in time for Easter and it is a touching video about our Savior and the impact his life has on our lives. 

When you see it, PLEASE watch it and PLEASE share it. You won't regret it! 

One final thought I would like to leave with is from Sister Zwick's talk on Friday: 

"When we feel down or we feel discouraged, we ought to put our hand in the Lord's hand and say: 'You know, I'm not much, but I love you and I will serve you.'"

The Lord only asks for us to turn our hearts to Him. And in doing so, we are promised more blessings than we have room enough to receive. 

Me encanta este evangelio y estoy muy agradecida de estar aqui con esta gente. Yo se que vive mi Senor y yo se que esta igesia tiene la plenitud del evangelio de Jesucristo. El nunca nos dejaria solos. 

Con amor, 

Hermana Abram

Monday, March 16, 2015

I Eat Pupusas

Hola hola! Les quiero mucho! 

This week went by so fast, it's crazy. I can't believe it's Monday again! I am grateful for this little "break" that I get.

I have been on my mission for a full month (in two days)!!! Isn't that crazy? 

I have been sick in some way or another all this week, which has been a little rough. Hermana Martinez always makes me laugh though, so it definitely makes me better. 

This week I realized that I'm not really in the south, it's more like a Hispanic melting pot. I meet people from all over Latin America and I love it! The different dialects and accents are a little hard to understand, and I've found that I understand Mexicans the most. Although I've spent a lot of time with Colombians, so I'm starting to pick up on that now :) 

Hermana Martinez says that I'm officially a Latina for a few reasons: 
1. I know Bachata (and other music, thanks to Profe Jauregui)
2. I speak Spanish
3. I eat pupusas

It's pretty funny. She always encourages me and helps me feel better about the language. 

There is one sister in our branch named Hermana Lopez and I love her so much. She always called me "hija" which means daughter. I feel like so many people adopt me into their families here.

The biggest thing Sister Martinez and I learned this week was obedience. We were so eager to find new people to teach, that we cut into some studying time. New missionaries who are speaking a new language have a huge amount of studying time. I'm talking 4 hours. Then we eat lunch. So that's 5 hours in the house. It's rough. So it seemed logical that we would cut down on studying time to go find people. We struggled to find last week, so after some chastising at a zone meeting, we decided it would be better to be to totally obedient with out studies, even if it meant not finding anyone to teach. Each day, we promised the Lord that we would give our all and that we would work our hardest that day. We promised we would consecrate the day to him. Right away, we started receiving TONS of referrals. We got seven referrals in one day which was totally cool. Needless to say, I gained a big testimony of putting the Lord first, and watching everything else fall into place. 

I'm finding that the worst part about the mission is not ever being able to put into words the daily miracles I see. Not even in my journal can I express the wonderful things I see and feel each day. I am beginning to understand why people love their missions so much. 

So we have been teaching the Urueta family. I love them so much. There are two girls and one mom. They are a great family. The oldest daughter and the mom have said that they would like to be baptized, but they want to wait because they would like to know more, which definitely makes sense. We have talked with them a lot about faith and about their doubts. But finally, Clarissa, the 11-year old sister, firmly said that she would like to baptized. She has explained that she feels that it is the right thing to do. We asked her when she would like to be baptized, and she said "Like... ASAP." It was great. Needless to say, we have a baptism on March 22nd! My first baptism! I am so stoked and I can't wait to see how this family grows. 

I love this experience so much. It is really hard, I can't deny that. But there is nothing else I would rather be doing right now. I love seeming the name of my Savior above my heart every day. 

I love you all! Please write letters and keep us in your prayers! 

Con mucho amor, 

Hermana Abram 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

First Week in the Mission Field

Hello everyone!

Wow, this has been a really really crazy week. I have loved it! 

First of all, I love Atlanta. It's pretty beautiful here and the people are quite friendly. So far, my hair hasn't misbehaved from the humidity, which is definitely a blessing. 

So there are only 4 Spanish speaking sisters in the whole mission!!!! It's truly a blessing to have this specific assignment. There is a large need for Spanish speaking missionaries, specifically sisters. We have two areas with hermanas right now: Buford and Roswell. We are in Roswell and we will be here for 3 months at least! We cover Roswell, John's Creek, Milton, some of Sandy Springs, and sometimes Norcross. If you don't know where that is, I understand. At least you all have Google so you can find out! I don't! 

I love my trainer, Hermana Martinez. She is such a blessing. She pushes me everyday but she does it lovingly. She treats me like an equal and believes I have every right to revelation in this area as she does. She trusts me and she listens to my ideas. I love it. We work really well together. I am blessed beyond compare to have her as my first companion in the field. 

This week I have learned a lot about how blessed I am. We had appointments with a few different people. While I was sitting in their homes, I was wondering why it was so dark and cold there. Then I realized that they were using flashlights because their electricity had been turned off and they didn't have heat so they just wore a lot of layers. Some didn't have cars. Here I am, sitting in my nice clothes with my nice purse with a nice car outside, feeling so overwhelmed with confusion. There is one investigator that we have who wants to be independent. She is 23 and living with her family. She can't pay for school so she needs a job. She can't get a job because she doesn't speak English. Until now, I never really understood how absolutely blessed I am to speak the language of my country and to have so many advantages in life. Even in the United States, there are so many people struggling for basic things that I never even recognized as a blessing. I am truly touched by the advantages my Father in Heaven has given me. 

We don't have a lot of people to teach because everybody already got baptized! It's pretty crazy. But we do have a family of two girls and one mother, a family of three children, one mother, and a single woman all progressing and meeting with us. We have to teach each family and person in a different way. 

Until being out here, I never realized how much I thought of myself. The mission is so tiring because not only are you physically working for 16 hours, but you are giving every single part of yourself to the work. It's quite exhausting. But it's wonderful to know that each time you work, you are blessed and sustained. 

Spanish is honestly hard. For those of you who have seen The Best Two Years, remember when Elder Calhoun says, "That ain't the language they taught me in the MTC"?? That's how I feel out here. The Spanish I learned isn't quite the same out here, simply because it's real life! That has caused me to be so frustrated in lessons because I want to contribute, but I have nooo clue what's going on during certain parts. But this frustration is different than any other frustration I've had. Instead of feeling sad and depressed and feeling stupid, I am simply motivated to do something. I'm not concerned with how bad I am, instead I'm concerned about improving. 

Heavenly Father shows us our weaknesses so that we can improve. When we feel that motivation to be better, it's from God. When we feel stupid and we feel inadequate and we feel useless, that's from Satan. Satan wants us to be miserable in our weaknesses. Heavenly Father wants us to be progressing as we notice our weaknesses. 

I love this gospel. I am ridiculously excited to start a new week out here in Roswell. I have already seen tender mercies and miracles that I wish I could explain. 

I love you all (y'all haha). Thank you for your emails! I love hearing from you! 

Until next week! 

Hermana Abram 

P.S. If you send DearElders to me, I won't get them anymore!!! 
Other P.S. Don't send mail to the address listed on my blog, because I won't get it until we have big meetings every once in a while! Send it to this address: 

515 Hemingway Lane
Roswell, GA

Final Thoughts from the Missionary Training Center

Man, I wish I could write everything that I have experienced. 

First of all: thank you to EVERYONE who wrote my DearElders and everyone who wrote me emails! I read every single one of those and I appreciated them more than you know. I wish I could have taken the time to write each of you back. But please know I appreciated them. 

Second of all: Big thanks to my awesome roommates for the great package full of my favorite things and things I didn't expect! It was my favorite delievery from the MTC and I am so grateful for that. 

One funny thing: I decided to change my name to Hermana Granger. (badum CHA!)

But really! The MTC has gotten so much better. I have made lots of friends, and my companionship has gotten stronger. I learned to love my district despite all our many challenges. I am so sad to leave. I'm scared because tomorrow morning I will be heading to Atlanta! This is real now! The MTC has been great practice, but I know the real thing will be different. 

I have learned how to appreciate the day as it comes. If I look back or look forward, it becomes overwhelming. I begin to think of my lack of sleep, of the many months ahead of me. But I have learned to give my all each day and then at the end of the day, praying to my Father and asking Him to take what I did today and make something of it. 

The best thing I learned this week was about repentance. I have always assumed that repentance was something very painful and very trying. Which it is. 

But on Sunday, we had a mission conference in which President Trost taught us more about repentance. He explained it like this: 

On the day we must face our Heavenly Father and be judged for our faith and works in this life, he might ask us certain questions. He might ask us things like: "How were you as a parent?" We will naturally remember all the times we lost our tempers, all the times we weren't enough for our children. But He will show us the good times. When we remind Him of the bad things we have done, He will say, "I don't remember that." 

When He asks me how I fulfilled my calling as a missionary, I will remember all the times I passed up an opportunity to talk to someone, or each time I broke a rule. When I remind Him of this, He will say, "I don't remember that." 

Alma 32:26-27 talks about faith. It explains that we need to experiment upon the word. It says that we need only have a desire to believe, and He will work within us. 

That is the beauty of our Heavenly Father. He loves us so much that He asks us just to have a desire to believe. He has provided a way through His Son for us to be forgiven for our sins, but He will also remember our sins no more as we make a change and turn to Christ. 

This is so beautiful! My joy is full as I think of this doctrine. 

I love being a missionary. I am so excited to be a part of this work.

Con Amor, 

Hermana Abram