Monday, July 29, 2013

Little things build the Kingdom

COLUMBIA, Md. — HellloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooOO!!!!!!

How are you?!?! I don’t know why, but today I am super excited to email today. I wish I could see your faces and give you all a great big hug. But, since that’s not gonna happen, just imagine me giving you a great big cheesy grin.

Holy cow, I was spoiled this week. I got a letter from Grandma, Aunt Lisa, Brittany, Nick, Juli and then birthday packages from Erianne and Juli and the Girls! Thank you thank you! I love hearing how everyone is doing. Sounds like everyone seems to be doing well. I have been praying for Chris with his test. How did it go? That smarty-pants probably aced it like a boss! Thank you for all your love and support! I have the best family and friends ever! Lucky me! Thanks for putting up with me for so long! ;)

This week was great. Lots of miracles again. One being the weather. We had 2 whole days of beautiful weather. Low humidity and not hot. I was in heaven! Now, the weather has returned to the normal hot and humid but it's okay, I definitely enjoyed it while it lasted.

Sara finds her favorite dog: a Boxer!
I am not fluent by any means, but my Spanish has improved, which makes me so happy. I was nervous when Hermana Brown left, but the Lord won't let you fail if you try. I hadn’t really noticed my Spanish until all the branch members kept telling me I had improved. And then I realized.... wow. I am talking to people in Spanish. HA! That sounds weird. I can’t even explain. It is definitely a blessing to be able to speak and understand a different language. And of course there are those awesome times when you and your companion look at each other with "that face" and neither of you know what' s going on. Gotta love it. My accent and pronunciation is getting a lot better, too. Just need to keep working on the grammar rules and conjugation. Okay, I will stop rambling about that because I am sure you have better things to read about than how my Spanish is.

Hermana Newman learns how to make tortillas from scratch
This week was full of all sorts of different kinds of days. My companion is still getting used to being out here, so days that are not super awesome are hard for her. We had one day this week where we talked to a lot of people, but taught zero lessons. Yes, zero. Those days are hard because you wonder what you are doing wrong. I could tell my companion was concerned so I just smiled at her and said "It's all for a reason."

It is true. If we are being exactly obedient, then it is all for a reason. I don’t know why we weren’t able to sit down and teach people. But what I do know is that we were doing what the Lord wanted of us that day. We were meeting people, learning, getting practice; the list goes on and on. It doesn’t matter what part of the work we are doing, just as long as we are willing to do the part that God needs us to do. So, when He asks you to do something, don’t hesitate and wonder why, just do it!

Getting those Argentine sleeping bags ready
This week we were able to meet with five families that we have been trying to meet with for the whole last transfer. I don’t know why this week they finally opened their doors, but they did. God's timing is perfect. I know I say that every week but it is true! Several times we would show up to people's houses, just as they were getting home, or they would be outside in their yards or they didn’t want to talk to us but would let us in to use the bathroom or get some water and then start talking about the church. A lot of these people we met with have been less active for years. Their hearts are hurt, or hardened but our job is to love them. Love them like Christ would love them. Let them know that we care about them and they are missed. It is amazing what can change with a little bit of love.

Okay, I feel like I am rambling again. So, I will get off. Sorry there was not a big story or happening this week, but the little things make the big things happen. This week for your missionary moment, go out and find someone to love. Choose a person and be their friend, love them like Jesus Christ would! Let them know you care. You will make a difference in their lives, and I promise you will notice a difference in yours! I know because I have noticed it in my life. I have been trying to develop the Christlike characteristics in Preach My Gospel. I am working on Christlike love. Seeing people like He does changes your perspective and changes you. Let the change happen!

Have a great week. Be good, make good friends, don’t let South Jordan get ya ;)

Te Amo,

Hermana Newman :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Miracles and the Lord's timing

COLUMBIA, Md. — They definitely don’t celebrate Pioneer Day here in Maryland, but I was reading this morning in the Ensign and read about pioneers and it reminded me that it is in 2 days. Are you all doing anything fun to celebrate or just chillin'?

I am SO grateful for the pioneers. Holy smokes, they are amazing! This week, if you haven’t already, go read the Ensign. The stories about the pioneers are pretty awesome and helped me to be more thankful for the Saints who came before me. Though the things they had to go through and the things I have to go through are much different, we all have one purpose — to build up God's Kingdom on Earth! We are all pioneers in a sense! :)

How are you all doing? What is new in Utah, Idaho, Kentucky, and Texas... everywhere else? I hope you all know I LOVE YOU SO STINKIN' much. I am so lucky to have the best family in the world :)

I am still loving Maryland. No complaints here. Just funny, this week we have had record heat in the Columbia area and severe heat warnings. We get texts almost every day telling us to be careful, be smart and drink lots of water. So far so good :) I am healthy as can be.

This week has been a little bit crazy, but good. Training is going well. Sometimes it is hard, because I don’t feel like I know what I am doing, but with Heavenly Father's help, it all turns out okay. I got my new companion on Wednesday. Let me tell you a little bit about her. She is 19 years old, from Los Alamos, New Mexico. Her name is Hermana Crotzer (Hispanic people have a super hard time saying it. SO glad my name is easy. Thanks Popi :) ) She went to BYU-I for a few semesters before she came here and she is the oldest in her family. She is a little bit shy, but spending a few weeks with me, I will break her ;) I think she might think I am a little crazy because I am always laughing and smiling but, life is good, got to make the most of it right?

Hermana Crotzer and Hermana Newman

Let me tell you a little bit about this week. I don’t have enough space or time to tell you everything that I want to, but let me first tell you, WOW... MIRACLES THIS WEEK! I have seen so  many miracles that I can’t even remember them all. I will tell you about two this week.

One happened while I was in an English area, and the other when I was here with Hermana Crotzer in Columbia.  I was with the English sisters one night, and it was just about time to head home, but we had time for one more visit. We decided to visit Robert, a referral from the Salt Lake Visitors Center. We all were a bit nervous, but excited to see Robert and learn more about him. We said a prayer and then knocked at the door. No answer. One more knock. No answer. We knew someone was home, so we gave it one last knock. As my hand left the door I heard footsteps coming to the door. Suddenly the door swung open. I looked up to see a middle aged man smiling at us. It was Robert. :)

We talked about him, family, church, and Salt Lake — lots of things. But  the miracle happened when we asked Robert a question, he smiled and looked us in the eyes and said, "I am looking for faith. I am a Catholic. I believe in God, but I am looking to have more faith in my life." With tears in his eyes he looked down and said, "I want great faith like you sisters have, I just haven’t found it yet."

I was amazed by how soft his heart is and how ready Robert is to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ in his life. We left with a prayer, and the Spirit was so strong I can’t even describe it to you. Standing there in a hot Maryland evening on Robert's porch, the Holy Ghost testified to all of us of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Though Robert is not my investigator, and I probably won't know what happens with him here, I know with out a doubt he will be baptized. He is ready — he just doesn’t know yet what it is that he is ready for. I love seeing miracles.

The next is the miracle of timing. I have grown a huge testimony of the Lord's timing. Nothing happens just by coincidence, and this week, we had a lot of "perfect timing situations."

We went to visit our investigators Sulema, Angel and their 2 kids, Angie and Dominique. When we arrived, we found that they were not home. I was a little disappointed of course, but I looked on the stairs to see another lady sitting there with her children. I started talking to her and come to find out, she "happens" to be a referral I have been trying to get a hold of for a few weeks. We found her!

Coincidence? No.

She was there and God knew we would find her. We talked with her and got her information and set up a return visit. We were about to leave when another investigator drove up. Perfect timing! William got out of his car with a big smile on his face. "Hermanas, how you be? How you day? Come, sit. What you have for me today?"

This man is one of the most humble people I have met. He cannot read but listens to the Book of Mormon on Spanish CD's. As we were reading him some of the Book of Mormon, some of William's neighbors stopped by to see what we were doing. He invited them to sit down with us. You should have seen their faces when they see two 'lil white girls speaking Spanish. Priceless.

Before you knew it, we had William, his neighbor Domingo, Elder and Norma sitting on the steps outside listening to stories in the Book of Mormon. What a sight to behold. I couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the night. This may seem just a little miracle, but wow, it touched my heart. The Lord has perfect timing in all that he does. Sometimes it takes patience, but in the end, it is worth the wait.

Sorry this email is sooo long. I could just keep going and going but I know you all have other things to do, as do I. I hope you all know how much I love this Gospel. I love being a missionary and spreading the word to these people that do not have it. What a blessing it is to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. :)

What miracles have you seen this week? Pray for them and I know you will find them! Have a good one!

Te Amo

-Hermana Newman :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Maryland for a reason

COLUMBIA, Md. — It sounds like you are all doing well. I haven’t heard from my family in Ohio or Texas. My prayers are being sent to you. I know you're busy with stuff, but if you get a chance, send me a quick email or letter so I know how you are doing. Love you all soo much!

Dad, the Burns' are doing an Argentina day, huh? Lucky! Are you going to try some food? Let me know how it is. Everyone tells me it is delicious and that I am gonna be a "gordita" or fatty when I come home.  My Relief Society president keeps saying if you don’t remember any Spanish just remember "yo quiero empenadas". Made me chuckle.

Wahoooo! Yay for Sister Missionaries! Sister Christensen, Sister Thompson, Sister Newman, Hermana Newman, Sister Yates, Sister Watko and Sister Rawlings. Wahoo for the 3rd Ward! And yeah for the Elders too! :) Happy day! AND Erianne got home?!? I love that girl! Best Missionary ever! Send her my love please :) I am sure her talk was great.

Holy smokes,  does time fly. I cannot believe I am done with my first transfer already. Has it already been 6 weeks? I guess so. I dropped my companion off this afternoon at the mission office, she is heading to Argentina. Bittersweet. We were a good companionship but I am happy for her!

Good bye to Hermana Brown
I will get my new companion on Wednesday, so for now, I am with the Sister Training Leaders in an English area.

I am sure most of you know, but for those of you who don’t:  I am training this transfer. BAHHHHH! What?!? Me training, in Spanish? Ha. Wow, Heavenly Father must be testing me or something. I know I can do it, but it still scares me half to death. I haven’t even completed my full training yet. Oh well. Guess we will both finish learning together, right?

This week has been great. Pretty busy, but awesome. We had 24 lessons, which is so good for our area, AND 3 investigators at church and 15 less actives! There sure are miracles happening in Columbia 3rd Spanish Branch! Gotta love it :)  Hermana Brown was speaking on Sunday, so lucky me, I got to coordinate all the other things and make sure everyone felt welcome and had someone to sit with, etc. Not too hard, right? Well, when your stress level goes up and you are nervous, turns out that your Spanish declines! I figured it all out, but man, it was funny trying to speak and help our investigators out during sacrament meeting. Good memory, for sure.

The Sanchez Family

It's crazy to think just 6 weeks ago, Hermana Brown and I opened up this area. It’s doing pretty well right now and hopefully it keeps progressing. I am the only missionary staying in the branch. We are getting new elders and sisters in the Spanish branch, so I am the one who has been in the area the longest, which is really funny.

Our Branch President told us something really neat today. He said he has been praying for Spanish sisters for this area for a long time, and now here we are. He said that he has never seen so many people excited and coming back to church before. Sometimes we don’t see the miracles but he reminded us that just because we don’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. It made me feel great and that I really am here for a reason. I know that I need to go to Argentina, but I also know people need me here in Maryland right now, so I am happy to be in this little branch!

We have had a lot of fun happy times this week, and of course, some bummer times as well. It is so hard for me to see people choose to not listen. We had to drop one investigator this week, and the Rivera Family that we have been working so hard with are on a decline right now. We are still working with them and hoping for the best, but for some reason they have stopped progressing. :( I have faith they can turn around but there is only so much we can do as missionaries, they have to use agency and choose for themselves.

The Rivera Family
 Can I just say Satan is ridiculous! He always seems to get in the way. I always know when something "randomly" goes wrong, I know who to blame. He is very sneaky. I have learned that just as real as Heavenly Father is, Satan is real, too, and he definitely is out to stop the work from progressing. But the cool thing is that he will not win, he will not conquer!

I love the happiness the Gospel brings to families. I love the light in people's eyes when we teach them lessons. This mission is changing many people’s lives, including my own. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn something new. It’s amazing what can happen when you devote your whole self to God and the Gospel. I wish I had done it more at home! Life is so much better when you have your priorities in line. :)

Soledad, their investigator
Well, family, my time is up again. I don’t know if my letters make sense or anything. Hopefully they can help someone, but if not, the most important part is I LOVE YOU! I am sooooo happy and grateful to be a missionary! I am very needed here in Maryland and I am grateful for your support.

Have an awesome week! Keep me updated. Do some missionary work.

Stay Classy ;)  Love ya!

-Hermana Newman :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Get over yourself"

COLUMBIA, Md. — HELLOOOOOO again. Another week, Already?!? Crazy business. 

Thank you thank you thank you for the birthday wishes, letters and package. Loved it! You all are the best. Thanks, Mom and Dad for the package, you sure spoil me :)  I had a great birthday. Hard to believe I am actually 21! Where did the time go?

I am not even out of the country yet and they already have me eating weird foods. I can’t remember what I have or haven’t told you already, but if I repeat, sorry just pretend I didn’t.

Fish, anyone?

This week,  I ate chicken intestines (yum) and some mystery organ meat (gross). But don’t worry, I made it through like a champ. To be honest, chicken intestines, not so bad. Mystery organs? Almost gagged but I managed to get it down with some rice and beans and hid the rest in my napkin. Missionaries gotta do what a missionaries gotta do, right? Hopefully the food this week is a little more normal.

Maryland and Latino meet in a crab tostada

The past two weeks were a little rough with finding people to teach and such. It’s hard because you do everything you can, but then you just don’t see the results. Well my big sis wrote me the best letter ever. She told me to "continue doing the little things, obey exactly and do what the Lord asks. If the Lord wants you to walk around in the hot sun for hours — do it! Do everything he asks because he knows best." 

I am here to tell you that God definitely knows what he is doing. Even though we may not understand, He has got everything under control. This week was FABULOUS! We taught sooooo many families, did a lot of service and were able to find new investigators to teach. Our mission president always reminds us: "Get over yourself" — how true that is: forget yourself and get to work! As missionaries, there is much work to do all around us. We just have to forget ourselves and listen to what the Lord has in store.

We had our first investigator come to church this week! :) I might have written about her last week as Maria, turns out she likes to be called Soledad. Anyways, she came to church and enjoyed it a lot. It’s hard, because we have a tiny branch, but they all worked together to welcome her and be her friend. We are continuing to teach her and hopefully everything goes well. She has a lot of potential, just needs a little bit of help.

Hermana Newman y Hermana Casas

I also went on my first set of exchanges this week. I went to an English area, which was definitely new for me. I could speak English and people understood me... what?!! It was really fun and a great experience. I met a family that has been less active for 40 years and is now coming back. God loves his children and wants us ALL to return back to him. Miracles all over the place if you just look!

"Sé lo que el Señor me ha mandado, y en ello me glorío. Y no me glorío en mí mismo, sino en lo que el Señor me ha mandado; sí, y ésta es mi gloria, que quizá sea un instrumento en las manos de Dios para conducir a algún alma al arrepentimiento; y éste es mi gozo." Alma 29:9

There is SO much work to be done. And the cool thing is, we all get to be a part in it! We are all working for the same cause: to bring others unto Christ. What a wonderful thing! We are servants of God! I love this work! The Gospel changes lives! Go out this week and help the work move forward. Be instruments in God's hands. Ask for missionary moments and I know you will find them!

I love you! Be safe, smile and laugh lots. Life is good! Give 'em Heaven!

Con Amor,

Hermana Newman :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hermanas can do anything

COLUMBIA, Md. — First thing I want to say is WAHOOOOOOOOOOOO BRITTANY!

You are amazing sis! You are a nurse... with a job! :) Congrats. Such a big grown up girl you are. Graduating, getting married, and now have a job. ;) You rock sista friend! So proud of you!

I got your announcement this week. Can I first just say, wow, Steve? You are one lucky guy! You both look so happy. Sis, You are GORGEOUS, in case you haven’t looked in the mirror lately. And Steve doesn’t look too shabby either. ;)

Thanks for your weekly letters and updates everyone. I love hearing how everyone is doing and what things are going on with the family, friends and the ward. I am excited for all the Elders in our ward who have their calls and are leaving soon. That is amazing! They are going to love it and be such good missionaries, no doubt. 

The Lord needs the best right now, that is for sure! We don’t have time to mess around with the work. It needs to be shared with everyone who is ready for it! And there are tons and tons of people out there for sure. 

Mom, I am so proud of you and your missionary work. That’s awesome that you invited the neighbors to the activity! Way to be! What about the rest of you... any stories or experiences? I would LOVE to hear! 

Nick, Juli, Chris, Hannah- How are you all? I haven’t heard about your new places, or work or anything. Fill me in on the deets! :) I love you all and miss you. Hope you are doing well in Ohio and Texas.

This week was packed with service opportunities. And, in case you don’t realize this about me, I LOVE SERVICE! It is the best thing ever! Well, not to brag, but Dad, you should be so proud of your little girl. All those runs to Lowe’s with you, helping you do the basement and just little projects here and there chatting your ear off, well they paid off for sure: I re-roofed a shed! Ahhh yeah! And built a slide thingy. I am quite good with the tools ;) 

Hermana Brown and me were the first ones on the roof. We had just finished hauling things out of the shed and into the van. Hermana Castro looked at the Elders and said, "Wow, I love Hermanas, they can do anything!" Made me smile. And, when we were building the slide thing, I taught my companion ALL about tools and how to use them. Thanks for teaching me how to work hard, Mom and Dad! You are the best and such good examples to me!

I learned in kind of a funny way this week, not to complain. I am not a complainer and I never do it out here in the field, but unfortunately, I had a weak moment. It was SO hot and humid outside; we were walking forever and didn’t have water bottles. So I just mentioned to my companion how thirsty I was. Then just jokingly shouted, "Yo necisito agua!" Well, at that moment I felt a something wet drip down my face. I looked up and it started pouring on us. Kind of a funny story to make you smile. It taught me not to complain and be careful what you wish for! ;)

Miracles are all around us, like I have said before. But I had one I wanted to share this week. 

We got a referral from the DC Temple Visitors Center like 3 weeks ago. We tried contacting her so many times and calling because she requested El Libro de Mormón. We went to her house every other day and wrote her notes, etc. She never would answer her phone or the door. It made me really sad, because obviously I have a life-changing message I want to share with her. We stopped thinking about her for a few days and focused on some other referrals. One afternoon, we were driving to an area called Elkridge, when I had the impression to call Maria. So, I did. And..... She actually answered! 

My companion and I were shocked and so happy. Hermana Brown was driving and had to concentrate but I talked to her and set an appointment. I will never forget what she said, "Hermanas! Where have you been? I have been waiting for you! I want to hear the message and learn about that book." :) Oh my goodness! Long story short, it turns out that she had given the Visitors Center the wrong address, so we were 3 apartments off and visiting the wrong house. She was lost and we couldn't find her, but then the Lord provided a way, she actually answered her phone and let us come by. The appointment with her was awesome. She is very interested and is now one of our new investigators. :) The Lord blesses you when you are obedient, listen and are persistent. Never give up!

We had an amazing week with our progressing investigators. The Rivera Family: Alma and her 4 daughters. My favorite lesson this week was The Plan of Salvation. That one is a little scary for me to teach for some reason, but it went well because the Spirit did all the teaching. 

Mom, thank you for the Plan of Salvation thingy, the girls LOVED it! You should have seen the look in their eyes when I told them that they could be with their families forever and live with God. It is crazy to me to think how many people do not know that. What a blessing in our lives. The Riveras were progressing so well and keeping all of their commitments. They were on date to be baptized this weekend on my birthday. Best thing I could ever ask for. 

Alma got work off on Sunday to come to church and everything. Sunday came around and we went to Sacrament meeting, we had 5 less actives there which was sooo exciting. Life is good. I kept looking at the clock waiting for the Riveras to walk into the chapel. 

But they didn’t show up. 

I was crushed! They are so close but just don’t understand the importance of coming to church. We are still working with them and trying to help them come to church and have real growth: real conversion unto Christ!

Well, I better get off now. But family, I hope you know how much I love you. You are all amazing and good examples to me. I love this Gospel with all my heart! It is true and will always stand firm. Keep helping the work move forward, and I will do the same. Let's all work together to bring back our Brothers and Sisters!

Con amor,

Hermana Newman :)