Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I need to love everyone

Sounds like our girl is struggling a bit, I'm so happy that she knows what is really important and that is to love everyone. That's all that really matters in this life. Please keep her in your prayers. 

Hello my fam.
Well, I'm still here in Mexico and stuff! Finishing off a pretty intense week in Morelos 2. It started on Monday, after I got back from writing. I decided to relax for a few minutes before it was time to leave and work so I sat down to watch The District on the mini DVD player we have. Sitting there on my bed, watching The District, I remembered watching The District on my bed in preparation for my mission - more than a year ago. I remembered just sitting there so overcome with emotion, with tears rolling down my face, just so excited for what I was about to be able to do. I watched the real changes that happened in these peoples' lives the way the Spirit touched them, the understanding and patience the missionaries taught them with... I saw, in those moments at home, missionary work as leisurely strolling around, going house to house with well-planned lessons, waiting at the door of the church on Sunday to greet smiling investigators... The reality is, the mission is a lot better than what I thought. But man, it's also different. For example, I got to Mexico and the first thing they did was the "scare" talk - it's the tradition here - where the assistants scare you into thinking that you're not worthy to be in "The Great Mission" and you should probably just go home if you're planning on making a mistake during your mission, haha. Maybe that's what they do at the start of every mission, but MAN it made me feel so awful. Still hard to laugh about it. I know it's the "initiation" here and it's half a joke, and the purpose really is to help us understand the importance of 100% obedience. But obviously, right off the bat the mission was pretty different - seemed to me more like a boot camp, haha. And then the assistant made me come up with Hermana Heinz to practice contacting someone in front of everyone and then had everyone make a list of what I did wrong. Well, I was so scared that day. AND so mistaken. "THIS is the mission:" I thought "being told we're not and never will be good enough, constantly. Being made fun of and yelled at and put on the spot and judged." I know that's an awful attitude, but I think I was kind of angry, honestly. I think I was angry that I was in the mission that prides itself in trying to do the double of what every other mission does, "The Great Mission," that to me at the time, seemed more like "The Insensitive Over-board Forcing People to Get Baptized Mission." The point is, IT'S NOT TRUE WHAT I THOUGHT AT ALL, really I believe that I misunderstood. Still, I know I'm not the only missionary who's misunderstood the concept of the "Great Mission." I think there have been periods of time in my mission when I have started actually conforming to the supposed ideas that this mission lives by that made me so sad when I got here - that is, the concept of not accepting "no" for an answer ever, baptizing everything that moves whether or not they actually want to and understand why why they should. I've had some insensitive time periods of my mission, quite honestly, and talking with other missionaries I think we all have. I've definitely also had a lot of moments of enlightenment, too, like "WHAT AM I DOING - THESE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD, AND THEY'RE TELLING ME IT'S NOT THEIR TIME." I didn't realize coming out here almost a year ago that it would be so hard not to get caught up in everything, becoming a little tired/mindless/robotic and forget that this isn't a "job" - it's a life. My experience watching The District was something that really motivated me to really help in providing my investigators with the tools necessary to have their own spiritual experiences, to help them build testimonies instead of just a collection of mounds and mounds of biblical evidence and pretty words. I KNOW I came here to do a lot more than that, and I know that there are lots of times in my mission where I have done it. But man, I needed to remember it last week. Patience. The time of the Lord. Covenants and ordenances (how do you spell that in English?) are like a motor and a car. Separately they can do nothing. The ordinance is hollow if it doesn't mean that you're making a real promise in your heart. Baptism in another church is like just the motor - something pretty, a desire to follow Jesus Christ, but without the ability to get us there. It made me really sad this week to hear about how many people have been baptized in this stake recently and the tiny tiny number that's active, or at least come every once in awhile. There are so so so many that have never even set foot in the church after getting baptized. I talked to a lady this week that got baptized about 30 years ago and truly has not been since. What's more, she doesn't want anything to do with the church. She goes to Catholic Mass every week. She said she only got baptized because the missionaries insisted and insisted and obligated her. I hope that there was more than that, I really really do. But it's just a sad example of an almost-empty car. Not to say that she doesn't have the desire to follow Christ, she just never understood WHY her baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was necessary for her salvation - she couldn't make that covenant in her heart, start that motor, because she just  never understood. So many of the people who got baptized before I got to Morelos in the recent months won't even let me in their house, let alone come to church. This week, I once again cried in my bed watching The District, and remembered why I came. What I expected to do. And I gave thanks that I still have six more months lefts to apply, ONCE AGAIN, what the Spirit has told me I need to do. I need to love them. I need to love everyone. I need to testify with power. I need to help them learn how to recognize the Spirit, how to pray with faith, how to study and find answers. These are the most important things I can do. It doesn't matter how clearly I teach if they don't understand that the conviction they develop in their heart is the most important thing. I'm not explaining myself at all, huh? All I'm saying, is that the mission is different than I thought. And so much better. Different in that it IS a spiritual boot camp, and the failure comes frequently. And walking in the hot sun, not entering in a single investigator's house for a whole day, being lied to... it is what it is. I want real converts. I want to not only teach them with power, but motivate them to pray and find out and have the patience to wait for their answer to come - the motor to form - before forcing the shell of the car on them. It sounds funny, but I really really loved that emotional moment I had on Monday. 
This week was filled of a LOT of fasting and prayer for the Familia Suarez. They're still not baptized, but the boy went to EFY and loved it and bought a suit and came back calling himself "Elder Suarez." MAN I love hearing that. I need to have patience with this family. I love them so much, so much, and it's hard feeling like they still don't totally understand. Or WANT to understand. 
Carlos' wife is angry that he came to church, and he's reluctant to come back for that reason. She wants him to go to her Christian church. I know he has the desire, I know that he knows that what we're teaching him is important, he reads the Book of Mormon still and is slowly building his faith and learning to really pray. But his family situation is complicated. Sad. 
Ivan has had a hard life, and he's kind of shut down on us again, lost the little bit of desire that he had to actually better his life. He didn't come to church, we'll see what happens this week. 
Alicia was all ready for church, but she didn't want to come with her kids for some reason so stayed behind waiting for her husband to come home and take care of them. He never did, according to her. It's so hard because every time we're with her I just thank my lucky stars because she seems SO golden - until it comes to following through on all the promises she makes. I think we need to make sure she understands that the committments she makes aren't with US, at all. 
All in all, we found some good new people this week, like a big family of 9 named the Familia Flores. We were so excited until we found out that the dad is really against us coming and started talking to his kids and wife and basically the family that started out so pumped to come to church on Sunday one by one started lying to us and making excuses, and our last ray of hope - the mom Elizabeth, who told us on Saturday night that she'd be waiting for us at 8:20 on Sunday morning - had already headed off to the Catholic church when we showed up. We'll still be passing by this week and see what the Lord can do. 
I AM SO GRATEFUL TO BE HERE. It's the most incredible experience of my life, and I can't even start to explain what it's like being here. It's the most insane rollercoaster of emotions every day, and I'm learning so much about myself and about my Father. I know that this is the only true church on the face of the Earth, it's the Church of our Savior Jesus Christ. If we want to truly and completely accept the grand gift that he's offering us, we need to be baptized by someone who has the sacred authority directly from Him. And I know that EVERY PERSON will have that chance, if not here, in the Spirit World. HashtagSeriouslySoBlessed that I get to help build the kingdom here on Earth FULL-TIME for 6 more months. Love you all, thanks for all you do.
Beeeeeeg Keeeeeees Leeeeeeeetle Keeeeeees
Hermana LeSueur

Sent from my iPhone 


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Service heals the broken heart and broken body

My sweet, sweet family,
HI. So, when I got home from writing last week I wrote you all a big letter at home that I was going to type up this week. Buuuuut I left it in casa, so I'll just wing it! I didn't write a good letter last week, so I'll try to be better this week!
Whew. A super wet week! Did I mention that Toluca rains every day? It wasn't the easiest week, but we did see some miracles. We're STILL working on the Familia Suarez. Haha, when they get baptized just about all of Toluca will rejoice - the ward is trying so hard to help out. The dad couldn't come to church because one of his uncles is dying, so the mom said she couldn't come either because she was going to have to prepare all of the corn for Monday's tortillas alone... so obviously we offered to help, so we woke up at 5 on Sunday to walk over to their colonia and help. And guess what? Found out that service heals the broken heart...and broken body. I had gotten really sick on Saturday night, and I was obviously not feeling too excited about walking the 40 minute walk to the tortilla place at 6 in the cold morning. But I'm so happy I did it (with the help of some meds)! The rest of the day I hardly felt sick, and today I'm totally fine! Nothing more than a little cold! Aaaaand they came to church. We had some really good people committed to church that fell through, pretty sad, but also some miracles - such as Carlos showing up despite the fact that when we called their house in the morning his wife told me "we're going to MY (Christian) church as a family today, sorry". Also, I can't remember if I've talked about Alicia. She's a super awesome investigator we have who accepted baptism a long time ago. Well, we went to our appointment with her on Thursday, and halfway through the lesson she randomly started telling us "I'm not getting baptized and don't try to tell me that I need to." We've always had such awesome calm lessons with her, she's always been so excited about our invitations, we always feel the Spirit so strong when we're there... but everything just started falling apart. Anyway, instead of feeling frantic or worried, I really just felt so calm. When she finished talking, I felt that I should just calmly explain a few key points and bear testimony. It was one of those moments where I really didn't know what I was saying - I felt the Spirit speaking through me. I can tell when that happens, because I stop worrying about my Spanish (which is still a problem) and the words flow. Anywho, immediately after I stopped talking my companion started sharing a scripture about Noah and 8 years old and baptism and Alicia interrupted and turned to me and randomly said "I'll do it. I'll get baptized. The moment you started talking I felt a great peace and I knew it was the right thing. You have a gift for explaining things." And then she started crying. Of course, I know I had nothing to do with it at all - it wasn't me talking. But it was a cool experience. While I was talking my companion had been looking for this scripture to share and hadn't been listening, so when Alicia said this my companion was all confused and after we left was like "Hermana, what did you say?" I told her "Seriously, Hermana? I can't remember. I have no idea." It was kind of funny. I'm so grateful that the Lord let me have that little experience this week, because honestly it was something I needed. I've been worrying a lot about my Spanish and my knowledge of the scriptures and my ability to explain things, and I've just felt so inadequate this week. Of course, the most important thing is the Spirit. It's the thing I need to focus on the MOST. I feel like this week was full of little tender mercies. My companion and I are still getting along really well, actually we got a dog together this week so I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious... Kate, Christian, Sunni... I hope at least ONE of you is reading this! Remember that dog we found in Bear Lake like ten years ago? The black lab? Pretty sure that same dog found me in Mexico. On Saturday we were walking and I felt sick and was nervous/stressed that people weren't going to show up for church the next day, but I was trying to "fake it til I make it." We say "Buenas tardes" to everything that moves, so to be funny I said "Buenas tardes" to this random stray dog and I don't know what happened but he suddenly got really attached to me and started walking with us, like ALL over. Like through busy streets and neighborhoods and he would walk a bit and then a few seconds later turn around and wait for me and then when I caught up he'd walk with me again. It was so cute. I kept thinking he'd run away but he never did! Only when we were going into a lesson he tried to come in the door with me but the Hermana wasn't feeling it... he wasn't there when we came out :( Anyways, it was just the funniest little thing that made me so happy in kind of a tough moment. Heavenly Father is real, and He loves me. That simple truth was confirmed for me many times this week. I love Him. Please pray this week especially for Carlos, his wife Heidi, Max's mom and dad, Max, Alicia and Antonio, and Benedito, Esperanza, Benedito Jr., Carol, and Mateo Suarez! Here's to a better week, a week of progress and health! Thank you for your words and prayers, I love you all so much! Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and through him the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored. Go read this month's Liahona to find some awesome stories of the life of Joseph Smith, PLEASE! I love you guys. Have a good week!
Beeeeeeg Keeeeeees Leeeeeeetle Keeeeeeees
Hermana LeSueur

I love Mexico

Hola Familia!
WOOOOH another week in Morelos, this time with Hermana Escudero! Seriously, we have a GREAT relationship and she's truly one of the favorite companions I've had. We teach well together and we had some awesome lessons, really getting to the bottom of our investigator's needs. We're inching closer and closer with the Familia Suarez, which is exciting, and I already know this next week we'll see success. I'm sorry this is short, but I didn't leave myself too much time! Just know I love you all, I love Mexico, and I love the true Church of Jesus Christ. Thank you all so much for the prayers, I'll include my experiences from this week in my letter next week!
Beeeeeeg Keeeeeees Leeeeeeetle Keeeeees
Hermana LeSueur

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wax strong

Wholaw UTAH!
Just would like to start this thing out with a big LO SIENTO for my last few letters. I'm aware they've been pretty lame slash negative, I swear to ya that's not the spirit they were written in! I sit in front of the computer thinking "what are some significant/out of the ordinary things that happened this week?" And then I type in a few, forgetting to explain myself/think about how they must sound to the world... I get so wrapped up in this crazy adventure, my view of things is so different... it's like, nothing can phase me, nothing surprises me... The streets of Mexico are super crazy slash funny, I have completely learned to expect the unexpected. As far as my health goes, donut worry at all - my health has been so good on my mission, I have gotten SO lucky. I haven't even gotten parasites once! I took some medicine I had packed in my suitcase and rested a few hours (because I've now learned my lesson about "walking it off") and I was alllllll bien. The hazelnut reaction was combatted by some allergy pills Dr. Hugo gave me before I left Lomas Verdes. Also, I shouldn't have said "dangerous situations"... I just felt the Spirit kind of screaming at me that week to do certain things, or not to do certain things... to trust in certain peoples' intentions, to definitely not trust others...The experiences I had only served to make me feel safer, realize that as a missionary it is so much easier to recognize the Spirit and if I'm in tune He'll guide my steps. It's cool because I've felt the Spirit freeze me in place - my mind says "it seems harmless, this person seems truly interested, it's not THAT late to walk through this iffy neighborhood..." but the Spirit says "SERIOUSLY YOU CAN'T DO THAT." Haha, sorry if I alarmed ya! I'm failing ont he journal-writing lately...it's overwhelming trying to write down all the things slash experiences that happen every day, I don't know where to start a lot of time! The most significant thing of the week would be that we baptized! Citlali se mojo yesterday, her mom and sister came and seemed very happy. They're both going to have to marry their live-in boyfriends to get baptized, too, but I know it'll come. Also, the Familia Suarez came to the baptism and that was a great thing for them. I also think it's about time to let you know that my new name is Hermana LeSuarez. Their baptism date is still this coming Sunday, but they're still not feeling totally ready to go for it as a family right now. They want more time. Well, the DAD does. I think if it was up to just the kids and mom, they would do it this Sunday. The thing is, they're like a Mormon family, very close and united and together all day long, so they want to do it all together. Which is what we want as well, of course. The mom is Esperanza, the dad is Benito, the kids are Benito (13), Carol (10), and Mateo (6) and they are the CUTEST. The mom and dad are both very fair with light eyes so their kids look like straight North Americans. They consider us to be their family and they make me laugh so hard. The mom is especially really funny and always does this "party don't stop" dance. I've been teaching the weekly English classes in the church and the famis super into it. Also, can't remember if I mentioned that they own a hand-made tortilla shop and they asked us to help the other day? Anywho, they said they're reading the BoM and praying as a family a lot, and through the daily contact we have wiht them they've had all the parts of all the lessons. Today our first appointment is with them, then tomorrow we set up an FHE with them in the house of a member afmily. We're going to re-teach the Restoration tonight with the Restoration video (if we can get the power in our house to work before then, haha) and then we'll read 3 Nephi 11 with them to teach how to STUDY and APPLY the Book and we'll emphasize how to recognize the Spirit. That's the problem - they understand that they need to know the BoM is true, and they haven't been able to recognize their answer. Man, I love them so much. They'll be baptized in my time here, and I'll be back in a year to see them sealed! We've talked a lot about temple marriage. The little kids are so super funny and have tons of friends at church and a lot of people have asked them if they're a new member family that just moved in, haha. Anyways... we brought a new family to church this week, super interested and way awesome. The mom is Alysia and her husband is Antonio and they have 2 little boys. She looks like that actress Piper Perabo and is probably the nicest person ever. They'll get baptized next cambio! The guy who owns the little ice cream shop near our house finally came, Carlos, he also has a cute family and his little son came to the English class this week. He's super interested. I love our lessons with him because he has awesome questions and always has this expression on his face like we're just blowing his mind, haha. We brought another new guy, too, Ivan. He's younger and we need to help him make friends but he definitely has interest in turning his life around. We set a baptismal date with another guy we're teaching named Esteban, he's older and living with his girlfriend and her kids but is willing to get married so he can get baptized. He really likes the Book of Mormon and honestly kind of accepted everything immediately... he even had already heard of the Word of Wisdom and told us he doesn't even like coffee, haha...just gotta get him married...
We've dropped a lot of investigators these past few weeks, and it's been worth it because we've had some great new people. Also, can't remember if I've talked about Max, the 13-year-old who wants to get baptized so bad but his parents just will not sit down and have a lesson with us and so they still won't let him be baptized - but he faithfully shows up to church alone every week and loves it more than life. Man, we have A LOT to do this week. FYI, next Monday will be the start of a new cambio. We had intervies with President this week, he said that I'll be staying here in Toluca for awhile, so I'm really expecting to only have one more area before I come home. I like that idea. I guess we'll see, though. Side note - four more cambios til Christmas! Well, I'm happy here in Morelos. It feels weird that I'll be reaching my 11-month mark in a week. I can't even believe I've been away from my home and family almost a whole year! I still remember when you guys were all excited when a whole week on my mission countdown was covered in stickers. Now, I'm looking at my LAST 30 weeks! So many people are coming home from missions right now, and even though my time is far from up, I love seeing the changes they've made in their lives and thinking about what the next 7 months can do if I let them. There are some things I've changed for good, and lots that I'm still working on. Things I've let myself backtrack on. For example, It's been a pretty sad few weeks in the life of President Whitehead, and thus, in our lives. The 40-year-old husband of his daughter was playing basketball on Father's Day and his heart failed and he died, leaving behind 5 little kids. Hna Whitehead left immediately to go be with her daughter, and President stayed. Our interviews were held a few days after, and he was struggling. But something he told me in my interview: Have you ever thought about what it means to "wax strong?" A skier skiing with unwaxed skis, what happens to him? The water and dirt and every other thing gets to him and he trips and falls. Waxing strong to him means building our testimonies up so much that nothing, no thing can permeate our happiness/tranquility. Not even the death of a loved one, a change of circumstance... He told me about his role as a mission president, about how he wants us to be truly successful people instead of "successful missionaries" by botched standards. He said there was a missionary who went home awhile back. In his final interview he told President that he'd been "one of the most successful missionaries you've ever had because I baptized 10000000people." A few weeks later, President discovered that this missionary had already fallen away from what was true and right. So, how successful was he REALLY, said President! He told me he wants to be sure that I'll continue in this path for the rest of eternity. That's his goal as my President. He let me know that I have an important role in the mission, and he has some challenging things in store for me, and that he's most happy to see my happiness... because he wants to assign me to help the new missionaries who are struggling to find joy in the journey! Haha we only have one new sister coming in this change, so I won't be training any newbies, but President told me that this is going to be a time for all of us to focus on bettering ourselves. Anyways, with president's devastating challenge, i've started worrrying a bit again for the safety of my family and friends all over the world. But I'm also trying to RE-apply what I've already learned. That is, "wax strong" - learn by the Spirit, build my testimony so nothing can permeate it. One of my favorite quotes in the mission is "you can't teach by the Spirit what you've never learned by the Spirit." I'm working on it, working on making it impermeable. I think I'm entering another great accellerated period of growth in my mission, kind of like at the beginning. BRING ON THE LAST 7 MONTHS. I love you all, and I like you too. 
Beeeeg Keeeees Leeeeeetle Keeeeees
Hermana LeSuarez