Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello hello!

What a semana this has been! I feel like by the time Mondays roll around so much has happened! But at the same time I'm like 6/7 sure that Monday was yesterday. The mission has the weirdest time warps.

Okay so here is the answer to your preguntas:

1) I am not cold, my companion is freezing. But I did pull out sweaters. It's chilly at night, nice during the day. It will get colder, but that's okay. I kinda like it. Also it rained for 2 days, which is super weird for here but made me feel at home.

2) We haven't seen Blanca yet, but hopefully we will catch her this week. No church, but we didn't have high expectations.
2) Presidente Estren = the branch president (remember I have an English ward and a Spanish branch?)
3) We live in like a back room. I'll take a little video this week and send it next week and give you the grand tour. We come in a back entrance, but it's connected to the rest of the house.
4) Like a million people invited us for Thanksgiving, but we are going to the Duke's house. I actually haven't really met them...but I've heard they're cool. We had two dinners and then they combined, thank goodness!

 5) This wasn't a question, but the answer to more of what I want you to send for Christmas:

-Nutella (again)
-Music!
-my orange sunglasses
-Walmart gift card (we live off $130 a month...it's rough)
-chocolate :)
-tape (like packaging tape, duct tape, and scotch tape)
-pens
-stamps

 Miracle numero uno from last week:

Last Monday after P-day was over we had a whole list of people we were going to try to see (but we had 0 appointments set). Literally every single person wasn't home. It was around 8:00, and we were wondering if we should just call it a day and go home to study. But both of us just felt like there was someone we needed to see. I didn't know of anyone else that lived close to where we were at, but Hna. Johnson was like "Oh let's see if Hna. Hernandez is home from work!" So we drove to her house. She wasn't home, but much to our surprise, her inactive daughter, Pamela, opened the door and told us to come in. Let me explain: she normally won't even answer the door to missionaries. Flabbergasted, we went inside and began chatting with her. It turns out she was feeling super sick from a toothache and was dealing with an infection before she could have surgery. We asked if she wanted a blessing, and she said yes! We called the ZLs (aka the Rio Rico elders - Elder Call and Elder Fairbanks) and asked them to come. While we waited for them, we asked if we could share a message and so we taught lesson one with cups. Which was way amazing. The elders got there, and before the blessing Elder Call told us the story that made this whole thing possible. As they were leaving their house after P-day, Elder Call saw his oil sitting on his desk, but left it there and was going to leave. He had an impression that he was going to need it that night, so he ran back to his desk to grab it. The Zls had the same problem as us this evening - no one was home - and were wondering where to go next when we called and asked if they had time to come give a blessing. Both our evenings had worked out perfectly to help this sister. Now whether or not this brings her back, we all know that the Lord was looking out for her, and she knows it too. Elder Fairbanks gave her one of the most beautiful blessings I've ever heard. Miracle!
Miracle number two happened on Saturday night. We had planned on going to a lesson with the ZLs that evening, and were meeting at 7 to go to the house. I had been feeling really sick all day, and it had gotten to the point where I asked Hna. Johnson to switch with me and drive because I couldn't. I haven't exactly been sleeping very well lately (shock right?) and I think my body was just starting to shut down from lack of REM cycles (just like senior year). Our investigator texted and said they needed to move the appointment to 8, so when the ZLs arrived I asked if in the mean time they would give me a blessing. We drove to the home where they live to ask they member if we could come inside for the blessing, and they were more than happy to let us in. Elder Call gave me a blessing that I would be able to continue doing missionary work and that sleep would come easier. He also gave me a Snickers bar and DayQuil and said that they would help too, haha. Anyway, so we went to the appointment after that, and then went home. By the time I got home, I felt 100% fine. I was starving from not eating much, but I felt fine. I slept better Saturday night than I had in over two weeks. I woke up Sunday morning feeling super hyper and was so grateful.

Guys, the power of the priesthood is so real. I am forever grateful to men that are worthy to hold and exercise the priesthood. We tell the elders after every blessing they give how grateful we are that they are worthy and willing to use their priesthood. Don't forget how blessed we are!

With Thanksgiving this week and Christmas just around the corner, take a little extra time to look around you and lift someone. We all have the responsibility to help bring others closer to Christ. This doesn't mean they have to get baptized, but it does mean we have to invite. A speaker in the MTC told us, "Once you invite, it's the Lord's battle." We are failures only if we don't invite. If someone declines an invitation of any kind, that doesn't mean we failed. It just means they aren't ready yet. But the only way to know who's ready is to invite everyone.
I love you all! Write me more letters!

Love,

Hermana Blackford

Monday, November 18, 2013

About the area and the work - plus pictures!


Pues...
Voy a empezar con las preguntas porque son mas faciles.
1) I haven't eaten anything super weird that I can think of...like I had pazole for the first time but that's just Mexican soup. Oh wait!! Yeah so Sister Bake is this crazy cool lady from Puerto Rico, and I had fried bread fruit and platanos! SO good. Especially the bread fruit. But other than that it's just Mexican food and regular white people food.
2) The schedule is fine. Getting up at 6:25 isn't that early. I go to bed like right at 10:30, but Hna. Johnson is usually completely out by 9:45. So I clean, write in my journal, occasionally write letters, and as of late, have been doing some mending for our elders once she goes to bed.
3) I'm boss at Spanish and never make mistakes. Just kidding I do all the time. I haven't said anything too bad, except one time this kid told me to say something and then lied to me about what it meant. Turns out it was a bad word. Ooops. Well now I know.
4) Members here feed us all the time! The sisters always have dinner, the elders have a few days a month they don't have people signed up though. So usually we will ask who we're eating with if they can feed 2 or 4 elders as well. But as sisters, we also get lunch fed to us a lot. Shh don't tell the elders! They never get that.
5) So my area = Tubac, Tumacori, and that side of the freeway in Rio Rico down to San Xaiver. South of that and the other side of the freeway in Rio Rico is the ZLs area.
6) The picture looks sorta like our house...so I think it is. It looks a little different now though...
Renee's questions!
1) Highlight of the week was exchanges! I went up to Los Reales (south Tucson) with the sister training leader, Hna, U. She and I became like insta-bestfriends. We have a lot in common. Too bad she dies in 3 weeks. We just had awesome conversations and although like all our appointments fell through, we had a productive day. My face hurt from smiling afterwards haha.
2) Goals my companion and I have...well we're always trying to get more members to come out with us. It's hard for us. But it's getting better. We also try to speak more Spanish amongst ourselves, but it like never happens. Except I text the Zls in Spanish a lot.
3) Our less active work is moving, but of course slowly. We have a couple LAs who will let us visit but won't come to church, so the most important thing to do is to find out what's holding them back. Every single one of them says they know the Church is true, so now we have to push beyond all the lame excuses.
That reminds me of a cool story!! Miracle time. So we went down to the far south end of our area to see if we could find a less active and a former investigator who live on the same street. Turns out neither of them were home, so then we were like "Okay who else lives down in this area?" because we are already over our mile limit and we have a week left. And then Hna. Johnson was like "Oh well this one Hna. named Blanca that Presidente Estren told us to visit lives around here I think!" So we whipped out our map, found her house, and drove there. We knocked, but no answer. Just when we were about to leave, she pulls in! She works for animal control (and has awesome stories) and was still on duty, but had brought home a little bird that they were going to release because she wanted to keep it instead. Blanca let us in and we chatted with her while she got the little guy all situated in a cage. She is my favorite. She was straight up. She asked us why we came, told us her situation and that she knows she needs to come to church, and said "You can teach me whatever. I know all the answers, it's just a matter of doing something about it." And it's true. She really does know the gospel super well, and even said that the timing of her coming home and our visit was a sign. I guess some elders had stopped by a couple transfers ago at a miraculous time as well. But when all was said and done, unlike in times past, she said it would be fine if we visit and gave us her number, both cell phone and work (so we can call her when crazy dogs chase us). It was seriously a miracle. Perfect timing, and Hna. Johnson and I were the perfect missionaries to go, because we could just laugh and chat with her as a friend in a way that elders wouldn't have been able to. The Lord knows what He's doing!
Let's see...que mas. Speaking only in English or only in Spanish is really hard right now. It's weird how often we switch and some words are just always better in the other language. We are pro Spanglish speakers here in Nogie.
Ooh! I'll attach photos of our kids! I love love love them. I think I talked about them last week - Dominic, Stoney, and Judy? They are 10, 14 and 17 and all three came to church yesterday! It's super fun to teach kids, because they are so open and honest. Stoney isn't as on board as his sisters, so we asked the ZLs to come with us to an appointment with them and help him be more excited. He loves the elders (of course) so that helped a lot. You know, just to see that Mormons are cool people too.
Que mas (not too be confused with quemas)....no se. Well that's all I got right now. What day does Braden come home again?
Love and miss y'all!

Hermana Blackford
 
Art work...not sure for what...


Dominic (10) Stoney (14) Judy (17) - investigators


Hermana Blackford and Hermana U


The MTC District
 
 
Sunset the first night in Tucson
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Country Life in the Desert


Hola hola!
 
So familia y amigos, before I tell all my stories here's the scoop. La Hermana Johnson and I are in desperate need of your help. We need new music! So my mission allows Disney music....WHAT!? Best thing I learned. Madre, if you/Keagan would burn copies of my Tangled CD and also my EFY one (it's in a DVD case in the stack in my room) and send them like...today...I would be so grateful. Then get a ton of Disney music, make like 50 mix CDs, and send them to us! Por favor! We live out in the middle of nowhere and spend a lot of time driving, so we need some new uplifting music.
 
 To answer all the questions:
 
1) Yes all mail goes to the mission office. Always and forever!
 
2) I don't know my house number, but I live on Cielito in Tubac, the last house on the street.
 
3) We actually don't see the members that often, we are in a side part of the house and use our own back entrance. But we do chat with them a couple times a week! I love them. Sis. Allen is super awesome and does so much more for us than we need. She lets us use her washer/dryer, buys stuff to fix up our room, etc. Last week she cleaned our room/bathroom entirely for us, and was like "It was really fun!"
 
4) Yeah we have both Nogales ward (English) and the Valle Verde branch (Spanish). They cover the same geographical area. We have 1/4 of that area, since there are also 3 sets of elders. We teach whoever lives in our area, regardless of whether they attend the ward or branch. Does that make sense? Kinda hard to explain...
 
5) The work here is building...slowly. Last week was a rough week for the whole mission, and our district (minus us actually) had a super hard time. We did great...sorta. 15 lessons, which is awesome for this area! But we can always do more. The poor ZLs got told to never come back by a couple of their investigators, one of which was super solid. It's a struggle here. But we have our kids with baptismal dates of the 30th! I say kids because they are 10 and 14, girl (Dominique and Stoney) and boy. We love them! They came to church again on Sunday, and the elders reached out to Stoney and we're going to bring the ZLs (they're the other Rio Rico missionaries) with us to meet with the kids and their dad (parents are split, mom lives in our area and dad lives in theirs, so it will be a joint teaching effort with the dad, who drove the kids to church and said we could come visit him and the kids this weekend!).
 
A solid 50% or more of what we do is work with inactives. There are like 150 inactive FAMILIES in the branch, and a bunch in the ward. We can't bring new converts to a place where the members aren't strong, so right now we teach tons of inactives and are working on training/strengthening members.
 
6) (This was April's question) The most awkward moment of the week was when we went to visit a less active family. The husband had been super friendly and so we set up an appointment, but when we went he was sick so we just taught the wife and the grown daughter who was there visiting. Talk about awkward! They clearly did not want us there and converstation was super forced. I was supposed to give a spiritual thought or mini lesson, but the Spirit just wasn't there so we had to make it brief. Hopefully next time it goes better....
 
Story time! So P-day was yesterday, but because of the holiday we couldn't email until today. But we went on like a 10 mile hike through the desert to a lake. We expected this to be like a much shorter thing...like and hour and a half or so...but no. We were gone 3 hours and went all the way to this lake - not what we planned! It was insane. So fun. We were climbing these rocky mountains and it was super hot (like 85) and we did not have enough water, but that's okay! It was so ridiculously fun. I'll attach some pics. I'm a little sore today though...but it was worth it! It was us, the 6 elders from our district, and 5 young men from the branch. I learned all sorts of Spanish slang...and some things I won't repeat. Haha at least now I know what people are saying!
 
Hermana Johnson and I get along so well. We're boss companions, so I hope she gets to stay with me the whole 12 weeks! We just work well together in teaching, and we like to be silly and have fun sometimes too, especially like on p-day with our elders.
 
Out of time, but love you and miss you! Please send music ASAP....I'm dying here. Haha. And keep asking questions! So helpful :)
 
 Love,
 Hermana Blackford
 
Hermana Blackford hiking in the Arizona desert
 
 
Hermanas Blackford y Johnson 

They hiked to this lake....name?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's Been One Week (plus pictures)

Hello hello!
 
So hopefully Keagan laughs when she reads the title of this email. That was just for her.
 
Let me start out by saying, I'm FREE! As much as I loved the MTC, it was seriously prison. Way too many rules and restrictions. Here I can breathe. The field is 5465161645641x better.
 
I may have only been here a week, but I seriously already love it so much. To answer your questions, this is how my area works. Hermana Johnson, along with 3 sets of elders cover the Valle Verde Rama as well as the Nogales Ward. The area is just divided into 4 sections, and we each are assigned a piece. Which means we are all Spanish speaking missionaries but we teach in both English and Spanish. Rio Rico is pretty desert-y, but the mountains are pretty awesome. And since we are in Nogales like almost every day I see Mexico all the time. It's pretty freakin' awesome. It cools down here at night, but it's still like upper 70s during the day.
 
Time to introduce you to my new family! We see them pretty much every day. It's the best.
 
-The DL is Elder Presciado, the only Mexican in our district. He is seriously one of the sweetest people ever. He always checks in to make sure I'm doing okay, because I'm the only greenie (though there are 2 elders new to the area).
 
-His comp. is Elder Anderson, who is a fellow Pacific Islander (except he's from Hawaii, but he's white). He's super awesome too!

-Then there's the ZLs! First is Elder Call, who goes home in April. He's so funny, and definitely is not what I had originally expected from a ZL. Let's just say that he works super hard but is all about having fun.
 
-Other ZL is Elder Fairbanks, and he's so cool! He's from Mesa (had to stay in state for health reasons) and says hilarious side comments but you have to listen or you might miss it.
 
-Elder Whitman is way cool! Super tall, he's been out for a year. I'm not sure that words can describe him, but he's one of my favorites.
 
-His comp. is Elder Harper, who is way too quiet but is becoming increasingly more talkative.
 
And that's my family!! I love them SO much. The elders must have thought that I was hardcore Molly Mormon because every time we talk about like music or sports or whatever they're like "What!? Really? No way!" I gained some respect to say the least. Which is good because Elder Call usually is not a fan of sister missionaries, but he likes Hermana Johnson so I hope to keep that tradition going and that he likes me too! But yeah my whole district is super tight, and they are totally all over giving advice and Spanish vocab, some of which I probably don't even need to know. Like the verb entamalar (or something like that) means like to put someone in a bag and stab them to death. Thanks Elder Call, definitely needed to know that one.
 
Hermana Johnson has been here for one transfer, and before that the sister missionaries were teaching 0 investigators and visiting 0 less actives. "What were they doing?" you ask? Offroading with our little car out in the desert and causing thousands of dollars of damage to the car. Yup, I'm not joking. Hermana Johnson worked hard to get stuff built up las transfer, but we have a lot of work to do and we are ready to work ourselves to death to re-establish the reputation of the sisters in this area (no wonder Elder Call hates sisters, right?).
 
Everyone asks me what the hardest thing about being in the field is, but honestly the MTC was harder than this haha. I can handle this. It's more fun than I expected though! I guess I sorta forgot that missionaries are people too. We have so much fun as a district and work hard too! Great unity.
 
Well let's see...pretty much yeah for the most part this is kinda what I expected. We do lots of service trying to get the members to trust us. Bishop moved on Saturday and we helped out there for hours. And we have a lot of service lined up for this week.
 
Oh so sad! So you know how I'm like on the border and see Mexico all the time? Yeah they won't let you touch the fence. One day, I will touch it. Border patrol might shoot me or something though.
 
Hmm...now I understand why Braden always wanted us to send questions. Because you get here and 10 million things have happened so you aren't sure what to even talk about. So people should email me questions! Haha.

Lots of love,

Hermana Blackford

 

Hermana Blackford with Sister and President Killpack
 
 
New Batch of Missionaries at the Mormon Battalion Monument
 
 
Hermana Blackford and Hermana Johnson