Monday, December 30, 2013

Feliz Ano Nuevo!!

Buenos dias!!!

This week was so weird...both good and bad. I was SO excited to Skype home and talk to you guys of course, but the bad side of the holidays is that no one is home and so there isn't exactly a ton of work to do...which was frustrating when Thursday and Friday we were so stoked to work and like no one was home and stuff fell through.

Anyway...the Christmas conference with the whole mission on the 24th was super fun! Like I told you when I Skyped we were kinda late because the Rio Rico elders ran out of gas and we had to go get them some...but still it was awesome! We had tamales with a member and then went to the Tumacacori Mission to see the light-thingys. Also Midnight Mass! That was...interesting. I was super tired after that. And it built my testimony of La Iglesia de Jesucristo de Los Santos de Los Ultimos Dias ;)

Christmas we had breakfast with all 8 of us missionaries at a members, we Skyped, and then Hna Johnson and I were writing letters and resting in our room while the other elders (Elder Call and Elder Roney were with us at the Allens for Christmas) Skyped their families. We went and said hi to their families too! Elder Roney is 1 of 12 kids, so there was just like....people EVERYWHERE haha. Elder Call's family was super nice and his mom asked us questions and then they wanted us to tell them some of the funny stories we have about Elder Call. Haha :) Then we had dinner with the Allens (yay for ham!) and that night we had a district meeting with all 8 of us.

Cool mini-miracle for the week...yesterday morning we were getting ready to leave for church and Hna. Johnson said, "Hey I'm going to bring your loaf of bread with us just in case the elders forget to bring lunch," because we had district Spanish study after church. I was like "Okay" and so we did. As we were greeting people coming into church, I overheard some brethren talking and said they didn't have enough bread for the sacrament. I turned to them and said, "Oh, well we have a whole loaf of bread in the car! You can have it!" And I ran to the car and got it for them. They were a little confused and said, "Sisters....why do you have bread in your car?" And I was like "Honestly I don't know, we just brought it today in case we needed it for lunch, but we don't normally have it with us." It was such a little thing, but it made it so no one had to run home to get bread. They were super grateful, and we just smiled because as missionaries, little blessings like that happen all the time, and they are so cool :)

Saturday I went on an exchange up in Tucson (the Sahuaro branch), and it was way awesome! The sister I was with is super bold and I learned a lot from her. She's ridiculously nice too. I like exchanges to learn new ways to teach and stuff, but it does disrupt the flow of the week a little. I guess I better get used to it though, because there's a chance that next transfer my comp will be sister training leader too...

I'd give you an update on investigators...but we barely saw any this week. We have one that texted us this morning though and wants to meet with the bishop!

I have not seen any snakes except one little dead one...just a little garter snake though.

Love and miss everyone! Happy New Year!!!

Hermana Blackford

Monday, December 23, 2013

Feliz Navidad!!

Hey everyone!!
 
It's gonna be a short email today because of Skype and because I have the attention span of a goldfish today.

 But I have EXCITING news!! So did I tell you how our district is like super pumped up this transfer?? Well it's showing! In about a week and a half we (the district) found like 30 new investigators (normally we find like...10) and we had SEVEN investigators and church yesterday (compared to the normal "we're lucky to have one")!!! The Rio Rico elders hit standards, and Hna Johnson and I were 3 member present lessons short of standards. Just so you know, THAT NEVER HAPPENS! Nogie is tearing it up right now!!! The whole district is doing so boss. Hna Johnson had to call President this morning because she's sister training leader, and even he said he's seen the numbers and is impressed! We're known for being one of the slowest areas in the mission, but right now we're blowing the zone out of the water! There's a lot of energy and the Lord is blessing us for working hard and focusing on our goals we set in district meeting. This was the coolest week! We set a record for our area - as far as we can tell there haven't been that many lessons for at least 6 months, but probably more! Blessings blessings blessings!!

 We went to find this less active guy that the Elder's Quorum president asked us to, and when we got there he was like "How did you find me!?!? You're like the CIA!!" Apparently missionaries track him down wherever he moves too. Sad day though, because he doesn't want anything to do with the Church.
 
Miss you and love you all!!! Can't wait to Skype on Christmas :)

Love,

 Hermana Blackford

Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Almost Christmas!

Hola everyone!!

This week was another busy week...we did 11 hours of service! Two families in the ward were moving, so it kept us busy.
Sister Baird is leaving!? That's so sad, though it will be good for her. It's hard to stay in an area for too long. Change keeps us missionaries focused and working hard :)

Okay so questions...
1) LOVE the new elders. Elder Roney is the new Rio Rico elder, and he's super cool and so funny. Elder Westra is in South Nogie and he's a ginger and says the funniest things. So random. And he makes fun of himself for being a ginger. And Elder Graham is in North Nogie, and he's cool too.

2) Holidays are definitely easier to connect with people. Everyone feels a little nicer and is more open, and even people who are already religious are more willing to talk to us.
3) We attend both the English and the Spanish branch, but it's 9-1:30 because they have Sunday School and Relief Society at the same time.

4) Wildlife...like animals? We see coyotes and javelinas a lot. We saw javelinas once while we were walking and it was super scary because they can be really aggressive. I see lizards on our window too. And a black widow took a shower with me once....
We had our ward Christmas party on Saturday! It was combined ward and branch and they had a cute little program and then food. We had some less actives and nonmembers come, so that was awesome!!

Today I turned 2!!! Yay!! I am so young it's weird...but that's okay. I learn so much every week.
I'm learning a lot about how directly obedience influences our blessings. Especially as missionaries, we have to be as obedient as possible. The big rules aren't too hard, but it's so hard to be good with all the little ones. Poco a poco though...if we want our investigators to progress we have to be obedient. The same goes for everyone though...if you want blessings you have to be exactly obedient.

Sorry this is short but I'm drawing a blank on stories this week....

Love and miss you!

Hermana Blackford

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Transfer Week!

Buenos Dias!!!

So yes Mom, it was transfer week. Hence P-day is Tuesday. Before I answer questions and talk about my week, let me give you the low-down on what has happen here in good ol' Nogie:

Hermana Johnson and I are staying together, and she's also the new sister training leader!

The ZLs (Elders Call and Fairbanks) are no longer a ZL area (they moved the ZL area to Tucson)! Fairbanks left to be ZL in another zone and Call stepped down, but stayed in Rio Rico (heck yeah!). Elder Call is now the district leader (we have decided to call him Ex-Zone-Leader-District-Leader-Senior-Companion-Elder Call) with an Elder Roney who I met around 45 min ago when we arrived at the lab to email.

Elder Preciado (who was the DL) left, and we have some new elder who I have not yet met.
Elder Whitman left. I want to cry. We LOVE him so much, it is way sad. Things will not be the same without him. And he didn't even stay in the zone. Luckily we'll see him in two weeks at the Christmas conference. Elder Harper stayed and has a companion who I also have not met.

1) Box knocking is like if you were going to a house, and then you knocked all the houses around it (like boxed it in). It's a way to do a little tracting when you are limited on time.
2) I don't have my cord with me today...but I can send some next week. Also, did you get the picture from Sis. Bake on Dad's phone (we texted it) and an email from Sis. Astrain last night? We made cookies with the Bakes and learned how to make emapanadas with the Astrains.

3) We have a mini fridge. Though basically all we eat at home is breakfast. As of late members have been feeding us at lunch and 2-3 days we end up going out to lunch because we're gone, so we'll meet up with the elders.
4) Referrals are most definitely encouraged!!! Holy crap yes we need them. No one has any. That's the issue...not that we don't want them. We hate that we don't get any. We've gotten 2 since I got her...because we got one more last night. Haha

5) Worst thing: Elder Whitman left

Best thing: I got to bake Christmas cookies and help a less-active decorate her tree. It finally starts to feel like Navidad.
So I sorta had a lot of other people to email this week so not lots of time, but let me think of a couple quick stories.

Oh! We've been working with this less-active, and last week when we showed up, she was like "This week I want to give you guys a spiritual thought!" We were like sweet! And she reads a couple little thoughts she read online about forgiveness and how it frees yourself. The reason she had become less-active was due to offense she had taken from some things members had done. We were astounded as she shared how she had realized that she needed to forgive and that it was holding her down. She had even talked to the bishop about it! We didn't even know what to say. We are so excited for her. She has been pretty active for a couple months, and now has some amazing visiting teachers and is making friends in the ward. And her whole demeanor has changed. She looks healthier, and has a bit of a glow. It's amazing.
Another cool thing is so a week before every transfer is over, we have "The Day." Everyone in the entire mission goes on exchanges and there is a focus for "The Day." I went up to Los Reales in south Tucson (actually where I went last time) but this time with Sister Hale. The focus was on finding. And we had an AMAZING day. We found 6 new investigators, and 4 of them accepted a baptismal date. At least 3 of the news were solid, so that's cool. Plus Sister Hale is a boss missionary, so it was just a great "The Day."

Mom, I LOVED hearing about you reaching out to that sister in our ward. That is one of the most important things a member can do, is reach out to other members, especially those who are struggling. Way to be!!!
Miss you and love you all!

Hermana Blackford

P.S. I was talking about the movie Hot Rod with our ZLs like a week ago, and when they sent out a zone text it ended with a "and don't let your dads eat pie!" I laughed because Braden would say that at the end of his emails. Then Elder Call told me he put it on the text just for me, and I laughed harder. Sister Johnson and I are accepted as elders these days. We're excluded from all the negative sister generalizations made by elders. Win!

 
Making empanadas
 
Finished empanadas!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Report

Familia!!!

So weird to think that Braden is home. It actually made me a little sad last Wednesday. I guess I mostly just felt left out. But I happened to get the package and two letters that day, so my sadness was rather short-lived. Haha typical me.
Thanksgiving was good! We had American Thanksgiving with everyone at the Dukes in the afternoon, followed by second Dia de Pavo with a family in the branch. The seasoning was very Mexican, so it was super funny, but delicious. I ate a little turkey and a little stuffing, just to be polite. But I mostly just like mashed potatoes. And I am quickly learning that you always under-eat at every meal. Because it is a guarantee they will do one of two things:
1) Pull out another dish or dessert

2) Be offended if you don't have seconds.

If I don't want to weigh 1000 lbs, I have to eat super small portions. And the rare times we get fruits and rarer times we get veggies, I load up on those. Haha.

I am so jealous that I won't get to see Matt!!! Plus someone should yell at him. He has not emailed me once!
So to answer Grandma's questions:

1) The number of referrals we've received since I got here? 0. ZERO. ZILCH. NADA. It's the worst. We don't go tracting very often (never since I've been here) because our area is spread out. The best way for us to find right now is through former investigators and box-knocking.
2) I forgot to take pictures of the apartment...dang. It's one room. Well it's one room with a mini kitchen (as in a mini fridge and a microwave and a sink), a bathroom, and a walk in closet. And that's it. We don't need anything else though.
3) Laundry - we are lucky! The Allens' are super nice and let us use their washer and dryer, so we just go into the main part of the house and do laundry. They love it when we come in to the house and chat with them actually. So it's really cool.
4) We live in Tubac, which is no where. So it's like 30 or 25 minutes to Nogie. Which is fine, because technically that's not our area. But even Rio Rico is a bit of a drive, which sucks because we keep going over our mile limit. But we can't do work if we don't drive so...
5) We do 0 cooking because we don't have a real kitchen. The members feed us dinner every day, so it's not a problem. Yesterday was the first time we didn't have dinner, so all 8 of us missionaries brought whatever we had to the church and made food there.
6) Mexican food here is just real Mexican food. Like it's what you would typically think of, but it doesn't taste the same as a restaurant. Plus restaurants have WAY more variety than what we get here.

This week was weird. With the holidays, everyone is either with family or in Mexico, so Thursday - Saturday honestly were more like P-days.

Tuesday and Wednesday we worked like bosses and got 8 lessons in 2 days! That's insane for us. We're studs.
Thursday started off with the Branch softball game (I'll send pics). It's their tradition here. It was fun to spend time with them. Then we had a little down time and we changed and stuff for dinner numero uno. We were there from like 1:30 to almost 4:00, then we went home for naps (or in my case, to sew the hole in Elder Call's favorite sweater...He had called the night before at like10:00 freaking out about it. It was hilarious.) Then we went to our Mexican Thanksgiving, and were there from like 6-8. Then, we had to go to the church to practice music.
Friday we had been invited to go on a hike (will also send a pic) with a family in the ward, and supposedly their non-member friends were coming. But there was only members there so...yeah. Fail. But we literally had nothing to do because of dumb Black Friday, so we went and had a blast. Our district is so close. And we wished we had work, but since we didn't it was super fun to "hang out" (mas o menos). Then we had to go to the funeral for this lady in the branch. That's what the music practice was for...on Wednesday the branch president asked us to do a musical number. Elder Whitman has a beautiful voice so he and I did a duet - acapella "How Great Thou Art" in Spanish. It turned out well. Then Friday night we went home for weekly planning.

Saturday we helped our ward mission leader paint in his new house. Which was good! Except we sorta had a paint fight and then had to shower. And Elder Call learned that putting paint in a girl's hair is a bad idea. I am still peeling paint out of my hair today. It was super fun though. And we actually did get a lot of painting done.
Oh and yesterday my companion got hit by a door and it kinda split her heel open a little. Luckily there is a nurse practitioner in the ward and so we went to see him and he cleaned it and glued her back together.
 
That's all I can think of this este momento. So I'm going to send lots of pictures now. Love y'all!

-Hermana Blackford
 
 
Branch Thanksgiving softball game
 

Hermana Blackford y Johnson at the softball game
 
 
District hike to a cave with a few members
 
Mexico border in Nogales


Traditional Jumping picture in District in Rio Rico/Nogales


District in standing pose
Harper, Fairbanks, Blackford, Johnson, Call, Whitman, Preciado, Anderson