Monday, March 24, 2014

I Only Hablo Espainglish

Buenos Dias!
Wow I can't believe it's already Monday again and I'm sitting here emailing....the weeks go by way too fast.

Alright I'll just start with questions:

Our branch is small, but awesome. We rely on the English speakers that are called to be in the branch still, because we don't have enough active members to do it on our own. The members are AWESOME though. We get fed every day, receive referrals on a regular basis, and have so many opportunities to serve. Love the branch :)

Well we're the only missionaries in our branch, so we don't work with other missionaries, but we see our zone (it's super small) multiple times a week, so I can give you a quick low-down.

Elder Preciado - he's a ZL, and he was my DL in Nogales my first transfer! So I already knowed him! Super hilarious Mexican. 'Nough said.

Elder Eliason - the other ZL, also ridiculously funny, he dies this transfer I think

Elder Evans - My DL, and he's awesome. He's really good with quotes, which you know how much I love quoting movies and such :)

Elder Houston - Elder Evans nearly silent companion. But if you catch him in a talkative mood he's super cool. He's tall. And I have his bike right now. So...yeah I can't touch the ground.

Sisters Allred & Pearson - they're the English bike sisters, and the 3rd companionship of our district. They're really sweet, but tend to keep to themselves so I don't really know them.

Elder Nichol (DL of other district) and Siglin - these two crack me up. A bit nerdy, but hey it makes it funny. They had the idea last week to play lava tag on p-day. Which I hadn't played since I was like 10. Hahaha it was fun

Elder Tolman - aka the musical genius. Wrote the medley and harmony parts for Hna Sutherland and me in like 2 days. He's super funny and fun to be sarcastic with

Elder Collins - Elder Tolman's comp, who I also don't know super well because I haven't had a successful full conversation with yeah

Sisters Weaver & Reeves - the sisters of the other district, are SO cute and SO sweet, but again tend to keep to themselves more, so I don't know them super well, but hopefully I can get to know them better.

And that's my zone! My new cousins pretty much. Everyone is super funny so we're always laughing and we see each other pretty regularly because we volunteer at the food bank twice a week together. It's a small zone, and I like it :)

Oh my gosh I use like 2x more Spanish here than in Rio Rico! That's because we work purely with the Spanish branch. My Spanish is a lot better than when I got here...haha I can finally speak pretty fluently. I also have the wonderful opportunity to be a translator in Relief Society for the English sisters in our branch. Lots of practice! Truth is sometimes my English gets messed up...or every day I have at least one  moment where English doesn't work.

Cool story...let's see. Oh! So we had zone conference on Tuesday, and the theme was repentance. Basically in one of the trainings I had this a-ha! moment where I finally realized how to be BFFs with Jesus Christ. It's SO simple. Keep the commandments! See John 14:15 and John 15:14 and you'll understand.

Frustrating story...yeah. We rewrote the cups song last night to do it as a the cups Restoration lesson (get it...cups!) and I can NOT, for the life of me, sing, build the tower, and keep the beat steady. Most frustrating thing all week. I'll just keep practicing I guess.

Other than that the most exciting thing is that Veronica is getting baptized on Saturday! Yay!! I'm so excited. We also realized last night that she's our born in '94, just like us. And has 2 kids. I was like "Woah that could be me!" Thank goodness I'm a missionary.

It's good to hear that people actually read this email and the blog...sometimes I wonder if I'm typing all this just for Mom. Which I would do anyway, but it's cool that people think my life is interesting!
Love you all!

Hermana Blackford



Monday, March 17, 2014

Ooops time for a big email today. I had some other important ones to send...sorry. But here's what little I have:
1) I've been out 5 months! What? How did that happen?
2) Hna Sutherland is amazing.
3) Veronica is still progressing AND already knows everything to pass her baptismal interview.
4) The dam was cool!! I'll send some pictures.
5) We had a week of miracles. So many little things happened to make it awesome. We have some solid new and potential investigators, and the members here are just the best with helping us help them.
6) Our musical number for zone conference tomorrow is gonna be sick. Did I tell you? Elder Tolman WROTE an arrangement of Abide With Me 'Tis Eventide and Be Still My Soul in like 2 days including harmony parts and my comp and I are singing a duet.
Umm let's see...Oh! I live in an apartment on the highway, and the landscape is different because here it is flat and there is even less vegetation...turns out everyone was right when they said Rio Rico is like the prettiest part of our mission.
Attaching pictures now! Love you all!
 Hermana Blackford on a hike to a dam


Hermana Sutherland and Blackford

Zone picture

Hermana Blackford at the dam

Hermana Sutherland and Blackford - waterfall by the dam

Hermana Blackford and Wright with Ma, Julia and Rio Rico Elders

 Zone hike to the dam

Monday, March 10, 2014

One Week in the Gila

Buenos Dias!!

Alright check this. My new comp, Hna Sutherland, is me. Like pretty sure we're the same person. You know what that means? Life is insane! We've got a lot of energy, work super hard, and say and do ridiculous random things. To say I love her is an understatement. She's from Idaho, was at BYU Provo (actually same time as me), is exactly 1 month older than me, speaks a lot of Spanish, and basically is my new bestie. La neta.

I live in Thatcher! Off the main highway somewhere. Kinda funny because technically we live outside our zone, because there are 2 zones in the valley but the Spanish branch covers both so...weird. Normally you need permission to leave your zone, but not us! We're special :)

I think here it's like 50% or so yeah a lot. Talk about being under the microscope!

Yeah we meet in Central, across from the temple

Active members in the branch? Somewhere in the 60s. We have more than 1/2 the members that are inactive.

Farmland...yeah around the outskirts, but the cities have lots of houses.

Heck yes we have a car! Shoot our area is way we could work without it. We have a jeep :)

Miracle of the week: Veronica! She's the wife of a less-active guy and we met her Thursday, set a date Friday, and the whole family (they have two little ones) came Sunday! She's hopefully going to be baptized by her husband on the 29th! They're both preparing, and it's so exciting! Literally she is the definition of a golden investigator. She even told people yesterday that she's "converting to Mormonism" during Relief Society. Haha so great.

Gila Valley is taking off right now! Hna Sutherland and I were ridiculously close to SOEs (gonna hit it this week!) and are both greenies so we're kinda freaking out excited. We are like Energizer Bunnies! Haha we never stop. Even when it's like after planning at night we're still hyper and talking and running around. Needless to say I am exhausted! But in a good way. We have fun, get tons done, and are super tight already. It's cool to be with someone who's my age in the mission - she left 2 weeks after me - because we learn together and grow together because we're kinda at the same place. And it's freaky how she is me from 6 weeks ago when I got my 2nd companion. Like her experiences have almost mirrored mine, so we get along swimmingly.

Spiritual thought of the week: Read the sections in PMG from Chapter One about the Spirit. It will change your life!

Anyway, I gotta go because we're going to hike by some dam today.

Miss you all and love you!

Hermana Blackford



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Gila Valley!


So I did get the Gila Valley! I'm in the Spanish branch over here which covers the whole valley. Like Thatcher, Pima, Safford, everything. Haha not a lot of Spanish speakers around here. Anyway, I am here with Hermana Sutherland - who came out a transfer after me. Yessiree I am now a senior comp! Woot woot! Not that it means anything, but it's weird to think that technically I have more experience. I still feel pretty clueless though.

I was super sad to leave Rio Rico. The thing I will miss the most is definitely the people. Some of the members and investigators there will always have a special place in my heart. And I also would have LOVED to stay another transfer with my companion, Hermana Wright. We had a couple ups and downs, but by the last week of the transfer we were super tight and didn't want to be split up. Haha she cracks me up and we have some of the funniest and weirdest conversations. What I will miss least...hmm. I think I'll miss pretty much everything, but I am really excited to be somewhere new and learn new things.

Well I should probably tell a couple super cool spiritual experiences. The first one comes from a week ago. I was on exchanges with Hna Grove (she came to Rio Rico) and we went to teach our investigator Laura. We'd planned on teaching lesson three, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but when we got there I had this overwhelming feeling that wasn't what we should teach. As we chatted, I just kept praying to know what we needed to teach her, and this scripture chain about lifting burdens came to my mind. We'd shared it with other people recently, so at first I was like "No that's not it, you just think that because you shared it with someone else." But nothing else came to mind, so when Laura stepped out of the room for a second, I told Hna Grove we needed to share this instead and she was like "Okay!" and so we did. When we finished talking about sharing our burdens with Christ and how we do that, Laura was laughing and said, "That's so crazy that you came here and shared this with me, because it answers this question that I've had all day!" I told her how we hadn't originally planned it and we were able to bear testimony about how God is aware of her personally and that we really are sent by Him to help her. It was a super powerful experience for me about the importance of listening to the Spirit and following through on the promptings we receive!

I had another little "aha!" moment this week. We were in a lesson with the elders when one of them started talking about how one of the most important things to keep us spiritually strong is to have sincere, meaningful prayers. He explained how when his prayers stopped being as sincere, his spiritual progression would tank. I realized how true that is and how important it is to remember that we are talking to our FATHER. We need to think and mean our prayers. Simply saying them isn't enough. 

Out of time this week - miss and love you!

Hermana Blackford