Monday, April 28, 2014

Gotta Love the Gila

Buenos Dias!

I'm glad you liked my cat and mouse stories. We laughed so hard and all the missionaries here were laughing too. Us hermanas (as our zone calls us because we're the only Spanish sisters here) tend to keep the zone laughing with our crazy stories and experiences. Somehow I think Spanish sisters do weirder things than English. Also both of us are very social and love to tell stories. :)

Haha I don't think thrifting is a big deal...except for the missionaries. Because we hate all our clothes and can't really afford new ones but we want them anyway.

Today we're going to make tortillas and then go on a hike with both the zones here in the valley! I'm excited...we were the ones who requested a hike. :)
This past Friday we had zone training (where President, his wife, and the APs come to visit us as a zone for like half a day) and it was awesome! Every missionary meeting always gets me pumped up all over again to be a missionary and apply new methods of teaching to help our investigators progress. After the meeting, Sister Killpack came with us to two lessons!!! We were super excited and a little nervous all at the same time. She told us we teach well together though, so that's good!
Last night we met with Ernesto, our ex-gangster who actually was one of the people we visited with Sister Killpack. We did a church tour and the Spirit was SO incredibly strong. He actually started tearing up and also accepted a baptismal date!!! We had 3 hermanos from the branch there too, which was awesome. Ernesto is super cool and has the most sincere desire I may have ever seen to find the truth. He's going to LOVE testimony meeting this coming Sunday, which will be his first time at church. Sometimes that makes us nervous, but with him we know it will be the perfect way for him to feel the Spirit and the "brothas and sistas in Jesus" that he's looking for. Plus he'll really like the culture of the Spanish branch (he does speak Spanish too) and how everyone is so accepting no matter what your background is.
This last Friday we also sang in a little ward talent show with a couple of the elders. We'd re-written some pieces of Disney songs into a medley and changed the lyrics to be about missionary life. We had the whole audience cracking up. It was awesome too because the elders cover 2 wards and they were saying they didn't know this ward as well, so it was a perfect way for members to see them and get to socialize a little bit. We just sang and then took off to go teach, but it was still fun.

We had stake conference this past weekend and it was INCREDIBLE. And not just because President Killpack and Sister Killpack spoke. All the speakers were awesome and our stake president is such a boss he just tells it how it is and it's funny and spiritual. One of my favorite messages was from a counselor in the stake presidency, and he talked about the direction we pitch our tents. Check out Genesis 13:12 and Mosiah 2:5-6. Where does Lot end up later on and where to the people of King Benjamin end up? Make sure your tent is pitched securely in the right direction - towards the temple and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Miss and love you all!

Hermana Blackford


Monday, April 21, 2014

Cats & Mice

Buenos dias!!
This week was a little loco crazy. Seems like it always is when you get a new companion. Plus...we had some unexpected experiences.
First of all, we're getting along really well! I miss Hna Sutherland, but no matter who came it just isn't fair because she was my best friend. Hna Lundquist is super funny and I can tell we'll get a lot done together.
Today we're going thrifting with Veronica, then swashbuckling (this time instead of going to the forest we're headed to the river), and then some volleyball. Pretty packed day if you ask me!
Oh boy do I have some interesting stories. Let's start on Friday night....
We were at the Medinas for dinner and then were headed to the church to practice music (yes, we sang again yesterday, but new songs). As I'm driving down the street where the Medinas live, a cat runs across the street out of nowhere! I scream and slam on the brakes, but I'm pretty sure we hit him still. My companion bursts out laughing because I screamed bloody murder and locked my arms straight as I slammed on the brakes. But I felt SO bad that I just started crying. She kept trying to tell me it probably lived since we didn't actually run over it, just hit it, plus it ran away. But I'm not that dumb so I know that poor cat is more than likely dead. Anyway, by the time we get to the church and the elders show up for practice I've stopped crying but was still feeling a little sad. We start rehearsing and Elder Tolman turns to me and asks, "What's wrong?" I blurted out "I ran over a cat!" and started crying front of 6 elders. Hna Lundquist told the story and at first all the elders laughed too, and then realized that I was legitimately crying and were like "Oh shoot!" Elder Tolman was awkwardly like, "Uh...Don't cry!" and Elder Nelson (the new ZL) was like "Stop crying before your mascara runs!!" and two of the elders just left the room haha. Thank goodness I only cried for a couple minutes before I was fine, but looking back it was pretty funny. About half the elders just felt bad for me, the others thought I was overreacting. Go figure.
The next story was our Easter surprise. I was making smoothies and Hna Lundquist was doing her makeup in the bathroom. I saw a mouse run across the floor into the kitchen and screamed because it scared me (I swear I screamed more this last week than I have my whole mission). She comes running out, thinking I had somehow stuck my hand in the blender (not sure why I would do that...) and asks what happened. I told her there was a mouse and she starts screaming, and yells (repeatedly) "Call the elders! Call the elders!" I was like "Get the mouse traps!" (funny enough we had found some in our closet the night before) and ask "Which elders!?" She says "I don't care! Just call the elders!!" and so I call our zone leaders (maybe this is why some elders hate sisters...haha). I'm sure they wondered why we were calling at 7 in the morning. Elder Nelson answers and this was our conversation:
Elder Nelson (sounding slightly confused): Hello this is Elder Nelson!
Me: Hi it's the sisters, how are you this morning?
Elder Nelson: Umm are you?
Me: Well...we could be better. We have a mouse in our apartment.
Elder Nelson: A mouse?
Me: Yeah! What do we do??
Elder Nelson: you have mouse traps?
Me: Yeah we already set them.
Elder Nelson: So...wait for the mouse to get stuck on the trap.
Hna Lundquist: But what if he doesn't get caught? What if he goes and poops in our shoes!?
Elder Nelson: Why don't you pick your shoes up...?
Us: Oh...that's a good idea.
Elder Nelson: Elder Preciado says you should get a cat.
Me: No! I'd just kill it anyway...
Elder Nelson (laughing): That's true. Hna Blackford would just kill it. On second thought don't get a cat.
Then he tells us that if we're really that concerned that we should scare the mouse out from under the oven so it gets trapped. Using our glue mouse trap, a board (to block the mouse in the kitchen), a chair, and a flashlight, we get the mouse to run out and he did get stuck! We used a spatula to flip the trap into a bucket and then threw him in the dumpster, where he probably baked to death in the hot Arizona sun. We called the elders to tell them we caught him, and they just laughed and congratulated us. And although they didn't exactly tell us anything we didn't already know, I think they found our little adventure amusing. Needless to say we were a little late starting personal study... :)
Well that's about all I have time for.
Love you all!
Hermana Blackford
Hermana Blackford lives in this duplex in Thatcher, AZ - right side

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1/3 is Gone!

Buenas tardes!!
I can NOT believe I hit my 6 month mark tomorrow. Ahh!!! Where did the time go? It freaks me out. Can't I just be a missionary for forever?
So here's the transfer queso: I have Hna Lundquist!! I talked to her on Facebook before the mission through the sister missionary FB group. She's from Tacoma, and we'll go home on the same flight! How crazy is that? We were also in the same zone for a couple transfers, so I already know I love her and we're going to have a great time, even though I am sad that Hna Sutherland is gone. She was transferred to South Zone!! Which is the puro espanol zona en la mision, so that's pretty sick. She was sad to leave but excited to head a la zona sur.
We had an AWESOME last week of this transfer. We got a lot of work done and had SO many miracles. On Saturday, we decided to walk because we had no appointments and had not found any new investigators all week. The zone leaders had recently told some cool stories of things that happened when they went walking, so we decided to give it a whirl. We walked for THREE HOURS. And the most incredible things happened. Like we found a less active who moved and wouldn't tell us where their new house was. We were walking to contact a referral, and saw them outside. Haha can't hide from us! Then we kept walking to go visit a potential investigator we have, and on the way there were these people unloading a truck that had a huge box thing in it and we offered to help. They totally didn't let us help, but we ended up talking to this lady whose husband is a member but hasn't been to church in years and probably his records aren't even here and she invited us to come back! But that's not all. We continue towards the house of the potential and she wasn't home. But, on the way walking  back down the street this lady comes to her front door and yells, "Sisters!" Turns out she had just moved and was looking for missionaries to come teach her son who is going to get baptized. I think we should walk more often...
Last night we had a lesson at the temple with the Medina family. Veronica, who was recently baptized, her husband, and their two little kids. We talked about eternal marriage and read parts from The Family: A Proclamation to the World. It was so incredible! The goal is to be back there with them in one year. I'm so grateful the temple is in our area, because nothing brings the spirit like being on the grounds of the temple and talking about eternal families.
Well...I sent so many pictures that I'm out of time! Love you!!
Hna Blackford
All the sisters in the zone

Hermana Blackford and Sutherland
Hermana Blackford at the Gila Valley Temple

Another at the Gila Valley Temple

Hermana Blackford - flowers at the temple

One more of Hermanas Blackford y Sutherland

Hermanas Sutherland y Blackford at the Gila Valley Temple

Being Goofy!

At the Gila Valley Temple

Getting ready for the zone picture

Zone picture

Monday, April 7, 2014

La Conferencia General!!

Wow so this week was weird. But AMAZING. So we didn't have as many lessons (combination of conference and just things fell through), but somehow we walked into 7 new investigators. Which is INSANE for here. Now hopefully this week we can set some baptismal dates and get people progressing!
That's cool that Braden's mission president was made a 70. Everyone always things their mission president should be an apostle or something :)
The observatory was pretty cool! We went around the Discovery Park grounds to and fed the ducks. They're so used to people they will eat right out of your hand!! I was totally scared to feed them because I thought it would hurt since they kinda bite your fingers when you do it, but then my zone was all "Do it Sister Blackford!" so I did. Turns out it didn't hurt at all. Today we're just doing zone sports with the other zone in the valley. So probably like ultimate Frisbee, chair soccer, and stuff like that. But for lunch I'm going to go practice making tortillas again!
Yes, transfers are next week, so I won't email until Tuesday. If Hna Sutherland leaves, I'm going to cry SO MUCH. Literally we should just be companions for the rest of our missions. Because it's the best.
Okay so here's a quick recap of a few of my favorite things from G-Con:
"You may wonder if it is worth it to take a moral stand...yes it is worth it!" - Elder Holland
The story from Ronald A. Rasband about Tori and the tornado and the stop sign!
The tree analogy from Elder Anderson
"Even if everyone is doing it, wrong will never be right." -Elder Nelson
W. Craig Zwick's entire talk. Communication = so important.
"How many times do we wait for the rainbow before thanking God for the rain?" - President Uchtdorf
Bishop Gary E. Stevenson's talk! Get to the checkpoints, but remember "The miracle of the atonement can make up for imperfections in our performance." :)
Elder Bednar - totally used a scripture chain that Hna Wright and I used ALL the time!! The "take my yoke upon you" with the people of Alma having their burdens lightened. I was like what!? Totally our lesson.
And of course, from President Monson: "Blame keeps wounds open; only forgiveness heals."
Now I have no idea which quotes are already memes on Facebook, but these were just a few of my favorites.
As far as themes go, definitely the importance of family. And family prayer, scripture study, and FHE. Also the importance of making and keeping covenants. And that the world is getting increasingly more windy and wicked, so it's time to fortify our personal testimony so we can be truly converted.
General Conference is like spiritual Thanksgiving, except we get to feast on the words whenever we want :)
Well...I am out of time. Love and miss you all!
Hermana Trocanegra
Hermana Sutherland & Hermana Blackford

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Week We Thought Would Be Rough But Wasn't

?Que rollo?
Well as the email title suggests, we had a week of miracles! We thought this week would be what we term "tank week" because we got off to a rough start...people cancelling, dropping us, no one home, etc. But it was not meant to be! (In fact it ended as one of the best weeks ever!) These are the two big miracles, which I shared with our mission president as well:
First, we had a prayer answered in a way we never had expected. We've been feeling quite overwhelmed and although our number of lessons is up, our list of "people not seen" seems to be growing as we've made an effort to meet every person in our directory and continue finding new investigators. We'd begun talking about doing some splits since member participation has increased, but weren't sure how we could get that to happen with frequency. About two days after this conversation, the zone leaders of the Gila Valley zone called us with a list of NINE of the YSA girls who are preparing to go on missions and asked us if we could try to have them come with us (to our appointments in English). They also gave us a schedule of their availability. Talk about an answer to a prayer! While we still plan on bringing our own branch members as often as possible, this has been and will be such a blessing as we try to visit more people every week. We've brought several of these future missionaries with us already and have had incredible experiences.
Our second miracle was with our investigator, Johnny. His wife is an active member and we've been meeting with him for a while, but progress is a little slow. Last night we brought another branch member and went to have a lesson on prayer with the object of having Johnny pray (which he had never done with us before) and inviting them to have family prayer daily. We had a wonderful lesson and the member we brought shared a powerful testimony of how she had been praying for their family and had thought a lot about them recently when we approached her and invited her to join us for that evening's lesson. At the end of the lesson, Johnny gave such a beautiful prayer that we were practically in tears, and they agreed to begin family prayer. This morning, we received a text from Johnny's wife expressing her gratitude as even she had never heard Johnny pray before. Both Hna Sutherland and I and the member who came with us were amazed by the Spirit we felt in their home and knew that this was an important moment for this family.
Say what!!!?? Totally awesome, right? And that's on top of the fact that our BAPTISM was on Saturday! It was SO good. Veronica shared her testimony after and was crying which was making everyone cry and the Spirit was so strong and her nonmember mom came and then the two of them came to the women's conference and Veronica is just doing awesome and so excited and her husband Jerry was ordained a priest yesterday and her little boy has BFFs in nursery already and the branch loves their family so much that people ASK US to come with us to visit them. In case you couldn't tell, I'm pretty excited.
Okay now that I got all that out, I can answer your preguntas.
1) Yes it is warm. 80s pretty often. So think August, but colder in the mornings.
2) We eat when we want to eat! Haha we don't have any specific times, just as long as it doesn't "interfere with prime proselyting time" which means we do what works for our schedule. We usually eat at 5 or 6 depending on appointments. We prefer 5 so we can be back out by 6 :)
3) Our investigator line up - like who are we teaching? I don't have time to say everyone, but my favorite guy right now is Ernesto, our ex-gangster! He's got the tear tattoo and everything, so he was pretty legit. He, and I quote, "converted to Jesus in 2003" and has met with elders before, but was totally up for meeting and is semi-open to our message. He is 99% right anyway, just needs to know the BoM is scripture and he'd be good to go. Haha he even said he believes it's possible that Joseph Smith was a prophet, he just has to pray about it. For any ex-misioneros reading this, we showed up and as he started talking he basically did our how to begin teaching for us. We were like "Why yes, that is our purpose and what we intend to teach you." Hahaha. And yes, of course our thug would be my favorite investigator.
4) Flat flat flat. ALLL the way to the mountains. It's a pretty big valley too.
5) To answer Grandma's questions, our p-day adventure for today will be going out to the observatory! They offered to give our zone a tour! Yay! Stars and stuff...yup.
6) Plans for the week - I'm excited for more splits with the future sister missionaries. It's like meeting myself from a year ago and probably what Sister Rea & Sister Baird felt like when they brought me out with them :) We also have G-Con, which is super exciting! Heck yeahhhhhhhhhhhh
Which reminds me read 2 Nephi 26:8 - listen to the prophets!
I'll send pictures of the baptism now.
Hermana Blackford
Veronica and Family and Hermanas

Veronica's Baptism