Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week #6 - Me voy a Florida!


First of all, Happy Birthday to Mark Beck and Elder Gill. I love you guys and thought of you this week. Sorry I could not email you the day of!

I am only able to write you because I am going to be leaving for Ft Lauderdale at 2:30 AM tomorrow morning. SOOO just a few hours - I am over the moon excited!! I've learned so much and have had the Lord truly humble me. I love my mission!!

Guys, I just need for you to know the importance of the temple... I remember an experience I had while at BYU and I walked to the temple to do baptisms. As I walking, I was thinking about everything else that I had to do, wondering if I should really go. I walked onto the temple grounds and this beautiful, little, older lady started beckoning to me and speaking in Spanish. I tried to understand what she was saying, didn't speak Spanish...YET!! Entonces, I finally understood that she wanted for me to take a picture of her in front of the temple with her Ipad. As I situated the camera, I didn't pay attention to her pose. I looked up expecting a customary smile and cute stance; instead I saw this beautiful Mexican woman standing with her hands held above her head as if in victory with tears streaming down her face she smiled and almost seemed to shout to her God "I MADE IT!!"  For those who watched the women's general conference, you will recall Linda K Burton's talk. In her address she quoted Russell M Nelson, saying,  "As temples are prepared for the people, the people need to prepare for the temple." Each of us must find out what that means for us individually, but for me....I want to be that woman. I want to stand triumphant in front of the temple each time I go and exclaim, "I MADE IT!!" I want to cherish what truly matters.

We also attended an all day meeting of in-field orientation, which included a workshop about goals. I volunteered for a certain lesson and was given three balloons. The instructor told me that we were going to reenact the opening of my mission call. All the other missionaries were my family and friends and he would be my grandfather. He sat in a chair and I read aloud "my call". Afterwards he pretended he was hard of hearing so I had to lean in to explain where I was going (He was Mexican and quite a bit shorter than I ....maybe to my shoulder?) He understood and said I would have a wonderful experience but that I just wouldn't baptize anyone. I just kind of looked at him when all of a sudden he leaped up like a little leprechaun and started popping my balloons!!! He got two of them but I reacted quickly enough to save the third. I held it above his head and away just watching him as he swatted at it. After a while he gave up because he knew there was no way he would jump THAT high. It was hilarious because the whole class watched this and just laughed. I eventually brought it down a lottle (yes a lottle) and let him pop it. Grandpa , thank you for never popping my balloons and for always encouraging me to be my best... You are one reason why I am on a mission! But the moral of the lesson was to not let anyone pop your expectations. "When you lower your expectations, you lower your effectiveness" Don't let anyone tell you who you are, don't let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. You hold that balloon so high they can't even see it!!

I have a pretty great spiritual experience for you guys. I was struggling with what kind of missionary I was - I didn't know what I was doing just plugging along because I hadn't felt that I had overcome anything or changed any part of myself or that I hadn't pushed myself. I felt empty as a missionary and kind of useless. I prayed to my Heavenly Father just asking who He wanted for me to be - He directed for me to be here, so what kind of missionary did He want or rather NEED for me to be? I got all of my answers!! I will be a JOYFUL missionary!! I will let go of fear and doubt; I will turn OUTWARD instead of INWARD. "When fear replaces doubt, when selfless service eliminates selfish striving, the power of God brings to pass His purposes" -Thomas S Monson.

Love you all, You get your next email from PARADISE!
Hna Lake



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Week #5 - I Love to See the Temple!

Hello one and all!!
SO - I've almost lived through the ENTIRE MTC! One more week until I am out in that beautiful field that is already to harvest :) September 30 at 2:30 AM I will be driving out of these hallowed walls to a wonderful continuance of my adventures as Hermana Lake. 

Everyone asks about it the food....I don't get it since I'm pretty sure Mexican food exists in the US too...but nonetheless, the food is wonderful! We have Mexican food ALWAYS with American food once a week. GUYS, I ATE A HAMBURGER AND FRIES LAST WEEK. We were all VERY excited! The food does, however, cause issues with digestive systems.  Anyway, the new and improved solution is......Papaya. It works wonders!  Back to good things. Apparently, my habit of a little meat, a little beans, and a mountain of lettuce with a lime and salt for seasoning has become somewhat of a phenomenon....I get missionaries commenting all the time; saying "wow, such a good idea" or "Hermana, that is so weird." Who knew that I would be a trend-setter on the mission....A few elders salad now! Another trend? A few weeks ago, my companion, whom I adore, put two tight braids on the right side of my head and pushed all the rest of my hair to the left - punkie and cute! (Cant stop it Mom, sorry :D) Anyway, for the next few days, Hermanas all over the CCM were wearing cute cornrows in an assortment of ways. Gotta love it ;) 

We have been having LOTS of Mexican candy as well due to Independence Day on September 15 and one of them is called Mazapan de Cacahuate. Dad, IT'S THE POWDERED PEANUT BUTTER WITH A LITTLE SUGAR. I get it every time and think of you :) They also have mountains of coconut so I get to think of my Mom for two seconds, then I realize that I'm eating candy.....and the reminder leaves ;) I am forever grateful to my parents for having us eat healthy our entire lives. I LOVE YOU GUYS!
Also, the reign of Hermana Barbie begins again. My companions tell me that I could be Hermana Barbie more times than I can count. So, Hillary, looks like our similar...well....everything pays off.  

Our Zone has a tradition of doing sign every Monday and this last Monday was by far the best. District 12A, the favorite, has one Elder saying "I'm Batman" or "Where's Rachel" and another Elder says "I'm Rachel" or "I'm right here" in a Falsetto voice. The last Elder has the sign "SAFE" like for an umpire. They went around in circles saying "Where's Rachel" to "SAFE" to "I'm right here!". We were laughing so hard people were legitimately on the ground. I LOVE IT! 

This week has also been VERY spiritual. I had the opportunity to be an investigator in a Demonstration for my class. My teacher was the missionary and I was to think of someone I knew well who was either inactive or wasn't a member. I chose one of my friends and said the name was Ally. During this time....wow. I prayed beforehand to be in tune with this person's true feelings and what exactly they would feel in these discussions. I have rarely before felt such peace, hope, and strength. It wasn't a BAM reaction but it was definitely a touching, powerful witness that this church is true, God loves this person and that He is waiting for them to return to Him. God doesn't give us anything in this life that we cannot handle. Our job is to decide if we want to live up to what the Lord believes we can do; become, and achieve.  We also teach each other within the District. We teach two Elders named Elder Jensen and Elder Reno. Both play someone in their life who is atheist because Jensen´s Dad died and God didn´t help and Elder Reno because he has had a very hard life. I started asking them about spiritual strength and if they believed they were spiritually strong. They each said, "no". I shard Alma 26:12 with them off the top of my head and explained to them that we couldn't tell them why Elder Jensen´s Dad died or why Elder Reno´s life was hard, but that God could. You just have to ask. After the lesson both Elders commented that I had done well and were impressed that I pulled scriptures out of nowhere that fit perfectly. I didn't know how to react...it felt wrong to claim the glory as mine. As I sat there a voice reminded me of the scripture. Jesus Christ is our Savior, I am His mouthpiece. That wasn't me!! These weren't my talents, abilities, or memorization. That was ALL my Savior knowing that I had put in the work to be used as His servant and Him keeping His promise to use me to serve. I AM ONLY A REPRESENTATIVE IN ALL THINGS. 

Mexico City Templo

I got to go to the Mexico City temple and got very car sick on the way there AND back. Guys, Mexico has the worst streets; however, the temple was beyond amazing. It is the House of the Lord.

I love my mission! I love my Savior. I LOVE THIS GOSPEL and the Book of Mormon. I have started taking my B of M to meals with me just so I can read a few more verses. I find myself feasting on these words and LOVING it.  

Hermana Lake.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Week #4 - Just pictures!

I love my companion!

 I LOVE THE CCM!!!!!!!!!!!

Rainy day when we forgot our umbrellas. Oh well...


So bad news- There is a hurricane off of the coast in the Pacific. Good news- It won't hit us. Bad news- IT IS ALWAYS COLD AND WET AND RAINY. Our shoes are wet and sick nasty and smelly so I invented the shoe window - No nasty smells and it dries quickly!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Week #3 - Mexico es muy frio!


Life is so good here! Mexico is supposed to hot, but it is so cold here! We only have cardigans to wear since we are going to Florida and so we freeze all the time. But we get these beautiful foggy mornings and it rains like crazy. Every day at around 5:30 pm, everyone runs for cover as a torrential rain pour attacks the CCM. Hermana and I forgot our umbrellas during one particularly bad rainstorm so we documented our cuteness. Most days I only have my umbrella so we wrap our arms around each other and snuggle under one umbrella. It's grand!  Also, besides the wonderful nickname of "The Bunny" given to me by the district, I am also known for creating a trend of bananas and peanut butter with a little Nutella. I was sitting down with my companion eating lunch, when a random Elder walks by and goes "Hermana, you are amazing! I saw the peanut butter and banana thing you do and tried it. Let's just say you have changed my life!" I cracked up. I now understand that I am here on a mission not to preach the gospel but to preach to the world about the true, glorious nature of the banana and peanut butter combo. All good things :)

One day we planned on playing kickball but are not allowed to for safety reasons, so we played "Signs" instead. For those who haven't played it before, it is a wonderful game I would suggest someone explain to you as I don't have the time. Our Zone plays it every Monday for FHE and we played with some districts that were leaving the next week. It was by far the best game ever. We were under a canopy and were slipping and sliding where ever there were puddles but I wouldn't trade that memory for anything!

As I said, two of our Districts have left. 12E and 12B. With the leaving of these wonderful people whom Hna Simmons and I love, the Zone Leaders and Sister Trainers were reassigned. Hermana Simmons and I are now the Zone's Sister Trainers. We were both very humbled as every leader recommended us and when were called, each leader came up and gave us assurance that they knew we would do well. I love this calling and have truly felt the Lord's love work through me for these dear Hermanas in our charge.  
Some of the Hermanas

Funny little things: We have a window in our casa that we leave open where shoes are stacked so that we don't smell up the apartment. We can smell the cafeteria preparing dinner and every time that there are fries, missionaries are standing in line eating dinner just to get fries for dessert. So weird to me...

Everyone here is getting sick, I have remained strong but I feel my defenses may crumble. PLEASE everyone pray I will continue to sleep well and that I will not get sick. Thank you for those prayers, I feel the love you guys have for me. Even in times when you feel there is nothing you can do, you can always pray. THANK YOU! 

Fast Sunday came and went with so many wonderful experiences. I fasted for all of our district because have some discord and it really helped as I cannot even express the amount of LOVE I felt for them by the end of that day. I was all weepy .... at first it made me so mad because I HATE feeling weepy, but once I realized this was the Lord answering my prayer (and low blood sugar, thank you Mother...:)) I couldn't be more grateful. Guys, I go to bed each night and have to tell myself to stop praying. I have to make myself end my prayer because otherwise I would just stay up and talk to my Padre Celestial all night long. I have so much to be grateful for!  

One day as I sat in class, I started zoning a bit and noticed a painting on the opposite wall. It was of the Savior holding a little baby lamb and looking down on it with such love, compassion and knowing. As I looked at this lamb and marveled at the beauty of the painting, I was struck with the realization that I was this lamb. It looked so feeble, weak, and small. It also looked so innocent and reliant; however, the Lord was holding this lamb and looking on it as it were the only thing in the world that mattered. The Lord loves each of us so dearly that when we fall to our knees in anguish, and cry unto our Lord "Why oh why?" He is on His knees right next to us. He has His arms continually around us and looks upon us with such love, compassion, and knowing. We may appear feeble. We may seem weak. How wrong we are - We are asked to trust in the Lord, not only because He knows best, but because HE TRUSTS US. Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father BELIEVE in us. Don't ever tell yourself that you don't matter. Always remember the 99 sheep of the fold and you are the lamb that YOUR Savior went after.  I can testify to each and every one of you that Christ lives. I  have doubted and feared, but no more. D &C 6:36. "Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not." I love this gospel and know of its truthfulness. I believe with all my being that this gospel can change lives, heal hearts and strengthen those feeble spirits. Without our Savior, we are nothing. With our Savior, WE ARE EVERYTHING. I have faith in each of you. Don't ever forget how much your Savior loves you and HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU, even in freezing cold Mexico...."Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Please, take Him up on it. He listens to my rambling, broken Spanish and answers my prayers. He listens to my smallest pleas. He knows you. Now, decide what it means for you "To come unto Christ" and get to know Him. 

Hermana Lake 

P.S. For those emailing me, please make sure to always address me as "Hermana Lake". It is very important, as that is my calling. "Karis" is for 17 months from now. Gracias!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Week #2 - God Answers Prayers

Hello Family! 

So let's just say this week has been one of extreme laughter. Everything that has happened has been hilarious. Hermana and I had some grand run ins with language slip ups. Hardcore. During one lesson, I accidentally asked Jorge if when he had any questions (the Spanish word for Pause (pausas)) I asked him if he had any wives (esposas) It was hilarious. Then Hermana Simmons was trying to ask if he had any thoughts and actually asked, "Do you even think?" He busted up at that one. We have heard of people saying "Repent of your fishes (pescados) instead of sins (pecados) AH! So much good! (A new Hna Simmons phrase I've picked up.)  Now Jorge is our teacher in the afternoon and we have two new investigators, Mario and Luis. My morning and afternoon teachers are very good teachers! We all love them because each class is filled with both laughter and spiritual upliftment. We laugh more in one lesson than I do for the 24 hours before. To describe them, Hno Vargas is rather like Theodore from Alvin and the Chipmunks: So innocent and sweet and absolutely hilarious. He has the cutest laugh. When he was explaining how to pray in Spanish the other day he said "Fold your arms, kneel down and close the door...." Then got this impish grin on his face because only like 3 of us caught it and started giggling. It was great. Then Hno Hernandez is very sarcastic and loves to joke around with us. Just the other day during Stress Management training he goes,  "When people are stressed....ain't nobody got time for dat!" You would have to hear it in his Spanish accent with the stumbling contractions but we were all DYING. I love it here!! We do push ups in vocab and phrases study. He counts and we bob up and down. Boys in front, Girls in back. I do push ups every morning and then in class?? Beast mode over here. 
Our view of Mexico City from the CCM

The power of prayer is so real, people. God honestly knows us each individually and all those who have been praying for me...I have felt your prayers. I never understood why people say "I felt your prayers" but now I do. I went to bed that week and each night it was like getting smashed into the mattress further by 60 prayers. I was out in minutes. No problems sleeping anymore and I now can get up at 5:30 every morning and go running with Hna Simmons. It's glorious. We only have gym time for about 50 minutes so we get a work out in early and then play volleyball or basketball. I AM GETTING SO GOOD! I was making 3 pointers and rocking that court. I even got people out playing "Speed" or "Bump" or whatever. 

We have power outages every single day. Whatever time - It happens. One day it went out at like 9:30 at night. Every one getting ready for bed was lost in the darkness. I have pictures of the Hnas and I snuggling on a bed as we all journaled under one small flashlight. So good.

Hna and I have started saying "Nunca" to each other as a reminder to be nice. I have a very....."uninhibited" opinion at times and I can be extremely rude. So to remind each other, if something sounded rude, we say "nunca" or "never" to stop the thought and then we have to say something nice to repay the rudeness. I love it :) 

I have seen more Costco pizza, Chick fillet fries and corn dogs in these past couple weeks than I would like. Sadly, the Mexican food isn't all that great on the stomach sometimes so lately I just eat fruit and salad. I get teased by everyone :) I am now dubbed "The Rabbit". 

The spirit works through each of us so amazingly. I felt truly inspired earlier when we didn't know what to teach to just read the BOM 1 Nephi 8 and take about the principles involved in Lehi's dream. IT WAS AMAZING. But then, this week we decided to try and go without notes. I had a mini break down afterwards because I wanted to teach SO BADLY but couldn't get the words across in Spanish. SO FRUSTRATING! My comp took Spanish for 2 years before me and knows a lot more than I do. I struggle, while she is smooth. I hate it - but I love it - because I learn from her. I can't learn Spanish in 3 weeks no matter how badly I want to! 

We sing constantly. It's awesome and I am so grateful that you made me do choir growing up because now, I can actually sing. The District turns to me for the pitch to start on now, I have gotten that much better. It lasts about 2 notes but it still makes me all warm and fuzzy and stuff. 


Hermana Lake