FORGETTING

The other morning I was so tired. And I was asking myself. “What’s wrong with me? I’ve been doing this for a year. I didn’t do anything particularly strenuous yesterday. I slept fine. I prayed to have energy. Why am I so exhausted this morning?” I was frustrated and confused. But then it came to me. It doesn’t get any easier to get up at 6:30 am. And it probably won’t. Because I think if it did, I’d forget to pray to Heavenly Father for the energy to roll out of bed in the morning. I’d forget to rely on him from the very beginning of my day. And that’s something I can’t afford to do.

 

It is so easy for us, as humans, to forget. We forget what we did yesterday. What we ate for breakfast. We forget our first grade teacher’s name, even though we saw that woman every day for a year. We can’t remember lyrics to songs that used to be our anthem, let alone the artist who wrote it. And despite the promise we make every week as we partake of the sacrament, we seem to consistently fall short of always remembering our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the things He did for us. I think the closest I’ve ever come is out here on my mission, and even now I am so easily distracted by the worries, annoyances, joys, and busyness of everyday life that I tend to simply forget Him.

 

That’s one thing I’ve appreciated about being able to serve among the Hispanic culture. They are pretty focused on God. They haven’t become so lost as to forget that it is God who gives us everything in the first place. Their prayers are full of gratitude. For work, family, health, and a roof over their head. Such basic things that I take for granted too often. They aren’t so caught up in the day-to-day things; they see the big picture. And even if their situation is hopeless, they walk on fearlessly, knowing everything is in the hands of God.

 

We met someone like that on Saturday. We received a text Saturday morning that referred us to a lady named Esperanza. (Esperanza means hope, for you gringos.) The text explained that she had just been diagnosed with cancer…they found a large tumor in the right side of her brain…and it’s inoperable. Basically, she’s terminal. Her friend wanted us to go give her a blessing. We’ve been taught in missionary work that member referrals are golden and all referrals must be contacted within 24 hours. So we made the necessary arrangements and at 7 o clock that night, we met Esperanza and her daughter, Yesenia. Alberto and Maximino gave her a priesthood blessing, and it was powerful. Turns out she knows a few members in the ward and she told us, “Mormon is the church I want to be part of. Your ideas are beautiful and your people are so nice.” Next morning, she’s right there at church. In Relief Society, she shared her story, “I know I’m going to die. I’m okay with that. I just want enough time to know my grandson. My only son’s wife is pregnant.” She loved church and promised to keep coming. The Relief Society fell in love with her. We did too. We’re seeing her again tomorrow. But it’s amazing how much I have been able to learn from these people. They are so special. Esperanza doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the next few months. But, she holds on to her faith and refuses to forget who gave her life in the first place.

 

I have learned so much from these people. Even the sisters I’ve served around. We found out this morning that one of our sisters is going home because of health problems. We helped her pack earlier today. It’s really hard, but after our exchange I know it’s God’s will. He prepared her for what was coming…she’s felt she is going home early for awhile now. And even though she doesn’t know what will happen or if they’ll be able to fix what’s going on, she has a smile on her face and a hopeful heart. She gives me strength. And looking back on the past few months she’s had, it’s been incredible to see how Heavenly Father just makes everything line up. Even down to her trainee, who just happens to be a CNA. The Lord is so conscious of us and all things denote he exists…”yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.” (Alma 30:44)

 

And so I begin another week of forgetting. But this time with a little more remorse. And a little stronger resolve to keep Christ at the front of my mind. He is my strength. He rejoices with me and feels my sorrow. He loves me unconditionally. He is my best friend.  And if I keep my promise to always remember Him, it’s a lot harder to fall short in other ways.

 

I love this work and I’m so grateful for it!

Love you all!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

XOXO

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Little Karly is so cute!

Little Karly is so cute!

Selfies with Karly!

Selfies with Karly!

 

 

 

 

 

WHERE DID THIS WEEK GO?

March 17, 2014

 

Hola todos!

 

Sometimes I just get the urge to write my entire letter home in Spanish. Quizás lo haré hoy. Jajajajaja pero de verdad. It’s getting to the point where my brain is always jumbled because I’m constantly translating English to Spanish to English to Spanish….it’s exhausting. I wonder if that will ever stop. I hope not. I love this language.

 

I don’t reeeeeeally know what to say about this week. Except that I’m realizing just how fast this transfer is going to fly. Am I really starting week 3 today? Am I really down to only 5 months left at the end of this week? What is happening to me? ! I’m one of THOSE hermanas. [I realized that last transfer when Sister Hanna came into the mission and asked, “how long have you been out?” And I answered “10 months” and she gave me a startled, “wow you are so old” look…that was 2 months ago. ¿Qué me pasó?]

 

We conducted our first exchange this week. We are going to have to do one almost every week to be able to get through all this sisters. That doesn’t seem like that much but…it makes 2 days basically not exist each week. But it’s great. I learned so much from sweet Hermana Killpack and it was amazing to see how the spirit worked through me to know exactly what she needed at this time in her mission. I love that we get to spend time with other hermanas.

 

As a missionary, I have become well aware of my faults. I mean, I knew I had things to work on before the mission. But out here, I realize just how far I have to go. And The Lord has this habit of putting me with companions whose strengths are my weaknesses. So then my weaknesses become even more evident. And honestly, that’s never very fun. But I keep being reminded of the video of the currant bush. Where the bush cries when the gardener cuts him down because he was so big and doing so well before. The gardener responds, “who’s the gardener here?? I don’t want you to be a shade tree, I want you to be a currant bush.” It’s hard to be humbled like that. But The Lord knows what He wants us to be and what we can be so much better than we do. All we can do is trust in Him and do our best and He will work on us the way he has designed. Especially in missionary work, there are no accidents. Heavenly Father puts these people in our life for a reason. And so I’m trying to learn as much I can from the people surrounding me!

 

Other highlights this week…

-I went to my 3rd Mexican baby shower. Those are such a blast.

-We stopped by Eva’s house for like 15 minutes and in that time one of her husband’s friends came up to us and said,”I just got here from Texas. I was going to a Baptist church there and I’m looking for a church here. I don’t want to distance myself from the word of God. Can I come to your church?” …..yes. Yes you can.

-We had an unbelievable lesson with Eva and Sonia and Alberto.

-I met someone a couple weeks ago and felt strongly that I should get in contact with her. But our phone is a dinosaur and we don’t get her texts. But I ran into her twice this week. Just by accident…well nothing is by accident. But you know. Just a miracle is all.

-Martin (one of our investigators) came to both our movie night and to church. And really loved both.

 

Seriously this week flew, I don’t even know what happened.

Catch ya next week?

PS…  if you’re not wearing green I’m virtually pinching you right now.

Anyways.

 

Love you all!

Love,

Hermana Lewis.

XOXO

 

 

Our zone was invited to share this gift to the new Ft. Lauderdale LDS temple that will be placed in the cornerstone of the temple.

Our zone was invited to share this gift to the new Ft. Lauderdale LDS temple that will be placed in the cornerstone of the temple.

Finally receiving a package that my family sent to me on January 6th!  A true miracle that it made it to me after all this time... minus just a few items.

Finally receiving a package that my family sent to me on January 6th! A true miracle that it made it to me after all this time… minus just a few items.

 

I Love Exercise Analogies!

March 10, 2014

Hola familia!

Ok so news for the week: Me and Hermana Fin were so happy when we found out we were staying together here on Saturday. But we felt so strongly the next couple days that something was off. It’s been too comfortable for too long. We felt like a change was coming, but it was after the transfer call so we were a little freaked out. Then Wednesday morning we get this text with instructions for MLC. Um. What.Are we sister training leaders now?! Apparently nobody thought to inform us when they announced it on Tuesday at transfer mtg. Haha. So that’s the change for this transfer. It’s cool how the Spirit works huh?

I hit my one year mark on Thursday. I celebrated it by weekly planning and watching a thunderstorm. But we really celebrated on Wednesday because it was right between Hermana’s one year in Florida and my one year as a missionary. With Pollo Tropical and way too many sweets. Speaking of sweets, we decided to give them up. For 40ish days. ‘Til Easter. Aka Lent. Yep, we’re celebrating Lent this year. Because we decided you don’t need to be Catholic to sacrifice something. We’re giving up sugar. And we’re super excited for it. We’ll see how long that excitement lasts…

MLC on Friday was awesome. The changes president has made to the mission…are incredible. He truly has turned the mission around, raised our sights, helped us achieve things that were totally out of the question a year ago. And it’s been fast. He talked about those changes he’s made: no tracting, no naps, no music, no furniture (besides beds, chairs, and tables), park the car once a week, spend one meal out of the house, no “graveyards” in apartments, no member dinners…

But he talked about how were asked to change, and we are expected to change. We have changed and we will keep changing. But that’s how life is. Just when we think we get to rest, life picks back up again and the treadmill goes a little faster. But we can’t get stronger if there’s no resistance. So we have to keep adding weight, running a little faster, adjusting and changing and when it becomes easy and comfortable, we up our resistance.

I love exercise analogies.

On Saturday we got a bunch of missionaries together and ran…okay walked…the Susan G. Komen 5k breast cancer walk. We wore lime green Mormon.org shirts and the elders wore their shirt and tie with running shorts. We were quite a sight. And in just a couple hours we collectively passed out over 300 Mormon.org cards! It was way too fun. [this isn’t missionary work, it’s missionary fun!]

Ummm. That’s about it for this week.

This transfer is going to fly, I can feel it already. But we’re ready to take it on!

Love you all!!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxo

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We love serving in Florida!

We love serving in Florida!

 

The Susan G. Korman 5K Breast Cancer Walk.... not missionary work, it's missionary fun!

The Susan G. Korman 5K Breast Cancer Walk…. not missionary work, it’s missionary fun!

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The Metro Experience

March 3, 2014

 

Hello family!!

 

I put off writing this letter cause this week has been crazy and I’m

currently 4 days behind in my journal. Hah. Oops.

But metro threw me off.

Seriously I feel like that’s all that happened this week was that

exchange. But it was a blast. It was exactly as a predicted: a

missionary vacation training sleepover party learning experience.

 

Yep. That.

 

And it went kind of like this…….

Meet with the other 4 hermanas. Drive to Tampa. 5 minute prep at Hermana Birch and Larsen’s apartment. They hand us each a stack of

about a hundred Mormon.org cards and some walking directions to

downtown. And we were on our way.

 

It was such a funny experience just walking downtown and trying to talk to literally every single person we saw in the street. Even if it was just a “hey check out this website! It’ll change your life!” And handing them a card as they walked right past us. Sometimes we ran into the same people more than once. We ran into these two ladies 3 times throughout the day and the third time they said, “wow you ladies have been all over the city today!” Yes. Yes we have. Because we have an urgent message. Now please go check out that website and see why. We walked in circles and circles handing out cards on cards on cards. Our goal was to get a card in the hand of every single person we passed. Even the bikers. Even the business men. Even the intimidating group of sorority girls heading right towards us and looking at us like we’re aliens. Haha….I have Hermana Judd to thank for helping me with that one. We ran into each other and spied on each other and took stalker pictures of real life missionary work. And though every inch of our bodies was sore from walking around all day, even though we had blisters on our feet, even though we experienced all kinds of rejection, we enjoyed every second of it. Tampa is a sweet city. And we passed out over 200 Mormon.org cards in a day and a half. Just

between me and Hermana Fin.It was amazing to be surrounded by so many people because I really felt the urgency of the work. The Lord is hastening his work and the time is now. We walked by thousands of people. Guess how many members I ran into: 1.

So many millions of people don’t know what we know, don’t have what we have, are searching for peace and happiness and guess what. We’re here to help them find it. This is the time when the work can’t fail. It won’t. Heavenly Father won’t let it. I have major respect for those metro missionaries. After a day and a half, I was beyond exhausted. But I’m so grateful I got that opportunity to be up there for a little bit and catch the vision of President Cusick. And the prophet and apostles. This week was a great one. And we’re stoked because……………..me and Hermana Fin have another transfer here!!!!!!! YES. so so so so happy. We’re gonna kill it down here in the dirty south.

 

Love you all!

Love,

Hermana Lewis.

XOXO

 

The METRO missionaries in Tampa, Florida!

The METRO missionaries in Tampa, Florida!

 

 

My Spanish iPad!

February 24, 2014

 

Hola mi gente bonita!!

 

Cambié el idioma de mi iPad a español y es la mejor cosa que me pasó

desde chile picante. Estoy volviendo Mexicana.

 

But seriously. Spanish iPad = way more fun.

And I think the iPads make us more productive. Maybe it’s the little circles that fill up as you get closer to your goals, or the exclamation point when you “miss” a lesson, or the numbers turning from red to green when you reach them….but whatever it was, we had a record week and reached almost all our goals. And that’s always fun.

 

I feel like the theme lately in our missionary work is that everywhere we go, no matter what we do, we’re guided. Things like running into a guy we haven’t seen in a month on the bus, just because a craving for Dunkin Donuts made us miss the first bus. Like seeing a lady we met at a bus stop weeks ago out of the blue on the other side of town picking up her daughter from school. Like money arriving in the mail when I had $3 to my name. (A true miracle, considering how often we receive mail that’s been sliced open already.) Things like finally being able to teach a solid lesson not only to Eva, but to her husband, who is almost never home. Things like finding people who have been truly prepared to receive the gospel, right here right now, when earlier ust wasn’t quite their time. It’s been a week of miracles, to say the least.

 

Our theory is that it’s because we don’t eat dinner. Well like we eat, don’t worry about that. But we’ve stopped taking that hour for ourselves. We don’t go home. I’m not entirely sure when it started. But something switched in our minds…instead of looking forward to that hour of peace and self-reflection, instead of using it to write letters or do things for ourselves, we stay out. We’d rather clean Eva’s house and teach her. Rather spend a little longer on the bus talking to people. Rather go to a fiesta. Rather be out with the people. Our motto is: we can eat alone when we go home. For now, we have limited time with these incredible people. And that one hour makes all the difference. The funny thing is that somehow we never go hungry. We almost always get fed something. Minus a night to two that we’ve had to stop by Mickey D’s on the way home. But it’s so worth it to get to spend more time with them. It’s weird to be thinking this way, because until lately, I lived for that lunch and dinner hour. It kept me sane. Let me breathe. But I get all the time to myself that I

want in 6 months. For now, I want to give everything to what I’m doing. And I’m grateful for a companion that feels the same. Together we help each other make sacrifices and work hard. Transfer calls are this Saturday. There might be tears.

 

And we won’t even be alone for it. This week we found out that we’ll

be doing a 3-day exchange/training in Tampa Metro. Thursday-Saturday.

That’s like an eternity away from our people. The perk? Hermana Larsen

will be one of our trainer/leaders. It’ll be like a missionary…vacation…learning…sleepover….yeah. We’re más omenos stoked!

 

In other news, ROSIE HAD HER BABY!! Gledin (Jr.) Ethsael Sanchez, born February 20th. We went to see them last night and he is perfection. A

little angel sent straight from heaven. I’ve never resented the rule that we can’t hold children so much. But I held strong. I could have just stared at him all night though. He is so teeny. His fingernails…it’s always the fingernails that get me. The spirit with newborns is so overwhelmingly peaceful. Yamileth and José were also there with their gorgeous 4-month-old girl, Libni. And so we took that little children were just with our Father in Heaven, the love He has for us as his own children, and how this life is about learning to walk. Of course we’re going to fall, but just as we would never be upset with a toddler stumbling while taking his first steps, our perfect Father in Heaven isn’t upset with us. Instead, He helps us back up and encourages us to keep trying, keep learning, keep moving forward. These cute young families just had so much happiness in their eyes as they talked about the hopes they have for their own children. That they’ll be strong in The Lord, that they’ll serve a mission, that God will take care of them, that they’ll find happiness. It was absolutely, tear-jerkingly adorable.

 

It’s hard to believe I’ve already spent 4 months in Naples. I feel like I just arrived yesterday, bags clumsily packed, still confused about what had just happened in that beast of a transfer meeting. And now I just want to stay…for the rest of my mission. I can’t imagine leaving this place.

 

But whatever happens is Heavenly Father’s will. I can’t wait to see what this upcoming transfer brings. Til then, I’m enjoying every second.

 

Love you all!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

XOXO

Eating a passionfruit!

Eating a passionfruit!