Monday, November 29, 2010

After Thanksgiving Gratitude

Querida Familia!
I love hearing from you. It lifts my heart higher than you could imagine and even though I've been gone from home for several years the mission has deepened my understanding of the importance of the family unit. It is so hard to be grateful for things that you have always taken for granted. I know I still enjoy many of those wonderful blessings each day and take them for granted. I meet so many people every day from all over the world. God has blessed me so dearly with a wonderful family of love and security. Taught me how to be self sufficient and lift, love, and encourage others.

Mom! You freakin rock! That's all I have to say. All those things I was asking for were alreadycoming .   Your package got there later that day and I didn't have to remind you about any of them. Thank you so much. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my coat thank you. It's absolutely perfect and its so warm! Do you want to hear something sweet? The weather here has been really nice. I've barely needed my jacket at all. But no joke, the day my coat got in, the very next day it turned to winter and I've been grateful that I've had it every single day. Thanks for paying my credit bill. My bags actually weren't over at all. I gave all my extra weight to Elder Lewis because his bags were light. I just had to pay for my baggage in general and then they reimbursed me on my mission card. Then I had to get some groceries when I first got in and I didn't have my mission card yet so it worked out perfect. I got my new one activated that you sent etc. Thanks.  Oh and you should have seen our faces mom as we opened the package and found all those Christmas gifts in the bottom.  We have had so much fun finding all of the gifts to open throughout the season. Sister Stephens says thank you so much! Symbria I know you helped mom a lot! Thanks for the advent calendars! We love them! We made our little craft the other morning and we will send you a picture later in the season. It's so cute. We also have a little pine tree that we had in our pad earlier so we put all the gifts under the tree. Our little pad is so cute. I lucked out. In the mission it's called the "celestial pad". We don't have any roach or bug problems like some of the others which is awesome. I guess I'll deal with that as it comes. lol. What do you all want for Christmas from big old NY? What can I send home for you?

I had another really bitter sweet experience earlier this week that has helped me think alot about life and why things happen in life. We've been working with a less active part member family the Viterri's. Mario (the father) is less active and he lives with his wife daughter and a few grandkids. We went over just last week to teach and share a message and invite him back to church. They had a new arrival in the home. The daughter and her husband had just had their new baby girl that was barely 2 weeks old. It was their second child. Both girls are just beautiful. The other little girl is about 2 years old. The newborn girl was born a few weeks premature but was doing well and they just were adoring the new member of their family. Yet Friday we got a call from Mario telling us that the newborn had passed away and they would like our presence at the funeral. It was really tradgic for the mom. They don't know what happened. The autopsy and such didn't tell them anything. Of course we went. It was very different than any other funeral I've been too. The rest of the family is catholic and they did it according to that fashion. The mom was in such pain, I've never seen that type of pain on someone's face before. I've never been to an infant funeral before but it was so sad. It's sparked her attention to a bunch of different questions though. She's heard things that we can see people again, even after death. That God has not only given us families for this life but for the life to come. She wants to know more, how is it possible. So we have scheduled an appointment with them and we are going over later this evening to teach them about the plan of salvation. We are going to teach her about life after death and the knowledge that we can be with the members of our family again. God has prepared this plan for us and he's ordained families. The family unit is important and is to be forever. As missionaries, We sang a few hymns for her and I hope it provided some sort of comfort for her in her time of sorrow. I know that hard things happen in this life but everything happens for a reason. God has a timetable that we are not aware of but that we will understand some day. God loves us and he will not leave us in our hard times.

How was thanksgiving?! Lots of good food? Did you have pumpkin upside down pie? Jenna I bet you rocked those pies.  I had a big thanksgiving dinner with the ward earlier in the week. It was my first official Latino festivity. It's so fun to get the mixed cultures here. It cracks me up but I love every moment of it. They have loud mexican music, dancing, traditional and Latino food. I'm eatin all sorts of good stuff here. Yet My Thanksgiving day turned out perfect as well. It was quite different than I expected. Initially my companion and I had a fun day planned with a few appointments in the morning and a few Dinner Appointments with member families in the evening. Yet Wednesday my companion was hit with El Gripe (the flu) and wasn't keeping anything down. She was really bummed about the timing and so she went to sleep about 4pm on Wednesday and did not resurrect until 8pm Thursday evening. I think half the mission called while she was out. President Nelson called to check up on her a couple of times and the A.P's would make runs to the store to buy Zero Sprite and Saltines for her. Yet she did survive and we are out and about again. At first it seemed like a bummer deal but I quite enjoyed my Thanksgiving. It seems as if time is something that doesn't really exist on the mission and I was able to step back and really focus and center myself on the things I'm truly grateful for in my life. I cleaned our whole apartment and decorated for Christmas. I was able to sit down in the evening turn on the christmas tree, christmas lights, lit the gingerbread candle, ate a polmagranite while I read of Christs life, wrote in my journal of all my blessings and the cool things that are happening in the mission. I felt the spirit and the love of my heavenly father. It was the perfect way to start out the holidays. I love you family. Jael sounds like you where amazing at the Ballroom concert. You are amazing. Some guy is going to be extremely lucky to have you. Keep up the good work. Mom I'm glad you and grandma are back safe from China. Sounds like you had an amazing experience. I believe God will bless you with the wonderful desires of your heart to serve there. Times are coming and the work is pressing forward. May God bless you and may you feel an abundant portion of his spirit all throught this holiday season.


Hermana Lewis

Monday, November 22, 2010

New York South is the

Querida Madre y familia!

Como les va? Sorry the past emails have not been enough flavor of what has really been going on. Time is such a funny thing out here in the mission and finding a computer is a trick. How to even describe my experiences in New York and the mission in general is just something else. It's impossible to explain in a few sentences. All I can say is that New York is completely opposite of my cozy little home in murray and I am making adjustments in order to adapt. Its such a good growing experience and its stretching me to my true potential. New York has so many different types of people here.

Mom, thanks for your letters. Thanks for the forwards from A.J., Rissa, & Jaci. Their letters and the way I relate to their stories mean a lot to me. They are amazing people.They are always inspiring and I love reading each one of them. I just barely got that dear elder you sent me before I left. One of the sisters in the MTC left the day after me and she picked it up and mailed it to me which I thought was sweet of her. Once again please know that I loved all those thoughtful packages you sent to the MTC as well. A couple of nights before my district and I left the MTC we had a little farewell night. We used the sparkling cider and pumpkin bread to toast to the upcoming mission and the good things we hoped to accomplish through the Lord for the next 16 months. It was really fun so thank you for your thoughtful gifts. It always makes me feel loved and adored.

Yes mom, I will try to keep a list of the questions that I receive from you in my mail and emails from now on and answer them. I've been trying to do that since I got that letter but just remind me if I don't get back to you right away. If you send me mail it usually takes about a week for it to reach the mission home so keep that in mind. I also have a little more time than I did at the MTC to write email so if you want to shoot me a quick email monday mornings before I write I can answer any questions you have for me there. Its hard communicating through mail all the time. lol. Yet I'll be talking to you in a few weeks for Christmas though so don't worry about it too much. :)

Mother I have a favor to ask you. When I checked my bags at the airport and bought groceries my first week I used my visa. Would you be willing to check my card and pay that off for me asap?! You would be my favorite mother in the whole wide world forever and always. And that card expires at the end of the month and I'm not sure if they send me a new one or what. I don't need it necessarily but I just want to make sure it gets put someplace safe. So look into that new card that should be coming or if you forwarded it here. Just let me know.

You asked me what I want for Christmas? I have no idea madre. Your support for the mission and the letters mean more than you know. You've given me the greatest gift I could ever want right now. I'm so thankful. I mean there are practical things I could use for the mission yet I feel like by the time you have to send it, it would be cheaper for me to just buy it here. I'm good with what I have honestly. However, have you sent my coat yet? :) I'm not quite sure how much longer the weather is going to hold out here and my winter accessories are limited. My liner to my coat would be delightful, earlier that later desirably. I would like letters and pictures from the family for Christmas. If there is any healthy recipes you would like to send, or healthy food... I would be spoiled rotten by that type of stuff. I miss your home cookin ma! Even thought I have all the time in the world in the mish, there is no time at all. It is the weirdest theory. Oh and I would like some recent pictures of Paisley, fam, etc. What fun things are you all doing while I'm gone. Send me pics of SunValley etc! You should ask callie if she has a 4x6 or wallet size that she could send of Paisley for Christmas. Oh I bet she is growing up so fast! Aunt Cheryl sent me a really fun Thanksgiving card and told me about life. She always sends me the funniest cards. I love them and I'm grateful for such good family. It's so fun to hear what a proud g-ma she is. I love it.

My first weekend I was able to attend two baptisms that took place in my district. Franklin is from the Dominican Republic. He has family that are members and he has been coming with his cousin to our ward. He was supposed to travel to the DR but decided out of no where he really felt strongly he needed to get baptized. So the Elders taught him EVERYTHING in a week.They were really busy with him and getting him prepared for the step he wanted to take. Yet he had been coming to church for a couple of months and had this sudden prompting that he needed to do it so he acted. Crazy no? And he is solid and has this burning desire to feast on the word of God. It is the perfect example of how God has prepared people and we simply are the instruments to help them learn and obtain covenants to make with God. Francisco is from Equador. he also was one of those miracle baptisms that seems to appear. He was baptized and its just so great to see people changing their lives for good as they obtain this faith in God. I feel the spirit so strong everyday when we have the opportunity to teach and be instruments for good. Its a great feeling.

Yesterday was the primary program in the ward. I love church. We had a couple of really hard days this past week with people juking our appointments and increasing our pool to a point that we would like etc. Yet when I go to church my spirits are lifted and the ward members love me despite the fact that I struggle with the language and I don't necessarily understand everything that is going on etc. The primary children always warm the soul and it was good for me because I could understand the simple truths they were teaching in their speaking parts etc. We had a legit potential investigator show up at church yesterday that wanted to experience the church and what it was all about. She just "happened" to be in Sister Stephens and my area so we arranged to visit with her later this week. I'm hoping something good will come from that.

Last night we had some appointments fall through and so as a backup plan we decided to visit one of our investigators unannounced. Adriano is from Ecuador I believe. He practiced a Christian religion with some other prophet when he lived there. He has a hard time with the prophet Joseph Smith yet he loves the Book of Mormon. We've been giving him some space lately just because he hasn't been following through on his committments as well as we would like etc. Yet we felt we needed to visit last night. It was such an answer to our prayers. Adriano was home and the lesson and the things we talked about were beautiful. I was really blessed in that I understood the conversation and the words that my companion taught. I was able to bear testimony when my companion looked over to me. Basically what it comes down to is "Is the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints true or not?" At the end of our lesson we knelt in prayer with Adriano where he gave a beautiful and sincere prayer. I felt it. Sister Stephens felt it. I know he felt it. What a wonderful God in heaven we have. He works in many mysterious ways yet his timing is always the right timing.

There are so many good things, people, and places out there. They lead us to do good things and even bring us closer to God. Yet why would you ever just want part of the reward instead of all of when it so freely accessible. By living the gospel of Jesus Christ we are able to truely feel all the blessing that God intends for us. By following Jesus Christ and changing our lives we experience those blessings of happiness we've always wanted but didn't know could be so sure. God does care about us as his children and we have the gospel of Jesus Christ as the rod that ensures that we experience those good things that God intends for us. A home built upon the principles of the gospel is a place of love, security, and learning. We raise a righteous generation that is successful, competent, prosperous. I can add my testimony that I have never lived a principle of the gospel and ever regretted it. I know that God lives. I know that he has purpose and expectations for each one of us. If we truely want certain blessings of family, love, and purpose we can find it by following our faith in Jesus Christ and obeying the laws of obedience he has set for us.

I love you all with all my heart. Your in my prayers and know that you are my love and inspiration.

Con Amor,

Hermana Lewis

I have arrived. Rego Park Brooklyn NYC

How I love New York! I'm in an area of Brooklyn called Rego Park. It is amazing! I went to the Spanish ward for the first time yesterday. It's an all Spanish ward which is awesome! So much diversity in New York; it is nuts! My area is very heavily populated by Spanish speakers. It is very rare I walk down the street of New York and hear English. When I do hear English I barely recognize it as English. There are so many types of people here. Lots of languages and lots of people from all over the world. A good part of the ward is from columbia, mexico, and ecuador. The ward takes really great care of us. I've been getting to know many of them from the dinner appointments and such. I've eaten so many types of new food this week. It is so good! Food from Columbia, Mexico, Bolivia.... etc etc etc. I was able to understand some of the church meeting but by the end of church my head was swimming. El obispo called me up to the stand to introduce myself and bear my testimony in spanish in front of the ward. It was a good experience.

My trainer is AMAZING! I love her. We live in a place just outside of our area with a couple of English sisters. They tease me that I'm a mini Hermana Stephens. We have many similar interests etc. My trainer is from Kansas. She had appointments scheduled for us from day one. My first day in the feild we had three appointments. We are teaching this cute family from the Dominican Republic. We are also teaching Adriano from Ecuador and another little lady from Mexico. She is teaching me some awesome things and I feel so grateful to have her. Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts in my behalf. It's almost like I can feel them carrying me and I know that the Lord is with me. Anyway i love you so much ! Today is packed and I don't have my full time to email today but I will give you more details as I can. :) The church is true and God will show his hands in your life as you reach out to him and look. Love you all.

Sister Lewis

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ak fin de esta Semana ab el CCE


So I had some really good moments this week. I think I wrote about Elder Nelson's talk last week. This Tuesday Elder Richard G. Scott came to talk the CCE (MTC) and it was legit! Really powerful speaker. He spoke on the Holy Ghost and receiving revelation and increasing your comprehension. He made a handout for all of the missionaries with his points and we received a copy in our district meetings. I wrote so many personal notes that night. The spirit was so strong and I received a lot of personal insight into my own life. I love it. Elder Scott was specifically warm towards the sisters. He has such a special place for us in his heart it made me melt. I never felt love from an apostle like that before. He said some really neat things that I know will be a helpful reminder on my mission. In his words he said, " by the authority of the authority of the apostleship I invoke a protective sheild on the sister missionaries. As you exercise your faith in this sheild you will be protected. you will be aware of any inpending danger so that you can be protected by the lord." He also invoked "the gift of Tongues. Through faith as missionaires we will find it easier and more quickly. with faith you will communicate, learn, and retain more effectively. I invoke the blessing of confidence. For you are far more prepared for your mission than you could possibly imagine".

Story #2 (which is awesome I might add) - Mother I received your dear Elders earlier this week. In my opinion I think that they should call it dear.sister but whatever. They must be bias. Entonces, I read your letter about that Mongolian sister that you sat by on the plane ride home. I loved hearing the story but inside I was doubtion the chances of me running into her. There are so many asian people running around the MTC and the majority of them don't speak English. And if they do I don't know it because we are all trying to learn or practice the language we will be procelyting in. So the chance that I will run into this Mongolian sister out of 2500 missionaries is very slight in my head. Especially if I can't even communicate effectively. I even told the missionaries in my district the story and they rolled their eyes thinking it was near impossible for me to meet this sister. Yet I did notice my eyes glancing at sister missionary tags more often trying to find a wierd mongolian last name. I had almost given up by the end of the week and was sitting in the fireside last night with my companion minding my own business. 2 sister missionaries walked passed me and for some weird reason they drew my attention as they were walking past. All I could see were their backs as they were walking away but I could tell one of them was Asian. And then it happened. The spirit just said, "That's her, go talk to her". I hadn't even seen her face! nor her name tag and I just knew it was that girl that you were talking about mom. It was the wierdest thing! So anyway, the fireside started and the girls sat down in a section of the auditorium within eye distance. I occasionally glanced over thinking how crazy it was that I was actually going to just go up and assume this random girl was the same girl you met on that plane on the way home from China. Yet it would be even more of a waste if I ignored the feeling and did nothing at all. After the fireside I quickly went over to the 2 sister missionaries. The Asian sister had hair covering her tag and I couldn't see what it said but I was standing right in front of her so I had to say something. So I said, "are you from Mongolia?" she said yes. I then said, "Are you serving in Czech Republic?" and she looked at me in surprise and in broken English and astonishment said "Yes". My heart skipped a beat. I then went into the process of trying to explain that my mom had sent me to find her. And it didn't take too long for us to connect the dots and we immediately imbraced in a hug and became instantaneous friends. She excitedly flipped through her book and looked at my name tag and told me she had been looking for me. IT was AWESOME! She thought you were really awesome mom ;) It was the greatest feeling. I also talked to her companion to try and find out any more details. Her companion is from the states and told me that this Mongolian sister had been trying to tell her about me the day she got here and that she wanted to find the daughter of this girl's mom she had met on the plane. The companion had thought the same thing as me in that there is no way in the world we are going to be able to find some random sister missionary out of 2500. Yet the Lord intervenes sometimes and grants tender little mercies every day. Anyway mom, I thought you should know I met her. I still can't say her name right, or spell it for that matter but she is a wonderful young woman and she does have a wonderful spirit that will bless many people's lives.

I don't know if I will be able to write next week. Quei sas... pero no se. I'm flying out on Monday Morning for New York!!!!! I'm so excited! I love you family!