Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A little late this week...

Hello everyone!
Sorry it's a bit later in the week, but Monday the library was closed for Veteran's Day, and yesterday we had zone conference, so we weren't able to email until today.  Our zone conference was great!  We learned a lot of great things that will definitely make a difference in our work.  We are really excited to go try it out!
We've had a pretty good week.  We found some new investigators this week.  They had been attending the church for about two years, pretty regularly, and then they started working on Sundays.  One of their sons got baptized, so it was good to be able to meet with him!  They are excited to have the missionaries in their home again.  Maybe now they'll be in a position to get baptized.  
We are still working with our 12 yr. old.  She's so great!  She loves when we come by, and is reading in the Book of Mormon.  We just have to get her to church, which is tricky, given her crazy family situation.  We've got some one to go over and get her, but the real problem is making sure she's there.   We are going to go see her later tonight though, which should be really good, and should help us be able to find a way to get her to church.  
The mission has been having a big "de-junking" project.  Missionaries have been bringing all of their extra stuff to the mission office.  We've been cleaning it and getting it ready for a community outreach program that happened on Saturday.  But before that they did a "missionary mall."  So all the missionaries got to come up to Houston, and we looked for stuff we needed, (we happened to need a blender)  and then they opened it up to the public.  Missionaries had been inviting investigators and members and others to come.  And the best part was that it was all free!  The mission figured that we might as well give all this stuff that we had just lying around to those who could really need it. 
One of the ladies that I taught while I was in Houston 4 came with the sisters to take a look around, so I got to talk to her for a minute, and I learned that she is getting baptized this week!  It's been really cool to see how the people that I've met with are now coming into the gospel.  I had taught this lady for a few weeks, but it was really good to see how much she's grown!  It's been a really good week!  We ended up teaching a lot of people.  We've got a few investigators, and our next step is to help them get ready to be baptized.  We've got a lot of work ahead of us, but we are really excited for it!
Well, I think that's about it!
Love you lots!
Also, I forgot to tell you about Thanksgiving.  We don't really know what we'll be doing, but we did get invited to eat with one of the counselors in the branch presidency.  They actually belong to one of the English wards, but because there isn't enough leadership in the branch, the stake calls some people from the other wards to help.  So it looks like it'll be a good old fashioned thanksgiving.  The branch is also having a Thanksgiving activity the Saturday after, so we'll also get to try Thanksgiving-Mexican style!  We're both kinda excited about it.  But I imagine our plans will fill up as the weeks go on.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 5, 2012

Hello family!
Hope everyone had a great Halloween.  We had to spend Halloween inside, well, we worked til 6, and then came in and did the rest of our studies. Halloween was actually a really good day.  We ended up having 5 lessons that day.  We've been busy teaching, and finding new people to teach.  We've also been looking for less actives this week.  We also cover the singles branch in the stake, so we've been trying to make them a focus this last little bit.  We've been going out with members to look for less actives, and we've been trying to get referrals from them.  One day it will happen, we will just have to be persistent.
Other than it being Halloween, I feel like has been a pretty uneventful week.  We didn't have to go to transfer meeting, which means we get to stay together, but it also means that we had to plan lessons for Wednesday morning.  We've got a baptismal date with a 12 yr. old.  Her family (mom, brother, uncles, cousins) are all less active members, except for the few that are active.  She's really sweet, and really likes to learn, and likes to talk with us.  We also found a less active for our YSA branch, who wants to come back to church, and she's really neat.  Things have bene going really well.  It always seems like we spend so long knocking on doors where no one is home or driving around trying to find someone to teach, but when we get home for the night, and add all our lessons up, it usually turns out to be a pretty good day. 
This email seems to be pretty short, but I can't think of anything else that has really been going on.  We just keep looking for new people to teach, and helping the people we are teaching come to church, and keep their commitments!
Love you lots!

October 29, 2012

Hello everybody!
We got our transfer calls today!  Hna. Cardoza and I are staying together for another transfer!
We're pretty excited!
This week has been pretty good!
We've gotten to spend some time with some more members this week, which is always good.  We've only had three Sundays of actual church this transfer, so I still feel like I'm meeting people. 
We found a few more people to teach.  It looks like there is some good potential in all of them.  (Plus I'm trying to be optimistic and have the faith that all will get baptized!)  I've learned that as long as missionaries have the faith, that the Lord will work miracles!  So if I have the faith and am opitmistic, the Lord will take care of the rest.  But that if I think that some one isn't going to get baptized then I am probably right.
We've found quite a few new people, but we haven't been able to get back to see them.  I think that is my least favorite part of missionary work.  Setting the return appointments, and them not being home, and then trying and trying and never finding them.  We do have a lot of people in the area that work a ton.  They are never home!  It's crazy how much some people work!
And we've been working with some less actives.  Some are a little more willing to come to church than others, but we are helping them come back, and we are not giving up on anyone just yet. 
We had stake conference this weekend.  It was really good!  Everyone seemed to enjoy it!
The branch, and the english wards in the building, had a trunk or treat on Friday night.  It was really cold!  All of the members have told us that winter has officially begun.  The cold isn't too bad, it just has this nasty bitterness to it.  I'm going to blame that on the humidity.  Although Hna. Cardoza says it feels just like spring time in Seattle.  Last night, a member asked us why we weren't shivering.  We told him that is because we are used to the cold, and that this is nothing!
Well, I think that's about it for now!
Love you lots!

Short and Sweet

Well, this weekend was pretty good.  We met the wife of one of our investigators and started to teach her too.  The branch had a halloween party last weekend, which was kinda fun, and some of the less-actives that we invited showed up.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.  Hna. Cardoza and went as each other (we switched name tags.)  We taught a few people this weekend. 
Nothing else too crazy or exciting happened.
Well, love you all lots!

A Little Late this week....

Surprise!  It's your weekly email!
I know it's a little late, but it's got a great story attached.
We went to the temple today.  We're now allowed to attend the temple once a quarter, on our P-day, so long as a member drives us.  But because the temple is closed on Monday, we get to change our P-day.  So this week, it's Friday.  (This also means that we get P-day again on Monday!)
We've still been working on finding new investigators, and helping them get to baptism.  So it's been pretty busy.  We had a ton of lessons fall through last week.  No one was ever home. 
On Saturday, the area presidency came to speak to all three Houston Missions.  It was a lot of fun, and they gave great talks.  I know I learned a lot!  That evening, the branch was having a baptism for an 8 year old member, so we spent most of the afternoon trying to get an investigator there.  He's been kinda sick, so we managed to get him to the church for a blessing from the elders, and then he just kinda hung around until the baptism.  Two other wards had baptisms that same time, so he saw a few people get baptized. 
This week has been a little bit better than last week, we've found a new investigator, and we've found a few more lessons. 
We went on exchanges yesterday, I got to stay here and have Hna. Kennedy with me. 
The last two weeks haven't been too exciting, sorry.  We just keep looking for people to teach.  We've got a few people that we've taught one or two times, but we've been having problems getting in touch with them, especially since everyone is home for only two hours everyday, and they are all at home at the same time, but we never manage to find anyone.  It's kinda frustrating.  But I know that the Lord has people for us to teach, we just have to go out and find them.
Well, I think that's it for now!
Talk to you soon!
Love, Amber

October 8, 2012

Hello family!
Wasn't conference just great!! I can't believe it's over though, it all went by so fast.  We got to watch conference at one of the buildings in our stake, but other than the missionaries, there were only two other members there on Saturday, a handful Sunday morning, and somewhere in between for Sunday afternoon.  There were a lot of people who stayed home and watched I guess.  But we had a grea time!   I was all excited about the temple in Peru!  That's where Simon is from, and I know a couple other members who lived there or served missions there.  I think this is the first time that a foreign temple announcement has been so real for me, knowing how it really will impact the members there.  Then we heard about the missionaries!  We are all stoked, and a few of the elders were talking about how their little brothers or sisters could leave right now, or before they get back.  We all thought it was really neat.  As we walked out of Saturday morning session we were all talking about it and remembering how conference used to be like 80 hours long every session, and that the last two hours had just flown by. 
(We also think we need to put some signs on our cars that say "Questions? Ask the missionaries...they can help you!"
We didn't get any investigators to conference, but we got some recent converts who we weren't sure would be able to make it so that was fun.  The ward that meet in the building also did a pot-luck in between Sunday sessions. 
But other than conference...
We found a few more new people to teach this week.  We'll go back and see them tomorrow or wednesday.  We taught some less actives this week.  We stopped by on Monday, talked with them, and then set up an appointment to come back later.  The day we stopped by was the day that Hermano's father had passed away.  It was really neat to see the Lord prepare them and us to be in the right place and the right time.  It's been a pretty good week. 
They have cut down on MTC time.  Hna. Cardoza said that her group was one of the last to do 9 weeks at the MTC, now they'll do 6.  We've also had that 12 week program thing for a while.  I had the privilege of doing when I got to Texas, since they had done it as a mission, and I didn't get to do it.  It really just means and extra hour of comp study and a program to follow.  New missionaries don't really learn how to teach the lessons at the MTC, so they get to learn it in the field!
I keep forgetting my camera, so I'll get some pictures next week!
Well....I think that's it for now!
Love you lots!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

October 1, 2012

Hello family!

Things are going really good here in Texas!  It is cooling down quite
a bit.  It was actually kinda chilly yesterday.  

This week has been kinda crazy, and really long and fast at the same time.  We've been
trying to get in contact with a lot of people who used to be
investigating the church, and we've found a family that used to meet
with the missionaries.  We are really excited for them.  We also have
a couple of other really promising new investigators as well. 

We've been working with some less-actives, and one of them actually came
to church yesterday!  Yay!  

They did make a new ward in our stake, thus the big fancy meeting.  It doesn't really effect us, but our
meeting time has changed, and the youth and primary programs are now
combined with one of the English wards.

Our zone conference with Elder Ellis was really good.  We were really
spiritually fed by the messages that he and his wife shared.
And Saturday we got to go to the Relief Society broadcast.  We went
with a member, and they invited an investigator that we have.  So that
was really good.  She really liked it.  We were really blessed by the
messages they shared.

We've been having a great time, and I'm getting to know the area
(which is really big) and the members.

Well, love you lots!
Hope you all have a great week!
Love, Amber


Hello family!
I've gone back Spanish-speaking.  Which we all thought was going to happen.  I'm now in Kemah South.  It's in the same zone as Galveston, so I've been moved back to the bay.  Actually, where the Galveston off-island area stops is theoretically where ours should begin.  But I think that change happens in the middle of nowhere, where no one actually lives, so we're still not sure on that.  The area is quite the change from my last one.  I've gone from fancy chemical engineers to migrant Hispanics.  But I'm loving it so far. 

Our little branch is really good, and there are some really good members here.  We also work in the local singles branch.  We don't get to do a whole lot of work with them, because the YSA boundries are a whole lot bigger than our Spanish ones.  But it's kinda fun so far. 

We don't have a whole lot of investigators right now, or even a whole lot of less actives, so we've been going through our list of former investigators.  We've had some good success so far, a couple of return appointments and whatnot. 

My new companion is Hna. Cardoza.  She's from Seattle, and is in her third transfer. 

We are having special zone conferences this weekend.  Elder Ellis (2nd quorum of the 70) is coming to speak with us and do a mission tour.  It should be a really good meeting.  The ward is in our building, so our branch and the two English wards, will be having a "special meeting" on Sunday.  It seems like they are going to make a new English ward.  Everyone is full of speculation.  So that'll be really fun.  It might mean that we have to change our meeting time.  We'll probably go to 4 wards in the building after that. 

We have a couple of brand new converts here, and they are really solid.  A young couple with a daughter.  I've really enjoyed getting to know them.  (I've noticed this trend where I come into an area with brand new converts, not just converts, but super solid members in almost every area I've gone too...have y'all noticed it too?  I guess I'm here to strengthen brand new member, which I love!)

We've been having some chillier days, which is good.  I'm done with the hot.  Although I've heard it gets pretty chilly on the gulf.
Well, I can't think of much else!
Love you lots!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Groceries or Dinner?

It's the last week of the transfer.  I can't believe how fast it's gone by.  But this week has been really good!
We've been doing a lot of service this week, which is fantastic!  We love being able to help out anyone and everyone!  We've been cleaning houses, stuffing envelopes, tying blankets with the young women...all sorts of stuff.
This week has been kinda crazy too though.  I sprained my foot during soccer last week, and it got worse before it got better, so we headed up to the doctor.  (plus he doesn't charge the missionaries, and an x-ray is really the only way to tell what is wrong.)  But it's just a sprain, and getting better quickly.  (I guess I now take my soccer a little too seriously ;) 
 And we had an exchange this week. I got to go to Manvel with Hna. Greenwood.  She's in her second transfer, so it was fun to be with her, and to go back to a Spanish area.  Although all the people we taught were bilingual and preferred English, but it was still lots of fun.   Manvel is kinda out in the middle of the country, so we did a lot of driving, which gave us a lot of time to get to know each other.  
We've had some really great lessons this week.  We have three new investigators!  We've been trying to get a hold of some less actives, and just this past week we've been able to sit down with them.  One family has two girls who we are teaching, and the other has just one girl.  We are super excited to be able to teach them, and to help their families come back to church!
We've also been able to get in contact with a few more less-actives, and were even able to teach some this week!  
We stopped by to visit some members, just to get to know them, and because we couldn't even put a name to a face when someone described them to us.  They are a really cute couple.  But as we were talking with them and getting to know them, she just got up and started doing something in the kitchen.  She's from the Phillipines, so I thought "oh no, they are going to try to feed us, and we have a dinner appointment in 30 minutes".   And then the next thing I know, he's telling her "no, not that, they don't like that", or "give them this brand we don't like that one."  Anyway, they started placing grocery bags down at our feet full of stuff.  Freezer meals, peanut butter, shampoo, laundry soap, water, milk, bacon...all sorts of stuff.  (We did eat some ice cream with them though)  I guess they used to feed the missionaries all the time, but as their schedules got crazier and they weren't always able to have the missionaries over, they asked the missionaries if they would rather have dinner or groceries, and they said groceries.  So we then drove home with all that stuff, dropped it off quickly and booked it to dinner.  Which was a blast.  But that's the fun story of the week.
Well, love you all lots!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September already!

Can y'all believe that's it's September?  I sure can't!  It's crazy how fast time goes!  
I got the package, and the treats made it here ok!
This past week has been pretty good.  We decided to take our bikes to the park at the edge of our area for p-day, and rode around a little bit.  It was kinda cool, and there were some neat bugs, and lots of butterflies, but nothing too eventful.
We had zone meeting this week, which was lots of fun.  We basically reviewed what we learned in zone conference the week before, but it was good practice that we all needed.  We were also reminded of setting goals the Lord's way.  Seeking for his advice, and the goals He wants us to set, which means we do a lot more praying, and a lot less trusting in our plans.  
We were actually able to get into TWO less active homes this week!  Wahoo!!!  We were also able to get in touch with a few more.  So it has been a pretty good week.
A family from the ward invited the three sets of missionaries in the ward to their labor day BBQ, which was basically them, us, and one or two more family members, but it was a lot of fun, and some really good food.  We also had zone activity yesterday, which made for a very busy p-day.  We played chair soccer, which means that they more or less divided us up into districts, (although the four sisters managed to claim our own chair and be our own team.)  gave us a chair to guard (kinda like a goal)  and if your chair got hit by one of the two balls, then your team was out.  We managed to win a few games, and did fairly well for ourselves. it was a lot of fun.  Those six weeks of soccer at the MTC really came in handy.  Then we did some more less active hunting last night.  We found some really good leads, and we even taught a lesson.
We haven't had really been impacted by the hurricane, it sounds like it stayed mostly in Louisiana.  Although a less active has some family from New Orleans, so they came up to stay with her.  We've had some really great lessons with them.  
As far as scripture study goes...
Studies are one thing that Pres. Ashton really wants us to focus on.  So he gave us all sorts of ideas. And in our very first zone conference with him, we had a big zone study session.  I've learned that it is simply more that just reading.  It's asking ourselves questions.  Do I understand this phrase, what does this word really mean, and then looking for more scriptures to answer it.  And really letting the spirit enlighten our minds.  It's also making our own footnotes and cross references to other scriptures that we already know about that talk about the same subject, and using the footnotes.  (And of course writing it all down somewhere.)
I had a really good study of Helaman 5 a couple weeks ago.  It actually took me a few weeks to get through the whole chapter, (and I was using most, if not all, of my hour of study on it.)  And right now I've been working through King Benjamin's address, and Ether 12.  These are just a few starting points.  
Love you lots!

Kicked Out!

Well, this week has been more of the same I guess.  We've just been looking for more people to teach, and have been really focused on the less actives.  
Our zone conference this week was really good!
They've been working on the air conditioner in our apartment.  It seems we have a leak.  So they tried to fix it on Friday, and couldn't, so they let us use a portable air conditioner this weekend.  They've been working on installing the new AC this morning.  We are really excited to have a working AC unit!!!
We took the bikes out for a little bit this week, which was fun, and nice to be back on the bike!
We managed to get ourselves kicked out of a complex this week.  We'd been going by to find some less active members who live there, and the other day, when we were knocking on one of their doors, the manager came, yelling at us, about how we were trespassing, and she had called the police, and that we were no longer welcome on her property.  Because we were trying a few apartments, we parked at one end and walked to the other.  So she got in her car, followed us back to our van, and then proceeded to snap a few pictures on her cell phone of us, and the license plate number.   We had tried to tell her that we were trying to visit a specific member, and weren't really knocking other doors, but she wouldn't let us say anything, and told us that we were lying.  It was kind of a funny experience.  And definitely a new one.  Missionaries have been asked not to go around and just knock random doors by management before, but neither of us had been told to leave and never come back.  So that's the funny story of the week...
Well, it sound like everyone is doing well.  School started this week here.  There is a very fancy private school just behind our apartments, and they have the longest pick-up line ever!!! So we just try to avoid that area from 2:30-5:00.  It kinda reminded me of the charter school days, but this line was soooo much longer.  
I think that is about it for this week...
Love you all!

August 20, 2012

Well, I feel like there was something I forget to tell everyone last week, but now I can't remember.  
Our P-day was pretty crazy.  The elders had the van all morning, so we weren't able to leave our apartment until later on in the day, and didn't have a whole lot of time to email.  
We have been doing a lot of work with less-actives this week, so even though we don't teach too many lessons, we are figuring out where people are and when we can see them.  Plus, the area got a little bit bigger at transfers, so we have some new territory to work with.
We have a few people we are teaching right now, but we'll see how that goes. 
We have zone conference this week!  I am super excited!
We have also been giving a lot of service, we even helped our ward mission leader move, so there isn't much time for tracting between all the less active hunting and service we've been encouraged to do.
The English ward is very different from the Spanish ward.  I don't have to play the piano at all, which is kinda nice!  Plus the members are just a little bit different.  There are a lot more members who have been members all of their lives.  The Spanish wards have a lot of converts.  Which means that the flow of church is just  little bit different.  It's all good, just a little different.
We have had a ton of rain this weekend, which is good.  And it's actually a pretty decent temperature right now.  Not too hot.  The rain cooled everything down, which was good becuase our air conditioner broke this weekend.  It is nice and toasty in our apartment.  We've got fans blowing, but their not doing too much, here's hoping that they maintance people fix it today!
Well, I love you lots!
Have a great first week at school!

Monday, August 13, 2012

August 13, 2012 - Transferred!

Well it's been a crazy, but good week.  
First off, I'm now in Memorial West.  It's an English ward.  I'm really excited for a new experience.  The Bilingual area was cool, but this will be full English.  We'll see how much Spanish I keep :)  
My new companion is Sis. Peck.  She's from Bountiful, and has three brothers and sisters.  She goes home when I do, so it's been a fun week.  Our transfers were a little crazy because Sis. Peck's companion didn't get put on the transfer list, so they weren't at transfer meeting.  I had to be companions with the other sister's new companion until we could drive up to the apartment and pack all her stuff.  It was kinda crazy!  
My new area was part of a van area, so we get to drive around a mini van.  There had been two sets of elders serving in the same ward, and they were both bike areas, so on P-days they had to pick up all the missionaries to do shopping and stuff.  But they consolidated the areas, so now there is just one companionship, so we only have to give them the van when they need it.  It's kinda weird being a missionary and driving a mini-van, but it's kinda fun at the same time!
We've got a few people to teach here, and a couple of really good recent converts that we are still working with.  We are always looking for more people, and we are really focusing on working with less actives.  
Sounds like everything is crazy with school coming up and what not.  
The weather is definitely getting cooler.  It's weird to think that summer's almost over.
It is still ridiculously humid though...and I'm still not used to it.  (I am missing the nice ocean breeze though!)
Well, I don't think there is much else going on, we just keep on working!
Love you lots!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

August 6, 2012

Well, today our transfer calls came....
and I'm being transfered!
I'm excited to go see a new area, and I will most likely be heading up to the city! I'm going to miss the island though.
But I'm a little sad to leave some of our investigators, as usual.  This week, we've been working with one of our Spanish investigators.  He asks a ton of questions, usually good ones, and is reading in the Book of Mormon.  Also, he really likes coming to church.  He said before he met with us, he would hope that someone would call him with some work for him to do, but now, he hopes that no one calls him so he can come to church!  Plus, he's getting to be friends with the members that we bring over.
We have also really been focusing on the less actives of the area, using the new finding method!  It's pretty fun!  Plus missionaries are a lot less scary when they are asking and showing that they care about someone's neighbor.  So people are generally a little bit nicer. 
We also started teaching this cute 18 yr old.  Her dad sent the missionaries over.  After we had taught her, and answered some of her questions, we invited her to say the prayer.  And it was so awesome.  One of the most sincere prayers I've ever heard from an invesigator.  We are really excited for her.  
We've been working more and more every day, just working on getting back to full strength, although I'm not reallly allowed to ride a bike right now, so we've been in the car a lot.  Which is good for my tummy, just not the best way to do missionary work in Galveston.
It's been really hot, but I think it's mostly the humidity that is killing me.  And I guess it isn't as bad as it was last year, so I'm just counting my blessings.  
Well, I think that's about it for now!
Love you all lots!

July 30, 2012

I can't believe that July is basically gone.  It's crazy how time flies!
Well, since last week we had our first interviews with Pres. Ashton, and he told us to find new people by going to the recent converts, less actives, part member families, and young single adults.  So we've been doing a little bit of looking to find all these people in our 2 wards.  But it's totally working.  We are finding people that would normally tell us no in the street, or even if we knocked their door, but because we're asking about their neighbors it gives us something else to talk about.  
We've started teaching a less active sister who just moved here a few weeks ago, but had been bringing her boyfried to a different chapel.  They got confused on which building they needed to attend.  But we were able to stop by and see them this week.  She really wants to come to church, and he is very open to reading the Book of Mormon and finding out if it's true.  Things are just starting to pick up, and we've got some really good investigators right now, but we are still doing a lot of looking.  Only now our looking is a lot more successful.  So that's good.
I feel like there is more to talk about, but I can't reallly think of anything.  Looking for people in this new way is really about all we've done this week. Although we also got to eat with English members this week.  Which is always fun.  Mexican food sure is tasty, but I think we get a little more variety with the English members.  Plus some members like to make the missionaries their guinea pigs when it comes to new dishes.  
Well....I love you all!
I guess if I think of something else I'll let you know, but that's it for now.
Love, Amber

Julyl 23, 2012

Well, things are going good here in Galveston.
We've got a couple of really good investigators right now.  Although we found out today that our "Sunday miracle" is moving to Boston.  So we'll try to get the missionaries up there to teach her.   But we had some more Sunday miracles yesterday.  We finally got to teach an investigator from the English area that had been out of town for the past few weeks or so.  We had a really good lesson with him yesterday.  He remembered a lot of what the sisters had taught him over two months ago.  Then, we went to teach an investigator that the elders had been teaching, until he moved into our area.  We've been trying to sit down and teach him, and we had taught one lesson to his friend,  but his roommate decided to sit in on the lesson as well.  So our teaching pool about doubled yesterday!
It has been pretty hot and humid down here.  The only upside is that there is almost always a breeze in Galveston.  And we've had a hard time finding people this week.  There aren't a lot of people outside, and there aren't a lot of people home when we knock doors.  I think there are a lot of homes in our area that are beach homes or vacation rentals, so a lot of those people aren't interested.  And the two places where people congregate here are the two places we can't go: the beach, and the cruise terminal.  But we will keep on looking for people. 
Our zone conference with Pres. Ashton last week was really good!  He basically picked up where Pres. Saylin left off, and then taught us the next step to being better missionaries, and how to better study the scriptures.  It was really cool!  Then we got to say hello, and introduce ourselves to him and Sis. Ashton.  Tomorrow we will have our first interviews with him.  There haven't really been too many changes yet.  But I'm sure that some are on their way!
We haven't done much more than bike around, talk to people, and try to find some lessons.  We're going through a bunch of former investigators,  trying to go to places that we don't usually go in our area, but we mostly just hang out on bikes in the sun.
Well....I can't think of any thing else to say...It's been a kinda slow week.
Love you lots!

July 16, 2012

Hello everyone!!!!!
Thanks for the birthday wishes.  It ended up being a pretty good birthday.  We still have birthday cake sitting on our counter.  We made the cake you sent, and my district leader made me a cake as we have been eating a lot of cake!
I got everyone's packages.  All the shirts fit good.  And they will all work.  The new purse works as well.  
Our zone meeting last week was very good.  It was a little bit different than the other ones.  It was still focused on how to be good missionaries, but we didn't do any practicing, and the meeting schedule was just a little different.  All of the Saylin's kids spoke to us, and the Pres and Sis Saylin spoke as well.  We then ate lunch with them, took a picture, and got to say one last goodbye.  It was an amazing meeting.  Pres Ashton flies in today.  We are really excited for them to come!
The wedding pictures look way cute!  It looks like everyone had a great time.  
This week the work has been kinda slow.  We had to drop a few investigators, and we couldn't get in touch with a lot of them.  Plus we weren't feeling like we were finding anybody who was super interested in the gospel.  But on Sunday, some of the Spanish members had brought their niece with them, and asked us to sit with her during class and Sacrament Meeting.  We also had a dinner appointment with some English members yesterday.  The sister is actually the daughter of the Spanish members, so the parents and the niece were at dinner.  We taught her an amazing first lesson, with the help of the family.  She had been meeting with missionaries in Mexico for like three years, and really likes the church.  We set a baptismal date with her, and she even asked us if we could do it sooner.  
She has definitely been the miracle of the week.  We get excited everytime we think about how we get to teach her.  We haven't had too many other lessons this week. We tried a few new people, but it doesn't look like much potential there,  and we have one Spanish investigator who is making some progress, but isn't progressing incredible quickly or anything.  This week we were finally able to figure out his doubt.  So it's been nice being able to teach to resolve that doubt rather than just teach, hoping that we aren't making him anymore confused.  We've just been doing a lot of talking to people, and trying to stay out of the rain.  The rain has been absolutely nuts this last week.  It would just pour in the morning, all through our studies, and even lunch.  But then, right as we were getting ready to head out to work, the rain would let up.  So it's been cooler this week, and not as ridiculously hot as it was before, but it's been really, really, wet.  There are still puddles in the street from all the water.  
We've got another zone conference this week, to meet the Ashtons, and we will have interviews with him soon.  We are starting the fourth week of the transfer.  It's weird to think that this transfer is halfway over.  An when it's over, I will be halfway done with my time in Texas.  It is a little crazy to think about.
Well...I can't think of anything else to say.  Other than our miracle on Sunday, work wise it's been kind of a dull week.
Love you lots!
Hope you get to Texas safely!

July 9, 2012

Happy Wedding Week Everybody!
I can't decide whose week is going to be busier, yours or mine!  
Today we have zone activity, so that should be fun, as well as special zone conferences.   Plus next Monday is when Pres. Ashton will get here, so we've got a few more meetings planned out for this month.  
This week has been pretty good.  We had zone meeting this week, which is always fun.  July 4th was an intersting work day.  We had been given permission to do our last hour of studies at 8:00 rather than in the morning, if we would find it too hard to go out and work with all the festivites.  But because it was a holiday, there were plenty of people to talk too.  And we were able to schedule some appointments that night, but they were both Spanish appointments, because Hispanics don't really celebrate the Fourth of July.  But the next day, there was absolutely nobdoy in the street, and all of our appointments fell through, we even had a member to come with us.  
Last night was the special investigator devotional.  Once a month the zone has a devotional where recently baptized members can share their testimonies and experiences with investigators of the church.  We had two investigators (one Spanish and one English) who came.  It was really good and they really liked it.  Plus, we got asked to find someone to do the special musical number, but our member was unable to help us at the last minute, so we sang.  It was a little nerve racking.  I much prefer sitting behind the piano where I don't have to look at people, but I think we did ok.  (I couldn't just sit behind the piano and make my companion sing all by herself!)
I think even crazier than Brenna getting married is that I will be turning 23 this week.  Still not sure if I'm ok with that.  It's too old.  Plus it's weird to think that if I hadn't gotten sick that I would be flying home tomorrow.  (not that I'm bitter about having a few more months in the mission, just that it's weird that my MTC companions are coming home.)  
We're still getting things figured out as we work on combining the areas.  It seemed like all the English investigators just fell off the face of the earth.  I think with it being a holiday and all there were a lot of people who were out of town, or super busy, or had family, or whatnot.  So I can't tell you about any of them.  
We've got one real solid Spanish investigator though.  He really likes coming to church, and came to the devotional last night.  Plus, he has a million questions for us everytime we go over there.  We're still working on answering them all.
Well....I can't really think of anything else.  
Hope everything goes well this week!
Love, Amber

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pictures, moving, and a bilingual area!

Eek!  I can't believe it's July!  I'm actually having a bit of an age crisis.  23 just sounds so old.  I think me turning 23 is weirder than Brenna getting married.
Anyways, transfers were last week. They combined the Galveston sisters into one area.  So we teach in both Spanish and English, and get to go to both sacrament meetings!  Which means we had to do some moving.  We had to vacate my old apartment.  We now live at: 
 515 1st street.  Apt 362. 
 Galveston, TX 77550.  
Send stuff here!  There aren't missionaries living in my old apartment so change this fast!
My new companion is Sis. Hull.  She's from Hermiston Oregon.  We get along really well!  We had a good time this week moving, and sorting through all our stuff.  We took a lot of things like dishes, desks, and whatnot, that we had in both apartments and went through it all and are going to keep the best stuff.  
Since we had to combine our areas we had a lot of new planning to do.  We to catch each other up on investigators, members, converts, less actives, and what not. 
I am way excited to be in a bilingual area!  We are going to have so much work.  We had only been able to leave and work for a few hours in the evenings.  After studies, and cleaning, moving and rearranging, there hasn't been a whole lot of time for proselyting.  That will definitely pick up this week.  We have a lot of work to do.  Each area had about just enough work to get along, not a ton, and we had quite a bit of time betweeen visits.  So now we have twice as many investigators, and people to visit, we should stay pretty busy.  
Well, it sounds like everyone is happy and busy and having a good time!
I can't really think of anything else to tell you all.
Love you lots!
 Fishing with the district!

 Hna. Worthen and Hna. Lewis made a cake!

 Sis. Holmes and Hna. Lewis

 Zone Activity - Playing Quidditch!

Monday, June 25, 2012

An Awesome Week!

Hello Family!!!!
It is crazy to think that a whole transfer has gone by.  Today they called us to tell us that my companion, Hna. Worthen, is getting transferred.  I'll be staying here though, so I'm kinda excited to see who my new companion will be.  
Our new mission president isn't coming until the middle of July.  His wife is pregnant, and is due at the beginning of July, so they won't be coming out until after that.  I don't know of any other big meetings that we are having, other than this week's transfer meeting.  (Which should be fairly well attended, there are a lot of missionaries leaving/coming in this transfer. )
I can't believe that July is just around the corner.  We stopped to talk to some people yesterday who were putting up their 4th of July decorations.  Which really just made me think that my birthday is just a few weeks away as well.  I can't believe I'm going to be 23, it just sounds so old.  But after my birthday is the wedding.  I hadn't really thought about that until just now as I was reading your email.  
We got a storm watch text last week.  It looked like there was a storm headed our way, but today we got an email from the office saying that this storm probably won't make it to us.  It is supposed to get pretty hot this week.  But it does stay a little cooler (about 5 degrees) here in Galveston, as opposed to in Houston, so that's good.  
Work wise we had an awesome week!  We found a couple new investigators, one of which accepted a date, and had two people come to church!  We also had some really good lessons this week.  We took one of our investigators out to a member's house, and ate dinner with them, and then had a lesson!  It was an amazing lesson.  We are going back out there tonight with him for a FHE.  
We also did some service for our landlord.  Our complex is pretty small, just a few apartments, so we are always willing to help with whatever.  One of the apartments was vacated last week, so we asked if we could help get it ready to rent again.  He asked if we would be willing to help paint.  So Hna. Worthen and I went down one day and started painting, but we realized that it would take us way to long to paint it all, so we invited the rest of our district over.  It was a great district wide service project!  
I think that is about it for this week!
Love you lots!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 18, 2012

Hello everyone!
It's been a pretty good week here in Galveston!
We have four new investigators this week!  One of them is the mom of a part member family we are teaching.  The dad is a less-active, so we are working with him, and the kids are recent converts. 
We also started teaching this guy, Eric, who we had kinda been playing phone tag with for a few weeks.  But we finally got out to see him, and had a great lesson with him.  He had actually been meeting with missionaries a long time ago, and was thinking about getting baptized, but didn't.  So we set a date with him.  We are hoping that he progress really well, and will actually come to church with us.  
Our other two new investigators are friends who have just recently come up from Mexico.  One of them also accepted a baptismal date. 
We are working on finding new investigators, always.  But we've had some good lessons this week, and had a great lesson with some members at the church.
One of the things we do to help members with missionary work is take them on a tour of the church building.  We ask them about experiences they've had in the different rooms:  relief society, primary, chapel, that sort of thing, and then take them down into the font, and ask them about their baptisms, and which of their friends and/or families they would like to see the font!  It's a way cool experience, and the spirit is really strong.  So we got a couple of referrals of people we can go teach from this family.  Now we just have to do some follow up.  
Our baptism last week got confirmed yesterday.  They did the service right after church, so confirmations were yesterday.  That was really cool.  I also got to accompany the primary sing to their dad's, so that was fun.  
It's crazy how much this little branch reminds me of my first area.  Our proselyting area covers about half of the island, as well as a few towns right on the mainland.  And it being Galveston, not everyone has a car.  It just makes me think of Guadalajara, and all the people who didn't have their own cars, as well as all of our members who lived in the little towns outside of the city.  But I think that is part of the reason why I love it here!
Last week our P-day was pretty fun!  We did some fishing (although, as usual, I did not catch anything!)  But it was still fun.  We had a good little BBQ, and played a little volleyball, and fished.  It was a fun day!
Well, I think that's about it!
Love you all lots!

June 11, 2012

So first off, yesterday was baptism day!  We had the baptism of Sammie, a nine year old, and Yeny, an eight year old (the missionaries have been working to reactivate her family for a while, so she's almost like one of our baptisms,)  and the elders in our branch also had a baptism.  They just did the service right after church, so there were a lot of members there. It was a really neat experience.
Other than Sammie, we haven't been teaching too many people.  We have one investigator, Vidal.  He is the brother of a less active member, and is friend's with Yeny's mom.  So she invited him to come over to her house one night while we were there and we started teaching him.  We just taught him the plan of salvation last week.  I think we are just going to read with him in the Book of Mormon next time.  We've been trying to find new investigators, so we've been calling and stopping by all of the people in our planners.  We had a few lessons on Saturday, but it is really hard to get a hold of some of these people down here.  Hispanics just work and work and work.  I don't get their lifestyle.  So, it's hard to find times when they are willing to listen to us.  But we have the faith that we will find some!  We are doing a lot of finding.  We eat with members about twice a week, and are always looking for more people to share the gospel with.  
Tonight we are going to do a FHE with a part-member family.  We are going to teach them about Lehi's dream.  
We had sister's conference this week.  I got to accompany Hna. Harper again!  I love being able to play for everyone!  Plus, I always play the hymns in all the meetings I go to.  Lots of piano time!  Lots of the sisters gave talks, and Pres. and Sis. Saylin both spoke to us.  We had a question and answer session with president, and then we went over to the mission home for dinner and testimony meeting!  It was a really good meeting, and it was great to hear messages directed to us as sisters, and as sister missionaries.  
Sounds like lots of good wedding stuff is going on!  I bet it's going to get pretty crazy really soon!
Today we are going to have district activity.  We are going to go to a members home and go fishing, and have a pic-nic, and maybe play some volleyball and/or frisbee!  We are pretty stoked!
I'm so happy for Sarah!  That is way exciting! 
Well, I sent some pictures, so I hope everyone enjoys them.
Love you lots!
 Hna. Lewis and Hna. Harper

 Sister Lewis and Hna Lewis!

 Hna Lewis and Sister Holmes

 Hna Matthews, Sister Holmes, Hna Harper, Hna Moreno and Hna Lewis

 Hna Lewis and Hna Alsup

 Hna Moreno (from Spain!) and Hna Lewis

 Sammie and the Ward Mission Leader

 The Hnas. with Sammie and Yeny

 The Hnas with Sammie and her family

The Hnas with Yeny and her family

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tri-Mission Conference and a New Stake in Houston!

Hello family!
I was sad to hear about Gramma Bobbie.  There has always been a part of me that assumed she would just live forever! 
This week has been pretty crazy.  We had a zone meeting this week.  That was a lot of fun.  We learned some new ways to share the gospel with people!  It is just what we were hoping to learn from zone meeting: how to get more people to listen!  
Then on Saturday, we drove up to Houston for a Tri-mission conference.  Elder Paul Johnson of the seventy was in town for our special meeting yesterday, and  had a few hours free in his schedule, so he decided to speak with the missionaries!  The missionaries from the other two Houston missions came as well.   And I finally got to meet Sis. Cable!  She was there, and was looking for me!  He also had a few area authorities with him.  It was a really good meeting!  
Yesterday, they created the 18th stake in Houston.  Which is why that meeting was so historic.  In order to create this stake, they had to shift like 6 other stakes around.   Our stake lost a ward or two to different stakes (it may have even been the new stake) so we were invited to go, even though nothing changed for us down here.  It was not a Spanish-only thing like I had orginially anticipated.  I don't really know why I thought that.  But it was fun to be there, and to see how excited the members were for the growth of the church in Houston!
But there was a lot of traveling this week!
But I had heard about it in my last area, and their  Spanish stakes were affected, so I guess that's how I got things all mixed up. 
We are going to have a baptism this week!  We are pretty excited.  Galveston is a tough area, so we are very excited for her!
I don't really have much else to say, there wasn't a whole lot going on this week.
Love you lots!

Monday, May 21, 2012


Greetings from....
Galveston Island!
That's right, I've been transferred down to Galveston Island.  And it is great!  I love being down here!  It is so different than being in Houston, or even the Houston suburbs.  The whole place is dripping with history.  Which is reallyl cool.  Plus, I get a more "southern" feel.  Houston is a relatively new city, it really started to grow once air conditioning became affordable for everyone.  So even the poor neighborhoods didn't feel that poor or even that old.  But Galveston on the other hand is totally an old little city.  I guess I'm about as far away from the mission office as the missionaries get.  So you should totally send stuff to me here, instead of at the office.  
My companion is Hna. Worthen.  She's from Centerville, she's the third of four girls.  And we get along really well.  We hit it off right away.  And Galveston is a bike area.  We don't even have a car.  So we ride around everywhere.  But that is the best way to do it.  We split the island with the elders, and the area of the English sisters is about the same as ours.  So we have a car that we share to use for things like going to church, shopping, and heading up to the mission office for things like zone conferences and stuff.  Sometimes I even forget that we are on an island.  We do a lot of our work in the "middle" of the island, so we don't see the ocean that much.  But that's ok.  There is definitely an island feel to everything.  People just live their lives at a slower pace than they do in Houston.  Plus, we see all sorts of people riding around on bikes too.  It's fun to ride along side them and talk about the gospel.  
There is just a little Spanish branch here, so they share with the English ward.  And they combine for things like primary and youth activities.  So our meetings are backwards.  We start with Sunday School and then Relief Society and Priesthood, and then have Sacrament meeting.  It's the smallest branch I've worked in.  
The last week of school must be fun! And crazy!  I don't really want to think about what summer is going to do to our missionary work.  There will be so many tourists here.  But last week was crazy, especially since we had to help with transfers!  Hna. Alsup and I were asked to go "running."  It's where they take the new missionaries, direct from the airport, and give them a chance to do some street contacting.  I had the privilege of being assigned to work with the sister from Spain.  Which was fun for both of us.  Especially since we played the "do you know" game.  And she had quite a few friends that I served with in Madrid.  So it was really fun to make those connections, for both of us!  
We still go running in the mornings. I've found that unless you get a companion who is a die hard runner, the both of you have to talk yourselves into it.  
I bet you all had a lot of fun up at Tyler's house.  And I would love to see some pictures!  (I will send you some next week for sure!)
And it sounds like you are all having a lot of fun playing games!  I loved the engagements that you sent!  They are so cute!
Before I forget I should probably give you my address:
2216 Ave. O (that's an O as in Oreo!)  Apt #3 
Galveston, TX  77550
It sound's like it's been a crazy week in Russia!  But conferences and stuff like that are always fun.  And we as missionaries always love going to them.   Last week, it kinda hit me what it must be like to have to plan the conferences.  We just always show up, and everything is just there and taken care of.   We stopped by the office a few times last week, and we had to help accommodate the new missionaries for their first night here, so I got a little glimpse of all that goes on.  I'm glad that we as missionaries don't have to worry about it.  
I forgot a few things that I wanted to tell you!
Like the cool contacts of the week!
Last week, (so my last week in Houston)  we went to the park to do some contacting, and talked to a guy who is going to be a four time Olympic athlete.  He's getting ready to head to London!  I believe he does Tae Kwan Do.  He had some really good questions about the church, and we had a good little conversation with him.
And then just the other day, here in Galveston, we talked to the flag man of Galveston.  Apparently, from what I could put together, he carries an American Flag across the country without money.  He's just got the faith that other people will take care of him. 
Ok, so I really think that that is all for today!
Love you lots!

May 14, 2012

Hello Everyone!
I know it feels a little weird to write to you all right after the phone calls yesterday.  But we do get some time!
I'm glad I look better,  My weight is still not what it was before I left, but I don't feel like I need to get there.  I'm ok with where I'm at.  
I totally believe that they eat a lot of mangoes in Honduras.  I've heard they get to be super cheap here during the summer!  So I'm kinda excited for that.  We actually teach quite a few people from Honduras here, so I often throw in that my cousin is serving there.  We like to show people that the church is the same no matter where you go, so using other missionaries is a great way to do that.
We found a great little family last week.  He really wants to be able to set aside Sundays.  He's a mechanic, and has his own business, so he works a lot, but he's noticed that his friends who make the sacrifice to go to a church on Sunday seem to be happier than he is right now, so he wants to be able to make the change.  And his wife really likes what we are teaching.  They do their reading, and have some great questions!  He even told us not to answer some of them because he wants to read the Book of Mormon and figure them out by himself!  They have two daughters  ages 10 & 5.  So they are a cute little family.
This week is transfers, and I'm getting transferred!  I can't tell you where yet, but next week I will! 
Hope everyone is doing great!
Love you all!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Things are going good in Houston

Hello Family!
Things are going good here in Houston.  Although this last week it has started to get pretty hot.  And although the humidity doesn't really bother me like it did the first day,  I can definitely tell that the humidity makes a difference.  
I can imagine that wedding planning is pretty chaotic, especially if you're not quite sure what you're looking for.  But I guess it is a good way to stay busy.
It sounds like youth conference was good!  I'm glad that everybody had a good time. 
Hna. Alsup is the youngest of four girls.  She grew up in San Diego, although her family has moved to Utah over the last few years.  She went to BYU, and also got her master's at BYU.  In a lot of ways we are pretty similar.  
Brenna's flight sounds like a real adventure.  I just wasn't sure if it was an experience because it was Brenna who was flying, or if it really was a bad flight experience.  But I'm glad that she got there and back in one piece.  
We've got a good little pool of investigators right now.  And we've managed to find a few that really seem to have potential.  Sometimes people will let us in, and we'll teach them a few times, but we aren't quite sure if they are really going to understand and get baptized,  but right now almost all of our investigators seem like they'll be willing to make that step one day.  
Those little miracles are things like people who will really listen to you during a contact, so you can teach a little bit more than just "we're missionaries, and what we have to say will bless your life."  Or when a street contact will invite us in right on the spot, so we get to teach a first lesson right then and there.  And sometime people are just ready to accept the gospel,  so when people say "yeah of course"  it comes as a kind of shock, because we are so used to hearing no.  
I can't believe that this is the last week of the transfer.  It seems so unreal.  It really feels like I just got here yesterday, and yet it feels like I've been here forever.  But that is just how mission time goes.
Sometimes it feels like I've got forever to go, but then when I break the time down into transfers, it seems so short.  Especially since the time I spent in Spain seems so short looking back at it.
I'm finding myself thinking less and less about Spain.  It was a little weird to have to adapt to a new mission and a new mission culture, but I'm learning to love Houston!
Last week we had a zone p-day activity.  They divided the zone up into teams, and then we had an olympics/amazing race activity.  So that was pretty fun.  And today we are going to do something with our district, although we are still figuring out the details.  
Church was good this last weekend, although the English wards had stake conference this weekend, so we had the whole building to ourselves.  We had come early for meetings and whatnot, and the parking lot was absolutely empty.  It kinda reminded me of when the Portugese ward was meeting in our building, and they had stake conference, or world cup games or whatever, and no one was there when they were supposed to be.  
I think that's it for now!
Love you lots, Amber

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pictures from the Houston Temple

Sister Matthews, Sister Lewis, Sister Parra, Sister Avery

 The beautiful Houston Temple

Sister Avery and SisterLewis

A BIG thanks to the Avery family for sending us these pictures!  Sister Avery lives in our stake and played volleyball in high school with Sister Lewis!

Zone Conference and Intercambios

Hello everyone!  I hope that everyone has had a good week!
I had forgotten my camera, so I'm glad you got see some pictures!  So go ahead and post them!  I probably won't ever get to be companions with Sis. Avery, but sometimes you just never know!
This week we had zone conference!  It was amazing!  I love going them!  I also got to be part of the special musical number (I also get to play the opening and closing hymns, but that's just normal stuff)  I accompanied one of the other sisters in my district, Hna. Harper.  I had a lot of fun practicing last week.  (We did most of the practicing on P-day, and then ran into the other sisters at the church building so we had a bit of an impromptu practice session.  I didn't want to take up too much time out of our regular week)
We also had intercambios this week.  I stayed here and had Hna. Harper with me.  We had a good time, and saw a lot of miracles this weekend!  
I wonder what constitutes an eventful flight with Brenna.  Was there something more that made it eventful?  I'm glad that she's having a good time with his family, but we all knew that she would. And it sounds like wedding plans are coming along slowly but surely!  Which is probably the best way to do it.  
We don't do a lot of door to door tracting.  We mostly just talk to everyone we come across.  So we'll talk to people as we are coming and going from lessons, or while we are trying to find some unscheduled lessons.  We will also go out on our bikes and ride around looking for people who are out and about.  Sometimes we'll knock on a few doors, but it's not very effective and we knock on a lot of doors that don't get answered, so we don't do it a lot.  But we do get more references from members than we did in Spain, so that always helps.  Although I don't think we'll ever get to the point where we have so many member referrals that street contacting just gets in the way. 
We'll probably be doing phone calls between three and six on Sunday.  We have 11:00 church, so we'll just do it afterwards.  I'll let the members know and give them your email address. 
Sorry Gramma, I haven't met Sis. Cable yet...I'll let you know when I do. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

First Temple Trip and the "cool contact of the week"

Hello everybody!  
After reading through gramma and grampas latest blog entries, it kinda dawned on me that I'm not going to have nearly as many cool pictures to send home!   Oh well, I guess you'll all just get really familiar with the Houston suburbs!
This week we had our first temple trip.  We get to go twice a year (usually a few weeks after conference) and then on our last day in the mission.  The temple isn't actually in the mission, and the Houston temple is one of the small ones, so temple trips are very scheduled and very planned out.  It's not like in Madrid when we could pick which P-day worked best for us.  It's a very pretty temple, and it was fun to go! 
I've also noticed how different the P-days are here.  We have to take care of all the shopping and cleaning and what-nots, but we have managed to find some time every week to write letters and relax.  We never had relaxing p-days in Spain, and sometimes they were the most stressful.  But there isn't that need to see all "the sights" here in Houston like there was in Madrid.  So P-days are just one of the many things that changes from mission to mission. 
It's fun to hear about all the wedding planning going on!  I bet it gets a little stressful, but I'm sure that everything will turn out great!  I sure that Brenna will love meeting Will's family.  I haven't heard anything about San Antonio yet, so I can't tell her what to look out for.  I just haven't met anybody who has lived there or has family there. 
I love hearing about the missionary homecomings!  So much fun!  I feel bad for MaryAndra though.  She spoke with Richie and me when we left.  I hope one day she gets to speak in a regular sacrament meeting without too many extra people!
Well, we eat a lot of Mexican food.  Fajitas and what not.  It's all pretty tasty!  So we eat a lot of meat.  Actual meat, not just chicken.  So if we've eaten with a members a few nights in a row, I can tell that I'm still working on digesting everything.  There are some really good members here who are willing to help us out, and we are still working through the list of referrals we got from the members last week.  It was a kind of potluck event, so there were some Tamales, a Mexican soup (which I think is called might have to check on that.)  And some other pretty traditional food. 
Ready for the cool contact of the week...?  We were out just walking around and talking to some people, when we came across two really tall guys, so we started to talk to them.  Turns out they had both been professional basketball players, and one of them had played with the Jazz the year they went to the finals.  We had a little conversation with him about what he remembered from Utah.  I guess you never know who you might run into!
We had another really rainy day this last week.  And now I don't even really notice the humidity.  Although it does get a little worse right before the big storms come in.  
There are a lot more meetings here than there were in Spain.  At least that I'm noticing.  It was so hard to get everyone together that they would have to do their zone leaders conference via Skype.  But here everyone is much closer, so they come together more frequently.  This week we have zone conference.  I'm very excited!  I love being able to take the time to learn and be reminded of the little things that make the difference out here. 
Well...I guess that's about it for this week!
Love you lots,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First photo from Texas!

We received this photo in an email from Sister Saylin, the mission president's wife. It was taken the first day that Amber arrived in Houston. There are some new missionaries, some visiting family members, and Pres. and Sis. Saylin with their 7 children (all sitting in the same row). They range in age from 17 to 10 months. The baby's name is Sam Houston, so I am guessing that he was born while they have been serving there.

Is that really Spanish you're speaking?

April 16, 2012

Hello Family!
I happen to be right in the middle of my first Houston rainstorm. It's really pouring!!!!

We live in Stafford, and I don't actually know the address of our apartments, sorry.
We are definitely in the suburbs. There is no part of our area that could really be called the city. It's a different experience to walk down the street looking for people to talk to and not see anybody. There was almost always somebody in the street in Spain.

It's a pretty good sized ward. Definitely the biggest one I've been in. The boundaries are kinda big, so they've split the ward between Elders and Sisters. So we only work in about half of the ward. We actually do just about all our teaching in Spanish. There are English missionaries in our same area, so we pass the English speakers on to them. Some times we'll teach in English, if they would prefer it, but everyone we teach goes to the Spanish ward, so that's what we usually teach in.

We use plenty of Spanish so it has definitely come back. And some people do wonder where I'm from because I do have a different accent. I also have a very different way of expressing myself. I guess the way they put their sentences together in Spain is different than in Central America, so people have commented on that as well. I can also tell how Americanized Central American Spanish is. There are a lot of words and expressions that have made their way into Spanish, that it's kinda funny to listen to.

I'm doing ok with the food so far. But we are eating in members homes way more than we did in Spain. So that just usually fills me up for the rest of the day and the night. We actually ate in a members home yesterday after church, and I still wasn't really hungry when it was time for breakfast this morning. We do a little bit of cooking, but it's mostly microwave food or sandwiches and things we can eat on the road. It's difficult to get back to where we live and eat and head back out. So we just make do with what we've got.

We ride our bikes a lot, almost everyday. We will usually put them on the back of the car, and then park it in a neighborhood and bike around, but every once in a while we just take our bikes from the apartment. Our apartment is kinda in the corner of our area, so leaving straight from home isn't always the best idea.

We have our district meetings at a local church building. My last district meeting was pretty good, even though it was a little weird that it was in English. Any meeting of missionaries is in English, especially when there are more languages in the mission. Not everybody here speaks Spanish! And I believe that most of the native Spanish speakers speak good enough English, so there isn't really a need to do everything in the mission language. In Spain, all meetings had to be in Spanish, because most of the natives didn't speak any English. So adjusting to that has been a little weird, but good.

We've been looking for some new people to teach, and it looks like we've got a few good prospects...but they are all just starting out so we'll see how that goes.

Love you lots!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

First email from Texas!

April 9, 2012

Hello everyone! Let's see if I can start by answering everyone's questions!!!

First, it doesn't matter what side you wear your name tag, (at least that is what Sis. Earl told me in the MTC.) But because the elders wear them in their shirt pockets, most people just usually put them there. So if I've got something on the side of my shirt I'll switch it! I had also put my hair up for the humidity and the tracting we did, and then forgot about it, so by the time pictures rolled around, I had to wear it up.

The official name of the area is Houston 4 South. There are two sets of missionaries in our ward, (Houston 4) so we've split the area - it's not like Madrid where the two companionships share the whole area. It's a pretty great ward, and they have some good members who are willing to help us out! I guess I never realized just how bilingual these wards can be. The members who grew up here have learned English in school and whatnot, so there are a ton of members who can, and do, speak in English with ust. Not like Spain where if we found a member who did speak English, they would just speak in Spanish. There are also a lot of Hispanics who live in the area. The ward boundaries are actually kinda big, so it helps that we don't have to worry about a lot of travel time. I guess the biggest difference I notice is in the contacts. It's almost like a whole different mentality. We are definitely in the suburbs, and not the city, so we do a lot of riding around and looking for people who are out and about. We also do a lot of contacts in English, and then pass those names over to the English missionaries nearby.

The humidity hit me at first, but now I don't really notice it, although I might just be getting used to it.

I did get to meet the other missionaries. We all flew in together, and we sat right by each other, so we had some time to talk and to get to know one another.
My companion is Hna. Alsup, she's from San Diego. We actually had a few weeks in the MTC together, so she has just a few transfers left. I think she's going home in June. The schedule hasn't been too hard to adjust to. I got so tired after the first few days that my body just sort of reset itself. The first night we stayed with the Senior Couple working in the office. Then they drove us over to the mission office where we had some breakfast, some more training, and got to sit in on transfer meeting. They had my bike already to go, they picked it up with all of the other ones. We actually use our bikes quite a bit!

I know that Erianne Avery is here, it sounds like she's in another zone kinda far away, so maybe I'll get to see her when we all go to the temple in a couple weeks. They have temple trips a few weeks after conference, and you get to go again on your last day, so I'll still get to go, even if it's not as often.

For now, the mission office is a good enough place to send it. The office is actually in our area, so we get the mail frequently here, and packages should always go to the office.

It sounds like everyone is doing great! I hope everyone did have a good Easter! We had a good Easter program, and ate with some members, and then a devotional, so it was a pretty good Sunday.

It has been a little weird to adjust the way we do the missionary work. It's a different place, and the people here respond differently to different things, so the way we do contacts are different, and the way we commit people to stuff is different as well. So while I've had to change some things, there are still some things, like teaching techniques, that I learned in Spain, so I've been able to bring a new set of eyes to lessons. We spent a lot of time looking for people to teach this week. There was a family who got baptized over conference weekend, so they did the confirmations yesterday. We are planning a big missionary activity for next week, so hopefully we will have some more references from the members. We got a few good investigators right now, but not too many. So we are mostly working on finding people to teach. They had a devotional last night for investigators. They had several recent converts speak about their experience, and share their testimonies. They had asked me to play, so we got to go even though we didn't have any investigators.

I think that is about all for this week!

Love you lots!