Monday, December 30, 2013

Twenty-eighth Week in the Field

Hola Everyone!

Christmas this week was so good!! I really enjoyed calling home and speaking with my family. At first, I really didn't want to call home because I liked the point that I was at and didn't want to get distracted, but as I talked with them, it was really edifying and I felt like I was able to help them be able to feel the Christmas spirit more back home. After the fact, I was glad that I had called and I know my family really appreciated it too.

We were able to go caroling with Elder Bostrum, Elder Bate, Sister Anderson, and Sister Heslop on Christmas Eve as well. It went really well and I was able to tell that the people we had visited really appreciated our efforts to reach out to them. A few of our investigators started crying and I knew that we chose to visit them for a reason. We had a chance to visit three investigators (Lupe, Sandra, and Ruben) and then visit Pablo as well.

Not too many people answered their doors unfortunately on Christmas, but we were able to go to district meeting (which was really good) and be edified. I love being able to get together with missionaries and feel the spirit that's there as we uplift each other. It's one of my favorite things about the mission.

We also got to talk to Pablo on Christmas Eve and Christmas. He seemed like he was really lonely, but when we visited him, he told us that we (missionaries in general) give him hope and help him feel happier. When we saw him on Christmas, it was a little later in the day and almost dark, so his brother's non-member family invited us in. We were able to have a lesson with them even though in the past they hadn't shown much interest. I'm really excited to be able to hopefully continue teaching them and help them realize the support that they need to give Pablo in preparing to enter into the temple.

On Thursday, we had a chance to visit Guadalupe. She has such a sweet spirit. Her kids were all there because they obviously didn't have school, so it was a little hard to keep the spirit there. We were really only able to share a quick synopsis of the Alma the Younger story and talk about how the Atonement can help her in her life as well. She has a few problems with her husband and she feels stressed all the time, but she wants to become closer to Christ. She says that she doesn't want to come to church because she has her own church, but we suspect that part of that is her husband. She had told us earlier that her husband doesn't like it when we come over and talk to her, but he deals with it because she likes it. She's been reading (not too consistently) the Book of Mormon and has really good questions about it.

Also, on Thursday, we were able to do a little bit of tracting and we found this Hispanic man (Eduardo) who told us that he lives in Los Angeles, but is always in Thousand Oaks and Moorpark visiting his friends. He also told us that he was interested in coming to our church services and knew exactly where the building was. He wouldn't give us his address in LA, but he gave us his number and told us to remind him about church. Unfortunately, he didn't come to church, but we're definitely not going to give up on him. He has a lot of potential.

On Friday morning, I woke up with a really bad headache and a sore throat.  It's really hard sitting or standing for an extending period of time or I get really dizzy. I've been sick for the past few days and still don't feel really well, but hopefully I'll be able to get better soon and get back to work. Hermana Shepherd has been really helpful and patient, but I can tell that she's starting to get kind of restless and wants to go out and work more. She's so sweet and always offers to do things for me. We've also been able to get to know each other a little better over these past few days and we've realized that we have so much in common. I love being her companion and really enjoy working with her. She told me that she's never had a companion for more than one transfer and, even though I know that the Lord may have other plans, I really hope we get to stay together for at least one more.

I absolutely still love it here in Moorpark. The area is growing so much and even though we haven't been able to see a lot of progress with our investigators, I know that they'll all be baptized at some point. They are all so near and dear to my heart and so is the branch. This is my favorite unit that I've been able to serve in and I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be here and getting to know these people. 
You're all amazing and I hope that you all had and great Christmas and will have a great New Year's.  Thanks for all the love and support that you've all shown me this year and I hope that you all had a great one too!

Con amor,

Hermana Halliday

Decked out house in Little Mexico

 Vikings fans in California?

  Vikings fans in California?

 Me here in bed sick!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Twenty-seventh Week in the Field

Hola Everyone!!


This week was one of the most spiritually rewarding weeks that I've had in a while.  We had the opportunity to have the Mission Christmas Devotional and I got to go on exchanges this week too.

The Christmas Devotional was absolutely amazing!  The flute duet went really well and the spirit was definitely there with us.  All of the other performances went really well too.  There is some serious talent in this mission and even in just my zone as well.  One of our zone leaders and my district leader sang "Mary Did You Know" to the guitar and it was absolutely amazing.  They are sooo good.  (It figures since my district leader studied dance and music performance at Julliard before coming on the mission!)  President Castro knows exactly what to say to bring the spirit and helps all of us have a bigger vision of what's really important especially during this Christmas season. He talked a lot about what it means to have Christ be more present in our life and ways that we can show the Lord that we love Him.  I'm so excited to be able to serve more and have people be more willing to listen to our message.  I love the Christmas season and the happiness that everyone has regardless of what religion or race they are or beliefs they have or just type of person they are.  It definitely helps lift my spirits and my determination to work even harder.  After the more spiritual part of the devotional, we ate lunch (pizza) and got to play some fun (but still spiritual) games, with the other two zones that were there (Simi Valley and Newbury Park) focused around Christmas.  One included "bidding" a number of notes that you could get to guess what song they were trying to play on the piano.  No big deal, but my group guessed "Silent Night" correctly with one note!  :)  Overall, it was so much fun, but still spiritually rewarding.

I'm so eternally grateful for the loving sacrifice that Christ made for us so that we could get back to where we came from and live in happiness forever with our families.  I've been able to see the Atonement at work so much throughout my mission so far and especially during this Christmas season.  I hope all of you can look for ways that the Atonement has blessed your lives as well.  

I love being able to see our investigators progress and become closer to Christ.  I'm so grateful for all of them and love seeing them learn and have that stronger desire as well.  

Sandra is still doing great, even though we haven't really had the chance to teach her this week.  We've stopped by and shared a few scriptures with her, but her husband was never home, so we didn't want to teach the Plan of Salvation until both of them were there together so we could share how they could be together as a family forever.  She's so sweet and loves it when we come over in contrast to some of our other investigators.  She has such a genuine desire to keep learning.  

We don't have a lot of investigators right now that want to keep learning, but I'm so grateful for the opportunity to still be here in Moorpark and continue finding people to teach.  I was looking at our area book the other day (well I look at it everyday, but I realized this a few days ago).  I realized that every single teaching record for our investigators that we have in that book has my name on it.  It crazy that I've been here so long and built it up so much, but I still don't ever want to leave Moorpark.  Hermana Shepherd thinks I'm crazy because it's so small here.  She's even starting to get antsy even though she's only been here for three weeks.  

Pablo is still doing absolutely amazing. He is still focused on going to the temple in May. He told us that he gets lonely sometimes, but he loves it when we come over and share a gospel message with him. We finally got home teachers for him and we know they'll actually do it because they're both so great. I'm so blessed to be able to work with him and see his faith. He truly inspires me every time we visit him.  This time, I found out that he doesn't like brown people (irony), he loves Shania Twain, and he calls a brother in our branch "flacito" because he's really tall and super skinny.  I LOVE PABLO SO MUCH!!

Exchanges were so wonderful! I got to work with Hermana Bartschi this time. After five transfers, I finally got to work with her. She's one of the most Christ-like people I know and she's such a hard worker. We saw so many miracles and were able to just find a ton of people. We were covering an area that wasn't as built because there aren't as many Hispanics there, but we found them and were able to be guided by the spirit. For this exchange, I was working on inviting people to be baptized within the first meeting. We didn't actually get to physically ask anyone to be baptized, but we talked a lot about our purpose with them. The spirit of the goal was accomplished, but not the actually physical goal. I felt really satisfied overall though. 

On Saturday, we got to go to the branch's Christmas party.  It was dinner and a dance (obviously we didn't dance).  After we left, I felt like I wanted to be a full-fledged Mexican.  They dance so well and have such good rhythm.  AND, of course, the food was delicious.  I am totally coming back and visiting.  We even got Pablo to come AND he danced!!!  It was so adorable.  President Parra told us that we better come back and visit and that we all owe him a dance.  Leo, Nancy's boyfriend, came too!  It was pretty funny because we went and saw him earlier that day and then saw him at the party.  :)

I freaking love being here in Moorpark and I'm even more grateful that I get to be here for Christmas.  The people here are absolutely wonderful and will do anything to help us.  I couldn't ask to be in a better place.  

I can't believe that it's already practically the end of the year.  So much has happened and I feel like I've grown so much.  If anyone is trying to decide whether they should serve a mission, DO IT!! It is the most rewarding decision that I've ever made in my life.  

Thanks so much for everything you all do!! Merry Christmas!! Feliz Navidad!!

Con amor, 

Hermana Halliday

 Me with Hermana Smith

 Me with Hermana Shepherd

 Me with Elder James

 All the Sisters at the Christmas Devotional (3 Zones)

 Me with Hermana Bartschi

The Setup for the Branch Christmas Party

Monday, December 16, 2013

Twenty-sixth Week in the Field

Hola Everyone!

This week was crazy!  So much happened! 

It all really started on Wednesday...
At district meeting we had MLC (Mission Leadership Council) Bring Back and the zone leaders got to give us some updates and reminders.  One of these included the rule that we could no longer participate in the branch choir because it cuts into proselyting time.  We were a little bummed because we love helping them out, but we understood....this is where it gets interesting...

The huge stake Christmas program was yesterday...we were told that after practicing with the branch choir, we couldn't sing Feliz Navidad because it isn't centered around Christ...when we told the branch this, it was not taken very well.  Some people understood, but there was still a little tension. 

Our zone leaders had told us that we would be able to sing as long as we had investigators there at both performances, which we totally understood and were perfectly okay with abiding by that. We had told the branch and they were supportive of it, until the night of the actual performance (yesterday). None of our investigators came to the first concert and President Parra got really upset. He had told us that he had invited so many people and that none of them showed up, so we should get to stay because of the effort that was put forward.  He ended up calling President Castro and he gave us permission to sing "Noche de Luz (Silent Night)" in both concerts.  It turned out really well!  When the branch sang Feliz Navidad, I almost started crying.  I had never been so proud of the branch!  They did amazing!

We also told the branch that we couldn't participate in choir anymore because it cuts into proselyting time and they understood, but were still a little upset. I've loved being able to help them out, but I definitely understand that we have rules for a reason and I totally support them. I want all the blessings that I can get for being obedient. There was another bright side to this though. We told the branch that we'd be able to come if we brought investigators and used choir as a fellowshipping activity. They got really excited about this and were determined to bring more investigators to events! If their need of our musical abilities is what it's going to take to get them more motivated about missionary work, then I guess it's a good thing.

Our investigators are doing pretty good. Two of our investigators that had baptismal dates no longer do because they won't come to church. I really love working in this branch and in Spanish branches in general, but it gets really difficult when it comes to getting people rides to church or fellowship. Yesenia is currently our only investigator with a date, but we haven't seen her in over a week and we think she might be avoiding us. We texted her and asked if she was still serious in wanting to meet with us or continue being taught. We still haven't heard back from her.

Sandra and Reuben are still really enthusiastic about learning, especially Sandra. We were supposed to have a lesson with both of them on Saturday, but we found out that Sandra is in Texas currently trying to help her brother out with something that she doesn't want her family to know about. We talked to Reuben about it for a little bit, but he told us to come back when she was there so that they could continue learning together. He told us he would come to the Christmas concert at 5:00, but obviously that didn't end up happening even though we called him and reminded him at 4:00. Like I said earlier, he doesn't seem as interested as Sandra does, but we're still trying to figure out what is going to make him want it even more; what we can say to spark his interest.

We've been doing a lot of knocking this week because of the dwindling numbers of our investigators. We were knocking at this one apartment complex and decided to just hit every apartment in it. On the top floor of one of the stairwells, we met this really nice lady (who spoke English), Morgan, who invited us in and told us that she had lived in Utah when she was little and was one of the only Catholics on her block. She's a single mom who's working really hard to try to support her son and she told us that she didn't really get involved in religion in the past because it takes up a lot of time. She told us that when she gets involved in something she doesn't want to do it half-heartedly. However, she also told us that she wanted to get more involved in religion now that her son is starting to be able to communicate better. She wants to raise him with good morals. Even though she only speaks English and we had to pass her info on to the other sisters, she's so golden and ready. It's amazing how the Lord places people in our path who are ready. I'm definitely ready for a white Christmas! (D&C 4:4)

Also, at district meeting, the zone leaders also told us that we're going to have a Christmas Devotional this week with President Castro and two other zones.  I'm pumped!!  We get to sing as a zone a special musical number and we get to have to two other additional musical numbers per zone.  I get to play the flute!!! I'm so excited!! I'm doing a flute duet with Hermana Brown and we're doing a medley of "The Nativity Song" and "The First Noel".  I hope it turns out great!!

Oh yeah!! And I love my companion!!

Well...I have to go now, but thank you so much for all of the love and support that I've received.

Con amor,

Hermana Halliday

My Christmas Card I Sent Out

Pretty Picture of the Nauvoo Temple in the Ensign