Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Some Fun. . .and Focus!

From 17 March 2014

Hermanas Houghton and Sanchez

Dear family, 

Our apartment is really fun: (see pictures to the right of the "Flying Party!"), lipstick parties every weekly planning, (I didn't get a pic my first week with all four of us but that's ok...), Sister Bauman is a hairstylist so she does fun/funny things with our hair, (french braiding lesson/party the other night had all three of them making french braids in my hair) funny English accents (we did all of our planning and accounted to our District Leader with English accents the other night. They're helping me practice for when I see Elder Houghton next :)... And this morning I made green pancakes. The other sisters were surprised to find out that the leprechauns had somehow sneaked in and put peas in the middle of each pancake, but what can you do? Leprechauns are very mischievous. Plus we had a really fun flying party last night. It was great.

This week we really focused on making and achieving our goals. Accountability is really important but it's hard to keep it positive, not just a daily drag because we do it so much in missionary work. When that happens we generally don't hold ourselves accountable for achieving our goals and don't accomplish what we had wanted to. So, to make sure we were accountable for our goals and got them done, we set up a positive accountability system. We wanted to have 5 member present lessons by Friday, and decided that if we did then we would go to Chili's and get molten chocolate lava cake on Saturday. By Friday we got 6!

Our Relief Society is singing "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" (in Spanish...) for the RS anniversary the 26th and guess who their pianist is! We were asked to come to the first rehearsal on Tuesday and showed up to find about 10 ladies there, all sick and coughing but all ready and willing to sing. They are amazing, and the numbers have been increasing. We are doing verses 1-3 and 7. It will be great! 

Speaking of pianoism, I played during sacrament meeting my last Sunday in Miami Beach English and also have played at many baptisms and other meetings on my mission. I think I have practiced more playing prelude music than I had practiced in several years before my mission, when I had more time! I now have about 21 songs on tap that I can play without any practice, and a few more that I can do with a few minutes to warm up... Who knew?

This week we had a specialized training with President Anderson where we talked about the Book of Mormon pride cycle and temples! That's right, the Fort Lauderdale temple open house begins next Saturday and the dedication is May 4, following the cultural celebration May 3. You can go online to sign up for reservations to the open house starting in 30 minutes! So exciting :) We (the sister missionaries in the mission) will be taking turns helping out at the open house, showing the video in the waiting tents before the visitors go in for the tour. All of the sisters will be involved, going about every 4 days from March 29-April 19. So exciting! (Don't write this next part in the blog please, it's not supposed to get out to everyone) Also, all of the missionaries will be singing in the grand finale at the cultural event. Yay!!!

We had a wonderful experience last night in finding. We had prayed about where to harvest and headed over. The first people we contacted were not remotely interested but we were diligent and asked if they knew any Spanish-speakers in the area. They told us to try their next-door neighbors. So we started talking with R, who had been given the children's version of the Book of Mormon by a bishop of our church that she had known when her kids were young. Then her husband came in and told us he'd had a Book of Mormon before when he was younger but couldn't find it and had asked a Mormon friend he played soccer with to have the missionaries bring him one, three weeks before. We said the prayer with them and the husband told R that they needed to pray more. They told us that they were church-hopping and knew that God sent us to them. So prepared! (P.S. The husband is Romanian and speaks 6 languages, including English and Spanish. R speaks Spanish and English. They are down to coming to a Spanish ward, yay!)

This week in the Book of Mormon I studied about commitments. I was reading about the Ammonites, and Helaman's concern that breaking their oath to forsake their weapons of war would destroy their souls. I've looked at it before as Elder Scott described it last conference, that sometimes sin leaves deep wounds and you need to not even come close to it again or you will be in danger, no matter how sincere your repentance. But something that I was pondering adds an additional level of importance to the oath (or commitment, covenant, or vow) that they made. When people make righteous commitments and keep them, they generally receive more spiritual light than they would have just by performing the righteous action without committing to it. Conversely, when they make and fail to keep a righteous commitment, they are spiritually darkened perhaps more than they would have been if they had not committed. 

Our culture doesn't generally understand this, and so I have been puzzled by the many people I've met on my mission who have told us that they don't want to commit and not be able to keep their promise. But it's true! Making and keeping commitments (covenants, oaths) brings us to the next level spiritually. We can't get to the highest level of the celestial kingdom without making and keeping a number of important covenants with God, no matter how righteous we are. I continued my study in 2 Nephi 31:14, which clarified somewhat the reason behind the idea "God knows who He wants in His church," and in Numbers 30, which helped me to understand and feel better about some part-member families who would love to keep their covenants but don't have the support they need. It was so cool!

Out of time but I love you all!!

Sisters Bauman and Sanchez

Saint Patrick's Day Pancakes with peas in the middle. .. .

Sister Sanchez's nap place. She is tiny!

Sister Hunter, who is from Manteca

Sister Furner, looking very Irish, eating a green pancake.

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