Tuesday, July 29, 2014

el momento de ir vino ya...

 Doing baptisms for the dead with Carla
 Family Home Evening with the Juarez and the Mendez family
Leslie's Baptism

Hola Familia!!
Pues mis queridos.... this was really the fastest week of my whole entire mission. of my whole entire life. But I could not have asked for a more incredible week. I just wish I could express how much I love the Mendez Perez family... but I don't think words quite do it justice. This week was so incredibly special for them, and I am so grateful I could spend it with them. We had really been trying to get them some good fellow shippers, because Leslie was still nervous to go to primary alone. Well, who better than the amazing Juarez family. Also, Hna. Juarez was the yw leader when Carla was baptized, so they already had a good relationship. Well we had planned to have a family home evening with the two families, and it went so well! We had a fun activity, and a delicious dinner :) All of the kids got along, and it was so fun to see how they just took them in. It went so well... that we had another dinner the next night… because Hermano Juarez wanted to throw a party for me. Full of the most delicious enchiladas, mango raspas, blue bell ice cream banana splits and aqua de fresa. But more importantly, the spirit was so incredibly strong during the message. We had decided to share the restoration again, since it was the day before Leslie's baptism. When we quoted the first vision we had everyone close their eyes and put themselves in Joseph Smith's position. It is so true. We have such an incredibly loving Heavenly Father, that answers the humblest of prayers. We had a brief testimony about why the restoration of the gospel is important in their lives and sweet little Leslie just said "so we can be with God and our families for forever". As simple as that. Well then we made it to Saturday and it was incredible. It actually started off at the temple with Carla. It was the first time she had been to the temple to do baptisms for the dead since she was a beehive. Miguel was also planning on coming, and had requested work off, until the last moment that his boss said his project had to be done by Monday.. But it was so amazing to just be there with her. It has been such a blessing to see her grow just from the time that we met. On the car ride back we were talking about missions and all my friends out on foreign missions. We were talking about how cool it would be, but I told her that I wouldn't trade my mission for anything. God knew that this is exactly where I needed to be at this time. I wouldn't have been able to meet these amazing people! And she responded "and we never would have come back to church!". Well, I know it wasn't me that brought her back, but I am such a very thankful instrument. I am so thankful that the Lord could use me in his work in this part of his vineyard. Then later on in the day we had Leslie's baptism!! It was honestly the smoothest baptism ever. I had to keep looking at the pictures to believe it really all happened. There were so many awesome members there to support Leslie. But there were even more less actives and part member families! Most of the family had gone inactive a few years after they had been baptized, so this baptism was one of their first interactions with the church in years! The spirit was so strong and all the talks went so great. In Leslie's confirmation blessing, he mentioned that she would preach the gospel to her family, and I have already seen huge evidence of that. She is truly a catalyst to help a lot of people to return to activity, and receive those eternal blessings that are promised to families!! I love them so much and I am so excited to see the chain reaction in that family. OH did I mention that her dad did find the church in Mexico? And when he went in, discovered that one of his good friends is a member?? Wow. It's like it's the work of the Lord, or something. So they are going to be going to church together every week, and he is going to sit with him in the lessons. I feel a 2015 temple trip coming up :)
Yesterday, the Bishop also gave me the pleasure of giving a talk. Well, the assigned speakers didn't come. :) But I was so happy to be able to speak on one of the best topics of the gospel. "families can be together forever". What better news is that?? I was thinking about the little phrase how a missionary leaves their family for a short time, so others can be together forever. But I realized, yes. I have been away from my incredible family for... a while... but it was only to come out and find even more of my brothers and sisters. God intends for ALL of his family to be together again, not just out immediate, earthly ones. I am so grateful for this work of salvation, and I am even more grateful to know that it doesn't end when I take off my plaque. It's a calling of a life time, and I can't wait to see how I can continue to be an instrument in the hands of him! I know that this is the path to true, everlasting happiness. I love my Savior Jesus Christ for having shown us exactly how to take it. I know that as we trust in him and replace fear with faith, it all going to work out. I love you so so so much. See you soon! :)

los quiero demasiado,
Hermana Draper


Hola Familia!!!
Well. What a week. Seriously. It all started last week just after emailing when we went to good old Kroger to buy my pears and spinach. Well as we were walking through the store we casually ran into one of our past investigators!! Remember the one who took the bus by herself, got lost, and then walked way far to come to church? Well there was a long story with why she decided to stop investigating the church, but I was so sad because she had been so prepared. I was really praying that I would be able to visit with her at least one more time, and there she was! We small talked with her for a while about how things were going and it just led to us setting up a time to come back and visit her!! We went back later in the week and had an awesome lesson on the Book of Mormon and she recommitted to read it every day because she is really wanting the guidance right now. I am so excited to keep working with her!! Tender mercies. Later on in the week we finally got to have our interviews with President. He is so awesome. He makes me think of a sports coach, he just gets you so pumped up, but then he really commits you to actually act on it. He had a brief training before he started interviewing and he was talking about Captain Moroni and waving the title of Liberty. When Moroni received the epistle, he didn't wait around to see how anyone else was going to react to it, or wait for support, but he knew where he stood and he wasn't going to back down. As President said, "he knew who he was and who he served". As he prepared the title of Liberty, he probably didn't just wav it a little in the corner, but he was out flailing it and declaring the truth!! And that is how we must be as well. We can't just wait back, but we have to be bold to stand for the truth and declare it to others. A few months back President Pingree received the revelation that we need to extend at least 25 invitations every day. Well we had been trying our best, but aside from the lessons we were having, we usually only got around 10. Well, in our interviews President commited us to trust that God would help us make the 25 invitations if we did all we possibly could. Well... on Saturday.. we invited 27 new people to learn about the restored gospel. 27!! That's apart from all of the lessons and appointments that we had set that day too. It was incredible. We really saw how the Lord would fill our mouths as we freely opened them to help these people recognize us as his servants. Yesterday we saw an especially large miracle! Well we were walking through an apartment complex (surprise) and there was a boy sitting on one of the stairwells, but he had his back to us, so we couldn't just casually say hi to him. Well.. we decided to walk into the stairwell to talk to him. And I am soooo grateful we did. He is 17 years old and he was baptized a few years back in El Salvador with his dad and siblings. He used to read a chapter in the Book of Mormon every day and was planning on serving a mission. But then he moved up here to be with his mom and he lost contact with the church. His missionaries had told him that they were sending his info up here, but for some reason it never made it. Well.. it is no coincidence that we had just made our recommitment to talk with absolutely everyone, and God would put him in our path. Because he doesn't even live there, but he was visiting his friend, who wasn't even home! That's why he was just sitting there, finishing his food that he had bought. He is so excited to go to mututal and we gave him another copy of the Book of Mormon. He wants to start mission prep again and wants us to come visit his mom so she can get baptized too. What?? We asked him to say the prayer as we left and he just thanked God for having sent us to him that day.
I am so grateful for the privilege that I have to be a missionary. I love this work. and I am so incredibly excited to see the miracles that the Lord has in store this week.
Remember to trust in the Lord. Replace fear with faith. Life is just so good :)
los quiero,
Hermana Draper

There's another soul through the gate! :)

 Miguel Angel, with Hermano Ramirez and darling little Jonathan

We were taking things that other missionaries had left behind in our apartment to Goodwill... we ma have played a little dress-up with a kick back to the 80's sister missionary!

Hola Familia!!
Well. WHAT A WEEK. and I really mean it this time. So many prayers. So many fasts. But don't worry. He made it. :) Miguel Salamanca has officially taken upon him the name of Christ, and the promise to represent and obey him to the end. This whole week was just full of miracles. We met with him every day, and each time he had more and more light. He had one of the craziest and hardest weeks ever in work, but it only confirmed his decision. The service on Saturday was beautiful. I think it was what any missionary would hope for. We had so many members there that had truly taken him in and fellowshipped him. Hermano Ramirez was the one who baptized him, and they have become best friends. I don't know if I have mentioned much of his story.. so I guess it would be appropriate to say it now. Originally how we found it- well a few weeks before we had spoken with his mom and she said she would gladly receive us. But when we went back, he was out front and he shouted out "me buscan a mi?" (are you looking for me?).. He later told us that when he had seen us walking up the driveway he heard a voice say "te buscan a ti" (they are looking for you) because earlier he had been praying for a new start in his life. Ever since that first contact we have only seen progress. We met with him more than once a week, and in just a short month and a half he has become one of the most converted people I know. His entire countenance has changed. Even his prayers have changed. He truly knows who he is talking to, and has truly felt the power of him in his life. We are working to get him to do family history and to the temple next Saturday to do baptisms, because he had a dream about his cousin in spirit prision... I know. He is so. I don't even know what to say. But out of the whole experience, I feel like the sons of Mosiah- in THIS aspect- "And now behold, I have somewhat to say concerning the people of Ammon, who, in the beginning, were Lamanites; but by Ammon and his brethren, or rather by the power and word of God, they had been converted unto the Lord;" It really wasn't anything that Hermana Zabriskie or I did. As President Mortensen  says "80% is just showing up". But because of our efforts to be as obedient and diligent as possible, the Lord was able to work his miracles. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be an instrument in his hands.
We also were able to see so many other miracles this week! 3 more baptismal dates! The Lord is truly hastening his work in this area. The Mendez girls are doing so good. Leslie is getting super excited for baptism. I guess her grandparents were trying to tell her that she was too young and she should wait.. etc.. but she responded "grandma, I feel it in my heart that God wants me to do it now". The mouth of babes.. She is so ready and she is a huge catalyst for her whole family.
Life is just so good. We did exchanges again this week with the English sisters, and this time I stayed in the area. It was a bit of an adventure since she didn't know what was going on in the majority of the lessons, but in one of them, they asked that she said the closing prayer, in English-even though they don't understand. After the prayer, they just looked at me and commented on how strong the spirit was. It was just a reminder that it doesn't matter what the language is, the spirit really talks to the heart.
I hope that you have a wonderful week. I've been reading through the war chapters in Alma, and it is so cool to see the role that the Atonement plays in strengthening them, even in times of war, as long as we put our confidence in him.. Even when they were unable to get the extra government support that they wanted they said "But, behold, it mattereth not—we trust God will deliver us, notwithstanding the weakness of our armies, yea, and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies." Alma 58:37. It gave God the chance to show just how infinite his power is for those who continually put their trust in him. Replace fear with faith!
Los Quiero,
Hermana Draper


What's more American than GOATS!?
Hola Familia!
What a week!! It really has been so. so. amazing. Can I just say how much I love being a missionary? Really. So I don't know if I've actually used his name... so here we go... Miguel is getting baptized on Saturday!!!! Remember our ongoing miracle?? Yeah. He is so ready. Everything is just falling into place so perfectly. Like how he came to another baptismal service on Saturday that the Hermana's had, and President Mortensen came! And President and Miguel had a nice chat about some of his questions and concerns. Hm.. that's the best member present lesson I could ask for! Also, he had his interview, and Elder Morgart was just… blown away. Then immediately after the bishop interviewed him and he was just amazed as well. He is so ready. It is crazy because last week we had really been praying to know if we should move his date back a few weeks, but he took us to dinner on Friday and we just had a nice talk and he bore his testimony to us. He shared how much he feels like he has changed, and I can promise you that I have seen it. I have seen the Atonement of Jesus Christ work in his life. I can't express how blessed I feel to just be the messenger. This is truly the Lord's work, and I am so grateful to have my little part in it. I will tell more of his story next week, but please keep him in your prayers this week! 
Also, huge miracle! So we got a call from the Elders in the ward giving us a referral. Not just any referral. But one that has been being taught by the Hermana's in Austin.. she just got married(which is why she moved to Houston)... and is now ready to get baptized. Oh. Okay it's fine. We went and met with her and she is so incredible!! She loves the Book of Mormon and she has seen a huge change in her life through it. Originally her boyfriend (now spouse) was against her meeting with the missionaries, but he too saw a change in her and now he is interested in learning more too! Wow. Mission miracles. We joked that it was our Arturo replacement because he left for Washington. Good thing all us missionaries are on the same team. Crazy thing too, one of her missionaries in Austin is Hermana Marissa Eggbert!! What are the chances. 
This week we also had the chance to go to the introduction conference for the Mortensen's!! They are incredible. Seriously. They are such a darling family and he is awesome. He has really got some great ideas and revelations for the mission. Changes are tough, but changes are good. And I think they are going to be so great for this area.
Things are going so good here in Aldine. We are so blessed and we are just seeing more and more miracles. Like Santiago who chased us down the street... it's a good thing though because he told him he felt like he should talk to us because he hasn't had a beer in 6 days and is so determined to really change his life and felt like we could help him do it. Well sir, I can't, but I know someone who can and we just happen to be here representing him. I love being a missionary. I am so grateful for this message of hope that we share. 
I love you all so very much! I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July!! Don't forget to just trust in the Lord, replace fear with faith, and it will all work out. :)
los quiero,
Hermana Draper


The temple at 5:40 in the morning!
Hola Familia!!
Well. What a week it has been! So full of great, great things. Except the bird that kamakazi attacked me. But other than that, I can't complain. :) The Pingree's go home this week :( so we had one last grand hurrah. We all got to go to the temple with them, and then have specialized training in the temple afterwards with President Pingree and President Crane (the Houston temple president). Needless to say, it was a very special experience. It doesn't matter how many times I go to the temple, it is always so overwhelming the true love of the Lord that I feel. I know that the temple is his house. I know it is the place that we can truly access the fullness of his enabling power that we clearly need in these days. Well I attached a picture and you might wonder why it is so dark? Our session was at six in the morning... and we live an hour from the temple. We were a bit tired that day, but it was so full of miracles!! One of them is that we had another lesson with the young family that we started teaching! They are still reading in the Book of Mormon and we had an awesome plan of salvation lesson. Our ward mission leader came with us and really shared a lot of experiences about how the gospel has blessed him in his young family as well and I think it really helped them see how it all applies. At the end, he offered the Hermana a blessing, since she is due any day now, and it was incredible. Afterwards she was just crying and said how hard it has been since she they are all alone up here in the states. All of her family is in Mexico, but with that blessing she felt that they weren't alone, but that God really was there with them and that it was all going to be okay. I am so grateful for the priesthood! To know that God has really entrusted his power to worthy men to act in his name!
Also this week I got to be an English missionary for a day! My dream came true! And it was so fun. It was the first exchange that Hermana Zabriskie and I got to conduct as sister training leaders, and it went so well! Both of the English sisters in our zone are poly, and they are so so sweet. P.S. exchange just means we switch companions for 24 hours, so I got to go work in the English ward for the day. The sister I was with is so incredible. She honestly loves the work. She is relatively new to the mission, so it was fun to see her realize that she really could lead her area and that she could rely on the Lord to lead her area :) because we were trying to tract some referrals that they had received a while back. It was a large list, but she really felt strongly about a name, even though it was kind of far away. Well, we went for it... and found out the lady doesn't live there anymore. But no fears, because there is a promise in Preach my Gospel that a referral will always lead you to someone prepared, and the young man who answered the door... definitely fit that category. He was so humble and looking for a church that would help him get back on the right path. We talked about the restoration, but really focused on the Atonement. It is jut amazing to see that light that turns on as people begin to realize just how powerful the cleansing power is. It doesn't matter how far you have strayed off, with trust in the Lord, you can ALWAYS find your way back.
I love this gospel with all my heart. I love being a missionary. I am going to miss the Pingree's so much! I am so grateful for the many many things I have learned from them. I know that President has truly changed the lives of so many, especially for his constant focus on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is truly the core of all we do and teach as missionaries, and he always made sure we remembered that. One of my favorite scriptures is "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation." (2 Nephi 22:2)
Trust in the Lord, replace fear with faith, and it is all going to be okay. :)
I love you!! Happy fourth of July!!!!
los quiero,
Hermana Draper