Constant He is, and Kind.

dearest family,

This week started off with the whole of Mexico celebrating something called "The Carnival." We still don't really know what it means or what it really entails, but we did get to go to a ward party because of it, so we didn't complain. The ward party for The Carnival ended up being an Anti-Carnival, and included all the things that a missionary can't really do (i.e. One Direction songs and Mexican dancing), but we loved the hour time slot we got to spend eating Mexican famous meat and watching and listening to the things that we aren't usually supposed to watch or listen to. After the big start of the Carnival (note: will someone please look up the signicance of this event and let me now what it means? #thankyou) the rest of the week included moments of small adventures and little glimpses of eternal things. We contacted a reference for a less-active in the ward that was baptized a year ago, and ended up contacting her mom who just so happens to hate Americans. It was probably one of the strangest experiences of my life, sitting in a foreign home with a foreign lady telling me (without looking at me) all the horrible happenings that occur in the world because of Americans. She might have joked about spiking my water with poison (at least I think she was joking). For a moment, my heart started to fear for its life but after sharing a hymn and a scripture, we quickly left and aren't sure if we should attempt another visit. All the other lessons in comparison to the latter were not near as exciting, but all the more beautiful — sitting in the home of Alfonso and his children (who accepted a baptism date for March), sitting outside of the house of Hno Gamaliel, who continues to amaze us with his goodness and faith, and seeing la Familia Estudillo (who has yet to be baptized because of some pending issues with the mom's ex-husband. We are hoping for 13th of March!). 

On Tuesday we had a surprise Zone Conference with Pres. Garcia, which included a surprise viewing of Meet the Mormons. Hermana Huerta and I were just a little bit more than excited and might have cried the entire time (sidenote: Hermana Huerta is my BFF and I love her. She likes to clean the house and arrange everything so that a room feels a little more like home. She is studying to be a teacher, and I often find myself thinking of her as a future Miss Honey--the one from Mathilda--because she is just as good and magical. God gave me a lot of beautiful things this transfer that stir a never-ending flow of gratitude in my heart, Hermana Huerta being one of them. Among other things: discovering peanut butter in our nearby grocery store, a return of avocado toast with salt, new friends in the mission like Hna. Ellgen who has five weeks here and has the same sense of humor and view of life, and investigators who give me a vision of how God sees us and how He loves us). While watching this video, something great began to stir within my heart, and after a week of thinking about what really penetrated my soul during that hour, I came to the conclusion that it was the overwhelming acknowledgment of the goodness of humans. The video depicts six different stories of families at different stages in life, and within every single story and person there was the underlying theme of them trying to be good and live a good life. It made me think of the life of Christ, and how He is the perfect example of someone who tried to be good — who chose to be good — every single day. The more I feel the love of my Savior and the more I learn about Him, the more I have come to realize that I do not only love Him for His sacrifice and redeeming power, but that I love Him even more for who He was and who He continues to be--kind, constant, true, and good. I am beginning to think more about Christ as a person — still one of great power and immortality, as the only Son of God--but also as someone who I could talk to and learn from; someone that would like to talk and learn from me, too; someone that is simply kind and simply loving. I like to think about my Savior in this way, knowing without doubt that He was good and that He made other people want to be good. 

At times I am overwhelmed with all the things I want to be, and all the things I want to do. But then I remember Christ, and I feel His love and his surety, and come to find that all I really want to be is good, and all I really want to do is live a good life. So be good. Do good. 

all my love,


crowns of glory

mi bonita familia,

This week we walked. And walked. And walked. It got to the point where I started repeating the words to the Primary hymn (Pioneer Children Sang as They Walked) until I couldn't take it anymore and didn't feel like following the example of the pioneer children and face my frustrations with a song. While some of the days were long and all of the days were hot, God gave us happiness and miracles right in those moments we were beginning to lose that hope and light that only comes with a real testimony of Christ. These stars of light came on: 

Wednesday: When we had a noche de hogar with Hno Alfonso and all of his children (minus one). We had an activity to see how well they knew each other as a family— I love seeing how well we know the people we love, and seeing how much we don't really know about them, too. There really is no end to knowing a person, and I think that is why God gives us the eternities to discover the real heart and the real hopes of another. We laughed a lot during our hour with them, and like every time in their home I only remember seeing and feeling light. This is what good people bring, I think— light. The type of light that can only be added to and that can only become brighter. This family is light to me, and I love them with all my heart. 

Sunday: Lunch with Familia Mena Garcia. We have lunch with the members of our ward every single day, and this family just happens to be one of my favorites.They are incredible and help with the missionary work in our area so much. We asked the parents how they met, which began an hour long story of their courtship, followed with their marriage, followed with the life of their family. After telling us their love story, they began giving us all sorts of counsel about the type of person we should marry and the type of marriage we should strive to have, and how there is nothing harder but nothing greater than the family. We took notes, because they are great and their marriage is great and we just love them.

Sunday night: While walking to the edge of our area boundaries (literally) to contact one of our references, we came across a three year old girl playing outside of her house. We passed by once, but had the impression to return and talk to her (maybe because we are learning that the children here are usually the ones who want to listen and want to be baptized and are more of an example of goodness and faith than a lot of their parents). As we were talking with her for a time, her dad joined us—a young 20 year old father with two children and a wife and a new house of his own. Without really giving us the chance to explain why we were here or what our purpose as missionaries is, he invited us to share our message of Christ with his family. We taught him about the Restoration and eternal families, and by the end of our lesson when we invited him to be baptized (because yes, we are those missionaries that invite people to be baptized in the first lesson...I never thought I would be one of those), he promptly told us that he would like to be baptized and asked us what he needs to do in order to prepare. We were only a little more than happy on our walk home that night, knowing that God had given us one of his prepared children to teach and give more light and knowledge. We had been praying for an opportunity to find the people in our area who God really has prepared and prepared for us in the eternities, and well, we think we got our answer with Hno. Gamaliel. 

This week I have been thinking a lot about the phrase crowns of glory, a phrase I came across while reading in D&C 58. I like these words, the type of words that speak of another world but not an unreachable one, the form of phrase that tells of of those eternal blessings instead of those in mortality. Many times we cannot see those blessings and the glory of God manifest on the earth with our mortal eyes, but I know there are times when God gives us a moment's glimpse into the eternities and into His world. In these moments, God gives us more knowledge of that eternal glory, of those crowns of glory, that we are promised to receive. A family united for a noche de hogar for the first time in their lifetimes; the face of one remembering the eternal truths that their spirit already knows; a new, young father searching for truth and help for his small family and finding it; whispered words telling us that they prayed and know the Church is true; following the stirrings of the Spirit and seeing Gods work made manifest through our works — these are my crowns of glory, my small visions of that eternal world that we are all bound to inherit. 

Wishing you experiences that give insight into those crowns of glory, and a week full of the type of joy that can only come with this good life.

love love love,


There is a God, and He Hath Created All Things

dearest family of mine,

There are so many things that I wish could be explained through mere words, but that can really only be appreciated and understood through experience. But here is an attempt to  bulletpoint a few of the things that happened this week:

+  everyone started painting their houses this week, and we were beginning to believe we had missed a general announcement or decree. Turns out in the Yucatan, every family paints their home a different color with the start of a new year (I dont know why their new year is now beginning in February...). It was slightly lovely, seeing every man and his family outside of their homes, painting and re-painting. It also made it a little difficult to find the home of all our investigadores, because a lot of our memory and knowledge of where they live is based off the color of their homes. We ended up passing by Hno Juan's house three times without even realizing it, because it now gleams a bright green instead of the old orange. It was hilarious, but also kind of frustrating.

+  Hno Alfonso and three of his children came to church with us this Sunday. It was really a miracle, and something that we had been praying for for a really, really long time. They are a little shy and he works a lot of Sundays, but we tested our faith and their faith and passed by their house on Sunday morning to find them ready to leave with us (Hno Alfonso sporting a finely pressed white button-up). I dont think I have ever been happier in my life than I was on that bus ride to church. It was a happiness that floats and edifies and illuminates the sun so that it shines a little brighter. 

+  Sunday we had lunch at a non-member's home with all the missionaries in the ward. There are six of us in total (four sisters and two elders), and it was quite the best. The people here really, really love their food (especially meat) and so we ate and ate and ate. 

These are just a couple glimpses of life here in this other country. At times something will stir within me a rememberance of the life that I lived before this one, and at times I wish that I could combine this world in the Yucatan with the other one in Salt Lake. This thought passed within me yesterday while walking through the crowded streets of Centro. We had to go to Star Medica in the morning, due to a bout of food poisoning that I experienced this week (note: it was a miracle that we made it to the hospital, given that it takes one hour and two bus rides, and given the fact that I am still directionally challenged. Oh, how God helps us with our smallest and grandest weaknesses, even when we do not acknowledge or feel His hand). While walking (slash running) down these streets of pavement lined with a landscape of color, I was overwhelmed with how much I love everything here: the way man designed and constructed each building, and the way he then chose to color them; the way there are always carts full of candy or dried fruit on every corner (and the way I want to buy everything they have); the way there are always buses and people waiting for buses; the way people here create their own worlds. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, how our Father in Heaven is one of Creation, and how He has given us this same power — the power to create. I love seeing and experiencing everything that one person has imagined and then made a reality. The embroidered shirts with flowers that are perhaps the most beautiful things I have ever coveted; the handmade blankets with depictions of animals that I know mom would absolutely adore; the carving of architecture that is so unique and perfect to this city and this people; the way that everyone here has created their own lives, their own families, their own planets.I like to think that if God has the abilities to imagine and organize His own planet for us, that we as HIs children have this same power to create our worlds in the way we make our own paths of life and units of family. It is beautiful, in a way, that although we each have our own type of world, these worlds can combine and collide and become a little greater with each person we know. My world has now expanded and been enriched by these people and their own worlds, people like Hna Jessica, a member who reminds me of Claire Robinson with the same quality of goodness and intelligence; or Hno Alfonso and his children, who are light and love and happiness; or Hna Huerta and her abilities to think and plan and make a place a little more like a home;or Hna Ellgen, who can always give the type of laughter that lightens loads and fills the heart. 

I know that God has given each of us a life beautifully designed to enjoy and live and create — a life to live now and remember for those eternities after, and that if our world is not quite what we want it to be, He has given us the power to change it and build another through the grace and mercy of His Son (Mosiah 27:25-26). How grateful I am for a God of creation and love, and for a Savior who speaks of new beginnings and happier endings, who gives each of us the chance to become better through the process of change. It really is a privilege, having Christ's name next to the one of my family, testifying that there is a God, and that He hath created all things. 

I love you, dear family,and am sending all that love and light your way.



buenas dias mi familia,

First off, many apologies for not writing a real email last week — it was a week of new beginnings and trials and trying to figure out how to really be a missionary and do the things that a good missionary is really supposed to do. It was a little hard and I felt a little helpless with feelings of ongoing darkness without the hope of a greater good. However, at the end of every shadow of darkness, there is always the promise of light — because that glowing hope of light will always outweigh and conquer that encroaching night of darkness. We had a first (and last) lesson this week with an hermano that has a lot of weight in his soul, the kind that he is trying so hard to leave behind but that is so difficult to accomplish because it is only a pain that exists inside. We started with a hymn and a prayer, and every time before we pray, we ask if the person wants anything special in the prayer — a blessing, a cry for help, a giving of thanks. This man promptly responded to this question with another of his own, asking if we could pray that he might have the ability to forget; to forget everything that had passed in his life and left a scar within his soul. His question awakened me to a greater principle and truth of the Gospel: the truth that through Christ and His glorious life of sacrifice every single one of us can forget the times of darkness and receive a brighter life. And that is what happened this week: a beginning of light and hope that came in the form of the smallest moments of happiness and progression. 

Some of these moments came in the form of laughing over how we are becoming Yucatecan because we now have to wear five layers of clothing every night in order to prevent dying from the cold. Yep, it gets pretty cold here during the nights — a fact that no one tells you before or during the mission, just something you have to figure out from experience. Luckily one of the less-active families that we contacted this week took pity on us and let us borrow their coats, so we now sleep with a winter coat, along with those five layers.

Other moments of light came in the form of the food here. Have I mentioned how much I adore the food? I have now started to form a list of all the dishes I want to make for my future children (a list that may or may not include meat. The hope of returning to the days as an herbivore is slowly disappearing), such as: fried bananas with cream and beans, a sandwich that consists of potatoes and nothing else, and pancakes with a side of sweetened milk instead of syrup. There are many more dishes that we share with the people here; a people that is so giving and good and pure. It is the greatest blessing to sit in these four wall homes and talk about the great plan of hapiiness that God has given us, and to see a slight change in their faces and in their hearts as they begin to learn about their divine origin and eternal home. We are continuing to teach Hno. Alfonso and his three daughters. He has two sons who have yet to listen to us, but we have the faith and hope that they will one day take the time to sit and learn along with their family. This family is another one of greatness, a family that is so prepared to learn the word of God. I don't think I have ever been happier than when I am with them in their home, sitting on paint cans and laughing in a way that brings a lightness to my heart and a hope to my life. They are such good people, and we are hoping that they can continue to progress. 

We found another family to teach this week: three daughters and their parents. The mission is really focusing on eternal families and family history, and so we are teaching every first lesson with these principles. When we finished our lesson with this particular family, they began to ask us when they could enter the temple and what would happen if not everyone in their family wanted to enter at the same time. We are not quite sure if they really understand that they have to be members first, and that the Church is a lifestyle as well as a religion, but ... we are excited to know them and hope we can continue to teach them, too. 

While I wish I could share every minute and glimmer of light here in the Yucatan, I know that there will be an eternity where we can be together and talk about every good thing for a long, long time. How great is God in giving us this blessing and promise: a family not only for this life, but for the next and forever. I love with all my heart — thank you for your prayers and your thoughts that are directed my way. I felt of your strength and faith a lot this week, and I love you even more for it. 

Love always,