Monday, November 24, 2014

Michelle's Last Letter from Honduras!!

This is Michelle's last letter. We are so proud of her and the work she has done in Honduras. Today we welcomed a new sister into our mission from Honduras. She told us that when she was in the MTC she met another sister from Honduras who had lived in a branch Michelle served in. She said Michelle was super hard working, dedicated and a great missionary. That was fun to hear.

We are also very grateful for her wonderful mission president. Michelle thinks the world of both him and his wife, and from all we know about him we would have to agree they are pretty awesome. She was so blessed to be able to work with them.  

Hey family,

Its been a good week. I have been working hard. 

We had intercambios on Thursday. I was in my area. We found 6 new people and 2 new families. We put 2 baptism dates and one was with a family. It was a great day. We also had 5 lessons with members. Who is finishing the mission thinking about home? Definitely not Hna. Wagner! She is working like crazy! :-) 

So Presidente decided to throw everyone off guard. usually cambios are on Wed. THis time they are tomorrow. looks like I should start packing.  I have been avoiding it. But tomorrow after changes we will train the new missionaries quickly and then send them off to work. I am not sure where I will spend the day. Wednesday we go to the temple and then spend some time with President and Sis Fortuna. I heard a rumor that there will be a Thanksgiving feast. That would be acceptable. 

So looks like today is my last day in my area. I haven{t said goodbye to anyone, but I have only been here 6 weeks, so they shouldn{t be too sad. 

Saturday night we had our baptism. There was a lot of support from the ward. That was great to see. It started late, which isn't new. It was a great, and short, baptismal service. 

This Thanksgiving I am more grateful than ever for the experiences of this last year and a half. I have come to know my Savior as never before. I know He lives and loves me. I know He carries us when we can't find the strength to carry on. He literally gives us strength beyond our own. I have felt him carry me in these 18 months. His arms are open and He beckons us to come unto Him. The greatest joy I have ever felt is when I have truly repented. Through Christ we can become clean again. Any heartache or sorrrow can be erased. This year I am grateful for my Savior. I am also grateful for the Restored Gospel which allows me to have an eternal family. You never realize how much you love your family, until they are far away. My love for all of my family members has increased as I have come to know and rely upon Jesus Christ. The family is ordained of God. He has a purpose for us. The greatest joy comes as we follow our Savior, Jesus Christ, as a family. I know it. I have felt it. 

I love you all dearly. I also love these people in Honduras. Lately they have all been asking me if I am super excited and happy to return home. I have struggled to find the words to explain to them that while I am excited to be reunited with my family, I am heartbroken to leave the country and the people that I have come to love. I have given my heart, might, mind and soul to this work. It is the most gratifying work I have ever participated in. 

Share the restored gospel with everyone that crosses your path. They are not strangers, but our brothers and sisters who are seeking for the truth. They don't know where to find it. It is our responsibility to find them and rescue them. If there is something that I have learned, it is that missionary work is not confined to full time missionaries. Do your part. Jacob 1:19

Love you all. See you shortly. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Enduring to the End . . .

Hard to believe but Michelle gets home NEXT WEEK!!! She will fly here to Guadalajara and spend the month with us.  We have not mentioned the end of her mission to her at all, other then to comment on the need to endure to the end:-) but she must think we are worried about her since she is always trying to reassure us she is continuing to work hard. 

Dear Family, 

Okay, first things first
1. I plan on basically leaving everything here in Honduras. A. Because after hand washing everything for a year and a half it is now ugly B. Because there are people who need these things more than I do. But I do plan on having a few outfits, as I can´t come home naked. 

2. I have never been in an area that has been even close to touristic, so don´t expect souvenirs. 

3. Don´t worry, parents, I am still working hard. You should never end a race slowing down. On the contrary, you should give a good kick at the end. This week is going to be a week of miracles. 

This last week was good. We played capture the flag last monday for a zone activity. That was a fun one. I fell, but quickly recovered. 

Tuesday we had intercambios with the sisters in OJOJONA. I was with Sis. C. She is 19, but was engaged before the mission. She studied at BYU Hawaii. She had a crazy story. I love getting to know the sisters. 

We had a great day and worked hard. We found a family and had some great lessons. The people opened up to us a lot. 

The next day we had intercambios with the other sisters from O. I was there with Hna. H. It was great. We got along instantly. It was like I was with my best friend all day. We laughed the whole day long and had a lot of great lessons. We reached 10 contacts for the day, so that was good. 

We planned with them the next morning. Then I was finally with my companion in our area. I kind of missed her those days. 

Thursday night we visited C. She is doing well. She is ready for her baptism this Saturday. It has been a miracle. She is so special. 

We also visited the Fm. Vallecio. The husband went to another departamento (like a different state) to work, so our baptismal date with them fell through. It is hard here because everyone lives in such poverty that they let temporal things overrule spiritual things. We try to help them understand, but they have a hard time developing the faith that the Lord will bless them more if they go to Church than if they work when they see their children starving. It is heartbreaking. 

On Friday we had a miracle! We found a part member family. They are super excited to start working towards a baptismal date. here's the kicker. He is 28 and she is 16. We will need a member every time we teach them and it will be super expensive or them to marry. But she is a recent convert and did her personal progress already. But then she got pregnant and moved to Tegucigalpa. Okay, so she needs to understand a few things better. 

Sunday everyone gave us food. It was weird. But good. But one family invited us to dinner and made us eat a super spicy chile. They said that every elder that has eaten it has cried. My companion and I, with only our pride, were able to chew it for 1 min. That was the standard. Then I spit it out and wanted to cry. But I didn´t. Turns out that if you put salt on it, it takes away the burn. It was fun. 

This week we finish intercambios with our sisters, and have a meeting to train the new trainers. Woohoo!!! 

Love you all, have a great week. 

And the work goes on. . . .

First off, Happy birthday Dad. You are getting to be pretty wise... 

Okay, This week was crazy. 

Monday-- zone activity. We played soccer. Like always. I hate soccer because I am still not very good at it, but I am getting better. 

Tuesday. We had intercambios with the sisters from the Quezada. They are in a trio. I was with the newbie, Hna. L. She is waiting to go to Oaxaca, Mexico. Stinkin visas. They are all doing great, so that was super nice. My granddaughter in the mission is training her. Mi nieta has now had 2 daughters that have gone to Mexico. Rebels! 

Wednesday we had the first evaluation for the nuevos. It was good. They are a solid group. Presidente starts off talking about the commitments they made as they came to the mission and the blessings they and their family will receive. Then we verified 12 semanas and their schedule--as in made sure they are following the 12 week program and doing what they need to be doing during the day. We played games and practiced. I had to talk in English a ton because they are all new and didn't understand Spanish. I gave everyone a copy of my language plan because most of the Americans don´t have a good idea of how to study Spanish. Hopefully the plan will help them. Now my companion is following it to learn english. 

Thursday we had intercambios with the sisters from Las Americas. I was with Hna. Q y Hna. D. It was a smashing time. We have something in the mission that we call, The 3 Golden Rules that we have to use every lesson. 1. invite to be baptized 2. invite to chruch 3. ask for references. We always have to do it. Because we were a trio, we each had a rule. I had to invite to Church. They needed a little bit of help to do it every lesson, but it was good in the end. 

Friday we had a multi zone conference. We participated again. We did the same thing we did the last time, but we did a better practice.This time they had to find out the concern of the investigator with inspired questions and listen and feel the spirit and use the Book of Mormon to help. It was a lot more specific, and it turned out better. 

We also took a PMG quiz. I missed one question. I got 118 out of 120 points. I felt so disappointed that I missed that one. But that is why we keep studying. But I did feel pretty good because I did better than the assistants. I know that is prideful, but I don´t care.:-) 

President also committed us to doing 10 contacts every day. We are taking with EVERYONE!!! It is great! 

Saturday was a bit rough. Despite that we have been talking with everyone, we weren´t able to find a lot this week and all of our members fell through. Yuck. 

But Sunday was a day of miracles! We found 9 positive people and 2 families. We ended the week with 5 baptism dates with 2 families. We found such a great family. We contacted them walking up the hill to get investigators for church. It is never to early to contact! :-) They have been waiting for missionaries. They are so ready. His brother is a bishop in the other mission. 

Also this week I contacted everyone in a huge van. We take the van from the bottom of a hill to the top. It is pretty far. Like 5 min. I contacted the lady next to me, and then decided that I might as well contact everyone. Hello, listen to me, I am a representative of Jesus Christ... 

I have also been studying how we can teach the restoration with just the Book of Mormon. It is life changing. Now I am going to do it with every lesson. It is literally the most powerful tool we have. 

That is all. Have a great week! 


Monday, November 3, 2014

Life in my new area . . .

Buenos Dias. 

So today they fumigated our house. Thats nice. There is also a random cold front. I am in a scarf, super long skirt and long sleeve shirt. Weird. 

So when I got to the area there basically weren't any investigators. I feel like that always happens. Missionary work is hard work. But there are a ton of recent converts. 

We basically only work in an area called Altos de L. As you can imagine there are quite a bit of hills. But it is a tiny area, but there are always new people. 

We found a new family the other day when my companion fell. They are  the Cruz family. They are super positive. They want to get married, but have financial issues. they also have heard a lot of bad things about the church. But they are reading and praying to know the truth. They couldn´t go to church this week, but are preparing to go this week. 

There is another family named the Meza  family. She has gone to church with us twice. Her husband is a guard to one of the neighborhoods, so he works for 24 hours every other day. The sunday that he was supposed to go to church he got cold feet and hasn´t showed a lot of interest in the church, but he doesn´t know enough to say that he doesn´t want it, so we are going to be quite persistent with him. He at least needs to know what he is denying before he denies. it. They also need to get married, but they want to. She is menor de edad, so it will be L. 650 mas. No big. She is 18, but to be mayor de edad they need to be 21. 

We are also working with a part member family. He is a taxi driver, so he has no time. He has gone to Church twice while I have been here, but won't commit to a date. As dad would call it, I think he has a favorite sin that he knows he needs to give up but doesn´t want to. 

There is also a mom of a joven in the ward named C. who has decided to progress. She will be baptized Nov. 22 if all goes well. 

We had a great experience in intercambios. I was with Hna. B in S (old area) and we visited a young girl who has a baptism date. Her mom was there and we started talking to her and we got her to accept to go to church. This was huge because she didn´t want anything to do with the church. But we helped her feel why she needed to Come unto Christ through inspired questions. If she goes to church she can prepare to get baptized and her husband can finally get baptized. They just need to get married. 

We have been practicing inspired questions a lot lately. It is changing our lives. Teach people, not lessons. A good question can open a hard heart to the gospel. Our goal is to talk less than the investigator in our lessons. It is rough because usually we like to hear the sound of our own voices, but it has been incredible to see the results. They understand a lot better. 

We have started zone conferences and we are teaching c. 10 de PME with Teach people, not lessons from 12 semanas. The first one we did went really well. We have one more this week. 

This week we have the primera evaluacion de nuevos y una conferencia de zona and 2 intercambios. It should be a fun filled week. It should be one of our craziest weeks. 

My personal study is the best part of my day.I love the scriptures. I love the Book of Mormon. Everyday I read something that I can use to help my investigators. Today I read in Alma 5. It is super powerful. We need to make the changes we need to make TODAY and not procrastinate. What a shame would it be if we had to stand before God today and if we were guilty. 

For my birthday we had Mission Council. It was good. I think I forgot to tell you that my daughter, Hna. Montaño is now a HLE. Well, she is such a blessing. She called Hna. Fortuna and had a huge cake ready for me. It was like a surprise birthday party. She also gave me a necklace and a hymn book with notes in a few of the hymns we sang together. My companion wrote me a note and gave me a hostess cupcake. And a few of the other sisters wrote me notes. The whole Consejo sang to me and then smashed my face in the cake. Then we got back to our area and worked super hard. All in all, it was a good day. 

Mom and dad, I read your emails, but didn´t respond. Sorry! But I was super grateful for them and took a picture to be able to read them better later. 

Love you all! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Last Change!!!

Hello dear family. You are curious to know where I am, right. Well, I will get to that. First I will start with Monday. That is where the real story begins. All of our district abandoned us, but a returned missionary from our area invited us to go eat fish in a cute little restaurant. It was pretty good. It still had its head and scales and eyes, but I am now used to that.

Then we went and explored a near by town that is still in our area, just a bit far. It was super pretty. It was so peaceful.

Tuesday I said goodbye to the sweet Talangeños. Adios! It was hard, but good.

Tuesday night I basically finished packing. I just had a cleanup to do in the morning.

Wednesday, at 2 in the morning, I woke up with diarhea and vomiting. It was awful. I was in the bathroom every 20 minutes. At about 5:30 I realized that I would have a hard time making it to the Transfer meeting. At 6 I called my district leader (who also had changes) and explained the situation. He called the ZLs and their advice was better late than never.

I was in quite the situation, because I was vomiting every 20 min, so I was not sure if I could make it the hour and a half trip to the meeting. And then if President sent me to somewhere 5 hours away, there was no way I would survive the bus. I decided it was time to go straight to the source of all knowledge. I called Mama Fortuna.
I explained the situation and said that I could get to Tegucigalpa (maybe) but if I was going to have to go on a bus for 5 hours, I would probably not leave my bed. She said she would talk to president.

Meanwhile, I got a priesthood blessing. It was such a powerful experience. Elder Rosales blessed me that I would begin to heal in that very moment becuase the Lord needed me in my new area. That from that very moment I had to get better because there was a greater work in store. he said a lot of other things. It was super powerful.
After the blessing, I went straight to the bathroom, and then to my bed. Hna. Fortuna called and said that President said that if I could make it to Tegucigalpa, I would have changes, but if not I would finish my mission there in Talanga. TRIAL OF FAITH!! The sisters there in the house begged me to stay. I couldn´t make a decision like that based on popular opinion. We all prayed personally. When we finished, we all knew that I was leaving.
I got things together, and got on the bus. I didn´t move the entire way, so that I wouldn´t throw up. As soon as I got to the chapel I was sick, but only had to leave the meeting once.

I am here in L. as a SLT. My companion has 3months in the area. It is the neighbor to Roble Oeste, but poorer. It is a great area.

I got to my area and went straight to bed. I decided to work at night and I vomited along the wayside. Nothing bonds a companionship like sickness. 

Friday we had a special leadership meeting. They took out a companionship of SLTs and gave some to us. We now have 8 companionships. But there are 2 trios. 18 sisters. It is pretty overwhelming. And my prayers have gotten a lot longer, as I pray for each by name.

We are also in charge of all of the training. We have about 6 days during a change where we do training, in addition to all of our divisions with our 18 sisters.  We train in zone conferences, the new missionaries, the trainers of the new missionaries, etc... So there will not be anytime to get bored this change. It is going to fly.
This morning we had a meeting with President and he bought us lunch after. We will see if I gain or lose weight this change.

Lastly, I HAVE HOT WATER. I am finishing the mission in style.

I love you all! Pray for me and all of my new responsibilities. Any game ideas or fun practice ideas are welcome. 

Love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Singing and singing a solo!!

We can't wait to hear from Michelle tomorrow to learn where she is spending the last six weeks of her mission!!

Michelle with her companion. I found this picture on her mission blog

Oh family, you are all so great. Thank you all for the pump up talk for the end of the mission. Don't worry. Until this point I have focused really well. I feel like I am accelerating instead of slowing down. It is a bit weird thinking that this is the last change, but what can you do? 

I forgot to tell you that I asked President in my interview if I was going to finish in Talanga and he just laughed and said no. So I have known for a week and a half that I am leaving. This morning I washed all of my clothes. By the end of today I should be ready. 

This week was a roller coaster. The A R family has put us through quite a journey. When president visited them, he committed them to getting married, then he warned them that Satan would do all he could to destroy their family, but they should remember that he warned them that it would happen.

Well, it happened. They fought, she left the house. We were quite devastated. Then Friday we went with another family that is preparing to be baptized and they confessed that the husband had already been married to someone else and he has to get divorced so that they can get married. Divorces here take extremely long. It is ridiculous. So that baptismal date fell through and we were feeling pretty bad. Especially because another investigator that day had told us that he doesn't want anything to do with the church (that he is happy in his sins) So one by one the baptismal dates were falling through. We were a bit discouraged. But nobody has time to be discouraged in the mission because it diminishes our faith. We kept working. We decided to try our luck to go to the A family. 

It was such a sweet experience. Only the wife was home. Her heart had been softened during the week. We asked her if she remembered what president had told her. She remembered perfectly that he warned her that Satan would try to mess them up. They are now newly committed. 

Saturday night we had a White Night. We all tried to baptize someone that night. The goal was to each baptize a family. We were all good until about a week before. I already told you what happened with our family. In the end, only one family got baptized. But as a district we baptized 7 people. There were a ton of people in white. We baptized a girl named N. She is 15 and has a great testimony of the gospel. She is powerful. 

Sunday we had the district conference. The missionaries were part of a chorus. Honduras is helping me leave my comfort zone like none other. Holy cow. I sang How Firm a Foundation in a quartet. I was the melody. That was the prelude. People were still coming in, so they didn't pay too much attention. Then Hna. Clark and I sang Lead, Kindly Light together (duet) right before the last speaker, which was president Fortuna. That time everyone was paying attention. 448 people. And part of the song I sang a solo (one line). I have never been so nervous in my entire life. But it turned out really well. Really well. I had some heavenly help there. The spirit was so strong and there was a great peace there, when it had just been super irreverent with children screaming and crying and leaving to use the bathroom. It was great. And nerve-racking. We sang the first verse together, then I stayed melody and she did alto the second verse and high tenor the third verse. It was super good. 

We were disappointed because we didn't see the A family at church, but then President Fortuna went to find them in their house because he didn't see them either. Turns out they had gone, but left early. President chatted with him, and it made a huge difference. I am so grateful for a mission president who really cares. 

I love you all! Have a great week! 

Another long week complete with hospital visits!

Okay family, I am not sure if i will have time to write all the juicy details, but this letter should be a good one. It has been a long week and I am utterly exhausted in every way. 

So the week started out well with the activity for the sisters. We started out with a super hard work out video. The sisters loved it. And the lazy sisters just took pictures of the other sisters doing it. Then we did skits about women in the scriptures and the Christ like attributes they had. I wrote our skit. It was a mom telling her 2 daughters the story of Esther and next to it, a few sisters were acting out the story. Then it flashed 12 years later and one of the daughters went on a mission, wanted to go home, but then decided to be like Esther and do the hard thing. It was hard to incorporate 14 girls, but I did it.  And it all worked out in the end. And it was pretty funny. 

Tuesday we had mission council. President was a bit frustrated with the month that we had had, but motivated us for October and November. It was super good. 

Wednesday we had a really good day. We talked with everyone. And it was good that we worked so hard because Hna. C who lives with us was SUPER sick and I spent the rest of the week with her in Tegucigalpa. President wanted someone from each area to stay in our house to keep both areas going, so I went with her because I know Tegucigalpa better than anyone and I love Hna. C. And I was the only one that could carry her if she fainted. 

Thursday president came for interviews and visited a family with us. He helped them make the decision to get married. It was great. But then he told us to ask the husband why he went to jail. Turns out he killed someone. Anyway, President took Hna. C and I to the hospital. She was basically asleep the whole time in the car, so I had an hour and a half of quality time with the president. That was great. After the hospital, Hna C and I went out to eat (something simple) and celebrated our 16 month anniversary together. It was beautiful.

The next day president was going to pass by our area to go to interviews, so he picked us up to take us back to our area. This time sister Fortuna was with him. It was also his birthday. 

We got to talanga and Hna clark went to sleep. Then I went out with my companion and we came back to the apartment for lunch. Hna. C had a high fever again and was super sick and I called Hna. Fortuna, and she told us to go to the emergency room. We went and then the Fortunas came and picked us up at about 7:30 in the noche. Then presient offered to take us anywhere we wanted for dinner. They told us that they never offer that, so we had better take advantage. They offered Chillis, and a place that sells shrimp and a whole bunch of other stuff, but hna. C hadn't eaten in a week and chose pizza. They told us that we felt like their daughters. They definitly felt like our parents. Picked us up, took us out to eat... It was great. 

Times up. Love you