Monday, May 30, 2016

Milagros (Miracles) :: May 30, 2016

As of today, I have been in Guatemala for exactly 8 months. I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone! I cannot wait to see all that happens in the next half of my mission. There is much more to learn and do.

As a mission, we have been working hard and looking in all corners of Guatemala for God's children. We have been able to see the miracles through much fasting, scripture study, prayer, diligence, hard work and faith. I have been able to learn about how important unity is amongst a group of people. It has been a really amazing experience to see how much a group of likeminded people can accomplish when focusing on God and HIS will. As a zone, we were able to break the record of the MISSION Retalhuleu! 51 baptisms! It has been such a cool experience! In Coatepeque this month, we have definitely seen countless miracles.

This week, we were all committed to working even harder and fasting and praying more diligently to find more of God's prepared children who needed His gospel in their lives. One day,  Hermana Meza and I went to a part of our area that is really far away. We didn't know why we needed to go there because in the past, we have not had a lot of success. But, we went, and a ward member, Jessica, went with us. As we went to a house, we met a girl named Rafaela who told us that she wanted to get baptized. She had been to the church in the past and has family members who are members of the church. She had been wanting to for a long time to be baptized but she lives far away from the church and has not had the means to get to church. She was baptized on Friday. It was a beautiful baptism. Rafaela is so humble, happy, and genuinely strives to do God's will. She is one of the most kindhearted people I have ever met.

It was an amazing and humbling experience to get to know Rafaela and be part of her baptism. It was humbling to know that we literally are just the Lord's hands to bringing about HIS work. If we had not gone to Rafaeala's house or had not followed the prompting, we would not have met her and seen this miracle. I think of the times when I have not followed the promptings of the spirit. It is so important and as we are worthy of the spirit and follow the promptings we receive, the Lord will lead and guide us and use us as his hands. We are just instruments he uses for the salvation of his children.

Love you all!
Hermana Jessop

Iginia... she makes us lunch every Wednesday and gives her life to go to the temple. She has raised FOURTEEN kids and only one of them is her own. She calls them all her kids and grandkids. She has taken in anyone who does not have a home. She has a love for others unlike any other I have met.

Jesssica... a member who is always willing to visit with us and help us.

Rafaela before her baptism

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rich in Spirit :: May 23, 2016

Lexi went to a pretty waterfall on her P-day

Eating fresh bread action shot…so yummy

Doing each other’s makeup blindfolded

Sampling fruit smoothies

Butterflies.. We call ourselves ¨Amiga Mariposas¨

Hope everyone is doing well and transitioning into summer!

It has been a great week full of adventures. It is winter here, so it is just as hot but it rains a lot. I love the rain and all of our adventures. I am really loving Guatemala, my area, my companion, and I am even learning to love the tortillas here! 

I have learned quite a bit this week from the faithful, diligent members of Dalmacia. There seems to be a focus this month on women... I have met countless strong, powerful women who have taught me a lot about faith. People here are so prepared, faithful and rich in spirit. 

I cannot say that I have ever truly known what it is like to go without food for days or live on the streets or know what true poverty is. I do, however, know what it is like to be poor in spirit, to be lost from the truth. Guatemala, in turn, is a country where people are very rich in spirit. I have never seen so much poverty in my life as i have here, but I have also never met so many people so rich in spirit. 

Sister Gladys has been a member of the church for about 10 years. She is almost 60 years old and has never been married or had kids. She has had a lot of trials in her life, but she is more full of faith and love than anyone I have ever met. She does not have a lot but give literally all she has to anyone who needs it. She invited us to her house last week to do a family home evening. We went and there was a couple there she wanted us to meet. 

This couple is from El Salvador. Their names are Juan and Yanira. They left El Salvador in hopes of finding a job here in Guatemala. One day, they were walking along and asked a lady in a store if she knew of where to find work. The lady in the store told them that she did not know of work, but that the lady who lived down the street had the most love of anyone she had ever known and could help them. 

Juan and Yanira went to look for this woman and it turns out it was Sister Gladys. Gladys took them both in, two strangers who were homeless without work, to help them get back on their feet. She has introduced them to the gospel. They have already been to visit the temple two hours away and have been to church the last two weeks. We have had several meetings with them and I am absolutely amazed by the things they have experienced. 

Once again, I cannot say I have never known what it is like to have no food or be homeless or have my kids taken away from me. They have experienced all of these trials but still, they are very rich in spirit. I am amazed by their faith and trust in God and I am even more amazed by Gladys' extreme love and Christlike example to take Juan and Yanira into her house when she also has almost nothing. 

I do not doubt that there is a reason for all.. for some reason I do not yet fully know, I was born in my specific family in Alabama, in the U.S. My story, my life, it is unique to me. There is a reason for every story and every occurrence. Some of us may be born more rich in spirit and others rich as to things of the world, but it is all for a reason. 

But, no matter the hurt or suffering, no matter where we go or who we are, Jesus Christ, our brother, suffered for us, whether poor in spirit or poor in things of the world, no matter what we struggle with or the cause. He knows us individually and because he has suffered all, he can succor us in our afflictions and also in our happy moments. 

And, because of this sacrifice and suffering, we are free from the misery we can experience, whether created by our own actions, actions of others or just our life circumstances. Our Savior died for each one. I love my Savior and i will forever rejoice in all He has done for me.

I hope we can all have more love, faith, and be more willing to give what we have, like Gladys! It is all from Him who created us and all things!

Hermana Meza and I have done some fun things this week. We did something different to have something to look forward to everyday. One day, we did each other's makeup blindfolded. Another day, we went to find pan fresh out of the oven and tried smoothies. Today for P Day, we went to a waterfall!

Hermana Jessop

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Secret :: May 16, 2016

What a week. Every moment brings a new adventure here. We have been teaching the Ramirez family and this week their little girl, Luz Clarita, was baptized. The parents are going to wait a little bit, following the example of their little girl. Also, a little girl named Yuri got baptized. One day, we were visiting a family and Yuri showed up and told us she wanted to get baptized. It all worked out so perfectly. It was a beautiful little miracle. 

Both of these little girls are great examples to me. There is something so precious and sweet about a child. I see why Christ spent a lot of time with the children. I have spent every day this week with Yuri, Luzy and her little sisters Marisol and Renata. They teach us how we can be humble and peaceful and just go with the flow and follow Christ. I love these little girls with my whole heart. I never want to leave them.

This week, I met Mikaela. She is 91 years old!!! We asked her what her secret is and she said that people ask her that all the time and she says that one eats what they need to eat and she has never had a special diet, but her secret is happiness. She is catholic and loves God with all her heart. It goes to show that God makes a big difference in our lives if we let him do so. We are all united in a desire to be better and serve God because of the knowledge we have of our Savior. 

We are all looking for the same sorts of things in life. We all just want happiness and acceptance. If we look with the Savior, we always find what we need to get to the next step in life. I have been thinking about all the desires I have in my heart and how I try to accomplish them by myself... to be healthier, smarter, skinnier, more talented, etc. etc. etc. Again and again, I have to learn that only through Christ, we can reach all of these goals, both temporal and spiritual. The Lord cares about what we care about and wants the best for us. He will lead us where he needs us to go and to who He needs us to be, in His time, and we will be HAPPY! I want to be like Mikaela when I am 91.

Here are some fun times from this week... 

Mikaela and I

91 years old!

Washing clothes with Marisol in the Pila

Luzy painting Elder Contreras' nails

Our mamma in Dalmacia Mama Maritza.. she always cooks for us and makes us dresses and gives the best hugs

Guatemalan Enchilada

Luz Clarita ready for her baptism

Yuri ready for her baptism

Hermana Meza and I with our girls

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Magical Week :: May 10, 2016

Hi Everyone!

Happy Mother's Day to all the women in the world. It has been an eventful and fun week... I can honestly say this week has been the very best week I have had in my mission so far. It has been eventful, fun, and full of miracles.

On Tuesday, we were able to go to the temple. It was the first time I have been able to go to the temple since coming to the mission field. I didn't know how much I had missed it, not being able to go for 6 months. We traveled 2 hours to go to the temple. It puts into perspective how lucky we are in Utah to be able to live so close to so many temples. If you don't have a temple recommend, work towards getting one and find a way to enter the temple. I love the temple. I testify that it is the house of the Lord and the only way to exaltation.

There is a sister here named Iginia. She is 80 years old and does not work but always finds a way to save every last bit she has every single month to be able to go to the temple. It is expensive but she always finds a way. It inspires me so much. She has been a member of the church for about 40 years and although her family members are not all members, she always goes to every activity and does all that the Lord asks of her. She is a woman of faith and courage and I want to learn to be more like her.

During the week, I cannot describe exactly what happened and why it was the best week of my mission, but the truth is that when the spirit of the Lord is in your spaces, it calms your heart and spirit and helps you to enjoy life and see things as they really are. We visited and met a lot of new people and had trials and difficulties but the spirit was with us and we were able to help people, to be instruments in the Lord's hands. Life is just not fun without the spirit of the Lord. The gospel is the only way we reach TRUE happiness, the kind of happiness that is enduring and beautiful.

Some of our investigators. We are teaching someone named Sindy. She has a lot of questions and is really curious. I love that she is willing to seek out her responses and study. She has also read all of the bible and grown up in different churches. Right now, her family is not going to a church but they are looking to join one. She is married and has one son. She is the first person I have met in Guatemala who has read the whole Book of Mormon and wants to find out if it is true. Her faith and willingness to know the truth inspires me.

Also, we are teaching Amparo. She is 30 and has 3 little girls, Luz Clarita, Marisol and Renata. She doesn''t know how to read or write but loves learning about Jesus Christ and has come to church with us the last two weeks. She is our Mama Amparo and I love her and her girls so much. Luz Clarita is going to enter the covenant of baptism this week and Amparo the following week.

Those are just some pieces of the best week ever. Perhaps it was a better week because the Lord is making changes in me and carrying me. In fact, I do believe this is the case. I have felt the Savior's love for me so strongly and I know that He knows me individually and loves me tremendously. Our Savior lives and loves us.

This week, I have learned that as we try to change our lives and come unto Christ, the adversary will try and come in to change our minds. He will tell us things that are not true and try to tell us we cannot change. I testify that we can change. All of our goals are important to our Heavenly Father and brother, Jesus Christ, because they love us! They created us! Even if it is that we want to be healthier and learn to exercise everyday or get into a school program or find our car keys, they will help us! Don't let the adversary tell you things that are not true. We are made of the stuff of eternity and can always improve and be better and better. We are training to be Gods!

To top off the week, I talked to my family. It was the best thing in the entire world. My family is so special to me. I love them tremendously... and on Monday, we went to the beach!

I love you all. I hope that even when times are hard and things don't work out how we hope they will, we can find the hope and stillness in our Savior, in his life and in his teachings. He is here for us and wants us to come unto him. Stay strong and remember that the true rock is our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Hermana Jessop

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Skyping with Lexi

We loved skyping with our Lexi for Mother's Day. She is so happy in the mission field and such an inspiration to us! Here are a few of our favorite moments:
  • "On your mission, you realize God is with you no matter what." 
  • In the Living Christ when Joseph describes Chris, he says "the hair of his head was white like the pure snow" - Lexi joked that this means as your hair becomes "white like snow" it means you are becoming more Christlike. Age is a beautiful thing.
  • She used the Spanish cognate "assistance" rather than saying "attendance" when she was talking about how many people were in a branch.

How lucky we are to have such an amazing missionary!