Monday, April 27, 2015

Welcome to Pittsburgh

Sister Sears and Sister Davis
I love the rainy and snowy days, though it's warming up.

Pittsburgh is unreal.  The view as you come out of the Pitt tunnel is awesome.  So pretty, day or night.  There is not a flat spot here.  Hills on hills on hills.  So green and pretty. 
"Home Sweet Home"

It's strange being a missionary. I feel like I'm walking around with the cure to cancer. What every person here needs to be happy. So who am I to walk past a single person?

Hey everyone!

Hello from the heroine capitol of the world, Butler PA. Hahaha. I don't know where to start! 
The flight alone from MX-GA-PA was pretty stressful. I definitely realized pretty fast that I'm not in Utah anymore! But I made it in one piece. For some reason I seem to end up alone for all of my traveling, hahah. I gave the guy next to me on the plane a Book of Mormon. I wasn't going to honestly but we started talking and his phone had Steeler's written on it, so I took it as a sign haha. When I arrived unfortunately none of the other missionaries had made it due to delayed flights. So again, alone, I hung out with President Johnson and his wife all night- VIP treatment. Sister Johnson and I went on a hike the next morning. Perks of having the former REI CEO as your mission president. So this is why I was called here. Jk. 
Pittsburgh is unreal. The view as you come out of the Pitt Tunnel is awesome, video included. So pretty, day or night. There is not a flat spot here. Hills on hills on hills. So green and pretty. I love the rainy and snowy days, though it's warming up. 
Butler is just outside of the city. We live in downtown Butler, basically in the ghetto. It was just opened up to sisters again, it had been an elders only area for a while for safety, so that's good. 
There are sooo many churches here. I thought Utah had it bad. There's one LDS church. I think they've started running out of names for their churches, there's literally at least three or four on every block. 
I met my trainer, Hermana Davis! She's so great, we're going to be awesome together. 
Wednesday was my first dinner appointment! We ate at the Bonetti's. Outside downtown is anything but city. Everyone lives in the woods. Brother Bonnetti has a thick accent and a long thick black beard and hair. He was burping and cracking jokes all through dinner, haha. They even brought out the homemade pickles for the occasion. Sister Bonnetti drives a school bus. The members here are so awesome, we have dinner appointments every night, they buy us groceries and call us all the time to see how we're doing. 
I got to meet lots of the people I'll be working with. You learn really fast the second you walk in the door people are willing to tell you anything and everything, we hear some crazy stuff. These are not your average people. 
So the mission is nothing I expected it to be. Our focus is almost all on reactivating members. We are almost discouraged from tracting. I'm already figuring out how much harder reactivation is than non members. There is also a lot of service involved. 
I will not be using any spanish for now. Any spanish speaking people we meet are passed on to some elders. 
It is not what I expected, but I see so much room for improvement with the system here, so much potential to get things moving again here. It seems to be at a standstill of sorts. 
Let me tell you about some of the people we're currently working with. There quite a few excommunicated members we visit. Sis. W (Not using names) is a recovering drug addict, who's 21 year old daughter is in prison. We're trying to arrange lessons with her at the moment. She's awesome. 
Sis. Y- my heart goes out to her. Her husband is deployed and she's at home with her 8 month old and 4 year old. I can't even imagine her situation. 
D  is our new investigator. He is amazing. For months I have prayed that the people here would be prepared, and he is. He is a recovering alcoholic. He actually attended church with us this week. He had so many great things to say. He told us This about how he felt the Holy Ghost. 
"I felt it. It went deep. Like the worst grief you've ever felt, only the exact opposite. Is that why your eyes radiate all the time? Yeah, I want that. I only wish I had found this sooner."

So blooper of the week.... oh my gosh. We knocked on this guys door, a non member referral, and he invited us in. If you have ever wondered if 'hoarders' are real, they are. He told us to sit, so Sister Davis and I cleared off a small chair and sat together. Also, it smelled way good in there. We began to teach and as sister davis was talking, I looked down and there was a cockroach crawling up her thigh towards me. I panicked and smacked it off. Everyone stopped and looked at me wondering why I had just smacked my companion. They hadn't seen it. Not wanting to embarrass the guy, I just said 'sorry' and continued the lesson. I realized they were everywhere. The walls, floors, everywhere. I don't know what half of them were. I looked down ant there were three or four by my feet. As I desperately tried to teach, I could feel them crawling up my legs. There was some bag that kept rustling in the corner, who knows what was in it. A rat maybe. 

We set our next appointment to be in the park.

It's a strange thing being a missionary.I feel like I'm walking around with the cure to cancer. What every person here needs to be happy. 
So who am I to walk past a single person?
I feel so overwhelmed as we drive from appointment to appointment, of all the people and houses I pass. Who am I to pass them up? I feel a lot of weight on my shoulders, to be responsible for the entire area, just us two missionaries. We have a very large area to cover, almost all our appointments take 30-40 minutes to drive. We are so busy with appointments we don't have time for anything else. It's good that we're busy. 
Being in this 'loud' city with such a 'quiet' message is somewhat intimidating, but I'm ready for it. Here's to the next year and a half!

Adios, Hermana Sears

Friday, April 24, 2015

Welcome to Pennsylvania

We are very excited to have Sister Sears join us here in the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh mission!  We loved having a little extra time getting to know her and feel like she will do very well here in the PPM.  Thank you for sending your wonderful daughter and we wish you every blessing as she serves the Lord.
With love,
President and Sister Johnson

Monday, April 20, 2015

Good bye to Hermana Sears first district

Twas a sad goodbye to Sierra's first district.  She was the only one leaving today and flew out at 300 am.  The rest of her district leaves tomorrow.  When Sierra got up to get  ready to leave , her whole district got up with her at 100 am to say goodbye.  

She's Arrived!

Hey mom, dad, fam!
I've arrived!(: It is so beautiful, I just wanted to let you know I made it here safe and I'll tell you all about it next Pday(: None of the other missionaries showed today so it's literally just me and President Johnson and his wife at their home for the day and the night haha, we just went grocery shopping, and I'm about to have a whole, last night alone for 16 months! Haha. 
It is so green and pretty, pictures to come when I get my camera(:
was my license in the package? 
I know who my trainer is and they said she is the best one here!  So excited.  I was informed I wouldn't use Spanish much but to continue studying every day here.

I haven't read your all your emails, I will next Monday and respond.

Here is my address for the package!! 
My first area will be in Butler, PA

941 E. Jefferson Street, Apt 2
Butler PA 16001

SOOOO EXCITED for the package. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Adios for the last time from Mexico

         Goodbye to my friend Gabriel.  " Sister Sars, you my friend. You my friend.  I like the way your are,                                                            because this, you be success mission"
"The CCM is so great.  I am so lucky I got to be here."
It will be a sad goodbye...

Good bye to Mexico City, Pittsburgh here I come!

Hola otra vez, 

Casi a tiempo para salir la CCM. Almost time to leave the CCM. FINALMENTE: Last night the Hermanas and I had a party with our martinelli´s that Terry got from her boyf and oreos from mom(: The best. It will be sad saying goodbye, we´ve all gotten so tight, but I guess I´ll have a lot of those on my mission haha. The CCM is so great, I am so lucky I got to be here, and not in Provo. On a random note, I am also very glad I didn´t have any serious injury, haha. A new Hermana that came was sent to the Mexico City hospital to get her appendix out. After the surgery they realized she just had the flu, yeah woops. Poor girl, her parents are not happy to say the least haha.
Ps Shout-out to Madie Osbourne for sending the letter to me with Elder Smith from the Provo MTC!

I said goodbye to my friend Gabriel in the comedor (cafeteria) today. he is the sweetest guy ever. We always have the best chats during meals. He lives here in Mexico City with he and his wife and one son, who he showed me pictures of yesterday. (Picture included.) Today he brought me a paper he had written his testimony on, folded up with my name on it. It was so sweet. He said, in broken English, "Sister Sars, (He struggles saying my name,) you my friend. You my friend. I like the way you are, because this, you be success mission." 
The picture I included is of him showing me his family. 

And our teachers, ahh. They´re the best. Every single teacher here is so amazing. Hermano Zemudio is hilarious. The only reason he speaks English is "because he wants an American wife." Hahah. Hermano Gomez.... he is awesome. His spirituality is inspiring. He knows exactly how to get into your heart as a missionary, and is so strong when he testifies of something. I hope I am the kind of missionary he was. He served in the Salt Lake City Utah mission. 
This week we watched a devotional by Elder Holland and Elder Eyring about "Missionary work and the atonement." 

Here is a poem about missionary work written by an Elder.
"He´s Been There Before"

[The alarm bell rings at 6:30, I stumble to my feet
I grab my companions bedding and pull off the sheets

A groan fills the room, is it already time to arise?
It seems like just a second ago, I was able to shut my eyes
The morning activities follow- study, prayer, and such
When it´s time to leave the apartment, you feel you haven´t accomplished much

"We have a super day planned," 
My comp says with a grin
I lowly utter a faithless breath,
"Yeah, if anyone lets us in."

With the word of God and my faithful Schwinn, we ride off in the streets prepared to
Face another day of humidity and heat
It´s 9:30 in the evening, the day is almost through
My champion and I are riding home not accomplishing what we thought to do

We ride up to the mailbox, hoping to receive a lot
Only to look inside and hear my echo reverberate "air box"
We go up to our apartment, the day is now complete
The only thing to show for our work is a case of blistery feet

It´s past 10:30 pm, my companion is fast asleep,
Silence engulfs me all around and I begin to weep
In the midst of sadness, I kneel down to pray
I need to talk to father, but I´m not sure what to say

"Oh, Father," I begin, "What happened to us today?
I thought we´s teach somebody, but everyone was away
My hand, my aching hands- worn, hurt and beat;
If our area was any smaller, we´d have knocked every street" 

"Why on missions are the days so much alike?
The only difference about today was the flat tire on my bike
Will you send some cooler weather? The heat is killing me
I sweat so bad, it gets in my eyes, it´s very hard to see"

"Why do I have to wear a helmet, isn´t your protection enough? 
People always laugh at me, and call me stupid stuff
Please send us investigators so I may give them what they lack
I want to give them Books of Mormon, the weight of them hurts my back"

"And what about my family: they don´t have much to say
I´m sick of not hearing from home day after day after day
Oh Father, Why am I here just wasting time? 
Sometimes I want to go home, I´´m sorry but that´s on my mind"

"My companion, Heavenly father, what are you giving me? 
The way he rides his bicycle, I don´think he can see
Now you have it, I can´t go on, I don´t know what to do
That, my Father in Heaven, is the prayer I have for you"

My prayer now finished, I stand up, then jump right into bed
I need my rest for tomorrow, we have another long day ahead
Sleep starts to overtake me, I seem to drift away
Then it seems a vision takes me to another time in another day

I´m standing alone on the hill. The view is very nice
A man walks towards me  and says "My name is Jesus Christ"
Tears of joy well up inside, I fall down to His feet
"Arise," He states, "Follow me to the shade. You and I need to speak"

My attention towards my Savior, total and complete
He says, "Your mission is similar to what happened to me
I understand how you feel, I know what you´re going through
In fact, it would be fair to say I felt the same as you"

"I even know how you felt when no one listened to you
At times I felt not quite sure what else I could do
I know you don´t like to ride a bicycle, for a car would be sweet
Just remember the donkey I rode was not equipped with 21 speeds"

"I understand you don´t like sweating, in fact it´s something that you hate
I remember when I sweat blood from ev´ry pore, oh the agony was great.
I see you don´t like your companion- you´d rather have someone else-
I once had a companion named Judas who sold my life for wealth"

"It´s hard to wear a helmet and have people make fun of you
I remember when they put thorns on my head and called me King of the Jews
So you feel burdened down by the weight of your pack
I recall how heavy the cross was when they slammed it on my back"

"Your hands hurt from tracting and knocking on doors all day
I guess when they pounded nails into mine, I ached in a similar way
It´s hard not to hear from home when your family´s not there to see
I lost communication on the cross and cried "Father, why hast thou forsaken me?"

"We have a lot in common, but there´s a difference between us you see
I endured to the end and finished my mission, so follow and do like me"
He embraced me with His arms and His light filled me with His love
With tears in my eyes I watched as He went back to the Father above

I stood with awe and wonder when a beep rang in my head
I listened and heard the alarm, then realized I was in my bed
My companion let out a groan, "6:30 already, no way"
I sat up and said, "Come on, I´ll even carry your scriptures today"

No matter what we go through,
When we feel we can´t take more
Just stop and think about Jesus Christ,
He´s been there before]

That´s all for this week, same time next week I´ll be in Pittsburgh!(: I am one very happy missionary. I can´t wait to be back in the states. It´s been six weeks filled with rice, beans, valentina sauce (hot sauce,) and enough nutella for a life-time. That stuff goes straight to my face. Literally. Lol. 

I´ll be flying out Monday, I leave solo for the airport at 3:00 am. Here I come Pittsburgh!
This week I am so grateful for the pure and simple truths that are this gospel. Now it´s time to share it. 
¡Adios for the last time from Mexico!
Hermana Sears

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

" I will not leave you comfortless..."


All is well in Mexico City! No more tornados, earthquakes, or crazy thunderstorms to report this week. And.... no more virus! That was nasty. Easter/ conference weekend was wonderful. Sounds like everyone at home had a great one as well, I am so glad you got to spend it together. So so happy.(: Big thank you to Hunter´s family for the Easter package, and the tide to go pen! Made my Easter extra special. And I´ve used the pen six times already haha, my clothes thank you.
There is now hardly anyone here at the CCM. Our zone has all left, so it´s just our little district, and lot and lots of Latinos. We are the only Americans in the CCM at the moment, so we get to play the minority. The latino missionaries do not like the Americans. They cut us in lines at meals and make fun of us all the time hahah. 
We befriended an Elder Muñoz from Guatemala this week, sweetest guy. Also happens to look exactly like David Archuleta haha. Such a cutie.
In other news, Saturday marks one month!
I am so grateful for Hermana Terry here. I am convinced she is Kelsie (Engen´s) doppelganger. Heavenly Father knew I would need a friend here.  It also just so happens she has a special someone at home too.(: We´re already planning out Cali trip when we get home. Both Hermana Emerson and terry will be going to UVU after our mish, so we all want to live together. 
Back to conference. Never have I, nor will I ever get more out of conference than I will on my mission. For the first time I didn´t fall asleep haha. I really listened to every single word. 
My favorite was Dale G Rendlund. I could talk forever about all my favorite talks, but since time is short I´ll just include my favorite quotes I recorded.
"T´was I, but ´tis not I." (Shakespeare)
And Dallin H Oaks "We are hindered in our faith when we are fearful of our future." 
Jeffrey R Holland- "Men cannot be satisfied once they see the greatness of their potential." 

(Side note: If you can, can you track down and send me the talk Elder Holland gave in the Provo MTC in 2011 to the missionaries? And watch it, you wont regret it. Particularly the last 15-20 minutes where he tells the story of the apostle Peter. 
Also, PLEASE send my patriarchal blessing via missionarypackagemx?) 

Being in a room with hundreds of other (Latin) missionaries listening to the general authorities was so powerful. Half the talks we got to listen to in English, and half were translated in Spanish. 

I continue to have the greatest teaching experiences with my teachers. Even though they are all practice, and not real investigators, the spirit is so so strong in every lesson. I am able to recall scriptures I didn´t even know I knew and my Spanish comes from nowhere. 

Despite conference weekend being so great, I was feeling pretty anxious and overwhelmed Sunday night. More than ever. Anyway, I decided to open my scriptures again before bed. I sat down and opened up where I left off that morning. And I immediately read: (John 14:18)
"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." and 27, "Peace I leave unto you, my peace I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." And I knew.

It is these little things, these little promptings, a scripture, answered prayers, a letter from home, (an Easter package(: ) that keep you going strong. 
I love the CCM, it is an amazing place. Our teachers are so inspired. The more I learn the more I want to share it. They say as a missionary you have to convert yourself first, and I testify of that. I am more and more converted to Christ every day, and though six weeks is a long time to be in the CCM, in the same few blocks, I am so grateful for the time I have here to prepare. I am 100 times the missionary I was just a few weeks ago. There is no better way to strengthen your testimony, come closer to Christ, and come to love this gospel more than serving a mission. These things help me overcome my fears. 
Si se puede. I can do it. 
Love you all!
Nos vemos. Hermana Sears

Friday, April 3, 2015

When you lose yourself, then you will find yourself...

Hey friends and fam,

This week wasn´t all that eventful. I've been pretty sick all week with some kind of nasty virus. 
Anyway, I´ve made it to solo español! Which means we´re not allowed to speak any English, before, during, after classes."The only time it´s allowed is when you´re dreaming." I´ve made really good friends with the workers in the cafeteria here. I speak to them for 5-10 minutes at every meal. They always tell me how good my accent and my spanish is, so that feels good. Every time they see me they all say "Hey sister Se-ars!" They brush up my spanish, I brush up their English hahaha. They´re hilarious. 
Spanish is going well, Hermana Terry and I decided we would memorize 100 words/ day on top of class. I like the challenge. 
We´ve found a new way to keep ourselves entertained here. It´s scare Elder Curzon. He is the jumpiest person ever, so we take every opportunity. It´s all the entertainment we´ve got hahah.
It´s definitely rainy season here, the storms keep coming. Every single day around dinner time the clouds roll in and put on quite the show. Like no storm youve been in before, haha. The sky becomes a strobe light, the lightning is so cool. The power always goes off at night. (Shout-out to Hunter for the rain boots.)
Our district has become so close. They´re so great. Pretty funny, there was a particular Elder no one likes here (he´s "that guy") that kept sitting by me during sunday night movies and devotionals, and a couple guys in my district went and told him to leave "Our hermanas" alone. Lol
This week we were all sharing our feelings when we received our stateside mission calls. Everyone in my district is going stateside. Elder Curzon shared when he opened his, how he began crying, but as soon as he read his call the tears "literally went back into my eyes." hahaha we can all relate.
By the way, a tide to go pen from would be much appreciated. We can receive packages same day through it. My clothes are suffering ,haha. 
We got to go to the Mexico City temple today. AKA ,we finally got to leave the prison walls of the CCM. The city is crazy. But so amazing. And different. (Pictures included.) 
So I am the only missionary flying out to Pittsburgh, so I´ll be the only one flying solo haha. I´m not mad, it´ll be my last time alone for a year and a half. I´m not complaining. This time will be easier, haha. At the Salt Lake Airport when I said goodbye to you guys and stood om security sobbing, I looked behind me and saw the woman behind me had also started crying, noticing I was a departing missionary. And then the woman in front of me. And then another, until there were three ladies around me crying with me. Chain reaction I guess haha.
I´ve only met a few people here with connections to Pittsburgh, but everyone says how much the people they knew that served in Pittsburgh struggled. I guess people there are pretty closed-minded. The mission averages one baptism a year. I pray every night for the people I am yet to meet. 
Testimony will never be enough for a person. If you are truly converted to the Lord, not the church, a program, not the missionaries, you will never fall away. The church will always be true, but people will not always be true to the church. The people I will meet will not remember everything I say, but I hope they will remember the way they felt. You never know the impact you can have on people.
Elder Cope said something pretty powerful, that those people we will meet and help will be there on our judgement day, begging and pleading for our mercy.
It is hard not to be incredibly hard on yourself here. But in a few short weeks, my real mission will start, I just want to be ready. 
"If you go looking for yourself, you will never find it. When you lose yourself, then you will find yourself." 
I had a cool teaching experience this week. We practice teach our teachers, Hermana Dominguez and Hermano Salvador. This week I was teaching Hermana Dominguez. As I was teaching I felt like I should read a scripture, Ether 12:4. As she began reading the scripture, she started crying and couldn´t finish. She told me that today I was inspired to teach Hermana Dominguez, not Marisela, the investigator she was pretending to be. She told me this was exactly what she needed. The first time I have made a real difference. This is why I am here. As I spoke the words came to me so easily. In Spanish. 

That´s all for this week. Love you all lots. 
Keep the support coming. Hasta luego.
Hermana Sears