Monday, September 12, 2016





Hola,
     There is absolutely no chance I will be able to express a portion of my thoughts and feelings of the last 18 months of my life.
     The last 18 months, and especially the last six weeks, I feel like God has been personally teaching me. I've never understood so clearly the way that our Father in Heaven loves us. Of everything that Hermana Hart and I have seen, experienced, taught, and felt this transfer, it all comes back to His love. In the roughest of all the areas I have ever served, surrounded by the reality of the world that we live in, I have never felt so close to my Savior. I have seen Him reach out to me from everything from my personal studies in the morning in the scriptures, through prayer, to even the seemingly roughest people on the streets. Looking back I can see, and am aware now more than ever that He has been with me every single step of my mission, and of my life.
     I will never stop being amazed at how He knows me, and loves me so perfectly, personally, and unfailingly. He never stops loving us, even with all the things that make us so imperfect. More than ever I understand why we are given challenges in life, and I am forever grateful for them, because I know know it is only a plea from Him, saying 'remember me.'
     This week I was studying once again in Alma 36 about the conversion of Alma. He described the feelings he had as "tormented with the pains of hell, racked by the pains of a damned soul, eternal torment, with all his sins, inexpressible horror, etc.." Yet on the contrary, he explains the 'sweet' contrast he experienced as "joy, marvelous light, exquisite, and sweet."
     As I was thinking about why God 'punishes' His children, I realized that without punishment, or consequences- what reason do we have to be obedient, and to do what is right? Likewise, without positive consequences, or blessings, what reason do we have to follow Him?
     And even when he does 'punish," he does so only through tears. Moses 7:41 "And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Enoch, and told Enoch all the doings of the children of men; wherefore Enoch knew, and looked upon their wickedness, and their misery, and wept and stretched forth his arms, and his heart swelled wide as eternity; and his bowels yearned; and all eternity shook."
     This has given me a new vision as I read the Book of Mormon, as I notice the pattern of love and chastening with the Lord to the those people. And I see it in my own life.

     He pleads with us to repent only so that we might avoid suffering for what Christ already paid for. D&C 19:15-18
     "16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent"
     I know that this church is His church, and that the Book of Mormon contains everything we need to know to come back to Him. And I know that He loves us.

I will be forever grateful for the lives I was able to be a part of, and those of you at home who have made the load bearable.
Les amo. Les vere pronto.
One last time,
Hermana Sears






Monday, August 22, 2016

HELLO MY TRUNKY FAMILY!


 

Haha ,I was surprised to open an inbox full of trunky emails from my family! I suppose it's allowed.. but honestly I don't think about the time, I am in denial, that's for sure. It always catches me off guard when someone reminds me.. In my mind this calling of mine is never going to end. Or so I will keep telling myself the next 10 days.. It does hit me at times though, hard. And when those times come, it feels like a stab to the heart. My companion has been so helpful and supportive though, letting me talk through my nerves when we get home for the night and finish planning and the name tags are off, haha. 
 
     (Back to ignoring the elephant in the room) This week was super great. The best part was taking Karina and her two kids to the temple open house in Philadelphia. Natanael was working and couldn't come, sadly. They're so great. The night before we went to the temple we had a lesson with them, we weren't planning on inviting them the next day in hopes he would get a day off so they could all go together, but we both felt we needed to invite her or she wouldn't go at all. We already had the trip planned to take another investigator (who ended up falling through anyway.) When we invited Karina she was like Yes! Wait... the kids have appointments tomorrow.. And Natanael was just like... Cancel them! Go! So she did.(: Before I talk about how awesome the temple was, another side note from that lesson. So we had a member with us who's a convert of 3 years, and bless her heart she was so excited about being there to teach with us she ended up spilling everything from the word of wisdom to three kingdoms to everything in between haha it was out of control and there was nothing we could do. Anyway, at one point she started talking about how as missionaries we "suffer." How we go hungry, thirsty...etc. Made it sound like we're poor and starving. (Because we don't get fed dinner here, we usually only eat one meal a day, haha. So somewhat accurate.) So we felt super uncomfortable. They were like "Why didn't you tell us?!" Natanael looked at Karina and just said "Las ofresca los macaronis!" (Offer them macaronis!) So they both ran to the kitchen and cooked us dinner, even though we tried to assure them we are just fine. She's huanaca (from El Salvador,) so everything they make is suuuper good. They're both super funny. 
 
     So because I came from Lancaster and had been told I could attend the open house back before the mission swap. Sister Christiansen took us. She is sooo incredibly kind. Even though she doesn't speak spanish, she and Karina's two kids had a great time. The temple is beautiful. When we were in the sealing room, her son who's 9 looked at his mom and said 'mom, you need to get married here,' after the couple giving the tour talked about how marriages performed here would last forever. Because the temple was open for the public and full of people, the only time it was completely silent was when they took us into the celestial room. Afterwards, Karina said that as she sat in there she closed her eyes and was praying and imagining that God was here with her, and when she opened her eyes she was surprised that the room was full of people, and even the little ones and babies were silent. On the car ride home, her daughter who's 5 just said 'mom, I like where we went today.'
 
     On the way home we had a lot of time with traffic to talk with her. She has no doubts about the Book of Mormon or the church, her only hesitation is that she was baptized just 6 months ago in another christian church. They are so prepared. 

     Hermana Hart and I have worked so hard this transfer to figure out how to teach together in the way that these people need, and we seem to have finally figured it out. The spirit is so evident in every lesson- everyone we teach not only listens, but understands deeply what we are saying. It is evident in their questions, their comments, and their prayers pleading for God to show them "if this is the way He wants them to walk." We have had some of the sweetest experiences, and all while literally dripping buckets of sweat, hungry, and tired. Haha. 
     
     This week we've had one too many encounters with the prostitutes that are on every corner in the areas where we work. It is so sad. Sometimes we will be talking to someone, then while we're talking to them they'll flag a car down and be gone. One time this week we had found a less active member on the street by coincidence and were talking to him and a girl looked at us, sat right next to him and started trying to.. advertise. This is such a normal ocurance here the member did not blink an eye, didn't look at her, so she got up and walked away. These girls are persistent! Talk about motivation to make sure to talk to everyone before they get to them haha. 
 
That's all for now.(: Have a great week!

Hermana Sears



Monday, July 25, 2016

Straitt Outta Baltimore

HI
 WOW it's been an interesting week. First of all I made it to Baltimore. We actually live in the city of Towson, but spend 100% of our time downtown west Baltimore. WOW haha. That's all. I don't know where to start.. or what to share haha maybe I'll save details for in five weeks. 
     From the very first hour I arrived here I was already devastated my time is so short here. Honestly the biggest struggle has been struggling with being content with the short time I have been given here. Every day ideas run through my head how I could manage to extend another transfer, but I know plans have already been made. 
     Me and my companion had an interesting experience this week. By the way, her name is Hermana Hart, and she's the greatest person ever. From our first lesson together our "comp unity" has been through the roof, haha. I was definitely blessed to be given a companion like her, that not only works hard, but does things a lot like me. She cares a lot about being genuine with people, creating real relationships. Something I haven't always had. So anyway, we are both really looking forward to this transfer. Saturday night we sat and talked about everything we wanted to accomplish this transfer, everything we wanted to change, and made goals. Overall, we just decided to lose ourselves this transfer. Something that missionaries often do, but things don't change and it just becomes talk. So the next day, we put it into action. From the train, the metro, the bus, and chasing down families on the streets talking to EVERYONE, we were literally seeing miracles all day, it was amazing. So we have an early curfew here, we have to be out of the city before dark. So after visiting a member we're teaching, (and eating everything in her fridge- we each had three tamales, 5 taquitos, tomatillo chicken, and flan, but that's another story, ((you eat what they put in front of you))) we head to the bus stop. We're waiting.... and waiting... and waiting.. the bus wasn't showing up. The sun went down, and we both found out exactly why the curfew exists. We were stranded in the city. I started praying, and praying, and praying, and finally it decided to show up haha. We were saved. After watching some horrendous things happen on the bus, we got on the lightrail to head back, thinking we made it. Then an announcement comes on and announces that due to construction the last stop would be North Ave, still 45 minutes from home, STILL in the city. We had to call some sisters to come get us out. Anyway, we were pretty frustrated with the whole situation obviously. When we got home we were talking about it and and both realized what was happening. Basically we came to the conclusion that the harder we work, the more opposition we're going to have. It was like Satan saw we were really carrying out our goals, and was trying to distract us. 
     One of my biggest worries here is that six weeks wouldn't be enough to make a difference in the lives of the members here, or have a relationship with them. But this week we had a couple experiences, and with those few members I already feel like family. The people here beyond humble me. One day we decided to go see a sister we are teaching, and it turned out she was being evicted from the room she was renting in a house, and had one day to get out, with no help. She has three young boys, ages 1-7, and her husband left her a few months ago, forcing her to work for the first time in her life. We came back the next day and helped her get everything into the new place- a tiny dark room in the basement of a house, with ceilings no taller than 6 feet for all four of them. But she was thrilled to have it, and beyond grateful for the help. We got to talk to her for a long time as we helped her unpack. Everyone has their own time to return, and this is hers. 
     Side note- the roaches here are nuts. When we took a mirror off her wall in the old room, not kidding at least 200+ cockroaches that had been huddling in one big mass behind it immediately scattered to every side and corner of the room, and the ceiling surround us, hahaha. The worst part was when we came back no more than 60 seconds later there was not one in sight. 
     After we finished the job, you could tell she felt so relieved  that everything was going to be okay. She took us out to get tacos after, and treated us to tacos de pescado, cordero, cabeza, carne, nopales, and carne de piel. Fish, lamb, cabeza (picking parts of the brain out of that one,) salted beef, cactus, and pickled pork skins. (Those ones are so chewy you just have to try and swallow them whole, hahaha.) I'm back to eating like a Mexicana, it takes a minute to re-adjust to habanero peppers a chile in everything haha.
     The branch is amazing. It's a lot bigger than the Columbia branch in Lancaster, which had no families or young people. Little kids speaking spanish is my favorite thing ever, they're all my friends already. There are three sets of missionaries in this one branch. 
     It has been really interesting adjusting to the mission culture in the Maryland Baltimore mission. I didn't realize how different things would be. It was really hard the first few days. I was still waiting on a confirmation that this is really where I'm meant to be, but I didn't wait long. It came the very first time we sat down in our first lesson here, as I was reminded that it really doesn't matter how much the mission culture around me changes, or how different the missionaries are, my purpose has not changed. Every reason I decided to be out here is still the same, and it's the people sitting across from me as I teach. I have never had a hard time loving the people I serve on my mission, but here it has been immediate and overwhelming. There are days it will just hit me how short my time is, and that I can't do this forever.. and I just cry. haha. I can't tell you how grateful I am for a missionary like Hermana Hart, she has already helped me personally so much. She is also the only companion I have been able to speak spanish with all the time, which will mean huge things for my spanish, only having served a total of six months in spanish work. We are going to do a lot of good together. The best companions are the ones who are willing to work with you until you're so tired at night you're falling asleep in nightly planning. The longer you're out the more you're just drained, everyday. I read a talk this week that talked about how fast general authorities age, because of how much they are filled with the spirit, and their physical bodies can't keep up. That is honestly how it is as a missionary to a degree. 
     Anyway, things are very different. But I definitely got exactly what I had been praying for for the end of my mission- to be forced out of my comfort zone so I would continue to grow til the end. So much more has happened, but not enough time. I love you all, Baltimore is a serious adventure everyday, I love the city, and the people even more. Don't worry mom, the blue light districts aren't so bad when the lights aren't flashing. Hahaha

chao chao,
hermana sears 

ps. the church is true.
     
     
     

Monday, July 18, 2016

Grown up Sidewalk Chalk





This is where people go who steal ipads from sweet sister missionaries....








Hi family.
     So.. first things first. Transfer calls came- I'm heading for the
Inner Harbor Zone in Baltimore. My area is called Alameda, I know
nothing about it. Except that I will be serving in a spanish branch!
     I wish I had more time today, hopefully I'll get to it next week.
Saying goodbye to yet another ward/ branch family was rough. I'll
always have a very special place in my heart for these people. I know
I was sent there because I needed them as much as they needed me. This
has definitely been the area I've had the most personal growth-
intellectually, spiritually, physically, haha. At times it's put my
faith to the test, tried my patience, and pulled tears, but overall
it's been the most growth I've experienced in all 20 years of my life.
     This week we had a cool idea to go downtown and chalk out the
entire Plan of Salvation on the sidewalk so anyone walking past would
take a walk through the plan. It was a really cool way to talk to
people, and everyone was so much more receptive than I thought.
Unfortunately someone played me well and I stole my iPad as they were
pretending to be interested and took off. Luckily the elders are very
apple savvy and have the location tracking, so if the guy turns it on
it will sound an alarm, lock, alert them his location, and bring up a
message I wrote to him asking him to return it. I'm pretty bummed I
lost everything on it- pictures, but most importantly notes. All my
journaling had been in my notes, some really important stuff. Maybe
this guy will end up joining the church when he hacks into the iPad
and realized the only thing he can access is gospel library. Haha.


     Packing time, sorry I don't have much time today.
Love,
Hermana Sears

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Good Morning Baltimore

Hey,
     I know I've sent long emails, but this one is about to top the
charts. (iPad mission perks- enjoying it while I can.) But I figure
I've been out almost a year and a half, the only readers anymore are
probably my family and hunter and maybe two friends haha. So here is
goes.
     Haha, lots of changes happened this week. Said goodbye to
President and Sister Johnson Friday and met President and Sister
Christiansen the next day. It was really strange saying goodbye to the
Johnson's, we had our final interview and everything. President
Johnson loves mountains almost as much as I do though, each of our
interviews always included places we needed to go. He's given me a
pretty solid list. They will be close in Logan, so I'm looking forward
to hiking with them one day. They have been so kind through this whole
change, I am forever grateful for them. They've played a huge role in
my mission, and I really will never forget what they taught me. They
truly do inspire missionaries, like their own children to keep their
covenants. They have their hearts and lives set on the temple. They
have a unique way of teaching by their own experiences, in every zone
training, conference, MLC, interview, etc I've ever had with them,
each began with a life experience of theirs or their family's. I
really do feel like I know them like family, haha. They've had a life
full of adventure, they've lived all over the states, Europe, Canada,
and have travelled just about everywhere else. All about making
memories. It's no coincidence my mission president was the CFO of REI,
loves mountains, and loves making memories. President Johnson knows I
have a desire to do many of the very things he's done in his life and
has shared with me treasured counsel about achieving it. They make me
feel like I can do anything in the world if I set my mind to it, haha.
As I hear of other missions and mission presidents, I recognize that
the Johnson's are a lot different than most. I would not consider him
one to be known for cracking down on missionaries. He really does give
missionary's the ability to use their agency. Yes, I've seen it be
both good and bad in some missionaries. But I definitely know that I
was meant to serve here under his direction. When missionaries are
called a great deal of the decision is made by assigning to the
mission president, not the mission. I am so grateful for all they've
done for me, eternally grateful. I have a great love for the
Johnson's. Also, Pennsylvania will always have my heart. I could write
a novel about how much I love this beautiful place, but I have lots to
write. So I'll save it for another day.
     And now, to President Christiansen. Wow. I really didn't expect
to like them much due to how much I love the Johnson's, but I was so
surprised the day we met them to how quickly I felt like I had already
known them long before. Seriously, they are amazing. And I don't have
to say that. SO kind and understanding. President Christiansen is
world's different than Johnson, I have not seen him smile yet. He is
quiet, everything he says is very thought out. But I realized quickly
how in tune he is with the spirit, and how much he cares about his
missionaries, even the ones he just met and inherited. My first
interview with him was 45 minutes long. He wanted to know everything I
hoped for in the last transfer of my mission. When I say he was
understanding, I mean he was willing to do whatever I felt like was
right for me. He gave me the option to stay in Lancaster or to leave
and spend my last in Baltimore. He was also so willing to work with my
release date, giving me four different options, some of which I'm sure
would require more effort on his part to make happen. Honestly,
personality/ spirituality-wise, he is a lot like me. And Sister
Christiansen was so kind. She and I got to talk for almost the entire
time other missionaries were being interviewed, and yes, she was
great. I know that this day was a confirmation to me that all is
exactly as it is supposed to be. I left not feeling sad about leaving
behind the Pennsylvania Pittsburgh mission, but so excited to learn so
much more from the Maryland Baltimore mission.
     I am so impressed by the vision of the Maryland mission. The APs
gave us an introduction as to what the goals are of the mission
president and the mission as a whole, what the mission is like,
answered questions, etc. In January there was a missionary broadcast
about "teaching repentance and baptizing converts" and their mission
really made huge changes afterwards. They have shifted their focus to
primarily focusing on teaching converts and leaving retention efforts
as the responsibility of the wards. This will be a huge change. I've
spent 95% of my mission with that as a huge emphasis in my purpose.
Their mission baptizes more than double we do. This mission is
definitely a lot 'stricter,' and I am really, really looking forward
to being a part of and learning a lot from the mission. Okay.. The
best part.. THERE ARE HERMANA AREAS. I don't ever have to be an
English missionary again! (No offense, hahaha) with Lancaster there
are now four Spanish- sister areas, and currently eight Spanish
sisters including Smith and I in the mission. So every Spanish called
Sister will serve in a Spanish area! When President Christiansen and
the APs (who both happen to be called Spanish speaking as well) heard
we, and most missionaries in the ppm spend the majority of our
missions in English areas, they were shocked. Spanish isn't dead!!
And, the Spanish sisters are not banned from serving in inner
Baltimore city like sisters were in Pittsburgh. And, there are
currently two native speaking Spanish sisters. There's a lot more we
learned about the mission, but I've already nearly written a novel. So
I will leave it at this. I am excited.
     Alright back to the greatest place on earth, Lancaster. We are
working with some solid, amazing people.. Like wow. Whatever happens-
if I leave or if I stay, it will be so bittersweet. If I go, there are
so many opportunities waiting, and if I stay, I will potentially get
to work with and see four of our investigators get baptized. I will be
happy no matter what happens.

     So beginning with Suzie. Tuesday we arrived at her house, and
from the moment we came in we knew she was not happy. We sat down, and
she handed us her skirts we had given her to come to church and she
told us she didn't want them, that she wasn't ever going to come to
church, and she wanted us to stop coming. She said she doesn't have
time for us in her life, but clearly there was much more to it. Her
house felt dark, and she was clearly distraut. I really didn't know
what to say- I kind of went into fight or flight missionary mode-
deciding whether we should take the clothes and leave with a prayer or
if we were supposed to stay and talk to her. We stayed. The adversary
is working so hard on Suzie.
     "Before you came here today I was so mad at you. I didn't want
you come. Whenever you're not here I don't want you to come. But then
when you get here I don't want you to leave. What is that?"
     She opened up to us about how anytime she had tried to come
closer to God through church something had gotten in her way. On her
way to church once she had a near death car accident, another time she
tried her son was shot. Her son is now paralyzed, it really is a
miracle he is alive. He died three times on the table, he was bleeding
out through the artery in his heart. She said she was terrified that
if she went to church something would happen to her family. And again
she just said she didn't understand why when we were with her she felt
so good, and light, but felt a literal "darkness" when we weren't
there.
     It was one of those moments I was praying so hard to know what I
needed to say, or not say. The situation felt so fragile, like walking
on thin ice. I ended up sharing Galatians with her, about the feelings
that come from the spirit and reminded her that any other feeling is
not from God.
     "I feel like God sent you here to save me." We were able to
continue to counsel with her, and after more time talking with her
which I won't talk about, she asked us to come back next week. She
knows the Book of Mormon to be true, and that Joseph Smith was a
prophet. Which could only mean that she will very soon connect the
dots and gain a testimony that this is Christ's church. But satan is
working tirelessly with her. And I truly believe it's because of the
potential she has for good. Like I've said, he works hard with those
we meet, but we have to work harder. Light will always overcome
darkness, and we hope that we will continue to carry that light into
her life with time.
     Alma 19:6: "the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from
his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the
light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his
goodness--yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the
cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of
everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea, he knew that this had
overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God--"

     We had an incredible experience teaching Pablo this week as well
with a member. This member was so inspired and bold with him,
promising Pablo that God had a calling for him at this time, and even
that one day he would hold the priesthood and lay his hands on his
family's heads and bless them. They were like best buds by the end of
the lesson, and Pablo ended up going to Saturday morning basketball
that the elders do, and church on Sunday. This lesson had its fair
share of distractions as well.. From a parked car blasting music that
made our ears want to bleed (luckily with only 20 days here from the
Dominican Republic Pablo doesn't speaks English,) a street fight that
broke out in front of his house, fireworks shooting off everywhere
through the streets, and a rat that didn't seem to want to leave (the
rats are everywhere in the street now,) yet was still one of the most
powerful. Pablo is so young with so much potential.
     We started teaching another young guy named Benjamin, from
Mexico, father of five this week. You don't meet many fathers like him
here. So anxious to be an example for his kids, and to give them a
better life through the gospel. As we taught outside at a public park
his kids played on the playground, and we saw how much he cares for
those kids. He really wants this for himself and his kids. We are so
excited to keep teaching him with the help of the branch.

     This week has been so inspired, perhaps the most inspired week of
my whole mission. Every aspect of our work seemed to have perfectly
prepared us for our own changes and the changes those we are teaching
are experiencing- from personal studies that turned out to be exactly
in line with the outcome, to seeing the opposition in their lives, to
coming to a perfect understand of why challenges come in life, and
being able to help them understand this.
     For example, in personal study one morning as I was studying the
Plan of Salvation for a lesson we taught, I told Hermana Smith I
really felt like we needed to adapt our teaching because she had lost
someone close, and that we should ask her about it. It turned out she
had just lost her boyfriend, being left with a month old baby. She was
so prepared.. And when I say prepared I mean she not only had studied
out the entire pamphlet we had left her and all the scriptures, but
she shared how she had always known there was a time between life and
death where we would "remember the things we had done good and bad in
our lives," and went on to explain the spirit world better than I've
ever heard it in the church.
     The morning before we had taught Suzie I had been studying in
Helaman 3 about the "great sufferings, persecutions, and afflictions"
the people were dealing with at this time. However, it also speaks of
the result of their trials. "35: Nevertheless they did fast and pray
oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer
and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with
joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification
of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding
their hearts unto God."  The power that trials have to "purify and
sanctify" us, and bring us to God really resonated deep with me. I
have never understood so clearly until this week the answer to the
question that many consider cliché "Why God allows bad things to
happen to good people." Because He knows it is what refines us and
ultimately brings us back to Him. Trials don't just come to those who
need to change, but they do have the power to humble us to our knees.
"For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.." This week I also re-read
two of my favorite talks- one by Elder Christofferson, "As many as I
love, I rebuke and chasten," and one by Elder Eyring "Mountains to
climb." I highly recommend them.(:
     Hardship in life doesn't mean God isn't here, or doesn't love us.
Trials refine us into beings capable of inheriting all that God hopes
to give us. If He did not love us, our lives would be perfect. In
fact, without the trials I've had in my life I would not be here on a
mission.
     Understanding this prepared me to be able to ensure this very
thing to Suzie that same day. And though my mission change is not
really consider a trial, only change, it has brought me more
confidence in making it. Sometimes the Lord's hand is so evident in
this work it's almost visible.

     I think that's all for now. Oh, and by the way, Maryland
Baltimore is not an iPad mission so I'll need to send my iPad home or
give it up soon here. I'm going back to paper! Super excited about
this, I've continued to study personally with my paper scriptures my
whole mission, but I'll get paper planners back. I miss those! I
remember the first two or so transfers I was without an iPad here and
how much I loved being out of the worldly technology game. Haha most
of the missionaries don't know what to do with themselves with this
change. If that's the case it's probably an issue, haha. While they
were a great tool that did make many things very convenient, I've
always preferred my Book of Mormon.

Love you all,
Hermana Sears
Maryland Baltimore mission
(Though I will always be a PPMer for life!)


Ps. Happy fourth!! I'll be sending pictures later

Tuesday, June 28, 2016







Hi family.
     Um, first CONGRATULATIONS to Kelsie, YOU'RE ENGAGED! I was so
excited all day when I got the email. I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU!
     Well this week was certainly an unexpected one. Lots of emotions,
haha. Let me explain... Wednesday night we got a text from the zone
leaders saying we were to be at the stake center the next day for an
emergency meeting with President Johnson. They didn't know what it was
about themselves, so obviously we were panicking all night wondering
what was happening. President Johnson, former business man/ CFO is
never so unorganized about anything. Everything with him is about
productivity and effectiveness. So the big news is, I'm being sent to
a new mission. Baltimore, Maryland! It was not easy news to take in
honestly. I've spent almost the last two years since I got my call
setting my mind on the fact that I had been called to serve in
Pittsburgh, PA, and this is where I was meant to be. I should have
paid a little more attention to the line in the call letter that says
"your assignment may be modified according to the needs of the mission
president."
     I am the only one being sent to Baltimore with only two transfers
left in my mission. Afterwards President Johnson and the APs pulled me
aside and explained how he really did struggle over my name, but knew
that he couldn't give me the opportunity to speak Spanish in the
mission anymore, and that I could there. It was kind of cool, they
said how any time a missionary is changed from one mission to another,
like when a missionary is assigned, a member of the quorum of the
twelve has to approve each case. So if they know it's right, it must
be, right? Haha.
     Baltimore, Maryland here I come?
     So here's how it'll work. The Lancaster stake is being moved into
the Maryland, Baltimore mission. So I may end up staying here until
the end of my mission, or I may spend my last transfer somewhere in
the new mission. I've decided I'll be happy with either. I obviously
love where I'm at and the people here, but if I get transferred, I
assume it will be somewhere else Spanish speaking, so it's something
new. I've already been here longer than average, and with Hermana
Smith WAY longer than average. So it's possible she will stay and I
will go. It's also possible though because I only have one left here
he will keep me and send her. I JUST WANT TO KNOW. Haha. The only
other bad thing is I'll be going home with a group of people I don't
know. When missionaries go home they give a departing testimony at the
last zone conference, and spend the night before they go home in the
mission home with the mission president and his wife. It will be even
weirder if I stay in Lancaster until I go home, because the only thing
that will change will be going home with another mission, haha. This
week is going to be strange. We feel like we're just in limbo right
now, in between missions haha.
     As for her in Lancaster, we're working with some really solid
people right now. Suzie is eating the Book of Mormon up, she's already
midway through the book of Alma, haha. This week we asked her again if
she knew it was true, to which we got a 15 minute explanation of all
the reasons she knew it to be true, and added that she wouldn't have
the book in her hands if Joseph Smith wasn't a prophet of God. Very
happy missionary moment.
     We also started teaching a guy named Pablo from Santo Domingo who
just got here. It just so happened his friend from the DR had been
inviting and taking him to church for a while now. God definitely took
care of him, we found him within 10 days of arriving to the states.
     It's been crazy in Lancaster this week. It was celebrate
Lancaster day on Friday and Saturday, and there was a huge gay pride
festival on Tuesday and Wednesday. We've had some fun encounters! Haha

     That's really all for right now. My mission just isn't going to
end the way I ever thought it would. But it's okay, new things are
good.

Hermana Sears



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Amish make really good cookies

Hello.(:

     I have a lot of catch up to do.. I don't know where to start!
Well this week we had zone conference, and I got to catch up with how
things in Hanover are going with the missionaries there. It was so
cool to hear that Gino is completely reactivated, preparing for the
temple, and Jeremy is again learning and doing really well. Hannah and
Alivia as well.(: Hermana Busath, Smith, and I did a musical number in
honor of the last hermanas. We sang number 88 in the Spanish hymn
book, a song that doesn't even exist in English.
     We had exchanges this week, and I taught a lesson in English for
the first time in months. Teaching in Spanish is so much easier,
hahah. I've forgotten the words in English. However it was a really
cool lesson. We taught their recent convert Delayna. She was baptized
just a few months ago, her fiancé is a returned missionary. Her family
was not at all supportive of her decision to join the church, and she   has
lost her relationship with them. I kind of realized during this lesson
that I was the result of someone who made that very difficult decision
years ago- my mom.(: I was honestly brought to tears, full of
gratitude for my brave mom who made that decision, and I got to be the
living proof, the daughter of a convert- and a missionary, and of what
her decision could mean to her future family. I assured her that
though what may feel like a sacrifice or detriment to her family now
was truly only an expression of her love and desire to be an eternal
family. I was also able to share about the opportunity I had to do
some of the temple work for my grandma, my moms mom. Mom, would you
mind sending her an email? I will send it to you. Thank you.(:
     We have had some amazing service opportunities these past few
weeks. One was volunteering at the special olympics. I made some new
best friends, and got proposed to once. I made one friend in
particular who followed me around the entire day holding my hand and
telling everyone she had made a new friend.(: It was such a fun day,
such sweet people. The other was spending Saturday on an Amish farm! A
member in the English Lancaster ward has a very close relationship
with an Amish family, and the Amish family has been attending church
here and there- a bold move in the Amish community. So we got to spend
the day picking peas with them. They are the most pure and kind people
I've ever met. They all come up and greet you with a big smile and
introduce themselves. I think they were as excited as we were to have
us there. At the end of the day they fed us an Amish meal, which we
helped them prepare- SO good, took us on a ride around the
neighborhood on the buggy, rode their scooter bikes with us, and even
wanted to dress us up like Amish but we were short on time. We were
invited back. We made especially good friends with two of the young
girls- Susannah, and Linda. They don't meet new people hardly ever, so
this was very special for them. They mentioned when we get married
they would try to come to the wedding. Haha. Such kind people. I
gained an immense amount of respect for the Amish people that day. And
seriously envied their lifestyle! Their way of living is so much
slower, and  more peaceful than today's world. It seriously felt like we had
stepped back a few hundred years in time to when things were much
simpler. Great people.
     This week we had a few interesting lessons. We teach outside
quite a bit- downtown, on the street, amidst all kinds of
distractions. Haha. Literally we were teaching this man names Luis who
is really interested who we just started teaching, and every kind of
distraction imaginable happened during this lesson. We were teaching
the plan of salvation, and he had such a real desire to learn. So in
the beginning, were sitting there and were close to a big fountain
they have downtown. Some guy walks by and starts hanging over the side
and then swimming in the fountain...... Fully clothed and all. No idea
what he was doing. Then a couple comes and sits RIGHT next to us and
start getting extremely.. Friendly with each other. But we keep
teaching. THEN a huge semi truck FULL of ducks drives by leaving
behind a literal cloud of feathers and the most rancid smell. THEN
people keep coming by and trying to give us flags for flag day. BUT we
keep teaching. AND THEN a man keeps pausing by making random creepy
comments interrupting our lesson. THENNNNN a man springs past us,
nearly knocking me over and runs through traffic crossing the street
and disappears between to buildings, with a gun in his hand. He was
shortly followed by a pack of 5 or so police officers on foot chasing
him on foot. We pointed them to the direction the man ran, and one
stayed to ask us some questions about the man. SO after that we
continue teaching.... AND THEN an entire pack of Jehova's witness
missionaries come and set up an entire tent feet from where we're
standing, staring us down. And if it couldn't get any worse..... A guy
from a DIFFERENT church walked right up to us and Luis, and puts a
pamphlet in our hands and walks away. I look at the pamphlet and it
says "the divine plan of salvation." Haha I just started laughing, it
was a joke at this point. So now Luis had two pamphlets in hand, ours-
the Plan of Salvation, and the doctrine of another- 'the divine plan
of salvation.' And SOMEHOW we were able to manage to bring the spirit
back and finish strong.
     My point here is I am joining the Amish community. Hahaha just kidding.
     I learned the power of the spirit can overcome all barriers this
week. That lesson was one example. The other was a lesson we had with
a family who is less active who missionaries have not been able to
figure out for years why they stopped coming after being the strongest
family. We honestly walked into the lesson only planning on trying to
see if they are reading the Book of Mormon because we could not figure
out what it was they need. A few minutes into the lesson I felt
prompted to share with them a story of a family who went to great
lengths and sacrificed nearly everything they had to get to the temple
to be sealed as a family. After I finished the Hermana just looked at
me and started crying and said "how did you know?" The spirit
completely took over in that lesson, and for the very first time they
opened up to us, completely. Missionaries are not to play therapists
or counselors or take away from the role the bishop should play, but
we were able to simply invite them to take their issues to the
greatest counselor of all- the Lord. When we saw them the following
week she was so excited to tell me about an amazing spiritual
experience she had as she took our invitation and took her problems to
the Lord. The contention that was originally in the family was
completely dissolved as she shared her experience with us. The spirit
is a powerful teacher.
     Another random cool note. During our incredibly distracted lesson
with Luis we had an interesting conversation with the police who
stopped us to ask us questions. After he had asked all about the man,
he asked us if we ever get trouble from the people in the city, some
parts not being so nice. We told him how everyone was reasonable
respectful apart from the usual catcalls, haha. He told us "They know
you're here." (They being the presence of gangs in Lancaster.) "But
they know that you're people of God and if they were to mess with you
that God would be after them." It was kind of an eye opening
experience. To be honest I've been pretty naive to what happens here
in the city. But this was a reminder to me that the promise given to
missionaries is real. D&C 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will
be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand
and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine
angels round about you, to bear you up. This promise is real, as lo as
we are living worthy of it! Another evidence that we are weak without
the assistance of the spirit. It also made me think about how cool it
is that even the toughest people still have a fear of God.
     We also continue to see incredible changes in the branch here as
we have been working closely with the members. I wish this is a lesson
I had learned much earlier in my mission. We have been trying to
include them in every aspect of missionary work- finding, working with
less actives, etc, rather than reserving them for who we think to be
'solid' enough to 'deserve' a member present. And the outcome has
truly brought miracles all week. Most of which were the outcome of
planned events falling through. One day we had planned to have a member
come to three consecutive lessons, all of which fell through. She was
great, she just looked at us as said "come on let's go before you get
sad. There is someone I want you to meet." She took us and introduced
us to two members that the branch did not even know lived here in
Lancaster, two sisters. We started teaching them last week. Another
night we planned to have a man who is inactive himself come out with
us, and yes, that appointment too fell through. However this gave us
the opportunity to talk to him about stepping up in his responsibility
in the branch. As I've been praying for the specific people we should
be working with his name was the one that seemed to enter my mind the
strongest. And I told him that. He expressed how he really did have a
desire for more responsibility in the church, and to be a better
example to his family. He decided he wants to start coming back to
church, and coming out to teach with us once a week. And that he has.
God's ways are much higher than ours. We've gotten so much closer to
the members and their increased trust in us as missionaries is evident
in their sharing of referrals of who we should teach. Basically, Elder
Bednar says it best. "A common element in many of our prayers is
praying that the missionaries will be guided to people and families
that are prepared to receive the message of the restoration. But, we
don't realize, it is our responsibility to find people for the
missionaries to teach. Missionaries are full time teachers, you and I
are full time finders, and as missionaries for life, we should not
pray that the missionaries do our work."
     So there are just a few of the dozens of miracles we have seen
these past few weeks. And I can't end without giving thanks to my
dad.(: I've reflected a lot this week on how blessed I have been with
the family I have. Thank you, I love you guys.

A few things I learned this week:
        1.        Satan works hard to stop the work of the Lord. We have to work harder.
        2.        The Amish make really really really good cookies
        3.        I can run a mile in a pencil skirt in 9 minutes if I really need
to catch a bus
        4.        Garments can double as a sweat suit in 90% humidity, haha
        5.        The church is true. But I already knew that
        6.        I am SO grateful for my parents. I knew that already too though.
        7.        Poison ivy reacts really quickly with skin
        8.        You can ride a roller coaster in a skirt



Hermana Sears

Monday, June 6, 2016

It's been a good week. I am making the days count, not counting the days.....

Mi familia,
     Sooooo Hermana Busath got emergency transferred this week.)))))):
A sister had to go home early and we were the only trio in the
mission, so there were no other options. It was super sad- Hermana
Busath got transferred with only two weeks left in her mission. Which
could only mean that I will be staying another transfer here with
Hermana Smith. But I was so sad losing Hermana Busath, I feel like I
lost my best friend! Haha I've never cried losing a companion before,
but she and I were both pretty sad. I love her!
     However, I also really enjoy working with Hermana Smith. She and
I are different missionaries but we balance each other out perfectly.
And we've been companions already before, so we've got each other
figured out already. Serving one more transfer with her will mean we
will have served 1/3 of our missions together. Good thing I like her!
Haha. I'm really looking forward to this coming transfer with her-
we're going to do good things together. We both like to work.
     This week we had a lesson with Suzie again. She has begun to
recognize the spirit. She told us she has never felt as at peace as
she has as she has read the Book of Mormon and when we come, and how
in the past she would never have let anyone in, but said for some
reason she knew that God was with us, and that the message we carried
was true.
     Carlos is the best! I feel like he's our grandpa. At first glance
some may question teaching him, but when you start teaching him he's
amazing. He loves learning. It's never too late to find the gospel. We
invited him to come with his family with us to the Philadelphia temple
with his family.

     Mom, you'd be proud of me. I'm doing so well with the health
challenge. It's great. And having a gym here doesn't hurt. But when
the one cheat day comes, I use it well.(((:

     This week my highlight was spending time at the branch presidents
house. They are an amazing family. Because he lives in York it was the
first time we all got to sit down with him and talk about his vision
for the branch. Afterwards we knelt with their family in prayer, and
the spirit flooded the room. As I prayed I felt like this small little
group of people could change Spanish speaking Pennsylvania.

     I feel so blessed to be where I am. And so grateful to have
waited so long in my mission to be here when I'm a much more
experienced missionary- spiritually and with Spanish. When you near
the end of your mission you realize how much you have changed as a
missionary. Sometimes think back to your first area and just cringe,
or laugh. Haha. When I think back to Butler I wonder how I ever
managed to teach someone in Spanish. That one's still a mystery.
Anyway, the learning is still most definitely an every day thing, but
all that I have learned up to this point I am now able to apply now,
here, where I need it.
     I still have my moments of feeling inadequate. Those will never
go away, but that's what drives me to be better, so I'm okay with
that.
     What I've learned is we never need to worry about comparing
ourselves to anyone else. Because the Lord will never compare us with
anyone. He will only compare us to the potential he knows we hold
within ourselves. He knows exactly what each of us are capable of- as
missionaries, as members, as mothers, fathers, husbands, wives,
brothers, sisters- and that is the only expectation he holds us to.
Not any other standard that another person has established. I find
comfort knowing that God doesn't only judge us for our actions,
because it is part of our human nature, and an effect of the natural
man to make mistakes every day. But he also knows and judges us by our
hearts. He knows every detail about who you are, not just what you do.
So if we are every getting down on ourselves about how imperfect we
are, or what weaknesses we have, we can remember that God knows us,
perfectly. And He sees us for who we are now and who we are becoming,
not who we've been. That is the beauty of the Atonement of Jesus
Christ.
     The greatest lesson of all that I have learned here though, is
repentance. How to apply the atonement to my life every single day.
And I've seen that success in all things in life will depend on how I
apply it. Gaining an education will require constant effort, learning,
growing, and perhaps making mistakes. Marriage will be applying the
principles of forgiveness and repentance. Life is a constant
succession of correction. The opportunity to be corrected is a
blessing. Sometimes I feel like each of my flaws are so tangible
they're visible. And then I look at it as a chance to change. Before
my mission I don't think I could describe who I was. But today,
because all my weaknesses have been so exposed the last 15 months, I
know who I am. I am not serving a mission for myself, but the Lord has
allowed me to grow personally as I've put Him first, the people of
Pennsylvania second, and myself last. The more you lose yourself, the
more you find yourself.
     Missionaries are proof to me that God is capable of anything,
haha. If He is able to execute the work of salvation through an army
of 80,000 imperfect 19-22 year olds, He can do anything. Every
missionary offers something completely different. And God doesn't just
work through them despite their individual weaknesses, but works with
their weaknesses. Sometimes we are sent to people who need our
weaknesses.
     I'm reading in Alma right now, and it is just more evidence that
God has always worked through imperfect people, but is still able to
accomplish His purposes.

     So here's the end of my rant. It's been a good week. I am making
the days count, not counting the days. I've got a lot to do in the
next three months.

The church is true.

I love you!
Hermana Sears



Tuesday, May 31, 2016







This week is my proof that I am not at fault for my cheeks.....





May 30, 2016

Buenas,

     This week was a hot one. It was 86 the past four days, with 60%
humidity- which feels like 110. We were outside alllllll those days.
It was great haha. I've never sweat so much in my life. Also, the AC
in our apt does not work so our apt has literally been 90 degrees
every night hahah. Anyway, everyone is finally coming out of their
winter hiding places. We've been talking to so many people, and
getting a little color while we're at it.
     The best part of my week was a lesson we had with a woman were
teaching named Suzie. It was possibly the best lesson I've had on my
mission. I have been working on the mentioned changes (last week) as I
teach, and the difference was incredible. With each point we taught of
the Plan of Salvation, we pulled it straight from the Book of Mormon.
I know it sounds simple, but sometimes you get caught up being the
teacher, not the witness. She began asking where the verses were found
so she could mark them and share them with people she knew, and by the
end was explaining to us how the Book of Mormon clarified everything
she read in the bible, how she understood it's purpose, and knew it to
be true. The spirit really had given me just the counsel I needed.
     This week during our service with Fardowsa and her husband, the
Somalian couple, she shared a little more of her story with us. Turns
out she had to leave her mom, brother, and three other children in
South Africa in order to get out of the refugee camps. She's now
working on saving enough money to bring them here. Good news is, she
has learned enough English that she got a job working at in a hotel
kitchen! That was super cool.
     Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the Columbia Spanish
branch here. Both sides of the branch met together on our side. It was
a pretty long day- three hours of church, an hour baptism, an hour
dinner together after, and an hour of cleanup after. But, seeing the
branch all together was so great. Nothing better than a room full of
the people I love! Carlos got to meet lots of people in the branch and
really enjoyed the day.
     This week a family we've been working with since I got here have
finally chosen a date to get married so Yara (the mom) can be
baptized. It's been a very long process, but we're so happy for them.
They're a great family. Her daughter Guingy is a recent convert we
teach, and the cutest thing ever.
     Another happy moment of the week, we got to meet a family who
we've only seen once since I've been here. They moved here from Utah
less than a year ago, the wife has only been a member for a little
over a year. With the upcoming open house of the Philadelphia temple,
we were able to talk to them about preparing for the temple together.
They have two young kids and one more on the way. They are also my
best friends and sooooo cute.
     In zone training it was announced that all missionaries serving
in our stake will be able to attend the temple open house in
Philadelphia a day before it opens for the public with investigators.
Now I really can't get transferred in three weeks.....
     There aren't many options for what will happen this transfer
considering I and my two companions  are the last Spanish speaking
sisters in the mission, and Hermana Busath goes home in three weeks.
Either I will stay here for another transfer with Hermana Smith (which
will make four transfers together,) or we will both get doubled out
and elders will take over the area.
     Okay, back to it. So in Lancaster there are "community pianos"
everywhere downtown. Each one is painted super crazy and placed in
random places. There are dozens and dozens of them all over. This week
we stopped at one,  Hermana Smih played the piano, and Hermana Busath
and I sang Spanish hymns. It was a really cool way to talk to people,
and some people joined and sang with us. I love Lancaster.

Summary of my week is restored gospel= eternal families.
The church is true.

Love,
Hermana Sears

Ps... This week is my proof that I am not at fault for my cheeks.


#1- Typical Puerto Rican meal
#2- Colombian meal
#3- Dominican meal
#4- Cuban meal
#5- Mexican desserts

Tuesday, May 24, 2016






MY FAMILYYY (friends included),

     Sorry my updates have been lame lately. It seems like so much
happens but nothing lasts here haha. I know the value of planting
seeds, but some times it feels like I'm planting them on hard ground-
and they're just bouncing off. We're teaching plenty but no one seems
to be progressing, except Carlos. He's pretty great though. We've
started seeing him pretty frequently to help him retain what he reads.
     Haha I guess now that I've been out a while I've kind of started
feeling like the sister missionary who cries investigator. One week
I'll write about some amazing person or lesson and the next they've
disappeared haha. It's kind of left me not knowing what to write home
about anymore. Lol.
     I guess I had somewhat of a learning opportunity this week. We
had starting teaching a family of three, but after the second lesson
with them they dropped us, refusing to give it a chance. The idea of
Joseph Smith really turned them away. As we were walking away from the
lesson, and we were having our usual post lesson discussion about what
happened I started thinking. Had we been so preoccupied trying to
force them to open their minds to a modern prophet that we we
testified more of Joseph smith than of the Savior? It was definitely a
teaching moment for me- do I always have Christ on my lips? It has
since rewired my entire thinking process of how I will go about
portraying the restoration. In every point we teach, every doctrine,
every principle, it all goes back to Christ.
     Another personal goal I've been working on is teaching more
straight from the Book of Mormon- preach my gospel is good, explaining
yourself through testimony is good, but the Book of Mormon is the
primary source. It's effected my studies quite a bit, and as I teach I
am able to be a better witness of the Book of Mormon, not let the Book
of Mormon simply be a witness of what I am saying. And in doing so, I
find myself getting deeper and deeper in the scriptures. Reading about
men with such great faith, and in turn power, yet so much humility, is
humbling for me.


6 Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with
you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus
Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am,
and that I am to come. (D&C 68)

Alright funny moment of the week. So Saturday morning we were asked to
help out at a 10K, and we were on the water station. There were some
people who were crazy intense who would grab the little cup out of
your hand so fast they nearly took your hand with them and basically
all the water would fly everywhere. So I decided to be funny and
imitate it while there were no runners around, so I grabbed the cup
from Hermana Busath's hand then ran around a corner and lost my
footing in some mud and fell, hard. Hahaha. Really hard. Ended up
giving myself two black knees and scraping the skin off my now
infected hand (yum.) Karma got me good.


Love you!
Hermana Sears

Tuesday, May 3, 2016







 This has been the first good week I've had in a while, haha. Lots
of good things happened this week. Someone told me this week for every
raindrop that lands on a sister missionary's nametag their future
spouse gets musclier. And for elders, their wives lose weight. I hear
it's been raining a lot in Argentina too, were gonna make a good
lookin couple.

     Starting with Monday night, we were down in an area we hardly
spend any time in, and it was getting late. We were going to try to
contact one more potential investigator and then head home. It was a
woman Hermana Landa and I had street contacted almost about a month
ago. I remembered the woman hadn't seemed incredibly interested, we
only spoke for a minute then she had to go but gave us her address to
come by one day. So we knock and a man comes out. We asked for Rosa,
and he said she was busy, but that he was a member of the church. Both
of our jaws dropped, haha. (Mind all you Utahns this isn't Utah. Our
attendance to the branch is about 30 people a week including
missionaries and we only have five or so less active members on our
records.) This really was a miracle! We sat down and started talking
to him, and wow. He was baptized three years ago, and has an
incredible testimony. He had moved into his cousin's house (Rosa)
after he and his wife divorced but never attended church and never
told anyone his address. He shared his conversion story with us, he
said that he knew we were his angels, that God had sent us to find
him, like He always has in his life. No question about it, we were
meant to find him. And for the first time ever, he attended the new
branch here in Lancaster on Sunday. It was fast Sunday, and he got up
and bore his testimony for the first time since he was baptized. He
shared how we had found him, how when we knocked he had said 'how did
they find me? I didn't tell anybody.' Haha. His testimony was so
powerful. He shared all of the things that had happened throughout the
week that could have stood in the way of him coming to church-
including his car's motor bursting into flames Sunday morning. But he
still came. He asked everyone to pray for him, but promised that he
was back, for good. The branch is in desperate need of leadership
right now- lacking a first counselor, secretary, elders quorum
president, and I feel like God hand picked him, haha. He is definitely
needed right now. He is so strong. At the end of our first visit with
him that night I felt so prompted to tell him that he was needed in
the temple, that he needed to start preparing. He has never been, so
that's his next step!
     We had an amazing week with Jose and Julia. The story behind
them... We started teaching their daughter Martina.... Then one by one
the rest of the family started joining when we would come- until we
were teaching Martina, her mom and dad, her husband, and her three
daughters. It was kind of crazy, trying to keep up with all of them
and assess the needs of each. Some would be in some lessons and not in
others. So last Sunday Jose and Julia showed up at church, and Jose
started asking questions, lots of them. We were shocked- he had never
said a word in any lessons, and we realized he was the only one who
had never missed a lesson. But in each one he would sit and listen
quietly and intently not saying a word. I guess we assumed he was just
being polite by coming or not interested. Tuesday night we went with
Hermana Mateo (relief society president) and had an awesome lesson
with them. Turns out Jose had met with missionaries in Santo Domingo
(Dominican Republic) before he came here five months ago but he never
mentioned it. But he said that nothing had come from it. Hermana Mateo
shared how though she joined the church later in her life, she too had
seen the missionaries many years before she joined- but they didn't
stop to talk to her. She said even if they had- she was 17 at the
time- she wouldn't have accepted the gospel then. Jose added that he
knew that when he previously met with missionaries before he knew it
wasn't his time then, but now is. He accepted our baptismal
invitation. Another one we were definitely meant to find.
     That same night we got in to teach a family that has never let us
in before. They moved here from Utah a few months ago and immediately
stopped coming. The wife was only baptized less than a year ago. We
had a real breakthrough with them, they committed to change. Another
miracle!
     Carlos is still pretty sick.. He wasn't able to come to church
this week. He really wanted to be there. But he is still progressing
every day slowly. Prayers would be appreciated.(:
     This week we met some really cool new investigators. Rafael-
quite the character. Also ended up being quite the challenge to teach,
but if he opens his heart a bit he has so much potential. And Suzie-
we found tracting. Rarely do we find people, if ever, who in the first
visit understand so clearly the restoration. She was so excited to
read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.
     So we met this family last week that we've started teaching
English. They are Muslim- so we are not allowed to teach them. But
when we met Fardowsa, she let us in and I knew that there was
something we needed to do for that family. It was especially
difficult, and awkward the first time we went when we quickly realized
she didn't speak English and we certainly didn't speak Somalian, so we
just sat there trying to figure out what we could do. Somehow we
managed to ask if she wanted us to help with her English, and we've
been going back since. Turns out they arrived to the United States TEN
days ago from South Africa. We are trying to help her husband get a
drivers license so he can get a job- so we go over the booklet with
him, and practice reading and writing with her. It's pretty rough at
times, haha. He is a very serious, intense guy. But they are so
grateful. They have nothing- but the small house and few things in the
pantry that the government provided. They are refugees. It was so sad,
all they had was a bag of flour and a few misc. spices and a few other
things. They didn't understand what any of it was or how to cook or
eat it. He thought the flour was some kind of 'pottage.' So our next
things we want to do is try and figure out what we can help them cook
with what they have. Mom- maybe you could send a basic recipe for
bread?
     As I I was thinking about them, I remembered the talk given in
conference 'Refuge form the storm.' As I read over it again, it was
exactly what I see in this new young family. I had never realized that
there really are refugees in every community.
     "The Lord has instructed us that the stakes of Zion are to be “a
defense” and “a refuge from the storm.” We have found refuge. Let us
come out from our safe places and share with them, from our abundance,
hope for a brighter future, faith in God and in our fellowman, and
love that sees beyond cultural and ideological differences to the
glorious truth that we are all children of our Heavenly Father."

     This week I feel like my call was expanded- I felt like we were
really able to be led exactly to those who needed us- some who are
newly investigating, some, like Jose, some who are already members but
had been lost and needed found, and non members- like Fardowsa and her
family.

     My nerves are growing every day as I await transfer calls.. A
whole week.. Let's just say I will be pretty disappointed if I do
leave. I've been so stressed out about it. However, I was given a
little reminder this week that no matter where I'm serving, in the
branch or not, my Spanish call is needed. Hermana Smith, my comp from
Hanover, sent me a video of Gino- the member from Peru we had found.
He was at a ward event of some kind speaking. He recounted his story
of being away for ten years, then the day we found him, and where he
is at now. It was bittersweet, he expressed his happiness in being
back but also his regret of how much time he had wasted. It is also
harder and harder the stronger he grows in the church knowing he
cannot raise his family with the blessings of the gospel. But he stood
up there and shared he was back for good, and never going back. Gino
is still working with our investigators Laura and Juan regularly.
Unfortunately they are unable to be baptized because they can't be
married without papers. But they are still attending church.. When the
time is right hopefully they be willing to make the sacrifice. It is a
big one, but an important one. It felt like a reminder to me that
there is so much good that can be done anywhere you go. That I wasn't
called despite the lack of many to teach in Spanish, but because of
the few that are out there waiting to be found.
     I am so unbelievably grateful to have the opportunity to work
with the most amazing people there are. I love my Spanish calling!

Love you!
Hermana Sears