Monday, April 24, 2017

Mission Report

My name is Elena Aburto and just over 18 months ago I was called to serve in the California Modesto Mission. When I received my call, I had never even heard of Modesto, California, but I knew that the call was from God and I was so excited to serve there. The Modesto area is very different from Orem. The people there speak differently. In California they say hecka (I’m hecka tired, or that’s hecka funny, or oh my goodness the word hecka is so hecka annoying) or instead of saying “I’m so jealous” they say “I’m so jelly.”

My mission was the most incredible experience of my life so far. Today I wanted to start out by sharing about how the Savior changed me, and then I’ll go into how the Savior changed the people that I taught.

In Matthew 10:39 (Joseph Smith Translation) it reads: “He who seeketh to save his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Before my mission, I had heard that verse several times, but I never truly understood it until I lived it. As a missionary, the Lord asks that we turn outward and love other people, when our natural tendency is to be self-absorbed and turn inward. I have always struggled with pride in that I tend to worry about how other people see me and that has always made me really self-conscious. But whenever I truly loved someone, I would become so bold and confident in teaching them about the gospel, because I truly desired their salvation. So by turning outward I was able to come out of my shell and successfully teach the gospel. By turning outward, it’s as if I literally had more room in my heart for the Spirit to reside and take over.

By turning outward and loving others, I was able to finally recognize my talents and gifts and qualities that I had never considered having before. The Savior taught me that I am a good friend to those who know me well, that I am a charitable person, that I am a good teacher, and my personal favorite, that I am a giant flirt. (When I first discovered that about myself I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, but now I’m just choosing to be proud of it.)

Something I find remarkable is that I feel like with a lot of the people that I taught, they were very similar to me in some ways. I could identify with them.

There was one less-active member that I taught, Brother Oxxxx. He was really shy but he was hilarious—literally me. He was shy about saying the prayer or bearing testimony or having a calling in church. He wouldn’t even pray in front of his own family. My companion and I tried to teach him that we were both similar to him, in that we didn’t like to be the center of attention but the Lord was able to help us with anything that he asks. But he never got up the nerve to pray whenever we asked him. One day we were having dinner at his house and I happened to be having a really bad day, and he could tell so he tried to cheer me up by making me laugh. Later after dinner I asked him to say the prayer and he again said no, and so I thought, “You know I’ve been having a bad day.” And I told him, “If you don’t say the prayer, I’m going to start crying.” So he said, “Really?” and I’m like, “Yeah.” And he finally said the prayer for the first time ever! The second time that he prayed was when, his brother had come over to his house and had basically attacked my companion and me. He told us that we didn’t have any proof that there was a God, and that Joseph Smith wasn’t really a prophet. To be honest, it didn’t really bother us because we knew what we believed, and we knew that he was just being stubborn. But Brother Oxxx felt bad. So he prayed for us and the way that he prayed for us missionaries to be able to overcome any opposition was so beautiful. I will never forget the Spirit that I felt whenever he prayed. I’m so grateful for the love that he had for us which was able to cast out the fear that he had.

I want to talk about my investigators Pxxx and her 18 year old son, Lxxx. They were both super shy people. But the power of the Book of Mormon was really evident when we taught them. What happened was, one of the members of the Quorum of the Seventy, Elder David F. Evans, had come and spoken to all the missionaries in my mission. He had given us the challenge to give our investigators big reading assignments. Instead of just asking to read one chapter, give them 10 chapters to read! He said that people need to read until they feel the Spirit, and then read a little more. So that’s what we did with Pxxx and Lxxx. It was so cool to see them read the Book of Mormon! At first Luis didn’t want to share what he read, but eventually he warmed up to us. We would bike off and we saw her reading the Book of Mormon immediately after our visit. They felt the Spirit as they read about Lehi’s Vision. I remember she asked us about infant baptism and we showed her where it talks about how children are alive in Christ in Moroni chapter 8. It was so cool to see her mark it in her scriptures. You could tell that they were hungry for heavenly help. A few weeks afterwards, my companion and I both got transferred out of that area but we heard that Lxxx got baptized. He wrote me a letter saying that my companion and I had helped him out of the sorrow he had felt before meeting us. In Preach My Gospel it reads, “As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase.” I know what it is like to feel sorrowful, to feel lonely, to feel hopeless, but I know what it is like to feel the healing power of the Atonement. And I wouldn’t want anyone to feel those awful feelings, and that is what motivated me to share the gospel with everyone, including Pxxx and Lxxx—to allow them to feel that peace for themselves.

There was one less-active member who we started teaching since he hadn’t been to church in years and he didn’t remember much. His name is Bxxx. He felt inadequate and unworthy, but Bxxx didn’t realize what a powerful Spirit he had about him. It was so much fun to teach him and I always felt so uplifted after our visits with him. Instead of smoking actual cigarettes he smoked something similar to e-cigarettes. We tried to get him off of those too. So we had the idea to have him come teach with us. So he became a fellow-shipper for our investigator Nxxx. Nxxx was a pretty shy guy but Bxxx was perfect for him. Bxxx was so funny and charming and most importantly he was so sincere whenever he bore testimony. When he taught with us, he no longer had the desire to smoke.
When you’re struggling, the best thing you can do is serve other people.

One of things that really excited me during the course of my mission was anytime the members were involved in missionary work. Our missionary work flourished whenever the members were really excited about missionary work. The reason we found Dxxx was because of a member, Sister Dxxx. Sister Dxxx had been doing her visiting teaching with another member of our ward who was related to Dxxx. Sister Dxxx mentioned the Book of Mormon in her visit and offered a copy of the Book of Mormon to Dxxx and she gladly accepted it. Dxxx was the most solid investigator I ever taught. She got baptized real quickly and she once told us that she understood that the Lord is going to ask us to make changes to our lives. She taught me what it meant to truly repent. She was also so willing to serve others and do her visiting teaching.

After serving my mission, I have come to the conclusion that missionary work isn’t limited to an 18 month excursion. Rather, missionary work is a lifestyle. Turn outward and love other people enough to share the gospel with them. Or if you’re like me and you don’t like people, then love God enough to do His will by sharing the gospel with everyone. Declaring repentance means to simply invite people to do something. We tried to help the members understand how easy it is. You can invite friends to FHE, or to mutual or to ward activities. Share things on social media so that they can feel the Spirit that way.

Don’t be afraid to share the gospel. You never know who will be ready to hear about it, so don’t judge who you think is ready and who is not. There was one man, Dxxx, who everyone –missionaries and members alike--including me assumed that Dxxx wasn’t interested. We thought he was the reason that his wife and kids didn’t go to church. (They were members but he wasn’t.) That wasn’t the case at all. He wanted his family to go to church, even though he himself didn’t grow up with any faith, he wanted his kids to have faith. I felt inspired to ask him, “Why do you want to believe?” He said, “When you don’t believe, then death is the scariest thing in the world. My father passed away 3 weeks ago.” We seized the opportunity to start teaching him. We taught him the Plan of Salvation, and he really liked it; he said it was his favorite explanation of the afterlife he had heard thus far. He read Alma 30 and really identified with Korihor, which I thought was great. It was fascinating to teach him about something as simple as prayer; he didn’t know that you could pray any time you wanted. As far as I know, he never got baptized but the fact that we were able to teach him was a good spiritual touchpoint in his life.

Another story: This happened during a time where we had zero investigators. What made it worse was that even the members simply didn’t want to participate in missionary work with us. We did a lot of knocking on doors, which was fine and we met cool people but we never found anyone solid to teach. My companion and I felt like we weren’t really making a difference in anyone’s life. We had been teaching a less-active member that we had found named Brother Oxxxx. He felt like he wasn’t worthy since he just left God behind and hadn’t been to church in months. But oh my goodness he was a spiritual powerhouse. It felt more like he was teaches us. The last lesson I ever taught him was the Plan of Salvation. The Spirit was present, and when we got to the Atonement I felt impressed to read from Alma 36; my all-time favorite chapter where Alma the Younger talks about his experience with repentance and the joy that can only come from the Savior and His Atonement. Then Hno Oxxx told us about how, when he came to church about two weeks previous after a long time of inactivity, he was silently debating to himself whether he was worthy to take the sacrament or not. After wrestling with himself for a while, he took it, and he felt an overwhelming sense of peace come over him. Then he told us that he didn't think it was a coincidence that we had found him and started teaching him to remind him of his beliefs. He said that both my companion and I would make lasting impressions to him for the rest of his life. I just started crying. He expressed so perfectly why I needed to be sent here on a mission; why I needed to meet these specific people that the Lord has placed on my path. It was a direct answer to my prayers, and it was wonderful to know that my companion and I were answers to his prayers as well.

I bear my witness that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that He is the source of all joy. I’m so grateful for the chance I had to serve Him and act in His name as a missionary. I know that He restored His gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it is another witness of Christ. I know that He lives and that He loves every one of us. I say these things in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Last email

March 27th, 2017

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith 
2 Timothy 4:7

Well this was my last full week as a missionary, and it was a really good week!

I absolutely loved the women's session of General Conference! It never ceases to amaze me whenever it feels like the talks were directed to me, and answered all my questions perfectly. I loved that it was mentioned a lot that we should center our lives on the Savior. That was a good reminder for me since it may be harder to avoid the distractions once I go home to the real world, but I truly want to live in such a way that will invite the Spirit to be with me all the time.

On Tuesday morning, Sister Palmer called us and said she was going to come teach with us! That is always really intimidating and at first we were just freakin' out, but it went so well! She was with us while we taught a less-active, Hna Castro. We taught her about faith, and about reading the scriptures and listening to the Spirit. I was amazed at our teaching abilities there; the Spirit was definitely the teacher there. Afterwards, I was really touched at how Sister Palmer praised us for how well we taught. 

Later that same day, we had our departure interviews with President Palmer. I seriously just cried the entire interview. I had a mix of emotions: sad that I'm going home but so happy for everything that I've learned as a missionary. He told me that when I go home, my family may not even recognize me. I've changed so much. I was so touched by the genuine love that President Palmer has for me. He is just amazing.

We saw the less-active young women, Axxx and Exxx Gxxx. They have opened up just a little since we started visiting them. They both prayed for the first time in years in front of us! That was super exciting. They are really sweet and I hope they return to Church soon. Attached is the picture of them and their dad.

We were knocking on doors one day and at one door, a man named Axxx answered. We talked to him and he asked us where our church was. We told him and he was like, "I drive by that church every day. When I first moved to Manteca 15 years ago, I saw that church and I thought, 'I want to go there someday' but I never have. And now you're here." We were so excited! We gave him as a referral to the English missionaries and we are so excited for them to teach him.

For my last district meeting, we were told to come with a question in mind. And then we simply read the scriptures together. We read chapters 1 Nephi 8 and Enos 1. It was incredible to see how Heavenly Father was able to help each of us with our questions. Then we each bore our testimonies. It was a perfect last meeting. The Spirit was so strong. 

I was reading Mosiah 28:3 yesterday, and I remember thinking, "I don't know if I have as much desire to save others than Alma and the sons of Mosiah." But then as we were teaching some people yesterday, I was thinking about the time in my life where I had gone through a really hard trial, and I kind of stopped going to church for a while. I remember feeling incredibly lonely and felt abandoned by God. That was so depressing, and I don't want anyone to feel that way. That gave me such a strong desire to never let anyone feel that way. So, like Alma and those other powerful missionaries, I do have that desire to save God's children.

I have never felt so close to my Savior. I am so thankful that He called me to serve a mission. I wouldn't trade these 18 months for anything in the world. It's been the most amazing journey. I know without a doubt that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. He restored His gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that my Savior loves me and knows me perfectly. I know that He speaks to us through His living prophet and apostles today. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that this is His true church. 

Love,

Hermana Aburto

District picture!



Us with Hno Rxxx and his dog Skyrm!


 

At service with the elders. This looks like an album cover, haha! We love them and we'll miss them a ton.


More silly pics...




One more

Monday, March 20, 2017

Have you seen my chickens?

March 20th, 2017

This week we went on our last exchange as missionaries. The way that exchanges are done is different now. Before, you and your leaders would trade companions and one companionship would stay in your area while the other went to the leaders' area. But now Salt Lake has asked that we do exchanges where both companionships work in the leaders' area. So we got to go to Oakdale this week to work in our leaders' area. It was pretty cool! I absolutely love Oakdale. The people there are so nice.

I was on exchanges with Hna Williams and we had a really successful day. We were trying to find former investigators, and the first door that we knocked on was answered by this nice lady who at first said she was busy taking care of her grand kids, but then she just let us in and offered us pizza and tacos. She said the missionaries could come back another day. I just find it so weird that people trust us, complete strangers, to come into their house and eat their food.

We talked to a man on the street, and after a few minutes, he was like, "You should meet my grandchildren!" and he invited us into his home and we taught four kids, who ranged from like ages 10-17 or something. It was so cool!

I also got to go back to Modesto 12th ward for a Relief Society activity. (The Spanish Sister Training Leaders are in that ward, but they live in Oakdale and cover the northern part of the ward.) I got to see some familiar faces and I was touched that those sisters were so happy to see me.

One day, Hna Maya and I were knocking on doors and a guy that answered was really nice but he was kinda distracted and as we were talking to him about family history he just randomly asked, "Have you seen my chickens?" and we were like "....No." And he said his chickens had escaped and so we said we'd keep an eye out for them, and we found them as soon as we left. We helped him chase his chickens! That was the last thing we were expecting to do!

This week we found a new investigator!!! Rxxx is her name. She had met with missionaries before, since her mom was a member and her mom just passed away recently. The missionaries would visit her mom while she was sick. Though Rxxx belongs to a Christian church, she likes missionaries and she was really awesome as we taught her the Restoration and committed her to read the Book of Mormon. We're excited to meet with her again!

There is also this super nice lady named Lxxx who we met this week. We talked to her once while she was in her garden getting rid of Aloe Vera, and I asked if I could have some, and she gave me this giant bag of it! Hispanic people are just so nice and so willing to share their stuff.

Funny story: remember how I told you that I have been trying to get over my addiction of pulling my hair, since it makes it look like I'm not paying attention to anyone? So one time, a while ago, Hna Maya had to go to the bathroom while we were out biking. So we went to a gas station and I sat and waited while she went, and she came back out and was like, "Hermana, do you have your camera?" And I'm like, "No, why?" And she was like, "I wanted to take a picture of the aliens." And I'm like "What aliens....oh!" And then I see that the entire store has like 100 aliens all around. I totally didn't notice because I was too busy picking at my hair!

This is a sign we found at another gas station which we loved.

This is that outside of that gas station. I'm not sure how I didn't see that the first time...

Just nine more days and then I get to hug you again!!!

Love you!!!

Hermana Aburto




With a sister from our ward


With our ward mission leader and his wife



With a couple from our ward





Zone picture!!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Last zone training

March 13th, 2017

There comes a time, towards the end of a missionaries' service, that the adversary attacks and makes missionaries believe that they weren't successful and that they could've done better. 

I got to that point this last week, and I just broke down. I asked my district leader, Elder Schoenfeld, for a blessing, and as usual Heavenly Father was able to tell me exactly what I needed to hear.

The next day, we went to visit our spiritual powerhouse of a less-active member, Fxxx Oxxx. I felt the Spirit so strongly as we taught him about the Plan of Salvation. When we got to the Atonement, I had him read that scripture that I cherish so much found in Alma 36:19-21, where Alma experiences the joy that can only be brought about by Christ and the Atonement. Then Hno Oxxx told us about how, when he came to church about two weeks ago after a long time, he was silently debating to himself whether he was worthy to take the sacrament or not. He took it, and he felt an overwhelming sense of peace come over him. Then he told us that he didn't think it was a coincidence that we had found him and started teaching him to remind him of his beliefs. He said that both my companion and I would make lasting impressions to him for the rest of his life. I just started crying. He expressed so perfectly why I needed to be sent here on a mission; why I needed to meet these specific people that the Lord has placed on my path. I couldn't stop crying and even now as I'm typing this I can remember how strong the Spirit was as we visited him and it just makes me so happy and want to start crying again.

This week we had a zone training; the last one I will ever have! :( It was about the parables found in the scriptures.

The things that stuck out most to me were the following: Elder Schoenfeld talked about lots of times we see repentance as a glass half empty, meaning we only focus on the things that we are lacking. But repentance means looking at ourselves as a glass half full, meaning that you can acknowledge what you are doing right, and add to it. It's the same with our investigators; rather than just focusing on their faults (i.e. smoking) focus on what they are doing right, (prayer and scripture study can help overcome addiction to smoke.) Elder Manly mentioned that when we came on our missions, we agreed to go find the lost sheep and leave our "99 sheep" back home (our families, our personal lives). 

At the end of the zone training, it was asked that those missionaries who were leaving at the end of the transfer would offer their testimonies. I once again felt the Spirit incredibly strongly as I testified of the Atonement and of the principle of turning outward in order to feel joy. 

So one time I was just pondering during personal study or something. I wondered why it is that mothers have to go through so much pain in order to give birth to a child. But I thought about it and I wonder if it's because mother's wouldn't appreciate their child as much if it were so easy to give birth. The fact that it's so hard just makes the child so much more special.


Likewise I definitely would not have appreciated my mission as much if it were easy. This is like the hardest thing I've ever done. But it's also the best decision I've ever made in my life, by far.

I am so sad that my time as a missionary is coming to an end, but I know that the Lord has more things in store for me back home. Love you!

Hermana Aburto



Monday, March 6, 2017

Last multi-zone conference

March 6th, 2017

It was a really good week!

We had a multi-zone conference; the last one I will ever have! :( It was so so so good! It was, not surprisingly, about teaching repentance and baptizing converts. It's always fascinating to me how we talk about the same topic over and over again, yet still get so much out of it.

This time around, we saw Elder Bednar and Elder Oaks talking to some mission presidents and their wives. Something that Elder Bednar pointed out was that it is crucial to involve the Redeemer in repentance. He said that changing behavior without the Savior is not repentance [it's therapy]. He also taught that we shouldn't be afraid of repetitious teaching, which I know to be true since most of the time it takes a couple thousand times to teach something before it finally clicks in someone's mind. One of the mission presidents wives mentioned that the adversary is aware of repentance, and makes people believe that they can't do it. Another one's wife mentioned that a lot of missionaries don't believe that they will make it to the celestial kingdom. If you don't believe you will make it, then you don't believe in repentance! Or the Atonement!


Elder Bednar also said how great of a leader Alma was. In Mosiah 23:27 it reads, "Alma went forth and stood among them," He didn't stand above the people that he led, but among them. (Itwas mentioned during the conference that the mission presidents and their wives should go out with their missionaries to teach them.)

Hna Maya and I also re-listened to Bill Carpenter's conversion story this week, and a part that stood out to me this time is that he said that missionaries in the MTC probably pray 15 times a day, meaning that there were at least 45,000 prayers going on in that building (back then when he was a missionary). That's one reason why the MTC is such a heavenly place! And he said that missionaries are added to the temple prayer roll, and are prayed for every day by people that don't even know us personally. I think even one of the general authorities has mentioned that missionaries get prayed for more than the prophet or something, I can't remember, don't quote me on that. 

But I can certainly say that I feel the prayers that everyone offers for me and my fellow missionaries! I'm once again so incredibly thankful for this holy calling!

During district meeting we talked about this zone conference and I learned that there aren't really "steps" to repentance, rather there are "elements" to repentance. There isn't a specific order that the elements go in (recognize, confess to God, restitution, don't repeat mistake again, etc.). I just found it all really interesting and I'm so grateful to be able to apply repentance to my life. 

About that repetitious teaching though, one of our less-actives Mxxx Cxxx, is a perfect example of that. She wants to know which church is true, but I feel like she never understands what we're trying to teach her about finding her answer. It's not enough to just pray, but she needs to be willing to act, too. She hasn't been reading the scriptures too much, and she doesn't want to come to church. You have to DO and then KNOW and no matter how many times we explain it, she just doesn't get it! Come on, son! 

This week we were finally able to meet with a less-active member Mxxx Rxxx who we've been wanting to work with. He seems really solid, but he works on Sunday so that makes it hard for him. We were able to take another less-active, Txxx, to see him. It's always cool to help our members see the awesomeness of sharing the gospel with other people. 

Yesterday we knocked on the door of a man who has met with missionaries before, and seems to be really familiar with our church. He seems really interested! But I must admit, Hna Maya and I were kinda distracted as we were talking to him because Alvin and the Chipmunks was on his TV in the background, haha! But anyways we are really excited because he said we could come back and talk to him tonight! We'll see how that goes.

Last week we also met with another former investigator who was a referral from a less-active member. He seems to have gone through a hard time recently. We hope that we can help him to understand the Plan of Salvation! We will be meeting with him tomorrow. 

I only have like 23 days left!!!! What is this garbage!!!! Just kidding I'm super excited but sad at the same time...

Have a great week!

Love,

Hermana Aburto

This was from a Relief Society breakfast in our ward

Monday, February 27, 2017

Wherefore can ye doubt?

February 27th, 2017

This week was a really successful week, even though we didn't officially get new investigators, the Lord has helped us be successful in other ways.

This week we met these two sweet less-active teenage girls. They were so cute! They've been through a lot and so they're pretty shy but we had a really awesome lesson with them about God's love, prayer, and scripture study.

We met with a man whose ex-wife was a member of our church. He doesn't believe in God, but we had a good visit with him, and we brought our member, Hna Mxxx with us. Even though he didn't wind up being interested in our message, he said that if he were to join a church, he would join ours, because he has noticed that our church members are really good people. We talked about charity with him. Overall our visit was just a really good "touchpoint" for him.

Oh yeah, and thanks so much for the family history stuff that you sent me last week! We've pretty much been talking about family history with everyone that we meet now, and here's an example of how awesome it is!

Last night we knocked on a random door and an old man named Hno. Jxxx answered, and we talked to him about how the Savior made it possible for our families to be forever, and mentioned family history to him, and asked if he knew his grandparents and what not, and he really liked it! He then asked us questions about our beliefs and we asked if we can come back this week and he said yes! He said that he believes that all religions are good, and that he is Catholic, but I'm so glad that he was able to feel the Spirit of Elijah as we talked about family history with him.

This week we were talking with a man who suffers from something like anxiety, and he's a major introvert. It just made me so sad to talk with him because you can tell that he is super lonely. It just reminded me a lot of how lonely I used to feel. I really truly would not wish that on anyone. It's not a fun experience.

But as I pondered about that I was thinking about how I used to not believe it when people would tell me that I was doing a good job. I thought about how Mami told me that God sends those people to me, and they are acting as angels from God to let me know that He is pleased with me. Then this week during district meeting, we read in 1 Nephi 4:3 where it says, "Ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you; wherefore can ye doubt?" So, it's saying exactly the same thing Mami told me!

I was also reading in the newest edition of the Ensign and I love what Elder Bednar said about Nephi and the bands around his arms. He said that Nephi didn't pray to have his circumstances change, rather he prayed to have the strength to change his circumstances. And he prayed in that way because he knew of the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I just absolutely love that and can testify that that is 100% true!!

Love you!!!

Hermana Aburto

P.S. This week a member fed us tinga, and it was the best thing ever! Can you make me some tinga when I get home? And ravioli 'cause that is also the best.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Reunited and it feels so good

February 20th, 2017

It's been a great week!

This week I was reunited with Sister Talbot, whom I absolutely adore! We had a zone dinner at the home of one of the stake presidency members, and we got to giggle a lot together, just like old times. I'm so grateful I get to serve near her during my last transfer!

A few days ago, we were biking down the street at night, and Sister Maya didn't see a pot-hole, and she ran into it and fell off her bike. She hurt her knee and we got help from a member, thankfully, and she's been recovering since then. One night, she and I talked about how, after a trial like that happens, some cool miracle will come about soon after. 

Well, one day we were knocking on doors as usual, and one Hispanic lady opened the door, and I mentioned to her that we teach about how families can be eternal. She said, "I want to be eternal!" and she invited us in and told us about how her husband passed away in the year 2000 and she wants to be with him again. It was super cool to be able to testify to her that she could be reunited with him some day! We left her with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet and a Book of Mormon, and she said we could come back some other time....

Sadly though when we called her to confirm the appointment, she suddenly told us that she was Christian (meaning that she didn't want to learn more about us at the moment) but that she would read the Book of Mormon and call us if she is interested to learn more. But honestly, I am not discouraged by this. I know that we at least gave her a major touch point in her life, and it's so important to try to leave copies of the Book of Mormon in people's homes, because you just never know who can get their hands on it, read it, and feel of the undeniable power and Spirit that it brings.

We visited a less-active, Mxxx Cxxx, and brought a member with us, Lxxx Cxxx. Hna Lxxx was so amazing! They got along really well, and I loved hearing her share her testimony and her conversion story to Hna Mxxx Cxxx. I'm such a huge fan of member missionary work!  

One night we were walking and there was this guy sitting on the sidewalk and we started talking to him. His name is Sxxx and he was super friendly and started asking us questions like, "What are you doing out so late?" and "Do you get paid to do this?" and stuff like that. We explained who we were and he was so cute; he gave us tips on how to talk to people since he works as a salesman. He also told us his story, how he used to be involved in some serious things and he used to be Christian, and he said that by meeting us he was reminded that he should look into coming back to God. It was such a tender mercy for him and for us to be able to talk to him. He just made our week! I really hope that he'll be able to meet with the missionaries again (he lives out of our mission).

We visited the less-active Fxxx Oxxx again, and he was awesome. He said he would come to church, and... he did! We were so happy to see him there! The ward was so welcoming to him and he really enjoyed it.

Thanks so much for all that stuff you sent about family history, that is absolutely perfect and I want to try some of that stuff out.

I love you! I can't believe I only have a little over a month left of my mission! I truly want to follow Elder Holland's advice and enjoy every minute of it!

-Hermana Aburto

Zone dinner pictures:



This is the zone dinner from last transfer

Monday, February 13, 2017

Last Transfer Call!

February 13th, 2017

Last night I got the last transfer call of my mission...we're both staying! Dang, Gina! We thought for sure that because Hna Maya and I get along so well, and because we're both about to go home, that we'd be split apart! But no! We will be staying together! We are excited to be companions until the end. 

Haha I love your stories! You are the cutest parents ever! And yeah, I was totally born with flojeritis, too.

This week was really good! One time, we were trying to find a street that wasn't on our map, and we asked someone on the street for directions, but they neglected to tell us how far away we were biking to. We accidentally biked to the next town over, Ripon! It took over an hour to bike there. We are so smart, haha! It was crazy though because as we were biking in the middle of nowhere, a member of the Church saw us and was like, "Do you know how far away from town you are?!" She was super nice and went back to her house to get her bike rack so that she could drive us home. But yeah, anyways we biked all the way out there, and the person we talked to seemed interested but he lives in Tracy so we gave him as a referral to our Spanish elders out there. All-around that was an experience of tender-mercies!

This week we were struggling yet again with the fact that it has been so hard to find investigators here. But we were blessed in other ways. One day, we had dinner with a prospective elder, Hno. Cxxx, and his family, and he said something very nice. He said that his favorite hour of church is Gospel Principles, which is taught by us 6 missionaries. He said that he has learned so much. We really appreciated that because, you just never know how much your teaching actually affects people. 

We stopped by to see some members in our ward who we haven't seen in quite a while, and we must've been inspired because Hno. Axxx told us that he has a friend who is interested in the church, and he wants to give a Book of Mormon to his friend who lives in Stockton. We gave him a Book of Mormon and we are so excited that he gets to have this missionary opportunity!

We met with a less-active, Hno Oxxx, for the first time. He is such a spiritual giant! We planned on teaching him the Restoration, but it felt more like HE was teaching US. It was so cool. I hope he comes back to church soon. And he is Nicaraguense so his accent was super fun to listen to!

There was one night where it was raining pretty hard, and I was feeling kind of cold. But I wanted to stay positive, so I simply thought about you, Mami and Papi, and just by thinking about my loved ones, I didn't feel cold anymore. Another tender mercy for me!

This week it was super funny because Hna Maya was sitting in her desk chair talking, and she leaned back and fell over but the couch stopped her from completely falling to the ground. I tried grabbing her hands and pulling her up, but I have no arm strength at all, so instead of lifting her up I actually made her fall all the way to the ground. Haha it was great!

Here is a picture of Hno. Rxxx. He is our favorite! His humor reminds me of Bugs Bunny, since he's always able to turns things around on you and makes it a joke and he just has fun with himself. Like, last Monday we were asking if he had read his Book of Mormon and he said he hadn't read much, so we asked him where he was in his reading, and he was like, 1 Nephi 4, and we were like, "That's where you were last time, so you didn't read at all!" And he was like, "Really? I thought you were saying that I HAD read a lot this week!" Haha I don't even know why but that made me laugh so hard.

This is Hna Jxxx, who is an awesome missionary-oriented member in our ward!

District picture! Me, Hna Maya, Elders Schoenfeld, Jarvis, Baker, Ashton, Spikes, and Gifford.

Love you!

Hermana Aburto




These are our favorite elders in the zone; they are all so funny and cool! Elders Pope, Schultz, Perry, and Beus. This is the food bank where we all do service every week.




These are our elders in the Spanish ward! They are also all so funny and cool!





This is how I will propose to my future husband! Haha



This is us with the Bxxx and Axxx family. The kid in the middle with the hat on is Dxxx, and he is the recent convert who we've been teaching. He's a great kid! 



Monday, February 6, 2017

Flojeritis

February 6th, 2017

It's been a great week!

One day, we went over to Hna Mxxx's house just to check up on her since she hadn't gone to church the Sunday before, and as we were talking with her, her friend Exxx stopped by. Exxx knows lots of members in our ward, and she's met with missionaries before, and we've been trying to meet with her for the longest time, but it never worked out, so it was so awesome that we happened to cross paths! We talked about the Plan of Salvation, and it went really well! Exxx seems to really like our church, but she said that she never has gotten an answer as to whether it's true or not. We invited her to read the Book of Mormon, since she hadn't read it before. She also had a pretty difficult concern: she raised her children Catholic, and her son told her that if she were to change religions, then everything that she had taught him would be a lie? That's rough...I've been trying to study about that concern this week and just some thought I had were the following: Everyone needs to find the truth for themselves, just like how I had to gain my own testimony instead of solely going off of my parents' testimonies. And also, as people learn about the gospel, it's not meant to completely throw away everything that they believed previously, rather, it's to help them strengthen their faith that they already have and become converted to the Lord and His teachings.

This week we miraculously got two calls from two less-active members, and we set up return appointments with them! It's just awesome because it always feels like we have to bother people in order to get them to meet with them, but they reached out to us! With one of these less-actives, Mxxx, we met with her yesterday and showed her and her boyfriend the "Enduring Love" Mormon message. We talked about eternal families and she knew that she needed to be married to her boyfriend. We really want to help them be together forever!

Hno Rxxx has been progressing beautifully! He has been reading the Book of Mormon more often. Before, we would ask him if he had read, and he'd be like, "No," and we'd be like "Why not?" and he'd be like, "Estoy enfermo con flojeritis!" (I'm sick with lazy-itis!) Hahaha! He is our favorite.

Yesterday Hna Maya and I went to see a less-active, Axxx. She is absolutely hilarious. She says she doesn't go to church because she doesn't like being around people. But hopefully she gets the hunger to come back soon.

We visited another less-active who has definitely softened her heart since I first got here, in that she has actually been letting us into her home and feeding us, where when I first got here she would only talk on the porch of her house. But at the same time it was frustrating to meet with her this week because she really doesn't want any help from God at all, which I really don't get, because she's in a sticky situation, but she won't even pray for help. She wants to do everything herself. Humility is a pre-requisite to learning about the gospel!

It's crazy how much people have been talking to us about marriage and family though. Hna Maya and I haven't even been telling people how soon we are going home, but it comes up in every conversation! Yesterday Mxxx was freaking us out with talk of pregnancy and c-sections and what not. Gah!

A few weeks ago, Elder Schultz got this video sent to him, and it's so funny! It's this 70's band singing about Jesus. All the missionaries in Manteca sing this song now hahaha. 

Hermana Aburto



Monday, January 30, 2017

Worldwide Broadcast

January 30th, 2017

This week we had a worldwide broadcast for every missionary, led by General Authorities in Salt Lake City. It was so good! Elder Bednar in particular, never ceases to amaze me. The things that he says are so simple yet so profound and wise that I'm always like, "Why didn't I think of that before?" He talked about how each principle of the gospel should be tied together, for example, baptism shouldn't be taught as a separate principle but we should teach it in context with the whole gospel of Jesus Christ. He also said that a testimony comes from the heart, and not from the mouth. It's not what we say it's what we are. And success is something that is given to us. Some of the other things discussed were that we need the Spirit with us to be more persuasive teachers, so by simply doing things like partaking of the sacrament, helps us to be better teachers since we are inviting the Spirit into our lives.

The new missionary schedule was quite a change, and I'm a fan of it! I was never a fan of planning at night, since once we get home all I want to do is change into my jammies and relax. But I especially love that the new schedule really focuses on the doctrine of agency. Instead of us following a strict schedule, we can choose how we use our time, and it'll definitely help us to be more adult and manage our time wisely. I love it!! And of course, I can't complain that we have 2 more hours of preparation day!!! 

This week we taught a less-active woman Hna Cruz and we met her daughter, Fatima, who's like 18 years old. I really liked Fatima a lot, because even though it sounds like she doesn't go to church, she still believes in the same standards we do. She just started college and she isn't a fan of people drinking and what not. We read Alma 22 with them, hoping to help Hna Cruz to recognize how to receive answers to her prayers, and it definitely helped Fatima out a lot, too. 

We also briefly visited a less-active family, and when we first knocked on the door, the really young primary-aged children answered the door and they were so polite! They let us in, and they offered to serve us water. I was like, "I want my kids to be like this!" Aw man, Hna Maya and I seriously cannot stop thinking about our future husbands and families, and the elders accuse us of being "trunky" (ready to go home). I'm not ready yet!

We had interviews with President Palmer this week, and he talked about how Family History is a great tool to use to spark people's interest. That is something that I've heard a million times, but most missionaries (myself included) forget to use that tool when we're out talking to people. But yesterday I finally decided to hand out lots of family history cards, and it went pretty well! People are more willing to talk to you if you don't start out with religion right away.

I love you I love you I love you!!!!!

Hermana Aburto

Monday, January 23, 2017

Stormin' Mormon

January 23rd, 2017

This week was so amazing!

We had a zone training about finding new investigators, because all the missionaries in this zone are really struggling with that right now. It was such a good meeting; probably one of my favorites that I've ever had. We talked about 8 finding ideas: Family History, teaching youth, members (specifically helping members practice sharing the gospel), the dinner calendar, prospective elders, Family Home Evening, social media, and service. These are all things that we have all heard over and over again, but this time as we discussed it there were just so many awesome ideas and stories that were shared, and we're so excited to try some new ideas. Some examples: During the dinner calendar discussion, we were invited to try calling our dinner appointments 1 week before to ask these member families to invite a friend over for dinner so that we can share a message with them. Having dinners with members and other people is not about us getting fed or staying warm, but it's about saving souls. Another example, Elder Schoenfeld shared about how in a previous area, he came up with some fun fireside ideas for youth to help them realize that they have a testimony, and invite their friends to the next fireside. The social media discussion was my personal favorite, because there were such ideas as, we can share a Mormon message with an active family and invite them to immediately share the video on Facebook. Some missionaries shared their experiences from how they shared the gospel through social media back home. Some people would go out with the missionaries and then take a picture with them and share the picture on Instagram. Or simply having a picture of the temple or something on your Facebook can have people asking questions about the Church. One missionary, Elder Lee, shared a story of how back home, his xBox username was "Stormin' Mormon" and someone from England chatted with him online about it, asking him about his beliefs and stuff, and this person eventually sought out the missionaries and got baptized. That's so cool! 

This week we went on exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders, and I stayed here in Manteca with Hna Dayton. It was a really good exchange! We talked to a lot of very nice people and planted a lot of seeds. We taught a prospective elder about the Restoration, and we asked him to share his testimony on the Atonement. It was so awesome and you could really feel the Spirit very strongly.

Yesterday the most recent convert in the ward, Dxxx, received the priesthood! We are so happy for him. We had a Family Home Evening with him and his family yesterday, and we did a really good job! We really tried to ask a lot of questions (since youth don't have a long enough attention span for monologues) and we helped them see the importance of seminary and mutual. And then we played Loteria! I haven't played that in ages.

Last year when I was in Manteca, on the bike trail I would often run in to this old man named Jxxx who only spoke Spanish, and he was always really nice but he never seemed interested when we talked about the gospel. A few days ago we ran into him on the bike trail, and we were talking to him for a long time, and he gave us his number and said we could talk to him again! That's so crazy! There are definitely no coincidences in God's plan.

Yesterday, Brother Gxxx from the high council had come to visit our ward. After church, he talked with us 6 missionaries and our ward mission leader. He felt inspired to talk about his mission experience. He served in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana mission in Spanish. That is like, the Bible belt of the country (similar to this area of California), and a lot of people don't like missionaries down there. A lot of his mission was spent tracting (also just like our mission). He couldn't understand why he was sent there. It felt like it was a waste since no one listened. It was hard to find people to teach. But he realized that Heavenly Father must have sent him there because, since it was so hard to find investigators, it made it so much more sweet once he finally did find someone. He then challenged us with a ward goal of one baptism per month. I was really grateful that he told us all that. For me, I've heard of other missions where the member missionary work is so on point, that the missionaries don't have to tract much. And lately I've been thinking how nice it'd be to be sent to one of those missions. Not that I don't like tracting, because it is fun, but lots of times I don't have the faith that we will actually find someone that way. But I really believe that Brother Gxxx's challenge was inspired, and I know that us six missionaries were sent to work in this ward for a reason. 

On a less-serious note, yesterday Elder Little was kinda freakin us out, because he was saying that by the time he gets home (he's been serving for like 5 months), Hna Maya and I could be married and have a kid. That's crazy talk! But then we had dinner yesterday with one of our favorite families, the Hxxx's, and their 22-year old daughter was there. She got married when she was 20, and she has an 8-month-old baby boy. It's like, exactly that time span that Elder Little said! What is this!

Last week we were playing soccer as a zone, and I'm not as good as I used to be but I still have a really powerful leg. I kicked the ball at the goal, and Elder Schultz was stunned! He said, "Hi, my name is Sister Aburto and I've done steroids since I was 2 years old." Haha!

Love you!

-Hermana Aburto