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