Tuesday, January 26, 2010

blackbird singing in the dead of night

Hey you guuuys…

Another transfer in Hollywood is coming my way. I have asked myself the question so many times, why me? Why Hollywood? What am I supposed to learn? Heavenly Father has yet to answer my question, but I keep asking and one day, probably in five years as a young mom, Heavenly Father will let me know exactly why I was put in Hollywood Hills at this time with my companion. I have been having more and more frustrating days, but it will get better. Everyone in the unit feels that a light is coming, o sea, a relief from all of this frustration. I haven’t gotten that confirmation yet, but maybe I am blessed with the Spiritual gift of believing in the testimony of others, at least for now. All I know is that with the priming we have been doing, success is inevitable, one day or another.

The other Sunday one of the sister missionary’s parents came to visit our ward before they left on their cruise. I have been having a hard following this sister because her way of doing everything is so different than my way and the ward just loved her. Trying to fix a broken ward, especially one where the ideals of what a sister missionary is has been skewed has been so difficult. Her little spirit has been following me around and I wonder when her memory will ever fade away or just die from their memories. Then her parents come into town and take over and then there are little parties, for the few and select, to hang out and talk about how amazing this missionary is. I usually want to puke. But, I have come to the firm realization that this is not high school, though it sometimes feels like it, and I just have to keep swimming.

Progress is being made, I just know it because I feel the Spirit, and I wouldn’t be anywhere else, I just wish I could buck up and take a couple of more punches. I just get tired of the no success thing. I do feel a little punch drunk. (This statement always confused me because does it refer to the punch served at the party has been spiked. Or does it mean that I have taken too many punches to the head in the boxing ring and now I am a little off, like that movie with Cary Grant and the crazy guy who once was a great boxer? Oh well, I am sticking with the latter if the two). I feel a little out of whack, what do I do now? This area is sitting quietly, doing nothing, not even purring, and I have tried all of my tricks. And, not that I have written that, I kinda feel like I just got my answer. I should have listened to it yesterday, but I think I finally understand it now. I have worked so hard and I have tried everything I have known. I have tried to do all of this with revelation, but it just is not coming. Then, last night as I lost it because I JUST DON”T KNOW WHAT TO DO in this area which I am going to be in until I figure it out came suddenly. The Lord said this to me “For behold, I do not require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion; for, as I said in a former commandment, even so will I fulfil—I will afight your battles.”

OH. Ok.

Then I remember this experience. Yesterday we taught a Jehovah’s Witness man. Wow, what an experience. By the end of the lesson, which was full of the Spirit testifying, to me at least, the man accepted a Book of Mormon. He then told us, matter-of-factly that he “was not promising to accept the book, {he} was only promising to read it.” I then added that he missed a part of our invitation. I asked if he would pray about it too. “Yes, I will also promise to pray about it.” Ok, then I reminded him to read it with an open heart, or else he would be wasting his time. He got the hint and then told us he would call us when he had finished the whole book. Then his wife turned to us and said that she would love to see us on Saturday if at all possible. It was quite the lesson. We have been teaching a lot more of these lessons full of the Spirit. That has been fun to watch. Go with the Spirit because the Lord is going to be fighting my battles, I don’t need to worry about it, I just need to go and do!

Ok, well this has been quite a cathartic letter for me.

My birthday was so so good. I am sending you pictures of it. The members/investigators did so much to make me feel loved. I did feel loved. Now I am going to go aout and buy some new shoes. And then take a guilt free nap because a nap is something that prepares me for my next week of fighting the good fight.

Thank you so much for everything. Mom—I love the cases. I even like the material.

Love love love love love love love love love love love love

Hna Barros

a picture says... something...

ok, so some explanations--

i had four different cakes. for latins it is customary to have the birthday girl take a bite directly out of the cake, so there are a few of those shots. then there is a picture of my companion and i with yennifer, our cuban investigator/best friend ever. then there is one of yennifer and i saying queso--it doesn't really work, the translation that is. then there is a pisture of me in front of a birthday sign, a picture of me with juanita, a less active not living the law of chastity very frustrating, but very loving woman, and then there is a picture of my aprtment partying it up!!!

hope you like it!

love you,


Thursday, January 21, 2010

What a wonderful world

So, I didn’t get a letter off to you, Kacey, or anyone else for that matter, so I think I will continue on with the things I learned so far in my short time on the mission. These are the things I wish someone would’ve told me before, but I think I wouldn’t have understood until I got here and got out and about the world among the people.

3. Learn to love the scriptures. You probably think you do love the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon, but let me tell you, you have no idea what it means to love the Book of Mormon until you testify of it every day. One of my favorite lessons we teach is to families, especially recent convert families who have gone inactive or missing in the last 6 months, is just the first verse in the Book of Mormon. The first verse says so much. It talks about the central role of the family, it talks about prophets and the need to have guidance from on high, and it also talks about the need to seek our own personal revelation. It is incredible to think about how Nephi wrote a seemingly little introduction to his words that has such veracity to our days. The Book of Mormon is so true, and if one professes to be Christian than they should not be afraid to open another testament of Jesus Christ and just give it a try. I am reading a blue copy of the Book of Mormon and highlighting all of the references to Jesus Christ and His names and what not all in red. Let me tell you, the Book looks like a severely embarrassed child with the chicken pox it is dripping with so many references to Christ. The Book is sooooooo true. So true!!! I know it to be true. Get to know it now, write it in the fleshy tablets of your heart.

4. Christ-like attributes are not just fun little things that we should try to work on, but a commandment. And if we truly want to be joint-heirs with Christ, we’d better be prepared to be like him and offer up a sacrifice like Abraham was asked to offer. Also, charity is number one. If we truly have charity in all that we do, then everything becomes a little easier. Repentance becomes more frequent and the commandments no longer are a burden, but a huge blessing.

As I get to this point in my letter, I have decided that perhaps you need to know what is going on right now in Ft. Lauderdale. It has been a very difficult transfer. I was sent into a very “sick” ward with some very wrong ideas about missionary work and how a missionary should act. (5. Be exactly obedient. It doesn’t just affect you, but everyone around you and those who will follow after you. Be obedient!!!!) So we have been trying to work as hard as possible to get the ward back on track. Complacency is such a strong way that Satan destroys the elect. It has been very difficult, but we are finally (FINALLY) seeing results. But our numbers have been really low. I was getting really worried and was thinking that I should just be transferred because I have not been doing something right. WRONG—the good things with the richest rewards take time. I finally saw that. We walked into another chapel last night, to teach a lesson to a member referral from the English ward, but the referral only speaks Spanish, and we felt the Spirit was soooo strong, almost like the temple. We came to the realization that what we want to accomplish in Hollywood Hills Ward is totally possible because the ward who meets in that chapel from last night was in our boat just 5 months ago. It just takes time. Change does not occur overnight. Great things are possible, and they are coming, we just have to wait and prime the pump.

How wonderful is the work of the Lord. Going on a mission is not a sacrifice, but a wonderful opportunity to learn how to be a better member of a family and a ward and a better daughter of God. It is so funny. No matter what we offer to the Lord He still gives us blessings. We will always be indebted to Him because He is always willing and ready to bless us. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes it feels like we are being left alone. Oh no, those are the times when we have to look a little bit harder, or a little bit deeper within ourselves to see the true miracles going on or taking place. That is when the Lord is gearing up, getting ready to show His power. It is like Isaiah said, quoting Christ—brilliant because then Christ quotes Isaiah, one eternal round kind of thing—“They may forget, yet I will not forget thee, O house of Israel.” He never forgets us because He has graven us upon the palms of His hands. His arms of mercy are extended towards us always. I know that. I can’t believe that I actually thought I would be ok without a mission. I can’t believe a lot of things, but I know that mission has caused me to awake and shake off the dust. The Lord is merciful and loving and kind and great and perfect and…the list is endless. But I just want you to know that I love you all. I love my God, and how grateful I am to be here now as a special witness, and selfishly, to gain these priceless experiences. Be good, all of you, so we can be a forever family in every sense of the word.

Love love love,


Ps—sorry for the lecture, but it is my testimony, and that is the best gift I have to offer.

Pps—I gave a talk on Sunday in Spanish. I felt good about it. The Spanish wasn’t the best but the spirit was there, that’s all you really need in a talk anyway. But, I thought you would like to know that.

Love love love,


Monday, January 11, 2010

Come what may

i will love you, until the end of time--

So, though this letter is for you all, I really want to direct it to Kacey, since I know exactly what she is going through and I know what is about to come. I want so badly to call her up and just talk heart to heart, sister to sister, missionary to missionary about everything, but since I can’t, I will tell you the things in this letter that I would tell her on the phone. But, be assured, I will try to get a real, honest to goodness letter out to you as well. But, time flies on p-days, no joke.

1. Companions are hard sometimes. Just love them. Let them into your heart and into your life. One of the best ways to have a good companionship is to give your companion the benefit of the doubt. Do not assume the worst. And most of all, love her. Learn all about her, learn about why she has a testimony, share with her your fears, your joys, you family, your passions, everything you can. The more vulnerable you are, the better you will feel as a companionship, more equally yoked. But also, don’t let her walk all over you. You have equal stewardship over every single one of your areas, don’t let her take over. Be equally yoked. And some of your companions will be stupid and ridiculous or just weird—deal with it. Come what may and love it, especially because you will probably get a new one in 6 weeks (that is one of the reasons why the mission is better than marriage0.

2. IT GETS HARD. Really hard, but that doesn’t matter. Just keep swimming. Just keep praying. Just keep loving. Love is everything. And when you love the children of God, He loves you. He really does.

I ran out of time. There will be a letter in the mail.

Just know this, I know that this is the true and living church of Jesus Christ. It is perfect, and there is a living prophet on the face of the earth right now. You can be ministered to by angels—live worthy of it. Jesus is the Christ, the messiah, the redeemer of the World.

Love the temple and go often. That is one of the things that I miss the most. I miss learning from on high in that sacred place. I plan on being a regular attender, once a week baby, for the rest of my life. Go often with mom. That was and still is one of my most treasured experiences. Love those around you, serve all you see, and remember to always look for the good. People are crazy—love them for it.

Love you so much. I am so proud to have a little sister who had a desire to serve a mission, long before I did and now gets to go out and serve while I am out too. It is worth it. I can’t imagine living a life without these experiences.

Ok—gotta go.

Love love love


if you're going through hell, keep on going

WOW!!! Hollywood. WOW!!! The work gets so daunting sometimes. And sometimes I feel like I am not doing my best or doing what is right because I can’t see the fruits of my labor. Then I have to step back and think about the last time I felt the Spirit, which usually isn’t too long ago. That is the best remedy for that negative way of thinking. And then the Lord sends some sweet little tender mercy, just for my companionship that tells us that “All is well!” So, I pick myself, dust myself off and go back to work, showing Satan that he will not win today. We are working so hard to convert the members. Bishop Ayaviri is so in on this, it is so cool to see how revelation and the priesthood keys work in our lives. Sister miller and I have also been AMT’ing the ward mission leader and missionaries. It is a little on the rough side, but I think they are finally getting what we are trying to teach them. Two quick tender mercies I have seen this week, the buds of fruit I might venture to even call it.

1—We went over to a ward missionary’s house to AMT them on making Sacrament meeting an integral part of our investigator’s lives. Before we even started our message, the hermana stopped us and told us that she needs to go out with us on Tuesday night because we need to go visit one of her neighbors who has yet to hear the gospel. OK—sounds good. Then, we AMT’ed them. The Spirit was so strong. I have learned that our key indicator numbers don’t always mean everything. I have not worked so hard in a transfer with so little numbers. But the Spirit is so strong, I know that we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. WE just keep swimming swimming swimming…then we keep swimming some more. He put me here for a wise purpose, with some of the greatest missionaries ever, I just have to keep going. They never really tell you how hard it really is going to be out in the mission field. But it is hard, and sometimes you really don’t want to get out of bed—but you do and then you see some pretty cool blessings! The Lord is so good.

2—We were out driving last night to our next appointment and I saw this very well dressed man in one of the most ghetto parts of our area. I was shocked and kept looking to see who it was, because it was so terribly odd. Then I realized that it was our ward mission leader going out and visiting one of our investigators who has a baptismal date. He was all alone, but he was out trying his best. He truly is trying his best. And that is one of the biggest lessons I learned this last week. Recognize when someone is trying their best. We are not all on the same level, but we are all trying. When someone is trying their absolute best, that is worth so much more than perfection. Did that make sense? I guess I learned that I need to love people for who they are strengths and weaknesses and then go from there.

Anyway, sorry it is short, hopefully the pictures make up for the rest.

Have a great week!!

Love love love love love

Hermana Barros

Picture time!

picture time--ok, so there are some pictures of the nasty pig that the cuban family was cutting up and preparing for chirstmas. i thought you would enjoy it. Then there is a picture with just me and an elder. ok, stroy time...this elder's name is Elder Hirschi. he was one of my EFY kids. he tells everyone that, so eveyone thinks i am anciant on the mission. so, in response to his propaganda, i tell everyone that he hasn't changed much since he was in high school. but, i do remember that he was one of my favorites because he is so down to earth and so stinkin' funny. then there is a picture of hna martinez and i with elder keeler, the one with the glasses (the one that wanted to sit next me at christmas conference) and elder bacon, who is now my disctrict leader. he, hna miller and i where in hialeah together, now we are in hollywood together. its kinda fun. when he becomes AP, i am going to take over the world.

ok, then there is a picture of me with a member, who we have nicknamed "elder" torsac. he makes us food for after our ZDM's and DDM's. he is a cool old man who just happens to own the most ghetto suits. so, of course i needed a picture. and then there is one of Oswaldo, a recent convert. this kid is crazt and funny. this is a pictue of us reading each other's minds, which he thinks i really can do. anyway--disfruten!!

love, me

We built this city

Hello there my dear loved ones,

It has been another great week in Hollywood. Things have been really difficult for me lately, but the work continues to progress. In the midst of these difficulties I have found an inner strength that I didn’t know existed. I have found that I can do really hard things, seemingly impossible things, and it feels great! Hollywood Hills Ward has had a lot of misinformation placed in them throughout the months/years about what a missionary is supposed to be or what they are supposed to do. One missionary’s motto is “be best friends with the members because most of your investigators will fall.” WHAT!!! Talk about no faith at all in the Atonement. Some of the missionaries worked really hard to be in the in crowd in the ward so that they knew all of the gossip going on. Or some knew how to work the system so that they hang out with the members more. As Elder Oaks says “No more hanging out!!”It is hard breaking those false preconceptions and notions and to remind them of their responsibilities as members of Christ’s true church. Of course they don’t want a missionary in their ward who won’t drop everything so that they can hang out with you. Of course they don’t want to work hard.

It is a tremendous task with very little external successes, but we know that with our efforts here and now, some missionary somewhere will reap tremendous success in the way of baptisms and retention will never be a problem for them. But, getting to that point is arduous and slow moving. One experience that really pinpoints this inner change happened on Saturday night. This last week we have been really working with our ward mission leader, trying to get him to catch the vision of true Christ-like missionary work. He caught on, like a moth to the flame, but apparently he got too close to the flame because he burned out really quickly and told us that he didn’t have time to find rides for our many investigators. I parked the car (my companion was on the phone as I was driving, and when he said this she looked at me, with the blankest stare, and asked what she should say to him). So I parked the car, took the phone, and walked outside pacing around the car. I think I even punded the outside of the car a bit. I was sooooooooooooo frustrated with that little man from Columbia. So I told him what I thought. Now, for those of you who don’t know me, I really don’t let loose on people very often. Oh, but I did. Another side note, don’t criticize Hna. Barros’ missionary skills, especially when she has a headache the size of the Grand Canyon because she will not just lay there, oh no no no!! It was a very liberating experience for me. Then, one of our investigators (who I was inspired to call after that) told us that she had just made empanadas and we should come over and eat them. This same investigator had dropped us the day before, but I guess not. We talked about the temple a little bit more and then she just up and said that she wanted to be married in the temple. Perfect, you need to be baptized first. She said that she also wanted to do her family history. What a tender mercy. The night before I had cried when I thought that she had dropped us, but really she just had to work a few things out first. The Lord is so mindful of us all.

My companion is amazing. She helps me with everything, and since we are so young we both lift and carry the other throughout everything. We are equally yoked, something that feels amazing. We even drive around in our car “discussing the doctrines of the kingdom” because we do not have time to waste on frivolous/worldly things. We seek revelation and repent diligently, for that truly is a sign of a diligent servant, and that is what we want to become.

The work is progressing, we are actually teaching a lot of families, which I absolutely love, they just require a little bit more time, something I am not used to, but am finding it enjoyable when compared to teaching single men, especially as sister missionaries—blah, and sometimes a huge waste of time, double blah.

And we have been teaching a lot of Cubans. I love Cubans. Everyone needs to meet and become friend with at least one Cuban. There is nothing better. It is funny when people think I am from Cuba because I am so pale with a “Hispanic” apallido. They always ask me where I am from. Cuba? No, just Portugal and Europe. They then ask the age old question, how would you say your name in an American accent. My answer –BEATS ME.

It was so great talking to you all. I hope the babies love their dolphins. And that mom puts that flamingo up in her car; hanging on the rearview mirror (it is to remind you of all of our conversations in the car as I tried parking at BYU. Happy New Year!! We are going to a Cuban’s New Year, which will prove to be interesting because, let’s be honest, if anyone knows how to party, it is a Cuban. We even get to help clean and dress the dead pig—yum. Good times are coming.

Have a great week,

And love love love love you

Hna. Barros

be [my] guest, be my guest, put our service to the test!

as most of you know, last week was transfers. i stayed in my area but also had another area merge into mine. so, where there was once two companionships, there now is only one. What a great week we have had here in Hollywood!!! there have been a lot of changes in this barrio. there used to be 9 missionaries here, only three of them stayed and three new ones came in. one of the ap's came and is jr. companion to our new District leader, Elder Bacon. Elder Bacon and I served in Hialeah 2 transfers ago. He and i are the same mission age. he and i are great freidns. he really respects me for who i am and what kind of missionary i am and he is so stinkin' hilarious. he and elder isom, the old AP are revelatory giants. they try so hard to always receive direction from the Lord. They have also inspired me to do the same. I have been given a great companion. In the last 5 days we have had some truly revelatory experiences. I don't know why i was chosen to be here among the noble and great ones, but i am so glad i am. but, not only are they great and so inspired, i feel like i am one of them and that i truly do belong among these giants. so, i guess i just answered my own question. i am here so that i can learn and grow and i can help others. This group here, though...man!!! noble and great. AND we are all on the same page!! we have been talking about things and then someone will say something and i will say YES, i've wanted to do that from day one here in Hollywood. YES!!! we all want to change things around, wake up this flojo barrio, and we are all willing to work to see it it happen. our first change was to get rid of dinner appointments. here is the reasoning behind it. We are not allowed to eat in a members' home without an investigator. well, those latin mamas who just want to feed the poor missionaries as their service to the missionary effort have started making us food and then giving it to usin plasticos. drives us nuts because we have to dr0op everything to go and pick up the food that they probably couldn't afford anyway. i don't...the food thing was getting way out of hand. plus the missionaries before have tried to be buddy-buddy witht the members, but let's be honest...that does not build trust. trust comes when a missionary works hard and has Christ like love and a true desire to serve the Lord. the members have gotten lazy and we need to wake them up. this has done it. this whole experience has opened my eyes. i mean...my worth is not based on how many people in the ward love me, or if i am in the popular crowd or not, or if i know everything that is going on in the ward. NOO!!! My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, member or non member alike. I don't have time to waste on getting in weith the in crowd. please, i am not in high school. so, this week we have had to painstakingly dismantle the unrighteous traditions of the missionaries from the past. it has been rough. some members are so mad at us, we even made one member cry (not because of the food thing only, but because she isn't even living some of the basic commandments). Please, all who are within the sound of my voice--keep the commandments. Wickedness never was happiness!! NEVER!!! oh, and the law of Chastity is called a law for a very good, brilliant perfect reason. it keeps you from destroying yourself.

I love my companion. She is so strong. She tries so hard to listen to the Spirit and say the things that need to be said to those who we are teaching. and then she says it. she is so bold, i just sometimes sit and listen to her teach and think that one day i might be half as bold as her. then she will turn to me, after the lesson, and say that she loved how i taught with the Spirit. I didn't even know, but when she says that, it all makes sense. it is so wonderful to work with the Spirit and to say the things Christ would say. We don't have time to beat around the bush. we have been roommates ever since she entered the mission field, since septemeber. now we are companions. because we have had so much time together we don't have to play the stupid get-to-know you game that every companionship needs to play befopre truly becoing successful. we just get to move forward.

We have been studying the scriptures int he car, discussing the doctrines of the gospel as we have any spare time. we have learned so much. we will learn something in our companionship study, then when we get together as a unit, someone from another companionship will pull out a scripture, saying that they learned that principle/doctrine today and then share the same exact thing we had studied too. I love revelation like that. and then, when you taste of the fruit of revelation then you don't know how you ever lived without it, nor do you want to live without it. and we MUST be diligent!!! which i have come to believe is repenting constantly and making sure that your life is truly in line with the Father's and make corrections as soon as possible and whenever possible. so, that is our companionship goal, to be diligent in all things, all things. all things.

we just had lunch with our unit. and we all just sat around discussing the things that we need to do to have faith, repent...all those things that are essential to our eternal well being. it was such a great conversation, especially with baleadas (the food from the goods via honduras). at one point i just felt this imense love for everyone sitting at the table. then one of the elders stated "i love you all so much! Everyone is so willing to work hard and work with the Spirit. That is what true unity is." He said eveything that i was feeling right then too. it was so cool. my heart has truly been changed and i feel love for so many people. itis so overwhelming, especially when they slam the door in my face or make fun of me, but i really do love so many people.

oh, we had Christmas Conf. this last weekend. I was put in charge of the music. i was so glad it was over. it was too stressful for me. but, after the conference we got this really cool meal and every missionary was there. anyway, i say next to elder ball from my MTC district. then all of my favorite people came and sat down at the same table. it was so amazing. i felt so much love. one elder even pushed his way in between an elder and myself because he wanted to talk to me and see how my new area was going. it was so cool. that is what the celestial kingdom is going to be like. after a long hard job we'll all get to rest for a bit and see and talk with all of those we work alongside and those we have truly come to love. so, for christmas, i want to invite us all to be worthy to sit at my Celestial kingdom table because i love you all so much and there is no other family i would rather be with and eat dinner and discuss the mysteries of the universe (which won't be mysteries anymore) than those who have the last name BARROS, for the time being. whoever else gets this email, you too are cordially invited.

with that, i sign out.

merry christmas-

talk to you later

love love love love love love love love love


oh, so the song choice is dedicated to my celestial kingdom dinner party and also to dustin--a big shout out to no longer being at the OG. put that service to the test suckahs!!!

love ya