Monday, March 22, 2010

a heart full of love

Hello from Hollywood Hills,

What a week, what a week!! One thing that training has been doing for me is showing me my weaknesses. It is like there is a big neon sign pointing in my direction and then magnified for the whole world to see. I just pray that Hna. Hebdon learns from all of it, the good and the bad, and is a better missionary than I am…which is totally possible. She has so much potential, so much love to give, it will not be hard for her to be a successful missionary. She is teaching me so much about everything, especially about being humble. It is interesting how the Lord is so willing to humble His people. He will have a humble people. Kacey, pray for your trainer because it is not an easy job. everyone thinks your trainer knows everything, and don't be fooled, she knows more than you do, but she doesn't know everything and that is difficult to live with, especially since someone is relying on her for everything. training is difficult, but so worth it. the learning curve goes up dramatically when training is happening.

One thing that has been weighing down on my mind for the past little bit is how to get this ward to be a center of strength. President Monson, and also our Regional President has told Mission Presidents to put their missionaries in cneters of strength, or in wards where the members are using their missionaries. this ward is highly underusing their missionaries, unless you count piano playing as a vital role in missionary work, which i don't. They have some solid missionaries who know how to get baptism, who know how to get large numbers and accomplish large, seemingly insurmountable tasks, but here, for some reason, we have been working and running, with our whole hearts, into the same brick wall, members who just don't get it. We know that we need to work with our members. It has been shown to us time and time again that this is the direction we need to take, that the way to get this ward back into working order, without having a collapse like we are seeing now, we must work with our members. But it has been difficult because they have such false notions of what a missionary is. If nothing else, I have learned that obedience is essential, not only for you, but for those who come after you. Obedience is not just a cute slogan, but a way of life that leads to salvation and true happiness, for more than just you in the here and now. It has been so frustrating to work against those false notions, and even more difficult to love those who have come before. I am still learning that one, I suppose.

Bishop is such a loving man, so revelatory, but no one respects him. This ward is full of all manner of –ites with the auxiliary leaders taking charge of their groups and moving forward, without even the consideration of what the other auxiliaries are doing. As a small little misionera, this task is daunting, the task to unify, solidify, so that the next set of missionaries to come in will not have such a difficult uphill climb. I wish sometimes he would just get up to the pulpit and rebuke the members, call them to repentance, and then actually follow up with them. but, alas, not going to happen anytime soon. I love a good challenge, and I don’t mind priming the pump, but sometimes I would like to see the fruits of my exhaustible labors. The answer is simple, keep priming, keep praying, keep standing outside of the Bishop’s office until he lets us into PEC, keep AMT’ing, keep going, don’t stop, keep loving them and helping them realize their potential. I guess that is what personal revelation is for, find out what else I need to do, personally and as a companionship, to get this ward to start flourishing. It has the potential, I know it does because I felt it the first day I was in here. I love these people, because I have been serving with them for so long and we have grown together. I love this gospel because it is true. I love the Book of Mormon and my studies in it because now, as a fruit of serving a mission, I have my testimony engraved on my heart, it is a part of me. I know that God loves me and is helping me out over here, I just need to rely on that a little bit more, turn the revelation volume up a bit more and get back to priming the pump. If there is any advice or any suggestions you have, I would love to hear them.

‘Til next time,

with a heart full of love,

love love love

Hna. Barros

hey you

My letter to president--didn't have time for more. but mom has pictures--have fun

Hey President,

Another, unprecedented week here in Hollywood Hills. I know you said that I would be training, but I think you are highly mistaken, because she is fantastic and I believe that she is training me!!!! When we talked about improvements or what she expects out of this transfer, and her whole mission, so that I could help her lay a solid foundation, she surprised me by saying some of the same things I want out of my mission. We both want to work with the Spirit. It is so cool working with someone who wants to work with the Spirit. She is so loving as well…what a sweet, inspiring and loving companion I have. I’m so lucky!! And she is doing fantastically. Her Spanish is not too shabby either, and her comprehension level is pretty high. She is so sharp!! I feel so blessed to be her companion, she is so good, so good. Though again I say, I don’t really feel like I am training her. I am more like showing her the hows and whats of missionary work, like this is the area book, and this is a progress record. She has got everything else. So cool!!! So COOL!!

Enough exclamation marks. We are both excited to go to Zone conference. We have been preparing ourselves for it as a companionship. We are coming to have our plate be filled and truly feast on the Lord’s word. Missionary work is exciting and challenging and fun. I can’t believe that I have been called to serve a mission here in the greatest mission ever, no quotation marks needed, among the greatest missionaries ever.

As for Hollywood Hills, I have had many thoughts relating to this area. The members need to become more involved and there needs to be no disconnect between the members and the missionaries, because in all honesty, missionaries are members too, just with a special calling to proselyte more. Hna. Hebdon and I are going to work really hard to get to know all of our members and get this ward in to gear. It is high time, and with a new fresh outlook on the work, this ward is in for a real treat. Member work is key. So we’ll keep you updated on all of that as time goes on.

That’s it for now,

Have a great week

Hermana Barros

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

takin' care of business, it's okay

This week has been so busy and it is only going to get busier... But I love being busy as a missionary. If you're not busy then you have to knock some doors, and that is never much fun because your rejection level just grew exponentially.

First, yesterday we did those fun unifying games that we did in Zone Conference with our auxiliary leaders, who hardly showed up, the bums!!! But those who did show up got the point and now want us to do it with everyone. It started a fire within them, which is what we wanted in the first place. But it was good. The are some good changes in the ward that we are seeing. That is a good feeling to know that that is all getting back into to order. I have really gone to love this ward. it was hard at first, really hard because of this missionary who came before me and kinda coddled the members in a fake form of unity. then the ward just collapsed, like Zarahemla right before Christ came again, or actually, more like the Nephites at the end of the Book of Mormon, the secret combinations were their downfall. this ward's downfall is gossip. With all of the terrmotos in the world right now you would think that the members would wake up and stop the gossipping and spend their time getting their food storage all in order, but no. they are too busy about what "what's her face" said or did and look at what she is wearing. i think that members of the church have two great problems that prevent us from creating Zion within our wards/units. the first one is complacency. Not all is well in Zion. we get fat and lazy and we start to purr--satan is good. he knows our weaknesses and mostly our lazinesses. do not be lukewarm or you will be like that scripture in Revelation, God will spew us out of His mouth those that are lukewarm. The second is the things we put directly in our view that are just complete and utter time wasters. we waste so much of our time, our greatest resource, in the vain attempt to secure for ourselves those things which moth and rust doth corrupt. stop wasting your time people!!! WoW!! I am a bit on the pulpit pounding side of things. just look at the pictures i sent, that will show you my lighter side. oh, and who is soo excited for General Conference in less than a month?!?!?! ME ME ME!!! It is going to be good.

Autn:reference -

Doctrine and Covenants 84:88 I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.

Tonight we have a baptism, Julisa. She was not very excited to be baptized, especially with a second interview “looming” over her head. But…after her time with President Acevedo, she was jumping off the wall, saying “he approved me to get baptized!” So, tonight we are going to have a great baptismal service. Elder Wardle is going to sing for the musical number. I didn’t know he could sing, I don’t think he knew he could sing either, but now we all know, the secret is out, and of course, I am going to utilize his little hidden talent.

Also, on Thursday we have another baptism. This is a guy who is less active, trying to come back into the church, and in his efforts they have discovered that his records do not exist. So, without a service, we are going to have another baptism on Thursday. My new companion and I will be teaching a lot in the first few days of her mission, which is what I wanted to have for her. I wanted her to be able to get out and teach the people as soon as possible because that is what I wanted when I got out into the field. I wanted to go and teach and talk to people and be a missionary. So, tomorrow, after some music practice, we are going out and teaching a whole lot of lessons. It is going to be a great day. I am soooooo excited! I am so ready for this, or so I think. I know that I might run into things that will test and try me, but I have learned some survival skills that will help me out through those little bumps and bruises. Nothing much else is happening. I am going to miss Sister Miller—it has been 6 months, poor thing doesn’t even kno0w her mission without me, but times come and go, and we’ll see each other later.

love love love love love

Hna. Barros

some items of business.

1. Tori--the EFY CD from 2009, i don't know what it is called, but it is so good. anyway, number 10 is my favorite. could you look it up and tell me who the singer is. i need to know his name. he sounds like a little more countrified version of damien rice. and, if you want to help a sister out, could you look up if he has any CD's out and then buy it for me and then send it to me???? please please please. i have wnated his CD for forever and now is my chance. please help me out!!

2. The ppictures are for your entertainment. When a sister turns 9 on the mission, or halfway, they take a pregnancy picture. here is acouple of them from my photo shoot. also, in the mission, when you train they call the trainee your "daughter" and you the "mom". ironically, i become a "mom" exactly when i turn 9. when i found this little bit of information out, from my companion, i laughed and laughed. anyway, enjoy. also, there are some pictures of the people i love the most here in Hollywood.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Someone Somewhere

Dear Readers,

Another week in Hollywood Hills. What a fun week it has been. I have seen so many miracles and my testimony has truly been strengthened as I have been more receptive to the spiritual promptings that I receive, and then act on them in a bold and loving manner. This change has been so great; I have seen a need to work more with the members which means that I actually have to get to know the members. And then, after a relationship has been created, BOOM!! The work moves so much more quickly. I have found that a really spiritual A(ctive)M(ember)T(raining) is the grease that moves the wheel of missionary work. It is so much easier to teach a member referral than to teach one of your own investigators. I wish I would’ve known that sooner, way sooner. But I guess it is better to know it now than in my second to last day. Hna. Miller and I have been working like we have never worked before and it feels good. Plus we are gaining member trust. I love the people here!! I love the work, and I love love love working with Latinos! Except when they offer you food that looks like nothing normal or like anything you have ever eaten before. Then, as you eat it, you find out that part of it is not edible but you can’t spit it out and so you have to chew and chew, drink some soda, which helps break it down, let it sit in your mouth until it is somewhat edible, then swallow before you have too much time to think about what you are really eating. Yes, this experience happened to me on Saturday night. What an experience. At least I am not in Bolivia or India. Mostly normal food here with some exotic flavors that I have learned to love!!! Cuban food—oh man. Best food ever! I can’t wait to bring some of you back here to see some of the sights, to taste the flavors and to meet some of the best people ever! Mom asked me about picking me up after the mission and that got me to thinking, plus I had an experience yesterday that emphasized the need for me to come back and see all of these people again. I want to come back not as a missionary so that I can hug everyone (some men included) that have helped me during my sweet time here in Florida. But, enough trunky talk. I am getting old, but I am not old enough to be talking like this.

We have a baptism coming up this week, one of the Elders’ old investigators. We are ALL excited to see Julisa get baptized. One thing that we have started to do is talk more about our investigators among ourselves as missionaries so that we can support and lend a hand when needed. This includes Hna. Miller and I AMT’ing a certain family who we know could be a great influence in the lives of one of the Elders’ investigators. The work is so much easier—duh!—when we all work together! I don’t know why it took us this long to figure it out, perhaps because we have all found success in other areas and then we come together with OUR OWN ideas without the ability to tweek it accordingly to fit the needs of our NEW ward. Whatever it was that changed us and our outlooks, I am grateful for it because missionary work is so much more enjoyable when you have a support system behind you and when that system grows larger and larger as more and more members become converted

Personal Notes:

Kacey, how amazing was the temple? How did you feel, with your sleeves all funky and everything? And how can you not wait to go back again and again! And how about less than a month till you get to the MTC and only two transfers until you get out into the field? And start praying for your trainer now. I am going to be a trainer in a week and man am I praying for my trainee. I hae actually known that I was going to train this transfer for a while now and I have been praying for my trainee this whole time, praying that she is happy, healthy, excited, and ready to work and deal with the new lifestyle. Yes, it is a completely new lifestyle. WOW!!! What a change and what a roller coaster you are in for, which they call your first transfer. You will be so exhausted every night, especially with the time change. My time change was nothing and it still kicked my rear. And the information overload that you are going to face—what did they say? What did I say? Was that right? Was that false doctrine because I conjugated a verb incorrectly? But, enjoy it. Love it, embrace it. It is hard, but it is so much fun because you have never ever lived closer to the Spirit and you have never born your testimony like you are going to do to the French. That is one thing that I love the most—bearing testimony frequently and often and having the Spirit testify to ME that what I am saying is true. People are ridiculous. Yes, very ridiculous. Their excuses are stupid. I love it when someone says something about me being a fool or whatever about the Book of Mormon and I could find almost that exact excuse in the Book of Mormon that a prophet prophesied about. Their stupidity is prophesied in the Book of Mormon. It truly was written for our days. It was written for everyone, it was written for missionaries and for the French, and for the humble and for everyone. Use the Book as the rich resource that it is and the Spirit for the guide that He can be if we live worthy to be conduits for His testifying power. It is going to be hard but oh soooooooo fun. Embrace it, love it, and write it down to treasure forever. I love. There is a packie in the mail coming to you this week. It has special instructions. Follow them with exactness.

Bishop Perkins: I love that men so much. He has been the best mentor I could’ve ever asked for. He is an inspired man who has helped me through the hardest times of my life. He says it how it is and he loves with such a pure love. I am so grateful for him. He is invited to my wedding, most definitely. He is one of my greatest friends, strongest supporters, and one of the best examples I have ever met. He will do splendidly in his new calling. I am only slightly jealous and sad, for selfish reasons, that he won’t be Bishop anymore when I get back and have to date again!! Yikes—dating, the real world. NOOOOOOO!!! . Anyway, I think that is all that I have for today. Have a good week. I love you all so very much.

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

Hna. Michayla Barros

Follow the yellow brick road...

Another great week in Hollywood Hills SOUTH!!! Yep, we have finally settled in, our plans are made, we have started meeting with the members and that relationship has been formed. Sometimes I feel like it is a precarious relationship, both sides waiting nervously for the other to either produce something or to botch it big time. What a fun, scary, thrilling, nerve-wracking time. Sometimes, as a missionary I feel like an underpaid, overworked baby-sitter. No, really. We have to make sure that people actually know what their calling is and then see if they do it, especially when it comes to our investigators/recent converts/inactives. Boys, do you remember that feeling. Walking into PEC or Ward correlation, just praying that an auxiliary leader actually remembered their assignment and that they actually did it? Or that stomach wrenching feeling right before Sacrament meeting, with a giant prayer in your heart, that one of the 50 or so people you invited to church actually made it. Or right after the Sacrament, when all of the late people flood in, hoping that one of your people will stumble in, looking completely lost until they see your face and their faces just light up. OH MAN, Sunday is the refiner’s fire, the day of judgment. If the final judgment is at all like a Sunday for a missionary, then I will have to use the bathroom before I get in line. It is just so nerve-wracking and exhausting. Then, to make matters worse, you don’t even get the traditional, and oh so needed, Sunday nap. In other words, it was a rough day yesterday. I find life as a missionary to be a highly humorous one because it is not reality, but more like a spiritual life on steroids.

Hna. Miller and I feel like we have three weeks to get this place moving, get the kinks worked out so if one of us has to leave, the other feels nice and tidy and ready to go. A large task, since really we only have 2 weeks to do it all in, but it is kinda fun at the same time. There is nothing better than starting over with a companion you know really well in a ward that already knows us. To say the least, we have been crazy busy and loving it. We have become more like sisters, hna. Miller and I. She and I even fight out loud. But then, after a nap and some food, we come together apologetically and move on. This happened yesterday actually. We were out contacting and there was some miscommunication. Someone said something to offend the other, the other got really mad and raised her voice. Then the first said something cutting. Then we both stopped. Looked at each other and said “This is where I am coming from.” The other responded, “Ok, this is what I was thinking.” Then we found a solution and actually found a couple of new people to work with. It was the craziest thing. Two months ago we would’ve given up and said nothing to each other for the rest of the day. I guess I am growing up and learning how to love people. I just hope that I can keep this temperament and use it when I get married because, let me tell you, if marriage is anything like having a companion, anything like it, than I am learning a lot of things about myself and how to work with someone, even when they might be dancing on your last nerve.

We really REALLY want to work with the members and start getting them self-sufficient. So, we are meeting every one of them, active or not. We really don’t know names, sadly, so this has been quite an adventure. That is our new phrase “I guess it is going to be an adventure!!” We say it whenever a wrong turn has been had, an address does not exist, or if someone hung up on us. Or, if a street needs to contacted on, but we have no stinkin’ idea where or why!! Most of the members are quite happy about the change, well…mostly the Relief Society. One mom even told us that she is so excited to have the missionaries come over and not be the only woman in the house. She then offered to hold an FHE this week with a couple of her friends because she thinks it would be fun. As long as there is a non-member there and we get to teach a little something something, ok. Then there a couple of inactives that are just thrilled that someone would call them up after so many years. We have seen so many tender mercies here, and though our numbers are a little on the small side, we feel peaceful and calm, knowing that we are doing the best we can with the resources we have. Plus, it was cool to actually know the Elder’s investigators because they used to be ours. Now the ward feels more like “ours” instead of yours and mine. Or, in other words, a little more like Zion. We still have challenges, this change has not magically fixed everything. But it feels like a good positive shake up for the ward and the missionaries.

There are so many more trailer parks in our new area. Some are pretty ghetto. Some are pretty normal and then some of them look like Trump lives in them. Those are usually the snow birds from Canada. There is one trailer park, it is huge, full of French speakers. They all drive really nice cars. Their trailers are pristine and beautiful. We even comment on how nice they look and if we would rather live in this one or that one. Then we stop ourselves and remember that it is a trailer park still. It is the funniest, most ironic things ever.

Talking about irony—I’ve got a great story. The other day my companion and I were having the worst day ever and we forgot to pack a lunch, so we decided to eat our feelings and eat something greasy. That all equated to McDonald’s (we both grew up a little more on the poor side, so going to McDonald’s as kids was quite a treat. We were looking for a treat at this time…). After we got our food and after everything was blessed we anxiously bit into our first greasy bite of a Big Mac meal. The McDonald’s we were in had two TV’s that would play the news. As we were eating this is what we heard from a CNN reporter:

“Bill Clinton was admitted into the hospital today after complaining of severe chest pains. As we all know, Clinton did not have the best eating habits. While in the Whitehouse he would jog to McDonald’s and then eat French fries, a Big Mac and a milkshake…”

We didn’t hear the rest, that was enough to ruin our treat. Well, not really. We just died laughing because when do you sit in a restaurant listening to negative information about that restaurant? Oh the irony!!

Hey, mom. We were teaching a man named Max in our old area. Ever since we met him I wanted to tell you about him, but I have forgotten until now. His name was Max, and we taught him. Then one day I asked what his last name was. “Medina.”

“Hey, it’s Max. Maaaaax Medina.” I said this to my companion then I had to explain where it came from. Now, whenever we talk about him we always say Maaaaax Medina. Funny.

Anyway. This letter wasn’t so serious, just a little more humorous. That is how our week has been. Ironic and humorous. I hope you enjoyed.

Love love love love love

Hermana Barros

PS—I got some great pictures—thanks!! And Brandon and Sarah. Thank you for the e-mail. I loved it. I sent you a post-card, but…when I put it into the irretrievable mailbox slot, I realized I didn’t fill the entire address out. So, there is the thought. I hope it counts. My little face fell as I realized, without the ability to fix my mistake, that I had made a huge error. Oh, and there is a picture attatched to this e-mail, just for little mr. Payton.

Love love love,

O sea, les amo--me