Please see the "Keys" story below for an explanation!
Monday, August 26, 2013
Dear Family y Friends,
Hola otra vez de Texas!
There are two main stories I wanted to share from this week: The Keys and E. Those are the names of my two stories. I’m considering writing short stories, not really, I’m just trying to be funny. Okay, ready?
So we live in a pretty sketchy part of Houston, right? You've heard the stories. And there are also many more that I choose not to share of scary things that have happened to us. So, as soon as we come in our house we double bolt lock the door and then go into our room and lock the door to our room as well. Well, this is difficult to describe over email, but my bed is right next to the window of our bedroom (as in, my face hits the blinds all during the night) and that window is right next to the front door – but not "next to" as in on the same wall. The door leads into the living room, but you walk down the hall and do a little turny turn and then the window is on the right wall and the door is in the left wall (divided by some more wall and water heaters and such). Okay, so now that you are all thoroughly confused, I will proceed with my story.
One night we come home, plan, go to bed and go to sleep. Well, they go to sleep; I never sleep haha. So, at about one in the morning, Hna Koch woke up to go to the bathroom. I was still awake and Hna Parry is out like a rock, when all of the sudden there is a knock at the door. I hear it, but choose not to talk nor move because the window, even though covered by blinds, is still right next to where whomever is knocking on our door is standing. Hna Koch then says in a loud whisper, and for anyone who has ever been in dangerous situations whispering seems to always be louder than talking, "Someone just knocked on our door." This comment wakes Hna Parry up. By this time, I have concluded that there are two men standing outside our door . . . at 1 am. They are talking about the stuff on our door [a picture of Jesus and a sign that says no smoking . . . I was really tired of 1) always smelling like smoke; and, 2) feeling like I was developing lung cancer]. They proceed to knock 2 more times, and that is a total of 3 knocks for anyone counting, each knock growing louder and louder. By this time, I am plotting ways to save us. These ways included throwing the girls into the closet, arming them with various make-shift weapons as I go to conquer the enemy by hitting them over the head, after being cleverly hid, clearly, with my "Bubba Gump" cup – that really is more of a weapon than it is a cup. All of the sudden they start banging on the window. Let me remind you, I am laying RIGHT NEXT TO the window. If the window wasn't dividing us, they would be touching my face in that moment. So, needless to say, I think I am about to have a heart attack when they well: "YO!!! YO KEYS A AHN DA MAT!"
That's right folks. Our keys, to our home, car, etc., had been IN OUR DOOR all night long and these kind people, whom we thought were there to kill us, found it a pressing enough . . . I don't know how to speak in English [editor’s note: Brian, just for you, I am sure] . . . matter to violently bang on our window and wake us up and let us know that 1) our keys were NOT in our house, and 2) they had placed them on the mat.
The Lord protects us.
P.S. After waiting to make sure they were gone and no one was waiting for us outside our house, we retrieved the keys.
Does everyone remember M and F? They are/were our golden investigators that got ignored at church and decided not to get baptized? Well after a long, painful 6 weeks we FINALLY got to see them again yesterday. :) AHHHHHHH, it was a joyous reunion. It was sad to see that so much of their progress had been regressed, but so good to see that some of the things were still holding strong. (F IS STILL READING THE BOOK OF MORMON <3) However last night, we got to meet E. E is their granddaughter’s boyfriend who just got out of jail. He is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He is genuine and kind and a good, good man. He is 24 years old. He is under house arrest right now and is living with M and F. His son was born a week after he was locked up (is that not the saddest thing you have ever heard in your entire life) and is now 8 years old. We started talking to him about religion. He talked to us about how he found God while he was in jail and decided to change his life. We talked to him about the Book of Mormon and so forth. We read one passage at one point and asked him what he thought and he says: "You know, to be honest, I usually say a prayer before I read the Bible or anything to ask for understanding, but we didn't pray so I didn't really understand very much." All of us Hermanas just looked at each other like, "WE ARE THE WORST MISSIONARIES IN THE WORLD. WHY DIDNT WE START WITH A PRAYER LIKE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO?" Lesson learned. So we prayed. After our lesson we ran to the car to get a Book of Mormon for him. When we came back he was standing on the lawn and he said that as we walked away F told him about when we first met him and then pointed to us and said, "Those are my angels; don't forget it. They are angels" (*crying break* -- I love F so much). Then E said, "You know I hope this isn't weird to say, but every time I feel the Holy Spirit I get chills like, on my arms right here. And it was weird today. I was actually sleeping and then I felt those chills and it woke me up. Then the next thing I heard was your voices in the dining room." I think that is pretty self-explanatory. I LOVE being a missionary. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. The Church is TRUE people!
Whelp that's all folks! (*best bugs bunny voice*)
PPS: Transfers are this week and if I or Hna Parry leave I am going to cry my little eyes out. How did I get so lucky to have the BEST companions in the world thus far? Hna Howard? Awesome. Hna Parry? Best friends. Hna Koch? She got added to the mix and now President refers to us as the "Celestial Kingdom." They say you make your best friends on the mission. They say correctly. I LOVE HERMANA PARRY AND KOCH SO MUCH. I can’t wait for you all to meet them. You’ll love them.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Monday, August 19, 2013
August 19, 2013
There were a couple different things I wanted to title this email, which was a nice change since the past few weeks I could come up with nothing.
I’ve been out for 5 months this past week. Time has literally flown. Remember how my mission was practically 1/3 over? Yeahhh, me either . . . at least I try not to. I’m also not a new missionary anymore. Alllllso -- definitely supposed to be fluent by next month? Well.....
This week I held 5 day-old puppies whose eyes hadn't even opened yet. Needless to say, it was quite possibly the happiest day of my life.
Okay, now to address the title of my email. Houston. No, not Houston as in the place, but Houston as in the boy. I don't even know if I have words to describe Houston, but I can say that my heart has changed because of him. I used to say, "This person has a special place in my heart.” But, with Houston it is more like, "Houston has given me a new heart just for him." He is 5 years old and has the light of Christ so strongly. He lives with his Grandmother because his mother [has difficulties]. He is as smart as a whip. He just wants to learn about everything and anything. His Grandmother [while] a nice woman, is old and has no patience. In addition to that she is a heavy smoker--bless Houston's heart.
We went over yesterday and Hermanas Parry and Koch were keeping D (the Grandmother) occupied while I sat and talked/read/colored with my little Houston. As we were coloring, just he and I, I wrote "I <3 U" on one of the pictures. He turns to me and goes, "What does that mean?" I said, "Well, that means I love you." He then turns and throws his little arms around my neck and as he nuzzles into my neck goes, "I love you, too . . . please don't leave me." I can say that I have never been more heartbroken than at that moment. Sometimes as I think about my call as I missionary, I am growing less and less convinced that I was called to Houston, TX, and more and more convinced I was called to Houston.
Monday, August 12, 2013
These pictures were sent by Hermana Burnham via Hermana Koch (center). I will include Hermana Koch's captions.
"Classic, I found a hair of Hna B's on me, haha.
I'm so happy Elder Cobabe got this picture, hahaha"
Hna Burnham: "Look at me and my cute companions. :)
Doesn't it look like we are trying to take senior pictures?"
Doesn't it look like we are trying to take senior pictures?"
Hna Koch: "Awkward don't know what to say caption, hahaha.
We found a cute wall at the pulga?"
August 12, 2013
So I ate a habanero. It was the most painful experience I have yet to pass though in this mortal sojourn on earth. You know those pictures with steam coming out people’s ears? That actually happens. Well, steam didn't come out my ears, but OW my ears hurt so bad--that was the worst part. I wouldn't suggest eating a straight habanero pepper; most natives don't even do that. It is painful. Not worth it. Why can I not pass up dares when it comes to eating things? First the orange peel incident at the MTC, now this. At least that family really likes me now....or maybe that is just me wishfully thinking that me almost dying in their house somehow bonded us.
Speaking of food, I ate the most delicious thing that has ever graced my mouth before: Hna Escobar's tortillas. I am not exaggerating one jot nor tittle when I say that they are the greatest thing I have ever eaten and quite possibly will ever eat. I want her to cater my wedding with JUST tortillas. You might be thinking "Umm, Alivia, people would get so tired on eating tortillas." But, I am here to tell you that my wedding would be the hit of the century and we would not be able to get people to leave. We would probably have a news crew show up. THEY ARE SO GOOD YOU GUYS. I might serve them as my wedding cake because there is no cake that could be better than just eating one of these tortillas. I am nominating her for some kind of famous cooking award as soon as I get home. Shoot.
On a more Spiritual note, this week was a good one. It was one of those weeks where nothing like "WOAHHHH" happened, but nothing bad happened, just a lot of good. For example, this week we sang at the pulga. :) Pulga is Spanish for flea . . . or flea market. It is 99.9% Hispanic and EVERYONE spends Sat and Sun there. It is the place to be. It is the biggest flea market I have ever seen. So some of our district decided to go and sing. We found an empty booth, stood and sang hymns. People passed, watched, were given tarjetas, and we got a ton of referrals. It was awesome. We even found a long lost member of the Church who was in the booth across from where we were singing. She was baptized in Mexico, but had never found the Church here. She has lived here for 20 years. We think we are going to start singing every week -- try to draw a crowd. Elder Knudsen (an Elder who came into our district this transfer) is basically a Broadway star, so it is very possible that we could draw a crowd.
Also, we had something awesome happen yesterday! So, we were about to leave for church and we thought, "We just really need to go to Alex's house and MAKE him come to church, tell him to follow us there, get him to wake up, just get him to church!" So, we drove to his house at 10:00 am (church starts at 11) and knock on his door. His brother, Omar, and Omar's friend (whose name I cannot recall, and for the sake of this email will be called Billy) answer the door. They told us Alex was asleep, but said that they wanted to come to church! Omar said, "It's weird that you guys are here, because I was actually thinking that I really wanted to go to church." So, they promised they would come to church and then we left. We got to church. Church started. Opening Hymn. Sacrament. First talk. Where the heck are Omar and Billy? We were getting a little down when all of the sudden, in walk Omar and Billy! Whoohoo! Billy speaks zero Spanish and Omar hasn't spoken Spanish in so long that he basically doesn't either. Needless to say, they didn't understand anything that happened in Sacrament meeting! But, we happened to be teaching the youth 2nd hour and even though Omar and Billy are 20, they decided to come to our class. Well, awkward, because the subject we had felt inspired to talk to the class about was Chastity. But, the lesson went really well! Omar ate it up. He thought it was great and after he read a verse from the Book of Mormon, from the class, he goes, "Well....if it is in here it must be true!" That is an attitude I invite you all to adopt. "If it is in here, it must be true!"
The work of the Lord moves ever onward. No unhallowed hand can stop this work from progressing. Man is it good or what?
Love you all!
Monday, August 5, 2013
August 5, 2013
Dear Family and Friends,
Dear Family and Friends,
So, I will start off this letter with one of the highlights of my week. It happened on a sunny boiling hot Tuesday at the home of Cesar Cordova. Cesar is a menos activo who we could not get in with to save our lives. But, we decided to knock on his house for the 356th time. His mom answered and invited us in we talked to her for a few minutes. (She is more interested in one of us marrying her son than she is in the gospel. He is 36 . . . if anyone is interested to know that.) Then, Hna Parry had to go move the car and Hna Koch had to mediate and be half in the house/half watching her (having three companions makes things a lot easier), and so I was left alone to talk with Antonia. We were just chatting about food because she was cooking and I had told her how much I loved to cook. So, we are just chatting about life and she turns to me and says . . . wait for it . . ."Do you speak English?" SHE ASKED ME IF I SPOKE ENGLISH YOU GUYS. It was the happiest moment of my entire life. Granted we had only been talking for like 5 minutes, and I'm sure in a short amount of time it was VERY apparent that I do not speak Spanish, but rather speak English, but she ASKED ME IF I SPOKE ENGLISH! What a happy moment – and a tender mercy from the Lord to cheer me up about learning Spanish, for sure.
This week has been a good one. It wasn't filled with anything overtly miraculous, nor anything terribly sad. We worked hard, pounded pavement and tried our hardest to follow the will of the Lord. I know that I have been saying this for like 2 transfers now, but Gulf Bank is about to take off. As a missionary, it is like you see everything and everyone around with eternal potential and you just look at the world with spiritual eyes. You can just see and feel the potential this place has. It is like we are sitting at the starting gates with the fastest race horse just waiting for the gate to open. Missionary work is so exciting! And I love it, every single second of it, even the parts that are hard. I love it because I know I will never get to have these experiences again. Every time something hard happens I think, "Whoa, I just had a super hard missionary experience; I can’t believe I’m a missionary! This is great!" Life is easier when you are just happy. So my advice this week . . . just be happy.
I love you all! :)