Monday, November 21, 2016

Bye, Bella Vista

Hello my amazing family (and friends),

So much happened this week that I hardly know where to begin. My last couple of days in my dear Bella Vista Zone where memorable for sure.  It's funny, when I first got to that zone, I thought, "This will never compare to Desert Ridge." I was so wrong. I had an amazing zone and an amazing area.

We had a couple lunches as a zone right before I left, and I'm not sure I could tell you how much I adore these wonderful people without making your computer explode somehow.  We've all gotten so close and it's just so good.  I had one funny story about an Elder in my zone named Elder Carias.  He's from El Salvador and didn't know any English before he came to Arizona. Even though he is a Spanish missionary, he has incredibly good English.  I have so much respect for people who have to learn other languages, and I also really enjoy hearing them when they don't know words.  During the last zone lunch I had, we played the game where someone closes their eyes, spins around until they stop to point at another player who is sitting in the circle around them, and then they give them an animal sound to make.  Then the person with their eyes closed has to guess who made the animal sound.  It was a lot of fun with Elder Carias.  At one point, someone pointed at him and told him that his animal was Lion.  He sits there for a little bit, then laughs and says, "I don't know. What is that?"  It was a good laugh for everyone, and we just had a lot of fun that day.

Of course, that's just one of the many examples of my amazing zone.  I also have had so much fun with the ward I was serving in.  On Monday night, we spent the evening with Tiffany and her family to teach them how to hold a Family Home Evening.  It was chaotic and so much fun.  We were telling the story of Nephi building a boat, and half way through, somehow Laman turned into a Frenchman. We could not stop laughing. Meanwhile, Tiffany's poor husband was sitting there so confused at what we were all laughing at since he's not a member yet.  I hope they continue to have family home evenings.  Those are so good.  At the end, the girls just said their nightly prayers as part of the closing prayer.  Kaitlyn, Tiffany's 3-year-old was praying and saying thank you for her mom and her dad and her sister, then she says, "Thank you for my Sabey. Thank you for my Gray."  We think "her Gray" is Sister Kranc.  It was adorable, and of course, now that Kaitlyn knows my name, I had to say goodbye to that amazing family.

Another wonderful family that I reluctantly had to say goodbye to was the Baileys.  I love the Baileys.  I remember when I first got to Bella Vista Zone, the first time I met the Baileys, I knew I was just going to love them.  I got really close to their daughter, Calypsi, so it was so hard to say goodbye to them, as well as all the other inspiring people I love in that area.
Now I'm sure you are all wondering where I was transferred to.  Well, funny story about that.  I got an email from President a week or so ago asking what my honest feelings and opinions were on going Spanish. What? So I knew that was a possibility, especially because several Spanish missionaries kept telling me that they had told President that he should send me Spanish.  I pretty much told him I am happy to serve where the Lord needs me, but if He casually did need me Spanish, I have all the language study materials ready to go.  Well, transfer calls came, and I did get transferred as I mentioned, but the Lord needed me English still, so I am ready to go.  Hermana Cedeño from Venezuela was bummed about that.  It made me happy that President thought I could be ready to serve Spanish if the Lord needs me there.

Now I am in the Highland Zone, which means that for the first time while on the mission, I am actually serving in the town of Gilbert.  My companion is Sister Miller from Bountiful, Utah.  She has been out for three months, which means that I am the senior companion and I don't know who thought that was a good idea.  Anyways, Sister Miller is wonderful.  She is so much like me that it's almost scary.  Sister Miller and I cover three wards and we have two people on date and lots of opportunities to find.  I remember when I was sent south to Bella Vista, I thought I was experiencing culture shock going there.  I've changed my mind.  It is a much bigger culture shock going from "South" to "North" than "North" to "South".  People actually have grass in their yards here (most of Arizona, people just have rocks to save on water expenses), and I look at it like, "What is this luxurious lifestyle??"  The members here are wonderful and I'm excited to get to know them.

We have been focusing on inviting members to invite their friends to the Mesa Temple Christmas Lights.  We had a cool experience with that.  One of the first people I visited here was a less-active member named Sister Frost.  She is so funny!  She has a testimony, but she is very straight about the fact that she is as inactive as the day is long.  We had a good talk with her and got to know her, and right before it was time to go, we asked to share a scripture with her.  I shared that and asked her to invite a friend to the Mesa Lights who needed the peace that Jesus Christ can bring into our lives. As soon as that happened, the mood in the room did a complete 180.  All of a sudden, the Spirit was there so strongly, and she admitted, "I've actually been thinking a lot about a friend these last few days" and started tearing up.  She committed that she would invite her friend, and it was so cool just to see her feel the Spirit so suddenly and so strongly.

Speaking of Mesa Lights, Sister Miller and I, as well as the other two companionships that we live with, to help out at the Mesa Lights this year!  It's pretty big because usually it's only Arizona Mesa Mission missionaries that get to help, but this year they invited some missionaries from Scottsdale mission, Tempe Mission, and the Arizona Gilbert Mission!  We are super excited.  We got to leave the mission to go to the Mesa Temple for some training the other day, and it sounds like we will be getting to work at the Mesa Lights about one night each week for the month of December.  I am beyond excited.  I miss seeing Salt Lake Temple Lights, so this is like a little piece of home . . . but warmer.

We have also got to help at the Gilbert Days Parade the other day, so I got to see a couple of marching bands in the parade, and it was just fun to do service in the community.  I'm excited to be here in the Highland Zone.

One side note, Sister Sprouse has gone to Florence (where she's always wanted to serve), and she is a Sister Training Leader now!!  My missionary heritage is a pretty amazing one.  Anyways, I love you, Family!  I miss you, I pray for you, and I love you more than I can possibly say!  Can't wait to hear from you!

Sister Emily

Sister Bailey and Calypsi


Mi compañera nueva

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