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Monday, September 22, 2014

Service Brings Joy (09/15/2014)

This past week has been a week of embracing the pure love of Christ.
We did SO much service that I am just simply exhausted.
On Tuesday, dead heading and digging up roots on the Medford Temple grounds -- 2 hours.
On Wednesday, Zone Conference! -- 7 hours. So wonderfully spiritual and I got to join in a demo of pouring water on an Elder's head. The point of the demonstration was filling an investigator's cup without overfilling or overwhelming their minds with too much gospel information at once while keeping our buckets full to answer their questions. President Russell said I was very enthusiastic since the Elder ended up being pretty damp after the demo.
Zone Conference - Central Point and Grants Pass Zones - Wednesday 09/10/2014
This is the Demo that Sister Duenas is talking about. Sis Duenas is not in this pic, but it's the only pic I could find of the Demo from one of the Oregon Eugene Mission Zone Conferences.
On Thursday, we helped a woman get ready for the city-wide yard sale -- 1 hour.
On Friday, tons of missionaries got to go to the church's Medford Pear Farm to help in the harvest of the Winter Pears! So so fun! Though we did have to get up at 6am instead of 6:30am. Hey, thirty minutes translates to an hour or more in missionary time, especially for sleep. We got to the Pear Farm at 7am and picked pears until 10:30'ish -- 3.5 hours.
<Mom Note: The Medford Pear Orchard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is one of 56 production projects of the LDS Church Welfare System. The Medford Pear Orchard provides pears for the church welfare system. Pears produced at the Medford Pear Orchard are processed and canned in church canneries and used throughout the U.S. to provide relief to needy families and humanitarian aid. Much of the work performed on the farm is done by local volunteers, including the harvest of over 1.5 million pounds of pears a year.>

Then lastly, on Saturday, we had our Central Point Stake Day of Service in honor of 9/11. We cleared a whole area of a river bank and put in a new gravel path -- 2.5 hours.
And then to the Food Pantry to feed homeless people -- 2 hours.
So all in all 18 hours of service for the entire week!
We were exhausted at the end, but felt so good to have helped out so many of God's children :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Central Point is awesome! (09/08/2014)

Hi! It's me!
So this is Central Point right now. Very, very smokey because there are two fires really near us. Lots of people stay inside because the smoke is so bad. These fires happen every year. Believe it or not, last summer was even worse. The fires are getting really bad, but those brave firefighters are keeping it under control. It's been smokey like this in Central Point for 4 days or so. Lots of older members only dare to go out of their house for church.
Central Point, OR - hazy smoke from the fires
We do have kitchen equipment in this apartment....well really it's just a toaster, microwave, stove/oven and a really bad blender. Other than that we don't really have anything to make stuff, for baking anyways. We have everything needed (for baking) but a mixer, so I can just suck it up and get a workout. It's more fun that way :)
President Russell is a great mission president, truly very caring toward all his missionaries.
Sister Haugen has been out on her mission for about 8 months. She is really great. She's helped me to become more hard working and we've been able to get a lot done this last week. Tons of lessons, one person on date and 5 new investigators! Great week indeed :) I only know three of the Elders and one of the Sisters in our Zone, but it's definitely a great one. We all get along and WANT to get to know more about each other and have fun together. Very excited for this "family" oriented District. Central Point is very similar to Grants Pass! And I LOVE it!!!
Photo on left - the girls want to be a Sister Missionary <3
Photo on right - Sister Duenas doing missionary planning for CP1 and CP2 wards.
I'm "Friending" all the missionaries that serve in the Greene Branch to show my appreciation and help them in their Facebook missionary efforts. I am hoping that, if we 'Like' each others posts, people back home in Greene will recognize me and might want to learn more from the missionaries serving in Greene. Though I was pretty much a hermit in high school, so probably not :)
We only got to clean the Medford Temple the one time my first week here and it's back open now, so we can't go in anymore (until the next OEM Temple Trip). But we still do work outside on the grounds to help beautify it and get it ready for next Spring :)

I found something pretty intense last night as I was reading (the Book of Mormon).
Jacob Chapter 2, verses 5-10 is super intense and an insight to me on how a prophet feels for the people and how heavy and important his calling is to the people. Many times the prophets and apostles want to speak to us of great, marvelous, and righteous, happy things, but they must speak first of repentance and warning no matter how many people are actually in the right or how fragile it'd be for them to hear about awful things going on around them. It most definitely helped me appreciate all our church leaders do for us.
There is a new policy for letters. We can't open them until Monday. We can open packages whenever, but if there is a letter inside, we still can't read it until Monday (Preparation Day). President Russell wants us to focus more on turning to the Lord for help and becoming stronger in relying on Him for the duration of our mission. I've come to the conclusion that it's a good thing.
Our next Zone Conference is on Wednesday for us and it will be at the Grants Pass Stake Center!! I am so excited! I hope I get to see some people from the Redwood Ward.
Love you!
Bye Bye!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

General Authority visit for Zone Conference (08/19/2014)

Hola mi Madre Bonita!
I took tons of General Authority notes which I will get to you next week. But just so you don't have to wait so long, I'll put down some of the coolest stuff now.....And yes, I got to sing in the Choir.
<Mom Note: Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Quorum of the Seventy and his wife visited the Oregon Eugene Mission Zone Conferences in August. Sister Duenas was in the Eugene Zone at the time - the Eugene Zone Conference was held on 08/19/2014.>
Eugene Zone Conference 8/19/2014 - Sister Duenas is in the 3rd Row, 7th person from the right side (in the green blouse)
Sister Nielson spoke first to the Sisters alone and it was awesome and so spirit filled. She spoke about how the (missionary) age change is very much part of the Lord's plan for hastening the work. The period between (the end of) high school and getting your own family (19-25ish) is the hardest part in a person's life. So many decisions to make that we need the Holy Ghost constantly with us. Being on a mission has helped to give more purpose to this hard time in my life. Sister Nielsen told us that this time/age range has been the hardest because she's seen so many people go away from the church at this age. It's been great to have this foundation in the Spirit so I can kinda skip over this difficult time period. <Mom Note: hmmmmm, not so much 'skip over', but more like continuing to build a more sure foundation to navigate through this period, but I'm sure that's what Sister Duenas meant :) >
FOUNDATION is EVERYTHING. No Foundation = No Purpose. No Purpose = No Bridling of passions. No Bridling = Mists of darkness. Foundation is Everything.
She also talked a lot about 'after mission' life, meaning looking for our Eternal companion. She gave some great advice. Returned Missionary does not always mean he's the best husband candidate. She encouraged us to look at how he holds and uses the priesthood, learn on your mission what a real, honorable priesthood holder looks like. Understand the doctrine of the family. This was very much stressed little by little through the whole conference. No matter your past you can make your own eternal family. Find someone to whom you can be equally yoked with. Don't marry a "project"! She said lots of other things, but I'll wait and let you check them week  8P
Random picture time to break up the reading :) Sister Haugen (middle) and Sister Duenas (right)
Elder Brent H. Nielson said a lot of stuff that I totally can't explain unless face to face, so I hope these notes will suffice. Here's a couple of good stuff though, again so you don't die of impatience.
"As missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we have no fear."
If an investigator (or really anyone) doesn't read the scriptures, pray or come to church, no revelation will come to them. "If they chose to do these things the heavens will not open to them." And we know that the heavens are open to everyone (that sincerely seeks guidance in prayer to Heavenly Father), because it came through a 14-year old farm boy. Not a Pope, minister, philosopher, ruler, etc. It came through a young farm boy - who was humble enough to ask and receive.
And lastly, John 7:17 (If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.) - to understand the doctrine, you have to do it. Give it more than a day or one try. Having desire and real intent when you do it will open up the heavens. That's it.
Sister Haugen is really great. She's been here one transfer and is teaching me the ropes of this area. I'm actually serving in two areas again - Central Point 1st Ward and Central Point 2nd Ward. Still trying to get to know everyone, but it'll be a while. Haven't had any talks. Nothing special for Labor Day, but a family is going to be feeding us.
Well, tomorrow's Tuesday, so we'll be doing temple yardwork, so that should rejuvenate me :)
Love you bunches!
Sister Kiana Duenas

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Love to See the Temple (09/01/2014)

My last Sunday in Eugene, I got to have dinner at the Bishop's house and they had a plate that said "You Are Special Today" since they knew I was going to be leaving. They are great and the Ward was great. I'm sad to leave it behind, but I know that the other Sisters will do great things with them :)  And I know that I'm down here in Central Point for a good purpose, so I'm excited to get on with new miracles, new experiences and new people to help Heavenly Father bless :)
The woman I helped before to get her patio clean, by scraping, dusting and sweeping for a couple of hours back in Eugene, was getting ready for a garage sale. When we were looking through the boxes we found the sparring gloves. So....ya know I HAD to try them on :) with my second best 'tough face'. You don't want to see the first best ;)   <Mom Note: It's been a few years, but I wonder if she realized that she automatically assumed the sparring stance from her former karate days (although significantly less fierce than she used to be ;)  >
Transfer Day (last week). It was crazy! I, being the procrastinator that I am (don't worry the mission is fixing it), didn't get my packing done 'til midnight the night before I had to leave. We got up at 6am, finished up the last bits of packing, got to the transfer site at 7:30am and left around 8 or 9 something. Seriously I can't even remember what time we left. There were so many missionaries to say goodbye to and I was just exhausted. We drove straight down from Eugene to Medford and arrived at 11:30am or something I think (again that day was such a blur). We just had a rest stop along the way and no drop offs. A lot of missionaries I was with were all going down south <Mom Note: 'south' = southern Oregon and northern California>, so we didn't have to drop people anywhere else....for example, Eagle Point, Medford, Etna (in California), Grants Pass.
So, Central Point is like a flatter version of Binghamton I guess. I'm grateful I got a hand-me-down GPS, otherwise I'd have no idea where I was and how to get anywhere. The streets here are so twisty, with random dead ends and barriers. Eugene had a sort of grid system so it was much easier. Central Point has a lot of fast food restaurants: BK, Taco Bell, McD, Subway, Arby's, BUT NO WENDYS!! How am I to live without a Baconator every couple of weeks?! I think I'll just curl up in a ball in a corner until transfers come around again.
So HECK YEAH! BOOYAH!!! The <Medford> Temple is IN my area! And even better I see it every day since it's right next to my church building! Even better! We get to do temple yard work every Tuesday! And better again! The temple is closed for cleaning for two weeks right now and we get to help clean inside the Celestial room!! This is truly a blessed area and I am soooo happy all the time now with the temple so literally always in sight :)

We work there 2 hours every time. Last time we transplanted 15 or so bushes. It was hard work, but it felt sooo good to just do some more physical work instead of sitting and walking all the time. I also got a bit determined when I saw some blackberry bushes trying to intrude on the temple grounds. Let's just say they won't be coming back anytime soon, at least if I have anything to say about it ;)  <Mom Note: and the Score is....Kiana 1: Blackberry bushes 0....bahahahaha!!! Take that Blackberry bushes! You are no match for my determined daughter!> The older lady we were helping with the temple yard work was very appreciative since she didn't know how she was going to get the blackberry bushes out of there since they were so thick. Glad I learned something from the farm and gardening work over the years :) I removed the Blackberry bushes with a really dull old shovel. I feel bad that Sister Haugen did a bit more of the transplanting, but those Blackberry bushes just simply were NOT supposed to be there so I....removed them :} mwahhahahaha!
Mom, let me just say...You are AWESOME! You truly found something great in your studies of charity. Many of the talks and lessons in training and stuff have been surrounding charity so that's pretty awesome that it's what you were studying. I'll totally be putting this stuff in my own study notes. It's really great how Heavenly Father is keeping us so together :)
Some notes from my last Zone Training Meeting in Eugene earlier in August:
We got to hear from two awesome Elders who will be going home soon.
Elder Kwok talked about having a testimony of your mission; Make sure you personalize it and savor it. Let it change you, "don't go through the mission, let the mission go through you". Work hard and leave some of yourself behind in each area. If we want to be a successful missionary we must love our Savior and learn to recognize and rely wholeheartedly on the Spirit. Doctrine & Covenants 43: verses 34-35 "Hearken ye to these words. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Treasure these things up in your hearts, and let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds. Be sober. Keep all my commandments. Even so, Amen." <-- super great verses about keeping what's important in mind. I love how the teachings of the Gospel are just so simple. "Be sober. Keep my commandments."
Elder Briggs talked about love. In the Book of Mormon, Enos Chapter 1 discusses types of love. Verses 1-4 - love of God, family and himself. Love yourself. Have self-confidence. "Be happy with the effort you give every day." Verses 5-8 - You are ok, now go to work. Verse 9 - You and your faith is solid, now focus and fill others. Pray specifically. Verses 10-13 - Pray often for everyone. "Pray for that love. Love is a gift" <-Elder Kwok comment. Remember--> LOVE is the MOTIVE.
There was a little lesson on sacrifice and they shared some pretty great scriptures. Doctrine & Covenants 59:8, Doctrine & Covenants 97:8-9 (super loved) and Matthew 10:34, 37-39 (always a classic). "We are missionaries called of God. We put Christ first." <--Elder Roy (Zone Leader) comment.
Love you!