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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Take Into Account ALL The Words of God (12/22/2014)

Hi Mother Dearest!
Yes, the horse...I think his name is Jericho, or something like that. Oh, trust me, it's taken a while before I got to the point of not being afraid of it. I just think of it as a big, big, super big dog and stand as still as possible, and things seem to go ok :) Nope, I haven't ridden the horse, it is against missionary handbook rules to go horseback riding.

Still doing yard work for the temple. Since it's still in the upper fifties here, we do anything for yard work still. We've planted a lot of flowers and fluffy bush thingies, spread/dug up dirt so plants can breathe and stuff, dug up crazy stubborn bush things and deadheaded and watered things. The lady is the groundskeeper/landscaper for the temple, Sister Clayson. We absolutely love her :) We saw a picture of what the temple grounds looked like before all the yard work and it is a ton better than it was. Sister Clayson and Brother Gorze (the maintenance president guy) always shake their heads whenever they remember how it used to be. There is a cute little nativity on the grounds too that Sister Hall and I want to take a picture with/of but keep forgetting. I'l make sure to get one soon.
The warm'ish weather (upper fifties in December) is totally normal for the area I guess. I miss snow so bad!!!
Sister Hall, Sister Clayson, Sister Duenas - in service clothes due to yard work at the Medford Temple
The song for District Meeting was pretty good actually. We sang "Mary Did you Know?" in parts and no one was wincing so I think that means it went well :)
I made the Grinch Cookies for the CP2nd Ward Christmas party and, because people didn't know what they were, I still had some left over. Silly people :) But the Elders were excited about it since they now get them. The people that tried them at the Christmas party liked them though.

That's super cool that you're in the primary now! Don't worry you'll do great! It's just a lot of patience and educational/fun activities. All of the songs are pretty catchy so you'll learn them fast and likely won't get them out of your head for a while hehehe :P
No, I haven't gotten too many Christmas cards or anything from other people back home. I think most sent a birthday card and were done, which is totally fine :)
No new investigators, but we have a couple cool challenges for Christmas this week from President Russell.
1- send out 6 letters of love to Less Actives to invite them back to full activity.
2- give a goody bag to a homeless person and invite them to learn about the gospel or come to church. (I think we'll put in the goody bag some cookies, a hat and scarf and Sister Hall might give some of her hand warmers too.)
3- be observant and make a miracle happen for someone this Christmas.
He told us these things in a conference call last night and we are all super excited, or at least I am. Especially since Sister Hall and I have already been doing these things in a way, now we just have even more purpose :)
Lots of missionaries are getting hurt the past few months and just not being smart. Though from the stories that Pres Young shared with us about the craziness of his time as mission president, these things are normal to happen, if not entirely preventable. They have definitely been feeling the stress of being mission parents. Lots of prayers for them.
I haven't been able to look at all the college major info yet, but from what I've seen, I like it. And for some reason, as I was doing the college essays, the deaf language studies stuck out a little more for me. It'd be a really great thing for me to study. I'd always be paying attention and it's something beautiful that I could share with others too. Maybe I can combine it with Special Ed and ASL, though I am leaning more toward the ASL. It would take lots of effort, but the kind that isn't super scary for me. I'd still be DOING something instead of sitting at a desk somewhere all day every day, and I think ASL is really beautiful, so I'd love to learn it.
Thank you, Mom, for the Christmas lights and thank you, Lynne, for the white Christmas tree :)
Another crazy story from last week, it was a weird experience, but it still helped to strengthen my and Sister Hall's testimony. We went to see a potential investigator that we thought would be a great investigator. This man was super nice at first and he listened to us when we asked if he'd like to learn more about the restored gospel and the blessings it has to offer his family. He then asked us what in the world we'd ever have to teach him about the scriptures and the gospel since he is in his 50's and we are just kids. He asked us to tell him what the gospel consisted of. We told him (1) Faith in Jesus Christ (which he agreed with and said he didn't need to know any more about), so then we started to talk about (2) Repentance and change for our progression to become like our Father in Heaven. His response will forever be with me. The man said, "Jesus redeemed and atoned for us, so we no longer need to be subject to the Father. We are perfect and God no longer has a right to judge us."
It hurt our hearts so much to hear such a thing.....To love Jesus so much, and yet disrespect Him and our Father in Heaven (God), and deny the true purpose and power of the Atonement that Christ went through for each of us. We just didn't understand how the man could think this, but all of this was made clear to us when the man told us that he only focuses on one chapter in the Bible as his basis for not repenting, Romans 9, talking about faith and how we must have it if we are to get back into His presence. I am grateful for the Gospel and for learning and taking into account ALL the words of God, and for the fullness of the Gospel that we have, to bless our families' lives and our individual lives continually.
okie dokie, I gots ta go now. Bye Bye, Love you!!!!! Merry (early) Christmas!!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Always Be Kind (12/15/2014)

Holo Mumzy!
First things first, yes, I have found a place to do the Christmas call. Super nice people, the Day family. The Days are super wonderful. Sister Day is our Gospel Principles teacher and she's amazing at it. Lots of participation and fun learning. Also made our hamburger rice and peas dish for them last night. I did not take a picture of it though because, even though they found it scrumptious, I KNEW I had done it wrong and it wasn't what it was supposed to taste like. I accidentally overcooked the rice, so it came out a bit mushy :( But they said it tasted really good and when I said I'd take it home with me so they didn't have to eat the rest of it they "Definitely NOT. That's our dinner tomorrow!" So I guess they really did like it, though if I had more time I'd make it the right way for them and drop it off so they knew what they were truly missing. <my pride kinda hurts if ya can't tell >
I am on early because we have to go to practice singing "Mary Did You Know?" with a couple of members around 1:30. Good thing both Sister Hall and I know the song. We will be singing it for District meeting this week.
No service projects other than the food pantry still, but we've had one ward Christmas party so far and a wonderful Christmas Cantata. Amazing singing that could totally compete with the MoTab (Mormon Tabernacle Choir)... well maybe not quite, but they were super good.
Yes, we got the letters from Zone Conference. It was a nice surprise for all of us! I absolutely LOVED his <Jim's> letter tell him I was really grateful for it. He has a beautiful testimony :)
Zone was good and spiritual. We learned a lot about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, just testimony strengthening stuff and more basic doctrine things. It's really nice the things we feel and the strength that we get from Zone Conference. Although, I would love more lessons on how to incorporate what we learn into our teaching efforts.
I got the box and the Christmas lights are already up, and the fingerless mittens were worn to keep my "fingies" warm in church yesterday. Went shopping and got the ingredients for the cookies. Will be making the brownies, Grinch cookies, my cookies, the apple thingy and the cream cheese brownie cookies for my last two weeks in Central Point, true I don't know that I'm leaving, but it's like a 100 to 1 ratio, sooooo.
Sister Duenas at the Medford, Oregon Temple

I've also prepared a couple boxes to send home with Christmas presents inside too ;)
Yes, I got the box of chocolate from Gma......yep :) muy delicioso :)
We have had some pretty ridiculous experiences this past week. First we ran into three crazy people (all at separate times) who were very much against the church.
We were leaving our investigator's house and on our way to our car and we saw an older lady (kinda homeless looking and sad) sitting on a half wall by our car. Of course, everyone must know that if you sit, stand or walk anywhere near a missionary's car you WILL be spoken to ;) This lady did NOT want to be spoken to at all. We said hi and she went off in saying she doesn't want to be bothered by brainwashed kids. We told her that we are missionaries anyway and asked if she's having a good day. She replied that she isn't anymore and how do we know she wasn't praying when we so rudely interrupted her and said Hi? She yelled at us some other things about how we believe in Christ way too much and we are so radical and obsessed with Him. She just kept telling us to go away and when weren't walking fast enough for her she started yelling that we better not ever talk to her ever again. I sweetly said that we won't talk to her if she wishes it, but we will say Hi and wish her a good day if we do because of course that's something a follower of Christ would do. She had nothing to say to that and so we wished her a beautiful day, got in our car and left :)       KINDNESS STRIKES AGAIN!!!  :)
"Love and respect will overcome every element of animosity. Our kindness may be the most persuasive argument for that which we believe." - President Gordon B. Hinckley
Signing off now since we have to go sing, but I will try to send the rest of the experiences, which were crazy good, another time.
Love you,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Central Point Ward is Awesome (12/08/2014)

Hi Mumzy!
Yes, I promise to be nice, observant and compassionate this Christmas :)
The First Presidency Christmas Devotional was pretty great. I really loved President Eyring's talk. We got to go to a member's house to watch it so we were nice and comfy with some chocolate cake :)
Sister Hall and Sister Duenas with the Bishop's family
I will be sending Lynn her card very soon with all the Christmas cards. Also, I plan on sending a package of extra stuff back home since transfers are coming up and its highly unlikely I'll be staying here :(    It's actually interesting, the Ward council is making a small contingency plan for when I go. There are a couple of people that have been able to come back and since I've been in the area longest they've kinda made an attachment to me. The Ward council wants to prepare for a  potential fall out once I'm gone (potentially after Christmas transfers). Especially Nikki, since she might not truly understand why I'm leaving. Anyways, I just really love this Ward. It's been the best Ward I've served in so far. Everyone is so considerate and work together in everything they do. Very good balance of responsibility and hard workers here and tons and tons of love. No matter what happens everyone is taken care of.
ZTM (Zone Training Meeting) and Zone Conference are two different things. ZTM is just missionaries being taught by the Zone leaders and STLs (Sister Training Leaders) and lasts about 3 hrs, whereas Zone Conference is by the Mission Pres, one of his counselors and the APs (Assistants to the President) and lasts about 5-6 hrs. We learned lots of good stuff at the ZTM.....we learned a lot about how to use this season to find tons of people and help others in the Ward come closer to the spirit of Christ, and we are all excited to get the Share the Gift initiative into high speed action :)  Just look on You-Tube and the biggest Ad up top and you can see what it is ;)  Hopefully the missionaries at home have shared it with you and the whole branch.
I made my cookies for the ZTM instead of the apple-cinnamon bites. I'll make that for a Ward Christmas party. Everyone loved the cookies of course. One of the Sisters asked for the recipe, but I said its secret ;)   The cookies came out super good this time. Usually I get about 3 1/2 dozen cookies out of it, but this time I got 57 cookies and they were all pretty good size for a little treat. I have been commissioned to make more for next district meeting and for someone's birthday too.....hahaha.
Cookie batter for the cookies Sister Duenas made for Zone Training Meeting
We got to go to the temple last week!!! It was so nice to go. It was even more special in a small way because the person I went through for was from New York while everyone else's were foreign. Just a little tender mercy at the temple :)
I took tons of pictures that I will make sure to send you soon. 
For Nikki the MS makes her weaker than usual for holding herself up and it prevents her from getting things from her brain to her mouth. She has a hard time speaking, whenever she wants to agree with something she just says "Because I believe in God" and if she hears something, like about the wicked Lamanites, she says "They do not believe in God". She has the most beautiful simple faith I've seen on my mission. The Ward is doing really great in trying to be accommodating and taking care of her :)
There was a Lights Parade in Central Point last week. It was pretty neat. If you keep up with the news stations you might be able to see Sister Hall and I on their news coverage of the parade. There was a camera man right in front of us. We stepped out of the way but we are actually just right off to the right on the corner of the sidewalk.
We've lost some investigators so we have to get out there and build our teaching pool back up. Lots of work ahead of us.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#ShareTheGift (12/01/2014)

Hola Madre!The week got too busy for me to make something for District Meeting. But I'll be making the apple cinnamon cream cheese thingy for ZTM (Zone Training Meeting) this Friday.
Tell Gma Duenas that I tried my best with the Pancit recipe, but it's probably a far cry from how good hers is <3.
Lots of activities planned for the wards in December, two ward Christmas Dinner events and a Cantata, and we are excited to invite as many people as possible to them.
I super love the mitt you made! It's so nice and warm. Sister Slater and Sister Collins liked it too.  Yep! They came and dropped in on me for my bday! It made me so so happy!
I got to have my MTC companion and my trainer for my birthday and they of course made MY cake. You sneaky mommy :) Thank you so so much! <Mom Note: Sister Collins contacted me by email the week before Sister Duenas' birthday and asked for the recipe for Sister Duenas' favorite cake so that she could make it and surprise her for her birthday. What a sweetheart Sister Collins is. >

Sister Collins made Sister Duenas' favorite cake for her birthday <3
Yes, I did get my birthday box from crazy mommy! I can't believe you actually sent me a mixer! The wards don't know what's coming for them now. Mwahhahahaha! Crazy baker mode is getting cranked UP!!
This past week we were invited to two Thanksgiving dinners and two birthday dinners.
The Wells family showed me lots of birthday love too. I just love these girls so much! Thank you guys!

Nikki is doing great. I feel like her baptism was a miracle. Not just with being able to get through the whole process without any issues, but also with the timing.
We got another person on date to be baptized this month! Though she's decided to go over to the YSA (Young Single Adult) Ward, so we won't be the ones teaching her anymore. BUT she's going to be BAPTIZED, so that's all that matters . Her baptism date is Dec 27th, so we'll still be able to go to her baptism before either of us leaves. We are so so excited for her!! Her name is Shelby.
The missionaries aren't getting together for opening Christmas presents that I know of. But we will get together for the movie, just the Zone though. Each zone gets to chose their own movie for Xmas and then for New Years. We will watch them both at which ever member wants to have us all over. I'm such girl! Totally got teary eyed when I saw your cookies. Miss you. For Christmas decorations, I have just the white Christmas tree that Lynn sent me. I'm so sad that I left my Christmas lights at the Grants Pass apartment, but I'll just go to Good Will and find something good :). Thrift store shopping is the bomb! <Mom Note: psssssh...You will not go buy lights. I will send you some multi-colored Christmas lights....'tis a requirement for feeling extra 'jolly' during the holidays ;) >
White Christmas tree sent to Sister Duenas by her Grandma Beach
Always, but especially this time of year, we are reminded in John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
There is a beautiful new movie about Christ and Christmas. The first gift of Christmas was a simple gift given by a father to all his children, to us. He gave us His Son, the Christ. HE is the gift. #ShareTheGift 
I got to go now. Tell everyone hi for me! And I send my love! 
Xoxoxoxooooo --> just for you mommy Love you!! Bye bye! TTM