Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gotta Keep Trecken... (Sept 16)

Hello Querida familia y amigos,

How’s it goin? Things are still just trecken along here in the good ol´Santa Cruz. I think sometimes God sends you on your mission to the country where you should have been born in. I LOVE bolivia so very much. But anyways...

So wow lots of stuff this week! Madie, i hope you have a super happy awesome 16th birthday! You should be receiving something in the mail from me soon I hope. Also so great that Annalisa is home! And that Holly got her call- i laughed a little- it seems like the perfect mission for her! Also Tiana has a baby? Too weird! Also I got an awesome package with the shirt, peanut butter, pictures, and balloons! So great! Now i just need to some how finda balloon pump haha . But the pictures are super adorable, I feel like my family just keeps getting more and more attractive every time i see a picture!
Ok so how happy am I about everything that happened at Trevor´s farewell? Trev you are awesome and i am so proud of you! You are seriously so amazing and you are going to become such a spiritual giant on your mission! Seriously watch out Japan, "here comes Elder Black"! (that last part was sung by me to the tune of men in black.) Ah! Also Mitchell! What a tender moment. Seriously what an amazing and inspiring family I have. Trevor, it´s going to be hard, but you are going to love it. I remember all the people in the mtc that had to be there for a long time. You´re there for 12 weeks right? Anyways they were always really cool. Really sick of being there after 10 weeks, but great examples and helpers to all the new people. Anyways you´re just going to have so many opportunities to be an example you don’t even know! But anyways enjoy. Say hello to the orange soda tree for me. And here´s to a great mission! Also mom, what´s his address in the mtc and/or field? I wanna write my bro.  
ok so moving on to bolivia... Coni (pancake family) came to church again this week. We are hoping to work everything out so that she can get baptised on the 28th but we still don’t have an exact fecha which is hard. Things are just complicated with her family. But we will get there. Other than that we dont have any investigators. We are actually struggling a lot with this in the zone right now- except for the other sisters in our ward who have 4 baptisms ready for this Saturday. So our zone leaders read this cool story about eagles on Monday. Did you know, that eagles can live to 70 years old? But they can only do this if they go through a renovacion when they are 40 years old. What they have to do is fly to a high mountain with a flat wall. Then they have to break their beak off which is super painful. Then they have to wait for it to grow back, and then break their nails off, wait for them to grow back and then scratch their feathers off. It’s a really painful process that takes about 150 days. If they do this, they live for another 30 years. If they don’t, they die. We talked about how sometimes there are moments in the mission (and life) like this. When things aren’t all hunky dory we have two options: to keep working hard, or get trunky. (a little less extreme than the eagles). The results though one day will be super different based upon what we choose to do. We decided as a zone that we are going to keep working, and learn what it is that God wants us to learn during this time of renovacion. Renovation? I hope that’s the word in english haha. Anyways so we are working hard during this renovation time, and we are trying to be patient waiting for miracles. Marivel sent me this "jar of inspiration" that i open every monday, and the inspiration that i happened to open this week was a quote from the fairy god mother on cinderella that said, "even miracles take a little time". couldn’t have been more perfect inspiration for this week :).
I was definitely at the end of my rope this last week, but its usually when you´re at the end of your rope that you learn to use the rope God has. (im betting my money that its a lot, lot longer than mine is.) So here´s to a good week. We are going to have baptisms soon. But if not, the church is still true, God still lives, and this still is His true work. We’ve got some great activities that we are putting into action this week. One is that we are going to put out these little flyers on everyone´s doors that say, "why are mormons so happy? visit" that one of the nice members in our ward printed out. I have great hope that this will bring about good results. Our area is super rich, so like there is always lots of missionaries from other churches knocking on the same doors. So we are going to try to enter by another means, which God has provided. Pray that we get some references!

Well that´s really all I’ve got to say today. Thanks so much for your letters! Seriously lately I’ve been feeling like maybe all our hard work is helping our families and friends back home more than anyone out here, but that’s also extremely important for us. But we also know that one day we will be able to see all the differences we made in other peoples’ lives. WE just gotta keep trecken. Which is what we are going to do.

Anyways thanks for all your prayers and support! Have great bday madie, and an awesome first week of your mission trev! love, hermana elisa black  

hermana elisa black in santa cruz bolivia (Sept 9)

hello my dear family and friends,
so im here in santa cruz bolivia. in case anyone forgot. haha. sorry its been a long week...

anyways first off, if anyone wants to send me something for christmas, they should just send me money and i will buy them something from bolivia. i just want bolivia stuff haha. also my last day of the mission is Jaunary first. Surprise! I bet you didnt know you were going to spend new years eve in an airport! haha. Well actually it might be january 2nd. But its that week. I dunno if you guys will get something in the mail or anything... hopefully its a little more organized por USA missionaries, but here sometimes they just call the family on monday and then the missionaries are home on maybe ask hermana morris she´ll probly know. Also my body is doing good this week- yes i take my meds and everything. i just get so sunburnt on my scalp that it bleeds some times haha. but dont worry i´m using sunscreen now. also no i havent got a package yet, but neither has any of the other gringos, and basically all of us are waiting packages so i´m sure everything will hit us sometime soon.  Also i love that story from Patrice- she is so sweet to always be sharing things with me! 
ok so this part is for Talitha. Talitha: its time to be a big girl. Heavenly Father has blessed you with a hard life, and I can´t be there right now to hold your hand, but you need to listen to and obey mom and dad ok? I´m coming home and I want to meet a happy princess Talitha and not a grouchy grouch. Deal?
Also Trevor you´re such a hoot hahaha! I wanta sombrero picture! so funny. Wow next week is your farewell talk!  ah! you´re going to love the mission. You´re going to learn so much and its so stinking hard, but you will be a better person and you will just learn more about yourself then you could ever know doing anything else. Good luck with your talk!
also thats so crazy about all the rain! I love the rain but what damage it can do wow... thats so great that you guys were able to serve! Enjoy the rain! we actually need to have a rain here soon, because the humidity is just building and building and its stiffling but todo via no hay lluvia!

ok.... so monday night and tuesday morning we had like a broken up leaders conference. it was really great becuase the monday night part was like a family home evening of leaders, and we all sat in comfortable chairs in the presidents house with airconditioning. wow. it was amazing. Also President is so inspired. He hardly talked the whole three hours- yet we learned and growed so much. (va a disculpar mi ingles..mejor dicho "grew")  its because he is letting us learn to find the answers. he´s building us up so that we can be future leaders someday. He seriously is teaching me so much, and saying so little.
On wednesday we had a great miracle- this less active (pancake) family we are working with. The mom found work- her dream job! and she knows its from going to church and starting to get her life in line. she shared this with her extremely inactive husband, and he was like "wow maybe i should go to church!" also the other family that lives in her house is the Robles family, with the kid who is named Elder. They still haven't gone to church, but now they are taking note of this miracle and little by little we will get there.
on thursday to start my personal study i prayed to know what to do in my area becuase it has felt so dry and i feel like i´ve knocked every door and we dont have anyone that is progressing. well i opened my BOM and read Jacob 5:22. and wow i dont have anymore time to write but this was a miracle for me, and we found some new people that we are excited about.
[Jacob 5:22 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.]
its still super hard here in this area, but my faith doesn't depend on the results i get. even when children draw with permanent marker on my white shirt. haha..... It´s a sacrifice to find real happiness. But its´a sacrifice i am willing to make, and am doing the best i can to be worthy of the happiness that i want.
anyways i love you all!

love, hermana elisa black  

It doesn't matter...I am here for my Savior (Sept 2)

Okee dokee familee,
First off i tried to send a picture but it didn’t work...I think i got one to marivel so you could bug her to send it to you haha. Anyways first off thanks for all the great news! That’s so great about Jackie having her baby, Carissa receiving her mission call, and Holly getting hers on the way! So many great things! Hope you had a great birthday talitha! Who has the best family in the world? Oh yeah that would be me. Oh also that’s cool that Talitha got a whistle because i don’t remember sending one haha. Maybe that was meant for malorie.
Ok this week was interesting. we worked hard and long... it’s interesting for me because i can really see how much I’ve progressed in the mission. I have so much more faith and patience and trust in the lords timing. I have felt good and like my faith is building even though I’ve been here for two months working super hard without a baptism. I definitely have grown in my faith and patience being out here which is such a blessing (for me and all my friends and family haha).
Anyways loved the pictures and advice I received in the letters I got last monday! soooo cute! Who has the cutest and most attractive family in the world? oh yeah that would be me.
Well last week we did find this one family that was a reference from another family in the ward. It’s a family living in one room (normal) and it’s a single mom (normal) with 7 kids under the age of 18 (not as normal). And the mom told us on the second visit that she is leaving to Chile to live with her sister and work there for three months, leaving her kids (ages 17, 15, 13, 11, 8, 6, 3) alone. I dunno if it’s just because we have no one to teach, but I just felt so strongly that we can’t leave these kids alone. Normally, we don’t even talk to kids without an adult... But i dunno. I just felt like i should ask the mom to sign the permission to teach them before she left. So we´ve been stopping by to bring them food and wash their clothes when we can. The kid who is 17 is a boy and he is working to feed the family. The 15 year old is named Melisa, and she is going to high school and being mom for them. We just held her as she cried the day after her mom left. We gave them a picture of Jesus. Yesterday we also got the relief society involved- they are going to take turns bringing lunch every sunday.  It’s just so hard to see people suffer so much. 
Well anyways... We are going to have at least one baptism this month. yay! Coni and her mom came to church again! They want her to get baptized on the 14th or 21st of september. So we are teaching them (the pancake family) which is great. Also thanks to fasting and lots of prayer, we are having breakthroughs with other investigators, and we are feeling good about September. This ward is great- they´ve got great intentions to help with this missionary work, now we´ve just got to combine their desires with our work and we should be in for a great time.
It’s crazy, but even with how hard these last two months have been, I’ve never loved the mission more. Seriously i bore my testimony yesterday and was just so full of the spirit i thought i might explode! I´m so happy! It doesnt matter that my head has started to bleed again from how hot it is here, doesnt matter that rabbied dogs are coming out again, doesnt matter that the bacteria has come back on my face, doesnt matter that i can’t see through the wind and dirt in my face these days... I am here for my Savior, and I am so grateful! I love this gospel. I love the truth! I love how i feel inside! I love being happy! I love my life, and my family! Let’s keep progressing and have a great eternity shall we? Here´s to my last 4 months.
con mucho amor,

Hermana Elisa Black  

Here's to new beginnings (Aug 26)

hello hello my dear family and friends! 

So we now have an hour and a half to write letters so hopefully this letter is a good one haha. I feel so blessed now. And poor mal only can write for half an hour! I didn’t know presidents could do so much. i thought missions were a lot more uniform. But anyways... 

yeah i do get dearelders, just usually in a group after like 3 weeks and sometimes i don’t get the ends of the letters. I hope you keep all the things you send via dearelder so i can read them in their entirety one day. haha. also yeah i am so excited for Jackie! She´s gunna be an AWESOME mom one day. haha should say SOON! 

Also mom so cool about Education week. So glad you could do that and that it was fun for you! I feel like we had similar weeks, this week felt like a new beginning for me too, which i will explain mas adelante. But that’s so great. Also good luck to Tali and Afton at school today! Also i hope madeline is enjoying getting back into school! Tell me all about your first days girls! Also Trevor, dang son. · weeks... que va a hacer... (thats like "what are you going to do" but it means like "dang or wow") I told you my bishop is japanese right? spanish with a japonese accent is like the best thing ever haha.

Multi-zone activity
Ok so on monday we had an awesome multi zone activity. I tried to send pictures, hopefully you got them. The picture with lots of people is the two zones. The one with not very many people is just my zone.


We aren’t much bigger than a district because we just divided from another zone so thats why we are not very many people. But i actually really like it. we are a fun zone. For the activity we played sport and had a BBQ in the park. But someone found a chess set and i ended up battling it out with some people. It got pretty intense and it was so fun! I was so into it haha but it was so fun. We all learned a lot of english while playing. (things like "oh no!" and "dang it!" and "you cant´do that!" and "I win!" haha we had a lot of fun). 

A moment of losing :-)

 Wednesday we got working hard. We found a new person to teach- her name is Mirna and she is studying at the univisidad here. There was this really awkward moment in the lesson when i was looking at fotos of her family and was like "thats a really nice picture of your dad" and she was like "oh that’s my mom". Like, what can you do after that? But she is awesome and I think she´s got some real intention which is exciting! Right after that we had this lesson with these two ladies and hermana james was like "invite your daughter to the lesson" and the lady was like "that’s my sister!" so...we are definitely good at awkward in this companionship. 

On thursday we invited one of our investigators to the zone meeting, and we all practiced teaching him together. His name is Ryder, and he has been going to church since marchish, but just doesn’t want to get baptized. We had a poweful lesson (14 missionaries teaching together) and he really felt the spirit. His biggest concern right now is that if he gets baptized and goes to the celestial kingdom, he wont be with his family because they will be in another kingdom. So we are going to work on that with him this week. He is really great and extremely active. Also we found this other family of 8 that are basically ready. its a solo mom with 7 kids. She can only go to church every other week but she did meet with the missionaries like 5 years ago. But her kids went to church the other week. We found them because they live in the house of Bladimir. sometimes God has different things in mind than i do. And isn’t that wonderful?

Friday we found yet another family that has gone to the church before, and they want to get baptized! They just have a lot of things they need to get figured out first. This day was extremely cold, and guess what zone decided to give up their blankets to be washed thrusday? Us. So we all are basically dying of cold haha. But no today (monday) is a little warmer. Also Hermana James and i knocked on this door of this hilarious dog that could jump super high. Now if we ever have a bad day we know what door we are going back to. Seriously we laughed for a good 10 minutes straight.

On saturday we had a lesson with the husband who isn’t a member but his wife is a less active. I’ve met with him one other time, but i think he is developing real interest, and we are excited about him. we got him to kneel (ok not us. the spirit) down and pray for his family. He got up after and said that he hadn’t prayed in 19 years. He just was very calm and seemed to really be meditating in all that we explained about his family. Normally he just plays playstation all night long. The first time i passed by with my companion he didn’t want to talk to us. But we just did a super fast powerful lesson in less than 5 minutes, and after he was like oh wait... you can talk a little more. We have been taking it slow, but today we taught about joseph smith and i think he was really touched. So we are excited.

Sunday it was super cold, but we have valiant members who came to church! Also we made pancakes and brought them to one of our investigators house to get them up to go to church . Um now have a testimony of the power of pancakes and think I’m going to do this more! Even though it was soooo dang cold, they saw the pancakes and got ready and came to church! Well really it’s a less active family but their 11 year old daughter isn’t baptized and missionaries have been trying to get them to church since february. Well the solution was pancakes my friends. So hopefully we will be getting this family back into action soon! (They also have other family that they live with that aren’t members so they can really be powerful help if they can get active!) So we are happy about this. 

Also i have a testimony of the importance of both of the missionaries needing to have their hearts and strength and might in the work. Seriously i feel like i am in a new area, and it’s just because hermana james and i worked hard together this week. We have tons of new promising people, more than i ever had in my month and a half with my other companion. So if you are thinking about marrying someone who isn’t in the church, I’d really say think again. You´ve got to have the same goals and desires and stuff like that. Life lessons from the mission. The mission is really the best preparation for life. And this is just one small example of that. 

Oh also my ward got together as relief society on sunday to go and visit all the less actives with the stake relief society presidency. We met with them after to get references from them, and seriously they were all glowing and happy from being able to find and help people. If you want to be happy, go and visit someone. Seriously it was so great to see all of these sisters just pink from the cold but smiling with the joy of lifting someone else. I know that helping others makes us happy. So go out and help someone this week. Go out of your way, take some time, but just do something different that you wouldn’t normally do to make someone else a little happier. I invite you to do this because I want you to be happy. Deal? deal.

Have a great day, a great week, and know that I love this work more than ever! Thanks for your prayers, encouragement, and love. Keep the faith,

Hermana Elisa Black  

A week of...transition I guess you could say (Aug 19)

Hello hello!

So lots of change this week. First some housekeeping items: my zone leaders just sang "buenas noches Hermana Black" because i always sing people’s names when i talk to them on the phone. Also, i´d love to get trevors pics! And does malorie have pics? Because i never got those. Also um so cool if you can go to Disney land! You should schedule the trip for january ,) heehee. Also good luck in school to Madeline, Afton, and Talitha! It’s sure coming up quick! Also happy birthday to Grandma, Malorie, Michaela, (and Lula) this week! Hope you all have an awesome Birthday! 

Ok so first thing was monday. We had an awesome noche de hogar (family home evening) with Bladimir who brought two of his friends. We watched a short version of the Joseph Smith movie and shared testimonies. It was really neat. Bladimir loves learning and for this he brought friends too. Even though they weren’t nearly as into it as he was, it was cool that he is already being a missionary. 

Tuesday we had a conference with Presidente Willard. What a diference it was! Everyone was crying because it was so spiritual. Or maybe because we are all latinos. haha. But it was really awesome. I really like something that Hermana Willard said. She said, "I´m going to do what I can do. And I´m always going to do better when I can". (ok it was something like that- it sounds better in spanish). It has helped me not be so stressed when i try to do too much. I can only do what i can do. I don’t need to worry about what i cant do yet. I’m going to keep learning and working though so that what i can do is better every day. That’s something President talked about too- that it doesn’t matter where you are today, as long as tomorrow is just a little bit better. That you learn something every day. They (President and Hermana Willard) also are always talking about miracles and having miracles every day in this work. It’s incredible the changes that are happening here and i really think that it is all for the better. We are looking for the Lords hand more and finding the spirit in this mission. It’s very nice. 

Well wednesday was interesting. My companion got a cambio! She went to another city, which just recently got opened for sisters in this mission like 2 months ago. It was part of the mission cochabamba before. So anyways I basically sat in the airport for forever with my zone leaders because my companion left, and we were waiting for my companion to arrive. It was so weird not having a companion!haha I didnt realize how normal it has become to always be with someone. But weirder was the feeling i got as we were pulling into the airport. AH! I was like no no no I don’t want to go! So I know that when i do finally leave my mission it’s going to be super hard. I like did not want to enter the airport. Wow only 4 and a half months left. ah! ok that was my freakout. Moving new companion is Hermana James from Salt Lake City, Utah. She has a month in the mission, so now I’m going to finish her training. 

On thursday we went to the Cumavi to buy Hermana James some shoes because she only had one pair of good walking shoes. All of the new girls came in with bad walking shoes. I think the church is putting such an emphasis on being cute, that we are forgetting to be practical. If you can’t walk around it doesn’t matter how cute you look! But we found two pairs of awesome shoes for her so that’s good. Also it’s so great having her as a companion. She is definitely here for the right reasons and wants miracles to happen, so we are having miracles. This is a big change. 

Sunday bladimir did come to church. but he told us that he doesn’t feel ready to get baptized this saturday. So we are obviously going to be praying hard and fasting for this. There are three other young men in the ward that keep going to church for months and just keep saying that they aren’t ready. The devil is so subtle! I just don’t want Bladimir to be number four. He has got to be baptized. It´ll be such an example and help to these other young men (who are all in missionary age! oh except one who is 26). So we are praying for that. Also Hermana Barrios is doing well in her new area. I really think that Hermana James and Hermana Barrios just needed to do this change. Hermana Barrios called me this night and told me about how she feels so much more comfortable in her new area, which is a small pueblo and not huge city like santa cruz. So I’m happy about that- maybe it’s what she needed to really start her mission.

Anyways I really hope that all is well at home and that this is an awesome last week of summer vacation for everyone! I hope that trevor is getting ready and excited. Also i sent birthday cards to Grandma, Malorie, and Talitha so hopefully those will be arriving soon. I love you all so much!

love, hermana elisa black

the picture is me and hermana James, my new companion.