Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28th - Just had the best day of my life this past week, no big deal!!!

When we reported our numbers last night, I felt like we had failed because we really really did not reach any of them. But looking back, plus having the best day of my life this past week, I don't really care :)

On Thursday, we went to check on a potential investigator. With no luck, we decided to go tracting. Before going tracting, I hurried back to the car. My heart said, "Go back and get an English Book of Mormon."  Good thing.  4 apartments in, we tracted into a lady from Wisconsin who just moved here. Angel opened her door. She said she was busy shredding paper to recycle and we offered to help! So I sat on the floor with her 6 year old, Deasia, and 13 year old, Diangelo, and began teaching the Restoration. She said she believed a lot of the same things we did. She then told us that she and her children had just been talking about and prayed this morning to find a church, and then we showed up! She said she was taking this as a sign from God, she would read the Book of Mormon, and come to church on Sunday! We came the next day to see her with the English elders. They told the story of the First Vision. She said, "That is exactly what happened to me!" At first I was scared....we run into a lot of people who claim to have seen Jesus many times. She then said, "Except I prayed and they (meaning Sierra and her companion) showed up." She turned and looked at us. I could not stop my eyes from tearing up. That is why I'm here. This is why I'm serving. She is being Baptized, as well as Diangelo on August 23rd.

Evelyn, who hasn't been active for several years, has also not been to church in over a year. We saw her this past week. I felt bold, so I said, "Evelyn, what is keeping you from coming to church?" She said it is her medication. I asked her permission to come wake her up on Sunday morning, she agreed. So...we showed up yesterday and she came to church!!!     Win :)

Then, we were going to have to move Israel's baptism/drop him because of some things. I'll explain more later, but everything worked out. It was nothing short of an absolute miracle. We are full speed ahead for his baptism on August 16th :) less than 3 weeks!

2 month, weird right?! Some days it feels like I've been serving forever. Then I see I've been gone for 2 months and I think, "I only have 16 months left of the best calling ever?!?" Depends on the day ;)

Well that is about my life in a nutshell! We were at the Martinez's house this past week and they have a cat that is a big version of Trixie (Sierra's cat).  I pretty much LOVED having him crawl up on my lap and fall asleep there. Made me actually miss the little devil ;) haha!

I went on exchanges this past week with one of our Sister Training Leaders, Sister Houston. It was really awesome! But really hard and draining. There is a lot more poverty and sad things in her area. I went into details in my letter.

Love you :) Miss you all so much. And I hope to hear from you all very soon!!!!!!!!

Love, Hermana Martin

Taking cheesecake to Hermana Maciel on her 95th birthday!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 21

Hello hello! 
Gosh I love and miss you all so much! And thanks a bunch Laurel....sorry that the house is so quiet without me ;) how will you ever deal with the peace and quiet?! Haha! pictures this week. I'm so sorry. There will be many next week though so you have that to look forward to. Dad asked me if I'm Sister Ramos' first 'child' (as I am called here) and no, she had one a few transfers back but the sister only made it about 2 weeks here then went home. 
 I got your package! Only because we had to go to the mission home this past week. I loved it :) thank you mom! I wrote a letter with my details. But Frank (the gray truck that they have been driving) died this past week :( he had almost 70,000 miles on him and they switch out vehicles before 55,000 miles. Now we drive a Corolla, same car as Clark (Sierra's brother-in-law), but it is an automatic. Super lame. But I can park it much easier! It didn't come with a name so we tried to think of an obscure Book of Mormon name to give him. We named him "Save only One" from Alma 23:14. #youknowyoureamissionarywhen
 Israel is getting baptized in less than a month!!!! How great is that? :) He told us yesterday he hopes the date comes soon, but he is set on the 16th so we couldn't convince him to make it sooner ;)

I. Am. Going. To. Get. Fat. The wonderful people here serve us food and they think we are starving or something! And it is of great offense if you say you are full or don't finish your food. AND it is also offensive if you say no to seconds. I seriously have never sent a more fervent prayer than I did last night, praying I could finish my food. I almost threw up I was so full.

We also were warned not to wear blue or red anymore at the apartment complex where Israel lives. There is some gang violence going on (same place with the guns going off last week) so now I need to watch what I wear. May I repeat, I'm not in Utah ;)

Things are good! Doing really well :) Love you and miss you! And I am so sorry that my emails are kind of lame. In my defense, I send awesome letters which make it all okay ;) love your guts! Hope to hear from you soon!

Hermana Martin

From Sierra's last handwritten letter:

Can I just!  I'm so grateful for the amazing family that I have. For the beautiful, safe city that I live in.  For the gospel to anchor our families to and the love of God I can feel every day.  I've seen families, children, living in very sad living conditions.  All the houses have bars on their doors and windows.  There is a loss of peace here. It is really sad.  

The moment you've been waiting for...............(this is what I call the Parent Payback Paragraph!)
Thank you for forcing me to take piano lessons!  Thank you for dragging us out of bed to read our scriptures!  Thank you for curfew!  Thank you for the rules!  Thank you for being parents.  For giving a crap as to what we were doing in our lives. I can go on and on. I would not be the woman I am today if it weren't for your loving care.  I miss you.  But being here is getting easier, because I'm getting to teach all these people what you've taught me over the past 21 (almost) years.  Love you.

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14th

Wow!!!! So much to respond to! Haha :)    I love coming on and having 15 new emails. With only an hour I hope I can hit most of them! 
Okay! First dad's questions...
         Hermana Ramos is from Bothell, WA, This is her 2nd transfer in this branch, she hits her year mark in August.
We are interested in hearing details about your first Sunday in the Spanish Branch where you are assigned.
--- Number of members?    80's or 90's
--- How is the member missionary support? It is okay, we mostly find investigators on our own
--- Do you have daily dinner appointments with members? Every day we get dinner :) we are spoiled.

--- Are there many recent converts being fellowshipped in the branch? We have around 3 but we share the branch with another set of elders who have a few more.

Okay...think I hit everything you needed! Now I shall quickly tell you EVERYTHING. Or close to it.
     So our main investigator, Israel, is getting baptized on August 16th!!!!! It was pretty awesome :) he is progressing so much and is so willing to be baptized. He and his caregiver came to church on Sunday. One of his sons is baptized and the other is working on it. They didn't come though because there was a shooting at 1 am at their apartment and they were too tired after a long night of that. I'm not in Utah anymore that's for sure. 
     PS I've never seen more shirtless people in my life!!!!!! And I never want to again. Blech.
I went to my first Quincianera this past week. Super cool! I will share pictures. They are like, wedding big. It was awesome.
     So I was feeling frustrated with Spanish this past week. Hermana Ramos and I went to Panda. There, I got a fortune cookie that was made for me. "Allow yourself time - You will reach Success" Stupid fortune cookies, they know everything.
     Saw my first mini monsoon yesterday! Again, I shall send pictures. But it was super cool! I love the rainstorms here :) love love love. But the heat plus the humidity (yes, I said it) from monsoon season make some afternoons a little miserable. But all is well in Zion.
     I have so many stories, but as you know, I'm better with hand written letters so I will send one out soon and you can read up on my many stories!
I love you all so much :) I hope to hear from you soon!

Love Hermana Martin

PS Guess who is the new RS pianist. Apparently they prayed for a pianist and got me. They shall be sorely disappointed.

This may be a good street to go tracting on!

Um.....this doesn't look like a desert?
Sierra's first experience with a mini monsoon.

Two happy (albeit soggy) sister missionaries!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 8th

It still feels like I'm in a dream. Then when I step out into the hot air outside I remember that this is real and I'm really in my mission!
I got packed up on Saturday and Sunday, had a wonderful last weekend in the MTC. Said goodbye to my wonderful companions yesterday morning. Got to call you at the airport! Then boarded my flight to Arizona! I got assigned a short term companion, Sister Grange, and we had SO much fun together. I've already made so many friends with the other missionaries :) makes me so happy.
Like I said, Sister Grange and I met a lady who was trying to figure out what our deal was! We told her we were going to Arizona for 18 months for a service mission for her church. "You get to visit home right?" "No." "Well you have a cell phone at least then, to talk to them?" "Haha, no. But we do get to call them on Christmas and Mother's Day." "What about Thanksgiving?" "Nope!" "How much school credit are you getting for doing this?!" Haha, the conversation went on for a moment. We gave her a pass along card but then she had to hurry on to catch her flight. Really fun :)
I was reading the book Mimi and Papa gave me on the flight to Arizona. "Do not attempt in heels" haha it calmed me down ;) the gentleman I sat next to flies to Tucson on Mondays then flies home to his family in Washington on Thursdays. He is an RM though! He went to Hungary, has 2 little boys :) he was really nice.
President and Sister Passey picked us up at the airport. It was a really fun experience!! We then drove to downtown Tucson. Smaller than SLC, but the valley may be just as big! We cover A LOT of area. We got out of the car and the APs told us how the Lord is hastening the work and we need to keep up with it, "So let's go hasten the work!" And they then took off at a dead sprint up the street. And my skirt, slip on shoes, and 3 1/2 hours of sleep, I ran about half a mile with these elders and sisters to a Mormon Battalion Monument that is in downtown Tucson. We spoke for a while there about hastening the work, and then ran back. I beat the other sisters ;) like a boss.
We then went to the stake center that is connected to the mission home. Ate lunch, then after several hours of meetings we went to President and Sister Passey's home. It was fun there. We all talked and got to know each other. The APs took us for a walk around outside and pointed out all the different types of cacti. There is NOTHING green here except for the cacti. My pictures shall show you. We then had dinner, a devotional, and then everyone separated out to different homes. 5 sisters and I stayed the night at the President's house. I went up right before bed and found Sister Passey upstairs busting her butt in the kitchen to start the meal for the next night for the leaving missionaries. All the sisters went to bed around 8:30 but I stayed up with Sister Passey until about 9:30 making potato salad and keeping her company.
This morning, we woke up at 5:20, got ready, then we were off to Tucson where....I met my trainer!! Her name is Hermana Ramos. She is from Washington, oldest of 6 children. Her parents are from Mexico. AKA, just as I have been praying for, she is a fluent Spanish speaker!!!!!!! Yes......God loves me.
Anyways, I will share many pictures. But we had several meetings, then we left to eat lunch at Eegee's. It is an Arizona thing. Awesome slushies! Food, eh :P haha the locals overrate the food. OH!!! Okay, so our zone is South Tucson, but is also a lot of East Tucson. We are over the Spanish branch here with another set of elders. And we have a beautiful...Truck!! Haha and guess who is the driver, me!! My companion doesn't have a license so I drive Frank :P and it is kind of awesome. Not a manual, but still a truck. Yes I'm that cool.
We are off to grocery shop and then play sports. But then tonight we have a dinner appointment at 5, we teach English at the church around 7 and then we have a meeting at 8 with an investigator who we are actually committing to baptism tonight.  As I typed that I seriously got the stupidest smile on my face. My first day out as a missionary and I get to teach about baptism and hopefully set a date with someone. Is this normal? I feel so blessed to be here and I could not be a happier person.
I love you so much :) hanging up yesterday was really hard. But now, I feel so blessed to be here serving a mission. Can't wait for the many adventures that are ahead. Write soon!!

Hermana Martin

PS at Eegee's I started a conversation with a man who was looking at us funny. I think my trainer was shocked that I just went up to him and started talking. He actually grew up in Heber and his daughter is turning in her mission papers soon. So...still was brave ;) so I get 10 points yes?

PPS after him, this woman and her son walked in and she just waved and smiled at us like a crazy person. She pointed to her son and said that he had just returned from the Panama Mission last Thursday. He is home, and my great work is just beginning :)

Calling home from SLC airport

Arriving in Tucson  -  "Nothing is green here!"

July arrivals at the Mormon Batallion Monument in Tucson

"Frank" the truck that Sierra will be driving!

July 5th

Hello everyone!!! Oh I just love you so much! Thank you for the email :) 

So this week, wow!  Where to even start! This week has gone by so fast but so much has happened! Can't believe I am 2 days away from the best decision I ever made :) it is just as eventful as leaving in May it feels like haha.  

Hope you enjoyed that phone call mom ;) I went into detail about what happened in my letter that I will send out today or just put in the mailbox tomorrow, but she just was talking about her migraine and I said my mom has been taking some sort of B something pill that has helped. I gave her your number, expecting her to call later, but then she picked up the phone right there and called! I can only imagine the heart attack you were having! She answered the phone in kind of a scary way haha. So sorry ;) but I liked getting to yell to you that I love you :) can't wait to really hear your voice tomorrow!

Sorry I've already talked a lot, there is just so much to say! Thank you for your package!!!!! We had so much fun with all the stuff in it yesterday :) there are pictures. But we had such a blast with it plus the stuff that Mimi sent!! Love it all so much, as did the other hermanas.

Oh so in our branch, the 1st counselor's wife showed up this past Tuesday and asked to take a picture of your quilt!!! She has been telling about it to everyone and she wanted a picture. You're famous!!! Everyone loves the quilt and is super jealous :)

So I went to the podiatrist on...Thursday...? this week, over here in Provo. Haha scared ya ;) it was for Hermana Ashby ;) she thought she would like to take someone with experience there haha!!! She is having arch problems with her feet. Guess what he recommended. Super Feet! So we had to go to modern shoe in Provo and buy her a set. I bought another set for me. Oh and her podiatrist and I had like a 5 minutes conversation about calcaneous and navicular bones and he called my foot beautiful ;) aw shucks.

So we have an online computer program here that we do Spanish modules on. It is a lot of work but....I actually finished all the chapters this past week! No one else in my district is close, but I really wanted to finish it before I left :) feeling pretty special! Sorry...this email is SO long...

When we went up to main campus for In-Field Orientation (really long 10 hour thing we have to attend, not my favorite) we went to lunch and dinner up there. At dinner, we sat by President and Sister Nally, the MTC President and his wife!! Really fun talking to them! I took Sister Nally's tray back for her ;) felt pretty cool. We also saw them later that night when we were watching fireworks down at West Campus. They came down to check up on us and they recognized us and Sister Nally came over and gave me a hug :) she is kind of wonderful. 

We had our last day with Hermana Savage on Thursday and our last day with Hermano Howard is tonight. So sad!!! We are almost done!!!!!!! Can't wait!!!

I'll call you on Monday :D Love you!! Thanks again for the package.
Talk to you in 2 days!!

Hermana Martin

PS So you know the song 'The Olive Tree'? We are performing it for our last Sunday (tomorrow...haha weird) and Hermana Atkin is playing piano and...I may be playing violin for it. So fun!!! :) I have not really played my violin since high school but now I want to invest in a good one. It is sounding so beautiful :) I will let you know how it goes! Do I get 10 points for being brave? ;) Love you!

4th of July celebration

4th of July selfie

A cereal dispenser in the cafeteria - This is the kind of grafitti you find in the MTC.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 28th

HOLA! Things are just peachy here :) and....1 MONTH MARK!!!!! Haha, I still can't believe it has already been a month. At the same time....I want to freaking get out of here ;) I got my flight plans yesterday though!!! I need to be at the office here at 4:35 in the morning. I didn't know that time of the day even existed, I thought it was imaginary haha. My flight leaves a little after 9:30, so somewhere in between there is when I will be sending you a call! :) So get excited! And in case you just didn't figure it out....the day is July 7th ;) so yep!!!!
My week....haha so much has been going on and it has just been such a mess!! On Saturday, one of our elders was not feeling well. I put his name in the temple and was feeling worried. We came home from the temple and found that he was at the hospital getting his appendix removed. After 3 days in the MTC. How horrible is that?!? Pretty much I felt horrible for him. We did a zone fast for him on Sunday and he is actually right next to me doing emails so he is doing much better!
Sunday Devotional was with Janice Kapp Perry. How did I not know that she was the one who wrote 'A Child's Prayer'? That is my go-to song at any given moment. Needless to say, that was easily in the top 3 of devotionals here. Amazing details are here in a letter that I will send on Monday probably!
Tuesday Devotional- As I mentioned before in that cute note I sent to ya, it was Elder Christofferson and I actually made a mistake, 5 other apostles were there! Nelson, Oaks, Ballard, Bednar, and Anderson. Can't even tell you how this place felt!
Hope Hayley told you, but she sent us J Dawgs this past week!!!!! Needless to say, we were pretty darn excited here. Both of my companions went to BYU for a year so they were very familiar with them and were very excited to get them!
We hosted new missionaries this past week. They were all dropped off here at once. All 150+ of them! The ones we took care of were all elders. One of them asked me, "Are you related to Laurel Martin?" I said, "Uh yea just a little, she is my sister!' So this kid is from Canada which got me confused. Laurel went to EFY with him ;) haha small world! So Laurel, I hosted your friend and he said to email him!  
            I got your amazing sunshine package yesterday as well and a package from Mimi!!!!!!! Pictures to come :)
            Meeting my mission president was great!!!!!!!!! I was the only one there so I got an hour with them. Details in my letter :P I am better at hand written letters. They had me bear my testimony at the end in Spanish. It went really well :) El don de lenguas es verdadero. (The gift of tongues is true).  Seriously. I speak Spanish pretty well. It has to be the power of God because there is no other way that this would be possible. 
            I'm doing so well here. We teach at the TRC (Teaching Resource Center) 5 days a week and our last day with our investigator, Ivette, was this past week. That is when we found out that she really actually isn't a member or isn't active. We aren't sure which one. She told me how she is ready to give up and that she doesn't feel the love of God and feels worthless. It was really hard, but I shared my sincere, and honest feelings about being in that same place last year.  For the first time, in that moment, I felt like a missionary. I was able to tell her about how I understand that it is hard and that some days you just feel like giving up. I explained to her how you can't give up though. You can't give in no matter how hard it gets. I will share more about it later, but one can't even describe the feeling in that room. That was our last time, and I truly do hope the best for her.

Well...that's all I got I think! Last temple trip today because the temple is closed on the 1st. Hopefully I still get opportunities on the mission.

Love you all :) keep sending dear elders!! Love your guts!

Hermana Martin

Sierra got to meet her Mission President and his wife when they came to the MTC for their training as a new President.  They will start their service about a week before Sierra arrives in Tucson.

Sierra and her district eating J-Dawgs that her amazing sister Hayley sent for them!

Sierra with her "Box of Sunshine" package from home.

Sierra titled this picture "Best Selfie EVER!!!!!!!"