Monday, October 27, 2014

"Why do they love me?"‏

Aloha everyone!

We've had a super busy, productive week! Unfortunately there isn't a slot for my SD card, so I will not send pictures this week, sorry about that!

I don't really know where to begin. This is probably going to be so out of order, but hey it's whatever, accurate to how I talk :P

Last Tuesday we had a district meeting, so I was able to meet the rest of my district/zone. We have so many hilarious elders, and the sisters are so sweet! So because I'm new to the mission (I'm the baby of the group), I had to be initiated into the group. Elder Moala had poke (raw fish). He mixed up his poke with hot Cheetos, and then he offered me some. I was set on saying no, but then the rest of our zone started cheering and playing dramatic piano music, how could I say no? Sooooo... I ate it. And then I vowed to never have it again. End of story.
(: I love my zone though. We have zone conference tomorrow, so that'll be fun! Papa Warner is making us pancakes because we hit our goals!

On Wednesday, Sister Teuscher and I did a lot of work, meeting with less active members and such. While we were tracting, it started POURING HARDCORE. Like. Cray-cray man, choke water! It cooled down, but like we were pretty far from our car. I welcomed it though, it was hot that morning! Then it stopped raining when we got in the car (of course) and then as soon as we got out it poured AGAIN. It's like it knew I was from Arizona or something :P Anyways, for lunch my comp and I decided to go to a beach park. We only drove 5 minutes away, and it felt like we were in a completely different island. It was such a beautiful place, and not too crowded. The waters are this gorgeous blue, and the mountains and trees SO GREEN. I'm sad I can't send pics, I can't begin to describe how beautiful it was. AH. I often forget I'm on an island, since we don't see the ocean often.

Thursday we had a lesson with Carmen, our investigator. She's been cruising through the Book of Mormon, and talks like she's been a member her whole life. I taught a lot of the lesson, and felt the spirit so strongly. Honestly, it was my favorite lesson to this day. After talking for a while, she asked if she truly needed to be baptized again (she is Catholic), if she needed to pray, and if she had to be a member to go to our church. What beautiful music to a missionary's ears (:
After a while, I felt it. During a pause, I bore my testimony of the gospel. That's when I said it.

"Carmen, will you follow the example of Christ and be baptized by someone holding the proper authority of God?"

She said she would pray about it, and ponder. It wasn't as scary, to invite someone to be baptized. I wasn't even nervous before or after I said it. I felt good, and I knew the Lord was pleased with me. (:

Friday was such a long day. We were able to teach many people in Weinberg village, though, and visited with almost everyone there. They're so kind, it breaks my heart to be there, but it's also heartwarming. They have almost nothing, but they give us everything. The Lord has truly prepared many of these people for baptism! There are also so many kids here, and Sister Teuscher can't believe how quickly they warm up to me. This little girl, her name is Noelani, she is maybe 2 years old, she yells "SISTERS'' every time she sees us. She also insists on praying, and she was absolutely crushed when we left. She cried, and wanted to come home with us. Aww. Also that day, we were able to teach Chauncey and her 2 girls the plan of salvation, and showed of a Doctrine of Christ DVD featuring a family that was sealed in the Temple. Chauncey, she felt the spirit and was crying. She's an amazing woman, but she goes to a different church. She's sweet though, and is warming up to the gospel. (:

ALSO ON FRIDAY: We met with Patrick, a recent convert. He has lived a rough life, with drugs, alcohol, and crippled body. He found it hard to live with himself, but he's gained so much happiness just from the missionaries, and from the realization that his Father in Heaven does as well. Patrick said to himself "Look at me, why do they love me? And then I say, because God loves me, and these Sisters are His representatives." I almost cried <3

Dinner on Saturday night was with Aunty Lilly and Uncle Willy, and they always invite us and the Elders. We sang, we laughed, and we ate SO MUCH FOOD. I kept saying "As my stomach grows, so does my faith in Christ" and "I can to all things through Christ which strengthens me" when I thought I couldn't eat any more. They made this awesome beef with Hawaiian BBQ sauce, French Fries, Boston Crème Pie and a melon bar. I felt like I was going to die, but knowing that we had hardly any real food in our apartment made it easier to eat! We also sang "Silent Night", and just. So many laughs, I was so happy (:

Sunday was a lot less overwhelming. I'm finally adjusting more to the area, and remembering more faces and names. I love the work here, even if it is hard. I know there's a purpose for me here, in Olamana. I have also been blessed big time with Sister Teuscher. She and I are like sisters, and joke around and have such amazing conversations. I'm going to be sad soon, she flies home on December 4th. GAH.

I love and miss you all very much. Please continue sending emails and letters, they brighten my day (: I encourage everyone to look up Hebrews 10:35-36. I have been struggling with many different things out here, but I know that Heavenly Father loves me, and is always listening and answering my prayers. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to serve!

Ofa atu,
Sister Noriega (:



Monday, October 20, 2014

My New Ohana‏

Aloha, everyone! (:

As of tomorrow, I will have been on the islands for one week. I can't believe it has only been that short of a time. I absolutely LOVE IT HERE. I am serving in the Olomana ward, the Kaneohe zone. My companion is Sister Teuscher, and she's from Idaho. I stayed on Oahu, and it sounds like I'll be here for a good chunk of time. Speaking of, I have an actual address! :D

Sister Alexis Michelle Noriega

1198 Kapau St., Apt. A
Kailua, HI 96734 

I'll be looking forward to all those letters (hint hint) <3

So first of all, my area is BEAUTIFUL. Want to know something else? I live right next to where the filmed Jurassic Park. Like. How fitting is that!? The mountains, trees, I mean honestly I feel like t-rex will jump out at any moment! And with the hurricane/tropical storm, we were in no danger. In rained for 2 days straight, and I LOVED it! It's so hot and humid, and when it rains it's cooler and cloudy. Our apartment is a little oven with one fan, so I was super grateful for the storm. Our place is pretty tiny, but I have no complaints. Especially with the people we serve, I have no reason to complain. We are safe, we have food, beds, and plus I have an amazing companion. (: Sister Teuscher is so funny, and we got along instantly. She is actually leaving in December. She hits her "1 month until I leave" mark, while I hit my "1 month in, 17 to go!" mark. So I'll be killing off my "Mom". She doesn't want to leave, and she loves it so much. She has a ukulele, so often we sing and make up songs. We leave each other notes around the house, and we bond so well. I couldn't have asked for a better trainer!

The people here are amazing. Aulani was one of the first members I've met, and she's super loving and protective of all the sister missionaries that serve here. When she found out I was diabetic, she told me how I need to refuse food sometimes, drink water all the time, she even started lecturing Sister Teuscher on what to keep in the apartment! Her and her family are amazing. They were married in May, baptized in August. They have an amazing story, I'll have to explain better when I have more time. She and her husband Shanon have 5 kids, and they have a really rough past. They are amazing though, and the kindest family. Everyone here is family, automatically once you meet them. I have never been hugged or kissed so much in my life! They are so loving here, and instantly want to get to know you. We have a lot of investigators and recent converts, and I love visiting them. No, I don't, I love visiting everyone! We are taken care of by members and nonmembers everywhere. Nobody judges here, nobody cares what you look like (which is great, I haven't worn makeup in a week and I don't plan on going back!). You are loved, regardless. It is the Christ-like love of the people of Hawaii that has changed me and how I view the world. There truly is an aloha spirit here, and I have fit in perfectly.

Yesterday was super overwhelming at church, and I cried. A lot. BUT I have Sister Teuscher, and she has been such a blessing to me and my journey already. OH I HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT SATAN.

There is a less active here named Alex, and he smokes weed. A lot of weed, all day every day. Actually most people on the islands do, I'm in the drug selling/using/recovery area of the island, but yeah when we visited Alex there was a HUGE bag of it just sitting there. Well, I have heard a lot about Alex before I met him. He has a pet chicken, a girl that his parents call Chick-Chick, but Alex has renamed Richard. Richard is Satan. He pecks, and actually got the last sister to serve before me in the face and she was swollen for a few days. Richard is a black chicken, and is just evil. Apparently Alex used to serve Richard weed when she was a chick. So naturally I wanted to meet Alex, and Richard. I was so jumpy though it was ridiculous. It was sad though, Alex has officially asked us to cool it and stop coming by. We're making it a point to go visit again when Sister Teuscher is about to leave. Hopefully I'll meet Richard then, because Richard was banned to a plastic crate when we visited a few nights ago.

So the food. Hmm. I have been exposed to a lot of food. Lots of white rice, lots of tomatoes, pineapple, coconut. Fun story, I thought cubes of tofu were squares of cheese. Yeah I don't like tofu. That's alright, I managed to get it down.! I also had THE most Hawaiian meal on the planet for dinner the other night: White rice, green beans and salmon. I freaked when I finished to salmon, because the skin was on it. Good thing I was done! IT'S ALSO TRUE THOUGH THE PINEAPPLE WAS SENT FROM HEAVEN. My goodness.

I am actually doing amazingly well out here. I have instantly connected with all of our investigators and members. During lessons, I'm not silent, but I ask questions. Especially with Papito (pa-pee-toe), they've been teaching him for months. The first time I met him, he really liked me. I was actually able to figure out why he refuses and gets uncomfortable with praying. The one time he prayed, his brother had just gotten sick and he prayed to God to make him better. His brother died that night, which is heartbreaking. Being a recent convert has become such a huge strength since I've gotten to Hawaii, and I am also a good listener. I'm so grateful for these talents and experiences Heavenly Father has given me that I may relate well to these people!

I love it here. I have one huge Ohana, and I couldn't be more grateful. I love the weather, and just. Everything. I've learned so much about myself, and I can't even begin to cover it in one email. I'm so grateful for the letters and emails! I have read each of them. Please know I want to respond, but holy goodness the time flies here. I have never been so exhausted in all my life, and I LOVE IT. I am usually in bed and passed out by 9:45. Yeah that's a big deal for me.


Please pray for Sister Teuscher and I, that we may find those the Lord has prepared for us, and for our safety. Please pray for our members, converts and investigators. This is such a poor area of Hawaii, and it's heartbreaking. These families have so much love to give, and they give us so much of their food when they feed us. It's hard, knowing that. I so badly wish we could give them money, but I know Heavenly Father will bless them as they come closer to Christ. (:

I love you all, so so much. Send me lots of letters and pictures, okay? (:

Ofa atu,
Sister Noriega!

In Hawaii

View from our home

Hawaiian meal - salmon, grean beans and rice

Me and Sister Smith

Me and Sister Teuscher

Mosquito welcoming party

Provo, UT Temple

Provo, UT Temple

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Al(Oh)a Canada

Aloha, loved ones! (:

This in 2 days, I will be on my way to Hawaii. The time has flown since our first weekend here came to an end, and I am SO not ready to leave this District. I'll admit, I'm so ready to eat real food again. But that's alright, I'm grateful for the work and prep that the MTC crew go to so we can eat!

So on Monday, we began teaching Barbara. She and her husband just moved here from New Jersey, and she wanted to know about our church. When they moved in, relief society swept in with their plates of cookies and made her feel welcomed! Sister Smith and I felt so comfortable with her the first time we walked in there with her, and I instantly loved her. She and I love theatre, Disney, and have both been through rough times with our mental health. We started teaching her about having faith in Heavenly Father, and how much He is SO AWARE of each and every one of us here. She questioned God's parenting though, because of the things she's been through. Both her parents are Holocaust survivors, but her Mom passed away when she was 4 months old, and her Dad when she was 14 years old. Barb also has no siblings, or any other relatives for that matter. We truly connected with her when we taught her the Plan of Salvation on our 3rd visit, especially about Spirit Paradise (where we all have the opportunity to hear and accept the gospel of Christ). She loved that we were all given a fair chance, no matter our background.

FUN STORY: Also on that 3rd visit, I was wearing my red polka dot skirt and black button up shirt, along with my Mickey Mouse earrings. Barb looks at me and says "You look just like Minnie Mouse, Sister Noriega!" I was so happy, and told her I planned it. She told me the next visit, she'd make sure and wear her Mickey Mouse watch and earrings. She kept good to that promise (:

ANYWAYS during our 4th visit, she revealed to us that her and Harvey DID have a baby boy, but that he died. We were able to comfort her, and let her know that her baby was safe. That he was living with Heavenly Father, and she would get the opportunity to raise him. At that moment, I felt prompted to teach her the steps to enter the celestial kingdom. We explained that our purpose is to bring people unto Christ, through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism by immersion, and by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. She accepted the invitation, and will be talking to her husband about it. I am SO HAPPY. She's such a sweet and loving person, there was a point that she stopped the lesson, looked at me and said "Thank you, for sharing your struggle with depression. When I see your face it has no trace of all the pain you've been through". I cried, it was such a sweet moment (:

We've also been teaching Ryan, who felt God existed, but wouldn't pray in fear of not getting an answer. He has a really bad relationship with him family , and is struggling through community college and juggling a night job. He is really so sweet, though, and needs our message. We realized after our 4th lesson that he was afraid to pray because he didn't have a true knowledge that God existed, and then Sister Smith and I came up with an idea.

In John 3:16-17 it says:

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.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Well, when we taught Ryan, we made it much more personal:

For God so loved RYAN that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn Ryan; but that Ryan through him might be saved


He almost cried, and he then accepted the invitation to be baptized. He prayed with us, and it was the strongest I have EVER felt the Spirit. The Spirit is testifying to me every single day that this gospel is true, and I cannot believe how fast I am coming to love every single person here in the MTC. I feel myself developing more faith in Heavenly Father, and how to trust Him that he will fill my mouth with the words that need to be said. It is hard. I have had a few mental breakdowns, where I've just started crying and not been able to stop. Elder Johnson (who is basically my best friend now we're literally the same person) gave me a blessing, and then the next night my branch president asked if he could give me one. Both were so sweet and sincere, and I have a strong testimony of the power of the priesthood, and I am so thankful for worthy priesthood holders using there gifts to bless me. It's so funny, every time I start crying I am terrified they'll send me home. I told this to my branch president, and he said "Sister Noriega, even if you wanted to come home I wouldn't let you. Your district loves you, and they need you. The people of Hawaii need you. You are needed, and you better not be comparing yourself to any of your classmates. You have a special gift, for loving others, and you also have the unique experience of being able to relate to investigators. We love you, I love you, and Heavenly Father loves you"



On a lighter note, my district loves to make me laugh. Elder Johnson and I (as mentioned earlier) are literally the SAME PERSON. We are both walking Vine videos, and we are the only 2 that understand any reference the other makes. Example, in class the other day Brother Singleton was teaching. We were taking a break and we were all standing up, and Brother Singleton said "Okay everyone, take your seats!" and Johnson and I at the SAME TIME said "Where?". It was amazing. We make literally the worst puns imaginable. Everyone says I have a contagious laugh, and that my laugh is funnier than any of the jokes that are made. (:

It's been such a spiritual, hard and defining week in my mission. A sister that I live with and is in my district is going home, because she needs physical therapy on her back. It's heartbreaking, but she'll be able to enter straight to the field once she completes treatment. None of us want to part from each other. I adore everyone here, but I will admit, I am ready to go outside again. We are legit in the classroom ALL DAY LONG. I am learning so much, but at the same time it's hard. Everything is so green here, and the leaves are changing colors. I will say though, nothing beats that Arizona sunset. <3

I'm going to try and send some pictures, but I'll have to switch computers to do so. I will be logging off and attempting all the computers in here! I am determined!

I love you all, and thank you for all the emails and letters. I'm sorry if I don't have time to respond individually, but I am reading them all. (:

Aloha nui loa,
Sister Noriega!


[regarding pictures]

So these are the 4 gals I love with. In the group pic of just us 4, it goes me, Sister Alvez, Sister Letnar and my comp Sister Smith.
Then with the Elders, it goes (from left) Elder Harris, Elder Johnson, Elder Williams, Elder Roberts and then from left again it's Sister Letnar, Sister Alvez, Sister Smith and I

Saturday, October 4, 2014

First Week (or 4 days I guess)‏

Aloha, everyone! (:

So. The MTC is such an amazing place. I am going to run-down a "day in the life" of all of us here!

We wake up at around 6:30 every morning, and need to be in our classroom at 7 for personal study (hahaha awkward we just realized this yesterday so). Breakfast starts at 7:30, and our entire District eats together. I absolutely LOVE my District! There are 8 of us in the District. Sister Smith and I are the only 2 going to Hawaii, and the rest of them are heading to the Calgary Canada Mission. I have decided to title our District "Al(oh)a Canada!". I'm funny :P

ANYWAYS then we are in the classroom from 8-12:15, then we head to lunch.
Then we are back in the classroom by 1:30, and stay there until 5:30.
Then dinner.
THEN back to the classroom by 6:15, where we stay until 9:30 every night.

I've actually started taking showers at night, because there's no way I'd be ready in the morning. The showers traumatized me the first night, but I've adjusted quickly to it all (:
My bed is super comfy, but I'm not sure if it's because it's truly comfy, or because I'm 100% exhausted by the end of the day. Legit, the day I got here by the end I was so tired I literally fell asleep on top of my journal while I was writing. The page is a little crinkled and torn, but not too terrible!

Basically I spend every single moment with my district, and it's super convenient that I really love them! I'll be sending some pictures (hopefully) and you'll see some of my favorite people! Sister Smith was seriously meant to be my companion. We are so similar and have the same mannerisms, I'm so grateful for her. (: We live with Sister Alvez and Sister Letner, so the 4 of us have gotten very close. I love that the four of us, plus the other 4 elders in our district can have such amazing spiritual conversations, but then at the next moment we can start singing "Amish Paradise". Yeah, I'm loving it here a whole lot (:

Our first night, we had a workshop where we were split into groups and went and taught investigators as a group. We would pass the microphone around to anyone who felt prompted to talk to this investigator. Something I've noticed with me, is that as soon as I meet anyone here I love them. Even if I just see them, I love them. So we met 3 different people. Sarah Mae, Chicho and Chad. All of them had very different stories, different pasts, different personalities. Sarah Mae had a very terrible childhood, had abusive husbands, and really didn't think she was worth it. Chicho had lost his wife about 8 years ago, and he had 7 kids. His youngest child passed away after 2 days, and he felt like he "broke the plan of happiness" because he never had his son baptized or anything. He felt like his son was never going to go to Heaven, and that he would be in limbo for the rest of eternity. It was such a sweet moment, when this sister from Argentina took the mic and explained to Chicho that children under the age of 8 automatically go to live with Heavenly Father. That children cannot sin, and are pure and if they pass before 8 they live with God. Chicho just sat there for a few minutes, and it was such a powerful moment in my life. The fact that he finally was able to hear that his son was happy, and not in limbo. That he was with God again. That was amazing moment. 

The main things I learned from meeting these 3 people, though, was that we can't fix the past. God has a plan of happiness for us, but sometimes (because we have our agency) some people make really bad choices. We cannot change the past of our investigators, but we can teach towards the future. To show them that there is truly hope in their lives, regardless of their past. 

On a lighter note, when we were teaching Chicho, a bunch of us sisters were sitting in the front row. He asked us a question, and we all replied and Chicho said "Oh, so you're like Mormon nuns! You're called Sister, and you live for Jesus!" That's one way to look at it, I suppose (:

On Thursday night, we met our branch presidency and their wives. It turns out that my branch president is a convert! :D He joined when he was 16, and served a mission 3 years later in Detroit. When we had one-on-one interviews, he told me that he was so happy and excited to have me in his branch. I'm (so far) the only convert in the branch, and meeting him meant so much to me. He very specifically told me "Sister Noriega, don't you dare compare yourself to anyone in that room. Satan wants you to compare yourself to others and to tear yourself down, but what you have is so special. Your testimony, your experience will help you be so relatable to so many people on your mission."
I love him so much, and appreciated his words of affirmation, I needed that so badly!
Oh! So I was given an assignment in my district, I am the online coordinator. I will teach the newbies coming in next week the way that they can email, and navigate around the missionary portal (:

Yesterday was long, hard, amazing, very spiritual. Sister Smith and I taught our first investigator, named Ryan. Ryan has a really bad relationship with his family, he works at night and lives with 3 other roommates, he knows God exists but has no relationship with Him. I LOVE RYAN. Even before I met him, I felt such a strong desire to teach Ryan and help in any way possible. Sister Smith and I felt prompted to start talking about families, and the plan of salvation with him. We had made very specific plans and everything, and we felt so ready. 
We met Ryan yesterday afternoon, and taught a 30 minute lesson. Funny thing, it didn't go AT. ALL as we had planned. BUT the spirit was there, regardless. I was able to teach about prophets, and how Heavenly Father shows His love to us in different ways, including through our modern-day prophet Thomas S. Monson. It was so special. 

Yesterday we also role-played a lot with our companions, learning how to teach the order of prayer and doing invites for baptism. The invitation for baptism is "Will you follow Jesus Christ's example and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood of God? ... Will you prepare yourself for baptism on this date?". What a powerful statement that is. I almost cried, asking Sister Smith to prepare for baptism. There is such power behind those words, and our purpose in a nutshell is to follow Christ's example. It was so special, I cannot wait to hopefully invite Ryan to be baptized next week!

Okay, so some funny things I've heard around the MTC:

We went to the gym yesterday (I biked 3 miles WOO), and there were 2 elders that will be serving in the Phillipines in there. They play church films, and one was showing Christ. One of the Elders looks up, and says
"Woah, Jesus was RIPPED!"
I died a little I couldn't stop laughing.

At breakfast this morning, an Elder from England was getting his food and he said
"This is AMERICA. How are there NO DONUTS FOR BREAKFAST!?"
I hope he found a proper substitute.

Elder Williams (he's in my district, he's from England) was telling us a story
"This man went to slam a door in the missionaries faces, and when he slammed it the door bounced back open. He slammed it again, and then yelled at the missionaries ''Elder, get your foot out of the door!" to which the Elder replied "I will, as soon as you move your cat"

I LOVE my district, I love our Heavenly Father and Christ, and I KNOW this church is true. I am taking a Book of Mormon comprehension class, and we went over my FAVORITE scripture (Ether 12:27). Sister Gage is my teacher, and she is so sweet. She has helped me so much already, and we've only met together once. I cannot wait to see what the rest of my time here has in store for me. I'm completely exhausted, but I am so happy. (:

Okay I have to leave in a few minutes to go be seated for General Conference, but please know I love you all so much! Please send letters, they really brighten my spirit after a long day. <3

Aloha nui loa, 
Sister Noriega

((OKAY so my computer doesn't have an SD card slot, and my companions cable is too small, I'll figure out a way to send you pics soon!))


Friday, October 3, 2014


Hi Mom! :D

So my p-day is Saturday, and with it being General Conference I'm not sure if I'll be able to email or not. So much has happened, I literally feel like I've been in the MTC here for a week. Yeah haven't even hit 48 hours yet so. :P

I am so happy. I LOVE my companion, her name is Sister Jessica Michelle Smith, and she's from Utah. She and I are both going to Hawaii, and she and I are so similar. She's the best, we both like to be on time and she has seen the Channing Tatum EW! video so obviously we were meant to be companions.

I have learned so much in just one day. OH so fun thing, I found out that I'll be coming home around April 18, 2016. Gabe, Mady, adjust the countdown accordingly :P

The spirit is so strong here. My testimony has grown significantly, and I cannot wait to be able to tell you more. I can get mail EVERY SINGLE DAY, but can only reply on P-day. PLEASE SEND ME LETTERS.

Okay, got the one minute countdown. I love you all SO SO SO MUCH. I absolutely adore Utah, even though it's freezing, and I love everything I'm learning. I miss you guys, and I hope all is well <3

Aloha nui loa,
Sister Noriega