Monday, December 29, 2014

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!‏

Try saying THAT 5 times fast!

Aloha, everyone (:

So first of all, thank you all SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING. I received many cards and packages, and it was so amazing. I really do feel so much love and support from everyone at home, and I just hope you know how grateful I am for all of it.

Dang. My Christmas was such an amazing Christmas. At the beginning of December it was hard, with all the changes/transfers/madness of mission life, and I wondered how I would make it through Christmas without my family here. I have grown a lot though, and I've really had to rely on the Lord more than ever. To start off, we had a zone meeting the Tuesday before Christmas and we had a White Elephant gift exchange! It was super hilarious, all the random things us missionaries can find for $5. I ended up receiving Elder Vae'nuku's present, which was a picture of him and a few other elders flexing, and he signed it. Lovely gift for a sister missionary, right? :P It was a lot of fun though! 

Christmas Eve we spent a lot of time with our Bishop and all of his family in his home. Not including Sister Lasike and myself, there were only 2 members of the church at this dinner, out of probably 18 or so. Our Bishop asked us to share a message, and Lasike and I were SUPER nervous. It's amazing though, how the Spirit can calm you and really deliver the message God intends for these people to hear. We shared the "He is the Gift" video, and we shared our testimonies of the Savior and how through Him we can have eternal life. Seriously, it was dead quiet and the Spirit was SO strong. It was a testimony builder of a moment, for sure. 

Christmas morning, I awoke and was able to open my packages from my family, and also Mady & Gabe. Dang, I have extremely thoughtful friends and family, they really know me and found the perfect little things to send (including some much needed bug spray and money, thanks everyone!). Christmas was such an amazing day, I cannot say it enough. We had several families in the Kaneohe 1st ward invite us over to their homes for meals, and really made us apart of their Christmas traditions. I have never felt so much love. I honestly can't begin to express how thankful I am for this ward, and for them taking us in and including us as if we were their own children. Gosh I get teary eyed just thinking of the love I feel. (: We also got together as a zone Christmas night, and watched FROZEN!!! Sister Lasike hadn't seen it, and hearing her reactions was the best. When Prince Hans was revealed as his true self, she yelled "I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT" it was so hilarious!!

Best part of Christmas day, though?

Skype with my family!!
Seeing my family (: Seeing them reminded me why I am out here: to help other families be together forever. I am so thankful for all they've done for me my entire life, and that they continue to support me.


We went on exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders on Saturday, and guess what? I had to take over the area and be senior companion for the day. It took my one hour to plan for our day, and I had to direct Sister Lamplugh for the day. Dang, I have never been more stressed in my life, or had to rely on the spirit so much. We saw quite a few miracles, though. We met with several less active families, who are wanting to come back to church, and a few of our investigators. My favorite moment of the day was when we went tracting. Because I was in charge, I had to pick which street and area to tract in. I had NO IDEA WHAT TO DO. I had Sister Lamplugh pull over, and I said a prayer. It was one of the most sincere prayers I've ever said, and I felt the strongest prompting to go forward and tract on the street in front of us. The FIRST HOUSE we knocked on was a less active members home, who hasn't been to church in over a year. Lasike and I have planned on seeing them for a while, but have never gotten over. I had no idea where they lived, and we just happened to knock on their door and share a message with them. THEN THE NEXT HOUSE was an investigator of ours I have never met, a very strong Catholic with a heart of gold. We had a great discussion with her. The Lord really does direct the work here, and I am just an instrument in His hands. After Saturday, I know that when the time comes, I will be able to take over an area. I've never felt so confident in myself, or in the Lord.

Sunday was a normal Sunday, sacrament went well, felt the spirit a lot. The bishop asked me a lot of questions in ward council, and asked me specifically what the ward should do to help these certain families. It's so crazy, I can feel myself getting lost in the work. It's the best feeling ever! I can't believe on January 1st I'll have been on my mission for 3 months! Everyone here says that once I hit 6 months the months will fly, and by no time I'll be home. I love my mission, and I love Hawaii! My testimony grows stronger each day, and there is no doubt in my mind that this is God's true church upon the earth.

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou, everyone! 'Ofa atu, talk to you "next year" (lame joke I'm so sorry).


taking selfies at the library

Christmas Eve Eve - Kaneohe zone

District Picture

Elder Gale and myself

Exchanges - Sister Lamplugh and I

I LOVE Kaneohe

On my desk - thank you Mom!!

On that street with all the amazing Christmas lights there is one house that literally has a pink wreath and Edward Cullen in a Santa hat as their decor 
Super rad cat shirt

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mele Kalikimaka!‏

Mele kalikimaka, one and all!

Gosh it's so crazy how fast time is going. I have felt so much love from not only my support system in Arizona, but from my ward ohana here in Kaneohe (:

We had a lot of really great lessons this week. We have an investigator named Reuben, and he's been taking the discussions for just under a year now. He wants to be baptized so badly, and he truly loves the Lord. He is unable to, though, because he's on parole. Sister Lasike and I pray often for him, in hopes that he will be able to be baptized soon. He has changed so much over the years, and all because of what he calls "my walk with the Lord Jesus Christ". He's amazing, he shares his testimony often and is a missionary already, and he's not even baptized yet! Love him!

Our recent converts, and elderly couple named Richard and Catherine (but we call them Grandma and Grandpa), came to church and stayed all 3 hours, another Christmas miracle! They really enjoyed themselves. We see them twice a week, and usually their grandson, Aiden who is 3, is there. Aiden and I are buddies, and I always play with him so we can teach Grandma and Grandpa. He reminds me so much of Vincent and Tony, he's super cute and kinda crazy. I think of my little brothers often here, actually, a lot of the families in the ward have little boys around their age. Crazy, yeah?

So many members have been feeding us this week, and really helping us through this season without our families. Their hearts are so big, and full of love to give. We've been given gifts and money from many members, and they are just so excited to serve us. The longer I'm out here on the mission, the more I see that Christ-like love that I strive to have. There are so many special people in Hawaii, and I'm so blessed to be here.

OH so I'm sending some pictures of a street we live by. It's famous around the island, and people travel on a Christmas trolley just to see it. This neighborhood street goes ALL OUT FOR CHRISTMAS, decorations and all. The Sisters that serve in the YSA/Tongan branch, we took them the other night to see it and we took some pictures of it (:

I love my mission!

Yesterday, I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting about my conversion story, and tie it into some sort of Christmas theme. 

This Christmas season is not about the gifts, the music or the films. It isn't about getting the best deals on a present, or having the prettiest wrapping. It's about celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without Him, we would not have a way to return to our Father in Heaven. Without Him, there would be no way to live with Him again. I am eternally grateful for the gift of our Savior, a gift that didn't have to be given to us. But it was. I love Heavenly Father, Christ, and this special season. I have never had a more meaningful and special holiday season. I love and miss you all so much, but I know I'm where I need to be (:

Mele kalikimaka,
Sister Nori 

Look, I'm Princess Leia!

Sister Sateki and I

Sister UV and I

Sisters in the YSA/Tonga branch


Saturday, December 20, 2014

peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment

(added by Mom)
New Address:
45-345 Mealele St.
Kaneohe, HI 96744

Aloha, everyone!

This week has been one of the hardest, greatest and craziest weeks of my life. Adjusting has been pretty easy, surprisingly. Kaneohe 1st ward is treating me well, and I feel right at home. (:

So I'm going to start with Tuesday. I found out Monday night that we were going somewhere very special... anyone care to guess where we went?

Yes, I finally went through the Laie Temple, the day I've been dreaming of since I got my mission call in June. (: I can't even begin to describe the beauty of Hawaii, let alone the temple here on Oahu. The Spirit is the same, and I just felt so blessed to be serving a mission. I gladly would've gone anywhere, but man, how blessed am I. I live in a place that many people only dream of visiting. (:
Later that day, we went to the Visitors Center! Here's a picture of my zone (minus our Zone leaders).

So THEN, I found out on Tuesday, that our zone was going to Pearl Harbor to do service!!!!! We  were able to go on the USS Missouri, and we cleaned Broadway (a huge tunnel in the middle of the Missouri). We had a whole lot of fun, and we were actually filmed while doing service. Watch for it, on the Mormon Newsroom! It was a really cool experience!

AND THEN I went to the Polynesian Cultural Center on Thursday night, and was able to ride the canoe ride and see how Christmas is celebrated around the world, the story of the birth of Christ, and so forth. 

this has definitely been one of those weeks where I wonder how I got so lucky. I adore not only the people of Hawaii, but the culture and the land. I never have wanted to visit Hawaii, and now that I live here I can't imagine being anywhere else. My zone is super amazing this transfer, and we had THE BEST zone meeting on Friday. The zone lordz came up with this idea, to have all the district leaders give a motivational speech to pump us up. Yeah, they picked out super dramatic film scores to give these speeches to, it was hilarious!

It's amazing how much the Lord knows us and is aware of us. He sent me here for such a purpose, and I am able to see more and more everyday that I was meant to be here. I have realized even more that the Lord will bless us, beyond our comprehension, if we just humble ourselves and ask. My testimony within this last week has just, grown so much. I honestly can't believe I have been on my mission for a few months and already learned so much.

There's a scripture in the Bible, found in John 16:33. It says:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

What a huge blessing and comfort, to know that Heavenly Father sent His son to overcome the pains of the world, and to suffer for our sins so that we can return to live with Him again. This was the most important gift all of us have been given, one that our Father gave to us. He didn't have to, but He did. How grateful I am every single day for this unspeakable gift we've been given. I challenge everyone this holiday season to write down some of the talents you've been given from God, and then think of how you could use these talents to bless others around you. I know that as you do this, you will feel the pure love of Christ, and feel the true spirit of Christmas.

I love you all, so much. Thank you for the encouraging emails and letters. Last week and this week were extremely hard, and I will admit, I almost gave up. I am so grateful that I didn't, though. (: I have learned I need to have more patience with myself and those around me, and as I do so I can become the missionary Heavenly Father would be proud of!

'Ofa atu,
Sister Noriega

Laie Temple

Canoe ride - Christmas lights

Elders being... Elders 
Sister UV, Sateki and I on the USS Missouri

Vistors Center group pic, minus Zone Leaders

Windy day in Kaneohe

Laie Temple and me

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Now behold, a marvelous work... is about to go down.‏

Aloha, everyone!

Oh my goodness. I don't even know where to begin. This has been one of the hardest weeks of my mission, and it's just been madness. Our entire zone was completely changed, for reasons I'd rather not discuss on here. All is well, though! We are super determined to make this transfer the best (:

I love the Kaneohe 1st Ward! I haven't met everyone yet (we had stake conference this week), but those who I have met are pretty great (:

Honestly I don't have that much to report, yet. I adore Sister Lasike, though, which is great! We have some super awesome investigators in this area, and I'm excited to work with them. I do miss Olomana, but I know this is the Lord's work and all of this is His will. I have been struggling this week, but I know that as I rely on the Lord, I will be blessed with the comfort and love I need. Love you all!

'Ofa atu,
Sister Noriega

BTW, my Hawaiian name is officially Aleki No-way-brah (:
Beautiful Nativity on our street

Beginning of Kaneohe Christmas parade

Elder Fowles - he's basically my favorite 
Elder Hatch - we are best friends

New Comp Sister Lasike and I

Peace out Teuscher

Saying goodbye in Olomana

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Aloha 'Oe, Olomana, Aloha Kaneohe!‏

Aloha, everyone!

So, remember when I was told I was going to be in the Olomana ward for a while, and would stay here for Christmas and take over the area and all? Well, surprise, I'm being transferred! I found out Friday, and I am leaving Wednesday morning. The Olomana ward will now have Elders, instead of Sisters. They're white-washing them in, so I'm nervous for that. We have so many people that are SOOOOO CLOSE to baptism. We've been working hard. I am praying that those Elders will love the people as much as we have. It was sad, saying goodbye and breaking the news to everyone. Especially when people were giving me lei's, and saying their goodbyes to myself and Sista T. I love the people in the Olomana ward, and I am grateful to have served here for the 7 weeks I have.

I am being transferred to the Kaneohe 1st ward. My new companion will be Sister Lasike (who I sent a few pictures of a few weeks ago, when we went to Jurassic Park). She's been in Kaneohe since June, so she will be finishing my training. I adore Sister Lasike, and we actually were both praying we'd be comps, so yay :D I have been told I'm going to get fat in my new ward. HOORAY. :P I will send my new address as soon as I know what it is. 

So my Thanksgiving was really great! In Hawaii, not only do they eat turkey, they also eat ham, corn beef, smoked turkey, emu turkey, basically any meat. I was stuffed on that day, but I didn't gain much weight at all. It was really a great day though, we visited with a lot of families and enjoyed their company. 

Honestly, our week has been weird and abnormal. Like, so much running around and prepping for Teuscher to leave, then finding out that I'm also leaving. Gosh. So crazy.Been taking a lot of pictures though, and still doing the work! I love the mission. I am so excited for this new chapter in the Kaneohe 1st ward, and to meet the people and do the Lord's work (:

OH FUN FACT: I've been out for 2 months today! I can't believe it's already been 2 months. I also can't believe it's only been 2 months. I love serving in Hawaii, and I love my zone. Our entire zone is being changed up, and it's craaaazzzyyyy. I love you all so much, and thank you for your continued support!

'Ofa atu,
Sister Noriega
Aunty Lilly and Uncle Willy

Last Sunday in the Olomana Ward

Machados and Vidinhars

Me :)

I've reached the Promised Land

Sister A'alona

Sister Talanoa, Sister Lasike, Sister Teuscher

with Papito

with Patrick

with Sasha