Monday, September 21, 2015

Until We Meet Again‏

One last time... Malo e lelei and alooooo-ha!


This week has been so hard, and wonderful at the same time. Saying goodbye to the members, the investigators, the ward, the missionaries, all of whom I have come to love so dearly. Leaving them behind is so scary for me at this moment. Then, on the other hand, starting my life up again, going to college, seeing my friends and family, building stronger bonds with my loved ones, watching films and listening to music. I am excited for all of these things!

Saying goodbye to the members has been top priority this week, and updating the area book. Sister Mitchell is being transferred, and Elders will be coming into the Palehua area. We teach a lot of single sisters, so naturally we are worried. We know the Lord knows the plan, though! Just have to have faith. 

Yesterday in church, it was ward conference. Our bishop spoke, Emilene (our recent convert) bore her testimony, and then SURPRISE Bishop Aken called me up to bear my testimony one last time. It was on the spot, but I felt the Spirit in me. I didn't cry! 

In Hawaii, there's a tradition. Whenever a family, member or missionary is leaving the ward, they sing a beautiful Hawaiian song called "Aloha 'Oe". They had me come up to the stand, the entire congregation stood, and sung to me these words:

Ha'aheo ka ua i naa pali
Ke nihi aʻela i ka nahele
E uhai ana paha i ka liko
Pua 'ahihi lehua o uka

Aloha ʻoe, aloha ʻoe
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo
One fond embrace,
A hoʻi aʻe au
Until we meet again

I may have teared up, but I didn't cry either! Weird, huh?

Our time is so limited on this Earth. My time has been so limited on my mission, in Hawaii, but it has influenced me more than anything in my life. The culture, the Aloha spirit, the members and missionaries. Everyone and everything has taught me something about myself and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now more than ever, I am 100% sure this is the TRUE gospel. That this is Christ's church upon the Earth. 

I may have only had 1 year to wear the official badge, but I forever will have my name tag engraved in my heart. I want to continue my spiritual journey, this is not the end. I have been sent here to Hawaii for many reasons, but something my mission president taught me is that our number 1 investigator on our mission is ourselves. I have been truly converted. It didn't happen when I was baptized, it has happened the past 2 years in the church. Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been the biggest blessing, and has saved my life in more ways than one. I am grateful for those who have supported me during my trials, and have supported me in all things. I hope I have made you proud. More than anything though, I hope I have made my Heavenly Father proud.

I love my Savior. I have learned more about Him than I could have ever imagined I would know. He truly died for our sins, so that we could have that opportunity to have eternal life. Christ has paid the price for our salvation. We must come unto Him, though, and partake of His salvation. His hand is forever outstretched to us. It is our choice whether we grab His hand, though! 

I have learned so much my 12 months here in Hawaii, but mostly I've learned about the LOVE that our Heavenly Father has for each of us. He places us exactly where we need to be, with the people we need. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and will provide blessings for us to have the best life possible. We, in turn, must choose to follow Him and His son, Jesus Christ, to achieve all the blessings we are promised.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's true church upon the Earth. God called his servant, Joseph Smith, to restore the priesthood authority that was taken so long ago. I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ, in the sacred grove, and that he was called to restore the everlasting gospel. The Book of Mormon, along with the Old and New Testament, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price contain the everlasting gospel. All are the word of God, and we are so blessed in this day and age to have all of them. I know that He loves us, and wants us to come to Him for anything and everything. We are never to unworthy to feel His love. 

I love my Father in Heaven, my older brother Jesus Christ, and all of you who have been with me every step of the way. I am so excited to see all of you again, and to be able to show you all in person how much I love my Savior. Bless you all, for the time you've put into writing emails, letters, cards, and sometimes even packages! I have appreciated every single word you've sent. Know that I love you, and that when I come home I want to continue to serve. If anyone needs ANYTHING, I hope you don't hesitate to call me.

The gospel is true, the book is blue, and Jesus is the Christ. (:

Until we meet again, toko's!

~Sister Alexis Michelle Noriega

Monday, September 14, 2015

The A.L.O.HA Mission

Aloha everyone! (:

First off, I'd like to express my gratitude for the outpouring of love and support this week. I don't feel as scared or anxious to come home as I previously did. I have so many thoughts and emotions running through me right now, I honestly don't know what to email home about. I want to take some time to reflect on my mission.

I am grateful to be in the Hawaii Honolulu Mission, the A.L.O.HA Mission!

Atonement of Jesus Christ is my message.

Love of God and others is my motivation.

Obedience to the commandments and mission rules is my strength.

By spreading the gospel to others I can give them the HA, the breath of life, even eternal life.

How true this mission motto is. On my mission, I've learned a lot. How to serve, how to turn outward rather than inward, to study, work diligently and use time wisely. Most of all, though, I have learned the love our Savior has for each of us. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is my message, and will forever continue to be my message. I finished the Book of Mormon for the 4th time this week, and never has my testimony been so strong. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Jesus Christ is God's only begotten Son, who was sent here to die for us. To take upon Himself the sins of the world so that we could return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father again. Through faith in Him, we are able to repent of our wrongdoings, and move forward in our lives. No unclean thing can dwell with God, and because Christ overcame all trials and tribulations, we can repent sincerely and be forgiven. I love my Savior and Redeemer (:

My love for God and my fellow man has also increased over these last 11 1/2 months. It truly has motivated me through my mission. Through the hard times and challenging times, I remember the love my Father in Heaven has for me, and I am instantly pumped to serve. 

Obedience is a large part of all these things, though. Keeping all of God's commandments in exactness is a blessing in itself to me. The mission rules though, that is something I had to learn. To truly pray about. They are rules set by the apostles, and some by our mission president, for our protection and benefit. Have a had a 100% perfect obedient mission? Honestly, no. But I have seen the blessings from keeping them, and learned from others the consequences of breaking them. Men called of God have set these rules for us, and I know that keeping them all has blessed and furthered the missionary work here.

I love being a missionary. Putting on my name tag everyday, with my name right next to Jesus Christ's name. What an honor it is, to be a set-apart servant of the Lord. As I go into my final week, I intend to work the hardest I've ever worked in my life. To make every moment count.

I love the gospel. I love my companion, Sister Mitchell, and all she has done for me. I love the Palehua ward, where I've been for 6 months now and seen the gospel and more specifically the Atonement change the lives of the members here. This Sunday is my final Sunday, and I already know when they sing "Aloha 'Oe" to me this Sunday.... well. The tears will be drippin'. 

I love you all. I will be writing this Monday for the last time as Sister Noriega... AHH so bittersweet. I know that the Lord needs me home for a bigger purpose than I can see. I pray I will continue to keep the Spirit close to me in all that I do, and will continue to be a faithful servant, even after I take off the black badge. I love you all, mahalo nui loa!

~Sister Nori

Hiking this morning

Another view from our hike this morning

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Not Mine, but Thine.‏

Malo e lelei and alooooo-ha! (:

This week. How can I begin to describe this week? It has been the absolute hardest week of my mission to date. 

On Wednesday, I had a very weird feeling about my body. I felt like something was off, but I didn't really want to acknowledge it out of fear. I am blessed with Sister Mitchell, though, she semi-forced me into calling our mission nurse. It was time for me to get my blood work done, and Mitchell knew that. So I caved, called, and my appointment was set for Thursday morning. 
Driving to Honolulu that morning, there was something in me that knew that something was wrong. I couldn't pinpoint it, but there was no part of me that wanted to go to this doctors appointment. I do my usual blood work, vitals, wait for a room to be open, and eventually I met with the doctor to go over my blood work. I don't want to go into details, but I will say that the results weren't positive.
The doctor told me that I've done everything that I can, but that my blood sugars aren't under control whatsoever. That my health is declining while I am out here, especially with the Polynesian diet we eat daily. The doctor told me I could stay out, but just shoot more insulin. Something was telling me that wouldn't be enough.

As I left the doctors office, I realized very slowly that I had a choice to make. 

I called my mission president a few hours later, after talking with Sister Mitchell. I told him that I think that I need to go home, and take care of myself. President Warner told me that if his daughter called him and told him what was happening with me, that he'd tell her to come home right away. After much fasting and praying, I have made the decision to come home. 

I thought I cried a lot in my life, but never have I truly felt so heart broken. I do NOT want to come home. I want to finish my mission, and come home in April. Yes, that is what I want and planned on doing. That isn't what the Lord had in store for me, though. It's funny, I keep praying, almost hoping the answer will change. That maybe the Lord will provide a way for me to magically be healed, and to be able to serve my final 6 months. Something I've learned through my own experiences and watching the lives of others unfold, though, is that the Lord has a far better plan for us than we can begin to imagine. 

I will be flying home the night of September 23, and arriving home sometime the morning of the 24th. I have about 2 weeks left, and I plan on making them count. I have such a love and testimony of this gospel. 3 years ago, I was a different person. A person who had nothing going for them, a person who had no hope for the future. I felt worthless. Then I found the gospel. The gospel brought hope, faith and love back into my life in a way I never had anticipated. I was baptized 2 years ago, as of September 7th. These 2 years in the church have been full of trials, but also of faith building experiences and moments filled with the Spirit. 

I am struggling right now, accepting that I am really coming home. Hawaii is a place like any other, with a beautiful aloha spirit you will never find anywhere else. I know I was meant to be here, but I guess I wasn't meant to be here for 18 months. The Lord did bless me with 1 year out in the mission field, and for that I will forever be grateful. I have never had to rely on the Lord as much as I am right now. Having faith in HIS plan and HIS timing. 
"Not mine, but Thine"

I love you all so much. I do feel like I've failed, in a way, but I know that is the adversary. I desperately wish I could stay, but there is something waiting for me at home. Something far greater than I can imagine. I will have an honorable medical release, and I need to accept the Lord's will. Thank you, for all the love and support. I still have a few weeks left, and I plan on working til I'm 'dead'. (: 

Until next time!

~Sister Nori

Friday, September 4, 2015

Perfect Love Casteth Out All Fears‏

Aloha everyone! 

This past week has been full of fun, disappointing, and down-right rainy moments! Quite a few of my emails today were concerned people asking if the hurricanes are affecting the Makakilo zone. To answer your questions, yes, they are! It's been pretty crazy. Sister Mitchell and I have gotten 100% soaked twice this week, and we've had to go home and change. Today, our mission president relayed a message through our zone leaders that we are to stay away from the coast lines today, due to the large waves. It's funny because we didn't find out about the 2 hurricanes that will be hitting tomorrow until sacrament meeting yesterday. Yep, that's missionary life for ya! I do know, though, that the Lord protects His missionaries. I already know we'll be fine! Mom, have faith, I promise you personally that we'll be okay and safe (:

On Tuesday, we had district meeting! As usual, it was a very spiritual time! That is when the rains really started. We had to drive the sisters to Honolulu, and we got stuck in that Hi-Hon traffic! 2 1/2 drive. It was great. Why, do you ask? Because I'm a horrible companion and slept the entire time... #oops. 

Wednesday, we were super busy! All of our appointments went really well. Remember me talking about Walking Wednesday? Yeah, we did that... and we got soaked. 100%. We were like "YES maybe people will pity us and listen to our message!". Yeah nobody answered their doors. It's okay though, we had fun! Thursday and Friday weren't very eventful, but had little miracles of course. Friday night we went and met with the Scott family. Only 2 out of the 7 kids were there, it was a great opportunity to talk to the oldest girl about baptism. Recently, as we know, the Dad passed away, and now her Uncle passed away both from Cancer. This Uncle was supposed to be the man to baptize them, since their Dad passed. The oldest Scott girl is feeling guilty, about not being baptized before they passed. That maybe her loved ones will be angry with her for being baptized NOT by those 2. We had a very spiritual discussion about eternal families. I was able to bear testimony that families CAN be together forever. She does believe that, but someone recently told her she wouldn't ever see her Dad again because they weren't all sealed in the temple. That made me ponder about God's plan for us.

Heavenly Father sent us here in families. Why? So we could learn. So we could grow up with a built-in support system that loves us and will teach us. Are any of our families perfect? NO. Life happens. The Adversary is very real in this world, and Satan is trying to tear families apart. That doesn't mean, though, that our Lord isn't understanding and merciful. The Lord loves us, and knows we love our families. I KNOW that even if I am not sealed to my family here, that I will see them again. That hope isn't lost, through the Atonement of Christ. I will be able to see my family again, and be able to be sealed to them. Life is rough, and our relationships with our families will never be perfect. But God loves us, and because of that love we have the Plan of Salvation. We have a way prepared for us to be together forever.

This week has been rough, I won't lie. BUT it was for my better. To learn to rely more on the Lord, and not on my own abilities. I must trust in the Lord, and HIS timing, not my own. To develop a perfect love, a perfect love that will not leave my with the feeling of fear, but of trust and faith. Humbleness is a very important attribute I've recently learned about, along with faith and hope. I love my savior, and I am grateful for His love. This week, I challenge all of you to serve your family. Whether it's a small or large act of love, serve them. Tell them and show them how much you love them. I can promise you as you do this you will feel our Heavenly Father's love and Christ's love for each of us, and you will find yourselves happier than before.

I love you all very much. Stay safe, stay cherry, and ofa atu (:

~Sister Nori

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride

Malo e lelei and alooooo-ha! :D

This week has definitely had its ups and downs. Not the best week, but definitely not the worst! 

On Tuesday, we had interviews with our mission president. It never ceases to amaze me how much he and his wife truly love and care about each of us missionaries as individuals. I was able to receive some advice from President Warner on how I can personally better myself as a missionary. I love speaking with him, he reminds me how much I've grown in the past (nearly) 11 months. I also confirmed that this will be my last transfer in Makakilo. Gotta make the most of it!

We have Wednesday in our missions set apart as "Walking Wednesday". As missionaries, we are encouraged to walk around as much as possible, and not use our car. It helps us to not only exersize more (which we all need here in the 40 pound mission), but it also gives us more opportunities to talk to people. Sister Mitchell and I prayed specifically to have the Lord put people in our path, and guide us as we walked to visit. So, 10am, 95 degrees in the humidity and sweat already dripping, we were off! The first person, Kimberly, wasn't home unfortunately, or the Cruz family. Gosh the weather has been awful here, so I was pretty done walking after 15 minutes, but we were determined to keep moving forward!
Next thing we know, we are having a really great visit with the Ma'auga family. They are very less active, and the wife works 12 hour shifts at the post office. Nearly impossible to catch them home. We didn't plan on seeing them, but as we were walking away from our 2 appointments that fell through, we spotted them! 
Afterwards, we went to meet with a part-member family that the sisters had taught about a year ago. Various issues came up, so they had to take a break from teaching. We felt that the time was ready for them though. As we knocked on the door, the son's girlfriend of the man we were coming to see answered the door. Very kind, her name is Herolyn, from Saipen. She greeted us, gave us water (which was much needed) and talked story. She is Sister Mitchell and I's age, and really has a desire to learn more about the gospel! We have an appointment with her this Wednesday (: 
We were able to continue contacting former investigators throughout the day, and boy do we have a busy week this week! Super pumped about it, our planners are full :D

Thursday was really cool for Sister Mitchell and I, we week planned and set goals for the transfer. What we want to accomplish as individuals, as a companionship, and how we can better the work here in Palehua. 

On Friday, we had our first district meeting. Not only was it our first district meeting, but it was also ALOHA FRIDAY. SO against Mitchell's wishes and pleads, I made us wear our MUMU'S! I'll attach a picture of course (:

So that was our week! We worked hard, and were able to see miracles. Our weekend proselyting was cut short, we had to travel to Waipahu, to Makaha, to Kapolei, back to Makaha, then BACK TO MAKAKILO because the sisters car broke down. 

Sunday was great though! We were asked to bear our testimonies in primary :D We sang my personal favorite, Jesus wants me for a sun...BEAM! I was so homesick for the Apache Park Primary, I miss them so much! It was such a spiritual Sunday though. The Lord has truly blessed me, and I look forward to the miracles of this week. I love my Savior, and for the opportunity I have to teach others about God's perfect love for each of us. I love you all very much! Have an amazing week, and mahalo nui loa for all that you do!

'Ofa atu,
Sister Noriega

Aloha Friday!

Our dinner Wednesday night showed this to us. IT ISN'T EVEN US IT'S THE J-DUBS BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE US I COULDN'T STOP LAUGHING

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I Will Go, I Will Do‏

Malo e lelei and aloooo-ha!

This week has been really... exhausting. Tiring. Crazy. Blessed. (:

On Tuesday, we had our first after baptism lesson with Kelliann. It was sad, though, the Dad (who is against the church and is a less active member) changed work shifts again. With Kelli starting school, and the schedule change, we will not be able to see Kelli often. Her Mom is not very happy about it, because she is really set on Kelli growing her testimony. We know they are faithful, though, and that as they exersize their faith the Lord will provide. Sister Mitchell and I keep reminding them of that! Crossing our fingers!

Wednesday was a crazy emotional day. It was transfer day, and Sister Mitchell and I had to drive a car to Honolulu, meaning we were able to say goodbye to many of our friends, including Sister Harris (may she rest in peace). After our goodbyes, and meeting a few of the new missionaries in the zone, we had a lesson with Emilene. We spoke on the importance of baptism! Just a reminder on Emilene's story: She was supposedly baptized in high school in Samoa. Funny thing is, nobody has any record that it happened. She needed to be re-baptized! So we talked to her about how our Savior, Jesus Christ, the most perfect man that ever walked the Earth, set the example for us. That WE have more need than HE to be immersed in water, and to take on the covenant to always remember Him and to keep His commandments. Emilene's testimony has strengthened, and she was definitely ready for her baptism (:

On Thursday, we had a pretty normal day of tracting and making visits. It was Sister Mitchell's year mark, so shout-out to her for that milestone! :D We did service for about 4 hours at a man named Brother Greenwood's house, and boy can that man talk! He told us of his many adventures around the world with his wife, and how we as youngin's need to explore. He said "How can you change the world if you don't go out and see it?" I have a lot of traveling to do after my mission! (:
That night, we went out with our Bishop, Bishop Aken, to make visits to a family who just started investigating not too long ago. They're the Haro family, they have 2 daughters, have lived everywhere due to military assignments, and have welcomed us in since the beginning. We took Bishop to see them, and we were hesitant. We hadn't been able to make contact with them for 2-3 weeks, and weren't sure how they would react to us bring Bishop Aken with us. We went around 6:30pm, and as we rang the doorbell we were met by 2 excited Haro girls saying "I KNEW it would be you 2!". We were invited in, and they made us a big old plate of spagetti and welcomed all three of us in (: As we talked with them, Bishop clicked with each one of them immediately. They all have family in the military, know a lot of the same people, ect. It was a true miracle, and the Spirit was there from the start. About 45 minutes later, Bishop asked them if we could share a message. They quickly agreed, and Sister Mitchell and I both knew it was resto time! We went right into it, and the Spirit grew stronger. We taught of prophets, God's love for us, the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith. We challenged them at the end of the lesson to pray for themselves, to know if these things were true. They agreed, and Cassandra looked at us and said "You know, I've been getting a lot of weird feelings lately. I've been thinking about death, and what happens after this life." Both Mitchell and I looked at each other, grinning, and told her we would come over this week and teach her the plan that God has for each of us, the plan of salvation, the ultimate plan of happiness. It was music to our ears! It was a great lesson, and it truly strengthened my testimony of the power of the Holy Ghost!

Friday we had a brief zone meeting, where we made transfer goals as a district and as a zone. We got to know each other better, and bond as a zone for the first time. We have 3 greenies in our zone, and many new faces, it was a much needed meeting. The rest of the day was pretty normal, but stressful, preparing for the baptism!

On Saturday, we were able to witness Emilene's baptism! She didn't want many people there, just a simple baptism service. There was only a handful of people there (a majority of them being missionaries) but the Spirit was strong. Small but mighty (: Emilene was radiating with the light of Christ as she entered the font, and once Brother McMoore brought her out of the water, she had the biggest grin on her face and gave him a big hug. It was so beautiful to see!

Sunday was a spiritual day, as usual. We had the unexpected but welcomed opportunity to teach gospel principles 2nd hour of church. It was on sacrifice! We talked a lot about how much we sacrifice as disciples of Christ. Whether it's 18 months to serve a mission, many hours of the week to fulfill a calling, or a few moments to help someone with their family history work, we sacrifice daily. Really, though, Christ and Heavenly Father has made the biggest sacrifice for US. Christ gave His life. Heavenly Father gave us His son. I know that because of this marvelous act of love that was performed, we are able to live with our families forever. Heavenly Father, He has everything we can give Him. But, as we sacrifice things to serve, as we turn it all over to the will of our Father, He will bless us immensely. I know this church is true, and that this is God's work upon the Earth. I am blessed to have been given this chance to sacrifice so little time to serve for such a large cause. 

I love you all so much, and thank you for everything. Have a great week! (:

~Sister Nori

Emilene and Xavier

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Round 4!‏

Aloha everyone! :D

First, I'll start off with transfer news: Sister Mitchell and I will both be staying here in the Palehua ward! This will make transfer number 4 for me, and I'll be here for at least 6 months. The Lord has a need for me here, and I hope that I continue discovering my purpose (:

Our week wasn't very exciting, to be honest. We had service at Pearl Harbor, which is always a fun treat for us! It was a fun time, bonding with the Makakilo zone. Especially since nearly every companionship is changing. It's crazy how attached you become to certain missionaries. I love my mission for many reasons, one of the biggest being the life-long friendships I've made. (:

(Elder Neil, this is his first transfer out, and he thinks New Mexico is cooler than AZ :P)

We also had a lot of work today, though. We had do to a lot of tracting this week, so we can try to increase our teaching pool. Sister Mitchell and I have decided this transfer to come into it with fresh eyes, and put it into our minds that we're new and white-washing into the area. This tiny area has so much potential! With the Lord's help, we know we can continue to see miracles!

Funny story: We were tracting up one of the hills, and we came to a super shady house. We walked up, and saw 2 parrots. They were completely silent. Now I love animals, so naturally I was like "Hello!" and I hear a super deep voice reply "HELLO" and it started to laugh. Mitchell and I took off running, before realizing it was literally the bird. Fo' real though, we died a little!

Our week was full of disappointing, cancelled appointments, slammed doors, and some personal hardships. Sister Mitchell and I came up with a motivating quote:

As we strive to do our best, Christ will make up the rest.

I know that the Lord is testing our faith, and that yet again, there are miracles to be realized. We must be patient, and endure all things well. I know this church is true, and that we can see the Lord's hand in our lives each day. We just need to pay attention, and realize how loved we are (:
We also need to realize something else: Conversion is a process, not an event. We must nuture our testimony daily, and rediscover the truthfulness of the gospel every single day. Our tesimony will not stay as strong if we don't continually progress in this gospel. I hope and pray that I will continue to do this everyday, not just on my mission, but also when I come home. I love my Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I know He died for my sins, and that through Him I can live with my family forever. 

I love you all so much. I am grateful for all the love and support I feel. Have a wonderful week!

~Sister Nori

Nessy and Nori, prepared for the Nerf war (I love P-day)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Aloooo-ha everyone! :D

We had another good week here in the Palehua ward. On Tuesday, we didn't have a very special, out of the ordinary day. Tuesday night we went on exchanges, and I was able to go with Sister Willardson into the Tongan branch. It was a really great exchange, mostly to help Willardson out. Her companion had to unexpectedly go home for medical reasons about a week ago, so she's been covering 2 wards with another set of sisters. It's been rough on her, and she's stayed super strong! I was so blessed to be with her for exchanges, so we could focus on her area solely, and help her to get her mind at peace again. (: It was a great day!

Wednesday, we also had a zone meeting. We had our zone leaders give a training on the divinity of The Book of Mormon, and how it's a "Divinely designed" for us in this day and age. Gaining a testimony of The Book of Mormon, and the prophet Joseph Smith, is vital in this work. We as missionaries know that the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel, and that is why we must testify and teach with the Spirit; to help others come unto Christ and find this out for themselves. It was a great reminder (: They also showed us this new video, called STRIVE. It talks about how we should STRIVE to better ourselves in the gospel, and to develop ourselves as disciples of Christ. How we can stand as an example to others, and how important we are as individuals to Heavenly Father. Here's the link, it's a great video!

Nothing super special happened the rest of the week, until Saturday. What happened Saturday, you ask?


It was a Spirit-filled experience. She had so many family members from around the island come to support her, and to participate in the program. The best part, though, was her Dad DID come! As previously mentioned, he's very less active and wants nothing to do with the church. My personal favorite moment of the program was when Kelli's Mom, Lori (on the right) gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. Just the love Lori has for the gospel and for her daughter, it was such a sweet moment (: Sunday at sacrament meeting, Kelliann was confirmed a member and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Another surprise: HER DAD CAME. He came half-way through sacrament, by himself. His wife didn't even know he was coming, it was a great surprise! The Cruz family is such a special family, and I will always remember them and their example of Christ-like love and patience.

Sunday, Sister Mitchell and I also had the opportunity to be interviewed by all the young women in our ward! They had some questions that were hard to answer, just because they were super personal and in depth, and then we had the simpler questions, like "How many outfits did you bring with you?". We have a solid group of YW in this ward, I pray they will consider serving. They're already missionaries in their own respect. It was a wonderful weekend for us!!!

I love my mission. As I move forward in my mission, I realize how blessed I am. I will only get a certain amount of time as a full-time missionary, specifically set apart to do His work. I will be able to do so much in my life, listen to music, watch movies, all that jazz. BUT I only have these 18 months to serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind and strength. I strive everyday to become a better disciple of Jesus Christ, and become the woman that God intends for me to be and needs me to be. I have been so blessed in my mission, and as transfers approach, I have peace of mind. Knowing I will be sent somewhere I am needed, or stay here longer because my work here isn't finished. I love you all so much, and I know this church is true. Look for the little, everyday miracles. I promise as you do so, you will feel the Lord's love more fully and you'll desire to share that love with others (:

Ofa atu,
Sister Noriega

Hawaiian sunsets are my favorite

I still hate hiking, but we did it again as a zone this morning

Thursday, July 30, 2015

There Can Be Miracles When You Believe!‏

Good news everyone: I didn't get sick this week!

Just thought I'd start off with that positive news. Oh, and some other news... remember when I said that we were struggling, but I knew there was a miracle around the corner? Let me start from the beginning:

Kelliann is a 9 year old girl I've been teaching since April. Her Mom is an active member, but her Dad is less active and very much against the church. They haven't come in years as a family, but every once in a blue moon Sister Cruz and Kelli can come. Kelli is such a special young girl, she has the light of Christ so strongly within her. Her testimony has grown significantly from the first time I met her until now, but her Dad hasn't approved of her being baptized. This has been hard on Sister Cruz, coming from a very active LDS family herself. She's taken all the discussions, and has honestly been ready to be baptized for a while now. When Sister Mitchell came into the area, she suggested that we have a specific fast, and exersize our faith. To soften Kelliann's fathers heart, that he would allow her to be baptized. The week before last, we fasted, prayed and followed up with the Cruz family. They told us they'd be asking her Dad this last Friday, if he would allow the baptism. We didn't hear anything all weekend from them, and not gonna lie I got super nervous to the point I was afraid to call and ask them how it went. Come Monday afternoon, after we were finished emailing, we get a text from Sister Cruz: "Kelliann's Dad said yes, can we schedule the baptism for August 1st at 2pm?" So. 


I cried, I have been praying for the Cruz family since I got here. My heart is full of love for our Heavenly Father, and for His miracles. Kelli is so excited, she showed us her baptism dress and was showing it off. She couldn't be more ready for this special covenant she is about to make. She's amazing! <3

Another small-kine miracle: Xavier (he was baptized in May), his Mom, Emeline, is from Samoa. She claims she was baptized when she was in high school. Funny thing about Samoa, the church leaders aren't very on top of their records over there. So she's getting baptized on August 8th! Before April, she had been inactive for... 15 years. Then, out of nowhere, she wanted her son to be baptized, and now she's getting baptized. The journey has been a funny and spiritual one, very happy for her (:

The rest of our week continued to be rough, as the last 4 have been. Not many lessons taught, not many people willing to listen to us. BUT, somehow, we were able to find 5 new investigators in our little area, including a Mexican military family! We also have a super solid 15 year old investigating as of last night. His name is Solomon. He is the cousin of one of our members in the ward. He is searching for God in his life, and wants to have that joy that his cousin DJ has found in this gospel. Solomon is so sincere, the Spirit was so strong in our lesson last night. Member referrals are SO IMPORTANT.

I challenge everyone this week to pray. Pray about who could use the joy in the gospel in their lives, specifically at this point. As a missionary now, I realize how important it is to share my love for Christ and His gospel with everyone around me. There is no greater joy in my life than knowing I am a daughter of God, a God who loves me with a perfect love that will never change. As you pray for missionary opportunities with sincerity, I know the Lord will bless you with faces and names of those who are ready for the gospel (:

I love you all very much, and I am grateful for the love and support I feel. Next week we will be getting transfer news. I've been here for 3 transfers now, so. Not sure if I'm staying or going, but I know the Lord will keep or put me where I need to be. LOVE YOU ALL! Stay cherry (:

~Sister Nori

I hate hiking, but that's okay

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Eternal Titles

To all my loved ones, alooooo-ha!

We've had an... interesting week. We had a great p-day, as you all saw (with my seal friend, he like scrap). Tuesday started off really great! We had zone conference, so the Waipahu zone came to Makakilo, and we received wonderful training from our mission president, his wife, and the AP's. We ate lunch, and then I started feeling weird... about an hour later I had to run out of the chapel and I might have emptied my stomach in the hallway. It was lovely, and my blood sugars were CRAZY for 2 days. That is an experience I'd love to forget. ANYWAYS, Sister Mitchell and I were stuck inside for a day and a half because of that. My companion is amazing though, she was in contact with the mission nurse, and really helped me to get better. She basically forced me to sleep and check my blood sugars. I owe her, I love her so much!

Thursday we had a not very successful district flood. Sister Mitchell and I are honestly frustrated at the moment. We have put so much work in these past 4 weeks, and the area isn't moving. All of our investigators have dropped us, when we tract everyone yells at us and slams the door, the less active members are not answering the door for us. We had to sit down and discuss the area for a few hours on Saturday, because the area is very small, and the work isn't moving along. It gets discouraging as a missionary. We've been praying so much, and diligently studying to make sure that we are doing all that we can do. The rest is up to the Lord! We know there is a miracle around the river bend, we just have to press forward with faith until then.

Friday was great, though! Our ward went to the Laie Temple, and we were given permission to go (: They rented a charter bus, and we left Makakilo at 3:45pm, and came home 6 hours later. It was a much needed spiritual trip for Mitchell and I, plus we were able to bond with the ward members. I'm grateful for this day! <3

Saturday was frustrating, to say the least. Again, nobody was home or answered, and tracting wasn't successful. We had a really fun Relief Society Enrichment night, though! We did role playing, about what to do and not to do with your visiting teaching. Plus there was plenty food (:

Our Bishop gave a little training at the RS social. He was talking about how all of us need to help one another, and how our ward family is our real family as well. Nobody is better than the other, and he said something that really got to me. Referring to the importance of families, and helping each other to help our kids have all they need, he said: "I am bishop now, but I don't know if that title will carry on into the next life, along with relief society president, or primary worker. But the role of Mother and Father... THAT is an eternal title."

Sunday was nice, we were able to make a few visits. The best part was definitely having dinner at the Holsteins home. She made Alaskan King crab AGAIN and lumpia's!!!!! It was so delicious!

Coming into a new week, I pray we are able to move forward with faith, and to gain more trust in the Lord. I know that He will bless us along the way, and we will learn as we move on. I love you all so very much, and pray that all of you are doing well! Thank you for your love and support, I'm sending my love your way (:

Ofa atu,
Sister Noriega

In the Visitor's Center

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dakine (Code word, I can't think of a subject line)‏

Malo e lelei and aloooooooooo-ha! (:

We've had another amazing week here in the Palehua ward. Sister Mitchell and I are growing stronger in our comp unity, and hastening the work here in the ward. We have had many miracles happen this week that we didn't anticipate, and we can see the Lord's hand in our lives. We've had a very hot and humid week here in Makakilo, and then it's been rainy for 2 days. Super sticky, hot, but I still love it here despite all of that (:

We were able to have brunch with a very less active member, Sister Blodgett. She is an amazing woman, she works at the Suicide Hotline to help those who are in distress and suffering. She and I talked a lot about her job, and she really helped me to realize what I want to do after my mission. So grateful for not only her kindness, but for her testimony of the gospel. She came to church on Sunday, after 2 appointments with her in one week. I almost cried of joy, she totally made my Sabbath day :D

We had a few opportunities to do service this week, including making fa'ausi out of tarot with the Maili Kai elders! It wasn't my favorite dish to eat, but the opportunity to be immersed in the Samoan culture was awesome. We also spent a lot of today helping a Samoan aunty move, and she fed us choke Chinese food. It's been a great p-day! Before we did service, we went on a hike. I won't talk about my embarrassing moment when I fell into the ocean.... but I will talk about the moment I saw a seal! It was green and sickly looking, but that's okay, I saw one! Look at him!

He like scrap.

We had a follow-up appointment with our new investigator, Sam. He has continued reading the Book of Mormon, and studying the word and praying about it. The last time we met with him, he said he was very upset. His wife was very sick, and they had been wanting to move back to Thailand. He asked us to pray with him, and to continue to keep her in our prayers. Well, God is so good, he healed his wife! The only sad news is... We had our lesson with him Wednesday, and he flew back home with his wife on Thursday. Sam thanked us for teaching, and he says he will be going to tell his church he preaches for at home that the "Mormons are our friends and we should talk to them more often!" Even though he's moving back, we know the seed was definitely planted. (:

Friday was our longest day ever. Mitchell and I needed to take our rental car back to Honolulu, and pick up our car in Waipahu. Well, nobody in our zone was able to help us with this endeavor... SO. Mitchell and I arrived at the mission office at 11am, and then, we TOOK THE BUS. Yes, we rode the bus for 2 1/2 hours. At first it was super exciting, but then soon became long and painful. It is so easy to fall asleep on the bus, and to not really know what's going on. PLUS our bus broke down, so we had to switch. WORST DAY EVER. But that's okay,we still found the positive in all of it (:

We have been working on gaining ward trust, and it has definitely been worth it and working. I love my area, I love my companion, and I love my savior. I am grateful for all that I've been blessed with, including this opportunity to serve. I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!! Sorry it's a bit short, a little rushed today, but know I love you and love this gospel. 

Ofa atu,
Sister Nori

Monday, July 6, 2015

Best Birthday Ever!‏

First of all, mahalo plenty for all the birthday wishes!! I feel so much love coming to Oahu via mainland right now. I'm so grateful for the many many cards, emails, and letters of encouragement and love. Many of you made my week so special, I can't describe the love I feel right now (:

This week has been absolutely amazing. It was an emotional beginning, over half of our zone left. 4 missionaries went home (pau with their missions, not SENT home), and others were transferred. Nearly pulled an all-nighter Tuesday into Wednesday, but that's okay! :P

Sister Mitchell has been off-island her entire mission, she went from Maui for 6 months to Big Island for 4 1/2 months. Her first time on the rock! Definitely a big change for her, and then there's me, been on island for 9 months. I'm showing her around for sure!

We've seen plenty of miracles these past few days. We have been able to work more closely with the ward in making visits to less-active members. On Thursday night, our Bishop offered to go out on visits with us, and then took us out to dinner afterwards. Making visits to semi-active families has become one of my favorite things. To help the members remember why they love the church, to show them how to get back on the path. We made a few return appointments, helped to bring the Spirit into a few different homes with Bishop, invite people to our 4th of July parade, and gain more trust from Bishop. Afterwards, we went to Pizza Hut to grind, and that is where I discovered that Bishop Aken loves Disney and Star Wars, so we basically nerd-ed out together. It was a beautiful thing!

After we parted ways with Bishop, it was about 8. I got a very distinct prompting to go and visit a very special family, the Scotts. They amaze me. The Mom and Dad are separated, and their 7 kids live with Mom. Right after the parents split up about 5 or 6 months ago, the Dad was diagnosed with throat cancer. He is in his early 30's, and he wasn't given much time to live. We've been working diligently to visit them, but hardly ever had luck. We decided to go, even though it was small-kine late. When we got there, almost all the kids were there again! They welcomed us in, and Sister Mitchell was able to meet their sweet spirits. Mitchell kept the kids entertained while I spoke with the Mom. The Mom was telling me that the kids father was in ICU, and that any day now he will pass. She told us how much she appreciated our visits, and that it hasn't gone unnoticed. We left her with a prayer, and the kids were sad to see us go. This Sunday, we saw Sister Scott at sacrament. We asked her how she was doing, and she said "Just a few hours after you sisters left, we all went to Laie. My husband passed away with all of us their. It was no mistake you girls came to us that night, thank you." Totes walked out of church crying. I'm grateful for the guidance of the Spirit in this work.

Friday was really fun for us! Our ward has been having a 4th of July parade for about 8 years now. All the primary kids decorate their bikes, scooters, dogs, whatever they have, and march around the parking lot. Then, as the Hawaiians do, we pound a bunch of food afterwards. It was super cute, and a great way to start our morning! We had a zone meeting right after that. More than half of our zone is new, so we wanted to get to know each other, and received great training on how to be more unified in our purpose here. 

On Saturday, we worked only until 4pm. With all the people drinking and such, as a safety precaution we weren't allowed to proselyte after then. Sooooo we worked hard, went to a little girls pink birthday party, and then chilled with our zone at the Stake Center til 9:30. Super lame though, we didn't see ANY fireworks. They were banned by authorities, and apparently Makakilo was left out of all the festivities. That's okay though, New Years Eve 7 months ago had this weekend covered :P

Sunday was amazing! It was fast and testimony meeting, and for my birthday I went up and bore my testimony of the gospel! It was awesome, the members were so sweet. Brother Willis (he's my bro), he bought me a fuzzy blue lei that I wore all day! The Holsteins also helped me celebrate, they bought me super cute cupcakes, and bought my a tiny Chewbacca key chain! We had dinner at Brother Springers, 1st counselor in the bishopric. His daughter is 13, and she made me a cake completely from scratch (icing and all). Afterwards, we had a lesson with our recent convert, Reyhania. We went over the Restoration. The Spirit was definitely working through me, I was talking about Joseph Smith, and relating how because of Joseph's diligence in scripture study, and his faith and prayer, the gospel was restored. How important and vital scripture study is to all of us as individuals, but I never had thought about it from that point of view. Because of a 14 year old following the advice of his elders, he studied diligently and received an answer. I love this gospel (:

Thank you, for all your love and support. Things are really looking up here, and I'm grateful Heavenly Father has heard and answered my prayers. On top of all of this, we have 2 new investigators, and 5 potential baptisms. Lots of miracles this month already, and we're less than a week in. I love my Savior, I love my mission. I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ's true church upon the earth. I love you all (:

'Ofa atu,
Sister Nori

20 years old today!!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Second Chances

Aloha everyone! #TeamNori here, with TRANSFER NEWS!

The news: I will be staying here in the Palehua ward in the Makakilo zone! Hermana Castaneda is returning to the Visitors Center, so my new companion is Sister Mitchell! My former compa, Harris, trained Mitchell. I am so excited for this new change! We have had a rough few transfers here, and the new changes are very welcome. I love this ward, and am grateful for this 2nd chance in this ward. 

This week has been pretty crazy. For good and bad. 

Our car has had multiple issues, and we finally had to take it in. Our car was stalling, and we were in danger. We live up a very large mountain, and so it's pretty hard on our car. The brakes were nearly out, and we needed to take our car to Waipahu... and when we did this, they immediately took our car and we were stranded in a ghetto area. It was sketch, but the Lord protects His missionaries (: We had 2, nearly 3 days without a car. And of course, summer just started and whatever... #sweat #gross

The Maili Kai Samoan ward has been killing it lately. We have kept up the district floods each week, and we finally had 2 sisters come out with us! Cas and I were able to go on splits. I was with an 18 year old girl named Ella. She's amazing! Her Dad is pressuring her to go on a mission, and this was her first experience with the missionaries. Our district leader specifically asked me to go with Ella, to help her feel more open to the idea of serving. Let me tell you, Ella is already a missionary! She's fearless and bold, like you need to be on the mission field. She knocked on the doors, testified as the Spirit directed. We walked up back Makakilo Drive back to the chapel, and we were able to have a long talk about missionary work. The Spirit was strong with us, and we were able to clear up any false ideas she had of missions. She told me:

"Sister Noriega, when I first met you, I knew you were special. Thank you, for your testimony and service. I am now going to start my mission papers, and going to mission prep. I love you, and love your testimony. Thank you, for everything."

I cried, she's amazing. Watch out mission field, here comes Sister Kekiva! <3

We also had a different youth named Saini come with us Friday. She just moved here about a year ago, from Samoa. She has struggled. She's the only active one in her family, and has a lot of opposition in her life. Saini was so perfect with me, we have extremely similar stories. She is now starting her mission process. What an amazing few miracles, with active members. I LOVE being a missionary!

We also had another HUGE miracle... A family we've been trying to visit for 12 WEEKS. 12 WEEKS, every other day, trying to visit. We got a very strong prompting to visit this particular family. Luckily, we followed it. AND THEY WERE ALL HOME. ALL 7 KIDS AND THE MOM. We were able to share a message about Jesus Christ and the Atonement, and how we can overcome trials. This family is so special. The Mom and Dad have divorced, and suddenly the Dad is about to pass away in ICU. They need all the prayers they can get. We have another appointment with them this coming Saturday <3

I have seen so many miracles this week, especially these past few weeks. I love my Heavenly Father, and all He has provided for me. I'm grateful for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, chances. I am grateful for the power of prayer, and the prompting of the Spirit. I look forward to beginning this 7th transfer of mine. AHH! Time is flying (:

ALSO THANKS FOR ALL THE BIRTHDAY EMAILS! I can't believe I'm 20 on Sunday... How did that happen? Wasn't I like, just born or something? Love you all! Be safe this 4th of July weekend! (:

'Ofa atu,
Sister Noriega

Friday's District Flood!

My ukulele, Pele (pay-lay), and I (:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Press Forward with Faith‏

Malo e lelei and alooooo-ha! #TeamNori here, reporting from Kapolei library with the latest and greatest. Oh, and how great it's been (: 

We have had some really great and meaningful lessons this week. Quite a few of our investigators went out of town this week, to various places like Samoa and the main land. We weren't able to have our usual lessons with Noe, Xavier, and a few others. BUT, we continued on.

We had our usual district floods, and we have 5 new investigators because of it! Hermana Castaneda and I have tried very hard to pray for our area, and focus on finding families to teach. The Lord has answered our prayers! This family is a military family. They've lived in various places of the world, including Germany several times. They are so much fun to talk to!
It was so funny, we went to their house to contact them. We were having car issues at the time, so we were delayed in walking over. We were frustrated, and said a prayer for our car, and then suddenly the entire family we were coming to visit pulls up. The Dad comes out with choke pizza, and says "Hey Sisters! Come join us for lunch!". Now, an average day for us in Kapolei is "GO AWAY" with a door slammed in our face. So the invite was music to our ears (: Such a kind family, and they believe in Jesus Christ. They are non-practicing Catholic, but say we can teach their two daughters, who are 9 and 17. Such a miracle!

Our ward is super supportive now. We have been in daily contact with our ward mission leader, and the work is moving forward with a positive tone. I love this ward, and the Kapolei area. I know Heavenly Father assigned me here for a bigger purpose than I will ever know. I love the people of Hawaii! My companion is heading back to the Visitors Center next week, and I will most likely stay here in Palehua. I am excited for a new start, and a new Sister to bond with. 

Big highlight of my week: I was able to have dinner with the zone leaders and with one of my favorite members from the Kaneohe 1st ward. What a blessing it was to serve in beautiful Kaneohe for 6 months. No matter what, K-town will always have a special place in my heart <3

I love you all very much, and bless yous for the support. Feel free to write me anytime! 

Mahalo nui loa,
Sister Noriega

Holstein family, we missed them so much while they were in Cali!!!

Look who I ran into at the mission office (: Miss her! Can't believe she goes home in August

Thursday, June 18, 2015

It's always darkest before the dawn‏

Malo e lelei and alooooooo-ha! 

I am very happy to report that this week was a truly wonderful week (:

Trials come, but so do the blessings. After a very rough transfer, my companion and I have made a few big changes. We have talked about how we can better work with our ward, and our ward mission leader. We've been much more in contact with our ward leaders, and truly prayed for the Lord's assistance. Diligence is a word I have come to know and love. I have seen the blessings that come from diligence. We have found many less active members we never came in contact with when we first arrived here, and helping them return to church.

We also have weekly district floods! It's basically where all the missionaries in our district come into our area, and tract for an hour. It covers more ground quicker, and we are able to come in contact with more people who've been prepared to hear the gospel. 

Kelliann, our 9 year old investigator, is progressing quickly. We have taught her the plan of salvation, and the restoration. She and her Mom are keeping all of their commitments, and you can feel the Spirit changing in their home! Unfortunately the Dad is still not on board with baptism, but we're praying the miracles keep coming (:
We've had some great lessons with our 3 recent converts, Reyhania, Keanu and Xavier. How amazing it is, to watch these children of God progress from investigators, to with dates, and then to recent converts! I love doing the Lord's work, and watching how the gospel truly changes lives. What an amazing opportunity, to be apart of the most important work :D

Today was our preparation day, because we had TEMPLE TRIP! :D
I absolutely love the peace and comfort I feel inside the Temple. It came at the perfect time for my companion and I, who have had very difficult issues lately. I love the Laie temple for many reasons, including the fact that it is the Mesa temple's "sister" temple!

I'm sorry this isn't longer, I promise next week will be longer and more detailed. Know that I love you all very much, and please feel free to send me letters! I love yous!

Aloha nui loa,
Sister Noriega

District at Temple

We're traaaa-aaaacting in the rain!