Thursday, February 26, 2015

Up & Down & All Around!‏

Aloha, everyone! What a crazy roller-coaster week it has been!

First of all, last P-day was basically the best. After we emailed, we went to the Keolu chapel with our district + our zone leaders and had super hilarious game of volleyball, and choke food. It was the first time we've really done something like this, at least this transfer. It was so much fun, getting to know each other better and having friendly competition. Plus, the Elders in my zone are my favorite. They take such good care of me, let me show you just what they do for me:


ANYWAYS. Besides our super awesome p-day, our week was... emotional. On Tuesday night, Sister Harris and I attended a funeral for one of our investigators named Pacencia. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August, and wasn't expected to last the month. Fortunately, she did live past that, and Sister Lasike and I were able to visit often and help her and her family with whatever they needed. I remember, last transfer, it was 3 days before her 58th birthday. Pacencia was skyping her family in the Philippines, and there were so many loving faces in the room. We had come by with 2 priesthood holders from our ward to give Pacencia a blessing, and the blessing was so beautiful. As one of the brothers was giving the blessing, I had this overwhelming sense that Pacencia would soon be passing, but of course I wasn't going to say anything. Then, after the blessing, Lasike and I had shared a little message of the gospel and how families can be together forever. Pacencia's sister, Sister Clark, then looked at me and asked if I could say a prayer for all of them. I quickly agreed, and asked if they wanted me to pray for anything particular. Pacencia's youngest son Rene` just looked at me with sad eyes, and asked to please bless that she'd live longer. My heart broke, because I knew she didn't have long. Sometimes though, we say prayers for comfort, and Heavenly Father already knows our desires. I prayed that Pacencia would have the best birthday yet, and that she'd have many more birthdays. The amazing this about the Spirit is that it brings so much peace and comfort to not only myself, but the family. 
The funeral service was beautiful, and full of so many people who loved and respected Pacencia and all she had done. I was so happy to be able to attend the services, and show my support for the Rivera family. I continue to pray for them in this time of sorrow, and we will be going to their house soon to teach them how we KNOW that we can have eternal families. That death isn't the end of this life. What a wonderful message we get to share as we serve, of how it truly isn't the end. That we will see all of our loved ones again, and they will be perfected. I am so grateful for this knowledge and message I am able to share.

After that, we went on exchanges. There had been quite a bit of contention between the other 2 sisters in our zone, so we offered to exchange for a day and try and help. I went with Sister Sateki in the YSA/Tongan branch, which I was happy to do! We had such a great day, and we took the city bus and traveled to Waimanalo! I was so thrilled when I saw that Weinberg Village was JUST ACROSS THE STREET from where we were going to be working for the day. I seriously almost cried when I walked into Weinberg and heard ''SISTER NORIEGA YOU'RE BACK SISTER NORIEGA'S BACK MOM, DAD LOOK SHE'S BACK" My heart, I was just so full of joy <3
I was able to visit with most of the Tavares family, with Mapu and Chauncey, and all of their kids. It was such an indescribable joy to see those who I had taught previously, and had an impact on them. That is just, one of the best feelings.

The rest of the day was just great. I mean, I wasn't able to say much because everyone was speaking Tongan, but that's alright! I still felt the Spirit (:

That night, there was umm... well. There was an explosion of emotions, and it was genuinely scary. I won't go into detail, but I have learned just how important communication with your companion is. There can be so many misinterpreted words, hurt feelings, unnecessary drama when there is work we have to do here. Yes, sometimes things get heated and super uncomfortable, but I would prefer that to yelling, throwing things, and storming out into the night. NOPE. No need.
Once the issues were settled, things started getting much better.

Update on Reuben: We are unable to set him with a baptism date. He isn't technically on probabation, but he still meets with a P.O. Reuben has such a positive outlook on the situation, and has such patience that I strive for. I can't say it enough, how much of an example he is to me!

Update on Mary: We will have to move her baptism date back, because she has been MIA all week. It's a tiny bit frustrating, but I know that things will work out according to the Lord's will. It's difficult sometimes, when you KNOW the person has received a personal witness of the truthfulness of the gospel, but doesn't do anything about it. Again, patience. I have definitely learned that, and continue learning about it! Haha!

We started teaching this guy named Steve, who is in his late 20's. He has gone through, in his words, Hell and back. He has been involved with drugs, violence, and a lot more that I won't share. He is extremely inactive, and is looking to get back on the straight and narrow path. He was in rehab in this intense place for about 5 months, and he left. As he was walking in Kaneohe, he passed our chapel and saw one of our ward members unlocking the door. He went up to this sweet Aunty, and he felt impressed to ask for the number of the Bishop. That's when Steve met Bishop and Sister Carlile, and he's been staying at their place ever since. He has a job now, and is coming to church regularly. He has seen so many miracles in this gospel, and is embracing church with open arms. He understands so much, and as we teach him, he has many amazing experiences to share. Steve is really a joy to work with! Sometimes it's good to teach the basics to those who have been in the gospel all their lives. It's easy to forget, honestly! It's been a good lesson for me as well.

This week is transfer week, and there have been so many changes in the Hi-Hon mission! I am staying with Sister Harris one more transfer in the Kaneohe 1st ward, which I am super happy about (:

I am so excited to start this new transfer, and be able to start fresh with a new district, with our awesome zone leaders, and do all that I can to help bring others closer to Christ! I am so grateful to be in this mission. I am learning so many things I truly couldn't learn anywhere else, or in any other way. I am so blessed to have this opportunity to bear my testimony that I know this gospel is true. I just finished the Book of Mormon for the 2nd time, and I have prayed and pondered on it, and I know it is the word of God.

As we were teaching the Baso family this last Saturday, I was able to recite The First Vision, or the first-hand experience of Joseph Smith praying and seeing God the Father and Christ. Joseph Smith was 14 years old, and in his town there was much argument about which church was the true church, and which he should join. As Joseph Smith was reading the Bible, he read from James 1:5, which says If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 
Joseph took that advice, and decided to ask God himself that question: Which church was the true church? Joseph went into a grove, and here is his experience in his own words, as he knelt and prayed:

I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

I would like to end my email with this: Reading the first vision, having it memorized, and teaching it, that is a special experience. The Spirit was SO STRONG. It felt like it was the first time I was testifying of the first vision, and not just reading it out loud. I know that Joseph Smith saw God and Christ, and that he did restore God's true church in this last dispensation.

I love my Heavenly Father, and I love my mission. I love you all very much, and I hope all is well on the mainland! I'll be talking to you next week!

Ofa atu,
Sister Noriega

1 comment:

  1. My condolences go to Pacencia and her family. I'm so sorry to hear about that. I am glad, though, that things are starting to look up for Alexis! One thing that I have to complain about, though, is that bright red text is very, very hard to read on a green background! Sticking with black text or something like that would definitely be easier on the eyes! Sorry to sound like a complainer!