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!!