Monday, February 27, 2017

Front Street

Week # 50

You know you are a Spanish speaking missionary in the United States when being called Señora makes you really happy.

Usually people see that we are American and don't think that we speak Spanish. Hermana Jensen especially gets a lot of surprised looks because she is blonde. I love when people start off talking to us in Spanish. Actually, what I love most is when people will be talking to us for a few minutes thinking that we are speaking in English and then halfway through the conversation say "hablan Español?!" because they don't even recognize that that's the language we have been speaking while they are speaking in broken English so that we "understand". I love the people here. I do have to say that I struggled at first with the changes in the areas, but I really have come to love the people of "Little Mexico". 

This email is titled Front Street because that is where we spent our Pday today. There are a bunch of little Hispanic stores and a cute ice cream place. It was really fun. There was a pile of machetes. Literally just a pile of machetes with nothing covering them. Not the safest.

I don't know how long this one will be because I am drained and emailing sometimes takes too much energy. This week was a long, but good one. I feel like the things that happened this week were so long ago.

I know I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but we finally were able to have the lesson with some young investigators where they taught us about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was awesome! They even made a slide show titled "LDS lesson". It was a little out of order starting with the great apostasy, but the effort that was put into it was amazing. All missionaries should prepare as much as these young investigators did.

Speaking of preparing, Hermana Jensen and I made a "Vision" or what our goal are this transfer. We both really want to help this area progress and leave it better than we found it, but recently we have had to start from scratch. It's going to take patience and hard work (and not getting sick) so we chose to base it on the scripture 2 Nephi 28:30.

"For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of me line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, form them shall be taken away even that which they have."

Line upon line. That is how it's going to happen. We made a plan to help us as well. We also put a focus on what being a successful missionary means. There is a part in Preach My Gospel that says that the way you should measure success is your desire and efforts to work hard and to help others. We may not see the fruit of our labors here and that's okay.

What I really want to email about is yesterday's Sacrament meeting. Well all of yesterday was good. A recent convert here in the branch is leaving for a mission so she had her farewell yesterday. I know that my typed words through email won't do it justice, but the Spirit was so strong. That morning I had specifically prayed to feel the Spirit in Sacrament meeting. Sometimes I just need a little reminder that He is there. The last song was so hard to sing because so many people were overwhelmed with emotion and the Spirit. I can honestly say that it was the most powerful Sacrament meeting I have been to and the strongest I have ever felt the Spirit. The words were simple of her testimony, but so so strong. We have been teaching her sisters and hope to teach her mother as well. Karina (the departing missionary) testified that she knew that one day her family will be eternal. It was so powerful and it really emphasized to me the responsibility that I have as a missionary. Karina is a convert and now she is going to be touching the lives of countless souls in Ecuador. I don't think that the missionaries who were teaching Karina in the beginning understood the consequences and blessings that would come years down the road. I just really felt the love of my Heavenly Father in that meeting. After church we went and visited a man and I again felt the love of my Heavenly Father. As missionaries we are often blessed to be able to feel a portion of His love for individuals that we visit. I felt it yesterday for that man.

Another blessing from yesterday is that I prayed and asked for a confirmation from the Spirit that Hermano Farfan was baptized. I am not serving in Forest Grove anymore so I didn't have any way of knowing until today. The Spirit also confirmed to me that yes, he was baptized and confirmed and Lourdes and Hermana Hunt emailed me today to confirm that. He was baptized by his son and they have a goal to be sealed as a family. The email I received from Lourdes made my mission. It was good to hear from her in the first place, but I could feel the joy and the love through her email. They also are going to reach out to their daughter in California so that eventually they can all be sealed together.

My heart is so full. This is why I am serving a mission.

Les Quiero,

Hermana Lauren Dickson

Pictures include my companion in the Hispanic tienda and a picture of the family Farfan for Hermano's baptism courtesy of Hermana Hunt.

Shopping in the Hispanic tienda

Family Farfan for Hermanos baptism courtesy of Hermana Hunt

Valentine's Day. Seeing others through the Savior's eyes. With Love.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Serving in Salem . . . & Woodburn

Week #49 

You know you're a missionary in the Oregon Salem Mission when you actually get to serve in Salem!

Just when you think that you will have a normal week . . . I was in a trio for the 5th time of my mission! Emergency transfers aren't my favorite, but this one was super fun actually. We have been with Hermana DeRobles in Salem. Well, we have been in both Woodburn and Salem which has been . . . Interesting. Having two huge Spanish areas 30 minutes away by freeway is stressful, but we have made it work. We had two correlation meetings and two district meetings and I feel like we need two Pdays to recover. We went to Sacrament meeting three times yesterday which turned out to be awesome. (An English ward where all the missionaries were asked to sing for a young man leaving on a mission, next the Salem Spanish Ward and then back to Woodburn to their home Spanish Branch). I received personal revelation that I wouldn't have without the emergency transfer. Heavenly Father really does know where we need to be. 

It's probably a good thing that this companionship has only lasted a week. We have way too much fun. Not many pictures to prove it, but my journal entries have been pages long this last week.

The week started out pretty normal. On Monday after Pday we went over and contacted one of our investigators that we haven't been able to find for a while which was good. Tuesday was Valentine's Day! We went and "heart attacked" the members' doors and it was a lot of fun. One of our members has a crazy rooster that can kill so we only put it on her fence and we only got caught roughly 6 times (out of 23) the whole day. For us, that's pretty good. I really wanted to wear something with hearts on it for Valentine's Day so guess what I wore. The only piece of clothing that I had with hearts was a nightgown I got at Walmart for fun. So I wore it. No one could even tell, though I do think my companion thinks I'm even more crazy now.

We met a man at Dutch Bros. He was so excited to see us. It was hilarious. He saw our tags and said "Sister missionaries! Have you been to the temple!?" I wish that I could imitate his voice through email, because it was so funny. He was so excited. He told us that he was pretty much Mormon and knew about all of the missions in Oregon. I really wondered if he was a member at first because he knew so much. He is friend with a member of one of the English wards and so he did come to church yesterday. We talked to him for a little bit and I've been thinking about him a lot this week. Maybe his friend's example of going on a mission will help him come even closer to the Gospel so that he can partake of the wonderful blessings.

Wednesday we got a call from Hermana DeRobles and got the news that we needed to be in Salem that night so from then on our streak of crazy weeks this transfer continued. We started off with a doctor appointment and didn't stop laughing from then on. It's like a week long exchange. There was a baptism in Salem on Saturday that we helped with. Of course we all know what bad luck I am with filling the fonts. The water would not heat up at first. It's the curse of Hermana Murphey!

This week we contacted some referrals. We have two new investigators that I am so excited to teach. We also contacted another one and the conversation went something like this:
Hermanas: We are looking for Acosta
Acosta: Oh I don't know who you are looking for. 
Hermanas: Oh, well what's your name.
Acosta: Acosta. . . but I don't know what other man you are looking for. . .

My mission (with all of it's hard and funny moments) has become such a blessing to me. This week in one of our district meetings we talked aobut why we decided to come on missions. We then talked about why we have decided to stay. Wehn I try to think back and remember deciding to come on a mission, I had a lot of reasons. Good reasons, but I've realized that though I had good intentions I really was thinking a lot about myself as I prepared. I thought about the experiences I would have, the friendships I would develop, the language I would learn. There are a lot of "I"s in there. It was not intentional at all, but it is easy to think that as you prepare to become a missionary. The reason I want to continue to be a missionary is much less about me. It's become about the people. My family here and my family at home. Most of all, my Heavenly Father. I'm very imperfect and I have to constantly remind myself that that is and should be the reason. If I keep it that way, then it truly is a blessing. And not just to me.

I'm staying in Woodburn with Hermana Jensen for another transfer woot woot! We have so much work to do and I am so excited to keep working here. Elders are taking over the Salem area that we are covering right now so we will only be in Woodburn again. Other news on Transfers is that I'm going to be an abuela! I found out that Hermana Hunt will be training! I'm so excited for her!

Les quiero,

La Hermana Lauren

Last pictures with Woodburn District before transfers

Elder Bankhead, Elder Beard, Elder Patterson, Elder Kehl
Hermana DeRobles, Hermana Jensen, Hermana Dickson

Hmas DeRobles, Jensen, Dickson & Elders Bankhead, Beard, Patterson, Kehl

Serving in Salem

Zone Meeting

Surprise photo from Alicia Marin (a member in their branch. Surprise photos are the best!)

Last night with Hermana DeRobles

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Change of Heart

Week #48

You know you're at an LDS missionary zone conference when they use boxes of Book of Mormons as the door stopper. 

This week we had zone conference. The missionary department has changed the schedule so that we have interviews and zone conferences every transfer now instead of every other transfer. We get to see President Tateoka way more which I really like. We also have had a change in our missionary schedule. We plan in the morning now and we have a little more responsibility to plan effectively. A lot of our training at zone conference was focused on planning. Planning has never been a strength for me so it really helped me. Hopefully by the end of my planning I will be a "master planner". 

We also talked about having a change of heart. Fully giving our will to the Lord. Some things these last few months have really tested my testimony. I feel like it is a never ending battle for me to have a change of heart and have the humility that I need to give everything over to Him every night in prayer. I worry, worry and then worry some more about investigators, friends, lesson, etc and so it is hard to sleep sometimes. I'm learning a lot about real intent and a sincere heart. I have had to make it a daily thing to remind myself, and even sometimes write down, my real intent. What I intend to do to receive the help and blessings that I am praying for. It's a daily thing that I have to do and it takes away a little bit of stress knowing that I am doing my best to do my part.

This week we tried to do some contacting of people in our area book that we don't know or haven't been taught for a while. We knocked quite a few doors (even once two doors down from missionaries of a different church. . . ), but the only return appointment was . . . Iffy. The conversation went something like this.
Man: My wife isn't here! mi esposa no está
Hermanas: That's okay, how are you doing? esta bien
Man: My wife isn't here! mi esposa no está
Hermanas: That's fine . . .is there a better time that we could come back tomorrow when she will be here?
Man:Sí, en la tarde
Hermanas: a las 3?
Man:Sí, a las 6
Hermanas: . . . Okay . . .

Tarde (afternoon) starts at 12 and I'm still not sure when it ends. I've been told that when it gets dark it is noche, but it gets dark around 4:30 here and everyone is saying tarde up until we go in for night at 9. It depends on the person. It's so confusing.

I am constantly amazed at the dreams people have. Sometimes they are . . . a little out there, but a lot of the times that is how they get their answers from the Spirit. We talked to a recent convert this week and she shared her conversion story with us. She told us about how she dreams of staircases, all made out of different material. Wood, glass, concrete, and even one with flowers. There is always a white door at the top of the one with flowers. When she got baptized she started up those stairs so she has interpreted it to be that this is the path that Heavenly Father wants her to go. It's really cool. 

Hermana Jensen and I figured out that we both have "teaching voices". We both talk out of the sides of our mouths. We did role plays just to see if we could duplicate them. We ended up laughing. That's usually how things end up with us. Laughing our heads off. That's when I do my ab workouts. We get transfer calls on Saturday, but I am 99% sure that we will be staying together. I don't want either one of us to leave. Is it bad to pray for that? We have so much unity that we both prepared training lessons for District meeting this last week on the same topic (the power of missionaries), even both reading the same talk to prepare. Comp unity is on point. 

So this transfer hasn't been all peaches and roses. My companion and I have been constantly sick and between doctors orders to not talk/move it gets kind of hard to be a missionary. That is why we have to stay together. We have so much work to do still. We also have had some awesome priesthood experiences through blessings because of it. Hna Jensen received one this last week in Spanish and it was one of the most powerful that I have been present for.

There was a little comedy this week as well. My companion got a package from home with some CDs. We were listening to one of them and it has a bunch of cool hymn arrangements that I really like and then number 13 comes on . . ."Won't you come see about me. ." As in "Don't You Forget About Me". Not quite a missionary song. Yeah, we won't be listening to number 13 for the next 8 months. The Elders had to come over to our apartment to give a blessing which usually isn't allowed. It is probably the only time that they will ever be in our apartment, so they all conveniently went to the middle of our living room and did a full 360 (turn) while they waited for me to grab a chair. It was funny to watch them. They really like my Jesus wall ( a wall in her apartment that Hma Dickson decorated -focused on Christ).

I also saw my first Mary and Joseph Smith shrine this week. Just so we are clear. Latter Day Saints do not worship Joseph Smith or any of the other Saints. We believe only in worshiping our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We went to visit a less active member though and she has a full blown shrine. It's crazy how easily things can be misinterpreted. That is why it is so important that we have a living prophet to guide us and teach true doctrine.

I got my blood drawn this week and I wasn't sure if I was going to freak out of not, but I was fine. The funny part is that half way through, my companion quietly went out into the hallway and sat down. We are always supposed to be in sight and sound of each other so she just sat there. When we got home we walked in and my companion said "I need to lay down". I'm the one who got my blood drawn. I just laughed at her. Apparently she doesn't do needles. It wasn't the most pleasant experience because the needle was huge and he couldn't find my vein for a while, but it was all worth it when I got to laugh at my companion as she lay on the floor trying not to pass out. On the medical side I was also offered some illegal Mexican medicine this week. Translating the box is my next task in language study. The same member that gave it to me was surprised at how much weight I have lost on my mission because of being sick, but then told me not to gain it back or I would be "gorditia", aka fat. I love the members here. They are brutally honest though.

I was torn apart yesterday on my Spanish because I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting. There is a member who sits in the congregation with a notepad and pencil and writes down every mistake that he hears. So the first person to come talk to you is always him. It's really funny. Sometimes it's mean, but hey, we are learning more because of it. I talked about baptism and missionary work. Very appropriate for a missionary. I read the scripture that is on my missionary plaque at home. 

3 Nephi 5:13 Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of Him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life. 

I re read that scripture often. Do our actions show that we are all disciples (followers) of Christ? We are all called to declare His word so that all can have the blessings of everlasting life con our families and with our Heavenly Father. 

Tender mercy of the week:  I got to see my mission President and his wife jump rope. They are really trying to motivate us to exercise daily.

Los quiero,

Hermana Lauren

La compañerisma

I live in a trilingual city

Zone Conference

Memory of the mission call one year ago February 14th a "Valentine from the Prophet"

Monday, February 6, 2017

Silence. When the Spirit Speaks.

Week #47

You know you've been sick when all of your journal entries this week include the words "gripa", "enferma" and "NyQuil". 

This is going to be a short one. We only had 2 days of working this last week because as my companion says, "la gripa has plagued Woodburn". Everyone is sick. Out of six missionaries that serve in our branch, none were well enough to go to church yesterday. Apparently half the branch didn't go either because they are sick too.

We had a zone meeting this week. This zone is so much bigger than what I am used to in Forest Grove. We talked a lot about the Spirit and the power of silence in lessons. I have such a testimony of silence. At the beginning of my mission silence terrified me because I thought it was my turn to talk and I had no idea what was even going on. I love silence now! It's when the Spirit gets to speak! (It also helps a little that I now understand the language.) We get to listen to the Spirit and to our investigator. Who knows, maybe they have something they want to say, but they need the time to get up the courage to say it. Go read Helaman 5:30. One of my favorite (well right now, it constantly changes). 

"And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul"

I received a blessing this week. I'm so so grateful that we serve near Elders who hold the Priesthood. My testimony is constantly growing of the power and love that you can feel through blessings from the Priesthood of our Heavenly Father. In each of my journals I have written something that was said in a Priesthood blessing during my mission. They are all different because they were given for different sicknesses and worries, but they all came from my Heavenly Father.

Next week I'll have more, I promise. We are hitting the ground hard the minute we aren't sick anymore. We have too much responsibility to do anything different. 

Los Quiero,

Hermana Dickson
Sickly Sisters Still Smiling 

Salem, Woodburn and Keizer