Wednesday, December 30, 2009

recent letter & photos!!!





December 29, 2009
Hola!! Wowie! This week was packed with Christmas spirit! To start off…we showed Joy to the World in Spanish at the church Monday night…Elva, Rueben, Omar, Angel, Cilvia and her family and others came to watch. I love that film because it focuses on why Christmas is celebrate Christ’s birth! The crazy snow storm this week prohibited us from having our Wednesday night Gospel Principles Class. We got so much snow this week! I will be talking more about that later in the letter. We had a fun district meeting on Christmas Eve! Our Zone leaders dressed up as Santa and Elves..we laughed our heads off! We also had an activity where we taught the Restoration of the Gospel while using props. My prop was an umbrella, and I needed to connect umbrellas to prophets. I said that God knows the “forecast” and can provide us with the help we need to shield us from the evil storms of life…Prophets are a protection that Heavenly Father provides in each dispensation. I am so thankful for the guidance of our Prophet today, Thomas S. Monson. Christmas Eve was amusing because we had a fiesta at the church with Spanish members and investigators. Not many people came because the snow was pretty dangerous to drive in! But Omar, Eddy, Ignacio, Hermana Florez, Nefi, Melissa’s kids and the missionaries were there. We had a good time hitting the piñata! I crushed it! What satisfaction! Candy flying everywhere! J

Christmas was an intense adventure! Earlier in the week we had gone shopping with Amanda to help her buy Christmas presents for her kids. They had never had a Christmas, so we wanted to help her out. My parents helped out because I didn’t really need anything for Christmas. So we wrapped all these presents and stockings in our apartment and but them in bags like Santa bags. On Christmas morning the Hermanas and I opened up presents we got from each other and some we had gotten from our families… the snow was so bad no one was driving but we were determined to go to Amanda’s and deliver the presents…our little red car made it to her house after getting stuck twice. We were lucky! The Zone leaders met us there and were dressed up as Santa and Elves…us Hermanas wearing reindeer antlers. It was great! We woke up the kids and they each sat on Santa’s lap and opened presents. They were so surprised and thankful for their Christmas! I am thankful to have shared that experience with their thanks to my family for helping out! After opening presents, we helped Amanda make pancakes to have a breakfast feast! I love her family so much; they are like my family. Amanda will be getting married soon and we got her and Carlos an Olive Garden gift card to go out to eat after. They have never been there and always have wanted to go. After Amanda’s we went to the Widdison’s house with the other Elders and played Apples to Apples. That game is entertaining! Bompy has been writing me and telling me about it and I finally experienced it! Later that afternoon, we went to Hermana Florez’s house to eat lunch and call our families! That was so neat talking to my family; felt like we didn’t lose a beat…talking baby talk with Mom and Nanny, getting all the news about volleyball from my dad, talking to Bompy about cooking…I got to call my mommy and my daddy. Luckily both were with other family members so I got to talk to lots of people! I love my family so much and really appreciate all they have done for me. I committed my mommy to read the Book of Mormon and receive missionary lessons. I really want the blessing of the Gospel to be shared with my family. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and is another testament of Christ…I challenge all to read it and ask Heavenly Father if it is true! I will see my family in a year! I promised Bompy that I will help a lot with next the next Christmas dinner, since I like to cook now. My Christmas was way good!

Well, we totally got snowed in the day after Christmas…day full of studying, sleeping, writing letters, playing cards…Church was even cancelled on Sunday because of the snow, so the Elders came over to our apartment and blessed the Sacrament so we could take it. That was nice of them. We sang a few hymns and had a Spiritual thought.

Transfers are coming up Thursday…us Hermanas are driving to Des Moines tomorrow and I will get my new companion Thursday morning. I am so excited to meet her and serve with her. It’ll be nice to start fresh with a new transfer and set new goals. I hope that I can train her well and be a good example to her! She will teach me a lot too. I am grateful for having these two weeks to serve with Hermana Reese and Jordan because both have taught me more as well. I will serve with both probably after I train Hermana Mcguire…we will see! We have lots of work to still get done here in Sioux City. We have baptismal dates for this month and have found new investigators to teach. I really want to make the Spanish in our ward stronger..eventually they can have a branch! It’s fun to see where other missionaries go for transfers as well. I talked to Elder Holman and he might be moved into my Zone. Thatd be crazy! I know one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Blanchard is transferring to another zone. He has been here this whole time in Sioux City with me! Crazy!

I have seen many miracles of Heavenly Father in the work this week; He is able to guide us missionaries through the Holy Ghost and put us in places where there are people in need of the Gospel. We had a house we needed to contact and the lady, Maria, was never home. We drove by her house on one of the snowy days this week…looked like no one was home but I had an impression that we needed to go knock. So we got out of the car and knocked and she was there! We shared the first lesson with her and are returning to her house this week-end. She really enjoyed the lesson and wants us to teach all of her children. The Plan of Salvation will bring her much peace, because her husband passed away, and she will learn that he is in the Spirit World right now learning about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and she can do the necessary ordinances for him in the Temple! What a blessing! Yesterday we had to stop at a gas station to go to the bathroom…Heavenly Father totally put Jamie and Francisco in our path. They were prior investigators who we had lost touch with. I reinvited them to learn and felt much satisfaction to know things are ok with them. Jim is a cool story! We contacted him on Christmas Eve when he was shoveling outside..gave him some pamphlets but didn’t get his contact information. We wished we had. Well, last night we were at a house we needed to contact, but they weren’t home. The house across the street has lights on and I felt an impression that we should go knock. Well we knocked and it was totally Jim’s house! That was so exciting to know that Heavenly Father was guiding us to Jim again! He is totally being prepared to accept the Gospel. We invited him and his family to come to church and gave their contact info to the Elders to go and teach. Elder Jones is really excited about it. I know that Heavenly Father guides us missionaries to find those that are prepared, we just have to be willing to act on the impression we feel!

I am so thankful for this Gospel and for the happiness it brings into my life. I am grateful for the chance to share it with people and help them feel Heavenly Father’s love in their lives. I know its true and we can become closer to Christ through His church. I love all of you and my prayers are with you! Have a happy new year! Happy birthday Lizzy and Jilly. Love you both lots!

Love Hermana Murphy

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Letter!!

Feliz Navidad! Estoy muy emocionada para la Navidad en Sioux City! This week is going to be very much like Christmas. At the church on Tuesday, we are showing Joy to the World for the Spanish members and investigators. Wednesday we will have our normal Gospel Principles class, focusing on Christ . We are having a fiesta at the church on Christmas Eve with all the families of the Spanish members and our investigators. It’ll be so great! The Bishop is helping provide food and we are getting a piñata. I am also bringing Nanny and Bompy’s treats they sent me…those will be popular! On Christmas day we are waking up and opening presents in our apartment (my family sent me them in the mail, even my stocking Nanny made me!!) , then going to Amanda Gomez’s house to watch her kids open presents and make pancakes. I love that family so much! She is like my best friend. I want all of you to meet her someday. She has a heart of gold and so much love for God. After that, we are going to the Widdisons (family in the ward) to have more breakfast with all the Elders in our zone. On Christmas we will be having dinner with Hermana Florez and with the Brisenos. During that time we will also be calling home to our families! I am way excited to talk to my family. It’s been a long time…I am thankful for the weekly e-mailing, letters, pictures, tape recorders…but the phone will be SWEET! I love my family so much!

This week has been crazy! My companion, Hermana Jenny Madsen finished her mission. We had an emotional goodbye. I miss her lots. She is such a great person and one of my best friends. We will be friends for life! Sonya, Bryan and Bryanna received the Gift of the Holy Ghost in church on Sunday. I wish Jenny could have been there. We love this family so much and have put so much sweat and tears into helping them find their path back to Heavenly Father. We are so proud of the change they have made through becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. Kianna Lovejoy was also baptized/confirmed on Sunday. It was a great thing! Bryanna asked me if she could get baptized again because it made her feel happy! Isnt that cute? Church was great yesterday! We had fasted with Elva and Reuben in regards to their baptismal date, January 16. They came to church and felt really good about preparing for that date! Amanda has also been fasting to know if the Church is true and if she, Ariana and Andrew should be baptized on January 23. She told me that she felt so much peace and happiness. Yeah! I told her that was the Holy Ghost confirming to her that it is true! She has encountered adversity because some friends and family have tried telling her that Joseph Smith was crazy, he wrote the Book of Mormon, and that the church was full of lies. Well despite all that, she has continued learning because she knows it is of God. We had an AMAZING spiritual experience together on Friday night. I had been making phone calls to investigators seeing who we should visit that night, because our appointment fell through. I had an impression to call Amanda…when she answered she was hysterically crying..explaining to me the troubles her family has been encountering, her relationship with her boyfriend isn’t as strong as she would like it to be, how she wants to be a better mother to make her kids happier…then she had been praying to Heavenly Father to help her with her trials, guide her in the right direction, she had been telling Him if the church is true she would get baptized no matter what it takes, asking Him for a sign to tell her yes the church is true and yes you need to be baptized…Then I called her! We both ended up crying on the phone together…we knew it was a sign from Heavenly Father that she needs to continue growing in the Gospel and be baptized. The Gospel will help strengthen her family and relationships…make her family happier and fill her home with the love of God. We are planning her wedding for the beginning of January and her baptism for January 23. I am so proud of her for her willingness to follow the Spirit and the guidance of God. She is a great example for me!

Omar is so excited about his baptism! I told him about my experience with Amanda and he was pumped! We are still working with him on living the Word of Wisdom and being prepared by February 9.

The Hermanas from Des Moines have been here in Sioux City with me. They are great! Hermana Reese has been on her mission for 2 more transfers then me and Hermana Jordan is in her first transfer. Being in a three some is a bit different, but I am used to it from the MTC with Hermana Taulanga and Nielson (which are doing great by the way! We have been writing and keeping in contact). Speaking of my MTC district, I talked to Elder Holman on the phone! He is doing great. We wished each other a Merry Christmas and he got the addresses of some of my family members to send them a Christmas card. So be expecting that, family.

We have found some new promising investigators! Cilvia and her family, Bitalino and Sandra! We will see how they progress, but we mentioned baptism to all of them and they seemed positive about it. I love the work and helping Heavenly Father’s children receive the blessings of baptism. I have seen how the Gospel of Jesus Christ can transform lives. I am so thankful for His birth and his ministry. I know that the true Church of Christ has been restored to this earth and we have a living Prophet today. I know this because I have prayed about it and received an answer through the Holy Ghost, and the burning in my heart. I encourage all of you to pray to Heavenly Father and ask Him if He has a Prophet on the Earth today to lead His people!

Love you all and have a very Merry Christmas!

-Hermana Murphy

Monday, December 7, 2009

Today's Letter

Hola! Hace muy frio! It is supposed to snow 10.5 inches tomorrow! AHH. Shoot me! Haha. I am glad that I have snow boots thanks to dad and a snow jacket thanks to mom. Under armor is much appreciated as well. Its going to be a long cold winter. But my first Christmas with snow! Thatll be cool. Ha literally. The good side of things is that we have a lot of investigators so we aren’t out tracting a ton (knocking door to door). We go straight from the car into houses…I hope we are lucky enough for that to continue!

This week was very eventful! First of all… The Pachecos are getting baptized!!! We taught them for awhile and were heart broken that they moved to Arizona. Tina called us and told us they are getting baptized January 2. I was so happy! When they left here, Tina and the kids wanted to get baptized but Raul wasn’t ready. I guess he has really clicked with the Elders in Arizona. Heavenly Father really knows what we need to be fully ready to accept the Gospel! He helped them be fully prepared after investigating for 6 years! Tina thanked us for all we did to help, she said she knew they were in Iowa for a reason…we helped them get back on the path to baptism and got her daughters feeling comfortable in the church. Bah! That’s the best feeling, knowing you have helped souls come unto Christ and be baptized. AHH! We had Zone conference in Des Moines, our ward Christmas party, Fast/Testimony meeting and the Christmas Devotional! Zone Conference was very inspirational, we talked a lot about focusing on what really matters at Christmas..not just the gifts and Santa. I am really excited about having the time to do that! It’ll be great. The talent show was absolutely epic. Our mission is so cool! All the missionaries have funny sense of humors. Our mission president does too. I really feel like this is the mission for me. Even though Des Moines Iowa is really random and speaking Spanish as well here is random…I am random. I really appreciate all the experiences I have had and how much of a family feel this mission is-With the missionaries as well as with the members and investigators. LOVE. I was in a Feliz Navidad dance with the other Spanish missionaries…classic and then in a stomp act with my Sioux City Zone. Stomp is when you make noise with a bunch of random things..but its all to a beat. I enjoyed that. Oh man..there were some good acts too. Elder Holman from my district at the MTC sang/played the piano…he is amazing! He is going to be on Broadway someday for sure. We have videos of all the acts and are compiling them on a cd, itll be sent to Jilly eventually. Our ward xmas party was a hoot. Omar, Angel, and Amanda came as far as investigators go. More Spanish members came. We all sat together. I love our little Spanish part of the ward. We are all like a family. Its great. Fast/testimony meeting was a neat experience as well. I bore my testimony all in Spanish (and I cried)! I shared how much I appreciate Heavenly Father’s love for me-I can feel the love of God in my family, especially my parent. Being away from home has really helped me see how much my family means to me. SOOO MUCH. In our families we can feel the closest love to Celestial love. This is why we have families-to be happy! The Christmas Devotional was beautiful! I love the First Presidency of the Church, and I know they are called of God. Christ is our Savior!

Next week…We are going to the Temple in Omaha because our ward mission leader, Ignacio is going for the first time! We are so excited to go! Hermana Madsen, two elders and I are going to support him along with some of the ward members! It’ll be amazing! Also next week on Tuesday Sonya and Bryan are getting married at our church and then are getting baptized along with their two daughters. We are so excited for them! They stopped smoking and are continuing to prepare for the commitments they will be making. They are so excited! Jenny and I are making the wedding invitation today so she can give them to her family. J Jenny is going home next week. She is so sad to be leaving but happy to see her family. She has been such a great trainer and companion. She is a great example of a hard worker and I hope to be like her someday. Hehe We will be staying in touch through letters.

We are continuing to do the Wednesday night class with the Spanish, and we are going to implement more ward activities to get our ward more unified. There is an invisible boundary between the English and as missionaries we are working with the Relief Society president to dissolve this boundary and have everyone love eachother (even though they cant all understand eachother.) Our investigators are still progressing…Angel’s mom is becoming more open to baptism because of his commitment, he has come to every activity! Amanda Gomez is going to get married so she can be baptized. Eddy knows it is true (BOM and Joseph Smith) and came to the Christmas Devotional. He loved it. He just needs to realize that an organized church is necessary and that he needs to be baptized under the priesthood authority. Omar has read over half the BOM-just need to feel more comfortable praying.

I love this work! I look forward to see what adventures are in store this week. Maybe Evelyn, Amanda’s daughter will help me with Spanish (she is 3). Haha Love you all! Talk to you later!

-Hermana Murphy

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Caitlyn's First Baptism!!

November 30, 2009
Hi !!!!!!

Oh man! This week was way awesome! First and foremost I experienced my first baptism! Lauren and Alex (Melissa’s kids) were baptized November 28. They had so much support from the ward there! The whole Relief Society room was packed. Our ward has been really helping us out, we appreciate it so much. It’s the best feeling, having been working with investigators and seeing them grow in the Gospel and then be baptized! Lauren and Alex were so excited too! Up until it was performed, Alex would tell me all the time, “Hermana Murphy, Im so excited for Lauren and my baptism.” They are the cutest kids! We had kids in primary participate in the program. Joseph Lee gave the opening prayer and Ian gave the closing prayer. Meg gave the talk on baptism and Melissa, their mom gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. While the kids were changing from their wet clothes, we had the Restoration play in Spanish for the Spanish investigators we had there. Eddy. Angel and Amanda came to the baptism. We have a baptismal date set with Angel and the other two are really close so it was great that they were able to come and see what its like. They really enjoyed the experience. The Spirit was so strong the entire time. It was fabulous! I took some great pics too so I will be sending those to Jilly to put on my blog and Arly to put on facebook.

Thanksgiving was so much fun! We had 4 dinner total! So much food but full of love. We went to the Memmot’s, the Flory’s, the Kay’s (member families in our ward) then to the Gomez family (our investigator from Guetemala). All the food was way good. My favorite was Amanda’s because she had never made Thanksgiving before. We helped her find some traditional recipes like green bean casserole but she made 4 different styles of turkeys! I liked the spicy one that had chiles and hot sauce. That was a neat experience for my taste buds. J We invited our ward mission leader, Ignacio and our investigator Eddy to Amanda’s house. We are all like family. Its great! We also went to two nursing homes and sang hymns and gave people company. That was really nice. One of the members in our ward is the manager of one so she asked us to sing and help pass out food. The sister of another member, Sister Brown, loves for us to see Spanish hymns to her even though she doesn’t we did that and Elder Richards played the violin. I made a raspberry jello salad that Bompy had sent me the recipe of. I took it with me to all the houses. Everyone loved it! Amanda had me give her the recipe to make. She wants me to show her how to make it. She is the best. Probably my best friend here, other than Jenny ofcourse.

Now that thanksgiving is over we are listening to Christmas music! We have the new motab Christmas cd in our car right now. I think Jenny and I are going to make a xmas card too. Then next few weeks that Jenny has left (she goes home Dec 18) we are going to be SO busy! Zone conference is this Thursday in Des Moines. We are way excited for that because it includes 6 zones and we are having a pic slideshow and a talent show. My zone is putting together an act for the talent show; we will probably wing it. Somehow it will involved me hitting a volleyball. We will see. We are working with the Lovejoy family really intensely right now. Sonya is out of the rehab facility and is doing at home treatment. We are getting her involved with the addictive recovery meetings at the church every week. Also a member of our ward works at a free clinic for people without health insurance…so they will get a program going there too. Sonya and Bryan will be taken care of! We are also helping them plan their wedding; the Bishop is going to marry them at our church. We are having the Relief Society do the food. I never thought I would plan a wedding! Bryan, Sonya and their two daughters, Kianna and Brianna will be baptized Dec 15. We love them so much and have seen the changes in them since learning about the church. They have much more happiness! We have many other progressing investigators working towards baptism. Our Wednesday night Gospel Principles will help the Spanish in our ward a lot. Last Wednesday was our first one and we had a few less-actives and also a few investigators (Rosa, Omar and Angel). We will continue to be having the class every week and having a different Spanish member teach the class to get them involved. We also have our ward xmas party this Saturday! That will be a hoot.

Church was great yesterday because all the lessons were based around the family. During on of the talks given in sacrament, I cried because I love my family so much!!I felt the Spirit strongly testify that I am where I need to be right now. I am growing in ways I couldnt have without serving a mission. I I am so thankful to have my family's support. This love I feel for them is what Heavenly Father feels for us. This is why He gave us families, to feel that Godly love and to work together as a family to be the best we can together. I am excited to have my own family someday and have my family centered on the teachings of Jesus Christ. J haha Don’t worry mom, it wont be for awhile. It’s exciting to think about though!!

I love this area so much and my companion. We are going to work really hard to get all we want done before she leaves…then ofcourse I will continue to work hard after she leaves..But we have an intense few weeks. Wish us luck! We love doing the Lord’s work and are blessed for it everyday. I love you all very much!

-Hermana Murphy