Wow! I loved your e-mail this week! I am really excited about all the wonderful things that are happening with the family. Congratulations to Alyse! That is great news that she got home safely! You all look so happy in the pictures! :) Also, congratulations to Craig and Amanda! I loved those pictures too. So cute!

This week has also been an exciting one for me. I got a new companion on Wednesday! Her name is Hermana Thomas (see photo). She is from California. She is the youngest of 8 children, and her parents are serving a mission right now in Texas. She is almost done with her mission; she is going home in September. She is really cool and I can tell we're going to do some great things in Utuado together. She kind of reminds me of my roommate Lauren from the Elms.... Many years ago.

We've already found some new investigators together. One of them is Shirley. We (Hermana REyes and I) had actually already met Shirley because we used to teach her father, Noel, and she popped in and out once. But, we knocked her door this week and she said, "Well, I'm cooking right now, but tell me about your message." !! It was cool, because she seemed to understand the message of the restoration and then when we left her a Book of Mormon, she asked us when we were going to come back to answer the questions she would have after reading it. Oh, I love it when people say that, because it tells us they actually plan on reading it, and it also tells us they want us to come and continue sharing the message with them. She is a young 20-something, which is also fun, because she's our age. I like teaching young people, because you know that when they decide to accept the gospel that they'll be able to affect a lot of other people for good (such as their children). That was a great first lesson we had this week.

We also had a first lesson with Shaira. She lives in the Boo-nies, but she let us in right away and wanted to hear more about our message. We shared it with her, and after we taught a principle, she would say something like, "So, you're saying...." and then would summarize what we just taught. She understood the lesson and committed to read in the Book of Mormon too. She said that she felt "curiosity" towards our message. I didn't used to like it when people said that, but now I realize that that is the spirit helping people receive the message that we are bringing them. It was a good lesson and we look forward to coming back to share more with her.

Those are our two exciting first lessons this week. We also continue volunteering at the summer camp. Evelyn, the lady who gave us her contact info. from the summer camp let us set a cita with her...but not until July 10. Which is a little ridiculous, but still a cita. And she gave her info to us without us asking, so we're still excited for her. And (in other exciting news from the summer camp), one of the parents came to church yesterday! The lady in charge of the summer camp is the wife of the Branch President and she invited him to church. He said he would come, but then she remembered that we had District Conference in Arecibo (like stake conference). They went to the church building on Sunday morning and he was there waiting to go in, and he came all the way to Arecibo to attend church there. It was really cool! I was really surprised when we saw him there, because they told us someone new was coming to church, but we didn't think he would come all the way up to Arecibo. But, he also gave us his contact information yesterday. It is exciting to see the work moving forward a bit, after weeks of hard work and obedience.

Funny story of the week? We were going to visit a member on Saturday and she lives at the top of a mountain and you literally have to hike to her house (I'll include a photo...I'm not joking here). On the way up, we ran into the son and nephew of a less-active member and we chatted for a bit. I asked the nephew if he liked his new house (because they had just moved). He looked at me and said, "I don't speak English." I kind of laughed a little bit and then asked him again, and he got this frustrated look and said, "It's just that I don't understand English! Speak to me in Spanish!" Haha. It cracked us up. He finally understood what I was saying and replied that he did in fact, like his new house.

I am still reading the Book of Mormon. I like the really powerful phrases that stick out when you're reading it fast. Some of the phrases I loved that I read this morning were "...wisdom of the Nephites in preparing their places of security."; "...been a weak place, had now by the means of Moroni, become strong..."; "...they went out of the world rejoicing..."; and "...true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ." I am reading the war chapters and really love them (this morning I read Alma 46-49). It's not that I love death and bloodshed, I just feel like they are so applicable to us in our times. It is so apparent who is good and who is bad and it is easy to apply tactics of the good people to our lives, in order to combat the bad forces in our lives. I really love the Book of Mormon. I just love it.

This Wednesday we had a transfer meeting, and it was an interesting day because it was the last meeting the Martineau's had with the entire mission. I think they are leaving Puerto Rico today or tomorrow. It is really weird to think of being a missionary without them, but we're also really excited for the new mission president and his family. The Martineau's had some really nice talks and they taught us a lot of last-minute things. Hermana Martineau gave us "motherly advice" that I really liked. I'll just summarize here. Remember that... (she started with each one):

1. There are two kinds of pain; the pain of discipline and the pain of regret.
2. There are lots of distractions in life, and a distraction doesn't need to be evil to be effective.
3. "Not shrinking is more important than survival." Neal A. Maxwell.
4. With God we can do anything. He will magnify our righteous actions and provide us with endless energy (Hermana Martineau is full of energy).
5. The Lord makes us promises and then fulfills them through the people around us.

Oh. I loved it. I learned so much from her advice and what she had to say about each one. President Martineau also shared with us advice he gives to every returning missionary. On how to keep the spirit in our lives daily, with the goal of receiving revelation daily. That is something he has really been focusing on lately (the purpose of life is receiving personal revelation that changes you), and he said that the most important lesson he learned while serving here (and also the most important thing we can learn in this life) is to follow the promptings of the spirit.

1. Pray daily. And always be praying for others, because that means you are still a missionary; still helping others find the path to our Heavenly Father.
2. Study the scriptures for one hour daily.
3. Write in your journal daily. That one surprised me to be number 3, but it is because it is like your own personal scripture, because you are recording spiritual experiences that will help strengthen you and others in the future. He talked about Nephi and how he kept his journal and you can see the strength he gained from that in 2 Nephi 4. It was cool.
4. Understand and apply the doctrine of the sacrament. Also cool...something we've been talking about a lot lately.
5. Go to the temple as often as possible, because we learn about God's plan for His children there, and we can learn about His personal plan for us.

Wow! I just love them. I can't even explain all the things I learned from them on Wednesday nor in the months that I've been here with them. They are just spiritual giants and wonderful examples for all of us. I'm sorry I didn't really expound on any of the points very much, but we're short on time. I'm just so happy I had the chance to meet them and learn from their example and from their words.

Also, my trainer, Hermana Lopez went home. Which is really weird as well! I remember that we just celebrated her one year birthday in the mission, and she is already at home with her family now. Things are changing! It is something you just have to learn to deal with in the mission, because just when you feel like you're happy and content with where you are and how things run and how you feel, they change it on you. And not necessarily on just happens. People grow old (in the mission) and die (from their missions :) ), and you just have to learn to deal with it. The mission is kind of cool because it is like a microcosm of life. People are born; people grow old, mature and learn and grow; people work hard and "have kids" of their own (train other missionaries), and help them learn and grow; and people die. It is kind of cool, but sad for all of us, at the same time, because we have to stay here after they've left us. Just like in life, some people leave before the rest of their family, and the rest of the family has to stay on earth and keep working. But is it bad to stay and work? No! Is it bad to leave and go home? No! We are just progressing through life, like normal humans, be it through the mission or through "real life." I really like to think of it like that. So, it is sad to see parents die (both trainers (your mission "mom"), mission presidents (your mission parents), and real-life parents), but they are all on to bigger and better things! They've completed their duties here on earth or in the mission and are moving on to continue progressing in this grand plan that Heavenly Father has for all of us.

I love you!

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