|The Hermanas Gathered together at the Mission Home|
Saturday, September 30, 2017
This was a very crazy week, filled with many emotions and experiences that have strengthened and uplifted this group of missionaries for all eternity. Due to the devastation caused from Hurricane Maria (category 5 Hurricane that directly hit Puerto Rico), all missionaries in Puerto Rico and neighboring islands have been evacuated to the United States due to a lack of basic infrastructure needs, i.e., power, water, food, fuel and roads. This was a logistical challenge and monumental effort to evacuate more than 150 missionaries off the island and temporarily reassign all missionaries to new missions, until they can return safely to Puerto Rico (once basic infrastructure is restored) and help the people and communities rebuild.
Sept. 22, 2017
Hermana Green and the San Juan Puerto Rico Missionaries:
We received a call from the Church Headquarters Mission Department. They confirmed what we had been told previously, that the Church is temporarily closing the Puerto Rico Mission and all missionaries are being evacuated and reassigned to new missions as soon as possible. Hermana Green is being reassigned to the Orem, Utah Mission. We are supposed to get a call from Hermana Green once she arrives in Orem, which likely will not be until next week. If they re-open the Puerto Rico Mission soon, there is a chance Hermana Green will get to go back and finish her mission there, but if not, she will have wonderful experiences, witness miracles at the hand of the Lord, and accomplish great things in Orem.
We were very touched, when it was explained that two Apostles of the Lord knelt in prayer and sought the will of the Lord in reassigning Hermana Green and all the other missionaries of Puerto Rico. We know this is where the Lord needs Hermana Green at this time, and the Lord has made preparations for her arrival. Hermana Green will shortly see the hand of the Lord and His plan unveiled, and we can't wait to hear of her new experiences.
We remain grateful for the safety of all missionaries and know the Lord is watching over them. These experiences will build great faith and strength in these missionaries, and great blessings are in store for their future assignments - they truly have learned that they can do hard things! I am positive our daughter and the other missionaries will be very sad leaving the people they have grown to love behind in their time of need, but the Lord knows what is best! “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things … righteousness … wickedness … holiness … misery … good … bad. …” (2 Nephi 2:11). “No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God … and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven. …” President, Spencer W. Kimball
Please continue to pray for the missionaries and all the people of Puerto Rico. Additionally, we have been asked by the Mission President to pray that they will have enough fuel to get all the missionaries safely to the Airport and off the island!
Thank you for your continued, love, support and prayers, it is greatly appreciated!!
Gina & Gary
September 26, 2017
The following post form President and Sister Smart captures the intensity of the events from last week, but also shows the great faith and trust they had in the Lord and how He protected and delivered them out of harms way.
President & Sister Smart- I have had little to no Internet service for about a week. We have felt your love, concern and prayers. You may not see your son or daughter in the pictures but be assured everyone is accounted for. We ALL are headed to the airport to fly to Miami now. Two days before hurricane Maria President Smart and I received a strong confirmation from the Lord: "bring them home". We then decided to bring the 55 sisters to our home and the 100 Elders to the mission office. If that counsel had not been given, there would have been different results. Amidst chaos, there were miracles too many to mention here. The missionaries are all TEMPORARILY assigned to serve stateside while President and I work from Santo Domingo with Humanitarian aid to help restore the Caribbean islands and bring our little army home again. While I am beyond grateful we are all well, my mommy heart hurts to be separated. Que Dios Este Con Nosotros Hasta Vernos. (God be with us until we meet again) #puertoricomission
Quote from Pres. Smart, "The sisters are wonderful!" They are in a more upscale neighborhood doing service for those affected there. It has truly softened the hearts of those who were hesitant to listen before. Historically this area has been very closed minded to the missionaries, but after being touched by the service these missionaries we so freely giving to these people, one of the residents asked the Sisters, "what can we do to repay you", the Sisters replied, "when the missionaries come back, open your door to them and listen to their message." President And Sis. Smart have spoken to many people in the neighborhood who are impressed with the service and attitudes of the sister missionaries. A doctor who lives there has offered his services if needed, although he has not been needed. Another family opened their home to the sisters to use their pool water to wash their clothes and bathe. They haul buckets of water into the home and use a large bath for their washing. What a blessing!! The sisters are in great spirits and are an influence for good there.
Sister Wilde shared one of her favorite things to come out of this plight. She says that this experience has created a very unique bond between the missionaries. They have connected in ways that most missionaries can't while serving in their own areas. They truly love one another as brothers and sisters and have cared for each other as such. She has loved watching them serve each other and bond over games, cooking, and even cleaning.
One of their biggest disappointments is that they can't proselyte anymore. They miss sharing the Gospel in that way. Two days ago they were able to share their testimonies and hand out two entire boxes of Book of Mormons! That was one of their highlights of this experience.
Continued Prayers for Hermana Green and All the Missionaries who are leaving their Hearts in Puerto Rico. May they be watched over and protected as they all make their transitions to their new mission assignments. They will forever have a special place in their hearts for the people and island of Puerto Rico.
President & Sister Smart making sure that all Their missionaries are accounted for and in their Hotel Rooms and ready to depart.
September 27, 2017-
Today 23 of the 150 missionaries that were evacuated from Puerto Rico landed in Salt Lake City for their new mission reassignments. We are grateful for the Lord's watchful care of all the missionaries from Puerto Rico, and we were excited to see our daughter in the News video. Continued prayers and blessings to all the missionaries in their new assignments.
What a blessing and yet another tender mercy from the Lord. We could not be in Salt Lake City to greet and hug our daughter, but Sister Killpack and President Killpack were there to shower our daughter and the other missionaries with love! How grateful we are for the Killpack's and their example of Christ-like service! We talked to Hermana Green tonight and she is doing really well, and loves President and Sister Killpack already. She is upbeat and knows the Lord has a plan and a work for her to do in Orem, she knows this is where she is meant to be at this time, and can't wait to get started. What a blessing and comfort this phone call was to us! Love this missionary too pieces!!!
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Update on Hurricane Maria:
So quick update; Well after a very sleepless night and many prayers, we received a phone call from Hermana Green at 10:30 am this morning (Wednesday) to tell us, that she and all of the missionaries were safe, protected and made it through the category 5 Hurricane Maria that made landfall on the Island of Puerto Rico at 2:00 am this morning. In preparation for this massive Hurricane directly hitting Puerto Rico, Hermana Green and all of the Sister Missionaries and Elders in Puerto Rico (approx. 157) were evacuated on Tuesday from their homes and areas, and the Sisters went to the Mission Home, and the Elders went to the Mission Office in Guaynabo under the Mission Presidents direction. They were well prepared and united in faith to ride out the storm, although they still did not have power restored from the damage caused by Hurricane Irma. Hermana Green said; they held devotionals and knelt and prayed together with President and Sister Smart, and were comforted by the Spirit and never felt afraid. She said; that Hurricane Irma prepared, strengthened and united the missionaries and the people of Puerto Rico, that they can endure hard things and overcome trials with the Lord's help. Hermana Green said; that this experience was one of the greatest spiritual experiences of her mission. Although they have not been outside yet, they could see the devastation around the Mission Home. They have no thought for themselves, but just want to go serve and help the people of Puerto Rico. Hermana Green said; the Lord has preserved and prepared them to now go and be a light to the people by helping them put their Island, homes and lives back together, and letting the people know that they can be comforted and find peace and happiness through Jesus Christ. Sister Smart said; "your lives have been saved, now go save another." They do not know when they can go back to their areas and homes, or when power will be restored, but their spirits are strong and they are ready to serve, although they are concerned about the flooding and mud slides that are already happening. Hermana Green closed with; don't worry about me, and just pray for the people, because that is all that I am concerned about!
It was the best phone call, and we are so grateful for the Lord's hand in protecting our daughter, the missionaries, and people of Puerto Rico. We would like to thank all of our family and friends for your thoughts and prayers this week. We invite you to continue to pray for the people of Puerto Rico in the coming days and weeks as they work through the devastation and damage that was caused!
This Weeks (Monday's) Letter from Kali pre Hurricane Maria:
Buenas a Todos (Hello everyone)!
One spiritual experience has kept happening over and over. I have been really trying to put ALL of my studies into studying for our investigators, their needs, and what we can do to help them. Sometimes I feel impressions to study certain things without knowing why, or without it having any correlation with the lesson plan we have, but I follow the promptings anyways. As I have done this, and put my all into these studies, I have seen the results paying off as the things I have studied, planned or not planned, have ALWAYS seemed to be the thing that someone needs to hear. These experiences have been super cool!! Effective studies brings MIRACLES.
Ludumar: LUDUMAR IS THE BEST. So, Hermana Pearce and her old companion found this family of four who welcomed them in and gladly heard their message. We had a lesson with Ludumar, the Mom (who is in her late 20's) last week on the Book of Mormon and how it can help lead and guide her and her family. We had a member present (also a miracle) and the Spirit was so strong in the lesson. She told us that before she met Hermana Pearce and Hermana Turner, she had been praying to God to send her guidance and strength for her and her family. Then, the missionaries showed up at her door. She said she knew that they/we are sent from God and that the message we share truly will help her. It was a great lesson, but we didn't feel the Spirit telling us to invite her to be baptized, which happens, and is not necessarily a bad thing. So, we are going to have a cita (appointment) with her tomorrow and we are super excited!
Derek: Derek I still haven't met, but Hermana Pearce says that he has had a super hard life. He's 20 years old and has gone through quite a bit. We have a lesson with him tonight and we are going to teach him the Restoration and invite him to be baptized! He loves reading the Book of Mormon and just recently quit smoking, Woo hoo!
Joann: I also haven't met her yet but during our intercambios, Hermana Pearce went and visited her with Hermana Brooks and she accepted a fecha, baptismal date!!!!
We have some more, but these are those who are progressing. :)
So, their are different callings/positions of leadership in a mission. The AP's (assistants to the President) are usually two seasoned elders who help President and Hermana Smart with EVERYTHING. They are great leaders and they help train and lead us. Under them are Zone Leaders and Sister Trainer Leaders (What I just got called to for the Caguas zone). There are 5 zones in Puerto Rico (Mayaguez, Ponce, Caguas, Toa Baja and San Juan). So, in every zone, there are 2 Zone Leaders and 2 Sister Trainers, Hermana Pearce and I are the Sister Trainers of the Caguas Zone. We work with the Zone leaders to plan and set goals for our zone according to what we learn in MLC (Missionary Leadership Conference). Every transfer the zone leaders and sister trainers will go to President's house and learn and be instructed by President, Hermana Smart and the AP's, it's like a zone conference for the leadership. So, some of the key responsibilities of a Sister Trainer Leaders are to look over the well-being, missionary work efforts and help lead and guide the Sisters in the zone by example and by our experiences. These are usually Sisters that have a lot of time on the mission. We also do intercambios (exchanges) with all the Sisters in our zone, and we will get to work with them either in their or our area, depending on who we believe needs to be with who for the 24 hours we do the intercambios (exchanges). We work with the zone leaders to make plans for our zone, and for zone conferences. President & Hermana Smart, the AP's will all speak, and the Zone Leaders and Sister Trainers will speak and focus on the goals as a zone and what we need to do spiritually, and physically in the work and in our work ethic to accomplish these goals. We will do intercambios (exchanges) every week, and every Snight, Hermana Pearce and I make calls to check in on the girls, to talk about the numbers we send in weekly, how their investigators are doing, etc. It is such an honor to be in this calling. I have seen so may wonderful examples of Sister Trainers in my mission that have helped shape me into the person and missionary I am today, like Hermana Gutierrez, Hermana Bird, Hermana Josie, Hermana Larsen, and many more. I am grateful for their example and I hope that I can do all I can, in order to help others feel that same love I felt.
MY NEW HOUSE IS AMAZING. It is seriously probably the nicest house on the island, haha!! seriously, it's beautiful!!! I live with Hermana Brooks and Hermana Mann. :)
|My Companion Hermana Pearce|
Hermana Pearce and I have the FUNNIEST and most interesting times together. This week has been crazy. I love it.
GUAYAMA IS BEAUTIFUL. It's called, "Zion" and now I understand why. It has TONS of hills, and the first couple of days I was dying, haha! We can see the ocean from where we are and we live right next to a mall and WALMART, I love walmart. it's the closest thing we have to Target. I miss Target.
The members are SO HELPFUL and we get fed every day. Their goal is to, "help missionaries leave a dress size bigger from when they came", yeah that terrifies me a little bit, but Hermana Pearce is training for the Air Force so we are exercising a ton, and the hills and miles we walk every day (our area is pretty big) so, I am not too worried.
There is a song that is forever written on my heart, it is a song by the church from The Nashville Tribute (Church Country Songs, that are amazing) and its called, "Apostles" by Jason Deere. This is exactly how I feel about missionary work. Listen to it, and let me know what you think.
It's pretty hot here. I've noticed that I have been put in the hottest pueblos on the island, haha!! In order of heat, it goes Ponce, then Guayama, then Cabo Rojo, WOOO!!
Mom and Dad, I loved last week's spiritual thought. Dad you shared Helaman 10:4 with me, and I loooooove that verse. They focused on this verse a couple of Zone Conferences ago and it changed my perspective on missionary work and my personal efforts, so thank you for that!
Love you all, I thank you for your support, prayers for our island, and for your love.
Monday, September 11, 2017
Estoy Viva! (I’m alive!)
Okay, first off, I would like to thank everyone who has been sending prayers to my little island of Puerto Rico this last week. It was an interesting week that I'll never forget! I am completely 100% okay and I am grateful that no harm came to us. I send my prayers and love out to those who lost everything in the islands really close to us and to the Hurricane survivors in Texas, as well as those who are still being affected by Hurricane Irma in Florida. I pray that everything goes well for them.
So, on Tuesday, we were asked to be in our house by 5:00 pm, and to not come out until we were told it was safe. President and Hermana Smart did a wonderful, amazing job at updating us, helping us stay safe and calm, and helping us to be prepared. They are wonderful and I am so grateful for them. We were at Mayra and Anjomil's house saying goodbye to them when we got a bunch of texts with instructions and details of what was going to happen and what we needed to do. I thought, "okay that's doable" it was like 4:00 pm, and I was like, Okay, hey Mayra can you give us a ride home? She said yes, then not even like 5 minutes later we get a call from the Zone Leaders and they're like, yeah Sister Green you have to take all your sisters, pack the car, you're going to stay in San German for a couple days with the sisters over there. Keep in mind we have to be in their house at 5:00 pm, and we are not by our house, and it takes about 15-20 minutes to get to San German, plus getting our stuff in the car and shutting all the lights and windows, it was probably one of the most stressful 40 minutes of my LIFE, ha-ha!! But all went well, and after two hours of being there, getting dinner made, we were told to go back to Cabo Rojo, so we packed the car again and went home – it was a busy few hours! After getting back to Cabo Rojo, we were in the house for 46 hours straight. It was very interesting, ha-ha!! We definitely felt the effects of the hurricane, but it wasn't as bad as we all expected it to be. Not much sleeping happened, ha-ha!! And we had to close all of our windows and doors until they told us we could open them, and so our house quickly became a tiny oven, ha-ha!! But we did have good fun as well. One funny thing that happened; so Hermana Post was like, "I wonder if any thing is going to happen soon,” and right as she says that, a GIANT gust of wind and rain came and we all screamed and Hermana Post starts SCREAMING and freaking out and Hermana Peter (from Papa, New Guinea) in her cute English yells at the window, "GO AWAY" ha-ha!! Although we had no power or running water for three days, we kept ourselves entertained and we all slept out in the living room. We were so hot, but at one point we figured out that if we just didn't move, we didn't sweat, ha-ha!! We ate saltine crackers, tuna and peanut butter for like 4 days, ha-ha!! There were a couple times where it was pretty frightening, but nothing that a prayer couldn't solve. Cabo Rojo was probably one of the safest cities to be in during this Hurricane. The only real damage that happened was this giant tree fell over by a school near our house and a street sign flew off somewhere. Now, the other side of the island, like by San Juan, where the mission office is, it got bad damage, because the eye of the Hurricane passed 50 miles from San Juan. I honestly didn't understand the severity of how huge Hurricane Irma was until Giselle showed us a picture, and I now understand why my Mom was freaking out so much, ha-ha!! But I loved being able to call Mom and Dad and let them know that I was okay. I feel so incredibly blessed. We are so, so, so, lucky. Thank you for all the prayers. One thing that stuck with me was a text Hermana Smart sent. On Thursday, we did service all day helping anyone that was in need. On Friday, was a regular working day, and Hermana Smart sent a text that said, "Your life was saved, now go save another.” We are so blessed; Heavenly Father truly does answer prayers.
|Me using a Head Flashlight to see in our "DARK" house. (No Power and water for 3 days)|
|This was in the afternoon showing how dark it was during the day in our house.|
A spiritual experience, well, there was one point during the hurricane where it was so hard to sleep because it was raining and storming so much. I didn't feel any fear, but my anxiety was kind of like throwing my body off and so I just prayed, and prayed, and prayed, that everything would be okay, and that I would be able to sleep. Shortly after, I was able to fall asleep. It was a tiny little miracle in the midst of so much craziness, but I loved the peace and comfort that came to me from it.
I leave Cabo Rojo today at 2:30. Then I'll drop off my stuff at Guayama in my house, and then we are going straight to Guaynabo, where the new missionaries meet their trainers. I honestly still am in shock that I was called to be a Sister Trainer Leader, but I am so humbled and excited for this opportunity! All the Sister Trainers and Zone Leaders, and President and Hermana Smart all meet in Guaynabo every transfer to welcome the NEW Missionaries and help drive them to their zones. WHICH is really exciting because when Mallory comes to the island, I'll see her!! I am so stoked for that! So, I'll be driving around the island all day today. ALSO, exciting thing is that Hermana Zimmerman is in my zone, and she's training! So I get to see her tonight! :) And Hermana Pearce has been in Guayama for a transfer. I am stoked to be companions with her again! She is the bomb!!
This week before leaving Cabo Rojo, we found Zoraida again! We went to go visit her, but we thought she was ignoring us and so we tried contacting other old investigators in her complex, no luck either. So, we decided to leave and go find someone else on the way out, while we were contacting this man, Zoraida was coming up the hill (in order to get to her complex there is a big hill that is kind of hard to climb sometimes, ha-ha!!) and she was pulling a cart full of groceries. She almost screamed when she saw us! After we finished talking with the man, we went and asked her if she needed help carrying her groceries up the hill, and she said yes, so we helped her. When we got in her house she said that she had been praying for help and we showed up. We were able to have a small lesson with her and she invited us over to her house yesterday to have some lunch and to teach her. She cried when she found out I was leaving. It was cute and sad at the same time. But she is wonderful. Hermana Post will have to let me know what ends up happening with her.
With regards to leaving Cabo Rojo today, yesterday was a hard day. Having to say goodbye to my family here in Cabo Rojo was reaaaaaally hard. I have learned many things from the Lord and the people of Cabo Rojo, I have grown spiritually, witnessed miracles, shared experiences, memories, laughs, cries, smiles, and have personally changed forever, for the things that happened here in Cabo Rojo with these members. I will forever be grateful for the privilege to have served here and these wonderful people. I will forever, thank Heavenly Father every day for blessing me with this mission, with these people, for serving in Cabo Rojo for almost 8 months, and leaving me a changed person. But now, off to a new adventure to Guayama. I have no doubt that I will have similar experiences there, and will change even more. I am excited and I know that Hermana Post is going to continue doing great things here in Cabo Rojo.
|Last time Serving as a Companionship in Cabo Rojo.|
|Mayra and Hermana Post will always have a special place in my heart.|
Thank you again family and friends, for your love and prayers.
Monday, September 4, 2017
Hello, Family and Friends,
Lately I have been reading and growing in the theme of how we need opposition in all things. Well, the last couple of weeks I have been feeling that opposition, haha!! All is well, but as usual, trials come and go, so I asked for a blessing about a week ago from our district leader, Elder Diaz. I had expressed some worries and frustrations to Hermana Post, but there were some other things that I had been worrying or frustrated about that I just kept to myself. As I was getting the blessing I was overwhelmed at how everything I had been worried about was addressed in the blessing, EVERY SINGLE THING!!! All my worries immediately went away and I felt peace in my mind and heart. Let me tell you, the power of the Priesthood is very real and SUCH a blessing in my life.
To be quite honest, our investigator pool is very low, and none are really progressing, BUT sometimes that happens. However, like always if we keep our faith and trust the Lord, he will guide us to those that need us. In this last week we were able to find 2 really cool people, Alana and Felix.
Alana: we found her walking along the street and contacted her. She was nice and said she wanted to come to church and just wants the best for her and her son in a world that isn't getting any better. Hermana Post will follow up with her this week.
Felix: we were contacting by Mayda's house yesterday and we found this man after 2 and a half hours of contacting. He was the only person that talked to us, but he was super cool and we gave him a Book of Mormon and he took a selfie with us and the Book of Mormon and said, " No one has ever given me something like this, let's take a picture" haha!! It made our day.
SOOOOO, what you've been waiting for...TRANSFERS. So, I received a call from President Smart last night and I have been called to be a Sister Trainer Leader (Zone Leader for Sisters) in the CAGUAS ZONE! I'm going to be serving in Guayama, so I'm going to the Southeast side of the island right on the coast, AND I am going to be serving with HERMANA PEARCE AGAIN! Round 2 with Hermana Pearce! I was companions with her after my training in Ponce, and now we are going to be Sister Trainers together! I feel so grateful for this opportunity to serve the missionaries in Caguas and the wonderful people there. Words cannot express the gratitude and love I have for my family in Cabo Rojo. I have been forever changed by the memories, experiences, and people there. I am sad to say goodbye, but it's not for forever. It will be very very hard, but "ire y hare" (I will go, I will do) what the Lord asks of me. I am humbled and excited for this new opportunity and adventure, but mostly just excited to serve. :)
HURRICANE IRMA: So, yeah this has been quite the week! People had been mentioning the storm and this Hurricane, but we didn't think it was actually going to happen, but hey there's always a first for everything, right? So, we woke upmorning and went over all the safety procedures and everything is under control. I am not worried or freaking out, so don't worry Mom!! I know that you will still worry, but just know that I am calm. President Smart has prepared us and we've got everything under control. From what it looks like, we are probably going to get hit by something, but we won't know what until later today or tomorrow. When we do know, we were told that we would be given orders on whether to stay at home, or if they are going to evacuate us. We are being updated by text. All we can do now, is pray that everything will be okay and that the Island and people of Puerto Rico will be okay - Prayers are appreciated! :) I am confident that the Lord has a plan, and whatever that is, I am willing to trust Him, and I take comfort in the Plan of Salvation, that I will be okay! :) But don't you worry, I am already one step ahead! *finger guns* The Hurricane bag is all packed with my stuff, which, yes Mom, it includes my meds in a ziploc. :)
I will miss Hermana Post, but I know she is going to do great things still in Cabo Rojo! She has been such a blessing in my life these last three months and I am excited to see how she blossoms into an even greater missionary! Thanks for letting me meet her, Stephanie! (Hermana Post's mom. hello Hermana Post's mom). This has been quite the week, with transfers and prepping for Hurricane Irma, one could definitely feel stressed. But, I feel extremely calm. I am grateful for the power of prayer and the comfort that we can seek from the Holy Ghost. Sometimes, we pass through unexpected personal "Hurricanes" that may do lots of damage in our own personal lives. Sometimes we are prepared for these storms, and sometimes we are not. But, we can always be prepared to endure these storms and trials as we hold and strengthen our lives on Jesus Christ and His gospel. It is what will bring us safety and peace in times of need. "Sweet is the peace the gospel brings" is a line from one of my favorite hymns. I am reminded of how blessed and grateful I am for these experiences and these trials. As we learn to lean upon the Lord, we will be comforted in even the most unexpected of storms. I testify of the blessings that come from living the gospel and doing everything we can to strengthen our self. I know that as we pray with faith, we act on what we receive, we read the scriptures, we love one another, and we choose to be like Christ, our lives will be filled with joy and lasting happiness!!!
I love you all so very very much and I am grateful for the support you show me!
Always praying for you,