Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Week 21 Arizona

So this has been a week with some definite lows and some definite highs.

The Lows: Friday was a super rough day. We had our weekly planning meeting where we plan for the coming week from 9-12, which is pretty boring, but a very necessary part of our week. After that, we had zone lunch and then Spanish study followed by Facebook, so by the time that we got out to proselyte it was 3:30. We had brought our bikes to  the meeting because we share a car with the other sisters in our ward and they had a member going out with them after dinner so they needed the car.  But, my companion said her stomach wasn't feeling well so they graciously gave us the car to drive around our area until dinner...and this is where it got rough.  
     So we pulled up to the trailer park, we were planning on visiting this family that's going to get baptized in 2 weeks because on Tuesday their trailer burnt down. So we were bringing them a new set of scriptures. I was driving, and so I had the keys. I opened the trunk to grab a copy of the Book of Mormon and I set the keys down inside the trunk while I rifled through the box. When I had the Book of Mormon, I realized that the kids' Book of Mormon is in the back seat, so I step away to grab it and the door is locked. Right as I turn around to grab the keys to unlock it, my companion slams the trunk shut...with the keys inside. 
     That sucked, but it gets better. So its 4pm now and we call Elder Brown, the car and bike guy and tell him our story.  Luckily he had a spare so he says that he'll be over around 4:40 with the key. While he drives over from Tempe we go and see the family and have a quick lesson with them.  As we are walking back to the car my companion says, "Wouldn't it be awful if he brought the wrong keys, hahaha."  Guess what happens... he brought the wrong key. So he has to go all the way back to Tempe to get the key during rush hour traffic. It's now 5pm and we are late for our dinner which is in the northern most part of our ward boundaries.  (We cover the south - so we are stranded.)  Our bikes are at the church and our car is locked. Luckily, our kind-hearted Bishop came with his wife and rescued us. They gave us a ride to the dinner that we were 30 minutes late for.  
     Afterwards, we decide to walk over to the church to get our bikes so we can bike back to the car. We get to the church and my companion has a flat tire...like empty flat.  A few more phone calls later and it turns out that our Zone Leaders had a member tracting with them, so they came and picked us up.  Elder Brown came in his truck once again, and got our bikes. We all went over to the trailer park to pick up the car.
     We got the car back and then we were given a very stern talking to by our Zone Leaders about the use of the car. (I was super upset by the end of it!)  It turns out that they had told my companion (she is the Senior Companion) that we are only to use the car for taking members to and from lessons or if we are going to and from meetings. 
     I was so mad because had I known this rule, I would have made sure we hadn't taken the car out in the first place.  So it is now 7:30pm, we drive home and I start patching holes that are in her bike tires. Around the 8th hole, my companion gives up on proselyting for the rest of the night (8:20) and leaves to take a shower!   (By this time, I'm even more frustrated,) I patch hole number 10 and we finished our day with a total of 30 minutes of proselyting time.  
That was the low.

The high: We got to go to the Temple on Wednesday. It was so so so so so awesome! Not being able to go whenever I want to makes me appreciate these opportunities so much more now. It was so awesome.

Other stuff: On Thursday, I got my official Spanish name tags.I got a super awesome letter on Saturday morning from Caroline. :-)  My watch battery died.  :-(  I got new Spanish scriptures. Today is day 1 of the 4th week of this transfer...that's flown by. It's been in the mid 90's all month, but the past 3 days its been in the 70's (crazy).

Love you all

Hermana Raynor

Monday, April 28, 2014

Katie Photos April 2014

Sisters Raynor and Bautista

                                                             Latest Baptism


                                                             Mount Samat

                                 Cows and milk are rare in the Philippines
                               But crocodiles aren't -  being skinned for dinner with the missionaries!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Philippines Week 26

Hi family--just a short note to go with my millions of pictures. This week has been so incredible.  It has been amazing to see the progression both in myself, my Tagalog and our teaching as a companionship. We were so blessed this week.  We were able to teach 24 lessons to investigators with a member present - one short of the all time mission high and have 29 new investigators.  It is thrilling to be able to be an advocate of the Lord in these final days. He is preparing so many of His people to hear and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Occasionally, there are people that choose to reject our message but I know that I have done my best as a missionary. It's especially difficult to see people fall away from the gospel when they know its true but there are bad examples of members and leaders. Alma 5:62. It tells people that those that are not members need to come unto Christ, repent and be baptized. And then it says if you ARE a member, come unto Christ repent and be baptized. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is perfect. Everything about it is perfect. The members however, are just people who make mistakes. We are not perfect. But sometimes God gives us a responsibility in the church to help us learn and grow.  Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance we can all become clean and be forgiven.  I know that this is the true church of God. I would give everything that I have for it.  How great is His work!  I love you all. 
Love Sister Raynor
PS. Mom--skype--two weeks!

Pictures of my wrist before surgery--swollen with a big bump where the tendons were rubbing against the metal.

Wrist after two weeks...

A sign in the bus terminal...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 20 Arizona

Hi Everyone!

So some things that happened this week: 

My bike exploded!!! Just kidding, sort of...we were riding down the road and all of a sudden I heard a metallic "plink" noise and then my front tire started wobbling like crazy, when we stopped and I lifted up my bike to get a better look, the  front tire came out.  It turns out that the piece that locks the tire into place lost a piece so the tire was no longer locked in, so that part sucked.  The nice part was that we called the mission fleet coordinator the next day and he drove out from the mission office, picked up my bike and had it back to me the next day, and it was like a $10 fix.

We got to go work at the Easter pageant again, that was super fun, and we got to stay and watch it and it was a lot more meaningful this go around (especially getting to understand all of it.)

Yesterday I officially hit the 5 month mark, which is super weird, I still feel like I've only been out for a month and a half. Time flies on the mission. 

On Saturday we went on exchanges! I love exchanges, they are so much fun, I learn so much from them and its pretty fun to get to know other missionaries and to visit a new area. This exchange was really fun because the Sister Training Leader I went with really pushed me with my Spanish, I think I spoke more Spanish during that one day than I had the entire week. Another fun thing was that Sister Savage is from Cedar City and she totally knows the Barnes, I guess in high school she was a TA for one of Luke's classes...small world.

The work out here is progressing and so is my Spanish (though for the Spanish-its very slow.) 
I hope you have an awesome time in Hawaii Mom.

Sister Raynor

Philippines Week 25

Hi family. 
           So this week has been a little strange and so I'm just going to write a little bit and send a ton of pictures next week. I left my camera in the car of one of the senior couples. This week has been insane. We had two baptisms and 26 new investigators.  This is a crazy high amount for our mission.  Because Abucay isn't used to Americans, I can get us into almost every house. Hmmm, it must be a gift! 
           Today we went to Mount Samat and a random lady came up to me and asked me to take a picture with her--because I'm white.  So strange, but it works. 
           Easter was kind of different. So here they have holy week. People walk around whipping themselves, carrying huge massive crosses, and singing.  There was blood everywhere, all over the sides of cars and tricycles.  One of our investigators even got blood sprayed on his shirt. Easter Sunday was a normal Sunday - even in our ward meeting. There weren't any Easter songs, talks, or anything. We ate rice - yum.  
          I really love my companion Sister Bautista.  I miss San Felipe but I'm grateful for the time that I had there.  I love you all.

Sister Raynor

PS: Saying of the week: Whenever we are "punted" from appointments we always say that we are walking the Bataan death march because it's so hot and we just walk - drenched in sweat.  We also sings songs like "put your should to the wheel," "pioneer children sang as they walked," and "onward christian soldiers."

I could use some extra prayers as well as my wrist is really bothering me and they have placed me back on heavy pain medication.  It's so frustrating.  Thanks and love to all.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Week 19 Arizona

So I am back in Phoenix!! Last time I was in south Phoenix, the outskirts by the reservation, but now I'm up in the city!  I didn't realize just how much I missed it, but being back has been awesome! 
          In Arizona City there was never anyone out and the opportunities to talk to people were few and far in between, but it's just the opposite in Phoenix.  So I live in an apartment with another set of Hermanas, which is awesome. Up until now I've only lived in houses with just me and my companion which can be a bit rough, but just having someone else to talk to is quite refreshing. 
          The Spanish is coming along, but very very slowly.  We definitely use every minute of our Spanish hour. Another fun piece of news - my companion from the MTC just got transferred to Phoenix too.  She lives in an apartment 3 doors down, so that's been fun. My companion and I are what we call "white washing" into our area, this makes it extra fun, because neither of us knows where we are going or who we are supposed to be talking to, but its okay, because I have no idea where the conversation is going anyways! 

So some other stuff that's happened... my bag got stolen (the big black one that has 50,000 pockets). My last companion had this bad habit of leaving the windows down in the car. Luckily, I had been using this purse that I got a few weeks ago so I had my wallet and ipad with me.  All they really got was a few pens and pamphlets. Who knows, maybe they'll read a few and "Come to Jesus." but I'm not holding my breath. During the day before transfer meeting, President Toone said that he wanted all missionaries to attend (except Yuma-they were going to skype in,) a mission meeting.  So, we all went and before the transfers were announced, President Toone, had me stand up and he announced my reassignment to literally the whole mission, that was kinda embarrassing. (Nice but I don't really care of the attention.) 
          So they're having the Easter Pageant at the Mesa Temple, and so all the sister missionaries get to help with that, this has been super cool.  Wednesday was the only day that they were going to do the whole thing in Spanish, so all the Spanish sisters got to go and help out (even Yuma) AND we get to go once more on the 16th to help again. I'm super excited to hear it in English!

That's all I got for now!  Love to all.  Sister/Hermana Raynor 

My new address is 475 N. 43rd Ave #134 Phoenix, AZ 85009.

Pictures: These first few are from the monster dust storm (like that scene from The Mummy- big)

Nancy and Alex's baptism - Dale got to baptize them!  ( He also he gave me a border patrol hat before I left!)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Philippines Week 24

Hi all. Just a short note. I am in my new area Abucay. It is near one of the largest cities in Bataan (yes, like the Bataan Death March).  The area seems nice.  It is very far away in the bukod (farms/rice fields).  I know that eventually I will come to love this area almost as much as I love San Felipe. (Probably not as much because everyone always says that you never love any area like you love your first.)  
          My new companion is Sister Bautista. I am her follow-up training. She is in the same batch as Sister Pizon.  I don't have very much time but I wanted to send a quick note. 
          Also, Sunday is Easter and apparently our area is where they are going to do the self-crucifying like Christ. Where people walk in a parade whipping themselves and wearing crowns of thorns and carrying their crosses. I don't know much about it but I will probably find out on Sunday. 

I finally got a response to my many letters to Ash and in typical Ashley fashion this was her reply (my first letter/email in months):  Love you, glad you are doing better, will write - some day.... I love you too Ash/Sister Raynor.  :-)))

I love you all so much. Happy Easter.
Mahal kita. Sister Raynor

New wrist:  (No more washing her own clothes...)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

News From Arizona

¡Hola! ¡Estoy muy emocionada para servir aquí en el barrio Encanto con mi nueva compañera! — with Hermana Ashley Raynor.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Week 18 Arizona - Sister Raynor becomes Hermana Raynor

So this has been a crazy week! On Monday, our Zone Leaders told us to get ready for transfers because "they're gonna rip this place apart," apparently President Toone has adopted a new policy where you will no longer be staying in an area for more than 4 transfers (unless the Spirit directs otherwise, of course.)  So a big chunk of my zone (6 of the 18 missionaries) have been here for 4 transfers, and there are 3 missionaries who are on their last transfer (they go home today/tomorrow) and 1 who got his visa to go to Brazil, so that's like 10 people with an 80% chance of getting transferred. Saturday and Sunday where awesome! I loved conference, it was incredible. Sunday night was crazy, transfer calls came annnnnnnnndddddddd its official! I am getting transferred! 

And for the really big Surprise......in my new area, I will be known as Hermana Raynor (in case you didn't get it, that means my Mission President has decided to reassign me to Spanish). At 10:20 last night President Toone called and asked me if I would accept the assignment to be a Spanish missionary, and I said yes.  It has been something that we had talked about before, but I didn't actually think anything would happen. Two weeks ago, President Toone said he needed to meet with me privately, and in that meeting, he told me that he was aware of my desires to speak Spanish, and that 1). I should have told him about that myself, 2). That they could use some more Spanish missionaries 3). That he had received the First Presidency's approval to reassign me, and 4). That he had not yet received personal confirmation. We talked about the possibility of a reassignment and we ended with lets pray about it and call him on Monday (2 days later).  This meeting freaked me out, I was very much caught off guard by the whole thing. I wanted give him the right answer, not the one that I wanted it to be, but what Heavenly Father wanted. This is what I wrote President Toone: 

President Toone,

This week has been a good week. We had that incredible baptism on Saturday and on Sunday the confirmation was just as powerful. Those spiritual experiences have really helped me. Since Friday night, I've had a lot on my mind. It was a struggle to discern between what I want and what the Lord wants for me, but after much prayer and fasting, I believe that I got my answer. It came this morning during personal study, but really I think it came Saturday night, but my doubts and my fears made everything foggy. Today as I was praying before my personal study, begging to know His will, I just got this feeling, a quiet assurance, it was like the answer had been there all along but I just hadn't been ready for it or able to recognize it, but I feel that Spanish is right. This whole weekend doubts have been going through my mind nonstop, "my Spanish isn't that good, I'll let people down" or "my companion would hate me, she'd feel like she is having to pull my weight in teaching" "no one out there is that patient." I had a lot of doubts, but I realized that if this is right, if this is what the Lord wants for me then it will be possible. I will probably struggle and feel uncomfortable for a bit, but I know that with enough faith, I can do it. 

Sister Raynor

The week after, that, I started to doubt, but this is part of what I wrote him:

This week we went on exchanges with Hermana Haar and Hermana Mejia. I love exchanges so much! I just love getting the chance to learn new things and this is going to sound kinda weird but i love getting the correction. I have desired to be a consecrated missionary from the beginning of my mission and so getting the chance to go on exchanges where i can learn ways to be better from those with more experience than I, is an incredible opportunity for learning and growth. On this round of exchanges I went with Hermana Haar to her area and Hermana Mejia went with Sister Douros to our area. Sadly on this exchange there was a massive dust storm, so we were inside for a bit and we didn't get a lot of teaching opportunities but as per usual I still learned so much. While we were waiting out the storm Hermana Haar and I did language study. It was my favorite part of the day, she is an incredible teacher, and now here is the one and only time I'll leave a little bread crumb, if you feel that me going over to Spanish is right...Hermana Haar is an amazing teacher. I have so much respect for her, I committed myself to read chapter 1 of Preach My Gospel each week, and there is a section about the power and authority that comes with this calling, and I can see that so strongly in her. When she testifies of something, I can see that she knows it, that there is no shadow of a doubt anywhere in her mind of what she is saying. When I told her about our meeting last Friday, I was telling her about all my doubts, and right in the middle of my sentence she just grabbed my arm, looked me strait in the eye and said, "Sister Raynor, if your Heavenly Father desires for you to speak Spanish then you WILL be able to speak Spanish. He will bless you with the gift of tongues and with the gift of interpretation of tongues. Stop doubting and have more faith than that." She has that power and authority that I am working towards. I am so glad we had exchanges, because I needed to hear that.

Sister Raynor 

Sister Raynor,

Great letter ... I appreciate all that you are willing to share with me as you write to me each week. Thanks for all you do. I hope and pray that you will support the decisions that will come with transfers. True, things are going to be different. But, I believe the changes will be a blessing to all of us and they will especially bless the mission. You are the best. Please remember that Sister Toone and I love you. We are here for you. We pray for you multiple times a day and we know that the Lord will bless you with everything you need. Live up to your privileges and you will be amazed at how God will pour down upon you EVERYTHING YOU NEED. 

President Toone

These next few transfers are going to be an adventure, but we'll see what happens. I am super excited. I love you all. 

Sister/Hermana Raynor

Monday, April 7, 2014

Philippines Week 23

Hey family,
I'm typing with one hand and so there probably will be a lot of grammatical errors. In case you haven't heard, I had surgery on my left wrist on Saturday. They took the metal plate out because it as making my tendons rub and pop against it-which could have caused a rupture in my tendons. The surgery took a long time (about an hour) because they had to find a different type of screwdriver in the middle of the surgery and then they had to sanitize it because its not a surgical screwdriver. But, I have all of the screws and plates sitting on my desk.
Surgery in the Philippines is much much different than surgery in Africa. But some parts of it reminded me of Africa.
The first thing that reminded me of Africa was watching the doctors try to put in my IV line. After they asked why I have so many scars over my veins (from previous IVs) they proceeded to give me three rather large bruises trying to find a vein. The doctor ended up calling his colleague down to the OR to put in my IV. 
The second thing that reminded me of Africa was the nice Filipino male nursed that told me that I was beautiful after the surgery. (Inside joke--Caroline). I think I need to start requesting female nurses. 
Overall, I was super impressed with the hospital and the whole surgical process. 
I am now staying in MRC- Missionary Recovery Center. It is a building right next to the Manila MTC. There is a missionary couple (she is a nurse) that were called here-this is the only MRC in the church.  It pretty much makes it so that recovering missionaries don't have to stay in the hospital to recover.  But everything here is family style. We say family prayer, we watch conference together, eat dinner together, everything.  It's a really neat facility.  I spend most of my time either sleeping off the medication, watching Johnny Lingo and hanging out with the other 4 missionaries.  So this is what my life has been lately. I got to talk to Mom and Caroline right before my surgery. I love you all. Thank you for all the prayers. 

Quote of the week: "Mahana you ugly!"

Sister Raynor

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Philippines Week 22

There was no letter from Katie this last week...  She has been having trouble with her wrist - the one with the titanium plate that she received in Africa.... She had been on vicodin-type pain medication for two to three weeks.  They were hoping that it would resolve the problem.  Turns out that the tendons have been rubbing up against the plate in her wrist.  If they continue to rub, the tendons can rupture.  After a bit of confusion and miscommunication (I guess that's what happens in 2am instant messages and phone calls from the Mission President - where we don't understand each other very well) she was sent to the Manila MTC where she met with the mission doctor - Elder Jackson.  What a wonderful man!  
     He phoned home and explained the situation.  He said that I should not worry, that she was in good hands.  He said that the church's insurance would cover the cost of surgery (THANK GOODNESS) and that it was in Katie's best interest to have the plate removed.  So Friday night (our time) Katie had surgery in yet another third world hospital.  Elder Jackson was so kind... He asked me if I wanted to speak with my daughter and I got to speak with Katie for about 35 minutes.  Katie and I emailed back and forth a bit last night and she is recovering well.  Elder Jackson and his wife waited with Katie until she woke up from her surgery, then he called me to say everything went very well.   She is among some wonderful Elders and Sisters who are taking such good care of her.  She will remain at the Missionary Recovery Center until April 10th.

Thank you also to Elder and Sister Gorringe who were so helpful in advising Katie and just taking care of her.

Week 17 Arizona

Sorry mama, this is gonna be a short one. I have like 5 minutes left....  You asked about Allen Barry - Hi to Sister Barry....  Yes, I saved Allen Barry's life and I almost drowned in the process. He climbed on my back and was holding me under while I got closer and closer to the wall. I thought I was gonna die, but really I was only without air for like a minute (and thus begins my swimming career.)  Haha.   
          This week we had a giant dust storm, like that scene from The Mummy - big.  I took some pictures, but I got a new bag and so I forgot to put my card reader in it again.  I'll send the pictures next week.  
          This week we went on exchanges with Hermana Haar and Hermana Mejia. I love exchanges so much! I just love getting the chance to learn new things and this is going to sound kinda weird but I love getting the correction. I have desired to be a consecrated missionary from the beginning of my mission and so getting the chance to go on exchanges where I can learn ways to be better from those with more experience than I, is an incredible opportunity for learning and growth. 
          On this round of exchanges I went with Hermana Haar to her area and Hermana Mejia went with Sister Douros to our area. Sadly on this exchange there was a massive dust storm, so we were inside for a bit and we didn't get a lot of teaching opportunities but as per usual I still learned so much. While we were waiting out the storm Hermana Haar and I did language study. It was my favorite part of the day, she is an incredible teacher, I have so much respect for her.  I committed myself to read chapter 1 of preach my gospel each week, and there is a section about the power and authority that comes with this calling, and I can see that so strongly in her. When she testifies of something, I can see that she knows it, that there is no shadow of a doubt anywhere in her mind of what she is saying. She has that power and authority that I am working towards. 
Love you all tons - 

Sister Raynor