My dear eternal family,
Thank you for the emails and Easter treats! Mom, I'm wearing the navy blue, DownEast Outfitters jacket right now as I type this with the red flower headband in my hair. I was so excited to get some new clothes and I've only been out a few months. I can't imagine how sick of my stuff I'll be by the end of my mission! ha ha. Thanks Em for your package. You always send me holiday packages like you're my mom! It's so funny cause ironically whenever I get a package from mom, the same day I get one from you! They are sitting side by side on our porch. It's like I have two Mom's! I feel blessed! I didn't think anyone still called me "Maria" and I was way happy since I hadn't heard it in awhile. Then I got the mints. ha ha. Em, I'm really writing you today. Sorry it's taken a few weeks. Mom, Trader Joes rocks. Dried fruit and nuts are my favorite in the world and so expensive at the store. Perfect choice.
It sounds like BYU-I was awesome Ash! I love feeling the spirit somewhere and just knowing it's right where the Lord wants you to be. It's how I felt when I was nannying and I drove up to the Adirondack Mountain range to get that boy from his scout camp. The spirit was so strong. I wondered why. I thought maybe it's because I was going to live up there sometime with my future family or something. But little did I know it was my future mission area. It's experiences like these that help us recognize the Holy Ghost and how it feels when we're living in harmony with God's plan for us. I know BYU-I is just where He wants you. From what Mom's email said it sounds like you both felt and knew it.
Last week we were doing our nightly planning and a knock came on our window! It scared us half to death. We froze and didn't even say a word. Well I did... because I always have something to say. I whispered, "Oh my, I'm scared." Then our phone rang. It was 2 of the cute Cornell Branch members. They go teaching with us throughout the week so we've gotten to be good friends with them. They were holding two Easter baskets, one for Sister Hacking and one for me! Sweet huh? So don't worry Mee, I got an Easter basket. E. Bunny remembers missionaries. :)
I had my best Easter I ever had. I didn't know anything could beat being at home with the family around the TV watching conference, going on the family hunt for our baskets and cutting into my peanut butter peppermint place egg, but sorry (no offense!) it did! Sister Hacking and I went to our older investigator (John Saltsman)'s home and picked him up and walked with him to the bus while rounding up 3 more people by convincing them to "come hear the prophet speak to the world". It was so funny because we rode the bus to the church, sister hacking sitting my some teaching a speed version of the restoration, and me doing the same with the others. I couldn't bear the thought that people were just out about when the prophet and his apostles were speaking. They all really liked conference. So yeah, we rode the bus to the church and then it's a little bit of a walk from the bus stop to the church. We were walking with our clan from downtown Ithaca. I'm sure it was a funny sight. Vivian, Lisa, and Tim (three progressing investigators) were there at the church and so we had a good turn out. I can't wait to meet with them all this week and see what talks stood out to them.
Mom, Elder Ballard's talk was one of my favorite. It made me think of you. I love when he said, "Don't look to contemporary culture, look towards your mothers." I have done that and couldn't have asked for a better, righteous, loving, faithful mother to look towards and try to emulate. I echo Elder Nelson who said, "Teaching moments by my parents have made me who I am today." Dad and Mom, I want all my investigators to just come live at our house! The family home evenings, nightly family dinners, morning prayers, blessings, would all strengthen their testimonies of this being the way to happiness, living the gospel of Jesus Christ in our homes.
It was made so clear to me this conference that I have to teach these people here on my mission like I will teach my own children. They don't have mothers and fathers living the true gospel. Tyesha's dad is not a good role model, Sister Renteria's kids are inactive because she isn't active, etc. I've just seen time and time again out here that the families need righteous mothers and fathers to lead and guide them. That is how the children will follow. This transfer I am focusing on the parents out here. We will get these families strong so they can then affect their generations to come.
I love you so much!