La Semana Pasada

Hola!

This week has been a week of running on back up plans and hardly anything we planned went quite right. It’s been odd, still good, but odd. 6 of the 7 days this week we were fed American food! It was like everyone got together and officially decided together not to have Mexican food… There were two glorious days where we got pizza and fried chicken with mashed potatoes and then the other days were spaghetti and spaghetti and spaghetti AND then, lasagna. Not kidding. Hermana Cifuentes has been here for 5 months and has never seen spaghetti or lasagna until now. Not sure what was going on in the universe this week… Made me miss rice and beans!

Politics and Trump are a topic of particular concern down here… Most of the people we interact with are immigrants (legal and illegal) and they are all really scared right now, this past week especially. It’s been both heartbreaking and eye opening to see firsthand the struggles and fears they face. So many people here have become very dear friends to me, and I worry and care about them and their families a whole lot. Their reality is a whole different world than the one I grew up in and am a part of. It’s incredible what the majority of them have gone through to get here and how hard they have to work to provide for their families. I know I joke around about the food being too spicy and what not, but at the end of the day I really am so grateful that so many have been willing to open up their homes to us and share what they have. They are such good people.

If you all could remember my New Mexicans in your prayers, I would really appreciate it 🙂

I’m learning a lot out here, but perhaps the most important thing I’m growing to better understand is Christ’s Atonement. It changes lives. It has changed mine. My gratitude is deepened a little more each day for the sacrifice our Savior so freely and willingly gave on our behalf. Recently I was listening to a talk about the Atonement given by Jeffery R Holland called “Broken Things to Mend.” I 10/10 recommend giving it a read/listen (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/04/broken-things-to-mend?lang=eng) Holland talks about Christ’s invitation to all saying, “He said it to believers, and He said it to those who were not so sure. He said to everyone, whatever their personal problems might be:

‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’”

What a comfort it is to know that no one is beyond His reach of comfort and peace. His invitation is to all, that means my friends here, my friends back home, your friends, your family, me, you. Find some time this week to learn a little more about the Atonement. I honestly believe that there is no more important topic to learn of and understand, and I can’t think of any better use of our time. I know my Savior lives and that the power of His Atonement is real.

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3 months: Rabbais, Pastors, Priests and taquitos

Hola!

It occurred to me this morning that I’m just 2 days shy of being at an official 3 months as a missionary! Vaca Santa! That’s loco.

So something super cool and random happened this past week: Hermana Cifuentes and I were selected by our mission president to attend an Interfaith luncheon with the mayor of Albuquerque! At the event there were Rabbais, Pastors, Priests and holy leaders from every church, synagogue and mosque in town. I loved it! Hermana Cifuentes was bored out of her mind and couldn’t wait to get out of there and back to work (she cracks me up), but I thought it was really cool to get to see how all of the different faiths in the city are coming together in emergency preparedness plans and service outreach programs. We showed up early and as a result were asked to help out with handing out name tags and greeting everyone at the door. It was awesome. We were able to meet and interact with a lot of really great people from all different sets of beliefs and backgrounds. Definitely one of my new favorite mission memories.

Everything else about this past week has been pretty great too. We were able to find a solid new investigator, we had a handful of really powerful lessons and visits with our investigators and member families, and I was fed some of the greatest taquitos I have ever had. Being a missionary is the best, and the New Mexico Albuquerque Mission is where it’s at.

Thank you for all of your love, support and prayers. All of your letters and emails are much appreciated. Love you guys! Have a great week!

Transfers

Hola!

It’s been another wonderful week here in North ​​Albuquerque and it looks like I’m in store for at least another 6 more! I’ve officially completed my first transfer (6 weeks) in the mission field and I’ve been assigned to stay here in the Valle del Norte area with my same companion, Hermana Cifuentes, for another transfer! I’m so pumped about it!

Yesterday was one of those really, really good days as a missionary. We work with a handful of investigators out here, but a lot more of what we do in this area is work with people who are already members and need a little extra love. We’ve spent this past transfer really trying to build up friendships and trust with the members, and we’ve been trying hard to help a lot of them return to activity in the church. Yesterday we had 4 inactive families (most of whom who haven’t been to church in years) show up to sacrament meeting!!! We also had a family of recent converts come (who hadn’t come to church pretty much since their baptisms) AND one of our super incredible investigator families showed up as well!! I can not even express the level of happiness and gratitude I felt sitting in that meeting yesterday looking around and seeing so many of the people that I’ve grown to love SO much be there in church with us yesterday. I would’ve been super happy if even just one of them had made it, but to have such an outcome was just amazing.

The more I grow to love these people, the more I begin to marvel at the amount of love that our Father in Heaven must feel for each one of us. If I, being as imperfect as I am, can feel so full of love for these people, I can only imagine how God, being the perfect parent that He is, must feel about us. If I’ve learned anything out here, it’s that God loves us. He’s aware of you and the things you’re going through. He’s not some distant, mysterious being that sits out on a thrown somewhere in the sky and condemns sinners. He’s a parent. Of all of the titles He has to wear, He asks us to call Him father. He loves you, He really loves you, and He wants the best for you. When you need Him, He’s only a prayer away.

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2017! What??

It’s officially 2017! How did that even happen? To celebrate, our mission president and his wife set up a special surprise for all of us missionaries here in New Mexico. They instructed us to stay in our apartments after 6:00pm on December 31st and to not make any plans whatsoever for January 2nd (since I guess that was the "official observed New Years Day"). They gave us a series of sealed envelopes to open starting at 6:00 pm on the 31st. We spent the evening following the given instructions by cleaning the apartment, reading some powerful general conference talks and journaling. It was a nice way to spend the night.

At 6:30 AM on the "official observed New Years Day," we opened an envelope that told us we would be spending the entire day reading the Book of Mormon, with the goal being that we would get through the whole thing in that one day. 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM. 16 hours. We were to use a new, unused copy of the book, and then take two different colored pencils to mark every time Christ was mentioned and then also every time the Atonement was mentioned.

I gave it an honest effort and read pretty much non-stop the whole time (there were 2 bathroom breaks and a couple of times I paused for a snack), but despite everything I unfortunately only made it to the book of Mormon (like the book inside the Book of Mormon that’s called the book of Mormon because its an account from the prophet named Mormon… The Mormon who the whole book is named after… a little confusing, but yeah) I was so close!! Despite not quite finishing, I still was able to learn a ton from this experience.

The Book of Mormon is often referred to as another testament of Jesus Christ, that’s something I’ve always known, but yesterday I learned just how true that really is. I marked every single time he’s mentioned and wow, that book is ALL about Jesus. It was such a great experience to devote a whole day to nothing but that. I love the Book of Mormon. I love it for being the incredible piece of literature it is and I love it because I know it is more than just a compilation of stories. It is holy scripture written by the hands of God’s prophets. Through this book, we can find purpose and direction and answers. There is a power that comes from reading it.

There is an invitation and a promise to those who read the Book of Mormon. It’s found in the introduction: "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost."

That’s my favorite part about the Book of Mormon! Anyone can read it for themselves, pray to know whether or not it’s a real book of scripture, and God will give them an answer. We don’t have to take anyone else’s word for it, we can know for ourselves.

With this new year, I’d like to invite each of you to read the Book of Mormon. Tis the season of New Years Resolutions, right? Why not make this one of yours? If you’ve read it before, do it again! Spend a little time every day doing something for your spiritual health, read the book. If you’ve never read it before, give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, of that I promise you.

I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that Joseph Smith was who he said he was, a prophet of God. There is a God. He’s aware of us and He love us. When you pray, He listens.

Happy New Year!

Feliz Navidad

​​​​Merry Christmas!! Feliz Navidad!! Today is my official 2 month mark and Christmas is just around the corner! There is so much to celebrate and be thankful for this year. New Mexico has treated me so well so far and I’m looking forward to spending the holidays here with all of my new found friends. Seriously the people here, investigators and members alike, have been so welcoming and all around wonderful.

Also, I wanted to extend a thank you to each one of you that have reached out to me this holiday season and sent your love my way. I have the best support and when I have the occasional tough day out here, it’s your loving words that help get me through it.

Recently I came across a talk given by President Howard W. Hunter, titled "The Gifts of Christmas." It’s super great and I recommend taking the time to read it in its entirety. In it, he gave this advice: "This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again." It can’t really be said any better than that. Merry Christmas! Love you all!

Hola from Nuevo Mexico!

Hola familia y amigos!

Things have been going great! I spend a lot of time in little trailer parks out here in Albuquerque and I am loving it. I’ve encountered dogs of every size and people of every type. It’s great. Luckily, since we’re sisters, we have a car and a pretty decent apartment and the AP’s are in the same apartment complex if ever we needed the priesthood 🙂

I’m getting better at eating Mexican food! I still don’t like it all that much, but I’m so thankful to be fed by the members here. Most of them don’t have very much and it means a lot that they’re willing to share what they do have. They have all been so welcoming and so patient with my Spanish. I couldn’t have asked for a better area. Plus, this past week a member taught me how to make tamales, so now I have that useful skill in my back pocket!

Our Spanish branch is pretty few in members and spread out over a big area. Most of the congregation is made up of recent converts. On Sunday when we began to sing the opening hymn, there were only about 30 people present and probably about 25 of them were tone deaf. That didn’t stop them from singing out with all their hearts though! I wasn’t prepared and I choked on laughter when the first hymn started. It reminded me of the tradition my family has of singing “Happy Birthday” as awful as we all possibly can. I got a nudge and a scolding look from my companion, but eventually she couldn’t help it either and had to stifle her own laughter too.

My companion, Hermana Cifuentes, is awesome. She works SO hard and can be exhausting to keep up with, but I love how much she pushes me to be better. She’s really patient. I’m helping her to learn English (she’s a native Spanish speaker from Gautemala) and she’s helping me (so, SO much) with my Spanish. I have been blessed with the best. We laugh and have a lot of fun together, but we also get down to business and grind it out every day. There hasn’t been a night yet where I haven’t been asleep the second I hit the pillow.

It’s only been a week and yet I already have felt like I’ve changed and grown so much. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about this incredible Gospel I’ve been called to preach. Prayer has become so much more meaningful to me. I know there truly is a God and that He is the father of our spirits. As our parent, He loves us very much. When we pray, He listens. Of that much I’m sure. When we are in need of comfort or guidance from Him, we need only to ask.

I love being a missionary. I love this crazy language and I love the people here. I miss you all and hope things are going well. You’re in my prayers! Have a great week!

Love,

Hermana Metcalf

Este discípulo quiere dormir…

This past Thanksgiving I’ve had so much to be grateful for. I’ve been blessed with some of the very greatest friends and family on this planet! All of the letters and packages and emails you’ve all sent my way have made me feel so loved and so looked after. Thank you for thinking of me and for keeping me in your prayers. It’s humbling to know that I’ve got an army of such genuine good people in my corner.

I love being a missionary. The MTC has been great. I’ve had countless wonderful experiences and I’ve met a lot of incredible people here. However, I’ve also never felt so exhausted in my whole entire life. “Yo quiero dormir,” which means “I want to sleep” in Spanish, has become somewhat of a mantra among the Spanish missionaries here. It’s pretty commonplace to see one of us doze off during class or choir practice or even at dinner (I guess a mushy pile of peas can make for a good pillow). Sometimes in the corners of the gym you can find missionaries fast asleep on workout mats during our exercise time.

A little while back, I was having a rough go of it and feeling like I was just no longer capable of keeping my eyes opened and my head focused. It’s hard to study nothing but Spanish and the scriptures for so many hours a day. At that point all I really wanted in life was a nap. Later that day when workout time rolled around, the exercise mats looked real tempting. It was a tough decision, but instead of napping I opted to stretch and then do a few laps around the track.

While I was running I just started to practice bearing my testimony to myself in Spanish (I guess a mission starts to do things like that to your head after a while). I thought about our Heavenly Father and Christ and the Atonement. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been learning a lot about the Atonement, the great suffering that Jesus Christ endured on our behalf. As I ran lap after lap on the track that afternoon, I thought about the prayer that our Savior offered in the Garden of Gethsemane. He took on every pain and sin of the world in that prayer. The pressure of every sorrow, every guilt, every illness, and every heartache that has ever been felt by anyone who has ever lived- that extreme pressure caused Him to bleed from every pore of His body. During this prayer He suffered all alone. The disciples, His friends, had come along and waited outside the garden, but they fell asleep while all of this occurred. When the Savior of the world, their redeemer and their friend, very most needed them to be there for Him, they slept.

In account of this in Matthew 26:38-45 it says,

“38) Then saith he unto them, my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

39) And he went a little further and fell on his face and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt.

40) And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, what, could ye not watch with me one hour?

41) Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

42) He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

43) And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.”

I can definitely relate to those sleepy disciples that went with Christ to Gethsemane. Being here in the MTC learning how to be a better missionary and trying to get better at communicating in Spanish, I feel like my “spirit is willing” but my “flesh is weak” (like it says in those verses in Matthew). I want to give it my all and do my best, but sometimes my eyes just get so heavy. I know we aren’t perfect people and I know sleep is great and that it’s necessary to function healthily (I love a good nap just as much as the next guy), but really there are just somethings that are more important than sleep.

A disciple is defined as “a follower of Christ.” That describes a whole lot of you guys reading this right now. You’re good people, with willing spirits, out there trying to do what Christ would have you do, out there trying to share His Gospel and practice His teachings. I commend you for all of your efforts and I thank you each of you for being such great examples to me. Seriously, you guys are awesome.

I think it’s safe to say that in our attempts to be better disciples of Christ, we all get a little tired from time to time. Sometimes we get stuck in a sleepy rut. When I reached what felt like my exhaustion breaking point, I turned to the Book of Mormon. I was reading in one of my favorite chapters, second Nephi chapter 4, and even though I’ve read them many times before, verses 28 and 30 stood out to me: “Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin… Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” I felt a resurgence of dedication to discipleship after reading this. I don’t want to be remembered as a disciple that fell asleep on Christ. I want to be someone that He can trust. I know that with Him all things are possible and that He will give us help if only we ask for it. He lives. He is our Savior and Redeemer and because of Him we can be forgiven of our shortcomings and strengthened in our times of need.

This coming Christmas season the LDS Church is launching the #LightTheWorld campaign, and I think it is fantastic. It’s all about becoming better disciples of Christ by doing as He would and serving others in 25 ways over 25 days. Below is a link to the page where you can watch some awesome videos and learn more about it! You can also access the link by clicking on the “Light the World” tab located on my site’s main menu. I highly recommend checking it out. Remember what it’s really all about and take the opportunity this holiday season to do some Christ-like service. Write me and send pictures of how you #LightTheWorld this Christmas!

https://www.mormon.org/?cid=HP_FR_25-11-2016_dMIS_fmorg_xLIDyL1-A_

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Email: sydney.metcalf@myldsmail.net

(Only a matter of hours left here in the MTC! Come Monday morning, I’ll be in New Mexico!) New Mexico Mailing Address:

Sister Sydney Mariah Metcalf
New Mexico Albuquerque Mission
4400 Presidential Dr NE Ste E
Albuquerque, NE 87109