Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Blessings

Hello Friends!

As we approach the New Year, I have been reflecting on many things. I have been thinking about my Spiritual life and how over the past few months I have come closer to Christ than ever before. I have always been a loving person and considered that a strength of mine but on a mission I have had to really work on Charity to love the people of Laredo as Christ would love them.

I often think about what would Christ say to this family. I remember sitting in a lesson with a family this past week and just remember thinking I am not sure what I am going to say to this family. I remember thinking I need to teach them about faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, but I not sure quit how. As I said a little prayer to myself, I remember just feeling peace and just been given the words to say.

There are so many times on my mission that I have been so focused on what Heavenly Father wants for each one of his children that I have felt this overwhelming since of peace. While there are other moments on my mission that I feel so anxious, more anxious than I have ever felt in my life before like my heart is going to close up. But those feelings of anxiety eventually leave and then come and then leave again.

This is how my days have been recently. Needless to say I have been tired this week. I do however, always have joy the joy the gospel brings.

Much love,
Hermana Zani

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Hello Friends,

I cannot believe that in five days we will celebrate the Birth of our Savior and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the rock and the foundation of everything in our lives and it is through him that we can have eternal life and everlasting happiness’s.

As I approach my first of two Christmas' in the mission field. I want to pause and take a moment to express my gratitude, to all those that have helped me to get to this point in my life where I am serving a mission. I am thankful for all those I have meet and worked with me on my mission. I am grateful for the many lessons that I am learning on my mission even though they may be hard and tough at times. I am learning and growing lots even when I cannot always see it. I know that the Lord is molding me into the person I need to become.

I have been thinking about the process of "unconditional surrender" where we surrender everything that we want, desire, or need over to the Lord and that by doing that we allow ourselves to become like the Savior. His desires become our desires, his wants becomes our wants, his needs, become our needs. Yesterday, while standing outside in the cold and in the rain. I thought about this as my feet felt numb and my hands were freezing. I felt the urgency to talk with more people, to work harder to find more people to teach. To care more about bringing a family unto Christ than listening to my own voice of tiredness.

 I know that when I can surrender my all to the Savior and become more like him then I will be on track to becoming the missionary that the Lord needs me to become. I knew that I would be pushed and tried on my mission but I did not know how personal these challenges would be. I think that is how a mission works, we are placed in situations and with people that cause us to grow and to progress.

I encourage you all to take time and think about how the Lord has blessed you through your challenges this year. How have you grown personally because you were faced with a difficult task.

I wish you all a safe and warm Christmas. Remember to read Luke 2 and reflect on the Saviors birth during this Christmas season.

Con Amor,
Hermana Zani

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weekly Report for December 12

Hola Mis Amigos!

This week I have been thinking a lot about asking the right questions. How many times in life do we think about a question but then do not ask the question? Or the question is not even understood as being a question at all?  How many times have we asked the right question at the wrong time? Or on the other hand how many times have we asked the wrong question at the right time? 

Timing on a mission is so critical. For instance we are told by the First Presidency from our Church that we need to invite everyone to be baptized on the first lesson. The thing is you cannot just go up to someone and invite them to be baptized and expect real conversion. Real conversion comes when a person understands how the Doctrine of Jesus Christ is needed for them personally in their life. This comes through us as missionaries asking the right questions, mixed with scripture and testimony. So, the Holy Ghost can move upon the person we are teaching and truly touch their hearts and help them to remember what they have always known but have not remembered. This is critical in helping people to understand that Gods know them and loves them individually. 

Questions are important. Keeping lessons focused, logical and sequential is so important to someone really understanding what you are teaching. Which seems easy enough but in reality is probably the toughest thing I have ever encountered.

Questions! Questions! I have often been thinking about the Savior and what questions he would ask every person that I have meet? I have often wondered how he would make great logical connections and analogies from their life to the Gospel. Pray that I can ask some inspired questions this week that help one person come unto Christ. :)

I love you all! I pray for you all and your happiness.

Con Amor,
Hermana Zani

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hello December !

Hola Mis Amigos!!

Como estan a hoy? I hope this letter finds you all well. I feel the Savior's love for each of you during this holiday season!

I cannot believe that we are already in the last month of the year. These last almost five months since I entered the Missionary Training Center have just flown. In the mission, I feel like the days are long sometimes but the weeks are short. Every Monday I stand amazed that I have arrived at another week.

This week I would like to spend some time devoted to Christmas. Here in Laredo it does not feel like Christmas. There is no snow, the sun is shining and the coldest that it has been is 57 degrees. Needless to say at 57 degrees we get out our sweaters and turn on the heat!

Every year on the first Sunday of December the Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and his two counselors give a Christmas address. This address reminds us that past the commercialism of Christmas with its beautiful trees, perfect presents, and ugly-sweater eggnog parties lies the true and real meaning of Christmas. Christmas is a day that we put aside to remember the Savior to think about his humble birth in a stable more than 2000 years ago.

Christmas is a time to remember the prophecies of old that spoke of Christ. People faithfully waited for the coming of Christ. I think of their faithfulness to know without a doubt that Christ would come and redeem them. That even though they might never know Christ or be able to read of Christ's life here on earth, these believers remained faithful. I wonder would my faith have remained before the coming of Christ? A question that I will never find out because that prophecy was fulfilled when Christ was born.

As each of you prepare for this Christmas season, I encourage you to do something different to remember the Savior and the true meaning behind Christmas. For some of you that may mean dusting off those old Scriptures and reading of his birth in the Gospels. For some it might mean praying for the first time in a long time. To others, it might mean talking with a friend who does not know of Christ or somewhere along the way has lost faith in Christ.

What ever it may be, make a change this year during the Christmas season to put the Christ back in Christmas.

Con Amor,
Hermana Zani

Monday, November 21, 2011


Hello My Beloved Friends,

   I cannot believe that this Thursday is Thanksgiving. I think I feel even more in disbelief that Thanksgiving is right around the corner because this past week many days were in the upper 90's. :) As I always say though, I would rather things be too hot than too cold. I can handle the heat but the cold on the other hand, I am not sure if I would be such a happy missionary!

   I will be having Thanksgiving dinner with the family of one of our recent converts. His mom is originally from Mexico and so I have asked on several occasions if this will be a Mexican Thanksgiving meal or an American one. Each time she says American but that she will still be making her Mexican Spaghetti which is spaghetti noodle with a chile and cream sauce instead of tomato sauce. Anyways, we will see oh it goes.:)

   We had a memorial service last night for the two elders who passed away, Elder Strong and Elder Walker. As I sat and watched this memorial service, I thought even more about Thanksgiving. I thought about a man in Church who gave a talk that morning and shared an experience about his son. He told us that he had taken his son to an amusement park and the day was going well until lunchtime.

   The family found an eatery in the park where they could stop and have lunch. The family made their way down the cafeteria-style line and as they began to give their drink orders, the worker told them that they did not have lime soda. The son was very disappointed that they did not have lime soda and he began to do what most small children would do in this situation. He began to demand lime soda because if he screamed loud enough I am sure he knew lime soda would appear.

   Sadly, no lime soda was found in the park. His dad promised him he could have lime soda after they left and were on their way home. His dad then began to point out the other fun things they could do. But to the dad's disappointment this child was stuck on not having his lime soda!

   I wonder how many times we are like that child who gets stuck on all the things that we do not have instead of opening our eyes and seeing this amazing amusement park that is all around us. There is beauty all around us but we have to look for it. There is joy all around us but we must search for it.

   This Thanksgiving, find the joy in your life. Find the blessing that you have even in the midst of difficulty and despair. I can promise each one of you that there is something to be grateful for. Also, remember to tell those you love that you are thankful for them. 

   I love you all! Each of you are in my thoughts and my prayers.

Hermana Zani

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some Sad News This Week

Hello Friends!!

Okay, I think I am on week 15 but let’s be honest, I am losing track of the weeks. Every day feels very similar and the weather in Laredo still feels in many ways like it is July. Although it has cooled down a little and some mornings we do wear our sweaters! Oh yeah, here is an interesting FYI - if the weather in Laredo gets to be under 40 degrees, the schools will shut down. I guess they all spend money on wonderful air conditioning units but do not have heaters. How crazy, especially coming from Utah and going to work in hundred degrees weather or negative seven degrees.

I am not sure if you have heard that last week my mission lost two of its finest missionaries. Their names are Elder Strong and Elder Walker. Elder Strong was just three weeks from completing his mission. Sad huh. :(  Elder Walker was also a great missionary. These two Elders were hit by a car while riding their bikes on last Tuesday night. There was a third missionary with them, named Elder Harris, who was hurt but is recovering nicely. My heart goes out to Elder Harris, as he now has to live with something that no one else can share with him. The loss of two companions, the loss of two brothers, the loss that only he can feel. For reasons, only the Lord knows why, he survived. I know that this was all part of Heavenly Fathers plan but it is still a great loss for the mission. Few missions ever lose one missionary and even fewer missions lose two missionaries.

The tragedy happened at 7:30p.m. on that Tuesday night. The Laredo zone, which consists of 27 missionaries including myself, were at a fireside with Elder Zvic. Let me briefly explain the leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Because God is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we have a prophet that leads and guides our church. His name is Thomas S. Monson and he has two counselors that assist. Then we have 12 apostles just like Jesus had when he was on the earth and established his church. Underneath the 12 apostles we have what is called the quorum of the 70 again just like Jesus had when he was on the earth. (Evidence of Jesus calling 12 apostles in Math 10:1; evidence of him calling the 70 is in Luke 10:1,) Pretty cool!! Christ’s church is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Anyways, Elder Zvic is a member of the 70 and he was giving a fireside here in Laredo last Tuesday night. President and Sister Trayner who along with an older couple in charge of all the missionaries were also attending this meeting. During the middle of the meeting Sister Trayner walked out of the room. When she came back in her face was red and teary eyed. About 5 minutes later she walked out again, followed by President Trayner. We all knew something was wrong. However, we did not find out until the next days at Zone Conference with Elder Zvic. When the announcement was made everyone sat in silence and then tears and sniffles began to fill the room. This Zone Conference was a very solemn conference. My companion said no other conference you have on your mission will be like that one.

Please pray for these families during this time of hardship. Please pray for the people of the McAllen, Texas mission that their hearts will be softened because of this tragedy. I know that there is a way for families to be together forever not just here in this life but forever but I know that is only through Faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, being baptized in the same way as Jesus Christ by someone holding the priesthood authority of God, then receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands, and enduring to the end. Those families can be together forever.

I am so grateful for every single one of you. I pray for you, I love you, and I am concerned about you all and your well-being.

Les Amo mucha,
Hermana Zani

Monday, November 7, 2011

More from Laredo

Hello My Friends!

It has been another wonderful week in Laredo!

I just made it to my first transfer. For all of you who do not know what a transfer is, let me explain. Every 6 weeks you have the possibility to move to another area within your mission. Also, during transfers is when new missionaries come in and old missionaries come home. This past week I experienced my first transfer. Even though I did not move and my companion has stayed the same. You stay with your first companion, which is called your trainer, for 2 transfers or 12 weeks now. Other people in my area of Laredo changed.

I have a new roommate as one of our dearly loved sisters went to another part of the mission to be a trainer. So, her companion received a new companion. Her name is Sister Litchfield and she is from Ogden, UT. The best thing about Sister Litchfield is that she is a runner like myself. I have been dying for the last six weeks without a fellow runner, but since last week Sister Litchfield and I have been running almost every day!

We have been teaching a couple of families recently. I really like families because there is such a strength that comes when a whole family decides to come closer to Christ. The whole family changes and places in that family’s life that might have been filled with darkness are now filled with light, hope, and peace. That is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings not an end to our trials, suffering, or afflictions but rather a sense of hope that comes through enduring afflictions.

This mission so far has quite possibly been among the hardest things I have ever done but I am learning to rely on him for strength and guidance like I never have before in my life.

I also want to share a brief testimony about the Book of Mormon. I have started re-reading the Book of Mormon again this month and I know that this Book can and indeed does testify of Christ and it is through this book that we can come to know Christ better and to feel of the Savior's love more in our life. I know the Bible is true and is the word of God but I testify that like the Bible, the Book of Mormon is also the word of God and whosoever will read this Book searching for truth will indeed find it. This is my prayer and my testimony to you all read The Book of Mormon either for the first time or again. Search its pages and feel of the Lord's love for you.

I love you and pray for you. In the beloved name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Love ya,
Hermana Zani

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Three Months Now!

Hola Mis Amigos!!

I just passed my 3-month mark on Thursday. My how time flies! I feel like just yesterday I got into McAllen. I certainly don't feel like I know that much more than I did when I first arrived in Laredo. I have a great trainer who is teaching me lots but I am nervous for that day when we will no longer be together. J

I am not sure if I mentioned this or not but the MTC has put out a new training program that is suppose to help missionaries be more successful in the mission quicker. I guess with the old program it was taking missionaries 3-5 months before they could be adequately utilized in field. With the new program missionaries are suppose to come out into the field as if they have been there for the past three months. Also, there is a new 12-week training program which includes being with our trainer for the whole 12-weeks, one extra hour of companionship study, and involves us taking the lead in all situations. For example, every week we spend 3-hours one day planning for the next week. This planning session is a long important process that really sets your next week up for success.

Well, this past week was my first week taking the lead and my it was a challenge to make sure that everything was organized and set for every aspect of missionary life in this coming week, which includes, making goals, teaching people, what lesson we want to teach to fit their needs, meeting with people who are already part of the church, etc.

Anyways, at the end of the 12-weeks now we are suppose to be able to train. How scary!! I am hoping that will not be the case. ;)

On a much lighter note we had our first baptism this week, a 17-year old whose family is not a member of the church. His mom came to church and to the baptism yesterday. Each time we meet with her son, she becomes more and more interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know she feels different and I know that she can feel our spirit when we are with her but for some reason change is hard. Even when people know the truth, change is hard.

I guess the question is where is our faith?  Our faith is in Jesus Christ! Faith leads to action? The only thing that helps us grow deeper in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is by taking action on our faith. Doing those things that Jesus Christ requires of all us to come unto him.

It is my prayer that each of you would examine your faith in Jesus Christ and see what areas of your life would help you draw closer unto him? If you are lost or need help on where to go, write me. I would love to help be your guide or find someone that can guide you :)

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Zani

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Third Week in Laredo

Hola Mis Amigos,

"But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage." Mosiah 7:33

I have been thinking a lot this week about putting our trust in the Lord. To say, put your trust in the Lord is one thing but doing that and leaning on Jesus Christ is quite another thing entirely. To do this you must first know with assurance that He loves you. That Christ is mindful of you and will take care of you especially when we are following His commandments.

To know Christ, to really know Christ, means putting aside pride and any idea that we can do this on our own. To know Christ takes effort on our part. I see the Atonement (or death of Jesus Christ) as a gift wrapped in beautiful paper, which we must open in order to use the gift. The way we can use the gift that Christ has given us is through faith, repentance (changing our hearts), baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and then enduring to the end. Simple steps, simple steps that we must use every day of our life to draw closer to Christ.

I believe that we can have a better understanding of these steps as we pray to our Father in Heaven through Jesus Christ, as we read our Scriptures, and attend Church. In doing so, each of us can come to know and feel of the Heavenly Father's and Jesus Christ's love for us.

After having just expressed all of that I want to discuss how hard it has been for me this week to put my trust in the Lord. I trust that the effort and energy that I put in each morning in studying is going to prepare me for what to say. To trust with a surety that I do not have to come up with things to say as someone is talking but as I truly listen, the words will come.

This is hard because my whole life I have never had to rely on the Lord this much. I relied more on myself but here I have to rely on the Lord for strength. When I am able to do this, the things I say are better because they are His words. The things I do are better because they are the things He would do.

I am loving Laredo so much. Each Sunday night we have dinner with a family that lives in our area and I really look forward to these dinners. This family is so committed to helping missionaries in any way that they can. I invite all of you to look for ways to bring others to Christ.

Thanks so much for all of your support and letters. You all are in my thoughts and in my prayers.

Con Amor,
Hermana Zani

Monday, October 3, 2011

Second Week in Laredo

Buenos Dias !!

I am beginning to lose track of how long I have been on my mission. Haha! I think time is a funny thing on your mission, like I know what month it is but days just seem to flow together. :)

I loved general conference, it was great!! I loved that the underlying theme was of repentance and missionary work, how perfect. I have such a testimony that as we turn away from the things of this world and turn towards the things of God we can find more peace, more happiness and more joy than we have ever experienced. If we let God work through us by giving Him our heart, He will truly make more of us than we can make of ourselves.

I am witnessing this in my life. I have had some awkward experiences that have been made okay through Jesus Christ. Last night I was thinking about all the awkward dates that I have been on in my life and how none of them compare to all the experiences that I have had as a missionary. Missionary work is amazing but the boldly and lovingly profess the principles of the Gospel Jesus Christ is not for the faint of heart. It is work, the best work that you will ever do but it is hard work.

Well I do not have much time today. But you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Con Amor,

Hermana Zani

Monday, September 26, 2011

Now in Laredo!

Hola from Laredo,

I have made it to Texas. I have been in Texas for about a week now!

I have already had my first taste of Tex-Mex. Both on the Tex end and on the Mex end. Last Monday when we arrived in McAllen we went to the President's house after a short meeting at the church first. There we had dinner, which consisted of BBQ ribs, brisket (still not a hundred percent sure what that is) and BBQ chicken, along with baked beans, cornbread, and pink lemonade. Now, really what sounds more Texan than that?

That night all the Elders spent the night at the apartments in McAllen and My companion and I spent the evening at the President's house. The next morning after breakfast the President sat us all down and presided to have us open a letter one at a time telling us where we were going and who was going to be our trainer. I am in Laredo with Hermana Sigler. She is a very efficient missionary, a well-seasoned missionary. I will actually be her last companion before she goes home. We are therefore, on opposite ends of the spectrum. However, the one thing we do have in common is that we are both new to Laredo.

There are many new things to learn, do, and apply in the mission field. I am trying to quickly use and apply all the new information I am receiving. Before my mission I thought I knew how to talk and relate with people but I am quickly learning how limited my people skills really are and trying to connect and ask good questions. A major question that we missionaries like to ask is what do the people need? The second question is what questions can we ask to help us find that information out. This is another concept that I thought I could do fairly well. 

Nevertheless, I am learning just how difficult figuring out needs and asking inspired but direct questions really is. I also find it hard to remember everyone's names and directions that they give me!! If anyone has suggestions on these questions please feel free to share. Don't worry, I am already praying really hard to do all these things but more prayers could never hurt. :)

I am getting to know the people here in Laredo. Many people that we have met work with the Border Patrol. Also, we have a baptismal date with a new investigator that we are teaching. We talked with his mom on Saturday night and she seemed interested in church as well. We are hoping to begin teaching her on Tuesday night. 

We are beginning to meet the branch in Laredo. On Saturday night the Relief Society had a dinner before the annual Relief Society Broadcast. For dinner I got to experience toastas with beans, chicken, and HOT Salsa. :)

English and Spanish are both very much used in our area. Lessons will go from English to Spanish and back again. It is hard to keep up but I am doing it. I had my first telephone conversation in Spanish. :) Everyone here is super nice and I see such strong examples of people searching for the gospel in their life. I love supporting the members in whatever it is that they need. I also love seeing an investigator understanding a gospel principle for the first time or when an investigator receives an answer to prayers.

I love you all and keep you all in my thoughts and in my prayers. 

Muchas Gracias,

Hermana Zani

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hermana Zani

On the way to my mission in Texas

I will soon be in McAllen. Here is my mailing address so you can send me cards and letters!
Hermana Rachel Arlene Zani
Texas McAllen Mission
200 W. La Vista Ave
McAllen, TX 78501-2131
Thank you,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Last Report from the MTC

Mis Queridos Amigos,

Hola!! This is my last letter from the MTC. It is hard to believe that my time at the MTC is coming to a close. I have mixed feelings about leaving. I am super excited for the next adventure and next step that I will take on this journey. However, on the other hand I feel a little sad to leave my wonderful district that I have grown so close to and things that are familiar to me.

For the last few years, Provo has been my home and the mountains that I see are the same mountains that I have seen everyday for the past six years. I think I will miss the mountains. There is something so comforting about the mountain here in Utah.

I am also filled with many questions such as: Do I know enough Spanish? Am I ready to be speaking Spanish all day everyday? (When I do this here at the MTC it is really hard :)) Do I have enough Gospel knowledge to teach the people of Texas and to bring them unto Christ? Where will my first assignment be in Texas?

One of our teachers here at the MTC was comparing out mission to our lives and the ups and downs, the hard times and the easy times and likens that unto real life. I think that all the questions that I have about Texas and my preparations are a lot like life. Hardly ever do I feel fully prepared for a major change without feeling a little anxiety about the unknown, but I always take the next step putting one foot in front of the other knowing that my faith is strong.

Yesterday, we had a devotional remembering 9/11. As part of the devotional we watched the Special Music and the Spoken Word performance with Tom Brokaw. I highly recommend seeing it if you can. I think there might be a link to it on www.lds.org. I think 9/11 changed the lives of American's forever. I think as long as I live I will never forget exactly where I was and exactly what I was doing the moment I found out about the towers. How has your life changed because of 9/11?

Yesterday, I gave my first talk in church completely in Spanish. I spoke on the Holy Ghost and the importance of this great gift that God has given us. I think some of the best verses concerning the blessings of the Holy Ghost can be found in 2 Nephi 32:2-5. Oh I really did read all of those verses in my talk. I am sure that my Branch President was wiggling around in his chairs because of my lacking skills with pronunciation.

Also this past week on Tuesday we had a sister who will be serving as an American Sign Language Missionary sing and sign during our Fireside on Tuesday night. She was amazing and I am so glad that those people in this world who cannot hear will be able to hear her beautiful voice.

As my time draws towards a close here at the MTC I am thinking a lot about diligence and how to be more diligent with my studies. Think I will talk more about this subject next week. As my computer time is running towards an end.

I love you all. I miss you all. I pray for you all.

Hermana Zani

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week Seven at the MTC

"To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth." D&C 50 :14

Hola Mis Amigos,

I hope everyone is doing well? I miss you all and I pray and think about how everyone is doing, a lot! :)

This week I have thought much about the Elders and Hermanas in my district. I have thought about missionary work and the Elders in my district but also the Hermanas. We all come into the Missionary Training Center and within 9-12 weeks we are expected to go out into the world and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of the Elders in my district have never left home, some have only finished one year of collage. Many have not even experienced life yet. Many have lived in the same place for their whole life and within a few short weeks they will be expected to live and work in a totally new environment. Many of the Elders in my district did not know what work meant until coming to the MTC. Many of the Elders in my district are 19 but when they are teaching and testifying, I forget about their age. Their testimonies of Jesus Christ and their love for our Father in Heaven shines through and they truly magnify their calling.

 In my room the other night we were talking about all the things we say in our language that we think make sense at the time but then only later do we realize that is not exactly what we meant to say. How is it then that this Gospel moves forward? This Gospel does not move forward because of the missionaries’ great knowledge in the doctrine or theological principles, nor does it move forward because of the missionaries’ great ability to speak the language. No, this only reason I am convinced that this Gospel moves forward is because it is the work of our Father in Heaven. All a missionary does is to invite others to come unto Christ to read the Scriptures, the Book of Mormon, to pray to our Father in Heaven and to find our for him/her self if these things are true.

The Holy Ghost bears witness to all people that "ask with a sincere heart, with real intent having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost." (Moroni 10:4) Along with the power and strength that lie within our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I have been thinking about humility again and the humility it takes to be a missionary. I have to have the Holy Ghost with me at all times to be my companion to guide and direct me during my mission with out the Holy Ghost in my life this work is hard and does not work. The Holy Ghost will guide and direct my life. How hard it is in my life to allow the Holy Ghost into my life and to change my heart and make it like his.

I hold on tightly not too tightly but a little more than I would like to my own control. How hard is it to stand tall knowing that Heavenly Father is my strength from which everything comes from but then working as though everything depends on me. This life is about balances and love. Both so needed but both hard to attain in their fullness because they require putting aside the natural man and following God.

I am so grateful for everything that the Lord has given me and I am grateful for you my friends and my family.

Hermana Zani

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Week Six at the MTC

Mis queridos amigos!!

I have now made it in the MTC six weeks. Next week we will be the oldest district in our zone. A zone here at the MTC is composed of 5 districts. I am not sure I feel ready to be the oldest zone but I do feel like I have been here for a while and this is really starting to become my home. I think I might be a little sad to leave the MTC in three weeks.

I always think of all these really funny things that happen during the weeks but then can never remember but this week’s! I did want to share just one experience with you. For three hours twice a day we have class and we have two differ rant teachers for each block of time. One of our teachers was gone last week and so we had a sub. This Hermano is from Mexico and is 21 he has been home from his mission for only 14 months. This is because for some reason men in Mexico can go on their missions when they are 18 instead of the usual 19.

Anyways we were suppose to review all the different forms of subjunctive conjunctions that day (remember our teacher grew up in Mexico and has been speaking Spanish his whole life). He was very confussed on how to teach this concept and made this huge long equation on the board and then told us everything in the equation was option. Next he decided to write on the TV screen in order to show us how to better use subjunctive. Afterwards he jumped on the a swirly chair to point to something on top of the white board we were all pretty sure he was going to fall off and break his leg. An elder in our district had to hold the chair. He next proceeded to tell us that the top of the white board needed to be clean. It was all very entertaining and no one could really understand what he was talking about.

Which I presume that is how I am going to feel in McAllen. Every single person I have talked with about McAllen has told me what a wonderful place it is everyone in our district except for my companion and I are going to Chile, two are practically going to Antarctica.

One of my favorite things about being here are the meetings with the wives of our branch presidency. We just got a new second counselor two weeks ago; their names are Brother and Sister Smith. They live in Orem and just got home from being mission President's in Philippines last year.

Yesterday, I spoke in Relief Society about my conversion story, which was fun because at the MTC all the sisters meet together for Relief Society. We have it in the gym; which, converts to an auditorium on Sunday. Anyways we got to sit on the stand and my companion loved watching the TelePrompTer.

I have been thinking a lot about trust this week and having trust in the Lord. What does it really mean to trust the Lord with all my heart, might, mind and strength? How can I turn my life over to the Lord? How can I allow the Lord to make more of me than I can make of myself? How can I not fear the Lord meaning a fear that he might have something other than the best thing in the world prepared for me?

I have been thinking a lot about this especially in regards to learning Spanish. I feel like sometimes the muscles in mouth will not move to make the correct sounds. Or that the words that I say are not coming our correctly. I have this fear that people will not understand me and get sad when people do not understand me. The only problem with having these fears is that when I worry about me and my inadequacies I am not trusting in the Lord. The Lord has called me to learn Spanish because for some reason He thinks that I can. He knows there are people waiting for me in McAllen, Texas. But sometimes I still doubt sometimes it feels as though I will never learn Spanish sometimes I find my self as God if He is sure that this is the correct place.

I feel like Enoch as he states in Moses 6: 31 "And when Enoch had heard these words, he bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and I am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow in speech; wherefore am I thy servant." I think the Lord answered to Enoch lamenting which is similar to mine is found in 2 Nephi 3:21 " Because of their faith their words shall proceed forth out of my mouth unto their breathe who are the fruit of thy loins; and the weakness of their words will I make strong in their faith, unto the remembering of my covenant which I made unto thy fathers.

I pray to trust the Lord in my life. I pray for you to trust the Lord in your life. I know that he has great things in store for each of you.

Te Carino muchas,

Hermana Zani

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Week Five at the MTC

Hola Mis Amigos,

I have made it to another week at the MTC. I am now past my half way mark, which is crazy to think. My Spanish seems to be about the same but each week when my mission president sends us an e-mail (in Spanish, of course) I can read more and more of it. Which must mean my Spanish is improving. :)

There are six people to a bedroom here at the MTC and there are four Hermana's in my district. We all share a bedroom, which leaves two spots open for someone else. We are now on our third set of roommates. The first two we had at the beginning were with us for about a week. These sisters were Hermana's also going to Florida and California. The night before they left, which was between 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., they did not sleep and were up packing all night long which sort of kept all of us up. Not to mention the fire alarm went off at 2:30a.m. And we all had to parade outside our residences hall, half asleep and wait for the fire alarm to go off!

Another sister and I thought the fire alarm was just someone’s alarm clock going off. Luckily another sister got up and told us that was the fire alarm. Seriously though if people did not have such loud alarm clocks you could probably tell the difference between the two!

Anyways then we got two sisters that were going to Taiwan but they were only with us for two weeks and then got moved into another room with other sisters going to Taiwan. Then this last week we got two new sisters going to Kiev, Ukraine. One of the them is from Georgia where she lives in a town super close to Athens. Her dad was in the military and they lived in Germany two or three times. She was born in Berlin, then they lived in Hohenfels and Stuttgart (going to Patch school in the latter).

I was talking to my companion the other day in Spanish and Ceptra Smith (one of the sisters going to the Ukraine) stated it gives her hope that she can learn her language after hearing me speak to my companion in our language. Which was a nice compliment but I still feel like my Spanish is sort of caveman like sometimes.

I love the Devotionals here we have them every Sunday and Tuesday night and a man I know from Clear Horizons Academy always gets my companion and me front row seats which is really nice because our scheduled dinner time is last and without this man's help I am pretty sure that we would be sitting in overflow.

I am speaking in Relief Society this Sunday (is just for the women and it always has uplifting speakers such as the General Primary Presidency, or the General Young Women's President) which at the MTC includes all of the sisters. I will be speaking about my conversion story so that should fun.

I am learning so much at the MTC and really am so grateful for my wonderful companion. We are continuing to teach investigators, which is fun. We did a door contact the other night and it took us about 5-10 minutes to get in the door. Did I mention that our investigators are our teachers but they all have different characters from their missions that they play which are really fun?

Well time is quickly running out (limited amount on the computer once a week) So I wish everyone the best.

Hasta Luego,

Hermana Zani

Monday, August 15, 2011

Week Four at the MTC

Hello All,

I cannot believe that I have made it to week four!! I have almost been at the MTC for a whole month, which is crazy because sometimes I feel like I cannot even remember life outside of the mission. Everyday is super busy and you learn so much in one day that it feels like it must have for sure been three days.

A perfect example is this morning. I got up a 6:30 a.m., my normal time, got dressed and went to our classroom. Our classroom is where we spend much of our time at the MTC. This morning, we had personal study for an hour. I worked on a lesson plan for one of our investigators that my companion and I are teaching tonight. We are going to teach about the plan of salvation, which is Heavenly Father's plan for how we can return to live with him.

The short version is that we lived with Heavenly Father before this life as spirit children, Heavenly Father wanted us to become like him and to do that we needed to grow up which meant that we needed to gain a body like God and to have experiences that will help us to mature and to learn. Then we have Adam and Eve who were the first children to be placed on earth. When they were in the Garden they lived in a state of innocence not knowing good from evil and they could not have children. So in order to know good from evil they partook of the forbidden fruit which allows us to choose for ourselves to follow God or to not. Nothing is forced upon us, everything is of our own free will, which is liberating.

2 Nephi 2:26 states regarding the fall; "And because they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to ACT for themselves and not to be acted upon." I think that is such a liberating idea. Then Christ comes to redeem us through His atonement and help us to return to our Heavenly Father. We then die a physical death and are taught the principles of the gospel in either spirit prison of in spirit paradise. Which is not like a prison or a paradise here but is like a school for learning the gospel. We are then resurrected with our body and will be judge by God. From there we will go to one of 3 degrees of glory.

This should all be a very fun lesson to teach in Spanish but I am learning how to simplify things and get my investigators answers for lots of question and reading which decreases the amount of what I have to say in Spanish. Well, let’s face it, this is really about them anyways. The more they talk and read the more they learn.

Anyways getting back to my point of the days being super long I spent an hour studying the plan of Salvation and then my companion and I left for the temple. As we were crossing the street to walk up to the temple I have this weird feeling that it was already twelve o'clock, when it was only 8:00 a.m. Crazy!!

Yesterday my companion and I taught our district meeting which is sort of like Sunday school. We taught about dispensation and apostasies. It went really well. We had each companionship in my district take a portion and wrote questions on the board about the point and then each group was able to share and it went really well. I think everyone in the district learned something new and was strengthened.

We are sad to be losing the only other sisters in our zone which is made up of five districts but happy to know that we are getting some more sisters on Wednesday. Well I hope everyone is doing so well. I miss you all, love you and am praying for you each day.

Thanks so much for the letters and mints that were sent this week. Getting mail at the MTC is always a joyous occasion.

Love ya,
Hermana Zani

Monday, August 8, 2011

Week Three at the MTC

Hola Mis Amigas,

How is everyone doing? I hope great, fabulous and wonderful if not that is okay as well. :)

I finally made it to week 3 of the MTC, which was better than weeks 1 and 2 combined. Everyone says that if you can make it to Sunday than you will be fine but I say that if you can make it to week two then you will be fine.

They have implemented a new curriculum at the MTC, which is designed to help missionaries learn the language faster. In this new program the teachers will not speak any English in class for at least the first week and you teach your first lesson on the second day in Spanish. Each week you have to teach a progressing investigator in Spanish. A progressing investigator is just someone who is interested in the church and is taking steps to be baptized. The investigators you teach are your teachers who are using real acting like different investigators from their mission.

Last week my companion and I taught Taylor, a student studying anthropology in Barcelona. She is great and I really enjoy teaching her as she reminds me a lot of myself before I joined the church. We are also teaching a man named Juan Jose who lives in Texas and is from Mexico but is struggling to find work in America. He has four children and a fifth child on the way.

I have been studying Spanish a ton and would say that I can successfully give a prayer, bare my testimony, and have a basic religious conversation. I even bore my testimony in Spanish last Sunday at church. It was a really good feeling. A few summer's ago I went to El Salvador to do humanitarian work and I always wanted to bare my testimony in Spanish but never got up the courage, but last Sunday I was able to do just that and if felt really good to accomplish a goal. Even if it was a few years later. :)

The MTC is super crowded right now; we have more missionaries here than we have had in a long time. There are 2,800 missionaries here, which is at an all time high. Typical summer high is 2,500 and we are getting a bunch of sisters next Wednesday. I really enjoy my district, as there are 11 of us all together. However we will be losing 2 elders on Tuesday because they are going down to the Guatemala MTC to finish their MTC time. We will miss them.

 I have been thinking a lot about faith this week and the type of faith that God requires of me not only to do missionary work but to show that I trust Him fully and completely. It is hard to trust God fully to have Faith in things not seen but in things hoped for, I am learning to put my trust in God because I know that his timing is perfect and my belief in God and his plan for us is growing everyday. I know that God loves me, that Jesus Christ is my brother, friend redeemer, and that Joseph restored the fullness of the Gospel, so that we can have temples, the priesthood, and return to live with God one day. A line from one of my favorites songs by Laura Story stated " the pain inside our heart reminds us that this in not our home."

Thanks always for the letters, prayers and support. Please send me your addresses and I will try and write you letters.

Love ya,
Hermana Zani

Monday, August 1, 2011

Week Two at the MTC

" For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is , Christ, and he cometh in the fullness of his own time." 2 nephi 11:7
" For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be forever, and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and putteth off the natural man and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patinet, full of love, willing to submit all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. : Mosiah 3:19
Buenos Dias Mis Amigas,
This week I am learning a lot about humility in my personal life. Humility is a virtue requiring each person to seek equality within themselves and within those around them. Humility comes from not saying I am nothing or I am better than but comes from saying I am equal to them. Humility is knowing that all good things come from God. "For I will boast not of my strength but in the Lord." This concept may seem easy and simple but the levels and complexities in which humility in my life is huge. For example, I am learning that each person is equal in the sight of God a concept that I have always known but not fully understood or applied in my life. However, having someone by my side 24 hours a day means that I am learning a lot about myself. I find myself occasionally comparing Spanish to others in my district in, which leads to judgement, which creates status and finally becomes pride. I can judge or make comparisons to others because each person has something to give in building the Kingdom of God and those gifts and talents are different and perfect. I find myself needing to use this principle when working with my companion as I seek to find the middle ground. The middle ground is some where between taking over a lesson because nothing is getting accomplished and passively letter her do everything. I am really getting better at this task but fully internalizing I am great and so is every one else is something that is hard for me. I think that is because the world likes to judge and place status on individuals but that is not of God. I remember hearing myself make this statement one time: "many people have great things to say and you should listen to each and every persons statement but remember that you are one of those important people and have so many things to say. I feel like sometimes I am riding this roller coaster of emotions. I also feel like I cannot really speak Spanish but then I cannot really speak English I find that it is hard to go back and forth between Spanish and English. Formulating sentences when speaking Spanish is really hard for me but I think I will get. I love the Elders and Sisters in my district they are great. I love my companion and I love this gospel. Thanks everyone for the letters, packages and prayers.
Hermana Zani

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First week at MTC

So, I just finished my first few days at the MTC; things are going really well. I enjoy missionary life. Don't get me wrong mission life is hard because you are constantly growing and being pushed to new limits. The limits though are only limits that you place on yourself things that we have told ourself we cannot do out of fear. However, if we push past those limits there is greatness that can be achieve. "Through Christ I can do all things which strengthenith me." I have been thinking a lot about limits and how limits affect things that I have not done or things I talk myself out of because I am afriad. I am reminded often of something my yoga teacher would always say: If you can you must if you cannot you must try." This has become a motto for me especially when speaking Spanish. Spanish is hard and I feel super inaqauete with languages. I am working hard and throwing myself into Spanish. I am begining to think occansionally in Spanish. Most of my prayers are in Spanish now even when they are my own personal prayers. I can bare my testimony of Jesus Christ in Spanish. We even have an investigator ( someone who is interested in learning more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) his name is Antonio we have taught him 2 times in only Spanish. Last time we taught him we spent 42 minutes with him mostly because speak slowly, respond slowly, and listen slowly. I am confident knowing that I can learn Spanish. I just have to make everything emotionaly meaniful because that is how we learn to talk orginially so why should it be any differant with a forgien language. I have noticed that when I bear my testimony words just flow because the meaning of what I am saying has a large emotional tag attached to it. My companion always tells me that I know so much Spanish. I always tell her it is because I have spent that last 3 years teaching students who have very few words through which I have learned how to communicate with out words and know that 90% of our communication is preverbals. Which all just means I get the gest of which people are saying some of the times even though I do not understand all the words they are using. The food is okay here it is really catered towards guys ( hamburger, chicken nuggets, roast beef, all with french fries or tater tots.) They do not even have a full salad bar just lettuce and carrots and if you are lucky they have tomatoes. Haha. My companion is great and wonderful we are going to the same mission. There are two other sisters in my district who are both going to differant parts of Chile. The rest of my district which is my mission group is all Elders going to Guatemala or Chile.