So this was a rough week. We had 4 baptisms scheduled for this weekend and they all fell through. The member who was going to baptize Samantha wasn’t available, Bryan wants to investigate the Catholic church more and the Hernandez family wasn’t able to because their mom wants them to learn more. Bryan was a sad let down because that kid is very special. Heavenly Father has prepared him, but he just needs more time to see things clearly. He has been going to the Catholic church as well, so he is confused with the differences between their church and ours. I have never felt such Godly love for an investigator. After talking to him on the phone and him telling me not to feel sad that he doesn’t want to get baptized, I cried. Frustrated he hasn’t received his answer that the Church is true, and that he doesn’t love the Gospel like I do. I can bare my testimony to him over and over…Of course I would be sad that he didn’t want to get baptized…I love him and want him to have the happiness I do. Bellin is 12 and her mom wants her to learn more (which is totally fine.) But her brother Angel was so pumped about getting baptized…he was for sure shed say yes..but instead she laughed at him and wouldn’t sign the permission slip. L that was like the saddest thing ever! He was really bummed. We hope that we can continue to teach this family and get the mom more involved so that she can realize what a good thing the church is for her children. Our favorite family also moved to Arizona but they told us that we made a big difference for them in getting back into the church so I don’t feel bad about that. Although, it would have been nice seeing their baptism! I know they will get baptized in Arizona.
Throughout the tough times, I realized that its all part of the mission. Jonathan helped me out by writing a really nice email. All the trials will make the success that much more rewarding! Which is definitely true, and I am growing from these experiences and so is my testimony. A quote I really like from “Discipleship” by Neal A Maxwell. He states, “Disciples, like diamonds, are developed in a process of time and heavy pressures and both the disciple and the diamond reflect the light that comes through them. As the disciple enriches his relationship with the Lord, he is apt to have periodic “public relations” problems with others, being misrepresented and misunderstood. He or she will have to “take it” at times. Meekness, therefore, is a key to deepening discipleship.” As members of the church we are all disciples of Christ and we shine the light of Christ through our testimonies. We receive pressures from the outside world to change or not follow the path of Christ but we remain strong. We might also encounter people in the world who think they know our religion but have been misguided. But we cant take what they say to heart, love them as children of God and hope that they can feel the truthfulness of Christ through our testimonies.
We have some cool new investigators too that are progressing. One of them might get deported though so we are praying for her!
Other things…found a gluten free section at the grocery store! Wahoo! I also made Bompy’s tamale pie “quick style.” That was yummy! I also made his spaghetti sauce last week and nannys rice krispies. Lizzy sent me rice krispie treats that were the bomb! Thanks, Lizzy. One of our assistants to the president goes to ASU and he just called me to tell me my volleyball team at ASU beat UCLA. Haha I already knew because dad emailed me! He said also that mail is getting forwarded to me from ASU from the mission office..he thought it was for him but its for me from my coach. Good times. He is going to be a good friend I think. We will be at ASU at the same time.
This last Sunday was fast/testimony Sunday. I bore my testimony about how important journal writing is and also how important being a missionary is. I try to write spiritual experiences in my journal so that I can go back and read them later during hard times. Recently I looked back and read my feelings after being set apart as a missionary. That helped me a lot remember how strongly the Spirit hit me that night. I know I have been set apart by God to serve Him in the Spanish language. I also talked about how thankful I am to be a missionary and how I want to be a good example for my family (since I am the first one in our family). I started crying while talking about being an example for my kids and also for Claire. I want Claire to grow up and know that she can serve a mission like Aunty Caitlyn. She is the cutest thing by the way! I want to make a mural in my room of her! Hehe. But the testimony meeting was full of the Spirit! It reminded me how important my family is to me and I love them so much. Its been a little hard being away while Claire was born but I felt impressed while baring my testimony that part of the reason I am meant to serve a mission is for her. So we will see what happens with that!
I love all of you so much. I am growing a lot while out here on my mission and witnessing a lot of cool experiences. As I continue to work hard and have faith I know Heavenly Father will bless my companion and I with success. We got frustrated when our baptisms fell through, thinking it was our fault..but overall everyone has their agency, all we can do is testify and teach.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wow this was a roller coaster of a week First of all we started the week with 4 baptismal dates for this week-end. Bryan (13) , Samantha (9) and Belen (12) and Angel (16). I was so excited I wanted topee my pants! These kids are all AMAZING and want to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized. But we encountered some problems. No matter how much they want to, their parents need to approve. Bryan is my favorite. Such neat kid! Wow. So intelligent and so enlightened. The questions he comes up with rock my world and strengthen my testimony. His grandparents that live in Mexico are LDS but his family in Iowa is Catholic. He is pretty confused with the differences between the two churches. We are helping him the best way we can but his family has a huge impact on him. He has decided to wait and push back his baptism until he is 18?! What?! Why?!? We love him so much and are going to contineu to teach him. We also told him we would go with him to the Catholic church Sunday after our ward because we support him and want him to be happy. We dont mind learning about other religions...it just reconfirms our testimonies of the LDS church. Samantha is such a sweetie. She plans on getting baptized this Sunday but her mom is unsure about it. Samantha has special health conditions so we feel that baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost will help her so much! We pray that her baptism will follow through. Belin and Angel are syblings. We have been teaching them for a while and asked them to set their baptismal date. They chose this Saturday..but their mom feels Belin is too young to make this big of decision..she needs to study more and go to church more. I want her to feel completely comfortable making this decision but it was Belin telling us she wanted to be baptized ASAP. We know she has the desire but her family is putting doubts and confusion in her head. We feel that they will be baptized if not now in a few weeks. But we are nervous that once they push it back they will keep pushing it back. So we pray that they will follow the promptings and get baptized (with their moms approval ofcourse). We are praying that her mom will approve. We have taught her mom before and she wants to learn too. We had an awesome member present lesson with Hermana Baraza from our ward. Hermana Baraza's parents are converts so she really loves missionary work. Her testimonyy really touched Belin's mom. As for other progressing investigators...an Amazing family of 6 who has been investigating off/on for 6 yrs! is moving to Arizona Friday. We are so sad to see them go but they told us that they cam to Iowa for a reason, to get back into the church and meet us. We are thankful that we were able to motivate them to go to c hurch and continue learning, they will probably be baptized in like 2 or 3 weeks! The mom and 4 daughters are ready but Raoul, the dad isnt yet. So as a family they will hopefully be baptized soon! We are helping them move tomorrow. Some other cool investigators moved unexpectally and others stopped returning our calls because they heard bad things abouut the church. But Heavenly Father has provided us with a few more awesome families...Juan is way cool and totally searching and the LoveJoy girls came to church and love it. I have noticed that the younger generations are more willing to accept the Gospel and I believe it is because they havent been as exposed to the Opposition and recognize the Spirit more strongly.
As for other things of the week. We had a zone conference which was amazing! We got training and got to hear our president speak. He is so great! I love him lots. I was able to bear my testimony in spanish and share parts of my conversion story. That was a blessing! :) I look forward to zone conferences to come. A general authority is coming to our next one. I got to see my friend from Norcal Scott Haycock at the conference and a bunch of missionaries went out to dinner. :) Fun Fun! Missionaries here are way cool. My companion is so nice. Elder Thomas is going home in January (one of the APs) and is going to ASU so I will see him in the future. There is also an Elder who plays college football and is a convert so I talked to him!
I am working hard and enjoying the roller coaster ride. My emotions are flying from the seat of my pants but I know that as I pray and follow the Holy Ghost that God will perform miracles and direct us to who we need to teach.
Love all of you and miss you! :)
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
This week has flown by once again. I am enjoying getting to know Hermana Madsen better. We are learning how to work together as companions and teach together with unity listening to the promptings of the Spirit. I am looking forward to working with her and teach our investigators. I feel that we are here for a reason because we have connected with people very well. Our personal experiences seem to fit what they need to hear. Its amazing! I am so grateful to be a convert because I have been able to share things that have made a difference.
We set three baptismal dates this week! Bryan is an awesome 13 yr old who has really grown in the Gospel. Yesterday at church we were talking about people that have made differences in our lives… I mentioned my parents and he said Hermana Madsen and I have made a big difference in his life! He said before we taught him the lesson he wasn’t sure if he believed in God and Jesus Christ. Now he has more faith and wants to get baptized. I thought that was the cutest thing ever! I am excited for him and his continued progression. I explained a lot to him about how baptism is step in the dark but we need to trust God, then once we are baptized our lives are filled with more light than we could have imagined. Samantha is such a sweet girl. She has been taking the lessons for a long time because her mom is a member. She has special health conditions so her progress hasn’t been as quick as Bryans. She is going to get baptized though at the end of the month too! I know that the gift of the Holy Ghost will make such a difference to her and her anxiety. I think she will be able to be more calm and comfortable with the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. Emerita is a cute old Mexican lady J She is so willing to learn about the Gospel and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. We are so blessed to be teaching the Spanish people. They are so loving and welcoming. I just love them! Our area is full of them too! We got to go to a Mexican parade. That was some good times. I took a video of it and am sending it to Jilly. We ate great Mexican food and passed out lots of cards to people for free movies of Jesus Christ. We talked to 70 people! That was a lot in 1 hour. We wish there was a parade every week. L All the Spanish people of South Sioux come out for them so it’s a unique opportunity.
So highlights of this week…my Spanish is getting better. My companion told me she liked how “gungho” I am. Haha Walking up to Spanish people and attempting to communicate. They really do appreciate it and try to understand though. But a funny story (to me atleast) was when we had just contacted a refferel and were walking out of his house, I thought I recognized his friend outside (but was just another Spanish person) and I said “ Va returnar menana a 3:30.” HORRIBLE Spanish and I think its actually French. But the best part was how he reacted. He just stared blankly and shook his head. I laughed for awhile after that in the car. Spanish makes me laugh sometimes because it’s a little rough for me right now. I am thankful how much I have learned though for only knowing it for 3 months or so. Yesterday we went back to that same house to teach Cesar and his friends. Well it turned into Hna Madsen and I talking to a group of 15 men in the back yard and their Catholic Preacher about the Restoration of the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Intense! I got nervous when the Preacher walked out but he was interested and wanted to learn. I asked them if they all lived there and they laughed and said no..they had been having a meeting for their church. Heavenly Father put us there on purpose! Throughout the whole lesson they all listened intently which was a first for that many people and understood our Spanish. Its intimidating speaking to Natives! Especially that many but the Spirit helped us say what we wanted to say. Thank Goodness.
Well I am excited for this week. We hope to set more dates with other progressing investigators. I love them all so much and want them all to find the truth. I learned this week that overall we can try our hardest and pray but its up to their agency to act on what we teach them. We had committed like 20 people to come to church and 11 did. I felt sad that 9 bailed but I was thankful for the ones that followed through. Just need to stay positive and keep working hard and Heavenly Father will take care of the rest.
Love you all and hope to hear from you soon!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I am now in the library for my first pday in Sioux City, Nebraska! The computers are way slow, so I am getting a bit annoyed. But all is well!
This week WAS so CRAZY! First of all we had an amazing Devotional by Elder Richard G Scott, an Apostle of the Church...I got to sit in the front row! His words strengthened my testimony of Jesus Christ and that our Church is the Church of Jesus Christ restored for the last dispensation. I left th MTC bright and early Wednesday morning (4am)...got to the SLC airport. My Mommy was there so I got to see her! That was such a great blessing. She met my travel group and Elder Holman (from my district at MTC). I also got to talk to Jilly and Jon on the phone. I was so happy to hear her voice! Jon gave me few spanish pointers. :) On the plane ride to Arizona, mommy was on my flight! That was by accident...we got to sit by eachother. Very surreal. Elder Holman and I taught Mom the first lesson of the Restoration of the Gospel. She really liked it and we both started crying (because the Spirit was so strong)...talking about how Heavenly FAther has prepared me to find the Gospel and now be a missionary! God is so mysterious, He has His hand in our lives constantly...I have already seen it out on the field..thatll be in a few more paragraphs...Once I hit Arizona and said goodbye to Mommy, I got to see Dad, Heidi and Tommy. Their route to Indiana included a flight from Phoenix to Iowa. I got to sit with Dad on the plane to Iowa and talk about the usual, life, volleyball, mission...He had had dinner with my ASU coach previously so I got to hear about that. Tommy has gotten so big! I am excited for Heidi to have another baby! AH! Once I got to Iowa and said goodbye to the Daddy, Heidi and Tommy I walked to the checked baggage with my travel group and meet my Mission President and his wife for the first time! That was really exciting! They are the nicest people :)
All of us new missionaries stayed one night in the mission home in Des Moines (had meetings and dinner)..Then the next morning was when we got our areas and companion assignment. It was funny because Thursday morning during exercise time I used the treadmill and President Talbot found me and said "I knew that was you." haha. Im intense. But opening the paper with my first area and trainer was like opening my mission call all over again! Drum roll...I am serving in the Sioux City 2nd Ward Spanish with my trainer, Hermana Madsen (she has been out for 13 months and is from Utah). My companion is a very nice Hermana! She is a great example to me on how to be a missionary. We have had successful days thus far...we are both willing to work really hard and follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost. I am so excited for this area! I went to church for the first time in our ward and the members are so welcoming and friendly. :) Our ward is an english speaking ward with spanish members. We have headsets and translate sacrament meeting and relief society for them...the Gospel classes are in Spanish. I offered to read out loud in Spanish in the Spanish class…good times with my pronunciation. I already love the Spanish culture..they are so loving and love to hear us speak spanish, and help me with words and pronunciation...I can tell they appreciate it when I struggle to speak their language. They like how bubbly I am. I make them laugh. We have eaten at a few Spanish members homes. The Brisenas cooked us authentic mexican food..they dont even speak english..I used a lot of hand motions with them. haha
I feel very comfortable in this area and feel blessed for my companion and the experiences we have had together so far. We have taught many lessons (in Spanish and English) and found new investigaters. The promptings of the Holy Ghost come naturally out here in the field. A few times we have been led to certain houses and people who are ver interested in our message. All of the people we talk to speak spanish but some of them prefer english..so we do teach a bit in english. I really want to work on my spanish so I try to do both with them. I have felt the inspiration of the Spirit while communicating with the people. It is so neat to receive promptings and be able to say them in Spanish without thinking about it! Heavenly Father is involved in this work! It has helped for me to show people my baptism picture of me, Jon and my sister missionaries. They enjoy hearing my conversion story and how I had missionaries teach me and now I am a missionary! Jon’s face is famous in Nebraska now.
We found the Pacheco family a few days ago and taught them the first lesson. They came to church on Sunday (which is so exciting!). I think Heavenly Father has prepared them to receive the Gospel.…as He does a lot of the investigators!
Our preparation day is really intense. We are going to drop off dry cleaning, get lunch, meet a member at Wal-Mart (she likes to get groceries for us!)…which is really nice. Then we will be going home and doing things around the house. Tonight at 6 is our first appointment of the day. We are meeting with the Hernandez family. Then we have another appointment and will go out tracting.
I am so pumped with my new missionary life! My testimony continues to grow as I see people understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This work isn’t easy, but all the hard work and lack of sleep is worth it! Our companion theme is “Faith.” Faith that we can speak Spanish with the help of the Lord, Faith that the investigators will feel the Spirit, Faith that we will bring people unto Christ. Believing is seeing.
I love all of you and hope to hear from you soon! God bless you!