Wow. This week has been way awesome! We are loving our investigators and our members! We set 3 baptismal dates this week. Angel Hernandez is working towards getting baptized by December 15. We are still working on teaching his mom-we plan on bringing a member with us, Hermana Baraza. It’s a tough situation because the mom is Catholic…she said she would give Angel a ride to our church on Sunday but she took him to the Catholic church. We are going to arrange rides for him in advance so he can come. We also found a person to fellowship Angel, his name is Zach. We are working on getting fellowshippers for all of our progressing investigators. The ward has really been helping more. We are glad! The other baptismal dates we set are with Jose Manuel and Liz. Jose Manuel has been learning for a month or so and is feeling more peace in his life since reading the Book of Mormon. He is excited to work towards baptism on December 12. To help Liz prepare for January 16, we are going to teach her why she needs to be baptized with authority and answer all her questions. She has been investigating for 5 years and we recently checked up on her. She has been reading the BOM and knows its true, she is just nervous for baptism. We hope to lead her down the path and help her feel confident in her decision to be baptized.
Church was great yesterday. Amanda Gomez finally came! I love her and her family so much! She really wants to get baptized, but she needs to get married first. They plan on getting married in December. Her boyfriend also wants to get baptized so we are going to work on teaching him and setting dates with them for January. We are spending some of Thanksgiving with Amanda and her family. We had a fun Saturday night teaching Amanda and then her kids sang us some church songs. They are the cutest! Omar was able to come to church. That was great to see him there again. He really likes learning and has lots of deep questions, showing he really wants to understand. We are having Nefi fellowship him. We are helping him and his brother, Guadalupe stop smoking. The church has a program so we are helping them follow that program. Eddy loved church! Ignacio has been a great fellowshipper to him, coming to appointments and sitting with him at church. We will be teaching him this week. Lauren and Alex Ochoa came to church and are excited about their baptism this Saturday! Lots of the ward is helping out with treats are coming to support. Jenny and I are so excited! My first baptism on the mission! We are having investigators come too, so that they can see what it is all about. The Lovejoy family is doing well, we taught them twice this week. Its amazing to see how the Gospel really is blessing their family. Everything has improved for them and they are so excited to get baptized as a family in December!
To help our Spanish investigators, members and less actives, we are teaching a weekly Gospel Principles class. We are very excited about it! Each week a new member is going to teach the lesson. It should be a great way to get the Spanish more involved and excited about church. We spent some time with the Brisenos, a Spanish family here. We learned how to make Tamales! Way authentic too.
Other things…last pday was so fun! A group of missionaries went bowling. I like to bowl! It was funny because we were bowling next to an intense group of like pro-bowlers and I went at the same time as this huge muscle guy wearing bowling gloves and I got a strike out and he didn’t. That was awkward. The Elders thought he was going to take me out. Haha. We also got to go rock climbing! We got it approved with President…its so much fun. I did 7 climbs (more than all the Elders)…guess my morning work-outs have been paying off. I totally want to rock climb more when I get home. This pday we are going to practice a talent show routine with some of the Elders. I always wanted to be in a talent show in elementary school, but I was too nervous. This is my time to shine! At our Christmas Zone Conference we are driving to Des Moines…lots of missionaries will be there and we are having a talent show. Im excited to see what everyone does. Itll be good.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! We will be going to 5 Thanksgiving dinners! Four on Thursday and one on Saturday. Wahoo! I love all of you and appreciate all of you. Miss you! I am loving the mission and feel blessed to be here serving the Lord. Have a great week!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
November 18, 2009
We are doing well here in Sioux City. We got our transfer call this morning and found out that we are staying one more transfer! Hermana Madsen goes home in 4 weeks! We aren’t sure what will happen when she goes home, I will probably be in a threesome until the new Hermana comes 2 weeks later. We will wait and see! We are so thankful to be in this area for more time because we absolutely love it here! We love the investigators, the members, and each other. haha But we feel blessed to stay. One of our zone leaders, Elder Phillips, got moved to be Assistant to the President of the mission. We are so happy for him!
This week has been a better week because we saw light at the end of the tunnel with some of our investigators. It started with the LoveJoy family! We were able to set a baptismal date with them for December 15- Sonya, Bryan, Kiana and Brianna. They are excited to work towards that date and continue learning. The Gospel has already blessed their life so much as they go through important changes. Rehab has really helped Sonya, she is glowing like she never has before! She has also been reading scriptures with her children nightly and praying more. She hadn’t prayed for a really long time, since her mother’s death. We are so excited for her as she continues to grow and progress. Bryan has also changed a lot; the kids are better taken care of. We have been teaching Bryan and the kids twice a week during visiting hours with the social worker. Next week, Bryan and Brianna are moving to Macy while Sonya and the kids stay at the Women and Children’s correction facility. Sonya and the kids are able to get released for Church, which is such a blessing! Bryan and Brianna will go to church in Macy and continue learning from Elders there until their baptism. Originally, Sonya requested that we teach her family and her because we are sisters-they are really connected to us. We are glad we are staying because when we told her we might be leaving, her heart dropped. We love them and are going to continue to show our love, support and encouragement. My mommy sent me some jackets and we were able to give them to the family! They loved them and really appreciated it. The Ochoa family is also doing well. Lauren and Alex so excited for their baptism on November 28! We are teaching them every week and getting them rides for activities. They have been very welcomed into the Primary class in the ward, they participated in the program last Sunday. We were so proud of them! I gave Alex a few thumbs up because he was so nervous to recite a scripture on the microphone! J We were happy to see Amanda Gomez and her family come to a Relief Society activity we held at the church. We gave them a tour of the church and the Spanish speaking members really welcomed them. The lesson was on food storage and family history. Amanda wants to do temple work for her mother who passed away without learning about Christ, so she was excited about family history. The family has yet to come to church but we know they want to-the kids will also be going to activities. We are going to her house for thanksgiving dinner Guatamala style. Im excited! Guadalupe and Omar are continuing to learn. They will have their baptismal interviews this Sunday. They didn’t feel ready for baptism yet but we are going to set a new date with them. We are working with them to stop smoking; they have cut back a lot. Victor wasn’t ready for his baptism, but he wants to keep learning and understand more clearly. I have faith that as we teach him he will feel more comfortable to make a commitment like baptism. The last progressing investigator I am going to update you on is Jose Manuel. He is the nephew of a less-active family that we are working with. He really loves learning and it all makes sense to him.
We want to start having a Spanish Bible and Book of Mormon study class once a week with investigators, members and less-actives. We think it would really help them get involved. We are also going to go by houses Saturday nights to remind people about church the next morning. Everyone says they will go, but it is hard since it is at 9 in the morning. In January our ward changes to 11:30 am. Thatll be sweet. We were able to do service at the O’Connor House in Nebraska this week. That was fun because it is an old-fashioned house that was owned by a rich family in the 1800s. I love antiques and family history! That was neat. The members of our ward have invited us over for dinner for every night of this month! Intense. We had a great dinner appointment with a Spanish member, Rose and her son, Nefi. Their family is made up of converts-Rosa gave her conversion story and made me cry. She is such a great woman. She talked a lot about how she feels the Spirit through hymns that we sing at church. I shared her an experience I had with music, before I was baptized Arly-lian sang “Lead Kindly Light” to me and I cried like a baby because I felt the Spirit so strongly. I knew what I was doing was the right choice. It is neat how music can connect with our Spirits.
I love all of you so much and hope all is well. All is well here in Iowa. Being a missionary is a great experience and I am learning so much every day. Talk to you next week!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
This week has been really crazy. The weather is bizarre because its sunny! I don’t mind it, but I guess its usually snowing by this time consistently. For cooking this week, I made Bompy’s spaghetti sauce last night and my first omelette this morning. I made Betty Crocker’s gluten-free yellow cake! It is way good. I feel made for the other gluten free brands that are not mainstream because Betty is going to crush them. Oh well. Not my problem. Coolest thing so far this week was while we were giving a referrel to a sister missionary in Ohio she said she felt prompted to ask us if we had anyone in our family who would want a Finding Faith in Christ DVD. I said sure! So I gave her addresses to family members of mine. The film is great; especially at this time of year. She has been calling me to update me on the responses of family members…mommy agreed to let missionaries come over to teach her the lessons. This is important to me because she will learn exactly what I am teaching in Spanish in Iowa! Pretty cool. I am excited for her. I hope the rest of you will accept the movie and maybe even missionaries! I know that they would bring a special spirit in your home. J
Arly-lian sent me a tape this week! I was able to listen to her voice. So nice! I am going to send a digital recorder back/forth with her. J She is my best friend.
I got to go to my first baptism as a missionary! Victor and Ochoa kids came. It was a special afternoon seeing Senite get baptized. She recently moved here from Africa. She has such a sweet Spirit. Seeing her cry after being immersed in the water really reminded me of my baptism and how special that day was for me. We are so lucky to be able to be baptized under the authority of God because the Priesthood was restored. J After seeing her baptism, it motivated to work even harder to get our investigators working towards. We have baptismal dates set with Victor, Guadalupe and Lauren Ochoa. Victor loved the baptism and he wants to continue preparing for his. He will be a great member and he wants to serve a mission!
I was able to give the Spiritual thought in our district meeting this Wednesday. I wanted to share it with all of you. My friend, Elder Burton who is serving in Colorado sent me some teaching activities and a poem. I shared it all with my district because I loved what he sent! First I will share the poem:
The Oak Tree by Johnny Ray Ryder Jr
A mighty wind blew night and day
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark
But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around
The weary wind gave up and spoke
How can you still be standing oak?
The oak tree said, I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two
Carry every leaf away
Shake my limbs and make me sway
But I have roots stretched to the earth
Growing stronger since my birth
You’ll never touch them, for you see
They are the deepest part of me
Until today, I wasn’t sure
Of just how much I could endure
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you
I’m stronger than I ever knew
This poem makes me cry! I love the symbolism that is involved. First of all, it reminds me of my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon, Alma 32, which discusses faith. Faith starts as a seed in our hearts and grows into a tree as we nourish our testimony. In a way when we develop faith and are baptized we are planted in the ground and continue to grow. As our knowledge of the truth gets stronger and we gain a deeper testimony our roots get deeper and we are able to endure more trials. This poem relates to me a lot. As a new convert and a missionary, my testimony is growing rapidly. Out on the mission field, we encounter lots of adversity and rejection as well. Some of it has discouraged me, but in the end, I have been made stronger through the trials I have endured. As my testimony gets deeper, I can handle more of the Opposition. In a talk given by Elder Holland at last General Conference, he stated that men’s hearts will fail them in these latter-days and they will fall away from the teaching of Jesus Christ. The opposition is getting stronger, but as we hold true to our testimonies of Christ, we will not be those trees that fall down but instead staying strong because we have deep roots! J The second thing I shared with the other missionaries was the Welding Link. As we teach our investigators we need to emphasize how important their role in their family is. For example, as a convert to the church I can do Temple work for my relatives that have passed away and also be an example for future generations. Converts=welding links. Every member of the church is an offspring of a welding link! At my baptism, I did not think about how my decision would impact so many people. At the meeting we also discussed a talk by Elder Holland on how salvation is not easy; it needs to require trial. Our mission is not going to be easy because as disciples and representatives of Christ we are going to feel rejection-to feel a tiny bit of the rejection Christ felt. The Atonement of Christ can carry us as missionaries. Christ suffered all rejection for us, He knows how we feel when we are disappointed or disheartened..
Chad sent me notes from a Fireside he was able to watch with President Uchtdorf speaking. I shared the notes with a family that we had a dinner appointment with. The moral of the story is: Questions are good! Uchtdorf said, “ Is it all right to have questions about the church and its doctrine? Brothers and Sisters, we are a question-asking church! We know that questioning leads to truth. That’s how the church got its start! I don’t know how you can discover truth without asking questions. Often the knowledge Joseph Smith received extended far beyond the original question… [the Lord] can not only answer the questions we asked, but he can give us answers to the questions we should have asked. Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony..asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a precursor of growth.” He said its logical to him that our finite intellects cant always comprehend the designs of God, if everything made sense to us, it would be evidence that it had all been made up by a mortal mind. So its normal and good and a sign of our desire to be like Him. “Always hold fast to the faith and the light you have already received…the words that you feel in your heart and mind and in your soul come from the Holy Ghost, and by the power of the Holy Ghost you can know the truth of all things.” I love his talk! On my mission, my testimony has taken leaps and bounds. I have had questions that have been so deep I have to sit back and think for a while. At first, I wondered if having questions were a bad thing. I have come to find that every time I search for answers to my questions in prayer or scripture study, Heavenly Father is right there with me leading me to the truth. I am so thankful for the promptings of the Holy Ghost and for my testimony which continues to grow deeper and deeper.
I gave a talk at Sacrament about Charity! I basically talked about how my testimony of charity has grown so much on my mission. I am constantly working on it everyday. We can strengthen our love for others through prayer, helping us to become better disciples of Jesus Christ. I encourage all of you to show charity towards your brothers and sisters, in turn demonstrating your love for God and Christ who have both proved their love through the Atonement. I shared a quote that I love by Elder Ballard entitled “The Sacrifice of the Father.” I love this quote because it describes how Heavenly Father sacrificed his son for our sins. When I have thought about the Atonement, I have understood Christ’s role but never Heavenly Father. They work hand in hand, giving us the gift of Eternal life.
The struggles of some of our investigators has really rocked our world. The Ochoa Family has had problems lately because Melissa’s husband is anti.(Melissa is a member) We are trying to help them as much as we can. Lauren and Alex Ochoa want to get baptized, and its hard for them when their dad is doing what he can to prevent it. Amanda Gomez is still learning and wants to prepare for baptism, but her husband also is against the church. People in Amanda’s life have been saying negative things about the church. We had a powerful lesson with her on prayer and how she can know the church is true through the Holy Ghost and the negative things she hears will not matter. The Lovejoy family is doing better. We got to see the girls during visiting hours. We will be teaching them twice a week and will see Sonya on Fridays at the correction facility. She is doing so good! She will be able to get released to go to church on Sunday! She has read the Book of Mormon and has been praying. Because of her trial with alcohol, she has really learned to lean on the Lord. We love her so much. We were able to teach the Hernandez family this week with the mom included, her attitude towards baptism is changing slowly and we are hoping to set a date with Bellin and Angel soon.
Well, I have to go do errands but I love all of you! Have a great week.