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.