Received December 7, 2015
Witlene’s baptism day!
Received November 30, 2015
I GET TO DIE IN MIAMI!
Surprise trip to the hospital!
Received November 24, 2015
Received November 16, 2015
November 9, 2015
This week an AWESOME MIRACLE happened! We did our first exchange of the transfer and I was able to go with Sis. Jones (not the one that was my companion in the past, but a newer one in the mission)! I love her a lot and right away realized that she reminds me a lot of Sis. Heacock, the missionary who finished training me. I soon learned that this was pretty funny because precisely a year ago Sis. Heacock and I were in Killian together, which happens to be the area Sis. Jones just came from. I also learned that Sis. Jones and her companion there had been teaching a former investigator named Manny, the very same one that Sis. Heacock and I found a year ago! Unfortunately we had to drop him then because it wasn’t the right time for him, but Sis. Jones informed me that he is preparing to be baptized this month!!!! It was a beautiful moment. My testimony of the importance of record-keeping was strengthened. NO EFFORT IS WASTED! God’s timing is perfect. #prayforManny
We’ve been struggling a bit with our ward here to receive the support we need, and after a week of trying tons of new ideas to help the members share the Gospel with others, we were blessed to receive two very surprising referrals! One is the boyfriend of a less active member, who also happens to be in a part-member family, that we met for the first time completely randomly. It was a member that we hadn’t yet met but for some reason felt prompted to visit even though it was a 5-mile bike trip out of the way. It was definitely worth it! #followingtheSpiritforthewin The other referral was a complete miracle. A member who feeds us often but never has someone for us to go visit despite us trying to ask in different ways every time walked up to us right after Sacrament meeting and told us, “Hermanas, we’re visiting my neighbor this week to share the Gospel with her. She needs it. She doesn’t speak any Spanish.” We were shocked and pleasantly surprised! Even though she will need to be taught by other missionaries in English, we were ecstatic to see the members making the effort on their own! Two small steps for hermanas, one giant leap for Rio Vista! #prayfortheward
Funny moment: we surprise-visited our less-active friend Alvaro again this week. Our visits with him are always funny because they usually only happen when everything falls through when we are in Lehigh Acres and it’s around 8:30pm, so there’s not much time to really share a lot and be home in time. This was one such occasion. This time, Isabel, the Mexican woman who lives in the other half of the house with her husband, fed us delicious nopales (cactus) – she feeds us every time we go – and asked us how we liked it. Between bites, I commented “It’s delicious! I love it!”, her response was, “Que bien! Se ve muy bonita comiendo!” (That’s great! You look beautiful eating!), but for some reason I thought she said, “Miren a la gordita comiendo!” (Look at the little fatty eating!). Everyone looked at me and smiled after she said that, so I just chuckled awkwardly and tried to convince myself that it wasn’t something offensive to say in Mexico. After we left, I asked Hna. Alcazar if that was really what she said and she died laughing and informed me of what she actually said. It’s a blessing to have a Latin companion with good hearing. 🙂
We had two really fabulous lessons with Hilda and Cristiano this week! The Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, the necessity of the authority from God and prophets, the role of the Book of Mormon as another testament of Jesus Christ was so clear to them and they were really some beautiful spiritual experiences. Though the elect are like needles in a haystack, they are there, waiting for the truth, kept from it only because they know not where to find it.
Hna. Alcazar and I keep finding Brasilians and have thus begun the quest to learn how to communicate in Portuguese! We both have such spanish accents when we try to speak it and are probably driving people crazy – every time we meet or speak to someone from Brasil we ask them to teach us a word or phrase – but it’s pretty fun and pretty useful. I definitely will not be able to learn how to speak it before my mission ends, but we’re finding joy in trying. #comewhatmayandloveit
We are tired. Really tired. All the time. So tired, in fact, that after a lesson we got into the car at about 7:00pm and looked down to realize that Hna. Alcazar was wearing two different shoes of two totally different styles and colors. We still don’t really know when it happened, but the moral of the story is even if you’re tired…. I just tried really hard to think of a moral to that story, but I’m too tired.. Don’t worry, it’s the good kind of tired. 2 Timothy 2:10 kind of tired.
I found a little gem while studying 2 Timothy this morning. I love Paul’s tender words to his son: “…When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also” (2 Tim. 1:5) I am so grateful for the examples of righteous women I have in my life, just as Timothy had! Paul recognized that that was the root of his son’s faith, the unfeigned faith of his grandmother and mother and knew, as Elder Nelson and Elder Holland recently expressed, that the power of a righteous woman is great.
So go give your mom a hug.
This week we have to say a hard goodbye to Hermana Ferrari – she’ll be headed back to Argentina this Thursday! I have been so, so grateful to have served with her, particularly during her last transfer. She taught me to be consistent, to be simple and intense, and to love. I’ll be in Fort Myers for yet another six weeks and will meet my new companion tomorrow!
Many inspiring things happened this week including interviews with Pres. Richardson, many exchanges, and Zone Training! I am so grateful for the Lord’s chosen and inspired servants here on the earth and that we have access to guidance TODAY! That week can seek it on our own through scripture study and prayer, and receive it from Heavenly Father’s dedicated servants.
We had to make a lot of big decisions on Sunday when not one of the 15 potentials for church we had showed up. It was pretty painful, especially after some sincere efforts to help them get there. In the end, we made the decision to drop 13 of them and to move forward with those who are ready to commit. And so we refocus our finding! This week we have already seen some pretty huge miracles because of it:
1. We found Denise and her little family! She has been looking to get closer to God and couldn’t believe that we just showed up on her doorstep! Right after we shared a prayer with her she asked us, “Do you baptize people in your church?” Do we ever! She has a strong desire for her whole family to be baptized and to recommit to follow Christ in their lives. It was a really cool experience and even though we had to pass them to the English missionaries, we are grateful to have had such a good opportunity to meet and testify.
2. On the same street as Denise we found Reina, an awesome 19-year-old who knew that we were heaven-sent! She is so excited to learn more about the Gospel. Her biggest goal for her family is to have them increase their faith and she knows that she can help them by setting a good example. She was another one that had to pass to other missionaries, but we know that God sent us at the right place at the right time.
I went on an exchange down in Vanderbilt Beach where we knocked doors in an area where many Haitian families lived. We were able to meet and teach two friends and their little daughters, one of whom asked me right before we left, “Why are your cheeks always like that? Like happy-ish?” Haha, smiling pays off.
Yesterday I got to try pacaya for the first time in my life! It’s a weird Guatemalan plant thing that looks like spaghetti growing out of a root. You should probably just Google it or something because that’s the best description I can come up with. But it is normally fried – it was delicious! Kind of bitter-ish, but good with some salsa roja.
As a new transfer approaches, I found a lot of guidance in reading D&C 128:22 this morning which says, “Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, onto the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.” That is exactly what I want to do: move forward and not backward. To take what I have learned and let it carry me forward into where He needs me to be.
Another scripture I read differently this week was 1 Nephi 8:7, which reads, “And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste.”. How interesting it is to me that it is not until after Lehi decides to follow the Savior that he notices the circumstances in which He was. Many times, we are blinded to the darkness that surrounds us or the error in which we may be, but it is when we choose to turn to the Savior and follow that we recognize how much better our lives could be if we just keep following Him.
I love you! Have a stellar week!
P.S. Whenever you feel tired or impatient, just be grateful that you don’t have to wait 2.5 hours for your oil to get changed. And if you do, I’m right there with ya.
General Conference. Wow.
Here are some funny moments that happened this week:
*Samuel has a lot of trouble with his eyes which leads to difficulty reading small print. We need him to read the Book of Mormon, however, and, while digging through the house we found our solution: la lupa! Yup, after presenting him with him very own copy of El Libro de Mormon, we also presented him with our other gift: a magnifying glass. We thought he was about to have a heart attack, his laughing fit was so severe. It was a special moment.
*During the same lesson, Samuel got a little bit side-tracked and started telling us all of his secrets to ‘looking young’. He told us, “Everyone always tells me that I look 40 when I’m actually 65!”. Unfortuantely I don’t have a picture for you to judge for yourselves, but you’re just going to have to take my word that Samuel does not look 40. After we left, our member, Hna. Hill, said, “I don’t know who told them that but they need a magnifying glass too!”
We have a super cool new investigator named Bairo. We met him while he was working on a house and were able to share a quick prayer with him. He didn’t seem super solid at the time, but he gave us his information so that we could meet with him again in the future. We ended up stopping by a little ‘randomly’ (that means it was a prompting) and learned that he had dated a member of the church for five years and had gone to our church on and off with her throughout the whole time. Unfortunately it didn’t end too well between them, but now he is at a point where he feels like he really needs what the Gospel has to offer him. It was a strong testimony builder of the importance of talking to everyone and to give everyone a fair opportunity to learn the Gospel, even if they seem a little lame on first contact. Now, that doesn’t mean we should sit every single person down and force them to listen to their message, but it was a good reminder for me let God be the judge of men and to never write anyone off just because of a first impression.
I received some exciting news this weekend! Gigi, a woman I was teaching back in March when I was in Coral Springs, was just baptized! We helped her fiance return to activity in May and then I got transferred and never heard anything more. She is one of many people I have learned about throughout the course of my mission that I had the privilege to teach and were then later baptized by the current missionaries. No effort is wasted.
Michael Jackson shocked the world (well, mostly just us) and came to the last session of General Conference on Sunday! He loved it and the whole time when Elder Christofferson was talking he just kept saying, “Habla bien bonito!” We still don’t really know how best to help him and are seeking some serious spiritual guidance in that department. Keep him in your prayers.
The best was saved for last. General Conference time! Wow, I received so many answers that were poignant and powerful. I particularly connected with the words of President Uchtdorf whose main message to me was to not overcomplicate our discipleship. One of the questions I had prepared preceeding conference concerned how I could make these final few months of my mission the most successful in all departments: the most spiritual, the happiest, the most productive, etc. The very first talk given absolutely destroyed my question: all Heavenly Father requires of my is consistency. I don’t need to go crazy in doing all sorts of new ideas and projects to make this time the best time. I just need to be consistently obedient, diligent, and give Him my best. He doesn’t require anything more.
Elder Lawrence also spoke a lot to my soul. The Spirit is the most honest companion. He will tell us sincerely what we need to hear in order to improve, but he will never discourage us. He will never give us more than we can handle. I also noted the importance of asking the Lord what more we can do, but also the necessity of following through. Receiving the guidance is one thing, but if we don’t choose to act upon it, what good is it to receive it? Just do it! In the words of my Coral Springs WML, Bro. Ray, “Like Nike”.
Elders Holland and Nelson gave some powerful talks as well that definitely deserve a reread, as well as the new apostles called, Elders Stevenson, Rasband, and Renlund.
I LOVE CONFERENCE!
And I love you too.