Monday, September 11, 2017
What an incredible week it has been out here in the field! I am loving every moment of my mission and I can't believe it is going so fast!!!! Time needs to slow down!
4th of July was awesome! It was a regular proselyting day but we got to go up to a parade about 50 minutes north in a place called "White Rock". It's a tiny town and their main community parade is stationed at the church! They put on an awesome carnival with a bounce house and food! The firefighters and veterans come, they do a flag ceremony....and get this. One of the stake councilors RAN the flag from Santa Fe up to WHite Rock! 35 miles! He started atand got it there by for the flag ceremony! SO cool. And the best part was that there were about 100 less actives there and 500 non members.:)
Luis took us out to ice cream in the morning. He wanted to make sure we weren't alone on the fourth! And then ironically he spent the evening by himself because all of his old friends were drinking:( We didn't know or else we would have gone to visit. But I am consistently blown away by his testimony. He also asked us to teach his little sister!
Then all of our appointments bailed because half of our investigators wanted to celebrate the 4th and half of them wanted to drink and watch fire in the sky. Typical. But DOUGLAS came in clutch. From Honduras + Jehovah's Witness means that a holiday about America means nothing to him. So we all chatted about the Book of Mormon instead of celebrating.
We did eschanges with other Spanish sisters for a change...and guess who I got stuck with..... MY BESTEST BESTEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WORLD HERMANA THOMPSON!!!!!! BEST DAY EVER! We went to her area and tore it up! We found them like 5 news and taught a bunch of lessons. It was too fun. I didn't want the exchange to end! But then I missed my other best friend Hermana Wallis and I was excited to get back to Santa Fe.
I <3 Weekends
On Saturday we met with Luis and his little sister. We taught her the plan of salvation by drawing pictures of it. We told her that if she followed the Gospel of Jesus Christ she can have a family that lasts for ever and ever. Luis and her turned and looked at eachother, their eyes got wide, and they looked back at us smiling. What a powerful truth. And what a hopeful gospel the Lord has given us.
We had the most incredible miracle on Saturday! We were driving to a less actives house and Wallis pointed to a trailer and said we needed to knock it. DONE. Love the spirit following. So we knocked and a young man answered. He got his mom and she invited us right in! We sat down and started to get to know her. Then we told her who we are and she about fell off her couch. She said "I'M MORMON TOO!". We say....YOU ARE? She said she reads the Book of Mormon every day. She has actually read it 5 times! She got baptized 9 years ago, has served in the primary for years on end, and moved here and couldn't find the church for the life of her! So she has just been chilling in her trailer reading the Book of Mormon day in and day out.
CHURCH WAS REALLY THE HIGHLIGHT!!!! The less active that we found came, two other less active who we didn't have addresses for just showed up, and Douglas Miguel and Abram came! Our gospel principles class was filled with less actives, investigators, and recent converts. I felt such a strong love for these people and I felt how strongly they love the Lord. It is a beautiful sight to see so many grown children of God humbly coming to learn more of the Savior.
In Sacrament meeting Luis blessed the sacrament! He was absolutely glowing after. He said he felt so good using his priesthood. Other quotes of post-baptized Luis include:
"I feel so happy. I just KNOW that the Holy Ghost is with me!"
"I used to get anxious when I drove, but now I have no fear. What is there to be worried about? I got the spirit!"
"I've been watching mormon channel recently and I really like that one couple that does karate. Do you know them?"
A Spiritual Thought and some weird fonts that I can't fix
I would like to share a bit of my testimony based off of the lesson in Gospel Principles this week about SACRIFICE:
Hello family!! This week was incredible!!! So many wonderful things happened. I feel like we talked to just about every person in Santa Fe. The holidays are around so we got a lot of doors slammed, a lot of beer breath, and some cat calls...but we found 5 new people to teach so it was all worth it!
We have been teaching these two guys who live in the back of a members trailer (if you think trailers are small, try living in just a tiny partitioned-off section). They are from different parts of mexico. one is older and one is in his 20s. But get this, they are both named Abram Ricardo. HAHA it's so funny. We teach them together out in the dirt. Sometimes we find things to sit on, sometimes we don't. But it doesn't matter because they are serious about the gospel. At our last lesson we showed up and they had groomed the dirt and put out chairs for us. They had prepared an out door living room! As we talked about the plan of salvation we asked them, "Have you ever wondered what happens after we die?" Abram Ricardo #1 said he tries not to think about it because his family is far away and if anyone died he thinks he would lose them forever. Abram Ricardo #2 said that he calls his mother in Mexico every day because he knows she is old and could pass on, and all he wants to do is hug her one more time before he loses her forever! We explained that we can be forever families and the spirit filled each of our hearts. They were so happy and felt so much hope. Such a great moment!
We are having fun teaching a lot of people. I won't update you on all of them...but just know that people are progressing and we are having so many spiritual experiences with the Lord's elect!
Branch Reconstruction Project
We went to dinner this week at a members home. This member has such a strong testimony, but he is always mad and bitter. He always tries to tear us down for teaching certain people and such. And each time we are with him he complains about the branch. This time we tried to show as much love as possible to him and his family and he began to open up! He told us this crazy story, and I'll try and say it in his words:
"When I came from Mexico I went straight to church. At the time there was only a huge English ward. I found two guys who spoke Spanish from their missions and told them that it was a struggle for me to go to church in a language I didn't understand. I was an active member and I wanted to serve. So they agreed to meet with me for the second two hours and we held our own classes. I got a list of less active Spanish speakers who weren't coming because of the language barrier.I promised the Lord I would be his warrior and bring them back to church. I went and visited each of them and told them about our new classes. Some took more work than others, so I began to visit people every evening of the week. I was never home. I got to know the families so well. Pretty soon our little group of 3 Spanish speakers had grown to a consistent 95. That's when we became a branch."
I asked him, "Are you talking about OUR branch?" And turns out he was! He was the beginning of it all! Within a few years there was some rough times in the branch and it began to dwindle. He was told that it wasn't his responsibility to visit the members and he should let people fall away if they wanted to. It really stung him. While he has stayed active, he has remained bitter and has refrained from serving.
SO we went to our presidents house and worked out a plan. We are going to wipe our ward missionaries and start fresh. We are going to get this brother who started the branch going again and motivating everyone to be warriors! We have a whole reach out program set up and we are praying that it will catch fire! We will send our new missionary force out and bring the branch together again!
Okay but the REAL good stuff was LUIS' BAPTISM!!!!!!!
Wow. Luis is finally baptized. He has been such an example of faith to me and the branch. This is a guy who had every tool that Satan has thrown at him. Every loved one he had was against his decision. Many were completely anti-Mormon! He has heard so many lies about the church! He has been on this journey alone and some how he learned how to trust God enough to change his whole life. After praying he knew he couldn't deny the truth, and now he is so proud to be a Mormon! He tells everyone and is becoming a great missionary!
At his baptism the spirit was SO STRONG. We had 4 investigators and the English sisters brought 3...and on top of that Luis brought some non-members! The spirit just escalated until he got baptized! At that moment Hermana Wallis and I were supposed to share the restoration story, but the spirit told me to ask the English sisters instead. They hadn't prepared at all but they did an amazing job, and I translated!
Then when Luis came back to the room he was visibly glowing. There was a real light about him. Another sister played a piano solo of Joseph Smith's first prayer. I couldn't hold back the tears. I just KNEW and I still KNOW that this is the church of Jesus Christ. That He called a prophet to allow us to access all of the blessings he has for us through His True Church. And because of all that Joseph Smith, and the others that followed him, did, Luis could get baptized with the true priesthood of God. The Holy Ghost is REAL and He came to the baptism to testify to us all that this is Jesus Christ's church, and that Luis was baptized with His baptism.
Then we sang I am a Child of God. I am amazed that such simple knowledge can unlock so much for us. It wasn't until Luis knew how much God loved him that he knelt down and talked with Him. And now his life will be changed eternally. Singing that hymn with everyone was such a powerful moment that I will never forget.
Now Luis is confirmed and has the Priesthood! He is determined to stay faithful and work toward an eternal family!!!
Breakfast with the BEST
FINALLY another highlight of my week- President and Sister Firmage took us to I-hop!!!! BEST DAY EVER!!!!!! It was so amazing to see them, and we were so grateful that they took time to arrange it with my mission president and sit down with us for breakfast. Their visit strengthened us SO MUCH. We learned so much from his stories and we entered the field with a new fire to be true servants of the Lord. Our lessons that day were power packed with the spirit because of the visit of President.
He talked to us a little about teaching Jehova's WItnesses, which can some times be hard. We came away with better advice on how to help Douglas. That night we went to see Douglas and we did not give in to his arguing or doubts. We just taught him what we knew to be true. As soon as the spirit was strong enough we were bold and told him what he needed to do to find truth. Then, we closed with a prayer. A physical feeling came over all of us. No words were exchanged as we left. The spirit was too thick. And I knew that even though Douglas doesn't believe in revelation through the spirit, he couldn't deny that it was there.
Well that's about it! Sorry for the long email!!! Love you all!
HAPPY FATHERS DAY EVERYBODY!!!!!
So at the beginning of the week our mission president promised Hermana Wallis and I that our tiny branch will become a ward soon. I was skeptical. We have a consistent 30 people at church and that's IT! And I can only think of a few that are converted to the gospel. But Wallis had enough faith to believe it so I just rode on that and was quickly humbled by the end of the week. No we aren't a ward yet, but the hand of the Lord was working over-time this week! I'll just go day by day and share what He did in Santa Fe.
-Monday: We were at the store doing our groceries and I smiled at some random man. He came right up to us and said, "Are you Mormons?". We pointed to the tags and said yes! He said something along the lines of, "I didn't see the tags, but I thought I would take a chance because of your smiles! I could just tell! I got baptized 4 years ago in Arizona. I lost contact with the church a year ago when I moved here and I miss it so much!"
THEN get this. On Monday night Luis took us to dinner. We were just chatting and I made some joke about everyone asking us when he will get baptized. He said, so casually with out looking up, "Let's plan it." I about choked on my orange chicken. I say, "WHAT". And he says, "Let's plan it, i feel ready." Just so casual. I think I left my body for a moment. But now I am calm and the baptism is planned and we are on for next Monday night!!!!!!!
-Tuesday! Tuesday was a little unproductive because we made a stop into urgent care cause the mission made me x-ray my ankle. I tried to teach everyone the gospel but nobody bit the bait haha.
-Wednesday we went to see a less active/recent convert who we were losing hope on. We couldn't get her to want to progress. But this time we started talking about the temple and she said that she wants to go! She came back to church this last Sunday and is getting ready for the temple!
-Thursday we got out to contact some potentials. We knocked a door and they let us right in. They say "Hey sisters, we are members!" It was a mom and her son. Turns out the son used to be best friends with the elders like 5 years ago. He actually referred his whole extended family and they all got baptized! So he knows where nearly all of our less actives families are! AND he said he can't wait to start coming back to church! He also is connected to all of the families who got offended and started the huge problem when 99% of the branch left the church about 3 years back. He is going to help us find all of those families and rebuild the branch from the ground up! So exciting!
-Friday we went out contacting and talked to EVERYONE!!!! By the end of the day we had 7 solid news to teach. We also taught the regular investigators which was fun. Hopefully we see some progression coming up!
-Saturday we took Yajaira, our recent convert, out for the whole day again. We found so many news and talked to so many people! As we approached the first person Yajaira says, "What are you doing? We don't know this guy- oh wait....is this what you do?" HAHA. By the end of the night Yajaira was actually contacting on her own! She just walked right up to people saying "Hi! What's your name? We are missionaries for Jesus Christ. Are you religious? That's great. We are MORMONS! Have you ever wanted to learn about how to be more happy through Jesus Christ?"
It was AWESOME! By the end of the day she was so tired so we took her to ice-cream, took some ice-cream to Luis, and called it a day.
-AND SUNDAY!!!! Sunday morning we got a phone call from a random number. It turned out to be a less active who we had texted a while back. He wanted to know what time church started! Once we got to church we sat down in our little Gospel Principles class. We only had Luis, a recent convert, and Douglas (our JW investigator.) As we were about to say the prayer the branch president brought in a non-member and 4 more completely less actives who decided to show up for the first time in years! It was a miracle! Our class has never been so full!!!!
After church we were still so blown away by the miracles. We have never seen that many less actives all in one place! We decided to go try some former investigators. We knocked on a door and a woman answered. She said "Hi sisters! I'm Hermana Rincon! Sorry I haven't been to church in a while!" Turns out she is a less active that we try by almost EVERY DAY. She is never home, we always leave a note, and we text her all the time and never get a response. Come to find out that she is married so she usually hangs at her in-laws house. We about fell off the porch once we realized who she was. Another lost-forever less active FOUND.
So as you can see, I have been humbled to the ground. There is no room for skeptics in the mission! Especially when the Lord has a plan! He knows His children and knows how to bring them into His Church! We just need to work hard enough for him to be able to show forth His hand.
I also want to say that dad's are the BEST! I think I have the best one in the whole world! I am so grateful for the example that my dad has always shown me. Thank's to all of the righteous dads out there who teach their families the gospel! You all make a huge difference in the world!!!
LOVE YOU ALL!!!
our most PRECIOUS recent converts Zayan and Esmerelda reading their book of mormons on their own! Their mom snapped this pic and sent it! Couldn't be prouder!!!!
My fun little trip to urgent care for my ankle lol
I have riddle for you: I'm thinking of a person who is 1. Kinda Short 2. Was on American Idol 3. Is basically Justin Bieber for Mormons and 4. CAME TO OUR TINY BRANCH ON SUNDAY
That's right. David Archuleta came to our branch for church!!!! I was shaking hands before church and all of these white people came into the back. I thought they might need translators so I went to talk to them. I shook all of their hands, asked their names, and when David said his name I said AS IN DAVID ARCHULETA?? and he's like..."yes?". And then I tried to be casual but it was more like weird missionary. Then I texted our branch president and told him not to freak out....but he freaked out. He went up to David after the meeting and sang...to his face..." It's GLLOOORRRIIOOUUSSS to meet you." David didn't think it was funny. At all.
Anyway. The best part of all of that is that they bumped our sacrament count from 40 to 50!
Couple more, less significant updates:
-Not getting transferred and sticking with hermana Wallis!
-We found another 10 news this week! Heavenly Father is so good to us! Now we just have to figure out how to teach all these people and get them to progress.
-Douglas fell in love with hermana Wallis so I got to deal with that drama. People always fall in love with her!!! Anyway....I told Douglas the rules on an emergency exchange and he agreed. He also said he wants to read the whole Book of Mormon! So stoked for him! Also he is crazy wise about the Bible. Keeps us on our toes!
-We found the greatest family of all time! They have the cutest little boys:) AND THEY CAME TO CHURCH!!!! it was so fun. The branch LOVED them. Hopefully we see them enter the waters pretty soon!
-Just getting prepped for Luis' baptism today! We are SO EXCITED! All of Santa Fe is coming to support him. He thinks nobody is coming. He keeps saying "if it's just us and president I'll be happy!" and we tell him that EVERYONE is coming and he doesn't believe us! Such a humble man. He's in for a treat haha.
-We went to this place called "The Plaza" last week for P-day. IT WAS SO COOL! I was in heaven! So much art and weird things. We talked to tons of people! We even found some very less active people and some formers who picked us out of crowds. The best part was meeting some West African Brothers!!!! It was so cool! We started talking an I got bargaining with them on their paintings and they thought it was the darndest thing! They freaked out and gave me the painting for free.:) So Sweet!
So the most spiritual part of my week was asking Luis why he finally decided to get baptized. He said that he was at the temple helping plant flowers and he looked around at an ocean of happy people. He said he wanted that...and he realized that the missionaries (us) had already told him exactly how to get it! The next day we went over and taught him about his true relationship with Heavenly Father. He said "When you put it this way, I think it's selfish of me to not live the commandments and get baptized!" So he finally decided to think about it that night. He was pondering the decision when he got a text from us telling him how much Heavenly Father loves him and wants to hear from him. Then for the first time he decided he would try and ask God what he should do. As he did he felt that he should be baptized without delay.
Well that's about it for today! LOVE YOU ALL!!!
Holding squirrils at our recent convert Britney's house
A member gave us this tuna salad....so we put it under our car during church cause we didn't want it to stink up the car. and then we forgot and ran it over. And of all the pictures I could have taken on the day that David came to our church...this is the only one I got.
Monday, June 26, 2017
Hola Familia! This week has been a major turning point the area!.
Highlight of the week was studying in the apartment and some rascals decided to play with their toy trucks right outside our door. Very noisy. But at one point one of them must have seen the Jesus picture on our door and said, "Is that God?" and the other kid said, "Who knows, but I like his beard."
I heard this quote from Dan Clark, a BYU professor who said, "Work like it all depends on you, and pray like it all depends on the Lord." So that's what we have been doing!
I decided that we need to kick it into gear if we want this branch to grow more. And I have felt that it will grow through convert baptisms. So with that being said we prayed and decided that we must find families to baptize...key word is FIND. There is a mission statistic that out of every 15 new investigators, one gets baptized. My mission average has been finding 3-5 news a week (with an occasional 6 or 8). I did the math and I have baptized once about every 3 weeks of my mission. The statistic adds up right? So on Thursday we decided that we were going to find like crazy through more bold, more spiritual, on-the-spot lessons. By the end of the week we had gone from 2 news to 12! Many of which were member referrals and families who are prepared! We did many things that we sometimes shy away from (like stopping people in their paths and knocking doors). It was so much fun. We know that if it is the Lord's will that we can do the same this week AND put at least one of those people on solid bap-date, and hopefully more!
We went to Luis' house and taught him that God is his Heavenly Father, again. This time we explained what that truly means. That Heavenly Father literally created his spirit. He raised him in the spirit world for eons of time. He knows Luis better than anyone on earth will ever know him. He loves him and it breaks His heart when any of us forget that divine relationship. Then someday we will come back to Him and He will call us by name. All of our memories from the pre-mortal life will come flooding back. We will REMEMBER that HE LOVES US. That we NEVER were alone. He is always there. The spirit was so strong and he opened up about many life experiences that have directly effected his conversion that he had never shared. He said that when he was younger he had a very strong trust in God even though nobody had taught that to him. Case and point? I think yes.
He also was inspired as he helped plant flowers at the temple last week with the branch. We had arranged for the mission leader and a recent convert from a YSA branch to be there. They did a GREAT job fellow-shipping Luis. Luis said of the experience, "Coffee and tithing are nothing. I'm being so selfish! I should just do what the YSA guys said and get baptized...don't ya think?" That's a statement I can definitely agree with.
We are trying to use the temple for conversion more and more. We have had an FHE with our branch to get people started on family history. One woman found out that her parents who passed away are already sealed! And she isn't sealed to them! Everyone was so excited. We have also been starting with "the end in mind" with many of our investigators by preparing them for the temple and doing family history right off the bat- and it is working beautifully!
We have received a lot of guidance from zone conferences about focusing on identity, revelation, and Jesus Christ in the first lesson! We taught a former this week and she said, through her tears, "I have never understood this until now." Even I got choked up sharing the first vision. I will never forget that spirit!
I went on exchanges with Sister Hubbard this week! It's nice because we have the same area, she is just English and I am Spanish. So I still had chances of finding Spanish people to teach! We asked everyone that we saw for referrals and through that we found a less active, un-recorded, FAMILY for our branch! Such a miracle!
Finally, we did a youth fireside was INCREDIBLE. I have only felt the spirit that strong on rare occasions. We put it together with the english sisters. All of the youth submitted questions for the missionaries. We narrowed it down to a few quesions and invited Luis to answer a few from an investigators perspective. We all gathered in a circle and shared answers to their awesome questions. We talked about what to expect at the MTC, how to prepare (repentance), how to feel the spirit, how to be worthy of the priesthood, what our hardest trials on the mission have been, sister Hazen shared her conversion story, and Luis shared his. Sister Hubbard stopped the discussion many times to point out the spirit that we were feeling and ask inspired questions. And the best part was that Luis told the whole group that he would soon be a member! If anything has been done in Santa Fe it is that MANY youth now have STRONG desires to serve missions. One youth was asked, "would you come again if we did it in a few months?" She said, "Heck I'd come again if you did it tomorrow!". I would strongly recommend this to any ward and stake. It was such a wonderful experience!
There are so many miracles I can hardly count! Just know that the Lord is working here in Santa Fe. I feel so humbled to be a part of this work. Next transfer we will see many enter into the waters of baptism who will be a great strength to the branch.
We went on THE BEST 7 mile hike this morning! Hermana Wallis and I ran back down the mountain. It actually felt like freedom...until I sprained my ankle and got my knees all bloody. So fun though. zero regrets
We tried to find a less active, but this mess was their address. hoping they don't actually live here....but i thought, hey i'm a trashy missionary, might as well snap a photo with this trashy "house".
Monday, June 12, 2017
This week was excelent! I want to share just two miracles that happened on Sunday.
Miracle 1.) On Friday of this week our recent convert Yajaira called us up and asked if she could come out with us. We told her what appointments we had lined up and she said that she wanted to help with them all! So we took her out to lessons from! Non of our appointments fell through and she even took us to knock on some of her friends doors. In every lesson she opened her mouth and testified powerfully and boldly. Each time she shared something different and clearly inspired by the spirit. I was so amazed!
Then on Sunday she came to church! (She hasn't been in a few weeks.) We sat there listening to the testimonies and I leaned over to her and said, like I do every fast and testimony meeting, "Your turn!". Usually she just gets and attitude and tells me no. But this time her reply was, "What am I supposed to say?" I explained briefly how to format it and she went up!!!! Her testimony went something like this:
"I know this is the true church. I was always so confused because I didn't know who God and Jesus were exactly, but now I know and I am so much happier. Ever since I got baptized I have felt like I can be somebody. The other day I went out on missions with the Hermanas. We went and saw a lot of people and I was amazed at all of the people who don't know! The biggest thing I saw was that people tell the hermanas all of their problems...and of course they told them that things like church and scriptures and prayer would help. But people came up with excuses! They thought their problems were too big for God!
I know that Jesus lived a perfect life. And they killed him! They didn't just kill him...they tortured him and mocked him and beat him. They whole time he went through that he blessed the people, he had love for them, and in his final moments as he HUNG ON A CROSS, he asked his Father to forgive them. And people think that Jesus can't help their problems??? They think He doesn't understand?? I know He will always help. He understands us. I invite all of you to open the Book of Mormon and I promise He will help you. He does understand YOU. In the name of Jesus Christ amen."
It was one of the most touching moments of my whole mission.
Following Yajaira less active after less active got up and said that she made them want to be better. We finally had a spiritual testimony meeting where everybody left completely filled with the spirit and a desire to do good.
#2.) Meanwhile, Luis was sitting right next to us. All three meetings had been SO perfect for him. We talked all about the blessings of the commandments and he seemed to really understand (as his struggle is paying tithing right now). He finally looked comfortable at church with the branch! As the meeting ended he asked me, "Where can I find a tithing envelope?". I tried to show him without giving away how happy I was. He ended up paying an offering to the mission fund!!! He walked it right up to president with a smile on his face. Considering that the last letter he handed to president said he doesn't feel he should continue with the church, just a week ago, I would call that a MIRACLE.
We have been working on are having an activity for the youth. Last Saturday we had an activity for the youth to bring their friends to the park to play kick-ball. We invited the english ward too! It was really a fun bonding night. One of our investigators came to help with food and one of the english kids brought a non-member friend! My favorite part was that all of our ward missionaries came to support and provide refreshments. Ever since we started doing weekly correlation with them they have been SO INVOLVED! I could not be more excited about the effort that the members are putting in!!!
Hope you had an awesome week!!! Sorry it's short! Enjoy the pics!!!
-It got really rainy one day
- I got to see my greenie on eschanges
-Some fun kickball in the park pics
-Going out with Yajaira