Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

This week has been unbelievable. Filled with so many miracles that I won't be able to share them all!!

We Goofed 
Last week Hrn. Thompson and I thought we got 31 lessons, which we sent to the President in our weekly report. He texted us and said that this has never been done in the history of our mission. We were super stoked but also wanted to double check....turns out we only got 29. It's still a record but barely, and we felt bad that President was misinformed. We told the Zone Leaders and they told us not to worry about it, but then at Zone Conference President Guffey announced that "Rumor has it, a companionship hit over 30 lessons!" YIKES! Turns out it really is a rumor....that WE started....Then he told everyone that we shouldn't be surprised when he starts holding the whole mission to a standard of 30! AHHHH we felt so bad. So, this week we decided to hit 30 lessons, just to feel better about ourselves and make sure it's actually possible. Thankfully we did and today we are going to let P. Guffey know that we goofed. Ha....

Kind of funny....but really it's not about the numbers at all. Our 30th lesson was one of our best ones this week. It isn't about getting a ton, it's about being determined to strengthen as many people as possible in the time that we have. What we really wish we had was 30 baptisms! hahahaha....kidding but not....

La Hermana Borja
First of all, we went back to that member who went and knocked doors with us. Her name is Herman Borja. So, just to refresh your memories, Hermana Borja asked us if we would help her meet her neighbors two weeks ago. She was really nervous, but the first door we knocked on was a woman who lives alone with her son. Herman Borja, with no fear, opened her mouth and introduced herself. "Hi I'm your neighbor! I came because I have something that makes me really happy and I want to share it with you!" 
The woman, Max, said, "Hold on, I have a Blue Bible by my bed." 
Max came back to the door holding a Book of Mormon. As we left her home Hermana Borja broke into tears and told us how much she loves her father in heaven.

We went back to Hermana Bora's house this week to go visit Max. Max was busy, so Hrn. Borja asked if we would help her knock the rest of her block (Missionary dream come true). This woman, even though she was scared and didn't know what to do or say, was so courageous because she has a desire to serve her Father and Heaven. Behind the doors of her neighbors we found a total of 5 people who received us and agreed to take the discussions. That's more people than we find in a whole day of tracting most days. 

We went back into Hermana Borja's home and talked about her faith. She opened up to us that she is a single mom of three, she is working full time and doing school full time, and her family is on food stamps right now. They don't  have very much furniature or any nice things from what we could see. She said that every morning she wakes up at 3 in the morning because that is the only time she has to study her scriptures. Then she juggles school, work, kids, and trying to put food on the table for the rest of the day. This week she has a list of sick and lonely people she will try to visit if she has time. She has two free hours every Tuesday night so she invites us over because she wants to serve the Lord. As she told us this you can imagine my heart was melting. Her desires are truly to live the gospel. This woman is converted....she doesn't look at herself and think of her many struggles, she calls the missionaries and asks us to help her find people who need the happiness and peace she has. It is rare to experience someone with such incredible faith. My heart was so touched....I will honestly never be the same because I know Hermana Borja.

It was pretty late when we left her house. We had definitely overstayed and wanted to give her the time she needed to finish her homework and get to bed because she has to get up at 3am. But as we left she asked if we had somewhere to be. We said we were going to go knock a little more, so she said "Great let's finish this street".

Mensajeros De Dios
We went on splits with the other sisters this week to try and knock as many doors in our area as possible. Hermana Bosch and I started at one end of the road and Hermana Thompson and Hermana March started at the other end. Hrn. T and I picked this particular road because we knew there was a potential on this street, but we didn't know where and we needed to knock every door to find her. We prayed about it and knew that this was for sure the street to be on. Me and hna Bosch found the potential pretty quickly so we were super happy, but on the other end of the road something even more incredible was happening. 

Hrn. T and M knocked on a door that didn't open for the longest time. They were walking away when a woman named Nancy finally opened it. The sisters told her that they were messengers from God and Nancy invited them in right away! Nancy is on bed-rest because she has been trying to have kids with her husband for 9 years and finally found out that she is pregnant last week! Better yet, she is having twins! She has been taking it easy by staying in bed and said she is terrified to be home alone. In-fact, she never opens the door for anyone but when the sisters knocked something told her that it was messengers from God so she hurried and threw on some clothes and came to the door. 

Hermana Thompson and I came back later that day and taught her the first lesson that we teach about how the true Church of Jesus Christ is restored on the earth today. She kept emphasizing that she NEVER opens the door, and that she knows we bring the truth. She has been looking for a church...she goes to several different churches and just wants to be able to feel that "good feeling" about what ever religion she is practicing. She said she will pray to know if this is the true church, and if it is she for sure wants to be baptized.

Miembros Misioneros
This week we have been trying to tell every member about our experience with Hermana Borja. We want everyone to get on board with the missionary work. When I got here our binder was filled with investigators who love the missionaries, who have seen them from everywhere from 1-6  years. We have gone to each person and explained our purpose and turns out, not many people understood that we were there to help them get baptized and be in the Church, or they understood and really just didn't want to. That explains why there wasn't a baptism here for 7 months (until Ruben)! So we revived a few investigators, and dropped a lot. We have been doing a lot of finding and trying to focus on those who want the gospel, like Nancy or Hermana Borja's neighbors. We know that the best way to find people is through the members. Neighbors, family, co-workers....who ever it is it helps SO much when they already have a relationship with the church that they can trust. 

We were supposed to speak in sacrament, but an area authority showed up so we didn't have to speak. Better yet, this authority- Elder Torres, gave the most powerful talk on missionary work in the world. He explained that if we have faith, we need to act on it. We need to share it! He had us stand up and told everyone that the sisters are here to help them do what God has already asked of them. He gave the ward three things: 1- Pray for missionary experiences, 2- Give a name to the missionaries 3- Go to the temple regularly. Then he announced, "The sisters will be standing at the doors of the chapel to take your referrals down. Everyone is to give them a referral." He promised that the ward would be blessed beyond belief if they do this. 

I stood at the door with tears rolling down my face while people gave me name after name. They weren't just any names....people referred us to their parents, siblings, nieces/ nephews, and children. Not everyone gave us a name, but as the day went on we received phone calls from members giving us names. So crazy!!!

The Savior asked, after he was resurrected, for us to preach his gospel. Not just the missionaries, but every follower of Christ. Everyone who feels peace from the Book of Mormon, everyone who has or wants and eternal family, everyone who feels the comfort that the truth brings, EVERYONE who knows about the restored gospel is called to share it. I know that Heavenly Father will bless us for doing so.

Thanks for all of the e-mails and letters from you all! You are the best family EVER! Hope you have the best thanks giving evvvaaaaaaaa. I wish I could sit around at grandmas and hear about all of your blessings this year. If anyone asks, I'm grateful for every single one of you...and I'm REALLY grateful for the gospel. Don't forget how much you have to be grateful for. And don't take what you have for granted! If you need a reminder...come to El Paso. hehe.

Sureeeee love you!!! xoxoxoxox

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pizza and a 2 liter


It's been another awesome week here in El Paso.

On the Border
Kind of a crazy week for the world. The day we found out about the election we visited a lot of our investigators. It was heart breaking to be in some of the homes of our people. A lot of them don't have papers so they were making plans (planning for the worst) and trying to figure out what they will do. Most people are scared even though they do have papers! I don't know who the right president would have been, or if anything bad really will happen, and I'm not even supposed to comment on politics, but it was just heartbreaking to see people afraid. Luckily everything has stayed pretty calm down here...not a lot of violence that we know of. All we can do is pray on! 

This week we have been trying to find people who are ready for the gospel. We have talked to so many people who's hearts are completely closed to any type of faith. One guy says that "right now we are victims of the world and if there is a God we will find out after we're dead and He looks us in the face."  Another guy said that he's read every religious book out there and has decided that God is "our own thoughts". And everyone we talk to who says these kinds of things admits that something in their lives is missing. They literally say that they don't feel any kind of peace! When we explain that they can find that peace by reading the Book of Mormon, they refuse. They "already know it all". This probably sounds like a really general experience, but it's a common pattern that we have seen 4 or 5 times this week alone! It's so sad because if someone doesn't have a desire to look for something greater, we can't help them, no matter how hard we try. We can't force someone to have faith and act on it...they have to want it. 

Because we have had lessons with these kinds of people over and over we have been focusing a lot on faith. It is the first principle of the gospel for a reason! We have been studying faith like crazy and really when it comes down to it, faith is a simple desire to believe in something you don't have a perfect knowledge of.

On Saturday night we were having a lesson with one of our really tough investigators, Emerita. She comes to church every week and want's to know the church is true, but she kind of wants us to prove it to her. So, because we had been studying faith all week, we shared with her what we learned. We opened to Alma 32 and taught her about "planting the seed", "experimenting on the word" and simply having a "desire to believe." Her countenance changed, and her heart opened. She finally was starting to get it.

We were so happy, and wanted to keep the spirit, so we sang "How Great Thou Art" for her and the member who was with us. Then I did something really...childish. I thought I heard someone...pass gas (is that the missionary way to say it? I don't know). I was certain it was my companion  and I was gonna start dying laughing. I honestly couldn't hold it in. I stopped singing and bit my lip trying so hard not to laugh....leaving Sis. T alone to keep the song going. I kept trying to come back in but my voice would shake and then I'd have to bite my tongue so hard to not laugh. Literally I was acting like a 5 year old boy. Toots should not be that funny! then I realize that everyone else in the room is crying. They thought that I was CRYING not LAUGHING! So because they THOUGHT I was crying from the spirit they felt the spirit and started crying too. So I jumped on that opportunity I bore my testimony, and Emerita listened intently for the first time. The spirit was stronger than ever before... it's like someone passed gas and the spirit came out instead. I told H. Thompson afterward that I was actually laughing and she couldn't believe literally looked like I was crying! and also she didn't boof...she just accidentally moved her shoe on the tile or something. bummer. 

Members and Missionaries
This week we are really trying to get our members to unite in purpose with us. People don't understand that the ward should have a real Mission Plan that everyone is aware of and working toward, and the missionaries help them execute it. There are SO many reasons why members are so crucial to the work.

-The members are examples to family and friends, preparing others to be interested int the gospel. 
-They have personal stories to share that other people can relate to.
-They are on the inside of the church and have the power to help others feel welcome.
-They can be a good friend, example, or a listening ear to an investigator when the missionaries can't be.
-They can help recent converts to change their lives and stay solid in the gospel.

There are a million more reasons but I feel like I'm kind of ranting about it right now. It's crazy to me how influencial a member can be, but how unaware the members are of their role!

For example, Ruben (our recent convert) has a long way to go before he feels comfortable at church. He doesn't have church clothes so he just wears jeans, he's scared to get the priesthood, and he needs support with some of the commandments that are difficult for him. We had to do a lot of work to explain to the bishop, the young men's president, the YSA, and other fellowshipers that we can't just baptize people and expect they are gonna figure it all out on their own! We were so relieved on Sunday when our efforts paid off. The second councilor brought him to church and helped Ruben find appropriate clothes. Then the bishop invited him into his office to talk about the priesthood and temples. Some of the YSA came and took him to priesthood, and then the guy who baptized him drove him home. SUCCESS! Honestly without the support of the ward we wouldn't be able to do the work. It would be impossible.

Another example is having members in lessons. We want to have a member in every lesson possible, but that's really hard to pull off. People are busy, scared to come, confused on why we need them, or just don't think it's important. The people who do come out with us, though, are the converts who LOVE the missionaries and want to do anything they can to bring more people to Christ. So I'm not complaining, we have some AWESOME member missionaries. I'm just saying it's hard to get as many involved as we need. This week we had some awesome experiences with members, and some not-so-awesome ones.

The best member-present lesson was with the family from last week (the one where we met the dad walking his dog, and then he invited us over and the mom loves us and wants her son to be Mormon). We took a member with us to sit down in the lesson and she fulfilled her purpose perfectly! She got to know the family, related to the mom about things like raising kids and other mom stuff, and then turned the time over to us. We taught a brief lesson and then invited the member to share her brief testimony/experience. It was AWESOME. Then the member invited them to church and activities and they got so excited! They can't wait to come to church! And they already have a friend who they can sit with when the come this week. 

The less than awesome member-present happened with Juan y Sidumy. We took a member to them and I guess the member wasn't on the same page as us. We thought we had given her enough background, but after a super spiritual moment with this family (who has only had half of the very first lesson) our member decided to bear her testimony on why polygamy isn't a concern and baptisms for the dead. So ya. Huge bummer...kinda funny....but a bummer.

We also go to members homes to eat with them and help them with their missionary goals. It is so fun...I love the people in our ward. They are the greatest in the world! Last night we were talking to a 9 year old while her mom was in the other room. She was asking all about missions...what we wear, what we drive, who we teach...and then she says "Will you tell me how you know when you get a baby in you?"
I <3 Missions

Anyway... most of the time members are awesome. And my mission isn't the only one that needs people to come out with the missionaries and fellowship people who want to come to church! They all need the members to be missionaries! If any of you out there are interested in helping out the missionaries, read D&C 84: 106-110 and then call your ward mission leader! He probably has a plan that you can be a part of!

So ya, that was basically my week. Lot's of crazy stuff going on in the world, but don't worry we are super safe here in El Paso. I love the work out here! Every day is a blast with Hermana Thomson. She's the

best trainer. OH and she asked me to train her (like personal training) in the mornings. Lol she was actually serious! So thats what we do now. I work-out train her in the mornings and she does the missionary training for the rest of the day. It's pretty funny!

Thanks so much for the prayers, the letters, the are the best family ever. I'm always praying for you! I know there are a lot of changes going on in both the Warner Family and the Johnson Family....just know you are always in my prayers and I'm working hard for you! 



P.S. The pictures were taken the same day...we started out with my per-usual green smothie...and then at the end of a really discouraging day Hrn. Thomson broke me down and we got a pizza and soda to eat in the car. I haven't had a soda in FOREVER. HAHA my eyes were watering from the carbonation (zoom in lol) hahaha lol. good times.