Thursday, February 21, 2013


Hola everyone!  I can't believe it's the end of another transfer.  Transfer calls came on Saturday night, so the big news is out... Sister Jensen is being transferred to Utah. :( Sad day.  I will be staying in San Mateo for transfer #6, and my companion will be.... SISTER CAMARILLO!  Yes, my trainee is coming to join me in beautiful San Mateo.  I'm really excited.  :D
This week was a good week.  It's been a little crazy with transfers and 3 exchanges, but it's been really good.  I think I've said this before, but I'll say it again.  Being on a mission is great for the Spirit, but not super good for the body.  But it's the best and I wouldn't trade it.

We started teaching a brother from a part-member family on Monday.  We're so excited! He's always been friendly to the missionaries, but very avoidant, so we were really excited when he decided to join our family home evening lesson last Monday.  We're seeing him again tonight.  This is such a great family and I can feel that Heavenly Father has so many good things in store for them.  The brother is the owner of a restaurant, so the time commitment and being able to come to church is going to be really tough, but we have faith that things will work out.  His wife has an amazing testimony of the gospel, and we can already see how her example is shaping her family.

The other highlight of the week for me was the lesson we had with David last night.  I've written about David, a recent convert, several times because the experiences we have with him are always so spiritual and powerful.  We've only been able to meet with him one other time this transfer, so we were relieved to be able to have a lesson with him finally.  We met at the bishop's house again for a lesson on the Holy Ghost.  I was so happy to hear David talk about how his perspective is changing and how Heavenly Father is giving him experiences to help him draw closer to the Savior.  I see a lot of parallels between David's situation and the lessons I need to learn for myself.  I feel blessed to be able to know him and see the process of his conversion as I go through my own conversion.

This morning I took some time to set some personal goals for the next couple of transfers.  I feel blessed to have at least 5 more weeks, hopefully 11, here in San Mateo.  I feel like this area really has my heart.  I've learned so much here and grown in so many ways.  It's been an experience that has been unexpected, but exactly what I need.  I've at times felt discouraged here because the work is so different and the challenges are so unlike the challenges of other areas.  I'm really excited for what is to come, because I know it will be exactly what the Lord wants it to be.


Wowwwww!!!  I've been trying to remain calm as I've read your emails this week, since I'm in a public library, but I'm having a hard time containing my emotions.  I'm so excited for Sister Croft! That was a completely unexpected call, but I can also see how it is absolutely perfect for her.  My guess was an Asian mission, but not Thailand Bangkok.  And while I would have been able to accept the Lord's decision to send Sister Croft away before I got home from my mission, I am so happy that I'll have a month to spend with my hermanita before she goes off to serve the Lord.  Get ready for some intense companionship study, sister!
Happy Chinese New Year!  I had forgotten it was Chinese New Year until I went on exchanges with the Chinese Sisters.  We had plain white rice on Saturday night to celebrate, if that counts.
The reason we had plain white rice on Saturday night is because I came down with the Norovirus (Google it if you dare) over the weekend and couldn't eat real food.  I was on exchanges on Friday and started to feel really sick, then was sick all of Saturday.  It hit me really hard and really fast.  It's frustrating to be sick, because I wanted to go out and work, but I was advised by the nurse to be considerate and not spread germs around while I was still contagious.  This transfer Heavenly Father has definitely been teaching me the very hard lesson that I need to take care of myself before I take care of others.  I got a blessing on Saturday afternoon and by Sunday my fever was gone and I got the green light to go back to normal work.  Thank goodness!  The power of the priesthood is real. 
We had zone conference this week and it was so good.  I love zone conference because it's always so powerful to be in a group of missionaries.  It's so powerful to feel the spirit of the work and the spirit of the missionaries who are striving so hard to do the Lord's will.  We had a great training on finding that really opened up my perspective.  I need to focus more on the principles and promises that the Lord has given us to be able to search out those who are prepared for the gospel.  I realized that even if someone we find doesn't get baptized or doesn't turn into a long-term investigator, that doesn't mean they weren't a "prepared" person.  I was getting frustrated because I felt like we weren't finidng people who are "prepared."  In reality, many of the people we talk with every day really are prepared to accept the gospel, and the interactions and lessons we have with them are experiences that are also preparing them to receive the gospel, even if they don't choose to accept it right away.  It was a good faith-building reminder.
I had a good experience on an exchange this weekend.  Even though I was as sick as a dog, we taught a really great lesson to a less-active sister in a different area.  We started off talking about what she'd read in the Book of Mormon from Alma 32 about faith, and then started talking about the sacrament.  The sister I was with shared her testimony of the importance of attending church, and then the sister we were teaching asked me about how I feel about the sacrament.  I was able to share some experiences that are pretty personal for me, but that I felt would help her.  At the end she sort of taught herself that she needs to go to church, not just to attend, but to strengthen her relationship with the Savior.  As Derek has said in the past, missionary work is about being real with everyone we teach.  When we're real and sincere, the Spirit can testify.  The same thing goes for situations in "real life" off the mission.  When we're open and honest, the Spirit can be there to help us and to help others, whether they're less-active members, active members we home or visit teach, or someone who isn't a member of the church. Try it out!
Yesterday Sister Jensen and I saw a lady driving in front of us get a flat tire.  We followed her to the gas station and my awesome companion and I changed her tire for her.  She was shocked that we knew how.  She asked us where we learned how to change a flat and I sad, "my youth group at church" and Sister Jensen said, "Family Home Evening."  Awesome!  The gospel is true, and the programs of the church are inspired. :)
Well, I'm not sure what else to share from this week.  My companion is going home in just 9 days. :(  I'm super sad, but also excited for what is to come.  Our area is growing in so many ways, and I can feel the attitude of the ward continuing to change.  I think Sister Jensen has helped MY attitude toward the ward to change as well, definitely for the better.  There are good things ahead.
This week was really good.  It was pretty challenging because I felt like there were a lot of things on my plate and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to handle it.  Heavenly Father has of course given me a lot of opportunities to repent for my lack of faith and to once again remember that He is in charge and He will of course take care of everything as long as I'm trying.  President and Sister Meredith told me about a conversation they had one day.  Sister Meredith was feeling a little overwhelmed and she asked President, "Do I get points for trying?" He took her by the shoulders and said, "That's the ONLY thing you get points for!"  It's totally true--we'll never be perfect or be able to meet everyone's expectations, but we can meet the Lord's only expectation for us--that we do all that we can.  That's how He blesses us.

We're still teaching the Roblero family (Edgar and his daughters).  We had a great lesson this week on the Book of Mormon, and Edgar definitely has real intent and wants to know it's true.  They attended stake conference this week and it went well.  Evelyn and Stephanie's only complaint was that they wanted to go to Primary.  That's a great sign!

Several of you asked about the Super Bowl.  Man, the Super Bowl... it was astounding to see how many people were watching it last night.  We had a lot of people reject us at the door because they were busy watching the Super Bowl.  It was frustrating, for sure, but I kept trying to think about how their attitude will change once they get another chance to hear about the gospel.  I imagine some of them will be a little bashful down the road for having closed the door on us (especially because the Niners lost, haha).

So... I took a leaf out of Derek's book and injured myself again this week.  I feel really silly.  I dropped a curling iron on my calf (I know, it seems impossible... but it happened).  It got a huge blister and was super gross, but it'll heal just fine.  It's in the shape of a heart if you turn your head sideways!  Cool.

I'm so grateful to be on a mission.  This week has been a little exhausting.  I'm not sure why.  Last night as I was interrupting Super Bowl parties, I was hit by the importance of what we're sharing.  Even if people don't recognize it at first, the gospel is for them.  It's for me too.  I need to exercise my faith and repent every day.  I can't wait for Sunday so I can take the sacrament and feel the peace of the Holy Ghost as I think about the Atonement.  I'm so blessed to know that the gospel has been restored.  I'm blessed to have a wonderful companion that's working hard even though the end of her mission is near.  I'll be sad to see Hermana Jensen go home in 2 weeks, but I'm grateful for the wonderful example she's set for me.  Heavenly Father has blessed me so much!

bruises and miracles

This week has been full of AMAZING things.

I think the highlights definitely came over the weekend.  On Saturday after ending an exchange we met with our new investigators at the visitor's center.  It's a dad, Edgar, and his two girls, Estefani and Evelyn.  The bishop and his family came as well, which was perfect.  I don't know if they were paying attention the whole time, but Edgar and his two girls seemed to really feel happy.  They've had a lot of struggles in their lives.  The girls' mom passed away about three years ago and they have a little brother that still lives in Guatemala who hasn't been able to come to the U.S. yet.  I realized at the visitor's center that it's really the feelings of the Spirit that make the difference for people, not that they immediately have a perfect understanding of all the doctrines that make eternal families or repentance possible.  The Spirit was definitely there at the VC and we're so excited to keep teaching Edgar and his family.  The girls are 11 and 7.  They remind me of Chastity and Alaska Aviles when we first started teaching them!

Another miracle this week was that we had 5 people at church yesterday.  We had Laura and Jonathan, from Argentina, come to church.  They're so amazing.  We met them this week and they both accepted the invitation to be baptized at the end of the first lesson.  They're so faithful and so eager to have more happiness in their lives, and they really have the intention of finding what God wants for them.  We also had Edgar and his girls at church, which was great.  They loved Primary. :)

We were amazingly blessed to find a lot of new investigators this week--more than I've ever found in one week in this area.  Sister Jensen said it best--the Lord seems to just be dropping people into our laps.  We're so grateful for all of the many miracles we've seen this week, and we want to keep working hard for those miracles to continue.

The lowlight of the week... I sprained my ankle on Wednesday.  We went out in the morning to go for a run and I stepped off the curb wrong and sprained my ankle.  The pictures look more gruesome than it really is.  The bruising was really bad and it was swollen for a couple days.  I was on crutches for one day, but then my armpits were hurting more than my ankle, so I gimped around for a couple days.  The pain is totally gone now, and just the bruising is left. :)  I can jump around and walk all day on it, so I've experienced a miracle of healing. :D  Sister Jensen is a CNA so she took great care of me.  She takes great care of me every day, whether I'm injured or not, so I'm in good hands.

great week!

So, the first miracle of the week--we're teaching Liborio again!  And he has a baptismal date!  His work has calmed down a lot and he has a little more control over his schedule, so he'll be able to keep meeting with us.  We read from Alma 7 with him and I asked him what his thoughts were regarding the Savior and what He wanted him to do.  Liborio said, "Baptism is a promise we make when we're grateful for Christ and want to change our hearts and be like Him."  A great answer!  He's very sensitive to the Spirit and I know the Lord will help him to be able to prepare himself to keep his baptismal covenant.  It was a great experience to teach him again. I was on exchanges with a sister who doesn't speak Spanish, but when I had her teach a certain point, she came up with a scripture that was exactly what Liborio needed to resolve some of his doubts and accept a baptismal date.  It was a miracle and yet another example of how the language of the Spirit is really the only language that really matters.

We also had a powerful experience with Flor, the mother of Raul, a kid in our ward who was baptized just over a year ago.  She came to church 2 weeks ago with Raul and had a great experience.  Last week I felt impressed to take her a copy of the DVD "To This End Was I Born" (the long version of THe Lamb of God).  Last night we watched the DVD with her and asked her how she felt.  She said she couldn't explain it, but that she knew there was a lot she needed to learn.  In her prayer at the end of the lesson she told Heavenly Father she was going to put as much as she could on her part so He could help her.  She is a great person and has amazing faith, and is the key to helping her family accept the gospel.  We're so excited to be able to be teaching her!

We also had a cool experience in giving service this week.  We were driving and saw a stalled truck in the middle of the road underneath a busy bridge.  Sister Jensen noticed that there was a Hispanic lady sitting alone in the car with a little boy.  We parked our car at the mall nearby and ran over to go see if we could help.  They'd run out of gas and the battery was dead, and her husband had left to go find a gas station.  People were all staring at her from their cars but nobody was helping her!  Sister Jensen and I told her to put the truck in neutral and we started pushing from the back.  We were totally moving forward but then she put on the brake and told us she didn't think we'd make it.  We lost our momentum and realized we needed help.  A cop came to flash his lights behind her but couldn't push the truck or give it a jump.  Hna Jensen was a champ and called some elders in the area to come help out.  Between the Tongan Elders and us, we pushed the truck around the block and to a parking lot like it was a Matchbox car. :)  The lady was so happy and gave us a huge hug at the end.  Haha, it was funny, she said, "I was praying to God that someone would help, and then you showed up!  Now I can give the money I was going to use for the towtruck to my church!"  It was a moment where once again, it was just right to simply serve her, and not force our message on her.  We invited her to look up and find a chapel in her area, and she said she was on her way to her church that night, but would tell people there how nice we were and what good Christians we are. :) Not a bad result!

I love you all so much and I'm so grateful for all of your support.  I love thinking about all of the wonderful things you're doing.  So much has changed in all of your lives since I've been on my mission, and it's all so good!  I'm so proud of all of you. :)  I know that this gospel is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  The blessings of the gospel I see in each of you are a testimony to me that the plan of God is a plan of happiness.  I love this gospel and I feel so blessed to share it with so many people each day.  I love you!  Have a good week!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The power of the Spirit!

Hi everyone!  I've been excited to write to you all week because there were so many great things that happened this week.  We saw so many miracles and I learned so much about following the Holy Ghost.
Last week after zone leader council Hermana Jensen and I were invited to give the training for our monthly zone meeting, which is usually given by the zone leaders.  We were given the topic of the power of the Holy Ghost in conversion.  It was an amazing opportunity, and I feel like I learned so much about the importance of the Holy Ghost as we prepared for and gave the training.  As we were preparing we felt like we kept hitting walls as we tried to organize the way we'd teach the doctrine and set up the role-plays.  Eventually, as we sat in our apartment a little frustrated because nothing was coming together, we decided to just role play the whole thing as if we were giving the training.  It was amazing to see that once we opened our mouths and started teaching each other, we knew exactly what to say and the Spirit guided us in preparing the training.  We decided that we should apply that to the actual role play and focus more on having a spiritual and faith-building experience with the missionaries rather than focusing just on practicing teaching skills.  We gave the training at zone meeting on Tuesday and we both felt like it went well.  Having to prepare the practice also taught us a lot of things that we needed to learn personally to be able to have some of the amazing experiences we had this week.
On Wednesday night we taught Nancy again.  It was such a powerful lesson!  We felt prepared to teach by the Spirit and to help her understand the role of the Spirit.  At the end of the lesson, she prayed sincerely to know if what we're teaching her is true.  In her prayer, she said, "I know what they're teaching is true, but I want to feel it."  Wow!  At the end of the prayer we all were so excited, including her, because we could feel the Spirit starting to give her answers.  She's so great!  She has a sincere heart and real intent.
On Friday we had the chance to go to a meeting for new leaders that's held every transfer.  Even though the meeting is usually for district leaders, we got to go as well.  It was interesting because most of the meeting focused on preparing the new district leaders to be prepared to give baptismal interviews.  We got to role play with the elders on helping investigators through issues with one of the baptismal interview questions. At first I felt a little weird role-playing something that's not directly part of my responsibilities as a missionary, but it ended up being a great experience.  As Elder Croft expressed several times, a baptismal interview is a wonderful teaching experience.  I felt that being able to do that practice helped me understand the role of repentance and the importance of showing love in helping people prepare to be members of the Lord's Church.
Sunday was a great day!  We were a little discouraged during our morning meetings because all of our investigators had told us they wouldn't be making it to church.  However, as I looked down from my spot at the piano after the opening prayer in sacrament meeting, I saw that literally 75% of the less-active members in our area were in the chapel!  It was astounding.  Some of these people have never been to church the entire time I've been in the area, and they came this week.  A miracle!
Yet ANOTHER miracle Sunday night was our lesson with David, the recent convert that I've written about several times.  We had a lesson with him in the bishop's home with the YSA representatives of the ward.  We taught about the baptismal covenant and it was an amazing lesson.  Sometimes when we teach it feels like there's a lot of separation of roles--that we're the missionaries, the members are the members, and the person being taught is kind of sitting there in the middle.  This lesson went totally differently, and the difference was made by the Spirit.  In this lesson, it felt so much better, and rather than feeling that separation of roles, I felt that we're all brothers and sisters trying to learn and apply the same truths to our lives as we're taught by the Spirit of the Lord.  Everyone was sincerely invested in feeling the Spirit and learning something, and it was so powerful that Sister Jensen and I were both fighting back tears.  At the end of the lesson everyone was in agreement that the lesson was just for them, including David.  We left the house with David sitting at the bishop's dining room table eating cookies and hot chocolate with everyone like he'd never been away from the church a day in his life.  It was such a happy sight. :)
I feel so blessed to be here and to be able to learn so much about our Heavenly Father's plan for us.  This plan is real, and I see His hand helping His children through that plan every day.  The Spirit of the Lord is working miracles daily.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

This week was great.  I think the highlights came from two new investigators we were able to find.  Both of them let us in after we started talking to them at the door.  The first sister's name is Nancy.  She let us in and seemed really skeptical at first.  She'd met with missionaries before and had somehow gotten the picture that we worship prophets instead of Jesus Christ.  It was cool to see the Spirit teach her as we testified of the Savior and of the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith.  I'm amazed at the faith that people show as they feel the Spirit and we invite them to seek and receive their own answers.  We went back for a second appointment with Nancy and read from the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 11 with her.  She had invited a friend to come over as well, and as we read, I could feel the Spirit bearing testimony of the Savior and of the importance of baptism.  I could tell that the Spirit had opened Nancy's heart and produced a change in her desires.  She told us she would ask God if the things we shared are true.  She had such an attitude of willingness by the end of the lesson, and her friend also accepted her own copy of the Book of Mormon!
A second investigator we found is named Judith.  She literally has no knowledge of the gospel.  She believes in God but doesn't really know how to worship him.  As we taught her the message of the restoration she started opening up to us about a lot of difficult things in her life.  I was blown away by the faith that this sister has, even with no background of knowing anything about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She has such trust in God and in His will, and that faith has carried her through experiences I can't even imagine having.  Her heart is truly "prepared ground" ready to receive the gospel.  We're going back to teach her tonight--we're so excited!
This week has been full of really spiritual lessons and also a few lessons that were just really frustrating.  A couple times we walked out of lessons feeling really discouraged because we couldn't feel the Spirit.  It's never good to feel that way, but it's also an opportunity to find out what we need to change.  Even in a lesson where someone decides to not accept the gospel, if we're teaching by the Spirit, we can walk out feeling fulfilled and satisfied.  I feel like I have a lot of growing to do and a lot of charity and faith to develop.  I want to be able to walk out of every lesson knowing that I fulfilled my purpose, and not feeling like I was trying to just convince someone to accept.
We also had zone leader council this week, and as a council we set the baptismal goal for the mission for 2013.  Just like last month, it was a powerful experience to realize the importance of each missionary in bringing to pass the work of the Lord.  I feel so blessed to be in a place where I'm able to experience the power of the Lord's hand in bringing about the salvation of His children in such a direct way.
Other news to report--transfer calls!  Sister Jensen and I will be staying together in San Mateo for her last transfer.  I'm sending yet another companion home!  It will be a great transfer and I'm grateful to have 6 more weeks to be with Hermana Jensen.  She's great and I learn a lot from her every day.