Tuesday, January 10, 2012

People Prepared, Finding Experiences, New Years Eve

January 2nd Letter

First off, we went to the Visitor's Center with our little family on Thursday. I love [that] family! They are so incredibly prepared. It amazes me. At the Visitor's Center, we had them watch the Christus presentation, then a display called God's Plan for His Family. It basically follows a family through the course of the growing up years of their oldest daughter. Hey, that's me! I won't lie, I cried through the whole thing, because I'm just so happy that I'm part of a family that will be together for eternity. AND because [they are] taking the steps to work toward that goal too! There's nothing better than seeing people come to realize that God does have a plan for them. [The mother] said, "Everything is so clear to me" at the end of the presentation. She has amazing faith and an amazing ability to be taught by the Spirit. She's even really excited about doing genealogy so her ancestors can be baptized too!

This week has also been a week of miracles in finding. We have very few people we're teaching right now, but over the weekend we contacted TONS of people. We have a gigantic pool of potential investigators, and 5 appointments tonight alone! We've been very blessed. We had a miracle with [another] guy.... We knocked on his door trying to find a cousin of a sister who lives in our ward who said she might be interested in hearing the gospel. We knocked looking for a Hispanic woman..., but the person who answered the door was a tall black man.... We started teaching him anyway, even though we had the wrong house, and we asked him what it would mean to him to know that there is a prophet on the earth today. He said, "Who is he and how can I meet him?" He said that he had asked God a question and he knew that God sent us to knock on his door. Wow! We won't be the ones who teach him, since he speaks English, but hopefully his heart will be open to listening to the Elders.

We also had a neat finding experience with our next door neighbor. She called us on Friday night and asked if our church does special prayers or blessings for people in need. Someone close to her took advantage of her and betrayed her, and she felt desperate for help. We had the senior missionaries come over so she could receive a priesthood blessing. We talked to her about the atonement and the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the way we can become clean from sins and healed from our injuries through faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. She said, "I really need that in my life." She said she felt better after receiving a blessing, and she allowed us to give her information to the English Elders. It was really a neat experience to see someone exercise such faith and humility, and to turn to God for relief.

On Saturday we had our New Year's Eve zone party. WE GOT TO WEAR JEANS! Wow, what an experience. And even better, I got to wear my SPERRYS! :D I've missed them. We also watched Cars 2 (so funny!) and Kung Fu Panda 2. And we ate lots of candy. It was fun! It's weird though, to see how not dressing in proselyting clothes changes your demeanor and attitude. I'm glad we wear proselyting clothes all the time! It's easier to feel like a representative of Jesus Christ when you're "dressed up," just like on Sundays it's easier to be reverent when you stay in your Sunday clothes after church.

Sunday was one of the best days here in the mission. Sunday morning, there was another hour-long panic session when the people who were going to give rides to the ... family either didn't pick up their phones or got lost on their way to their house. We were praying so hard that things would work out, because it's so so SO important that they attend church! Finally, at the last minute, I decided to try calling their ride one more time. I woke her up--turns out her alarm didn't go off and she didn't hear her phone the other times we called her. But thankfully, she was able to come and pick them up, and we made it to church just after the opening prayer. I felt such relief as the Sacrament started and our investigators were there to hear the prayers and see the sacrament be passed to the congregation. We were definitely blessed to have them be able to be at church on Sunday. During Sunday School, [the sister] made the best comment about repentance I've ever heard. She basically taught the doctrine of repentance in just a few sentences--that Christ suffered for our sins and he can cleanse us from sin, but that we still have the responsibility to ask for forgiveness and abandon our sins, and not make the same mistakes over and over again. So great! She's amazing.

On Sunday night we had the blessing of being able to ride with one of the Elders' investigators to her baptism. ... she's from Honduras. We got to ride with her and her family to Oakland, where she was baptized in the building right next to the temple. It was such a blessing to be there and to see her make that important step. I was impressed by the simplicity of the ordinance of baptism. It's so simple and only lasts a few seconds, but the Spirit testifies so powerfully when one of God's children takes that all-important step of entering the waters of baptism and making a covenant with Heavenly Father. It was humbling to watch Elder Pettit, our district leader, bow his head and say the words of the baptismal prayer in Spanish, and then to see everyone's smiles as [she] came up out of the water. The Spirit was very powerful. While [she] was changing her clothes, Hermana Osborn and I had the chance to teach the people who came to the baptism the Doctrine of Christ and the Restoration. As we were finishing, [she] came out of the dressing room, raised her hands in the air, and said, "Thank you for coming. I'M HAPPY!" So great, so great. :D And even better--the [family we're teaching] was there to see the baptism and feel the Spirit that was there, and that will be there at their baptism on January 15th! Just two weeks away! I'm so excited for them!

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