Sunday, January 1, 2012

Study, Service project, Interviews, Ants in the Iron (Dec 19)

From Jessica's December 19 letter:

"This week was a little different. We spent a lot of our mornings doing a big service project, so we didn't get our normal study time. I've missed it! It's so great to be able to sit down and study the scriptures for a solid 3 hours every morning. That may sound sarcastic, but it's not! My love of the scriptures is growing daily, especially as I see how they apply to the lives and problems of every person we encounter. Anyway, our service project this week was a project done through Richmond Child and Family Services. Every year they collect donated toys for families who have little or no income, so their kids can have gifts for Christmas. We got papers describing the childrens' ages and clothing sizes, and then we got to "shop" among the donated gifts to pick out a Christmas package for them. It was really fun, and I got my shopping fix for the year, and I didn't even spend money! We did that project for 3 days in a row--Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday--as a zone.

"On Friday we had interviews with President Wade. Everyone gets nervous about interviews with the President, because it is kind of intimidating, but I always enjoy talking to him. He looked at my scriptures and my planner because, as he says, you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their scriptures and their planner. My Spanish scriptures are still fairly new, so there's not much of a story there, but it was good to have a reminder to use the scriptures as often as possible. :)

"Investigators who get the highlight of the week: [A family with a mom and her kids]! They're so wonderful. We found the uncle of this family my first week here. We were in the library writing letters to our mission president. We were a day late writing our letters because we had new missionary training in Oakland the day before. But I know that we truly were supposed to be there on that day, because he came up to us and said, "I'm a brother, I'm a brother!" He was baptized about a year ago and is now part of our ward. The other day we were thinking about him and we decided to go visit him. He's living with his sister, who just had a baby boy, and her two daughters. The mother and the two daughters are so prepared, and we're so grateful that we found them when we went to visit their uncle. The daughters are 12 and 8. They came to our ward Christmas party, and it was wonderful to see the ward attend to them with so much friendliness and kindness. Actually, the newborn baby boy (just 16 days old! He was born on December 1st :D ) got to play baby Jesus in the nativity presentation! He was perfect--no crying or wiggling at all. That was a blessing because it helped his mom feel welcome in the ward. They all came to church on Sunday, and they loved it. We also had a lesson with them on Sunday night, and it went really well. The mom understands the apostasy really well, which is something that is really rare. Their hearts are prepared, and they have a real desire to know the truth and to act in faith. We did invite them to be baptized, and they said they will prepare to be baptized, but they didn't accept a baptismal date. We're very excited for them! The Lord really has prepared a lot of people to receive the gospel!

"Another story... We had a lesson with [a brother] last week, and it was amazing. We taught the message of the restoration, and at the end of the lesson, he opened his heart up and told us about some very difficult struggles his family has been through. It was another testimony to me that the Spirit's influence is powerful in helping people open their hearts to the truth. People have shared so many things with me, and I feel blessed to hear their stories and be trusted with the difficult things that are happening in their lives. It's a blessing to be able to see that people do have a willingness to change, and that their honesty and openness with us is a sign that the Spirit is working in them. The fact that they trust us so much--a couple of random gringas that knocked on their door--really tells me that it's the Spirit that influences people to recognize us as representatives of Jesus Christ. It's amazing. It's so easy to love these people. I know that's a gift of the Spirit too--something that I've talked about before. It's astounding to be able to feel so close to people so quickly, and I know that comes from the sacred calling we've been given to represent the Savior and help them feel the love that their Heavenly Father has for them.

Funny story of the week--we found ants in our iron! In our IRON! Crazy. In the Christmas package I sent (I hope you got it!) there's an envelope on top with pictures. Don't open anything but the envelope! The stuff in the box isn't wrapped! P.S., I got the Christmas package you sent me, Mom, and I'm so excited! We have it all set out under our Charlie Brown Christmas tree. :)

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