So... I have lots of news this week. I got transfered! I don't know if I'm happy or sad. I love Richmond so much and I love Hermana Camarillo too. I don't want to leave the area or my companion. BUT, I am also really excited for what's coming next. I'm going to *SAN FRANCISCO!* Like the city itself! So crazy. I was kind of thinking I'd get transferred, but I didn't think I'd be going there. It will definitely be a very different experience than I've had here in Richmond. My new companion's name is Sister Perez. I don't know her at all, just that she's from LA and has been out one transfer less than me. So that makes me the senior companion and the driver again. Hopefully I'll be ok driving in San Francisco! This transfer change comes at an interesting time for me. It was difficult to say goodbye to the ward on Sunday. There are so many people here that have become so important to me over the past 5 months or so. The members here are amazing and I'm sure there's no other ward like them out there. They have such a strong desire to share the gospel and help with missionary efforts. Their testimonies are so strong and they try so hard to strengthen each other. Almost the entire ward is composed of converts, many of them having been baptized within the past 5 years. They're wonderful and I've learned so much from them. The hardest goodbye was with Jonathan and Brian, the two little boys that got baptized. I was surprised at how hard it was to say goodbye to them. I hope they and their mom stay strong in the church. I love them so much! I haven't said goodbye to the Aviles yet, or to any of our investigators. I know that will be hard too, but it's all part of the experience. So one of our investigators is getting baptized next week! I'll be able to go to the baptism even though I'm getting transferred. He'll be baptized on May 6th. I've loved this short experience with [J] because I've been able to see the power of repentance. When somebody really wants to change, they can, no matter how many walls they've put up in the past. Our Heavenly Father knows us and loves us enough to let us make choices, and he pours out the blessings when we choose what's right. When I extended the baptismal date to [J] and he accepted, the Spirit was incredibly strong. I had been nervous about extending a date that was so close, but I felt like I should, and Hna Camarillo agreed. The Spirit confirmed that that was the right date as soon as we began testifying to him of the power of covenants--both the ones that he'll make on May 6th and the ones he will make in the temple with his wife and children one year from that date. [Jo], the other investigator I wrote about last week, is also doing really well. He's reading the Book of Mormon like crazy. When we asked him how he felt about the Book of Mormon, he said, "Well, I can see that the Book of Mormon and the Bible both teach us the same things about faith and repentance, and baptism." I LOVE moments in which our investigators teach US the principles of the gospel. He understands! That kind of clear understanding only comes through the Spirit. [Jo] is incredibly prepared and has a wonderful ability to understand the principles of the gospel through the scriptures. It's powerful to see him changing as he learns. His barrier is that his family is strongly involved in a Christian church and don't agree with him meeting with us. We actually talked to his dad this week. He kept trying to fight Sister Camarillo, but she did a great job and testified of the truth. He walked away and stopped trying to fight us. [Jo] is going to face a lot of opposition from his family, which is something I can't relate to. I'm praying so hard for this boy. He has so much potential and his faith is growing so quickly. I hope he'll be able to rely on the Atonement and the faith that he's gained to be able to make the decision that is right for him. It's so hard to leave [Jo] behind! Every time we talk to him I can just feel how special he is to his Heavenly Father. I would love to keep teaching him. But hopefully I will get to see him at his baptism someday. Other things from this week: I found a white hair on my head this week! A WHITE HAIR. That's not okay. But if I start getting grey hairs maybe people will believe me when I tell them that I'm not 16. :P Also, we did an awesome service project with Mormon Helping Hands. We got to build trellises for beans to grow on. My companion used a drill for the first time in her life! I was so proud! We also did a lady's lawn. It was crazy. The grass was literally 2 feet tall. So much fun! We We love doing yard work because it makes us feel "normal" for an hour at a time.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
In short, this week was absolutely a week of miracles. For the entire transfer we've been struggling to find people to teach. We've been struggling just to teach lessons, never mind to help people progress. Somehow this week was entirely different. We taught more lessons this week than we did in the past two weeks combined. We had an incredible amount of teaching opportunities this week. We were looking over our week last night and it was like we couldn't even calculate how it was possible that we were able to do so much teaching. And then we had three investigators come to sacrament meeting! It was absolutely incredible, and we know that it wasn't us that did it. We've been working hard, of course, to be obedient and do everything we can, but the magnitude of the blessings we received this week can't be explained by anything we did. The Lord is so merciful and does so much for us. It's true that we don't have to be perfect or "the best" at whatever we're doing in order to be worthy of the Lord's help. In fact, the Atonement, repentance, and the gospel of Jesus Christ are for all of us. All of us are weak, and all of us are in need of divine help. And all of us can receive divine help and reach our potential if we live worthily and have faith that He can help us. This week we started teaching a guy named [J]. His wife is a member of the church, and almost ALL of the women in his wife's family are active members of the church. He's met with the missionaries several times before, and was preparing for baptism, but more than once, something happened and he didn't end up getting baptized. Something has totally changed though and he told us he's ready to make the change. He said that he wants to feel what his wife feels about the gospel. He has the "desire to believe" (Alma 32) and we're so excited. We'll be setting a baptismal date with him tonight, and hopefully he'll be able to be baptized fairly soon! We also had a young guy named [J] come to church this week! He's 18 and he's so awesome. He's been reading out of the Book of Mormon, and when we went by his house to have him follow us to the chapel on Sunday, he was in a dress shirt and slacks and he had his Book of Mormon all ready to go! He went to young men's and introduced himself, met tons of people in sacrament meeting, and stayed for all three hours of church! We were so excited. He hasn't accepted a baptismal date yet, but he's progressing really well and is committed to doing the work required to understand what God wants him to do. So great! Funny story of the week... we taught a lesson in the company of a rooster this week! We met a little girl (4 years old) whose rooster ran away, so the member that came with us decided to give her a NEW rooster! She brought the rooster to the lesson, and then we spent a good 10 minutes trying to catch the rooster, put it under a crate, clean rooster poop off the floor, etc. What great fellowshipping! The little girl was more than delighted, and don't worry, the lesson got taught and we were able to go back for another appointment later in the week
Monday, April 16, 2012
This week was pretty good! We had an investigator,[L], accept a baptismal date. She doesn't have a lot of background knowledge about the gospel or scriptures, so we'll have to move really slowly with her, but she has real intent and understands the importance of baptism. She's very humble and very sincere, and she's always willing to listen and learn. She has a baptismal date for May 12, so hopefully everything goes well! This week has brought a lot of interesting experiences with teaching. There's a part-member family that we've started teaching recently and we saw them yesterday. Their daughter was baptized when she was 8 years old, but she hasn't been to church since because her family are not members and they didn't make it a priority to help her stay in the church. They're really complacent and have been "waiting" for like 10 years to receive a sign that God wants them to change. I think I've mentioned them before... anyway, as we were teaching yesterday the beginning of the lesson was kind of...bleh. The Spirit just wasn't there and they weren't listening. There were so many distractions and they didn't seem to care we were there. But it's amazing how powerful testimony can be in bringing the Spirit. I asked our member to bear her testimony about the blessings of prayer. You could feel the Spirit start to come in, and people started paying attention. We read some scriptures about prayer and repentance, and then we invited the family to begin coming back to church again. By the end of the lesson, the Spirit was definitely present and you could tell something had changed. It made me think about how we invite the Spirit into our own lives in general. We really do have to get rid of the distractions and focus ourselves. Hearing testimonies, bearing testimony, reading the scriptures, and committing to make changes are all things that allow us to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. And that's so important! When we're lead by the Spirit and we feel the Holy Ghost in our lives, things are just so. much. better. We're happier and we have more of a desire to follow the Savior. I've been doing lots of thinking about maintaining conversion in the church. So many people become inactive or complacent after they've been baptized, and they end up falling away in so many different aspects as they stop keeping the commandments. And it's not that they're breaking giant commandments like murder or blasphemy or anything... it's more that they don't build the testimony they begin to gain when they prepare for baptism by reading the scriptures, praying, and going to church. If our testimony isn't constantly growing and becoming deeper and stronger, then we're not really fulfilling our purpose in this life, which is to repent and become like our Heavenly Father. It's so important to be constantly pushing ourselves! Our Heavenly Father loves us so much! I've had so many moments this week where I've just been overpowered by the love that He has for us, and the many ways in which He's so merciful with our mistakes and shortcomings. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of love! God loves us enough to let us make our own decisions, and then He blesses us more than we deserve when we show our love to Him through obedience and sacrifice.
Monday, April 9, 2012
This week was pretty good. We're still kind of in a rut, but this morning we had a great companionship study and we found a lot of things that we can improve upon and change to be able to reach our goals. Like Derek said, sometimes we fall into selfish patterns that don't really help us accomplish our purpose as missionaries. Even though we all make sacrifices for the Lord, as missionaries and just as members of the church in general, we've got to remember that we're doing HIS work, and this is an opportunity we've been given. Our own experience--good or bad--should never be the focus. If we're not having success, then there are things we can focus on changing in order to bring our will in line with the Lord's, rather than just beating ourselves up and getting depressed and distracted. Derek's right--blaming ourselves can turn into a form of selfishness! We should try and think outside of ourselves and focus on doing the will of the Lord, not on how bad/awesome/hardworking/stupid/whatever we are. When we're focused on truly doing what the Lord wants, and in the way in which He wants it done, other things naturally follow and our hard work brings forth fruit and we feel of His approval. This week we had exchanges, which is always a good experience. I got to go to the Other Side (of the bay)! It was my first experience outside of the Richmond/Concord area and it was really interesting. It's so strange to me that our mission is so tiny geographically, but culturally it covers nations. I was in San Mateo for a day with Sister Wakefield, Sister Osborn's companion. I always learn a lot from Sister Wakefield. She's a missionary that's dedicated and focused. I learned a lot from her on this exchange about being bold and not worrying so much about what I'm doing "wrong." We all have weaknesses and things that we need to improve, but that should never distract us or keep us from accomplishing our purpose as missionaries. We talked a lot about the power and authority of a missionary's calling. We have been called and set apart for this work. The Lord is on our side, and if we're diligent and obedient, we really can't go wrong! Sometimes success doesn't come in the forms we want it to, but we can always feel satisfied if we've truly done all that we can. That's something I struggle with--and I think our whole family does really, haha--but it's true that really trusting in the Savior means trusting that He will help us overcome our weaknesses and imperfections. That's why we have the Atonement! Of course we need to do all we can, but then we need to depend on Him to really utilize and appreciate His sacrifice. We had to drop one of our investigators that we've been teaching for about 8 weeks. This breaks my heart because I know he knows that the Book of Mormon is true and that everything we've shared with him comes from God. He has very deep Catholic roots and he's just not ready to change. There are some things that he just doesn't want to give up. We've been running around in the same crazy circle with him for a while now and it's time to let go. He's not coming to church and he's not allowing himself to grow beyond the point he's reached. This man will be baptized someday! I feel like I can literally see the day when he'll enter the waters of baptism. I feel a really special love for [E] and his wife. I feel like I've known them my whole life and I know we are the missionaries who were supposed to start teaching them. [E] might not be baptized now, but he'll be baptized when he's ready. In other news, [J] and [B] received the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday! They showed up late to sacrament meeting, and then the bishopric forgot completely that they were supposed to be confirmed (sometimes telling people 2 weeks, then 1 week, and then 1 day, and then 1 hour in advance just isn't enough, hahaha :P ), so they were confirmed in the bishop's office afterward. The things that happen on a mission are so interesting! This morning I was thinking about my mission and I thought about how REAL this all is. There's nothing more important than sharing the gospel, whether we're full-time missionaries or not. Sharing the gospel is always a refining experience. It shows us our weaknesses and our fears, and it makes us turn to the Lord! That's what this whole existence, and the missionary experience within that existence, is about--a time to repent and serve God. What a gift! The plan of salvation is real. We have a Heavenly Father, and He loves us! That's why we have everything--the Savior, the scriptures, our families, this earth--because He loves us and has prepared great blessings for us.