Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Una semana mas


This was one of the most difficult weeks of my mission.  Like, really.
 Whew.  It's sometimes hard to work a lot and then not see the results of
your labors.  This week was very humbling because there are a lot of things
I realized I need to change about myself and how I've been doing the Lord's
work this transfer.  When I first got to this area, I was super nervous
because I was the new missionary, and even though I was the senior
companion, I felt like I couldn't take the lead because I didn't know the
members or the area.  This week we went on exchanges and I had to repent of
that hesitancy, because I realized that the things I had been trained to do
when I first got here are not the things I've been doing in my new area.  I
let self-doubt get in the way of what I knew to be the Lord's way of doing
His work, so I didn't speak up when I saw things that were not being done
right.  My companion, Sis. Perez, is a truly excellent missionary with an
incredible amount of will and dedication to her calling.  However, there
were some things that have been part of the "tradition" of the area that
aren't exactly correct, and she was trained in that environment.  Together,
we're working hard this week to change that and to work in the Lord's way.
 It was humbling to admit that I hadn't been speaking up to correct things,
but now I have a testimony of the importance of not being ashamed, ever, of
what's right.  In this case, it wasn't anything major, but it still
influences the success of the area.  And the same principle can be applied
to the commandments.  We shouldn't ever change what we know is right to fit
the culture that exists around us.  The Lord is plain in telling us what we
need to do, and we should be plain in defending and acting on what we know
is right!  And when we don't do what we know is right, the amazing gift of
the Atonement is there so we can make the choice to repent and change.

I have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It's so simple, but it's
the most beautiful thing there is.  Like it says in 1 Nefi 15:14, the
gospel tells us how we can come unto Jesus Christ and be saved.  The plain
and precious truths of the gospel really have been restored in this day and
age so that we know EXACTLY what we need to do to come unto Christ.  The
world will tell us that we don't have to do anything to be saved--just say
we want to and then we're saved--or that there is no such thing as
salvation, or worse, that there's no such thing as sin.  But the truth is
that if we have faith in Jesus Christ, truly and sincerely repent of our
sins, are baptized by the priesthood authority, receive the gift of the
Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and continue in obedience and
fidelity to our covenants, we will receive eternal life.  There is nothing
more beautiful than the truth that the power of the priesthood has been
restored so we can progress through this gospel and be perfected through
the Savior.  It truly is "good news!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

tracting, covenants

Hi everyone!  Wow, it seems like it was 100 years ago that I talked to you
on the phone.  At the same time, the Christmas phone call seems like it was
just yesterday.  I don't know what to think anymore. 

This week was really interesting.  Poor [G] and [L] didn't come to
church this week.  She's so scared of the consequences of her family's
sentiments against the church.  We lost contact with her for over a week,
but last night we went by her house and she was there!  She told us that
she's been reading from the Book of Mormon every morning and every night,
and that every time she opens it and reads a scripture, she feels like it's
just for her.  It was a relief to hear her experiences with the Book of
Mormon and to know that she's still having spiritual experiences.
Hopefully she'll be able to put those experiences in action and continue to
come to church even though at this point she doesn't have permission from
her husband to be baptized.

Another miracle--[J] Carlos.  I have high hopes for him.  We contacted him
once two weeks ago, but then lost contact again and planned to just write
his name down for other missionaries to try again.  This week, however, we
decided to go tract on his street, and as we turned the corner, we saw him
sitting there on his porch.  We taught him a lesson right there on the
sidewalk.  He went to a baptism once in Mexico, over 10 years ago, but he
still remembers that the Spirit there was so strong that he started
crying.  He has the desire to seek after that Spirit again.  He's going to
face a lot of opposition from his wife, but we hope she, like [G]'s
husband, can soften her heart.

This week has been a tough one with finding.  Tracting here is a little
different... lots of doors slammed, lots of hurtful comments.  But also
lots of good experiences!  We met a Filipino lady who said that when she
reads the scriptures, she feels filled.  She said that she knows God has
more for her than what she gets at her church, so she studies the
scriptures to receive her own revelation.  She's definitely very prepared.
We told her about the Book of Mormon and she was open to it.  Hopefully the
Filipino elders can have success with her.  She was a tender mercy in my
day--a reminder that there are people who are literally being prepared by
the hand of God to receive the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This week I've been thinking about covenants.  As I took the sacrament this
week, I was blown away by how amazing it is that everyone who is partaking
of the sacrament is fortifying a personal relationship with their Heavenly
Father.  He knows our thoughts, our desires, and our sins, and that moment
when we renew our covenants with Him is so sacred.  I'm about to finish the
Book of Mormon again, and this morning I read Moroni 1-6 and I was really
touched by how sacred the baptismal covenant is, and how merciful Heavenly
Father is in His plan for our lives.

Hi fambly

Hi everyone!  It was good to talk to you!  Also it was a little weird.  But
so good!  It was good to hear your voices.  And Elder Croft--wow!  Haha, I
wasn't expecting that at all.  That kind of freaked me out haha.

Thank you for being such an amazing family.  I am so blessed to have a
family that is faithful in the church and is living the gospel.  Please
keep doing what you're doing.  Every day I become more and more grateful
for everything that I've been blessed with in my family.  The fact that the
gospel has always been the center of our home is something that is such a
huge blessing, and it's a blessing that many people don't have.  Please
always stay faithful to your covenants and keep moving forward!

This week was interesting.  We had some disappointments, but it's helping
me learn to trust in the Lord's plan.  This week [G] and [L], two
of our investigators with a baptismal date for May 27th, decided to not
come to church.  They're facing some pretty strong opposition from
[G] husband ([L]'s dad).  He's totally against what they're
learning and doing as they read the Book of Mormon and go to church.  He
told her not to listen to us because we're out to destroy families.  He
told her "They're trying to break up families.  That's why they abandoned
their families!"  When she told us that it was hard to not get angry at
him, but I know that if we don't try our hardest to have charity for him,
we'll never be able to help him feel the spirit that his wife and daughter
have felt.  We're praying hard that his heart will be softened and that
Graciela and Lupita will have the courage to be able to choose what they
know the Spirit has told them to choose.

Our teaching pool is pretty small right now, so we're spending a lot of
energy trying to work with members and contact new people.  If the mission
is a refiner's fire, then tracting is the "slow-cooker" stage of that
refiner's fire.  It's definitely challenging to develop patience, but it's
one of the attributes that I most need to work on, so it's good.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Crazy week!

Here I am in San Francisco!  More like Daly City, but still San Fran!  I'm
really sorry that this letter will be super short and I probably won't be
able to reply to everyone's emails because I'm on a 15-minute limited
computer.  I don't have a library card yet, so I'll have to be short.

My companion is Sis Perez and she's great!  She's originally from Mexico
but came to the mission from Los Angeles.  She's super sweet, knows the
area really well, and is really sensitive to the Spirit.  I can already
tell I'm going to learn a lot from her.

This city reminds me a lot of Taiwan, except it's freezing cold.  Like
REALLY cold.  But it's great and there are lots of people everywhere.  It's
really shocking to see how MANY people there are in such a small area.  And
they all need the gospel!   Driving here is definitely a challenge, but I
haven't crashed into anything yet. 

We have two amazing investigators right now who are preparing for baptism
on the 27th.  Their names are [G]and [L].  THey're so special and
learn completely by the Spirit.  [L] is slightly mentally disabled, so
sometimes it's hard for her to remember everything we teach, but she feels
the Spirit really strongly and has a strong desire to be baptized.  They're
truly a miracle, and very prepared.

I'm assuming that my Richmond investigator, [J], got baptized this
Sunday.  I wasn't able to go!        The baptism had to be scheduled
at 3:30pm and I couldn't go because our sacrament meeting here in SF starts
at 3:00.    I was super super sad, but I'm sure everything went well and
he got baptized.  It's hard to transition away from my old area because
another of our investigators that we taught a lot accepted a baptismal date for the 27th!  I almost cried when I got the news.  He is so, so, SO special and I can just see him serving a mission. I won't be able to go to his baptism either because of the baptism we have here.  My heart is living in little pieces all over the world--part in Utah, part in Washington DC, part in Richmond, part in SFO, etc.  It's a weird feeling.  BUT, it's good because it's evidence to me that we really are brothers and sisters.  Being a missionary is so unique because we get to experience love for God's children in a way that isn't possible outside of a mission.  Like Derek said, when we serve others, they win a piece of our hearts.  This is the work of the Lord!

Every day, people try and attack our testimonies and beliefs.  Somehow,
that doesn't matter!  My testimony of the gospel is growing stronger every
day and there's nothing that could make me deny the spiritual witnesses
I've received of the truthfulness of the gospel.