Thursday, June 28, 2012

Almost one more month gone!

        I'm all smiles reading your letters.  It doesn't ever really matter what you all write about, just that you exist and you're my family and you're so good at writing every week.  Really, I'm so blessed. Not every missionary gets to hear from their parents and siblings every single week.  Good job, keep it comin'!

This week was really interesting.  It was one of those weeks where we pounded the pavement, knocked on doors, and talked to absolutely everyone, and couldn't seem to see results.  But as I was looking back over the week last night, we saw so many miracles this week.

One of our miracles is Carlo.  He's 14 and such an incredible person.  I really just feel blessed to know him.  He's an amazing example of being humble and teachable.  He hasn't been able to progress as much as he could  this week because he often has to help his family out, but I have high hopes for him.  He's really opening the door for his family to accept the gospel.

Another miracle this week was Ausencio.  He's not even our investigator yet, but he will be soon!  A few nights ago we went and knocked on the door of a former investigator.  As we were knocking on the door, Ausencio, who lives there too, came up the stairs.  He didn't seem super interested, so we just waited for the former investigator to come to the door.  We asked the former investigator about some of the things he learned a year ago when he talked with the missionaries.  Ausencio started listening.  The former investigator told us he wasn't interested, but Ausencio stuck around.  At first I was wary and wanted to get away because he is what we call "BIEN Catolico," or "REALLY Catholic" and seemed to just want to fight about the Bible.  Sister Bram explained very simply and clearly about the Apostasy and Restoration of the Gospel, and we both bore our testimonies of the Book of Mormon.  His interest perked and he told us to bring him a copy of the Book of Mormon the next day.  We went with the book, showed him how to use the footnotes and study the Book of Mormon with the Bible, and talked about praying to receive answers.  He started reading right away.  We started another conversation with another person in the house, who really did just want to fight.  All the while, as we were trying to keep contention out of the house, Ausencio was flipping through the Book of Mormon and reading  passages.  It was amazing to see a literal change of countenance as he read from the Book of Mormon.  His speech became reverent and I could tell just by looking at him that he could feel the Spirit.   He even defended us against his friend, who was trying to attack us for not drinking coffee. He told him to speak respectfully to us, and then he promised that he would read the Book of Mormon and pray. Truly a miracle, to see the power of the Spirit working on someone and opening his heart.  I'll let you know what happens with him!

I love this work.  I love seeing the changes come in peoples' lives. Success is coming to our area, in different ways than we've expected.  The changes in peoples' lives truly come from the Spirit!

Una semana mas!

Well, while Derek is experiencing less Spanish in his life right now, I'm definitely experiencing more.  My new companion is here and she's from PANAMA.  So cool, right?  Her name is Sister Bram and four weeks ago, she was with her parents in Panama.  She speaks English but isn't comfortable with it, so it's Spanish Spanish Spanish 24/7.  A huge blessing for me, for sure.  It's a little exhausting, but it's just what I need!  Sister Bram is a great missionary and wants to be obedient and grow.  We're going to have a great experience together.  She's adapting pretty well, which is good, cuz she's not in Kansas (Panama) anymore!

We added a cool new investigator this week.  His name is Yuvi.  (YOO-bee)  His religious beliefs are definitely mixed.  His mom is evangelist, but he grew up Catholic, and then his wife doesn't want anything to do with it.  It's interesting to see how peoples' experiences really do prepare them to receive the gospel.  The religious confusion in his household actually appears to be a blessing, since he's now open to many types of ideas and doesn't close himself off.  He could accept the idea of modern-day prophets and a testament of Christ in the Americas.  We'll see where things go with him.  He's great, and one of the nicest people I've ever met.  Once again, the challenge will be with his family, who kind  of wanted to fight with us, but we trust that they'll be able to feel the Spirit and see the changes in Yuvi's life as he accepts the gospel!

It's been kind of a frustrating few weeks with investigators.  We're picking up investigators and then losing contact with them over and over again.  We're really searching for those people who are prepared.  It's literally a needle in a haystack situation, especially with searching for Latinos.  But the work continues to move forward!  Similar to the last time when I trained, we're starting over completely with investigators, and it's a little weird to be the only one who knows what's going on, but I've seen the support of the Lord in so many ways.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Transfers... and a surprise!


So, the end of the transfer!  I thought for sure that nothing would change with this transfer, since it's my first transfer in the area, but I was wrong!  President Wade called me on Thursday morning and called me to to train a new missionary!  Sister Perez is going to be transferred out of the area, and I'll stay here in Daly City with the new missionary.  It's exciting, and also scary!  I'm still getting to know the area, so my new companion and I will be learning a lot together.  I will get to meet her on Wednesday this week, so in my next letter I'll tell you about her!

This week was kind of up and down, like all weeks!  One of the highlights was that Nay came to a ward activity!  It was great.  The ward reacted really well and by the end of the night she had 4 or 5 new friends.  She's really lonely so I think it was great for her to see the love that's here in this ward.  Unfortunately, she didn't make it to church this week.  I think sometimes we as missionaries forget that a lot of people are coming from a very different lifestyle and that something that's almost automatic for us, like going to church EVERY Sunday, is not what's in their mindset. Many people see it kind of like going to the gym, or going to get a physical, or donating blood, I think.  It's something good that you do every once in a while and you feel better after you do it, but if you don't get to it, it'll have to wait until next week.  But what a blessing it is to have the scriptures to teach us about the commandments, and to know that every commandment God gives us is something that can be a constant and consistent blessing, as long as we are constantly and consistently
obedient.  We'll keep going with Nay and hopefully help her understand a little more about the importance of coming to church. 

We also spent a lot of time getting to know different parts of the area together.  That has turned out to be a blessing, since now I'll be the only one who knows anything about the area!  We've been finding a lot in new areas, trying to search for Spanish-speakers.  We've been finding a lot of Chinese people lately!  We've also been able to find a lot of new people, so now we're sort of going through the "sifting" process to find those who are willing to keep commitments.

I was able to give a talk in church this Sunday.  It was weird to hear myself speaking Spanish in the microphone, haha.  The talk went well, although as it is every time I give a talk, I don't remember anything I said.  Nobody gave me weird looks, so I'm assuming it was ok.   I can already tell that it will be difficult to talk about the gospel in English though, so be prepared to laugh at my accent (it's true, I'm getting an accent on words like "zone," "precision," "decision," etc.).

Monday, June 4, 2012

Last week of the transfer!

I can't believe we're already at the end of the transfer.  My first three
weeks here in San Fran crept by, but the last two have flown really
quickly.  Hopefully that means I'm getting more comfortable in the area and
I've been working harder!

This week was a lot better compared to last week.   It was still
humbling, as always, but in different ways.  After making a lot of
corrections, we started working a lot more effectively.  And after biting
the bullet and getting over my fear of confronting people, I finally took
the lead in making some corrections in the "false traditions" (that makes
it sound worse than it really was) that have existed in the area.
We've felt the support of the Lord backing us up in our efforts to try and
be more obedient and submissive to how He wants us to preach His gospel.
And personally, I've felt the weight lifted off my shoulders as I've
finally worked up the boldness to just open my mouth and follow the Spirit
to say what needs to be said within the companionship.  My companion is
great and totally willing to make changes and work hard.

This week we hit the pavement and haven't stopped!  We've only got one
solid investigator as of right now, even after many hours of searching, but
we're seeing the blessings of the gospel already in her life.  Her name is
Nay.  We knocked on her door and she let us right in immediately after we
introduced ourselves.  She has a lot of struggles in her life.  Her
children are way off the beaten path and they don't respect her.  It gives
her a lot of pain, and she wants to know about the gospel because she wants
to help them change.  She said that they won't ever change until they see
her change.  We've been trying to help her understand the principle of
agency and of what she can do to progress.  She has a good heart, and
really is desperate to find something to help her family.  She's let us
meet with her almost every day this week, and we're praying really hard
that she'll progress.

It's so great to be a missionary.  We see miracles literally in everything
we do.  One day this week, every corner we turned, we ran into someone that
we'd had contact with before.  It was literally three in a row--a former
investigator crossing the crosswalk right in front of us, an investigator
who we lost contact with sitting on a bench by the road after we took a
wrong turn, and a potential investigator walking down the street right
after we got rejected at someone's door.  Three people, all of whom we
thought we'd lost contact with, contacted again in less than an hour!
Tender mercies are all around and Heavenly Father is aware of everything
that's going on in all of His children's lives!  It's truly amazing.

Funny story of the week--I got my first black eye!  Well, it's not really a
"shiner," but you can see it, haha.  On a windy day we stopped in front of
a house to get something out of the trunk.  I opened the trunk and leaned
in to get what I needed.  As I straightened up, a big gust of wind caught
the door of the trunk and it slammed into my face by my right eye.  Ow!  It
must have looked hilarious.  It hurt!  I was just glad it didn't get my
nose.   I should have taken pictures of when it was bruised-looking.
Luckily I'm almost always tired, so I have dark circles under my eyes
anyway and you can't really tell I have a black eye!  Bahaha.  And no, no
vision problems or headaches or concussions or structural damage.