Wow. So many changes this week! First of all, and most importantly, Marina CAN be baptized this Friday!!! We're so excited. She'll be baptized Friday, confirmed Sunday, and fly to Guatemala on Wednesday. It will be SO HARD to say goodbye to her. It's amazing how much we've come to love her in just a WEEK of teaching her the gospel. She's amazing. She's living all of the commandments and is really preparing to be a dedicated and obedient member of the church her whole life. She was super worried about being able to find missionaries and her ward in Guatemala, and she's already making plans to be able to purchase temple clothing so she can be endowed in a year. She's incredible. She's so sweet and is truly hungering for the word of God. Yesterday we went to the same fireside Derek mentioned, "Why I Believe," with her, and then we went to the Visitor's Center. Her spirit is so strong. Her poor little body is very beat up and old (she's 70 and was in a horrible accident where she was crushed by a truck) and because of brain damage from the accident she has memory loss, but even if she can't remember details of every doctrine, her desire to be obedient says so much about her testimony. She's so sensitive to the Spirit and truly a wonder. At the Visitor's Center, Marina and Sister Bram and I just cried because we're so happy to know each other, and so sad that after this week, we'll probably never see each other again. That will be a very happy reunion in the Celestial Kingdom someday. I actually won't get to be there for the last few lessons before her baptism this Friday, because I'm being transferred! I was definitely not expecting to be transferred. On Saturday President Meredith called me as the new sister trainer! Whaaaaaaaaaaat??? I was surprised. I think I explained sister trainers when Sis. Osborn was called as sister trainer. Basically there is one companionship of sisters that is called to go on exchanges with every sister in the mission for training purposes. So I'll get to be with sisters in the English program and the Spanish program, as well as the Tagalog, Tongan, and CHINESE programs. I'm so excited! Also scared. It's going to be really tough and definitely a very different experience, but I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to serve the sisters of the mission. I'll also be blessed to interact with President Meredith more often as we meet with him and the zone leaders and assistants. And the biggest surprise and blessing of all... I get to be with Sister Osborn again! My trainer and I have been reunited! I'm so so happy. I'm truly very sad to leave Sister Bram so soon, and very very VERY sad to leave the San Francisco ward, but I know good things are ahead. Pray for me, please! I will need it! Another miracle... a few weeks ago we gave a copy of the Book of Mormon to a man named Ausencio and he started reading it right away. He didn't want to set an appointment with us but we saw that he felt the Spirit as he read. We went back to his house this week and he pulled the Book of Mormon out of his jacket pocket. He carries it around with him! He opened it and said, "I haven't read very much, I still need to read more." He showed us where he was in the book and he'd read from the title page all the way to Jacob 4! And he HIGHLIGHTED! Amazing. This man WILL be baptized. I won't get to see it happen, probably, but I can feel it. A miracle!
Monday, July 23, 2012
Monday, July 16, 2012
This week has been a little frustrating, but ended with what is a complete miracle. This week we've been doing pure finding, and we had almost all of our appointments cancel or not show up. Our only solid investigators right now are Laura and Juan. We taught them the restoration and a lesson on the Book of Mormon this week. They're both very open, but also seem to be a little complacent about keeping commitments. Laura is really involved with the Catholic church and while she could accept many of the doctrines we taught and is herself very spiritually prepared, she's reluctant to look outside her own religion for the truth. It's always amazing to see how people will often teach us in the lessons as they express things they've learned through the Spirit. That's always the biggest sign for me that someone is learning by the Spirit and has been prepared--when they start saying things that literally come right out of the Book of Mormon or Preach My Gospel. It's always a little bit of a shocker, but it feels great. When Laura was talking to us in her lesson on the Book of Mormon, I couldn't help but think of Mary Aviles, the mom of the family that got baptized in Richmond. There's definitely a happy ending in sight for Laura, if not now than in the future! Our miracle this week came just at the right moment. After church we went downstairs in the chapel so I could play prelude for one of the elders' investigator's baptism. A ward member came and started talking to us an told us that the second counselor in the bishopric's mother said that she wants to receive the lessons and be baptized. What?! We ran upstairs and met this sweet older lady, Marina. She told us how she always has felt happy when coming to church, and always feels happy learning about God, but has never been baptized and has been hesitant to meet with missionaries because she can't read. We told her not to worry and that that happiness comes from the Spirit, and she said, "I know." The only problem is, she wants to get baptized before she goes back to her country, which is in 2 weeks! We'll meet with her tonight and talk about the sacredness of baptism and the commandments, and then we'll see if she'll be able to be baptized before she leaves. Even if she won't be able to be baptized before she goes home, it's truly a miracle that we'll be able to teach someone that has a desire to be baptized, has years of experience with the church, and has an extremely solid support system and lives with members! She came out of the blue and is truly the miracle we've been praying for, even if the missionaries in her country will be the ones that carry out the baptism. This is the answer to weeks of praying in our apartment, praying in the car, praying on doorsteps, and in every other moment to find people who are prepared to receive the gospel. Our God is a god of miracles and He answers prayers! Haha, so kind of a funny story... this week we saw an old lady struggling to pull a little laundry cart down the street. We asked if she needed help and started talking to her. She let me pull her cart and we walked with her for about half a mile to her church, which is where she was headed with the cart. We had a great conversation about the restored gospel, set up an appointment to see her the next day, and then walked the half mile back to our car. I felt SO HAPPY--you know, the warm fuzzies you get when you help someone and they're grateful and very nice, and I was happy that we set up an appointment and that our conversation was so great. I felt so happy that I wrote down in my planner right then that I'd share this experience with you in my email. The next day, we drove looking for her house to go to the appointment and... she'd LIED to us! She gave us an address that doesn't exist! I was shocked. No way! After I pulled the cart up and down hills and we'd had such a great conversation--no way! I decided that this is a lesson in service. Sometimes people don't react the way we think they will, but all that matters is that we try our best to serve them. Their reaction doesn't really matter at the end of it all. I'll just try and hang on to the happy feeling I had after pulling her cart, and not worry that she completely deceived us. Bahahaha
It sounds like your 4th of July was fun! Ours was good here too. We attended the ward barbeque, where they grilled all kinds of interesting things (I won't go there) and our district leader made some salsa that made a grown man cry it was so spicy. Other than that, it was a normal prostelyting day for us. Then again, we aren't in the nation's capitol, so there wasn't much of an excuse for an all-out preparation day. I will say that this was the coldest 4th of July I've ever had though! It was kind of weird for me to be wearing an overcoat in July, but such is the climate here. So this week was not what I expected it would be last Monday. We were able to find 8 investigators last week, as I said, but we're now only teaching 1 of those people. We've been having trouble with setting appointments with investigators because they don't want to make space in their schedules. It's sad to see when people know what to do but they don't do it. All we can do is invite them to accept the truth, do all we can to meet with them, and then let them make their decisions. There are people that are prepared and willing to make the gospel a priority! We just have to find them. One of our investigators "dropped" us last night. This investigator dropped us because he didn't understand why we couldn't be alone in his kitchen with him without another woman present. He was also drunk, so that's probably a contributing factor, but he told us not to come back to his house again. I'm always amazed at how much getting "dropped" feels like getting dumped by a boy. I literally went through the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), but in rapid-mode, like all within 10 minutes. It's kind of exhausting to feel so much all the time! But it's wonderful and a testament to me that this truly is the work of the Lord. Nothing else could produce such powerful emotions and spiritual experiences in us or in the people we teach. Feeling such a range of strong emotions is teaching me a lot about the depth and reach of the Atonement, and how profound the suffering of the Savior was for us. I can't imagine how He feels when one of us (ALL of us) commits a sin or decides to not accept the truth. Nothing but infinite and perfect love could motivate such a sacrifice. We were able to teach [Y], one of the investigators from last week, once this week. She was a little defensive as we started the lesson and didn't want to talk to us because she was convinced we were there to drag her out of her church (the Catholic church) and into ours. She didn't want anything to do with us, and was even trying (unsuccessfully) to be mad at us while we sang "Love at Home." We re-set some expectations and tried our hardest to meet her needs and invite the Spirit. We taught the message of the restoration and testified of the Book of Mormon. She felt the Spirit during the lesson and softened her heart a little, and accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and a return visit. It's always amazing to see the miracles that the Spirit can work in peoples' lives. Little by little, the Spirit draws us toward the truth and can change our hearts.
We had a really excellent week this week. We found 8 new investigators--two new families! They've both been prepared in a lot of ways. Juan and Consuelo have actually had contact with the church before. Consuelo, the mom, attended our church in Mexico for over a year before moving to the United States. Her sister attended as well and actually got baptized. When we asked her why she didn't get baptized, she said she wasn't sure--the moment just never arrived! We hope her moment has arrived now. We had a great lesson with them and they are very close to accepting a baptismal date for the end of July. The other family, the Garcias, are also super prepared. The dad was a gangster 10 years ago, but decided to change his life. He immediately called all his kids into the living room to listen to the lesson and read the scriptures. It's so awesome to see a dad taking the lead in providing opportunities for his children to learn about their Heavenly Father. That's honestly something that's becoming more and more rare. In a lot of the families we teach, the mom is the one who takes the lead and the dad often sits back and watches, or doesn't participate at all. In reality, both are responsible for the spiritual well-being of their children, but it's part of the divine calling of fatherhood to be the spiritual leader in the home along with the mother. We also met our new mission president and his wife, President and Sister Meredith! It's honestly kind of weird to not have President and Sister Wade around. I really feel that they are a big reason why I was called to this mission. They've both helped me to grow personally in many ways and I know Heavenly Father knew I needed them. I also feel that way about President and Sister Meredith. It's amazing to see the mantle fall upon someone's shoulders as they accept a calling. President and Sister Meredith are just exploding with sincere and profound love for the mission and the missionaries. They're definitely more "grandparent-ish" than the Wades, I think. Sister Meredith actually reminds me of Grandma Croft in the way she speaks to us. She doesn't have an accent, but she has the same smile when she's telling a story. I can't believe how quickly the time is flying by. Sometimes I feel a little sick inside (I understand you now, Derek) thinking about how little time there is. Every week goes by like the wind and I often feel a little panicky that I haven't seen the results I've expected to see. I want to be able to go to bed every night with the satisfaction of knowing that I've done everything I could that day. Most days that's definitely true, but there are also days when I may have missed opportunities. I want to try my hardest to make sure not a single day slips by with "trunky" thoughts or distractions. As President Holland said in his last conference talk, "It's getting late" and I want to do everything I can with the time that I have. This truly is the work of the Lord. The gospel has been restored, and now is the time, whether we're full-time missionaries or not, to live the gospel and share the gospel.