Buenas Tardes Mis Seres Queridos
We had the baptism of Elva and Erick on Wednesday and it couldn't have gone any better. Elva had expressed to us that she was very nervous because she has a fear of having her head completely below water, so as she entered the baptismal font I was praying so hard that she would be comforted and be able to be baptized without that feeling of fear. As she was lowered into the water she was just a vision of peace and didn't struggle at all below the water. After the ordinance was performed we went into the relief society room to finish with the baptism program and hear a talk by Bishop, who is also Elva's nephew. He talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost and at one point he asked me what happened the first time Erick prayed with us and his mom. I responded that he had cried, and then Elva and Erick just held each other and cried as they remembered that sweet experience we had had months ago and the spirit that was felt so strongly. I am so happy for them! Yesterday Elva's husband was at church so hopefully we can start teaching him and preparing him for baptism as well.
This week we had Pulga duty on Saturday, which wasn't too bad. A sweet old man from one of the English wards in Melbourne bought Hermana Ang and I each a root beer because it was so hot outside. We were able to talk with a lot of people and testify boldness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of Christ's church once again upon the Earth. Towards the end I talked with this older man from Chile for like a half an hour. He had said they were lots of missionaries like us in Chile and lots of members of our church there. He is moving back to Chile next month so I hope he meets up with the missionaries down there. My favorite part of our conversation went like this, except it was in spanish, I will write it in english so all of you bolillos can understand :)
Chile: Where are you from?
Me: Where do you think I am from?
Chile: Hmmmm.. Argentina?
(Huge grin from me)
Chile: Uruguay! You're from Uruguay!
Me: Haha No I am from Arizona
Chile: Where is that?
Me: In the United States!
Chile: Oh! But your parents are from what country?
Me: The United States, I am an American! Haha
Chile: Well what country did you go visit or live in?
Man: I have never left the country before, I have always live in the United States.
Chile: How do you speak spanish so well?!
He was the cutest old man and it pretty made my life to hear that my spanish is sounding really good. I really try not to sound like a gringo haha. I explained to him that I started speaking/learning spanish 9 months ago when I got to Houston, and he was just floored, he couldn't believe it. He said he had live here in the States for years and worked with people who speak english and still can't figure it out. I explained to him that as missionaries we are blessed with the gift of tongues that we may speak the new language effectively so that we can teach and do the Lord's work effectively. He still couldn't grasp that I learned spanish in nine months. It was so precious and was a huge self confidence booster in the spanish department. I love spanish so much, Addie says my english is horrible now in the letters I write..oh well!
This week I have felt so exhausted. The mission is most definitely the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I just feel drained physically, emotionally and spiritually. It's hard but the reward is sweeter than I could possibly describe.We see families become strengthened and unified in the gospel, people growing closer to the Savior and they begin to study the scriptures and pray for the first time, miracles are occurring in this area. I feel as if the mission needs to be hard so that I can deserve all of the wonderful experiences I have had and all of the growth and change I have experienced personally. My mission means everything to me and I feel so blessed for this opportunity I have to give everything I have to Lord as I serve full time in this part of His vineyard.
I love you all and pray for you!
Hola Mis Seres Queridos
This week Hermana Ang and I witnessed a miracle. This is probably the most epic story thus far of my mission (besides maybe the one week exchange in Arizona, but this is a different kind of epic!). Here goes...
This past week we were blessed by a visit from Elder Kikuchi of the Quorum of the Seventy in our mission. We had a 7 hour zone conference/training with him and it was so great! I feel like I learned so much and am so excited to implement the things that he taught us! My favorite part was when he said, "the mission is not for romance! If you get caught in romance on your mission, President Hansen, your parents, and I will all come here and kick you!" Of course he was being silly, and we all laughed hysterically, but it's true, no romance! haha. Anyways, back to the epicness.
Thursday night I received a phone call from my District Leader, Elder Inkley, saying that he had received a call that President Hansen and Elder Kikuchi had been discussing affairs of the mission and how we may have greater success and Elder Kikuchi issued a promised to everyone in the mission. He promised that if that night, Thursday night, all of the missionaries knelt and prayed to know of someone who they are teaching, who had already been going to church frequently, who could be baptized on saturday and confirmed on sunday, that 18 baptisms would come of it as we receive personal revelation from the Lord. When I first this I thought...No way..this isn't going to happen in our area, there isn't anyone who could possibly be baptized the day after tomorrow! But, we followed the counsel of an apostle of the Lord and knelt as a companionship and sought inspiration of the Lord. As we prayed with faith inspiration hit me like a brick, A name came to my mind and I knew in my heart without a doubt that this man would be baptized on saturday. Once amens were said, Hermana Ang and I both looked at each other and knew that we had both experienced the same thing, and we both knew that Hermano Arzate, whose wife and two children had been baptized a month ago, was the one who would be baptized. I was SO excited, Hermano Arzate has gone to church every sunday for months yet showed no interest in being baptized, we just didn't know what else to do other than continue teaching him and his family, hoping that one day he would decide to be baptized. This was exactly what we needed! a miracle! Before going to bed that night Hermana Ang and I began a fast, that Hermano Arzate's heart would be softened and that he would accept the challenge to be baptized on saturday.
The next day, Friday, at around 7:30 I called Hermana Arzate and told her that we needed to come over at 5 because we had received a message for her husband from the Lord and needed to tell him today, she was a little taken aback but said that was fine. We had a zone training in the morning and then as a zone we all went out to lunch, what temptation that was! Even though we all went out for wings, my favorite, Hermana Ang and I stayed strong and drew pictures in Elder Inkley's planner so we would be distracted from the food haha. After the training we went back to the apartment to prayerfully plan what in the world we were going to say to Hermano Arzate. Once we got home it came to us so easily, that we were to teach the importance of eternal families using the vision of the tree of life in 1 Nephi 8 and then challenge him to be baptized. The second we finished planning the lesson the phone rang and it was Hermana Arzate saying that her husband had to leave for a meeting for his work later and that we needed to come right now. So we pretty much ran out to the car and started driving over there, and I cannot even explain how nervous I felt! I knew what we had been asked to do by the Lord, and I knew He would prepare the way for us, but I was still nervous because I knew that once it came down to actually asking him to be baptized, that I would be the one doing, simply because Hermana Ang is still struggling with spanish. So, needless to say, I was REALLY nervous. We got to their apartment and Hermano Arzate answered the door before we had knocked, apparently his wife told him that we had a message from the Lord and was really surprised and interested to know what it could be. The younger daughter happened to be at a friend's house playing, so it was just Hermano, his wife and their 15 year old son, which made for a much for serious setting without the 10 year old girl. We started the lesson with the invitation to pay close attention to how he feels as we teach, and to listen for the promptings of the Holy Ghost, because we had a very important message that came from the Lord, not from Hermana Ang and I. We read about the tree of life and testified of the importance of eternal families, then had his wife and son talk about how they felt as they were baptized and bear their testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel. Then we explained that his family had partaken of the fruit, just as Lehi had in the scriptures we had read, and that because they loved him so much they are calling out to him to partake as well of God's love and be baptized. We then said that his family is waiting for him to be baptized that they may prepare to enter the temple and be sealed for all eternity. During the whole lesson he seemed so deep in thought, he didn't really look at us much, but kept his gaze down as he thought. Then came my part, the part I had been soooo nervous about. I had explained to Hermano what Hermana Ang and I had experienced the night before, the phone call, the prayer, the answer we received, and told him that we knew that this message was specifically for him. Then I said to him that the Lord wanted him to be baptized tomorrow at 6:00pm and asked if he would do it. His response was a simple, "at 6? Yeah that sounds okay." I looked over at his wife and son and they both had tears in their eyes, although the son was trying to be a man and hide it, he had to wipe the tears from his face. I think I must have been a little tense from being so nervous, because when he accepted the commitment I yelled, "wooo hoooo" and about jumped out of my seat, and everyone else just smiled and laughed. I couldn't help it, I was so happy in that moment, I knew we had just witnessed a miracle from the Lord, that He was so aware of this family that he prepared a way for them to be an eternal family. We then made plans for the baptism, which required a lot of phone calls to President Hansen, Bishop and the Elders, since this weekend was stake conference we had to have the baptism in the Stake Center in between the priesthood and adult sessions, meaning a lot of running around getting things ready, finding rides to the stake center, etc.
Saturday. The baptism was perfect. It was so much more personal that usual, the Arzate family was there, President Call from the Stake Presidency, President and Sister Hansen, and around 5 members of the ward. Hermana Ang and President Hansen played the hymns together on the piano since each of them could only play with one hand, and the 10 year old daughter led the music in front, with me at her side helping her. Hermana Arzate gave the talk on baptism and did amazing! She used the gospel principles manual and the scriptures and did a beautiful job and was in tears by the end. Looking at this family after the baptism of the father, I could see such a change from when we first started teaching them in February. They are so much more unified and the love they have for each other is so obvious to those around them. I cannot describe how happy I felt after the baptism, I am so excited to watch them continue to grow and progress as they prepare to enter the temple in a year to be sealed together as a family.
I know that God is a God of miracles. That we can witness miracles like this so long as we have faith and it is the will of the Lord. This experience has changed my mission, and my life, I have gained such a stronger faith in the power of prayer and fasting and know that we can do great things with the help of the Lord. I know that God is so aware of each of His children, He knows exactly what they need to grow and progress and is right here with us, willing to help us along the way. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. I have never felt so close to them as I have during these last few months of my mission. I hope that all who read this will know and feel the same, that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them and knows them personally and they they will seek to have a greater relationship with their Father in Heaven and His Son. I know this Church is true with all of my heart and couldn't possibly express gratitude sufficient for the guiding hand of my Father to this knowledge of the truth restored.
I love you all
Oh my lanta I have zero time because yesterday was P-day and the library was closed, and we have an appointment soon and we have to go pick up the member that is going with us, soooo I will be utilizing bullets again, sorry.
I am not getting transferred. Oh my surprise of the century, I have been in this area since I got to Houston (8 months) and will be staying here at least until October 17th. I love the area, love the ward, love Hermana Ang, so I am excited to be able to squeeze one more transfer out of Fairbanks.
The opened a new area in my ward this transfer, took a little part of our area and half of Hammerly's area and created the Longpoint elders bike area. This means that we now have 4 companionships of missionaries serving in my ward, isn't that crazy? We are the only ward in the whole mission with 8 missionaries serving in it, one other ward has 6, but that's it, so it's kind of a big deal. 2 companionships are on bike, which means a lot of driving them all around to church and to meetings by Hermana Ang and I and the Zone leaders. I am super excited to see all the success that will come as all 8 of us work as hard as we can to find and prepare those who are ready to be baptized.
Went to Zone Leader Council, again, this last week. I never thought I would have to go to that again since they only pick one or two companionships of Sisters to go each time and Hermana Ang and I went last month, but surprise surprise we went again. It was a 6 hour meetings...bah, but we learned alot and the lunch was super good ;) I feel very blessed that we have had the opportunity to go to ZLC twice and learn about how to be an effective leader in the mission.
Hermana Ang and I made honey face masks this week to celebrate the fact that we would be together a third transfer. It was ridiculous and we took really funny pictures because our faces looked like they were melting. Will send those later.
Set a baptism date with Manuel, have been teaching him since May, for Sept. 26th. He wanted to finish the Book of Mormon before he got baptized, hence why he has waited so long. This week we asked him if he had finished and he said no because he was getting confused by all of the numbers. I was so confused about what he was talking about with numbers so I just told him to keep reading. Later in the lesson I realized he had been talking about the index in the back of the Book of Mormon, I told him he didn't have to read that, only through the last chapter, but that we would teach him how to use the index in our next appointment. He is just a precious old man. So, he actually had finished it a long time ago, already prayed and knows that it's true, now we are just planning the baptism :)
Ok that's all for today, sorry! I love you all and will be better about next week's e-mail!