Monday, January 11, 2016

Last Email Home

Wow. I cant even express how strange it feels to know I am currently
writing my last email home as a full time missionary. I honestly truly
did not expect this day to come so fast, but here it is.

This past 18 months has been beyond words the greatest 18 months of my
entire life. I will do my best to summarize things I have learned,
ways I have grown, people that have changed my life, and the testimony
that has shaped my mission and will from here on out shape my life.

In this last year and a half more than any other I have felt cut down,
rejected, ridiculed. unpopular, hurt, disappointed, and weak to name a
few things. But at the same time, in this year and a half more than
any other I have felt strengthened, supported, loved, taken care of,
watched over, served, hopeful, powerful, sanctified, built up,
spiritually in tune, and full of love.

I have had moments where I cry out as did Nephi in 2 Nephi 4.
16 my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart
pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
19...I know in whom I have trusted.
20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine
afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the
waters of the great deep.
21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.

I have had moments where I feel as did Alma in Alma 26
11 I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but
behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will
rejoice in my God.
12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak;
therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for
in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles
we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name
13 how many of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell and
they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power
of His word which is in us?
15 they were encircled about with darkness and destruction; but behold
he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting
salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of
His love;...and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this
great and marvelous work.
27 Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back,
behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the
Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give
unto you success.
35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never
were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world
began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God;
for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he
comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto
salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life
and my light, my joy and my salvation,

And I have definitely had many moments where I have seen ether 12:27
apply both for me and for investigators.
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I
give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is
sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they
humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make
weak things become strong unto them.

I know that the mission and the lessons I have learned out here will
apply to the rest of my life.

There have been quite a few focuses in my mission that President Drake
has emphasized throughout my time here. One of the biggest ones that
impacted me are just 3 words that he would say and talk about whenever
we saw him.
Empathize. Visualize. Edify.
This is the role of each of us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our role
is to lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble
knees, by doing what Christ did- we can't understand everyone
perfectly like He can, but we can do our best to put ourselves in
their shoes and find what will help them feel God's love.
As far as having a vision I am always drawn back to the scripture in
Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no vision, the people perish".
Throughout my mission I have learned a lot about goal setting, about
working with the end in mind, about establishing plans and how to be
committed to them, etc. I know that this is how I will progress in my
own life personally and how I will be able to help others progress.
And lastly to edify. For me, this means to always build up those
around us. To strengthen them with our testimony, our service, and our
love. I know that everyone around me is a child of God, placed in my
path for a reason, and my job is to lift them up! Especially right now
as a full time teacher, my job was to bring the Spirit into people's
lives so they could be edified by His influence, and show them ways to
keep that influence with them!

Another thing that my mission president and his wife would talk about
is our "Mo Glow" or Mormon Glow. This glow is the light of Christ that
shines in our eyes. Light is a real thing, and it causes a stark
contrast with all the darkness that is all around in this world. But
people will notice a difference in us, a glow, this light of Christ,
and when they see it, it's an opportunity for us to testify of the
Light of our lives, our Savior Jesus Christ.

I have met so many people in my mission that have completely changed
me for the better. One of these people is my first bishop, Obispo
Morales. He would say all the time, "Miracles happen every day. If you
don't believe me or can't see them, open your eyes."
I feel like on my mission I have had my eyes so opened to so many of
God's miracles. The biggest miracles of all were the people that I met
whose lives COMPLETELY changed when they caught hold of the gospel of
Jesus Christ. These people experienced a change similar to Alma the
Younger, who said,
"as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the
memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my
father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus
Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my
heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall
of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no
more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
20 And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my
soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so
exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto
you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite
and sweet as was my joy.

This year more than any other I have come to know my Savior Jesus Christ.
I feel I have come to know just a little bit of what Christ feels, and
been able to see people as He sees them and feel their potential. I
have felt grief when people fall, and felt I can share a bit of his
agony at their pain from sin.
I have come to understand what it means for me to repent, to forsake
sin and not feel that pain anymore. I know what it means to start over
and learned that you don't have to wait until some grand moment when
you repent of everything you ever done. Repentance should be an every
day process- to make the adjustments you need to in order to be in
line with what Heavenly Father wants you to be. If you've made a
mistake today, correct it and don't make the same mistake tomorrow.
"There is never a day in any mans life when repentance is not
essential to his eternal progression."
I have come to know that He truly is my Brother. He knows and
understands me and wants to help me. I could not even count how many
times I have desperately needed comfort and it has come, or needed to
be lifted and He has brought me up, or needed strength and He gave it
to me. I know without a single doubt that he is there.

This year more than any other I have felt Gods Spirit. I have felt
it's gentle guidance, telling me where to go or who to talk to. I have
felt it's burning power inside my soul as I have studied, shared my
testimony, and heard His truth. I have seen it work changes in other
people's lives as they feel it for the first time. I have been
comforted in more occasions than I could count. I know that the Spirit
is what brings about conversion in the lives of those we teach, and
that through the power of the Holy Ghost, every single one of us is
able to know the truthfulness of the gospel.

In this year more than any other I have learned the value of the
scriptures. Our mission studied the Book of Mormon together and I have
always loved the Book of Mormon, but I feel now I have come to
absolutely adore it. I learned SO much as I studied this year, and I
am so grateful that we have this book of scripture along with the
Bible to teach us Gods plan, teach us the truths of the gospel, and to
testify of my Savior Jesus Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon has
helped me to draw closer to God, and that through studying it,
pondering over it, and praying about it, I have come to know even
stronger that this Book is the word of God. I have prayed with
questions, both for me and for investigators, and have found answers.
I have received comfort and strength from verses that stood out to me
in ways they never have. I have been able to testify to people from
the bottom of my heart that this book has changed my life and it
absolutely has.
There is a promise made by Ezra Taft Benson that says, "There is a
power in the book which will begin to flow into your life the moment
you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to
resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You
will find the power to stay on the straight and narrow path. The
scriptures are called the words of life and nowhere is that more true
than the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after
those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance". I
have seen that to be so true. I could talk about the Book of Mormon
all day (and for 18 months have gotten the chance to) and I know that
continual study of it will always result in personal revelation, no
matter how many times you have previously read it!

In this year I learned what love is. I thought I understood love
before I came out on a mission, but this year I learned that to truly
love people, you have to sacrifice for them, walk a ways in their
shoes, pray for them, spend time with them, understand them, listen
intently to them, focus on their needs and try your best to fulfill
them, laugh with them, watch them smile, and see them the way God sees
them. I know that love is what motivates us to serve and teach others-
if we love them and truly desire what's best for them, we will do
everything it takes to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message
that they need in order to gain salvation!

Speaking of that, I have felt more and more that my purpose as a
missionary has become internalized. The more I think about it the more
I realize how important missionary work is!!
Every person I meet is a child of God, and they don't know the path.
God extends the invitation all through the scriptures, come unto me
and be saved. Come to me and be healed, come to me and be cleansed
from sins.
Our purpose is to invite others to COME UNTO CHRIST because we know
the path. We know that to come unto Christ means to receive His
restored gospel, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repenting,
being baptized by someone who has God's authority, by receiving the
gift of the Holy Ghost, and by enduring to the end. I know this, and
the more I understand it, the more I realize that missionary work is a
frantic effort to bring people salvation and accomplish Gods work and
His glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His

In this year and a half, I learned what it means to be a child of God,
and not just me, but every single person around me. I learned that I
am a glorious being, I am a daughter of an all knowing, all powerful
Father in Heaven, that possesses every attribute that He has-- and I
learned how important it is for me to continue to develop those
attributes more and more in order to become like Him- in order to
fulfill my divine potential. I have felt Him shape me, and I have felt
Him stretch me, and I have felt Him guide me, and I know that every
experience I have had is because He loves me and wants me to reach my

I learned in this year that God's plan of Salvation is real. Towards
the end of last year my grandpa Rogers passed away and that was
extremely difficult for me. My heart broke, and I felt depressed
thinking about how I would not see him again. But I spent countless
amounts of time on my knees, praying to Heavenly Father, and even more
time studying the scriptures and words of prophets of God until I
understood what Gods plan of happiness means to me. I know without a
doubt that I will see my grandpa again, although not in this life. I
KNOW that Gods plan makes it possible for families to be together
forever and I am grateful that mine has been sealed in the temples of
the Lord. I know that because of Jesus Christ and His resurrection,
each one of us can be resurrected and live again. Gods whole purpose
is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children,
and I know that His plan is the way He has made that possible. I felt
so much comfort in that time, I felt that my grandpa was close with
me, and that the promise in John 14:18 "I will not leave you
comfortless, I will come to you" was constantly being fulfilled in my

In this year I learned what it means to serve. In the branch and wards
I have worked in, I have seen countless examples of service. I
realized what it means to give of yourself, whatever you have, in
order to further Gods work. The members I have been blessed to serve
around have without a doubt completely changed my life. When you
serve, it fills you with a love you can't feel in any other way. I
know that service is one way we can become more like our Savior. He
was always attentive and aware of others needs, showed compassion,
didn't pick and choose who he would help, wasn't concerned about
Himself, and lifted everyone in His path. I know that we should be
more like that. The service of others has blessed me so much, and the
example of my Savior has impacted me, and I want to emulate His
example of service for the rest of my life.

There is a quote from a talk I love called "As Many As I Love I Rebuke
and Chasten". It says,
The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good
and evil acts--what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final
effect of our acts and thoughts--what we have become. It is not enough
for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments,
ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits
required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus
Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father
desires us to become.”
Dallin H Oaks
I know this applies to me as I come to the end of my mission. I hope
that the person I have become is who God wants me to be. I know that
for the rest of my life the gospel will continue to transform me as it
has in the last 18 months, and I know that the mission has made such a
huge impact on my conversion.

Lives change when you open your mouth and share the gospel.
Lives change when you open your heart and share Jesus Christ's love.
Lives change when you open your eyes to see Gods hand in everything.

The gospel is SO true. I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that He is
our Savior and Redeemer and that He is directing His restored church
here on the earth today. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and
I know that today we have a prophet named Thomas S Monson to lead and
guide us and share what Gods will is for us. I know that faith,
repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost as our constant
companion is the way that each of us will return to live with Heavenly
Father again. I know that this is the truth and I am so grateful for
this knowledge!
Even though shortly my full time service as a missionary will come to
a close, I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ and I will never
stop serving Him. This has been the greatest opportunity of my entire
life and I will forever be grateful for my mission. I love this place
with my whole heart.

Hope you all have a great week! Thank you for all the love and support
this past 18 months!
Love you tons!
Hermana Rogers

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Happy New Year!

Hello family and friends!! Happy new year! :) 
This week was awesome! 
I cannot believe it is already 2016. This year went by way too fast! One year ago I was still in my first area with Hermana Perez my trainer, and Hermana Stiles! Time has literally flown. 
This past week, we saw Alejandro, Pedro, Armando, Josue and Antonio a ton! 
Tuesday we had an amazing lesson with Alejandro! He is the 16 year old that came a couple months ago from Cuba. So this kid is amazing! We found out that when he was in Cuba he had these friends that were members and they told him all about the church, gave him a Book of Mormon, and brought him with them a bunch of times! He asked his mom how long he had been "talking with Mormons" and going to church, and she said like a year or a year and a half!! As we were with him, we talked to him about the Restoration, and the whole time he was impressing us so much with his knowledge! Every time we asked him a question he gave the perfect answers! For example when we asked what he would do if there was a prophet on earth today, he said, "well first, I would find out if he was a true prophet because the Bible says that there will be false prophets. But if I found out that he was a true prophet, I would follow him!" So we kept talking and when we got to the First Vision, we recited Joseph Smiths own words and had him think about how he could apply it to himself, and he was in awe afterwards just trying to explain how he felt. We asked if he believed it, and he said he did, he knew it could happen! So then we talked about the Book of Mormon. We showed it to him and he said, "Oh I've read that!" We thought maybe a couple chapters or a few verses...."I only had about 30 pages left until I got to the end. But then my friend that was Mormon moved away". Whaaaa?! So awesome! So we gave him a Book of Mormon and he seemed so excited about it! That was an awesome lesson, and huge miracle! :) After the lesson, we stayed talking to his family, and his mom started telling us about how they got here and their entire journey was SUCH a miracle!! They know that God was protecting them and guiding them here, and Hermana Conrad and I kept telling them that it was definitely for a purpose. Alejandro was telling us time after time in his life where he almost died, but by some miracle he survived all those experiences. IT WAS TO RECEIVE THE RESTORED GOSPEL! 
He texted us after that lesson and said, "I am so grateful to God that I have met you. He always brings me more brothers and sisters that help me have more knowledge and be more strong. This is your house, it's a pleasure talking to you! God bless you and I hope you can come back soon!" 
This week we also met with Armando and Josue multiple times! They are also doing awesome :) So with them we had assigned a chapter in the Book of Mormon that would answer one of their questions that they had. They studied it, and we studied it at home then talked about it with them. It always amazes me what the Book of Mormon can do to answer questions!! We had a lesson with them where we talked about their concerns and how the Book of Mormon can answer them! 
Another lesson with them, Hermana Conrad stopped by when we were on splits, and Josue told her he wants to be baptized on the 16th! 
So the next lesson we had with them, we talked about faith and they shared so many experiences they have had that have strengthened their faith! Their testimonies of God were so strong, and it was a lesson that they really applied to themselves. We talked about how faith leads them to action, and to take those steps of faith like baptism! I went and taught them on exchanges with Hermana Robles and she is a convert!!! So she shared her testimony and her conversion story and it was SO powerful!!! It seemed to really impact Josue and Armando. 
The next lesson we had with them we talked about repentance, baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost! We tried to spend a lot of time in the Book of Mormon teaching them. Josue asked us what a covenant was, so we spent some time explaining it. As we were talking, Armando said that he wanted to make a covenant to Jesus...we didn't really know where he was going with that, but then he told us that he was covenanting to come to church for the next 3 or 4 weeks and then tell us what day he wants to be baptized! So there's that! But the lessons with them were really powerful. We would share our testimonies and as we asked what they thought, they would always express some profound insight and came up with a lot of personal applications! They both know that Heavenly Father is telling them to be baptized, and they talked about that a lot. 
Antonio is doing good still! He notices the difference when he reads and prays and when he doesn't, so we are just trying to help him understand why he wouldn't put off baptism! He has seen so many blessings from keeping the word of wisdom and studying and praying, and also says he will get baptized, he just doesn't know when!
And last but certainly not least, Pedro :) I went out to Lake Charles with Angela- the recent convert YSA member that just turned in her mission papers!! Her and Heather help us out so much -- Heather is leaving January 18th for her mission to Brazil, and Angela is waiting for her call! :) Anyways, we went out to Lake Charles and Pedro chose his baptismal date! He said that he wants to be baptized the 16th of January!!! He said the only thing he doesn't know is whether he wants to be baptized in Lake Charles or in Beaumont. So we will see what he decides, but we are SO happy! :) Pedro came to church on Sunday and was talking to all the members, he fits right in in the branch! :) He is so awesome when he comes to church he pulls out his bible, Book of Mormon, gospel principles book, scratch paper for notes, etc. he is amazing. 
And it's now a new year! Time to reflect on the year that just passed and set goals for the upcoming year. I for one am so so grateful for everything I have experienced in this last year. I could not even begin to put into words! 
I wrote these thoughts down in testimony meeting, they are in Spanish and I don't have time to translate them to English hah but mostly I am so grateful! 
En mi misión, yo he visto que la influencia de El, y al aprender acerca de Su vida, nos cambia la vida. 
He visto ejemplos de vidas en oscuridad, que se iluminan completamente cuando aprendan que Jesucristo les ama. 
Al pasar un año y medio en el servicio de El, he visto ejemplos innumerables de personas quienes han desarrollado Sus atributos en sus vidas. 
La meta más grande que quiero yo alcanzar es para llegar a ser como Jesucristo. Quiero que las personas que me conozcan tengan el deseo de conocer a su Salvador. Quiero que la gente me miren a mí y que puedan ver una luz-la luz de Cristo. 
Quiero que la gente que me escuchen sientan el espíritu y que escuchen las palabras de Cristo. Quiero que las hechos que hago en mi vida sean según la voluntad de mi Padre Celestial. 
Puedo testificar del poder del Espíritu Santo, especialmente cuando ya seamos bautizados para recibirlo como nuestro compañero constantemente. Sé que esta es una gran gran bendición. El espíritu nos guíe, nos protege, nos advierte. Nos santifica, nos testifica de la verdad.
Ya pronto no seré misionera de tiempo completo, y me duele mi corazón pensar en esto, en quitar mi placa. Pero siento tan agradecida por el conocimiento que he recibido, las experiencias que he tenido, las personas que he conocido, el amor que he sentido, y el testimonio mío que ha crecido. 
I love you all so much. Thanks so much for your continuous support and examples. I hope y'all have a good week! Enjoy the snow :) 
Happy New Year :)
Hermana Rogers

Monday, December 28, 2015

Merry Christmas

Hello my family!
It was so good to see you this past week! I love yall so much, I was so grateful we had time to talk! :)
This week was pretty crazy, but SO great.
Monday we made cookies with a less active family for caroling...but didnt have time to go caroling because we went on exchanges!
Tuesday we went caroling with the Ramirez family, and they took us to sing to their neighbor, and 2 of their daughters and their families. It was such a sweet experience. As we were singing to the first lady, her eyes welled up with tears and she was SO grateful that we came by. We talked to her about her life a little bit, set a return appointment for the next day, and kind of rushed off to the other houses.
Skipping ahead a minute-- we went back Wednesday morning and talked with her for a long time. She has been through SO SO much in her life, and has experienced so much pain and sadness. We showed her the video about Christmas and she got very sentimental and talked with us about her faith. It was a tender moment for us to share our testimonies about the Savior and how He can take away all of our pains and sadnesses.
Also on Tuesday we met with Alejandro again! I cant remember if I wrote about him last week but he is awesome! He is 16 years old and just came here from Cuba! So we had met with him one time, and then he texted us and said, "Hey! I want you guys to come back and teach me more about the Mormon Bible". It was great :) So we taught him, met his whole family who were all SUPER nice, and then invited him to come play basketball with us Christmas day!
Christmas Eve and Christmas were wonderful! They flew by super fast-- We were able to visit with a lot of members and less actives, and spent Christmas eve with the Maldonados and Banuelos! They had a beautiful family home evening and it was so nice to be a part of it!
Then Christmas Day we Skyped from the Keffer family's home :) They all really do feel like family to us <3 This branch takes such good care of us.
We also were able to play basketball on Christmas Day with a group of members and Alejandro and Pedro! It was SO much fun, and a great way to fellowship! :)
On Sunday, Antonio came to church! He has been doing much better this week! We went over a few times this week and he texted us one of the sweetest mesages ever. He talked about how grateful he was for the church and missionaries to help draw him closer to God, and to help him understand Gods word and have the motivation to do what God wants. He said that he woke up and read the scriptures and felt so much more energy and enthusiasm for the day! It was SO good that he is able to see for himself that these things are helping him.
I am sorry for the lack of updates, it has been a great week! I will have a better email next week haha it feels weird because I just talked to yall ;)
But I am so grateful that I am here, helping others to FEEL LOVE, know that God lives and loves them, and that He wants them to be happy! My soul is SOOOO happy watching people experience the blessings of the gospel for themselves!! I love it!!
I love you all so much! Hope you have a great week! :)
Love, Hermana Rogers

Monday, December 21, 2015

He is Born

Merry Christmas to y'all! :) Hope you have had a good last week and have an even better upcoming week. Christmas is really the greatest time of year :)
It looks and sounds like Florida was a lot of fun, I'm glad you were able to go! I'm sorry you had to go back to the rainy weather in Oregon right after-- haha. 

This week has been super busy. We decided we wanted to make the most out of the Christmas Initiative, the videos that the church has been coming out with. We made a plan to go Christmas Caroling with member families, bring treats, and sing hymns to their friends or even family that aren't members. Then we have the members share their testimonies of the Savior Jesus Christ and the real reason we celebrate the Christmas season. It is great! We haven't gotten to do it with a TON of families yet because of the craziness of this week, but we have a lot of plans for this upcoming week to carry it on! :) 

Monday was our first day trying it out and it went wonderfully! :) We had a family home evening with Blanca and Salvador, Irene and Perla-- it was such an incredible experience to be with them as their family planned, prepared for, and carried out their family home evening. Irene is the sweetest!! She is working on her Faith in God right now, and so she had picked out a few activities she wanted to do with the family. This girl is incredible-- we keep hearing stories that Blanca and Hermana Maldonado tell about how Irene will say like, "But dad, we can't go there because its Sunday" and "By the time I go on my mission,…" and just always be talking about her mission, and things her family has changed because of the church. She is SO great. I love her! 
Anyways so we had such a sweet Family Home Evening with them, and then we asked if we could say a prayer with them to find out who it was that we could go caroling to, that needed a message about Jesus Christ. After the prayer, Blanca chimed in and said, "Well we have this one neighbor down the street, she has asked me questions about the church before, and I think she could use this message". So off we went with the Maldonados and Banuelos to go sing and share goodies with their neighbors. Irene was SO excited. She asked if she could write our number on the cards and hand them out to the people we met. We were able to sing and share this Christmas message with 3 different families. And the lady that Blanca had suggested was so willing for us to come back! As we walked away from that house, Irene asked if she could come with us when we went back so she could feel what its like to be a missionary. 

That was a huge highlight! That night, we talked to one of our investigators on the phone from Lake Charles-- he has been reading a TON in the Book of Mormon and Bible and always has lots of questions. He asked what he needed to do to be baptized! So we talked to him for quite a while, answering questions, addressing concerns, etc, and he told us he was coming to church on Sunday! 

I have to skip a couple days in all the details because there are so many BIG things to talk about! Tuesday was really good though! We met with Julio, then later with Armando and Josue who are all talking about baptism but are having a hard time making the commitment. So we were with President Garcia who is awesome at getting to the point with them and helping them know why all these things are important, as well as showing them love from the branch. He is the greatest! 

Wednesday was an AMAZING day!!!! We had a mission Christmas conference! Hermana Conrad and I sang "Away in a Manger" which was SO fun! :) A little nerve-wracking given the whole mission was all there haha but its all good! For mission conference, they had a bunch of people who were converts to the church but are now leaders stand up and share their conversion stories, and guess who one of them was? OBISPO MORALES!! :D He is incredible, and his story as well! He is definitely one of my biggest role models in life, I am so grateful that I was able to meet him and spend the first 6 months of my mission working with him. :) It was an incredibly spiritual meeting and the whole time I felt so strongly this feeling-- I don't know how to explain it. But I have been praying for a while to feel like I had pleased the Lord with my mission. And the whole mission conference I felt God's love SO strongly, I felt like my heart was burning with love for the mission, for the people I have met, miracles I have been able to witness, lives that have touched mine, etc. We watched the mission slideshow, and I just felt so much JOY. 
After mission conference, I was able to see Marcos and Paco!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't even explain the happiness that COMPLETELY filled my entire being.
Marcos has spent a few months away from the church- he had been working on Sundays, not attending church, and as he wasn't attending church and feeling the Spirit, he started to fall back into old habits. But through the loving visit of a member, he came back!!! He talked about how he expected to walk back into church and have people look at him differently, have people be disappointed in him, but he said that Obispo Morales greeted him with a HUGE hug, told him how happy he was that he had come back, and even took a framed temple picture and gave it to him so he could always remember his goal to go to the temple and serve a mission. Now Marcos is stronger than ever and working towards being able to serve a mission in about a year-- he is sharing the gospel with his friends and spending a lot of time with the missionaries. It made my heart inexplicably happy. As we were there talking, we reminisced about the day we had met him, and both of us started crying-- everything about Marcos is SUCH a miracle and I am so so so grateful that he is a part of my life. 
Seeing Paco also made me SO happy!! He had also been struggling, and mentioned that he had been feeling really sad lately. I asked if he had been coming to church and he said that he hadn't for a month or so, but that Obispo went over and talked with him about his life, what he was going through, how he could help-- it was an outpouring of love that Paco really needed! Elder Wilder is now serving in their ward!!! So I told Paco to talk to him and go out with them, and he said that he would! He was ward missionary, and also loved to go do visits with the missionaries, and I know that will help him so much! Paco is just the sweetest guy-- He is amazing!! His family and him have been some of the most loving people I have ever known. :) 
I feel like I am coming to understand what JOY is. It isn't found in SELF. I have felt the most joy when I am able to focus completely on the needs of other people and rejoicing with them when they embrace the gospel and find peace in living it!! 

Thursday we went back to Lumberton (where the Maldonados and Banuelos live) and took Irene (and Perla haha) out with us to teach!!! Irene is the SWEETEST!!!!! She wanted so badly to give away her book of mormon, and was so excited to show the Christmas video to the people we contacted. :) She talked about how her family just got baptized and how they want to be examples to everyone else now. The people we met all know the Maldonados and talk about how amazing of a family they are, and how they look up to them. We know its because of the light of the gospel that shines from that family! :) It was such a sweet moment to have Irene with us sharing her testimony that is growing so fast of the church and the Book of Mormon. I love that girl! :) 

Friday's highlight-- we went to eat Pupusas in Port Arthur with Pedro :) haha thats alliteration if I've ever heard it! :) He came all the way out from Lake Charles because he wasn't going to be able to go to church, but he wanted to talk with us. He had brought up some of his concerns in a phone lesson earlier in the week, but seemed like they were pretty well resolved when we talked with him on Friday! He is SO GREAT so there was this worker guy from Guatemala that came over to us and asked if we were the Elders from the Mormon church, and Pedro jumped right in and explained who we are, what we do, what we teach, etc. And the guy says, "yeah I know! I was talking to the Elders and going to church for a year in Guatemala! But then I came here and couldn't find a church". So we talked with him, told him where the church is and everything, and then Pedro said, Well hey if you want to go sometime let me know! I will come with you! Whats your number? We will talk about the church! …it was so great. :) Pedro is already fellowshipping people. ;) 

Also funny story. our branch President had asked when we could come do service for him…. his service that he needed was moving a trampoline from his neighbor down the street's house to his house. I wish I had a picture of this, but my companion and I, and some Brother from the 1st ward picked up a giant trampoline and CARRIED IT through the neighborhood, then lifted it over President Garcia's fence to put it in his backyard. Hahaha it was SO funny. 

Yessika and David Gutierrez from West Lake Houston were sealed in the temple for time and all eternity!!!!!!! Yessika and David helped me through so much at the beginning of my mission, were some of my biggest support systems, really feel like my family here. 
David and Yessika have been through a lot together, but now they are stronger than ever and they love each other so much and have worked so hard to get to this point in the gospel. 
The kids are MY FAVORITES EVER. I can't put into words how much I love this family and how much they mean to me. We were outside the temple when they drove up, and they rolled down the window and called out to me, they were nervous but so excited. 
In the sealing room, they came in and the spirit filled the room so strong. My heart burned with so much love and gratefulness. They were sealed together and the way they looked at each other across the altar was the most beautiful thing. They were sealed for time and all eternity, a blessing that can't be found anywhere else besides the temples of the Lord. 
When their boys walked in, everything inside me melted. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. Their three boys were all dressed in white and came in and sat down next to their parents. As they were sealed together, the Spirit filled the room even more as they all knelt around the altar. Yessika has been a member about 7 years, David only 1, and one of their boys is old enough to be baptized. They have been waiting for the opportunity to be sealed for a long time. You could see the joy and love that was radiating from Yessika. 
You could feel the unity of the ward as everyone's eyes welled up with tears in that room. The love that we all felt for that family was so strong. 
When they all stood up to look into the mirrors, Yessika and David were both crying. You could tell how grateful they were for the opportunity to be a forever family. It was so beautiful. 
I am grateful for this gospel. So so grateful! I am so happy to know that through the power and authority of God on earth, I can be part of a forever family. I can make covenants with my Heavenly Father and I can receive all His promised blessings. I am so grateful I was able to be here today, to experience this and feel so strongly the Spirit. I am so grateful for the Gutierrez family and for their love, support, strength, faith, hard work, obedience, spirit, dedication, generosity, etc etc the list goes on. I know God lives and He loves us. He has provided us everything we need to be able to return to him again and be part of His family, sealed to our own families, forever. 
Sundayyyyyyy I promise I am almost done-- haha. Eric from Lake Charles came to church again and he brought 2 of his friends!!!!! :) It was SO great. He was so so happy and you could just tell he was soaking everything in. He is incredible. Sad news though-- this week he is moving out of our mission, which was heart wrenching. He texted us after church and just told us how grateful he was and how sad he was that he was leaving. But before he left, we looked up where he could find a church by where he lives. I have no doubt that he will continue to learn and grow and progress and change his life. I'll miss him though! 

SO SO SO many other incredible miraculous things happened this week! 
- We finally met this man from our branch named Teo-- He had been hurt and offended by some things that had happened in his life, and felt like no one in the church reached out to him when he fell away. So as we met with him, we just listened. I can't say really anything else we did, but being there with him, my companion and I both noticed a complete change. He talked about at the end how he was SO excited and ready to just go do the Lords work and it didn't matter to him what anyone else had said or done, he just wanted to do things right and not fall again. That was a miraculous lesson. I wish I could write more about it! 

- We got back in contact with Noe! He has been going through a lot of really hard things and had turned to alcohol as consolation but sought us out to talk with him! (Which was a huge change from the past few months where he wouldn't answer ANYTHING we sent him or any phone call we made to him). 

And more but I have to go now! I just love you all so much! Cant wait to talk to you on Christmas! 

I am so grateful for this Christmas season and for this incredible opportunity I have to be a full-time missionary and represent my Savior. I know He lives and loves each of us. I don't even want to think of what our world would be without Him. I feel like on my mission I have seen small glimpses of what lives are like without a knowledge of the gospel and Jesus Christ, and it fills me with such a desire to share that knowledge with others. I KNOW that the gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives. I know that having a testimony of Christ's atonement and the strength and cleansing we can receive through Him absolutely changes people and fills them with HOPE and JOY and FAITH. God loves us!!!! He really truly does! And we are here to be His hands to help others feel that :) I love you all! Have a happy Christmas week and always remember the true reason for the Season! 

Love, Hermana Shaelyn Rogers

Week 1 with Hermana Conrad

Hey there familia!
This week was awesome! I love Hermana Conrad! She is so awesome, we are going to have a great transfer :) 

We focused a ton on baptism with everyone we taught this week- this should always be my number one focus out here, given the fact that my entire purpose is to help others to come unto Christ by accepting His restored gospel through faith, repentance, and baptism! But we saw a lot of cool miracles through that emphasized focus :) 

Julio is someone we have been teaching for a while, but I feel like in the past his interest has wavered in and out, but this Sunday before last he came to church! So we talked with him on Tuesday and asked him a lot about what he felt and how he liked it! He loved it and said he wants to keep coming back. When we asked him about how he felt while he was at church, he described the feeling as being "too beautiful to put into words", "Like butterflies in his heart, but not because he was in love, but because of God" so we talked a lot about the Holy Ghost with him. President Garcia was with us, and he did this example with Julio. 
Julio stood across the room, and President set up chairs throughout the room and blindfolded Julio. He told Julio to follow his voice through the chairs, but would only speak every few seconds. Julio wasn't able to navigate himself through the obstacles, and struggled to know where to go. But then President Garcia went and held Julios arm and guided him physically and with his voice constantly guiding and instructing Julio, and Julio easily made it through the course. 
Afterwards we talked with Julio about the feelings he experienced in church- that is the Holy Ghost telling him that these things are true, but right now, the Holy Ghost isn't with him constantly- only in moments, like when President was only talking every few seconds. He said, "Yeah, I know. Like when I am talking with you guys, I feel good but then I go home and I don't feel good anymore. I get sad" Then we were able to explain to him the gift of the Holy Ghost and help him to know that he can have that constant companionship of the Spirit after he is baptized. It was really powerful, and Julio felt it. He kept saying, "Yeah, this is what I want, this is what I want". So when we talked about Baptism and how it is the first step, then he can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, both of those were things he wanted in his life right now. It was a really cool lesson-- it made me think a lot about the demonstration that President Garcia did. Everyone around us that hasn't heard the gospel are like the people who are blindfolded and only receive direction every once and a while- they can only feel the Spirit every so often, but don't always understand what it is. But my purpose right now is to help people receive the GIFT OF THE CONSTANT COMPANIONSHIP OF THE HOLY GHOST. A comforter and a guide to help them navigate the trials they are facing in life. We work with so many people that are experiencing a lot of really hard challenges, and we know that the gospel is what will help them, but its hard to help them see that themselves! But I think Julio was able to catch a glimpse of that this week as we were teaching him. He is now working towards baptism! 

In Lake Charles, Pedro is doing absolutely incredible! We were working with him over the phone a lot this week, and we saw him on Thursday! He is progressing so well and has such a profound understanding of Christ and His doctrine. When we teach Pedro, he asks questions about anything he hasn't heard of before, and he always wants to be sure he understands everything. He always says, "Its not because I am against this, its just because I want to be able to explain it when people ask me about it" I've probably mentioned this before, but Pedro always tells us that he is going to study everything so that someday he can be a missionary like us. He really really wants to be able to teach and help people understand, and in every prayer he blesses the missionaries everywhere that they will help people to know the restored gospel. Its the greatest :) We love Pedro SO much!! We studied a lot of scriptures in the Bible to help him understand our lesson, and he had a question about baptisms for the dead, so we showed him places he could read about it in the bible. He got so excited as we explained it to him, "WOW. I have read this scripture over and over and have never been able to understand what it meant until now". It was so cool to watch how happy he was when he understood better the scriptures. He also is working towards baptism :) He said he will get baptized in January- hasn't decided which date yet, but we have good news about Lake Charles! 
They are in the process of starting up a spanish gospel principles class!! There are members in that ward that only speak spanish and have been going for years even though they don't understand-- but now I don't know what exactly it was that inspired the change, but they are going to be having sunday school in spanish and HOPEFULLY someone that will be willing to translate sacrament meeting! Which is such good news because the work is really moving over there! We have been having phone lessons with 2 other guys that live in Lake Charles, and one of them has invited 2 of his friends to church! It will be much easier for them to attend in Lake Charles rather than coming all the way here, but it is also a little bit sad because we won't be able to see them in church. But whatever is better for them and their learning! 

Friday we had our big zone meeting with all the missionaries in the Beaumont zone! Hermana Conrad and I taught a segment about obedience, and it was really awesome to study for and prepare to teach missionaries about the promises God has already made them if they will be willing to live their part. One quote I have heard my whole mission is "Obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles" I know that to be true!! IN my studies recently I have been spending a  lot of focus on God's commandments and His promised blessings-- it amazes me how many there are. I really do know that God loves us and is just waiting to bless us! The only people that keep us from receiving everything He has to offer is ourselves. He has laid out very clearly the terms of every blessing He wants to give us, and then said, "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say", which guarantees that we will receive everything He has promised if we keep our end! That is just something that I have been thinking about recently! 

This weekend we also had our branch Christmas party! We were combined with the english ward, and it was so fun! It was a talent show and food thing-- we met new people that want to hear about the gospel so we are excited to teach them this upcoming week! :) 

Sunday was great! 
After church we went to teach Armando-- who we have also been teaching for months but whose work schedule has been crazy recently. He just told us that he will no longer have to work on Sundays, so he will start coming to church! He has been wanting to come for a long time, but has had work all of the time! But as we talked with him, he committed to us that he was going to turn things around now that he has more time. We had a couple members with us, Christian and Armando, and we promised him that he will notice the difference in his life as he makes the effort to draw closer to God. 

Elder Berry, my district leader, extended a commitment to us for this upcoming week. to find 10 NEW INVESTIGATORS!!! I know that with God's help it is absolutely possible, and I am SO SO SO excited to get out and find those people that are waiting to hear this gospel! Especially during this season where so many hearts are yearning to feel of God's love! I am so grateful for the opportunity to share that with others. We will be praying for the help and guidance to make this happen! :) With God everything is possible, we know there are people here to find, we know that there is a message to be shared, and that the Spirit can carry this message into people's hearts. I can't wait to see what miracles will come. 

Hope everyone is having a good week. I love you all so much :) 
Love you tons, pray for you always, 
Hermana Rogers

Christ is the Reason

Hey family!!
This last week was pretty crazy! 
It was Hermana Andrus' last week in the mission! I can't even believe how fast time went, we were together for 4 1/2 months! I have learned so much from her about feeling the Spirit, loving people with your whole heart, and teaching to peoples needs. We have been through a lot of experiences together and met so many people that have completely changed my life. I am so grateful for the time we were together, I know we will be lifelong friends, I am going to miss her a lot, and I know the branch will as well! 

As far as summarizing this last week, I can pretty much do it in 1 word! SERVICE :) 

We spent a lot of time with Alex and Karen this week, helping them prepare for a baby shower! Karen is about to have a baby in January, but had to go into the hospital last week because she was already having contractions, which was way early! She didn't end up having the baby, but she feels like it will come soon, and right now it only weighs 5 pounds! She needed a lot of help making the decorations and treats, and we were there for quite a few hours this week, but it was SO GOOD! Karen served a mission, came home and married Alex, who wasn't a member, but he got baptized this last year! Since then, they have had a lot of challenges, but it is a really good opportunity anytime we are with Karen to talk to her about her mission and remind her of the experiences she had. We love them! :) 

We also spent a few hours weeding President Garcia's front yard-- I had been promising President I would do that for a really long time, so we had to make it happen! It was pretty funny though, anytime we would ask President what we could do for him or the branch he would look at us and say, "Yeah you could weed my yard like you promised to forever ago!" haha. We promise we are trustworthy people and hold to our word...even if it takes a while. 

We spent time with Tyler's family, helping MawMaw with the house and kids, and are SO happy with that family!! They always tell us they want to adopt us into the family, and we would be more than happy to be! Hermana Andrus had a really hard time saying bye to them, it kind of broke my heart just watching it, and I am not looking forward to that moment in a few weeks. But anyways, they are all doing awesome, especially Tyler!! He had his interview on Sunday to get his patriarchal blessing!!! He is doing so so well :) Finished his BYU application, we will see how all that goes! 

A huggggge highlight of this week was MLC- the Missionary Leadership Conference! 

One thing that we talked about a TON was this phrase:

They gave each of us this talk called Christ is the Reason by Merrill and Marilyn S. Bateman. I will be studying it in depth throughout these next few weeks, I am really excited to see what insights I can gain through studying and focusing on these 5 things. ESPECIALLY MY SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. I know He is the reason behind everything that we do as missionaries, everything that I do as a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and everything that we invite our investigators to do. I know that He is the reason we can be made clean, we can be given strength, and we can one day return to live with Heavenly Father. HE IS THE GIFT that Heavenly Father sent to the earth to suffer for our sins, to die on the cross, and to be resurrected. HE IS THE WAY for each of us to be redeemed and saved. HE IS THE ULTIMATE EXAMPLE of who we need to become and how we need to treat others. I am so grateful that I get to testify of Him and help people DISCOVER WHY God sent His Son. I know it was for each of us. I will write more as I continue to gain more insights, but I encourage each of you to spend some time pondering our Savior, to personally discover why He was born. I definitely will be! 
There is one quote from this talk that I would like to share. 
"Christ is the basis for all that we do. He is the reason we do missionary work. Without the Savior and His Atonement, there would be no good news to spread. Without Him, temple work would be in vain. Our progress would stop. But He did partake of the bitter cup and "finished His preparations unto the children of men". As we come to know Him and to "learn...that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ", we become better students, we have a stronger influence on others, we serve more faithfully as missionaries, and we raise better families" 
I am so grateful for Him and the motivation that my testimony of Him gives me to serve others and share the good news that He has brought! 

We also focused a lot again on the goal-setting process, how to have a focused vision, and how to set specific plans to reach that vision. It made me really excited to set goals for myself and for this area. Today I will be putting all that learning to action as me and my new companion plan for our area-- today we are going to set the vision for what we want to accomplish this transfer, which is really meaningful for me since it is my last one. This past week I have just felt SUCH a burning desire to work absolutely as hard as I can and to prepare and plan for how I can help everyone we have been working with. I LOVE THE MISSION!!

My new companion is Hermana Conrad!! SHE IS AMAZING!!! We have also served around each other before and been on many exchanges, in fact, one exchange that we were on was the time we found Ricky!! (I don't know if you remember the story, but when it flash flooded and by a long chain of events we ended up in Taco Cabana, and ended up teaching him lesson 1 while we were stuck there, he let me throw away his beer and he went and got a water, and committed to baptism right there-- huge miracle!! And then another exchange we were on was when Salt Lake had given him permission to be baptized so Hermana Conrad and I were together when we got to tell him :) Then I was still in Broadway when he got baptized so I was able to be there! 
So we have already had some amazing experiences together and I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS TRANSFER. 
The whole car ride home from Kingwood to Beaumont (about 2 hours) we were talking about what we want to accomplish, who we want to become, what people we have the opportunity to serve, how much we want to be diligent and obedient and not waste time-- it was so great. This is going to be an incredible transfer. And Beaumont is the greatest place ever <3 I love this branch and all of our investigators! 

Speaking of our investigators!!! PEDRO drove himself to church on Sunday (1 1/2 hour drive from Lake Charles) AND BORE HIS TESTIMONY IN SACRAMENT MEETING!!! We had explained how testimony meeting worked, and he asked if everyone would get to go up, and we told him that anyone who wanted to could! It was an incredibly spiritual meeting, and Pedro asked if HE was able to go up and share his testimony, and when we told him yes, he got right up and shared it! :) He is amazing! I love him soo much!! 
Tyler also bore his testimony and it was SO sweet-- he talked about how he has seen the change in himself since he started coming back to church and the difference he notices in how happy he is and the light he feels. He compared it to how he felt before and it has been a huge change! Tyler has come so far! We are so grateful that we have been able to be here to see the change in his life. 

I am so grateful for the gospel. I KNOW it changes lives, I have seen it SO much, both in my own life, and in the lives of people I have met and worked with here. I know God lives and loves His children, I feel so much of that love both for me and for others! I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and that He lives! Even though I am imperfect, He loves me perfectly and is there for me every step of the way. I love the opportunity I have to show other people the strength that they can feel when they accept and follow Him and ask for His help. 
I love you all! I hope you have had and will have a great week! Thank you for everything! 

Love, Hermana Rogers

Monday, November 30, 2015

Double Update

Hey family! 
I am sorry that we didn't get to email this last week, it was a crazy week! But I will talk about that after I do a quick recap of the week before! 

The week before was very focused on Leo leading up to his baptism!  We had a family home evening with him on Monday with the Keffer family, his baptismal interview on Wednesday, and his baptism on Saturday! :) 

His baptism was amazing. He was so excited, and so ready to be baptized. He recognized how special that day was to him, and it was especially good to have his family involved in the program. His mom has been less active since I have been here, because of the job she has, and she has been telling us for months that her schedule was going to change and she could bring her kids to church. But then at an activity in September, she told us that she wanted us to prepare her son to be baptized. So we have been working with him and getting to know the family since then. Leo has been so excited to be baptized and kept telling his mom how badly he wanted to get baptized and how he wanted his siblings to take part in the program. It was so sweet. 
At his baptism, his mom shared her testimony about how she knew the church was true by the Spirit and she was excited for Leo to gain his own testimony. 
Sunday was his confirmation and it was incredible. Leo wrote about his experience later and said that he felt a warm feeling in his heart that he had never felt before. Even at the age of 9 he is still able to recognize the feeling of the Spirit come into his life, and I know that he will be able to continue feeling that! He was telling us that he wants to keep that good feeling with him, and as he makes the right choices he can. His siblings are both older than him, one is 16 and the other is 20, and they both are also less active, but I know Leo is setting an example for them! He is amazing :)

Saturday morning before the baptism was...interesting and really hard. We got up and went to do a service project at the church in the POURING rain. We were laying rocks around the trees and bushes on the church property but it was raining so much and all the men didn't want to "burden" us "young ladies" (good grief). Then Hna Keffer called and told us she had a special task for us. She asked us to grab any and all makeup stuff that we don't use very much. Then she took us to a funeral home where Lucina Rivera, a lady in our branch who passed away this week had been taken. It was strange. She was so stiff and grey and pasty. Her eyes and lips had been glued shut, but Hna Keffer told Hermana Andrus that she was putting her in charge of doing her makeup because her funeral was Sunday (she also informed us as we are standing by the body that she had already put us on the program to sing). So that was a lot of new information. I was in tears because being brought to a body of dear Hermana Lucina who I had been visiting and working with and teaching was really heart breaking. So everyone just sat and watched as Hermana Andrus cautiously put makeup on Lucina, who had passed of brain cancer. Her daughter and granddaughter were in there, and as we were in the room, one of her sons who I had also met and talked with multiple times came in and just held his mom and cried. It was heart wrenching. It was such a contrast to be mourning a loss Saturday morning, then celebrating Leo's baptism Saturday afternoon.

One other thing from a couple weeks ago! Pedro! :) We went up to Lake Charles, ready to teach Pedro lesson 2, the Plan of Salvation. We started the lesson, and he asked "so what is the life of a Mormon like anyways?" We didn't exactly understand what he meant, so we asked him, and he said, "How will I have to live after I am baptized?" So we decided in the moment that we were going to go over the baptismal interview questions with him. One thing that is so amazing about Pedro is that he really makes sure that he understands everything we teach him. He asks questions, shows us bible scriptures that explain what he believes, and is really open with us. He told us that in his prayers he always asks God to show him if this is what he needs to do, and he told us he would come to church!! Even though it is an hour and a half drive! :)

Ok that was pretty much the week before this last week! 

Alright, now for this last week! 

So as some of you heard, our Pday was switched to Wednesday because we somehow ended up with ALL the responsibilities in the preparation  and execution of Lucina's funeral. So we worked on funeral details from 8am to 6pm. We made all the programs for the family, and Hermana Andrus and I sang, "Divina Luz" (Lead Kindly Light) as a 3-part arrangement with our Branch Presidents wife as part of the program. It was a sweet experience, and I felt the Spirit testify to me so strongly of the plan of salvation. It is a really hard experience to be at the funeral of someone you have spent time working with and serving and loving, but it is incredible to hear the testimonies of the plan that God has for us. I know He lives and loves us, and provides the way for us to return to Him. 

Tuesday we had an extremely productive day and found some new investigators!!! One of which is named Mario and he is so prepared!! He kept saying his biggest priority in looking for the right church is finding a church that has the complete truth... Something that we (and only we) just happen to have!! He was at Lucinas funeral on Monday and pulled President Garcia aside telling him that he wanted to learn more about the church, so as we talked to him, he explained to us that he wants to be a part of a church that encourages him to be better! He said that his dad and a lot of his friends have been telling him to join a church, and he kept seeing this one. We are excited to see him progress! 
Tuesday night our favorite person ever Michael came out with us and we were able to see Antonio, Julio, Armando, Josue, and Henry. Such a spiritual evening. Michael is applying for BYU right now and prepping for his mission so he is always an eager and powerful member-present.

Wednesday we got to take our Pday. Before I go on, let me apologize for the lack of email... We went on a fishing excursion and the member who dropped us off got a flat tire and we were left stranded until after dark.
On the plus side, IT WAS AMAZING!!!! So gorgeous and a perfect temperature. Due to the recent rain pour we found that the trail we took last time when we went trail-biking was now a we got creative and built a bridge-type structure with a bunch of logs. It took awhile and 2 of our youth fell in...but it was super fun! The fishing hole was absolutely breathtaking with the southern green and the expansive, heavenly sky above. I love it. Also I caught a huge fish!! Dad you would have been so proud :) We threw the football and fished for the afternoon then made our way back. On the way back the sun went down much faster than anticipated and that coupled with the tree coverage left us crossing our makeshift bridge in the dark.  We got to the front of the state park and continued our football game until Hna Keffer showed up with her shiny new tires.

Thursday was Thanksgiving and it was WONDERFUL!!! We started off with some service and ate with Tyler Guy's family about noon followed by games and some fairly intense kickball. The family expressed to us how grateful they are for us and we expressed how grateful we are for them! They stuffed us full with Maw Maw's stuffing and turkey, Bethany's yams, Kaitlyn's ham and rolls, Chad's boudan, and the babies' deviled eggs and cranberry sauce. Then Maw Maw and Janet surprised us with personally engraved charm bracelets in equally beautiful engraved boxes that say, "friends are the family we choose ourselves." So precious!!! We have spent so long making our way into this family, trying to create an environment of familiarity and acceptance with things of the church to facilitate Tyler's church activity while still living at home. It was such a blessing to be with them that day and see the change in each family member.
Then we made our way back to Beaumont for our second Dinner with the Keffer Family. They had a family reunion dinner so we had to move all 48 people into the church gym for dinner. They also introduced something new and delicious. It's a Stuffing WAFFLE!!!! Normal stuffing, but baked in a waffle iron. It was super tasty.

Friday we had a great district meeting where they introduced the new "A Savior is Born" Christmas initiative. I am so amazed with the work they church does, especially now with their social media and tech-friendly gospel-sharing methods. If you haven't seen it, go watch the videos the church has come out with! 

Saturday was INCREDIBLE!!! So Hermana Andrus' first baptism, Jaime Acevedo, went through the temple!!!! Jaime moved into my ward in my first area soon after his baptism, and I was able to work with him as well as a newly recent convert, so being there as he went through the temple was absolutely amazing. For me it really strengthened my testimony of the work of Salvation! I am here as a missionary to invite people to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel- starting with baptism, but that isn't the end goal! I am here to help people to endure to the end, continuing to make covenants, in the house of the Lord, so that they can prepare to inherit the Celestial Kingdom. The change in Jaime was amazing, and even though I didn't teach him completely from beginning to end, I was still able to watch the light that the gospel brought into his life and how it changed and softened his heart. The spirit in the temple was so strong, and Jaime was SO happy!! The power of the Atonement is real. Jesus Christ is our real and living Savior and through Him we can change. We can be healed. We can receive the peace and comfort the Spirit brings, and we can begin, just BEGIN to taste of the love our Heavenly Father has for us.

 Sunday was AMAZING!!!! Seriously so great. So, we showed up at church knowing that Pedro and Hermano Ortiz were coming from Lake Charles, and when we got there, we saw that they had brought 2 other friends with them!!! :) Hermano Ortiz brought these guys we hadn't met named Eric and Alexis! We were able to have all of them and the Bañuelos in our Gospel Principles class, and it was an opportunity for them to ask questions and get to know the new members in our branch. Salvador chimed in and shared his testimony of what it was like to be a new convert, and it was so sweet how he was able to relate to their concerns and bear testimony of how he has overcome trials. Salvador is amazing and has progressed and overcome so much, so having him share his testimony with the 3 investigators in our class was so powerful and sweet. :) 
Sacrament meeting, I gave a talk about faith and shared ways that I have seen examples of faith in my mission and how we can increase and strengthen the faith we have in our lives. Our branch mission leader Danny also gave a talk- his wife Carmela is still coming every week to church! This past week we went and visited her to talk with her about baptism, she is open to learning and coming to church, and is saying her prayers alone and with Danny! She has come a long way, and Danny keeps reassuring us that her time is coming! Tyler Guy was also there at church with us! :) He got his ecclesiastical endorsement done to be able to apply for BYU! We are really excited about that!
After church, we went to President Garcia's house to watch Christian Maldonado open his mission call! He is the first young man to leave on his mission from this branch, and has been waiting to leave on his mission since I have been here, and now he has his call! He will leave for the Baton Rouge, LA mission on February 16! He is family of Blanca and Salvador and was there the whole time we were teaching them, and has helped us a lot with fellowshipping our investigators, he is going to be a great missionary and we are excited for him! :) 
Later that night we went to Winnie and did service with Tyler's family! We love them so much, they have shown us so much love as well, and even tell us that we are adopted into the family! They are the sweetest, and every day we are grateful that they are a part of our lives. :) We know everything that we have been through with them has been a miracle, but was all according to God's timing that we were led to that family and were able to get in and be a part of their lives. They have become some of our greatest friends! 

All in all it has been an incredible past couple of weeks! This next week is Hermana Andrus' last week in the mission, which has been pretty hard for her. But we are going to finish strong! Watching and talking with her about finishing her mission has made me realize how fast time has gone and how fast it will go, but also made me appreciate every moment I have with the people I am serving around. I know that I was called to the Texas Houston East mission for a reason, and that the people here and the experiences I am having are changing my life. I love being a missionary. Love it with my whole heart. Thank you for your continued support and patience. Have a wonderful week!  
Love you all! 
Hermana Rogers