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. 
I. LOVE. THE. MISSION. 
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. 

SATURDAY WAS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DAY EVER. 
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:
"OBEDIENCE IS THE PRICE,
FAITH IS THE POWER,
LOVE IS THE MOTIVE, 
THE SPIRIT IS THE KEY,
AND CHRIST IS THE REASON"

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 stream...so 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 BaƱuelos 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

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Twenty-One!


Hola familia! 
Les quiero mucho y quiero que sepan esto!

I hope you all have had a great week, we definitely have! :) I will go day by day and talk about the biggest miracles we saw :)

Monday we had a family home evening with the Keffer family and Leonardo and his mom and brother :) It was so fun! We taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ: Faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. As we taught, Leo asked the most adorable questions, and gave such sweet answers! I love this kid so much! His mom asked him if he wanted to be baptized and he said yes and just looked so happy! I will send a picture we got with Leo and his mom so y'all can see him. He is adorable. 

Tuesday we went to dinner with President Garcia and his family, and then President Garcia came with us to a couple appointments. We brought Dulce Caudillo out with us, it was SO good! Her family got a new car, so they are able to come to church now, which is so amazing to see! :) 
But with Dulce and President we were able to see BRANDO, who we hadn't seen in such a long time! All last week, his grandpa had been telling us that Brando obviously didn't want to talk to us anymore, and that he was too rebellious to come to church, but we had a really good lesson with him on Tuesday, and in his prayer, he asked Heavenly Father that we could come back as soon as possible. It was amazing! 
We also taught Antonio and Julio with Dulce, while President and Julian Venegas were able to visit Armando and Josue!!! They welcomed them right in, and had a great talk. It was a miraculous night, where we were able to see a lot of people we hadn't seen in a while! 

Wednesday morning, we went to practice our musical number that was for zone conference on Thursday. Sister Longhurst, one of the senior missionaries that serves in the YSA branch in Beaumont, accompanied us. We love he Longhursts! 
We also had a lot of planning to do! One thing that has changed in the Beaumont zone, is there is now a set of Sisters in Winnie! There is one English sister and one Spanish sister, and they will be contacting and teaching down there, and we will teach in Spanish as well whenever we are there. It's new and a little bit different to have Sisters there, but it will be good! That area hasn't had missionaries in it for 10 years, besides when we go there to visit people that speak Spanish. 

Thursday we had a zone conference with the orange zone! It was awesome. 
They had called Hermana Andrus and I ahead of time and asked us if we would do a musical number, so we sang this song called "Here am I, send me". The lyrics were really pretty, about the desire we have to serve God. Hermana Andrus and I have had the chance to sing together at a lot of mission conferences and meetings, it's been so fun throughout our missions! 
The Assistants to the President also asked us to present the Restoration lesson using the pamphlet, so during the breakout sessions, we gave 3 different presentations, and I learned a lot by presenting and teaching in front of other missionaries. I have to admit, I was really nervous, but the Spirit was so strong, even when it wasn't a real lesson. I am grateful that we had that opportunity! 
At the end of the conference, they asked the missionaries that are going home this transfer to share their testimonies. To my surprise, they also asked the missionaries that are going home next transfer to share their testimonies! So I stood up to share my testimony of the lessons I have learned throughout my mission and...wow... That minute to reflect was so overwhelming and I felt so much love for my mission. I know I have learned so much and just want to experience every moment to the absolute fullest from here on out.
That night, we went on splits again. I went to Lake Charles to see Pedro, and that lesson was one of the most powerful lessons I have ever had in my entire life!!! We taught him about the Book of Mormon, and throughout the whole lesson, I could see in his eyes how much he already appreciated the Book of Mormon. He had such an enthusiasm to learn about it, and accepted the invitation to be baptized when he knows it's true! Pedro is so humble and incredible and I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to teach him and see his desire to learn. :) in his prayer, he blessed the missionaries around the world that they would be protected and that the people we teach and visit will be accepting of the true gospel. He is so prepared! 

Friday night we saw Armando and Josue!!!!!!! I hadn't seen Josue since....before general conference! I was sooooo happy. They invited us right in and we met a cousin of theirs that is living with them now, and so we talked about the Book of Mormon, Josue told us why he hadn't talked to us in so long, and then after a while of us teaching, DANIEL WALKED IN! It was the happiest moment of my life seeing them all sitting there on the couch, hearing them express their feelings about the Savior and His church, and the things they needed to do to follow Him. Armando and Josue told us they were planning on going to church, and that President and Julian had talked to them about it on Tuesday! :) The Spirit was really strong in that lesson as well, and I just felt overwhelming love for them! I have really missed teaching them, and hearing the testimonies that they have. 

Saturday I turned 21! We played ultimate frisbee with the Elders in the morning which was really fun! Then my companion made me breakfast and decorated the apartment while I was in the shower, which was so sweet of her. We went and got Frosties at Wendy's with the Elders which was also a surprise for me, and then there was a big Family History event at the church building. We didn't really get a chance to sit at many of the booths, but it made me so happy to look at all the different resources the church has come out with or joined with that makes family history work so much easier! I want to learn more about Family History, I know that is a big part of the work of Salvation! 
After the event, we taught Leonardo Guzman at the church! We went over the baptismal interview questions with him, and he knew all the answers! He is such a sweet kid, I love him! He is so sincere and honest in everything that he says, I love teaching him and working with him! :) his baptism will be this Saturday! It came so fast!
We stopped by Tylers cousins soccer game on our way to Winnie, and said hi to a bit of Tyler's family who was there, then left! 
The Caudillo family fed us a delicious dinner, and Dulce got me a Columbia jacket and slippers!! She is seriously the sweetest girl ever. I think I have mentioned this before, but she reminds me of my times in high school where I would go out with the Sister Missionaries- it makes me so happy to have Dulce with us, I just want to set the best example for her and help her with her testimony and desire to serve like the Sisters from our ward have done for me. 
After the Caudillo family, we went to Tyler's house! His aunt Quanah told us she is coming with us to church Sunday, even if it means Tyler has to drive over to her house to wake her up, she wants to go so bad! We spent some time with the family before heading back home. 
It was an amazing day, full of a lot of happiness! :) Thank you all for your birthday wishes as well! I can't believe I am 21, that seemed forever away, but life is happening and time moves so fast! But anyways...

Sunday was also a great day!!!! Quanah came to church with Tyler! She loved it, and I am sure we will see her back. Also Danny's wife Carmela came again, she has been coming for a couple months now, and seems really happy there. Danny doesn't want to push her to be baptized, but I know her time will come! Michelle (who lives with the Licon family) and Gizelle also came! :) And our friend Leo, he got dropped off by his non-member dad at 9 AM and stayed until 1:20!! So he went to English and Spanish wards! He is awesome :) :) 
After church, Hermana Andrus rushed me around to run a bunch of errands with her, little did I know, the whole branch was setting up a potluck in the gym! So we came back in, and there was this huge event set up for mine and Norma Caudillos birthdays!!!! It was so sweet, and pretty much melted my heart! This branch and my companion are amazing. :) they had gotten me a cake and we all spent time together, it was so fun :)
We went and visited more people that night, and all in all it was an amazing week! 

THIS WEEK HAS BEEN SO MIRACULOUS! :) I am so grateful for everything we have seen, and I can't wait to see what will happen this week. I love the gospel, I love the mission, and I love all y'all! Thanks for the support and love this week, you are amazing :)
Hope you have a great week! 
Love, Hermana Rogers

Monday, November 9, 2015

He Can Make All Things Happen

Hey family!

This week went by so fast! Monday and Tuesday we went to Kingwood for
the mission leadership meeting!
We learned a lot in the meeting about unity as leadership, and worked
a lot with our zone leaders and all the district leaders. We were able
to spend some time planning with each other, and focused a lot on
communication and vision. We set a goal as a zone to baptize 38 people
this transfer, and the way we set that goal was really cool. We went
into a separate room and said a kneeling prayer about what we could
accomplish with the Lords help. I felt the Spirit so strong testifying
to me that God loves His children here and wants them to receive His
saving ordinances. HE CAN MAKE ALL THINGS HAPPEN! I think that so
often we as missionaries focus on ourselves and what we can
accomplish, instead of turning ourselves over to the Lord and seeing
what He can accomplish through us. But as we were praying with all the
leaders, I felt so so so strong that I need the help of the Lord, and
I have to act in His strength. I know that we can do all things with
the Lord and His power!

One of the biggest miracles of this week was on Thursday, We went on
splits and I went to Lake Charles again, where we have been working
with the Hispanic members over there to bring their friends to the
chapel while we are there so we can teach lessons. We have gotten 4 or
5 referrals from them, and they were planning on all coming, but
unfortunately most of them had to work late. BUT one of their friends
Pedro did come and he is INCREDIBLE! :) Within a few minutes of being
at the lesson, he told us how open minded he is, especially after
hearing what his friend had to say about the church! He told us that
he wanted to learn, and was very accepting of everything we taught.
After the Joseph Smith story, he said, "WOW. Those words are
beautiful." He felt so strongly and told us that he was going to pray
about everything we taught and would be there next week. It was so
cool, and the Spirit was really strong. :)
While I was gone, Hermana Andrus got back in contact with Josue!!! He
had told us over general conference that he was distancing himself
from us, and then wouldn't answer us, and was never at home. But
Hermana Andrus saw him AND one of his friends that they had already
told about the church! :)

We also had an amazing experience with a less active family that had
been....a little less than enthusiastic about having Hermanas in the
branch. We have been trying to work with them since I have gotten
here, and there has been a lot of ups and downs with them. But this
week, we had set up an appointment to meet with them (we found out the
husband in the family that is a recent convert had been talking to
Jehovahs Witnesses because he felt he hadn't been learning in the
church). When we went over, neither of them were home, so we were
about to leave. There was someone in the garage and she was cooking
for his birthday! As we were walking away, the husband pulled up and
asked if we had our phone because he had called us to invite us to his
birthday party! So we helped set up and stayed for a bit and it was a
really positive experience.

There is a quote I read this week that I want to share about facing
the future with faith. And becoming who He wants us to be.
"You have a choice. You can wring your hands and be consumed with
concern for the future or choose to use the counsel the Lord has given
to live with peace and happiness in a world awash with evil.
As you continue to center your mind and heart in Him, He will help you
have a rich and full life no matter what happens in the world around
you.
As a young man or woman, though life may seem difficult now, hold on
to that iron rod of truth. You are making better progress than you
realize. Your struggles are defining character, discipline, and
confidence in the promises of your Father in Heaven and the Savior as
you consistently obey Their commandments. You are so important. You
are so needed. There are so few willing to make the sacrifice you are
making to live righteously. You can develop the sensitivity, love, and
kindness to gain supreme happiness within the covenant of an eternal
marriage. You will bless your children with insight the world can
never give them. Your example will set the course for their successful
life as the world becomes even more difficult. You are needed to
strengthen the growing kingdom of the Lord and to be role models for
so many who lack the light of truth you have"
Richard G Scott

I love you all! Thanks for everything sorry this is so short!

We have to go to dinner, but I want all of you to know that I love you
so much! You are the greatest family ever :)
Hermana Rogers


Hermana Rogers

Monday, October 26, 2015

Staying in Beaumont!

Week 6 of Transfer 3 in Beaumont TX!

GUESS WHAT?! IM NOT LEAVING BEAUMONT!!!!!! I can't even explain how happy this makes me! Especially since I was pretty confident that I was going to be leaving this transfer, I have already been here for 3 transfers, this is Hermana Andrus' last transfer, and then I only have one more after that. So not that I am looking ahead too far, but at the end of this transfer when she goes home, either they move me too and have to put 2 new missionaries in this area and send me somewhere else just for 1 transfer, OR I will be here until the end of my mission- I don't know what will happen, but I did not expect to be staying here. Haha to the extent that I even packed all my clothes and cleared out my desk, I was almost done packing the night before we got the phone call that I was staying. :) I love Beaumont though, so I am super excited! 

This week was so awesome! 

So I told you about our trip to Louisiana on Monday, where we went fishing! We did catch fish, they weren't very big, and we didn't keep them BUT it was so much fun and brought back lots of fishing memories. :) I think now since I am staying, we will try going fishing again in Port Arthur- this member named Julian Venegas loves fishing and is going to take us to his favorite fishing spot! 

Monday night and Tuesday I went on exchanges to a city called Kountze! It was a "trio exchange" where I was with another companionship together to see how they work together. It was awesome! :) I loved working with them and serving in their area! They are whitewash training, so they had a lot of questions about how to be the first missionaries in an area, so I got to help them a bit with that! 

Thursday morning we went with the Senior missionaries in our area to breakfast, then went biking around for a few hours contacting formers and people that we had seen before. After biking for 3 hours and trying people unsuccessfully, we were walking from someone's house back to our bikes, and across the street, we heard someone call out to us and ask if we were the Mormons. We answered that we were, and he said like, "Sweet, we got it right! Well me and my friend are over and we want to talk to you guys, so when you finish up over there you can just come on over!" So we went over, knowing we were about to get picked up by then Longhursts, and as we were talking, the guy who's name was Lupe, said, "So what is it about you Mormons? I talk to everyone who comes to talk about religion, but I admire you guys. There is something different about the  can see it in your eyes, it's like a glow". He invited us back and told us about his friend right there that we can teach as well! It was amazing, and strengthened my testimony so much that people notice us and the light that we have around us! Be a good example because people notice the difference! :)

Friday we taught Manuel twice! Once earlier in the day with Angela, talked a lot about the Book of Mormon, and he understood so well! We talked about baptism and he committed to a date for November 21!!! :) then later, Julian took him to the church! We gave a church tour, showed him the baptismal font and Christ's baptism video, he said he was feeling a lot more comfortable after having talked to us! He had even read since we'd seen him earlier that day! :)

Sunday was the greatest day of my entire life!!!!! TYLER CAME TO CHURCH AND BROUGHT HIS SIBLINGS! Him, his little sister and the twins came, as well as Hunter- an 11 year old cousin of his! They all live together and we have been visiting them for 12 weeks and we love their family sooooo much!! Ahhh it was the happiest thing ever seeing them at church :)
Then their whole family came to lunch with the Maldonados and Banuelos, which was way fun :) 
Also Antonio came and brought Julio! They were both able to stay for sacrament meeting and the gospel principles class we teach :) And Manuel came and loved church! He is a lot more nervous about being around a lot of people, but the members here are so friendly and loving and made him feel so comfortable :) Sitting with all of them in our row during sacrament was the happiest thing ever. 

In summary, it was the greatest week! We are so happy we are staying together :) I love this place so much! 
Sorry that this is so short and doesn't have a lot of detail, it has been a crazy day of reorganizing and rearranging. But I will keep you updated as time goes on! I love y'all so much! 

Also we still don't have a car .., :( but we are making it work! 

I love being a missionary :) I love y'all! 

Love,
Hermana Rogers

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Mission Is Incredible

I don't have much time, because as you heard, we went to Louisiana to
go FISHING :) Since our area is so big, we have a lot of liberty to go
wherever we want on Pdays! :) we went with a group of members and it
was way fun! But I will try and summarize this past week!

We still don't have a car unfortunately. It has been a full week and
then some, and it's IMPOSSIBLE TO GET AROUND, which makes the work a
lot more difficult. But thankfully we have amazing members here that
are willing to help us out a ton, so thing have still been happening
and we get a lot of quality time on our bikes. :)

Some of the miracles of this week! We met this boy named Brando! He is
the grandson of a less active recent convert that we have been working
with. He is 17, and has talked to missionaries before and been to
church twice with his grandma and his dad. He came to eat dinner with
us, invited us back the next day and came to church with us! :) it was
awesome. He is really humble and has a lot of potential- he doesn't
have a very big religious background, but we were able to focus a lot
on developing a relationship with God and understanding who Jesus
Christ is- the lesson with him was really spiritual and made me
realize how blessed I was to have the knowledge I do about my Savior
and loving Father in Heaven. Brando said he felt the spirit, and when
we invited him to be baptized, he said yes! His date that he is
preparing for is the 14th of November. Best birthday present ever!!

Another amazing lesson we had was with Armando! We finally got to see
him again! It has been soooo long! We went over the baptismal
interview questions and he knows EVERYTHING still, even though it has
been so long since we have been able to see him! We invited him to be
baptized- he has already passed a couple of the dates he has set, but
right now he has been working until 10 or 11 at night and also on
Sundays in the morning. So he has been so so hard to see. But we
watched the Restoration video with him right then and the Spirit
filled the room so strong. We shared our testimonies about the
importance of the Restoration and then had him say the closing prayer.
In his prayer, he thanked Heavenly Father for sending us back to him,
and also for showing him this beautiful video and helping him know
it's true again. It was an incredible feeling!

Antonio is still doing so well :) He also came to church on Sunday!
President Garcia had his baby blessed in sacrament meeting which was
beautiful, and then afterwards we went to his house to have lunch with
all his extended family. That was so fun!

Hector had a little bit of a fall out this last week, but it was an
opportunity for us to testify to him of the Atonement and everything
it means for HIM. Yet another moment where I was able to reflect on
the importance of Christ's gospel. He knows everything we need and how
to help us. There is nothing we can do that will keep us from His love
and mercy. He is able to forgive our sins and heal the pain we have
felt from them, He can turn our weaknesses into strengths and help
change our hearts. I love my Savior.

We were also able to meet with our President of the mission this week
and receive training from the Assistants, which was incredible. One of
the things that they did that I highly recommend to everyone: say a
prayer, pour out everything in your soul, spend time talking to
Heavenly Father. Then sit in a quiet place and write yourself a letter
from Heaven. It was BEAUTIFUL. I have done things like this my whole
mission when I read scriptures that are for me, I write them down- I
have felt so much love from my Heavenly Father through the scriptures
and promptings of the Spirit. It was an incredible experience. :)

I have been spending quite a bit of time reflecting recently. I
realize that teaching the gospel is the most rewarding thing I have
ever done with my entire life, I love being a missionary. There is
nothing I want more than to help these people find what will bring
them happiness, a knowledge of Jesus Christ and what He has done for
them. The feeling of teaching someone how to pray, and then listening
to their heartfelt sincere prayers thanking God for leading you to
them and changing their life is the most incredible feeling I have
ever experienced. Watching people change their lives when they hear
about the hope and peace and happiness that comes from Christ's gospel
is AMAZING. This is the greatest year and a half ever. :) I have felt
soooo much love in this past year, more than I could ever express. THE
MISSION IS INCREDIBLE. I LOVE IT SO MUCH! I am sooooo grateful I am
here. :)

Thank you all for your support- happy birthday Brayton-o :) I love
y'all so much! Have a great week!
Love,
Hermana Rogers

Miracles

I am having a serious struggle coming up with titles for emails because every week I just want to say across the top in huge letters BEST WEEK EVER-- Every week is seriously the greatest out here. This week had a lot of trials, but also soooo many amazing moments! I will write about as many of them as I can with the short amount of time that I have.

On Monday, we saw Blanca and Salvador for a little bit. I talked to Salvador a lot and he brought up to me that one day, he wanted to stand up in church and share his testimony and thank Heavenly Father for the things that he has learned. He told me about how much his life has changed and how before he felt like he was in a pit, feeling really low. But he said that then they came here and stayed with the Maldonados and then we came along and brought them from where they were to where they are now and he is so grateful. It made me cry, THIS IS MY PURPOSE and I got to be here for Salvador's whole conversion process, watching him come here with so many burdens and struggles and be able to see the hand of the Lord lifting him up and helping him make major changes in his life. He has come so far. :) 
Then Monday night we drove from Beaumont to Kingwood for my first Missionary Leadership Counsel!! It is a big meeting with all the zone leaders and sister training leaders in the mission. Since we are so far away, we get to drive in Monday night and stay at the mission home with President and Sister Drake, which was awesome! We were able to talk to President about our areas and advice he has, and it was nice to have a little one on one-ish time with him :) 

Tuesday was the conference! It involves a lot of training, counseling with one another, and information given to us as leaders, that needs to in turn be delivered to the zone. We learned an interesting concept called the formula for results! (In our case as missionaries, it is the formulas for baptism! Here is what it looks like in a nutshell:
(CLARITY+COMPETENCE+COMMITMENT)/ CONSISTENCY !!! Clarity means that we have a plan and a vision. Competence is the teaching and training that we give to others. Commitment is how well the people we are teaching and leading "buy-in" to what it is we present them- if they catch hold of the vision- if we present the vision and are committed to it/willing to sacrifice to make it happen, people are more likely to follow us! And the most important one is the CONSISTENCY. Consistency is the follow-up! It is how we turn everything else into action. Following up is how we show other people that what we have invited them to do really is important! 
They described it as a formula. The first 3 C's are graded on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best. The Consistency is graded on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the best. 
If you have a 10 for Clarity, Competence, and Commitment, but have the worst follow-up-- (10+10+10)/5 would give you an overall score of 6! But if you are only at level 2 for Clarity, Competence and Commitment, but have the best follow-up-- (2+2+2)/1 is also a score of 6! We were shown examples of Christ in His life, how he exemplified all these traits, and we emphasized following through with everything you do to really show the people we serve and teach that we are committed. That we have the ability to teach them by our example, but also through our trainings what is our vision and our purpose. We talked a lot about how to help others, and I realized that following up with them is the best way to show them that we really care!! It made me want to be better at this both as a missionary and also as a sister training leader. 

Tuesday night we talked to Julio-- he told us that he really wants to change his life. He said that his feelings and desires change all the time but that this is something that he really wants to hold on to! He said, "I feel like God loves me because He sent you to me". He accepted to baptism, but hasn't accepted a date yet, but we will for sure be working with him this week! 
Antonio is progressing a ton! We saw him with President Garcia on Tuesday night and HE HASNT DRANK SINCE THE FIRST TIME WE MET HIM!!! He said that before he used to drink every single day coming off of work, but he hasn't touched alcohol since we taught him. It was amazing to see his desires to follow God turn into action! 

Wednesday we were weekly planning, then at night we saw Antonio again and Hector, who has been distancing himself from us for a while because he felt very pressured to be baptized, which was really sad. But we talked to him a lot more and he said that he loves church, he loves everyone he has met and he feels good talking to them and being at the church! So he will keep coming!
Hermana Andrus and I had a serious planning session where we went through all the formers in the area book, looking for people that could be baptized in these next two weeks. We have been promised by our Heavenly Father through our mission standards that we can baptize every transfer. We have so many people that we have taught everything to, but they just don't want to make that next step. So we have been focusing on people that other missionaries have taught to see if the seed they planted in the past had been growing in their hearts. 

Thursday we went to visit Blanca and talked to her a lot about faith-- how she can develop it, how she can recognize it in herself, etc. She is still working on buying the trailer next to the Maldonados, so we are hoping that everything works out with that!! 
THEN WE WENT KNOCKING- We knocked out an entire trailer park in Lumberton, taught everyone we talked to the Restoration, (even if they only spoke english), and we saw some great miracles. One funny story though- within 5 minutes of us arriving at the trailer park, this dog came up to us. She was very friendly, so we petted her, then started walking away. She followed us. We went and knocked a trailer and she came right up on the porch with us… the people opened the door and the dog shoved her nose in-- we assumed it was their dog. It wasn't. So I think those people got mad, and we tried to ditch the dog and move on to the next trailer. THE DOG FOLLOWED US FOR 3 HOURS STRAIGHT!! It was really funny, but there were some people who were less than happy to have a giant dog at their door. Other people's dogs were also a little angry… suffice to say at least WE made a new friend! Haha we named it, and took some pictures with her at the end of the day but I think she was very sad when we left her. Haha 
That night we tried a few of the formers on our list and had several…interesting experiences. Some of the people we visited were not quite as enthusiastic as we thought they would be to see us show up on their porch. One of the people we went to try was Jesus, we knocked on the door and a lady answered. We asked if Jesus was there and she said that he didn't live there anymore. We asked for his number and she gave it to us. We asked where he lived and she said, "I don't know. He moved out yesterday. I am his ex wife"…..awkward. But then we proceeded to tell her about the church and asked her if she would like to come with us-- I don't think she wanted to go to church with 2 white girls that just knocked on her door late at night asking for her ex husband…oops?

FRIDAY IS WHEN THE AMAZING MIRACLES STARTED POURING IN. So we had an amazing district meeting about PLANNING. Hermana Andrus and I decided to go home and spend some time evaluating the plans we had made on Wednesday and pass over the lists of formers we had selected. We spent an hour or two going through every name, where they were at in their progression with the church, etc. We made a long list of names, and then each of us prayed over that list. I wrote a list of 6 or 7 names, and Hermana Andrus wrote a list of 6 or 7 names. Then we put them together and made a list of the people that had showed up on both of our lists. We made a 1st priority, 2nd priority and 3rd priority list in order of people we wanted to see. Then we went out to work! We prayed to be able to find those whom the Lord had been preparing so that we could help them accept the Restored gospel and be baptized on the 24th. 
We went first to this family that said they were available before 4. We talked to the mother of that family, she said she didn't really remember missionaries in the past, so we went over what it is that we do, what we teach, and our purpose. She said we could come back and we were off to the next house. We decided to knock a couple doors next to her house, and as we were knocking we met someone else that let us teach her about the Restoration! She also said we could come back anytime, and so we were off to the next house. As we were walking back to our car, a police officer pulled up next to us and asked who we were and what we were doing. I assumed we were going to get in trouble, but he asked if we were Jehovah's Witnesses. We started to explain that we were the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but a car pulled up. Instead of saying, "Great, nice to meet you have a good day" He pulled forward and motioned for us to follow him. So we were able to teach a police officer on the side of the road!!! It was an amazing and miraculous hour of contacting, and we were able to teach 3 people within a block of walking. 
THEN we were about to go to the next person on our priority list, but I noticed a street sign up ahead that said Blanchette. I remembered that there was someone on one of the lists that lived on that street- turns out it was someone on the 3rd priority list, but we decided while we were close we might as well try and see if they are home! So we went over to that street looking for the house number. We didn't see it, but we saw a group of people sitting out on their porch. We pulled over and went to go talk to them, see if maybe they knew their neighbors Patricia and Guadalupe that had talked to the missionaries before! As we got out, we heard someone yell, "Elders!!" IT WAS PATRICIA! She was one of the people sitting on the porch! She remembered the missionaries, and was so confused why they had stopped visiting her. She assumed it was because they had left for their houses, but she missed their visits. She even told us that the other day she was moving a box of stuff and found a restoration pamphlet sitting out from when they used to visit her. We met her, and her husband Juan Pablo, and her sister Guadalupe all right then, and they set a return appointment for the next day! IT was AMAZING! 
There were a bunch more amazing experiences from Friday's contacting, and another much less amazing experience-- but I will explain that later. Short story….we had a bit of car trouble, but were able to teach 3 fireman and a policeman in the process! :) (Look on the bright side?) I think one of the firemen will now be talking to the english elders! So even THAT turned into a miracle! 

SATURDAY!!!!!!! We had a recent convert from the Young Single Adult branch, Angela Johnson, come out with us during the early afternoon. She came with us to contact more of our list of formers. We tried this one lady named Mariela Flores, who lives on 909 Amarillo street. She had talked with us on the phone the day before and set the appointment with us, but then when we knocked, she wasn't there. So we left her a note, and then decided to go to this street called Angelina because there were 2 people that lived on that street. We went to the first house, and no one answered. We went around to a side house and saw a number taped to the door that said Adan! So we called it, and he answered and told us that he wanted to come to church with us the next day! He asked us to leave him something that he could read, so we did. Then Angela suggested we WALK to the next house-- so we did! As we were walking, we heard someone speaking in Spanish, so we went around the side of the house to talk to him! We started a conversation, found out he isn't even really in Beaumont that much but he will be this week. We asked if we could stop by and teach him and he said yes!! So we asked him for his address, and he said he didn't remember it… but he said he thought it was 090 Amarillo street. He then proceeded to explain in detail where it was, and as he explained, we realized it was the house we had went to earlier!! We asked if he knew Mariela Flores and he told us that he is currently renting a room from her! What a small world!!! It was amazing to see how God put us in the place where we could contact him, in a short period of time that he was working in the street we were knocking down. And if we didn't hear his voice, we wouldn't have stopped. But now we have 2 more people to teach, and they both conveniently live in the same house! :) It was awesome. 
We continued down the street until we got to the next former investigator's house. We saw a woman outside, and asked if she knew a Zarafin. She pointed around the side of the house and we met him! (In case you were wondering--- I know it sounds creepy to walk around asking for people by name as we knock on their door…and….it probably is, but we start the conversation telling them we are the new missionaries and are trying to get in contact with the people that have talked to the missionaries before. It has worked really well for us so far!!) Sarafin also remembered the missionaries and said he would bring his wife and daughter to church tomorrow! HE has been before and really liked it!!

Saturday night we watched the full Joseph Smith movie with Antonio at the Keffer's home, and talked about why the Restoration was so important. We discussed all the things Joseph Smith went through because he knew this was true. Afterwards, we asked Antonio what we could do for him and he said, "well just keep visiting me! I will keep coming" :) it was great. He is awesome, had to work on Sunday so he wasn't able to come to church, but we were able to see him after church.

Sunday Salvador bore his testimony and it was the sweetest thing ever! It made my heart so happy to see him stand up and share his feelings about how the gospel has changed his life. He is AMAZING. :) His daughter Irene also shared her testimony! And our investigator little Michelle <3 it was the greatest testimony meeting ever :)

Afterwards we went on splits and continued to meet more people! Hermana Andrus went down to Winnie and taught with Dulce, a recent convert in our branch :) I stayed here in Beaumont with Hermana Keffer and talked to another few former investigators! One of them named Manuel, remembered exactly everything that the missionaries had taught him- his sobrino (nephew) Francisco also sat in on the lesson and loved it- he had a lot of questions, and said as well that we could come back anytime because he loves to talk about religions and learn more.

Overall this week was absolutely incredible. I am CERTAIN that God's hand is in this work. He loves His children and wants them to be happy! I am so grateful for the opportunity to share that happiness with others and remind people of the happiness they felt with missionaries in the past. I have the greatest calling in the world :) I love being a missionary! And I love all of you :)
Have a great week! :)
Love,
Hermana Rogers