Monday, April 27, 2015

Faith, Hope, Charity and Love!

This week has been awesome yet again!! But before I talk about what happened, i want to talk about a realization I had. I have been praying a lot to be POSITIVE. I don't know what started all this, but Friday morning I just really talked to Heavenly Father and told him I needed His help! I had felt a lot more stress lately to sum everything up. Then I went to District Meeting and the topic we discussed was how to help people progress in the gospel.... somehow the discussion shifted and we ended up talking all about ourselves and our thought processes. One of the Elders in our district said that "when we think about ourselves, we get in the way of having PURE CHARITY". So the first step to having charity is FORGETTING YOURSELF :) Elder Wilder and Ressler had came up with a pattern for developing Christlike attributes, but they applied it to having POSITIVE THOUGHTS (Aka exactly what I needed) 
"When we get rid of the negative thoughts, the Spirit can come into our hearts and minds. Negative thoughts distract us from who we really are and cause us to look at others through a 'dirty glass'" Heavenly Father knows and loves His children perfectly-- and this includes me!! 
I need to RECOGNIZE the distracting thoughts that I let in my head, 
REPLACE those thoughts (for example think of Heavenly Fathers love for the people I meet- myself included) and then RECORD it! For example by writing down something I am grateful for every time a negative thought comes to my mind... Basically it was exactly what I needed to hear and a specific answer to my prayers about being more positive. I love being able to learn and grow from other missionaries around me and see the examples of other people. I know I have plenty of room to improve, and now I have a plan to be able to make these changes (slowly but surely I can become more like my Savior!) Once I can show other people the love purely that Christ has for them, they will want to experience that love and make those changes because WE SEE SOMETHING IN THEM that they might not see in themselves. 
Every single person we meet is a Child of an all-knowing and all-powerful Heavenly Father and there is something of divinity in their very makeup! He knows and loves them perfectly and I am just here to show them a GLIMPSE of their potential! :) 

We taught a LOT of people this week, and that was great-- we had awesome numbers and hit almost all of our goals, but the part for me that was most incredible was our focus. During a companionship study one day we talked about the potential of our investigators. We made plans to really try and turn things around so that they would feel the relevance of this message for themselves. I am not here to just teach the lessons, I am here to invite Heavenly Father's children to come unto Christ and really understand their potential as they accept the gospel and be baptized. I am here to help them see the blessings that will come as THEY live faithfully. I am here so that they will know that THEY HAVE A SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST WHO LOVES THEM PERFECTLY, enough to give His life for them-- for each and every one of US. And as I did that for other people I really felt it myself. 

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that living the gospel of Jesus Christ brings blessings because I have seen it in my life. I may not have experienced every single person's trials exactly, but I know someone who has, and He is the one that will turn their sorrows into joys and their weaknesses into strengths. That can help them feel peace and COMFORT even when things are hard. I know that when I struggle, I have a Savior who understands ME. I know that as I try to follow Him, He will give me strength to not only endure, but excel. I know that as I have been out on my mission (for a whole 9 months now) my heart has been expanded more than I thought possible. I have experienced real pain by watching other people suffer, and I can only imagine what our Father in Heaven feels as He watches us. I have felt my testimony explode inside of me and I have felt the Spirit SO strongly. I have seen people CHANGE THEIR ENTIRE LIVES because they have felt the Spirit testify to them of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This work is SO much bigger than me. Hermana Rogers won't change anyone here in Texas. Heavenly Father will and I just hope that I can be the best instrument possible to help the people here in Houston understand that Jesus Christ lives and makes peace possible. I can only hope that through something I do, people will know that Heavenly Father loves them. I can only pray that someone's heart will be open to feel the Spirit testify of truth. If I can be the means of helping people feel that, I know I will have experienced success. 
It is crazy to be halfway done and I know I have a long ways to go, but I am grateful for the journey. I love the mission. I love the learning and growing experiences along the way. I love the people! I love my companions and my mission president and most importantly, I love the Lord! 

I love you all so much and hope you have an amazing week :) You're the greatest! 
Hermana Rogers

PS Sidenote! Ricky: (the one we found in Taco Cabana when we got flooded in and stuck for a couple hours) HE IS GETTING BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY! He is a huge miracle and even though I didn't get to teach him all the lessons, I am grateful I got to be a part of that miracle and be where the Lord wanted me to be in order to find someone He had prepared! 
Sorry I don't have any updates for anyone else! They are all doing awesome! I love you so much!! :) 

Monday, April 20, 2015

HALFWAY THERE-- wait whaaa?

This week has sufficiently been insane! I don't really know where to even start because I know that this will be a long one-- apologies in advance! 

April 23 will be my halfway mark in the mission and I honestly can't even believe it. It's really hard to explain time out here-- it feels like I blinked and I am already halfway, but at the same time, it feels like I have been out forever and this is just how life is going to be from now on. It is hard to explain and sometimes confuses me, but I think that is the best way I can describe it. I've definitely been having a lot of re-evaluations of my life though these past few days that are making me freak out a little bit. (Any other missionaries/RMs that have advice on how to handle this crazy mix of emotions would be gladly appreciated ;) 

But honestly I could not have asked for a better week to help me through this emotional little rollercoaster. So first of all my companions are the greatest people in the world for me right now. Hermana Johnson has been out 10 months and is an absolute powerhouse of a missionary. Hermana Davies came out with me and is sooo much fun I can honestly say having fun with her helps keep me sane. They knew each other before the mission, so we are all good friends now! This week they have been such a solid support system for me. 
Tuesday I had a hard day, and Wednesday I talked about it with Johnson and Davies and me and Hermana Davies just cried about it for a while- She felt the same way. We were both really overwhelmed with the idea of being halfway done with our missions and feeling like there was still so much improvements to be made with ourselves and not nearly enough time to actually be the kind of missionaries and people we wanted to. We both felt pretty inadequate for having been out here 9 months, and we had been struggling with motivation and positivity a bit. Yeah we were pretty hard on ourselves but we felt like all our thoughts like that were getting in the way of the work, so we felt selfish...etc. It was pretty bad. 
Our District Leader called us that night randomly and asked how we were, so we told him some of the struggles we had been having, and he said he would pray for us. We set the phone down to do nightly planning and right as we set it down, it started ringing again. It was the ASSISTANTS TO THE PRESIDENT. We answered and made awkward small talk for a minute and said that the real reason he called was because he had a spiritual thought for us. He told us that earlier today he was reading his scriptures and came across some verses that he knew he needed to share with someone but he didn't know who. So he pulled out a list of all the missionaries in all the areas and prayed about who to call... he chose to call us. Out of all the missionaries, he decided WE were the ones that needed a spiritual thought. The very day that we had an emotional breakdown feeling really down on ourselves. 
He read 2 Corinthians 4:5-9  
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, not of us. 
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed. 
We are perplexed, but not in despair;
Persecuted, but not forsaken;
Cast down, but not destroyed. 
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 
He read those scriptures to us and told us he just felt like he needed to tell us that we were doing good work and that President was proud of us and loved us. I was blown away by how much Heavenly Father knows and loves each of His children. He knows exactly what we are going through and how He can help us feel loved. He inspired that AP to call us on the very day that we were at our lowest, to read to us a scripture that brought so much comfort to my heart. I am so grateful that Elder Mitchell didn't think twice about the inspiration he received- even though he has only met us one time, he wasn't afraid to call us and share what we needed to hear. I know that God's light HAS shined in my heart and that I am a servant of the Lord to preach Him--not myself. I was so grateful for that experience. 

We went to the temple as a zone the next day and I felt so much comfort and love. I found more scriptures that brought me so much peace and I really did feel guided to know what I needed to do and I felt like the temple was the place I needed to go to recommit myself to the Lord and tell Him that I was there to be His servant not to worry about myself. Since then things have gone much smoother. 

This week has really been a week full of miracles. On Friday we had a Zone Meeting about our commitment as missionaries (perfect topic) and specific prayers. It was amazing and I think the biggest thing that I learned and took out of it was that there are people who are prepared, and there are people who are going to need more time and I am here to find those people that the Lord has prepared! Angels are preparing the hearts of the children of men and God knows His children!! He knows who I need to teach and find so if I am committed to going where He wants me to go, thats when I will be able to more effectively share the Restored gospel with those prepared. After that zone meeting I went on exchanges and the day went terrible!!! Every lesson that was set was a member present, and they ALL fell through and we didnt teach anyone. We had even had a dinner set up that cancelled on us-- we were pretty discouraged, but we had said a specific prayer at the beginning of the day that we would find someone prepared to receive the gospel. So we tried a few more potentials, contacted a TON, and then at the end of the night we were exhausted and starving. We were just planning on going to a taco truck on the way home, but it had started to rain, so we went to a restaurant instead. We ate really fast so we could get home on time, and as we were eating the rain kept getting worse. By the time we walked out to leave, this guy stopped us and said, "you might not want to go out there--there are flood warnings and its pretty dangerous" We said thanks, started walking away, then I just felt like we might as well give this guy a card. So I asked if we could leave him with a card, and we gave him a Because He Lives card. He said to us, "I cant believe it. I have been praying for MONTHS that someone would come help me get my faith back. I am the last one living in my family, I'm not dumb enough to take my own life, but all I do is sleep, work and drink beer." When we talked to him, he said, "Ya know what? I don't even want to drink anymore, I'm going to go buy a water. You can throw my beer away, I am done with that" He gave us all of his return information and said we could come by the next day. 
So we tried to leave but Heavenly Father sent us right back in there. The rain was coming down in sheets, the parking lot was completely flooded and there was no way we were leaving. So we went over and started talking to him again. He told us that when we had initially given him the card, he was confused that we didn't try and share more of the message with him, and that left him with a little bit of doubts, thinking that if God really wanted him to hear the message, we would have shared it right there (missionary fail on our part). But then we talked to him while it was flooding outside-- we knew it wasn't a coincidence that we had met up that day after months of him praying for help. We knew that God loved this guy and wanted him to hear that. We taught him the Restoration, the Book of Mormon, and extended a baptism date right then and there-- and he accepted and was SO grateful! He said, "No one ever has invited me to do something so good." He described the Spirit he felt like a presence--like when you were in a room and felt someone there with their arm on your shoulder but you looked around and no one was there. Ricky had spent 20 years in prison and said that this was the first night since he had been out that he wouldnt go to bed drunk. We read the Introduction to the Book of Mormon with him and asked him what the last 2 paragraphs meant to him and he said, "Well it makes me feel sad for anyone who doesn't accept this". He was SO happy and it strengthened my testimony SO MUCH that there really are prepared people out there! We may think that we have things figured out (a day fulll of plans and lessons) but ultimately, God will take us where we need to go. (Ricky came to church on Sunday and was more happy than anyone else there) He is in the other ward, so the other Hermanas will be teaching him, but I will be there for his baptism for sure! 

The next day-- We were contacting in these massive apartment complexes and there was a guy ordering food at a taco truck. We said hi, then kept walking... a second later we heard him yell out to us and HE asked US if we had anything he could read. He just assumed we were church people and said he thinks he had been to our church before! His name is Rodrigo! (Hermana Davies and Johnson had said a specific prayer last transfer and had been telling members to pray for someone named Rodrigo-- they had gone a couple weeks praying for it, then kind of gave up hope. BUT WE FOUND RODRIGO!) The only thing is that he is going to Mexico at the end of this week-- it makes me wonder what would've happened if theyd found him when they started praying for him. He is so awesome though. :) 

And the last crazy miracle like that, we were going over to Edgar and Janet's and this guy yelled out to us from his car, so we went over to him. He said that a couple years ago he had been meeting with missionaries and going to church every Sunday, but then he had to go to Mexico. He talked about what ward he had been in and a bunch of the members, and then said that he wanted to come back to church! He just got back from Mexico and had lost contact with the missionaries but then we walked past! It was so coool talking to him and I am excited to see him progress and go to church :) 

We also contacted into a family of formers that are all super legit and I wish that I could tell you all about them-- we haven't taught them yet, but we met them, gave them our numbers and they called us and invited us to go over and eat with them!! I am stoked to meet all these new people that I really feel like have been placed in our path! 

I am sorry this got so long! It's been quite the week. I still can't believe I am already halfway done with the mission-- I feel like I never thought this would happen, and now here I am. I know I still have so much learning and growing to do, but I am enjoying every minute the best I can. The church is so true! It brings genuine happiness into our lives and changes people's natures. I am so grateful for this opportunity!!! Heavenly Father lives and loves us!! 
I love yall! Thanks for the support :) 
Hermana Rogers

Monday, April 13, 2015

La Semana Increible

Hey yall! Its been a great week here in wonderful Houston Texas! :) I hope you had a fun week as well! 

This week was awesome as far as teaching goes. I have never had this many member present lessons in my life. It was so amazing-- the members here are great and so supportive and take good care of us! We taught 10 lessons with members, and 12 lessons without (and then one lesson to a Less Active but we had a member with us). Whaaaaa?? We almost had as many lessons WITH members as we did WITHOUT.... That was a miracle and we really saw blessings from having that support for the investigators! :) I am very happy about that! 
Well as far as news goes I am not quite sure what to update you on! We have an investigator named Roberto that we have been focusing on a TON this week-- visiting almost every day, and working really hard with him. He has been taught before but doesn't really remember anything from his lessons. I might have written about him in one of my other weekly emails, but he is older, but acts a little bit like a child in his mannerisms. We set him with a date this week, and he said that he really has a desire to work towards baptism. He has a problem with alcohol and looking back, I am not exactly sure if I have ever seen him completely sober. We obviously talk a lot about the Word of Wisdom, but he has been drinking every day for 15 years, so we're praying really hard that he wakes up and realizes that he needs to change. 
...but he came at the wrong time
...with the wrong ward, completely drunk
...and then he left right afterwards, without staying for sacrament meeting... 
haha it was quite the interesting Sunday... 

But it was still an awesome week! I am pretty sure I wrote about Humbertina and Ezequiel before, and we saw them a TON this week too! Ezequiel had work off so we spent a lot of time with them at their house, we helped Humbertina make enchiladas one day, and taught a couple member present lessons with them too. They know its true!!! And this week we invited them to be baptized... which was reaaaaallly awkward. They told us they were already baptized and so all the promised blessings we had said about baptism already applied to them! So we went over authority again and reminded them about the restoration and they said they knew that was true, but they'd been catholic their whole life-- we had a lot of lengthy discussions with them, and they promised they'd come to church and didnt show up... we will see what we can do this week! Ezequiel went back to work so it will be harder to teach all of them, but we learned a lot about them this past week and I love that family! 

Tuesday was a legit day. So in the morning, we went to our 2 set morning appointments and they literally both dropped us. At the doorstep. Back to back... and that was pretty rough. I was disappointed and slightly discouraged, but we walked to go try another couple potentials and no one was home. As we were walking back, there was this guy standing by his fence, so we walked over and talked to him. He thought maybe we were lost because he never sees white girls walking around that area, but we told him that we were the missionaries and he said, "Oh well do you have something you want to teach me right now? Come on in" and opened his fence for us.... so we went in and started talking to him- he had a newborn baby and a 5 year old, and hadn't been to church in years. We showed him the video He Lives and he said, "I have been waiting for something like this" AH WE WERE SO STOKED! But then when we asked him when we could come back he said, oh actually I don't live here... sooooo we had to give his referral away :( (Blessings for other missionaries-- its okay) Then his dad came out of the house and starts giving us all this fruit, and we start talking to him. He was a Pentecostal Pastor!! So we taught him for a while after his son left and he had a LOT of questions, but was also very impressed with our belief and faith and missions and everything. He acknowledged all these things that our churches have in common and asked if we could come back and talk to him more!!!! SO WE ARE NOW OFFICIALLY TEACHING A PENTECOSTAL PASTOR!!! hahah that oughta confuse his congregation...."ummmm so Church this Sunday will be moved to the chapel around the corner....The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. See you over there"
Anyways that was just a cool experience how Heavenly Father can take a hard experience and turn it into a blessing :) 

THEN GLORIA AND OFELIA!!! The members of the reorganized LDS church (Community of Christ) we went over there to teach them that same day and Ofelia (the older one, Gloria's mom that has been part of the Community of Christ since she got married--over 40 years probably) she told us how much she loved when we came over and how great she felt when we shared our message with her. She told us about a dream she had before she joined the Community of Christ where she got baptized all in white, and then that was how she knew that the church was true and that she should be baptized. but In real life when she got to her baptism, that wasn't the way it looked. She was at the side of a river and the missionary person asked her if she was ready-- she was just in her normal clothes and went and got baptized (or something like that) basically it was crazy that this dream she had before she joined the church was how she decided to join, and then the way her baptism really looked didn't even match her dream. Sooooo pretty much she dreamed about being baptized in our church-- I think that Heavenly Father was just preparing her for coming to know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am excited to see where they continue to progress to. We had an awesome Noche de Hogar planned with our bishop and his wife and them, but they were sick that day (hopefully legit and not just making that up) But I am so happy with them!!! :) Gloria is so genuinely interested in what we have to say and she reads when we give her commitments! Yay for commitment-keepers!! 

OKAY the last person I want to tell you about it Rosario!! So I met her for the first time this week, and it had been a LONG time since missionaries had talked to her! SHE HAS BEEN AN INVESTIGATOR FOR AROUND 30 YEARS or so-- She has the craziest story!! Basically she lives a mormon lifestyle but just was never baptized... she was super close to baptizm about a year and a half ago, but then she brought her granddaughter to church and she cried through the whole thing and told her grandma she didn't like Rosario stopped going? Soemthing like that but then when we saw her she said, "I always stopped taking the missinoaries lessons, but they never stopped coming to me. I have been praying to be guided to the right church, and the missionaries always come back to me. I think it might be Heavenly Father trying to point me in this direction" Ahhhhhhhhh yeaaaaaaaahhhh. We told her that she was ready, she knew enough and we were here to help her continue to prepare. It wasn't coincidence that we went to her house (she wasn't in our plans to go visit, but our appointment that was by her house cancelled so we stopped by) MAN it was so awesome! I will for sure keep you updated with her!! She is golden and I am so excited to keep teaching her :) Her mom is a less active so we are going to be working to get them both back to church! 

It has been such a great week :) I am kind of freaking out that my halfway mark is coming up so soon, but I am learning and growing and loving and serving every day and it just feels like this is what life is supposed to be! I love being a missionary! There are definitely still struggles, but those just get swallowed up in blessings!!! For example I got a letter from Marco this week and he is doing AMAZING and told me all about blessings HE has received and how grateful he is for the gospel and how much he loves to read and go to church and the temple and I am so happy! The church is SO true. IT BRINGS HAPPINESS AND CHANGES LIVES! I love the mission! I love you all! Thank you for your support and love and encouragement!!! 

Have a great week!! 
Love, Hermana Rogers

Monday, April 6, 2015

Feliz Dia de Pascua!

This week was so awesome! It was pretty weird saying bye to Fonoimoana-Lessary, knowing that I wouldnt see her around the mission anymore, but we finished our transfer off on a really....big note? LOOK AT THAT PIZZA!!!! haha Moises and Nyomi took us to this MASSIVE PIZZA PLACE and we ate SO much food, so I probably gained like 20 pounds right there. But it was so fun to spend time with all them- Moises and Nyomi are definitely some of my closest friends now :) I was sad that I am not in their area anymore, but happy to still be in the same ward so I will see them at church! And Fonoimoana Lessary is already at her home in Hawaii! It's crazy to think about, but I am glad that she gets to be with her family now! We had such a great 6 weeks together and I am grateful for everything I learned from her! 

MY NEW AREA: PECAN PARK! I already knew I was going here last week, but now that I am here I can actually tell you about it. I feel like I have been in this area forever even though it has been less than a week. Hermana Davies and Johnson are amazing missionaries and I am so grateful I have the opportunity to serve with them. They are the most exactly obedient missionaries I have seen and will really help me in my efforts to straighten up! I have so many goals this transfer and I really believe that with them I can do anything-- they are supportive and self-less, hardworking and helpful and reach out to all the members. I know I am here for a reason and I have a lot to learn this transfer! I feel like I have already been their companion the transfer before because they were the ones who had to pick us up to go anywhere....haha and we spent a lot of time together, so its fun because I already knew them :) We have a blast together!!! We are all pretty crazy (not quite Perez and Stiles crazy though haha that was insane ;) But I really am SO happy with them and this week had been pretty rough for a lot of reasons, but so far we have all learned a lot about each other and grown way close! I don't even know how to explain it all but we are going to have an awesome transfer. 
SOO the people here! Well there's not a TON of people we are teaching, but we are working on it! We found 6 new investigators this week though-- that is something we are really focusing on. Finding!!! Its going to be interesting because I was used to having people like Narciso and Maria M who had been taught everything just struggled with the decision to be baptized. We were finding a lot in University of Houston too, but here we DEPEND on finding. Some of our most serious investigators here kind of flaked out on us this week, so that was a little rough. BUT we had a cool experience that we are hoping turns out to be our next big miracle. 
​So wednesday morning we were all talking as we were getting ready and I said, "I really want to baptize a FAMILY" So we talked about it and all agreed that we wanted to find a family that was ready to be baptized. I can't remember who said what, but we came to the conclusion that the family would have 3 kids, and Davies said that one of the kids would be just under the age of baptism. We went through our studies and then in companionship prayer and our prayers before we left the house, we asked specifically to find this family of 3 kids today... We had scheduled out an hour of our day to knock, but by the time we got out of an appointment, we only had around 20 minutes to go knock. So we went to the place we had planned to knock, parked our car and prayed that even though we only had a short amount of time, that we would still find this family. We got out of the car and this guy was walking past us, so we walked with him and talked to him but he really was not interested and told us that openly. Then there was this lady at the house across the street that was walking into her house. Johnson said, "Lets go talk to her--hurry!" so we ran over there and called out to her. She came over and talked to us- long story short SHE HAS 3 GIRLS! 20, 16 and 7 years old!! :))) We were really excited!!! then she wasnt at the return appointment but we won't give up because she was who we prayed to find!!! 

I was really bad at scheduling my time today, but I want to bear my testimony that I know that our Savior LIVES!!! He is our Resurrected Redeemer and because of Him we have the opportunity to learn and grow here on earth! Our weaknesses can be turned into strengths and each of us has the ability to CHANGE! He loves us infinitely and perfectly, even though we are completely imperfect. He is our Savior Jesus Christ and He knows us. I have felt so strongly that we can always have HOPE because of Him!!! He knows our potential and there are no limits to who we can become THROUGH HIM. I am so grateful for the knowledge we have as Latter-Day Saints that Jesus Christ lived to set an example for us, that He suffered and died to pave the way for us, and that He rose again to provide us with Eternal Life! That really is the ultimate goal and when we have that perspective, trials in life only make us stronger. I realize so much on the mission that this life is only a blink in the expanses of eternity. We are here to prepare for the kinds of people we want to be FOREVER and this Gospel really is the only way to everlasting happiness!!!

I loved this conference weekend. I loved the messages that were shared by the Prophet, Apostles and other General Authorites! I learned so much that addressed the concerns I had. I know that through this gospel we can have an eternal perspective!! We can have faith in the future and find joy in the here and now! :) This is the salvation of mankind!!! We are DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST! I am so so so happy that I have been raised with this gospel! Thank you mom and dad for teaching me the right way and helping me to value my membership in the church! There is nothing more important than this :) "No other work transcends that of righteous, intentional parenting" -Russel M. Nelson THANK YOU MOM AND DAD, and GRANDMA AND GRANDPA ROGERS AND SENFT for raising them so that they could raise me, and so that in the future I will be able to raise my family in the truth! I hope you all have an incredible week! I am sorry this was short I lost track of time but I love you all!!! Happy Easter, hope you have a great week! 
Hermana Rogers 

"Jesus Christ will grasp us as we fall, hang on with His MIGHT,...and lift us to ETERNAL LIFE" 
-Jeffrey R. Holland 
(one of my favorite talks by far!!) 

"The Atonement will compensate for any lack for all those who turn to Him"
D. Todd Christofferson