Monday, August 31, 2015
This week went by SO fast!
But there was a definite highlight, and that was being at the temple for the Rojas family to be sealed! :) It was SOOO amazing and the absolute most incredible thing I have ever witnessed. They were baptized in this branch about a year ago, and have been taking the temple preparation classes for a long time now, getting ready to be sealed as a family. They have 3 daughters, Evelyn who is 15, Daniela who is 12, and Emilie who is around 9. They are a BEAUTIFUL family and it was beyond words the greatest thing ever to be with them at the temple. We ended up being there from around 3 until around 9, but there was no better place to be.
I wish that I could put into words the joy and love that filled my soul as I was watching this couple be sealed together for time and all eternity. The way that Hermano Rojas looked at Hermana Rojas as they were at the altar was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Then when their 3 daughters entered the room dressed in white, my heart melted. It was such a powerful experience, and there was so much love completely overpowering that room. They were sealed together as a forever family, and tears were streaming down Evelyn's face- Afterwards they all stood in front of the mirrors and the tears could not be withheld. It was SO incredible.
The Sister of Hermana Rojas, Hermana Zepeda, was right next to Hermana Rojas every step of the way as she went through the temple, and I could just see how happy she was to be able to lead her sister through this sacred building to make these covenants that she herself had made long ago. I could tell that this was a day she had waited for and prayed for a long time! It was amazing.
I am so grateful- words really arent enough to describe anything I feel- but I am overwhelmingly grateful for the knowledge that families can be forever through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of Joseph Smith and the things that were restored to him, we have the Priesthood keys to seal on earth and in heaven, which makes these things possible. I know that there is nothing more important and special.
As far as my week went, that was an overpowering highlight. But lots of other great things happened!
Hector came to church for the first time :) And then afterwards we went and ate with the Maldonados and the Banuelos, and Hector got along really well with them.
Hector has been over the baptismal interview questions twice with us, and knows everything there is to know, so we are just trying to help him realize the importance of this step! He is SO ready and definitely prepared, but he wants to wait.
Hermana Andrus and I both spoke in sacrament meeting as well, so it was good that at least one of our investigators came :) Daniel and Josue were both in Houston, which was a bummer, but they are doing well otherwise!
We taught Daniel and Armando the Word of Wisdom, and the best moment of that lesson was after we read the page in the pamphlet that explains what the word of wisdom is, we asked if they had any questions or concerns, expecting the usual "but I really like beer"… but then Daniel starts talking about how he doesn't like beer, so that isn't a problem. he doesn't smoke, so no concern there. He hasn't ever gotten into drugs, doesn't like the taste of coffee, and hasn't drinken tea. So we asked if there WAS any problem and he said, "What does this mean, eat meat sparingly? I do eat a lot of meat…" It was such a pleasant surprise! We are super happy with them! Armando was the same, his only concern was that he wasn't going to be able to eat meat anymore, so we clarified that with them.
Salvador, Blanca and Irene are doing awesome :) The kids all started school, and Blanca started working so things have been crazy at that house, plus they haven't moved out of the Maldonado's house yet, but as far as living the gospel and resisting temptations goes, they are great :) On Sunday they were holding hands and walking into church together and that was SUCH a beautiful sight-- things have really improved with their marriage since they have come here and started making changes in their lives. Its so amazing to see.
The branch is doing great, everyone keeps asking me if I am leaving soon! They had 5 missionaries in a row that only stayed for 6 weeks, I think everyone is ready to get rid of me;) Just kidding, but I really hope that I don't get moved here in the coming transfer. I LOVE BEAUMONT.
This place is amazing and changing my life. <3
THE MISSION IS THE BEST.
I am happy to hear that you all made it home safe! Hope that preparing for school and everything goes smoothly! I love you all SO SO much!
Love, Hermana Rogers
Sidenote: One thing we have been doing with all the members that I love. And I think would be a great family home evening. We watch a Mormon Message called something along the lines of Book of Mormon: Messages from heaven which is about a challenge extended to a bunch of youth to read in the Book of Mormon for 20 minutes every day and then write about what they learned. We challenge the members to do that, then we continually follow up with them, and the next visit a week later we are having them write their testimonies in Books of Mormon that we hand out! I have also been doing this and its been such a testimony building experience to me-- even though I have read the Book of Mormon who knows how many times, I am still able to learn every time I study prayerfully. Heavenly Father shows me things that apply to my life right now as a missionary, or to the lives of my investigators or certain members, and EVERY TIME i feel edified and uplifted and can't wait to study again. I love the Book of Mormon SO MUCH! I know that it is true and contains messages that WE NEED TO HEAR. :) I hope that you all have been reading in the Book of Mormon, and I extend to you the same commitment we give to members here-- to write down after you read the things that you learned that day, whether from the words themselves or from the Spirit. I know that you will notice a difference in your studies, and in the Spirit that is with you throughout the day. The scriptures are the word of God! :)
I love you all! Have a great week! :)
Sunday, August 30, 2015
This week was ALSO amazing!
One thing I love about the mission is that even when you have hard days, you look back overall and just see SO many miracles, and then the hard things just kind of melt away in your mind and you can hold on to those INCREDIBLE THINGS THAT GOD IS DOING FOR PEOPLE!!!
So on Monday we had a 3 family noche de hogar (family home evening) with the Banuelos, the Maldonados, and the Garcia family. We talked about our families and what makes us all unique and special, and had everyone draw out and explain their families. Salvador's drawing was THE CUTEST. He drew a sun coming out from behind these hills and said, "I drew the sun shining over my family because now that we have the gospel in our lives its like there is this light shining on us". AH SO GREAT! I love that family SO much. :) It was so fun to have 3 different families there, plus me and Hermana Andrus talking about our families, because we really just felt SO MUCH LOVE that we all have for each other, and could tell that there is love in the homes of these members :) I hope that the Banuelos really felt that too. There are still struggles to work with, but really the gospel is the way to get through everything!
Tuesday we did a LOT of service! We worked with this member to move into her new house-- she went from a teeny tiny apartment to this MASSIVE house where she will live with her husband, her daughter, and her nephew and family. They were so happy to be moving in and to finally have space, so we spent a lot of time helping them! The daughter of the member is NOT a member, but one of her sons had gotten baptized, and the other was close to baptism. I don't know exactly what happened, but it sounds like they had heard lots of negative things about the church, which uprooted their testimonies of what they did know. It is so sad to me when peoples doubts overshadow their testimonies and cause them to wither…I hope that living with a member couple will rekindle that testimony or at least make them curious again! We will see!
Tuesday night we went and saw Daniel! (Josue's brother that came to the baptism of the Banuelos). Daniel had told us that he had a friend that he had been talking to about the church and invited him to come with him and learn more, so we were waiting Tuesday night for his friend to show up, but while we were waiting, we taught him Book of Mormon. We were able to go pretty in depth with him because he had a lot of questions and was genuinely looking for answers. It was AMAZING.
We also saw Noe, and we had President Garcia with us. President pulled out this comparison thing-- when people are sick, instead of sitting around at home, they go to the doctor where they know that they can be healed! They know their pains will be taken care of, and they are in the hands of people who know what they are doing and can bring them back to health. When people are spiritually sick and hurting, they don't just sit around and pity themselves, they need to look for help. They need to come to church where they can find peace and comfort and healing. They need to be taken care of by the One who knows their needs. They need the Spirit to heal their heart. Noe hasn't been coming to church for a few weeks now, but I think the analogy that President used was exactly what he needed to hear.
Wednesday we went on splits with 2 members in the YSA ward!! Angela Johnson (a recent convert) and Heather Hillan (waiting on a mission call). In the space of 2 hours, we were able to teach 9 MEMBER PRESENTS!!! It was absolutely amazing and such a miracle! We have really been working on teaching as we find, which means every person we talk to, we teach the Restoration to. We want to give EVERYONE the opportunity to accept this message, not just those that remember to call the number on a little card we give them. It's awesome.
Saturday night and Sunday were stake conference and guess who came??
We were able to go with one of our investigators Gloria to visit one of her friends that has cancer- we went over the lesson plan with Gloria before we left, and then when we got there, only her friends husband was there. We started explaining to him about the church, and GLORIA starts chiming in with her testimony, talking about how nice it feels when you go to church. She told this guy all about what we believe and it threw me for quite the loop! I had no idea Gloria knew all this stuff about the church. I mean it makes sense because her mom is a member, and so is her sister, but I thought she had kept her distance her whole life. But instead, Gloria tells him about the Spirit and what it feels like, and how kids can learn there, and that she wishes her kids had grown up in the environment of the church. WHAAAA? So that was cool! :) Her other sister is Carmela, the one that married our branch mission leader....
Thursday WE WENT TO THE TEMPLE :) The Beaumont zone all went! President and Sister Drake were there and it was sooooo nice to go, I really needed it! :) I loved the opportunity to reflect on all the blessings we have as members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know that God's plan is to provide us with HAPPINESS. Even though we have times of sorrow, Heavenly Father has given us the way to receive a FULNESS OF JOY.
Friday we went back to Maggie's!! :) we brought her a bunch of baby clothes from President Garcia and she loved them! She seemed so happy to see us, and it was AWESOME to see her again, even if now isn't the time she chooses to be baptized, I want her to feel God's love from us.
There is this less active in our Ward that we went to visit and she is the biggest sweetheart! She was telling her conversion story and said that when the elders came to the door she said she knew she had been waiting for them. The gospel filled a vasio she didn't know she had. She literally was soooo happy we had come to visit her...she almost cried telling us how much we meant to her and how happy she was we came by.
Then we went to Josue and Daniel! Daniel had said they were going to Houston, but Josue had told us we could come over so they stayed late and waited for us to get there and teach them before they went to Houston, so we explained Book of Mormon and then Daniel explained it to his brother Josue and it was so cute! He said like, "It was written by a prophet Mormon on planchas y el los escondió en un montaña y después josé Smith los descubrió porque un ángel moróni hijo de mormón se le mostró a el donde estaban. Verdad?" Like dead on perfect description. So we shared our testimonies a little bit, then asked Daniel to tell us why it would be important to have the Book of Mormon, and he had some perfect answer like "Well it is important because it shows us the way to God right? And if we want to do good, we have to read this book and it will tell us what is good and what is bad, and it will teach us how to follow God" etc etc awesomeness. This guy is so amazing!!! Oh also one of his friends that lives with them was there and Daniel was like, "oh by the way this is my friend that I also invited to come to church with us, and he wants to listen to you! I also told him all about you, he lives with us" and it's not Henry, the other one he had already invited! He's already such a bomb missionary!
He also told us that he always feels happy when he is with us and when he goes to church, but then when he left church on Sunday, he felt sad. Told him that was the spirit in his life, and that he can keep the Spirit with him by reading in the Book of Mormon :)
SATURDAY WE HAD A MISSION CONFERENCE WITH LAWRENCE E CORBRIDGE FROM THE SEVENTY! LIKE THE ONE THAT WROTE THE FOURTH MISSIONARY!!!!!! It was AMAZING, I took notes, so I will copy and paste them now :)
in order to have faith:
1- idea of the existence of God
2- correct understanding of the attributes and characteristics of God
3- actual knowledge that the course you're pursuing is acceptable to Heavenly Father
When you think you're not good enough, hate to be bearer of bad news but..you're not!
If you feel like you don't have what it takes, join the club!
EVEN THOUGH YOU AND I ARE NOT ABLE, THE LORD IS ABLE.
All YOU need to be able to say is "I'm on the path, moving forward. I'm weak, Ive done idiotic things in the past, I am imperfect. But I regret past mistakes and am on the gospel path giving it everything I've got, not holding anything back."
That's all we need to be able to say! That is the 3rd part of faith, the actual knowledge that the course we are pursuing is acceptable to God. A belief in yourself is an aspect of faith and will allow us to have confidence in the presence of God.
THIS IS GODS WORK. IT DOES NOT DEPEND ON YOU AND I. HE CAN RAISE US UP. ALTHOUGH WE ARE NOT ABLE, HE IS ABLE, AND HE WILL MAKE US ABLE TOO.
LIFE IS HARD.
We have 2 alternatives:
1- We can be faithful and obedient, be endowed with God's power, have strength, confidence, light, joy, peace, love, wisdom, follow the Spirit
2- or We could do our own thing and be in darkness, confusion, weakness, without power of God on our side, without the Spirit's guidance, etc.
ULTIMATELY, LIVING THE GOSPEL IS THE ONLY REASONABLE WAY!
BE OF GOOD CHEER! But if it's hard, just remember that a lot of other people have done a lot of hard things, all for the purpose of this greater good!
Side note he talked a little bit about family history and said that "All that came before comes down to ME. I AM THE COMPLETE BENEFICIARY OF EVERYTHING THAT COMES BEFORE ME". It made me feel a great sense of responsibility. My heritage, the legacies that my ancestors have left, were all to bring me to where I am today. I am the result of generations of sacrifice, and it also made me feel an extreme sense of gratitude. Especially for my family that joined the church- BECAUSE OF THEM I AM HERE TODAY. it is a responsibility but such a blessing. I am so grateful, and want to live up to my heritage and leave my own legacy.
Then he talked a ton about how IT ISNT ENOUGH TO FAITHFULLY SERVE MISSIONS, HEAVENLY FATHER EXPECTS US TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE! He expects us to BE FRUITFUL, because "BY THEIR FRUITS YE SHALL KNOW THEM".
Part of the Texas Houston East purpose that we recite every day includes the scripture 3 Nephi 5:13 "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of Him to declare His word among His people, that they might have everlasting life". Elder CORBRIDGE re-wrote that and said, "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ...I am called to DECLARE HIS WORD, in such a way that people understand it, so much so that something happens and the people make changes, which will lead them THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE."
It is my responsibility to teach so people understand.
In order to make a difference, I must work by the gifts and power of God. Which means I need to be endowed with power and have the companionship of the Holy Ghost in my life. Having an actual knowledge that what I am doing is pleasing to God, as well as working under His power and the Spirit's influence is what will make a difference in the lives of those I visit and teach.
In the scriptures, the people were ASTONISHED at Christ's doctrine. Elder Corbridge read a lot of scriptures about how the people were astonished at Christ's doctrine for the word was with power and He taught as one having authority from God. THATS ALL I HAVE TO DO! Declare His word with power, in a way that they will understand, and I will be able to astonish people.
He talked a ton about effective teaching and what that means, which was AWESOME. I learned SO MUCH. Basically, EFFECTIVE TEACHING IS TO UNDERSTAND THE WHY OF OUR MESSAGE. WHAT IS THE END DESTINATION AND HOW DO WE GET THERE?
For example, the end goal of everything we teach is ETERNAL LIFE.
The route is to keep the commandments
Conclusion: Keep the commandments, endure to the end, and you will have eternal life!
He gave this example as well.
DESTINATION: Be redeemed of sin, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and inherit eternal life.
ROUTE: THROUGH THE ATONEMENT, we can be forgiven, receive the Holy Ghost in our lives and ultimately inherit eternal life by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Have faith, repent, receive ordinances by priesthood authority which was restored to the earth through Joseph Smith. (Be baptized for the remission of sins and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost). You can know the truthfulness of all of these things by reading and praying about the Book of Mormon.
CONCLUSION: we want investigators to say, "I will read and pray about the Book of Mormon, have faith in Christ, repent, worthily receive ordinances beginning with baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost". We want this BECAUSE we know IT IS THE ONLY WAY TO HAVE ETERNAL LIFE WITH HEAVENLY FATHER!
What keeps me going as a missionary is knowing and understanding the path. Jesus Christ has provided His gospel, his doctrine, to show us that HE IS THE WAY. Understanding the Atonement of Jesus Christ helps keep me going, having that desire myself to receive the fruits of His Atonement and a desire to help others as well. The greatest blessings we can receive in this life are the blessings of the Atonement! MY PURPOSE IS TO INVITE PEOPLE TO DO THE THINGS THAT WILL QUALIFY THEM FOR ETERNAL LIFE.
Okay THAT HAPPENED, also me and my companion Hermana Andrus were asked by the Assistants to the President if we would SING AT THE CONFERENCE. LIKE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE. it was terrifying but also way fun. My companion has an AMAZING voice.
JOSUE, DANIEL AND THEIR FRIEND ARMANDO! :)
Josue and Daniel had been in Houston on Saturday and were supposed to be there until Sunday, but THEY CAME ALL THE WAY BACK SO THEY COULD GO TO CONFERENCE!! They are seriously amazing. Saturday night the Spanish branch (us) sang in stake conference so they had to sit by themselves while we sat on the stand, but SO many people went over and helped them with headsets for translation, said hi, etc. I think like 3 different members offered to bring them over for dinner, it was great! I love them so much! :)
ANYWAYS THAT WAS MY WEEK IT WAS SO GREAT, sorry this got so long, there are just so many stories! I love you all SO much. Thank you for all the support and I hope all goes well in Utah and you travel safely back home!
Love ya with all my heart!
Hey familia y amigos!
Have I ever mentioned I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY?
This week was absolutely amazing. I am on cloud 9 thousand right now :)
First off I will tell you about the highlight of my week! :)
BLANCA AND IRENE AND SALVADOR WERE BAPTIZED!! It was honestly the happiest day of my entire life. They are the greatest people ever! So we have only been teaching them for 3 or 4 weeks now, so everything was super fast but also INCREDIBLE and MIRACULOUS.
This family has come so far and made so many changes for the better. I feel like I have known them for so much longer than I have, they are a HUGE part of my life and I want nothing more than complete happiness for them. I love them with all my heart!!!
The day of their baptism, Salvador told us a miracle that had happened to him earlier in the week- there had been one thing that would hold him back from being baptized, and he had an experience where his heart was cleared and full of light, and he knew that there was nothing holding him back any more. Then after his baptism and confirmation he had tears streaming down his face and told us that while he was being baptized, his life had gone before his eyes really fast, and he was just watching it, but then all of a sudden he just saw a flash of light and his grandpa, dad, cousin, and one of his sons (that had all passed away) were standing in front of him. We talked to him about the work that he can now do for them in the temples and his face just lit up. He is AMAZING. I am SOOOO proud of this family.
Irene had been so nervous beforehand, she is 9, and they told her she was going first and she was really anxious about that, but after her baptism she was SO happy! I don't know how much I have mentioned about Irene in the past, but she is the one that had SEWED A CASE for her Book of Mormon the day after we gave it to her. She is SO SWEET!
Blanca is SUCH a strong woman and has endured a lot and came out for the better. She is an amazing example of faith and perseverance, and now her and her husband will be working together to continue to establish their family in the gospel! :) She was so full of joy that her husband had chosen to take this step as well-- they are just my favorites!!!!!!
Anyways so to summarize, Sunday was the greatest day of my entire life <3 I love the gospel. I love the opportunity that I have to be a part of God's work to help bring to pass the eternal life of God's children. I know that He loves every single one of us and has made the gospel path very clear! I am SO happy that I got to watch 3 of His children take the first step to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized. I am excited to continue to work with them and help them endure to the end :)
Otro milagro that I saw this week! So Friday I got a random email that was a referral from a missionary in VIRGINIA. She had taught this guy named Josue and then he was moving back to Beaumont or something like that. So we called Josue and he set up an appointment with us for that night. We went over, started talking about the restoration and the story of Joseph Smith, and he said, "wait one minute, I want to see if my brother wants to listen". So he went inside and brought out his brother Daniel too. So we taught both of them and after we shared the experience of Joseph Smith, we asked them how they felt. Daniel chimed in and said that he felt incredible, he said that it was very clear that we needed a prophet to guide us, so it made sense to him that God would call another prophet. He said he believed everything we taught him, and then later, we invited him and Josue to follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone that holds God's authority and they accepted right away! So we asked them why they thought that would be important and Daniel said, "Well when Christ was baptized, He went to John the Baptist who had that authority…and so we are supposed to follow Him…He also said in the Bible somewhere that if we don't get baptized, we can't go to heaven, right?" (Ummm YEAH he already knows!) It was AMAZING! Then we extended a date with them, and asked if they would prepare to be baptized by that date, and Josue said he would, then explained that he knew we were there to help them prepare, so if he wasn't ready by that date, it would be his own fault.
They are INCREDIBLE and that was a huge miracle.
Daniel showed up to church on Sunday and stayed for the baptism, then texted US and said thank you! He was so happy as well :) This morning I was talking to him asking when we could come by and see him again, and he told me that he has a friend that wants to come to church with him next week!! He said that he was talking to him about us and the church and that it is all very special! HE IS SO COOL. Josue was in Houston, so he couldn't make it to church, but apologized a lot for not making it!
Ok quick recap of another amazing day-- Tuesday I went on exchanges in Vidor-- which is East texas in a nutshell haha its crazy out there but IT WAS SUCH A GOOD DAY! It was one of those days where I really felt my purpose as a missionary. We met a bunch of different people that have such different life experiences, but with every single person, we shared our testimonies of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel, and 3 different people that we taught all told us that they felt peace while listening to us talk.
The first guy, Rogelio said: "I believe what you say. I can see the peace in your faces and I can tell that you are close to God. I am happy you came to inspire me, you have brought me a lot of peace".
The next lady Marilyn said, "I know what you said is true-- usually I don't let religious people come talk to me but something told me to listen to you guys. I don't believe whatever people tell me, but I believe what you say, I can tell it is true".
And the last one Nicole, we were trying to get ahold of her daughter, but she asked us who we were and what we were doing. She told us, "If I'm not mistaken, Mormon and Christian are completely different, right?" So we started to clarify with her that Christian means someone who believes and follows Jesus Christ, and told her that our purpose as missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was to invite others to come unto Christ by living His gospel. We read with her 2 Nephi 25:26 "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins". As we were talking with her, tears started streaming down her face and she said to us, "You girls really bring people peace. I have seen a lot of bad, and I haven't been to church in a long time, but I really felt peace with you guys. I want to listen to what you have to say".
IT WAS AN AMAZING EXCHANGE and SUCH a powerful experience to hear people confirm to me that I am helping bring peace, publishing this GREAT JOY that the gospel has brought to my life! I know that truly the gospel of Jesus Christ is where we can find peace, and it doesn't matter what our struggles are, the Savior and His gospel will help us! He knows and loves us perfectly, and His message is for EVERYONE! :)
There are so many other miracles that happened this week, it was basically the coolest. But moral of the story,
THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST IS PERFECT AND GOD HAS A PLAN FOR EVERYONE.
THE CHURCH IS TRUE AND WAS RESTORED THROUGH A PROPHET OF GOD.
BAPTISM IS THE FIRST STEP TO ACCEPTING AND LIVING THE GOSPEL.
THIS MESSAGE AND THE SPIRIT BRINGS PEACE TO HURTING HEARTS.
AND I AM SO GRATEFUL THAT I GET TO BE THE LORDS HAND TO SHARE IT.
THE MISSION IS THE GREATEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME
I love you all SO much. Thank you for being a part of my life.
Have a great week!
Remember that God loves you and wants you to be HAPPY!
Hermana Shaelyn Rogers
So once again it is another crazy PDay. We are about to go to an alligator farm in Anahuac Texas which is apparently the alligator capital of the world....or something. Hah basically it just means we don't have time to email once again.
This. Week. Was. Awesome. We saw Blanca, Salvador and Irene every day this week, preparing them for their baptism on the 16th!! It has been SO INCREDIBLE being a part of this changing process for them. As I have been teaching them, I have learned a lot about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and I have felt SO MUCH PURE LOVE. I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ covers everything. Because Jesus Christ lived, suffered, died and was resurrected, for us, all that is unfair in life can be made right. We all come from such different backgrounds in life, we have all struggled in different ways, we have all had different experiences, but Christ knows and understands perfectly our pains. He suffered so He would know how to succor us in our infirmities. This took on a different meaning to me this week as I listened to these people whom I love so much express their emotions and sufferings in life. I felt IN PART what it feels like to feel other people's pains and sorrow alongside them. There is nothing I want more than for this family to be happy and come to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was able to bear my testimony this week multiple times about how Christ has taken upon Himself EVERYTHING we experience. I know that although we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. And when we our incomplete, His love covers us completely. He is unfailing, merciful, full of grace, understanding, patient, steadfast, eternal, compassionate, perfect. He is OUR SAVIOR.
I can't explain in words how much I love these people. Being a missionary is absolutely life changing. Even when I don't feel like I am becoming the person I wanted to be, I can look at the people I met and know that they are in my life for a reason. This area is CHANGING ME. These people that I serve with and around are incredible examples.
One example from this last week. The stairs at the Maldonado's house were really narrow and when you knocked on the door, you had to climb down off the stairs so they could open the door- One Hermano from our branch, Hermano Licon, apparently showed up one day with a bunch of tools and basically said, we are going to fix your stairs. Then got to work! We showed up to teach Blanca and Irene, and they were out building a new set of stairs with a Little porch in the front of their trailer. We tried to help haha but it really did strengthen my testimony so much of the principle, "FIRST OBSERVE, THEN SERVE". The Licon's are kind of the grandparents of the branch, everyone just loves and admires them so much, and the more I am here, the more examples I see of this love and service that they offer everyone. They are incredible examples.
It will be a fun week getting that family ready for baptism. I am sooooo happy. I love these people SO SO MUCH! I love this area tons, and am grateful for the learning experiences I am having.
We are also teaching a new investigator named Hector! So back story a little bit. He lives...really far away. The missionaries had been teaching his sister, and they were trying to visit her, but then he ran out as they were walking back to their car and asked if they had something he could read, so they gave him a Book of Mormon. But he speaks Spanish better than English-- so one day Hermana Bravo was on exchanges in Vidor, and they went to go visit him. She asked him to read 3 Nefi 11 when she left, but then by the time we had talked to him again, he was almost done with 3 Nephi! He accepted a baptism date on the first lesson with Bravo! This past week we saw him and we went to get something to eat. As we were waiting, before we even ordered, he said pretty much, "what all do I need to know about your church?"
We didn't really know what he meant by that, but he clarified by saying, "What are all the things I can't do?" Haha so we straight up went through all the commandments! And as we did, he still wanted to talk to us by the end of the conversation! Haha ;) but really, normally the commandments can be a bit hard to swallow for people that have lived their whole lives doing what they want, but when someone is humble and willing to change, the commandments aren't a list of do's and donts, but a list of ways to please God and receive the blessings that he has in store for us. Because we love God, we are willing to keep His commandments and do the things He asks of us.
Anyways, our ride is here so we gotta go, but I love you all so much!! I hope you have an amazing week :) sorry I am always so rushed to email, I promise it's not because I don't love you! You're the best!
I LOVE YOU FAMILY! Happy birthday Daddio! I am writing you today!
Love you so much :)
Week 6 with Bravo-- I am SO SAD this transfer is over!
This week was the last week of Hermana Bravo's mission! It was hectic to say the least, but today was her last day! It is crazy to think about how fast that time will pass for me and in 6 short months I'll be in her place! So scary...
So I found out from President I will not be training this transfer, which honestly was a huge relief. I would love the opportunity to be training a new missionary, but it's all in the Lord's hands! I'll be getting a new companion today, and will let you know next week who that is!
I'm not sure who really to update on- I guess you could probably tell by the lack of information that neither Maggie or Noe was baptized in the last couple weeks, but it's okay. We did the best we could to prepare them, then left it up to their agency to choose. I'm not going to lie, I spent lots of time being upset and crying- there was a lot of frustration, but my District Leader shared with us a part of Preach My Gospel about being successful missionaries.
"Avoid comparing yourself to other missionaries and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs. Remember that people have agency to choose whether to accept your message. Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully so they can make a correct choice. Some may not accept your message even when they have received a spiritual witness that it is true. You will be saddened because you love them and desire their salvation. You should not, however, become discouraged; discouragement will weaken your faith. If you lower your expectations, your effectiveness will decrease, your desire will weaken, and you will have greater difficulty following the Spirit."
I can know, even if there are no outward results, that we have done our best. We love Maggie SO SO MUCH and did everything we could to help, but ultimately, we will never force anyone to make a decision. We can't be discouraged though, because that will weaken our faith and effectiveness! We have to trust that there are prepared people-- and there definitely are!!!
Let me tell yall a little bit about some of my new FAVORITE PEOPLE ON EARTH! :)
Their names are Blanca, Salvador, Irene and Perla :) They came from Mexico around 2 weeks ago and moved in with a member family, the Maldonados. They are cousins :)
They have come to church the past 2 weeks in a row and are set for a date on the 15th!!! :) Irene literally SEWED HERSELF A CASE FOR HER BOOK OF MORMON!! She is 9!!! Ah they are just an AMAZING family and such a miracle. When they came here, they had 3 choices of family members to stay with, and they chose the Maldonados because they were the best influences. They have been through a lot in the past but have HUGE desires to change and move forward! I love them SO much and am SO SO grateful for the opportunity to help them make the changes they want to in their lives. ️ the Maldonados are incredible examples for them and I am so grateful for them and the fact that they really live what they believe.
I can't even put into words effectively how much I have learned this past transfer. Hermana Bravo is basically the epitome of who I want to be by the end of my mission. I am so sooooo glad that I got to serve with her as my companion. Because of her, I really saw what it means to counsel with the Lord in every decision, and let Him be the guide. I saw what it looks like to let Him direct the work and I felt what it feels like to accept whatever happens, trusting in His will.
I learned that we are agents to act and have the responsibility to make things happen in the work, not just to watch things happen. I know better now what it means to boldly extend commitments and follow up frequently. I have more of a desire now than before to not let anything get in the way of being exactly obedient, and I have seen the blessings of obedience. I have noticed things in myself that I need to strengthen and develop in order to be that missionary! I've worked closely with this branch leadership, I've seen so much member missionary work, I've been really stretched here!
Whitewashing into this area wasn't exactly easy, but it was the most rewarding experience! I have been extremely humbled, felt such a dependence on the Lord, and have such a desire to continue to change and become who He wants me to be.
I want to be strong and confident and full of faith. I want to be a mirror of God's love for every single person I talk to. I want to be even more driven by a desire to help God's children receive salvation. I want to develop the habits now of counseling with the Lord in everything I do, receiving and following the promptings of the Spirit, and lifting others around me by every word and action.
I am so sorry I haven't sent an email like this in a couple weeks. I will get better!
I KNOW that God lives and loves us, I have seen His hand in this work. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that He knows everything we are going through and will run to us in our needs. I know I have received answers to my prayers and comfort in my heart. I can't even tell you how many nights I have desperately called to Him and He has answered me. I KNOW HE IS THERE. I know that He loves me and wants to heal my heart when it is hurting.
I have come to really understand that God has a plan for my growth, and sometimes that means I have to be cut down a little bit, but ultimately if I trust Him, He will shape me.
I know that lasting change is possible through Jesus Christ and His gospel. I am so grateful for this knowledge because it gives me strength. Christ is with me every step of the way.
I love you all so much! Thank you for everything and for being the best support system I could ever ask for. I hope you have a great week :)
Hope everything is well!
Love all the way from Texas,