Monday, September 23, 2013

Have a Delightful Danish Day!

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Dearest Family,

I love you all soo much! Thank you for all of your wonderful letters this week. A big thank you to Aunt Nancy for her wonderful package! She sent me all sorts of wonderful goodies which I love, but have been on too tight a budget to buy for myself. It has made Hermana Cannon and me so happy this week. Thank you sooo much! I don't know how you know all the wonderful things I loved and needed but you got them all!

I am mixing some of my email to President Castro and to you so hopefully it all makes sense. I think it sounds really missionary this week so....sorry. I promise I'm still normal.

Hermana Cannon and I have really become closer over the past few weeks and I'm so grateful the Lord chose to keep us together as companions. I wasn't as humble and loving as I should have been in our first transfer but as we have talked and made companionship goals, and as I have prayed to have the humility and charity necessary for unity in our companionship, He has really blessed me. We are getting along better and better and I can see how true unity is so helpful in being a missionary and in teaching our investigators. I have been blessed to feel more at home in the mission and in the area, am less homesick and more focused on the work. Our progress with our investigators is also affected as we are united in helping them.

This past week our companionship goal was humility. I know developing true humility is a lifelong process, but as I am continually aware of myself and how much I need the Lord and others I hope that I will become more of the servant my Heavenly Father wants me to be.

We have seen great success this week. Although we didn't reach the standard of success, which is our constant goal, we worked hard every day to be diligent, obedient and faithful and we reaped many blessings because of it.

On Monday evening we had the wonderful experience of helping a less-active member receive a priesthood blessing. Toni has been less-active for years and the ward didn't even know she was here. The previous elders received her as a referral from church headquarters and Hermana Cannon and I have been in contact with her for a few weeks now but because of situations in her home we had not been able to really teach or visit her yet. She called us the week before and really asked for help so Monday night we were able to get her a priesthood blessing with Brother Millett and Brother McCleary. Brother Millett explained where the authority comes from and then he gave her a beautiful blessing. He had only just met her, but after talking to her for weeks, I knew that everything he said in his blessing were things that she needed to hear. It was such a beautiful, spiritual experience.

That evening we were able to go to dinner and have Family Home Evening with the Haws family. They are sooo awesome! They were one of the first families we had a lesson with in this area and it was awesome to get to talk to just them. They are so sweet, their kids are adorable and on top of all that they are awesome missionaries. We did an EDPEP (explain, demonstrate, practice, evaluate, practice-basically a role play) with them to help them practice inviting their friends to do something such as come to an activity, have dinner with us and them etc. They just made us so happy with the wonderful spirit they bring and their willingness to help. I love them!

Also on Monday we went on an adventure with Brother Millett, I stood outside Michael Jackson's front door, climbed on to a giant rock, and we saw a movie being filmed! I love living in a crazy place like this!

On Tuesday we got to volunteer at a PTSA dinner for their ELL program. It felt like going home being inside a school with kids! I loved it. We got to sell delicious looking desserts and talk to people. The cute little kids did some fun Spanish dances (hopefully you'll get to see pictures, the internet isn't cooperating). One of them was to honor the elderly so they all came out with canes and ugly wrinkly masks and danced like old people falling all over the ground and wobbling as they walked. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen.

We have been working with a lot of less-actives in this area and I have seen how much happiness it can bring to help bring others back into the fold. Some of my greatest joy has been helping less active members in the area feel loved and supported and bring them back to the ward.

Yesterday we had another experience with a less active member named Yolanda. Yolanda was baptized just over a year ago and for a while had the support of her sister and brother-in-law but when they moved she lost her connection to the church. She struggles with depression and has been going through a lot but I don't think the ward was really aware of it. We were able to help her receive her temple recommend and last week she did baptisms for the dead for the first time which was a wonderful experience. Yesterday she called us in the morning in tears and asked if we could come visit her that afternoon. She's had some issues with her car and wasn't going to be able to make it to church but she wanted us to come by and visit that afternoon. We felt so grateful that she could trust us, but we are worried that she doesn't feel that connection to her visiting teacher or other members of the ward. We were able to bring our concerns to the ward council and, hopefully, help them understand that to be blessed with new converts we have to make sure we are taking good care of the ones we have. That afternoon when we visited her we listened for a while and shared a message of peace that she has been seeking. As things were wrapping up we didn't feel that she had received all the help she needed. We stayed for a few more minutes and began talking about general conference coming up in a few weeks. As we discussed what a blessing it is and how we can prepare, her spirits lifted and we could see a noticeable change in her countenance. As we left she was smiling and happy. I was so grateful to be able to help her.

Another less active member we have been working with is Shane. He is 42 and was baptized six years ago. He is a little slow and maybe has some sort of disability. I love teaching Shane. He is so sweet and really just wants to learn. He promised to come to church on Sunday and guess what! He made it! I was just as excited as if he were an investigator. It has been years since he has been to church but he seems to really enjoy the gospel and love his savior. I hope we can get him connected with the ward as well so that he can stay active and receive the blessings and happiness the gospel brings.

We have also had some great finding experiences this week. On Thursday we knocked a street in Los Olivos. We talked to many interesting people which always strengthens my testimony in one way or another. Even if they don't accept the gospel, I love seeing for myself how the gospel really can help everyone, whether they know it or not. Our success of the day was with a man named Louis from Syria. He couldn't understand us very well but he asked if he could come to our church. He even called us the next day to confirm the address! He ended up not being able to come because of work, but I was so impressed with his earnest desire to follow Christ more fully. I hope we will have the opportunity to teach him soon.

Just as we were getting in our car to leave Los Olivos, Hermana Cannon saw a young teenage girl named Amanda walking home from school and we started to talk to her. It turns out she has had a pretty difficult life and has been in foster care for years. She has a great belief in Christ, however, and as we testified and gave her a Book of Mormon she told us she would be interested in learning more. She even has a friend who we know in the ward who is willing to help teach and fellowship her. We were so excited at the miracle of finding her and at her sweet humble spirit. She just seems so strong despite such a difficult life and I can't wait to help her find more strength and happiness through the gospel!

Our investigators are all continuing to progress. We got frustrated with Dane this week when he wasn't understanding repentance and we couldn't get him to focus. As we asked him about his desire to meet with us we almost thought about dropping him. We talked to him about how he needs to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith and then didn't set a return appointment. It has been difficult with Dane since the beginning because of the communication barrier and we were just getting frustrated. Luckily, we have a great ward mission leader who helped us to understand that Dane might be communicating in a different way but if he has a desire to be baptized it is not our place to decide not to allow him to enter the way. When we went back and talked to him a few days later he told us that he knows he needs to focus more and that he will do better. Then when we taught him the 10 commandments in our next lesson he really did focus better and we saw improvement. He is still on track to be baptized on the 12th of October! We are so excited for him.

It's been a great week full of helping others which really does bring so much joy. I love working in this blessed area and seeing the Lord pour out his blessings upon us, the members, and our wonderful investigators.

Other fun stories:

On Wednesday I ate the best meal of my life at Sister Klitgaards. I stuffed myself full, but oh my goodness she's an amazing cook! We also got to watch the video they sent you. That's awesome!

On Thursday we ate dinner with Pat Opp and Connie Betz. They are both super old ladies and they have more energy than Hermana Cannon and I combined. Connie married Pat's brother after knowing him for 5 days. And Pat played tennis on Thursday for 3 hours and beat a 50 year old and a 30 year old. Yeah, they're that legit.

Two face from Dark Knight-his mom is in our ward. She taught RS this week! NO big!

Oh well that's all. Time's up. Sorry I ended lame. Love you all!
Hopefully pics next week.

LOVE Hermana Millet

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Off to Neverland

Dear Family:

I got letters this week from Sister Wardle and Robbie and Jonah (two of my kindergartners) It made me sooo happy! They were all so sweet! I will hopefully find time to write everyone back today.

Make aebleskivers at the Klitgaards house.

Kolee and I
(This is a stuffed dog we sent to her)

I have so many wonderful investigators to tell you about this week! I don't know if I've given you all their background info so here goes:

Dane: Dane is about 40 years old and is partially deaf. As we were walking into our apartment complex one evening he asked if we talk about the Bible and asked if he could meet with us. We have been meeting with him twice a week now for about three weeks and he is progressing really well. He keeps all of his commitments and has been to church twice. Our greatest challenge with Dane is communication. We can't understand him very well and we're not sure he understands us. He has a baptismal date for October 12th. We believe he can be ready by this date but we want to make sure he is really experiencing a change of heart. He seems really interested in history and facts and sometimes gets stuck on one verse or concept and doesn't understand the whole picture we are trying to convey. One sister that accompanied us on a visit mentioned that she has worked with autism and wonders if he lies somewhere on the autism spectrum. Dane is very lonely and really wants a family so we're helping him to understand that his relationship with God should be of most importance and that he should come to church to come closer to Christ, not just find a wife and get married. He has great intent though and each time he reads the scriptures he writes down questions and comments. We are excited to continue working with him and we pray for the gift of communication and discernment every day to understand what he needs.

Carl: We were worried about Carl for a while when he wasn't able to meet with us and wasn't returning our calls. This week, however, we were able to talk to him and better understand what is going on. He is worried a lot about his family right now and his son, Woody, is having a hard time adjusting to a new environment. Woody was previously living with his mom, who is a drug addict, and it is hard for him to come to a home with structure and rules. Carl really just wants to be a good father and bring his family closer together. We were able to share an example of Alma praying for his son, Alma the younger, in The Book of Mormon and how the angel who appeared to Alma the younger told him it was as a result of his father's prayers. We talked about how Carl's journey toward Christ will really help his relationship with Woody as he shows him a good example. We also talked about how relying on Christ will really help him to overcome any weaknesses he may have and help to give him the peace he is searching for in his life. He chose a baptismal date of October 26th assuming the custody of Woody and divorce and wedding can all go through before then. Dawn, Carl's girlfriend and soon to be wife, is not as ready to accept the gospel and that causes a little bit of a problem in his progression as well. They are trying to be unified in their lives but Carl is so ready to join the church and Dawn is not ready yet. We are trying to help them find unity in their family and teach them as a family without holding Carl back in his progression.

Jaime: Jaime is a Spanish man who has been taught by the missionaries for years, when the Spanish missionaries in Lompoc have been able to travel down to Solvang to teach him. He has such a desire to follow Christ and really understands the importance of the covenant of baptism. We have presented him with a date and he is praying about it this week. We had a great moment this week when we shared Alma 34:30-33 and asked him why he is waiting to be baptized. Why wait to receive the blessings of baptism? He paused and said, "There is no reason." I am so excited for him to make the choice to be baptized and see it happen this transfer! His biggest obstacle to overcome is getting to church. He works on Sunday's and will have to ask his boss to have time off. He wasn't able to make it yesterday, but we have faith he will continue to progress and be baptized soon. We taught the plan of salvation to him on Friday and it was a great experience.

Personally, I was doing relatively well understanding but my confidence in speaking Spanish has diminished greatly since being in the field and not speaking it as much as I should. I didn't want to participate so I let Hermana Cannon and Brother Millett do most of the talking. I could tell a few times Hermana Cannon paused for a moment to let me jump in but I was scared and had determined to give up. I was so grateful, however, that Hermana Cannon didn't give up on me and she said, "Hermana Millet, why don't you explain the spirit world." I was terrified but I started in and was able to find most of the words. It was nowhere near perfect but it helped to restore my confidence and I was able to explain a few more concepts throughout the evening because I didn't give up. I was so grateful she gave me the opportunity.

Connie: Connie is a 78 year old woman who has been coming to church for over a year with her sister-in-law/best friend, Pat. She hasn't met with the missionaries regularly until we came into the area but Brother Nash introduced us and we were able to schedule a meeting with her about a month ago and we have been teaching her every Sunday afternoon since. She is so sweet and I love our meetings. Each lesson has been so fitted to her needs. She asked about what we believe about life after death so we shared the Plan of Salvation, and then she asked about prophets so we taught the restoration. She thinks she is guiding all the lessons and doesn't realize the questions fall right in line with what we have prepared to teach! Each lesson seems just like a great conversation. Yesterday we really explained authority and why it is important to be baptized with the proper authority. She has been baptized twice already but I think yesterday we helped her understand how important it is to receive that authority from Christ. When I asked what her concern with baptism is she explained how her brother and sister-in-law both had cancer, then her brother passed away and then she had back surgery. These challenges are all passing and I think Connie is getting close to making the decision for herself. We talked a little about real intent and how Connie needs to be ready to act on the answer she receives from the Lord. She told us how all week she has been nervous about praying in front of us but Brother Nash helped to explain how the spirit can help you and shared his experience with the same concern when he converted. At the end of the lesson she gave a beautiful prayer.

Andy: We had an awesome week with Andy! He is 36 and has been meeting with missionaries since January. We considered dropping him toward the beginning of last transfer because he wasn't progressing a whole lot but he has turned around so much! This October he will be clean from drugs for 2 years. He still smokes and drinks coffee, however. This last week we talked about the word of wisdom and read my favorite scripture about the people of Alma in Mosiah 24 and how the atonement helps them overcome their burdens and afflictions. He totally related and started to understand that his addiction is keeping him in bondage. Then he came to church and the Sunday school lesson just happened to be about the Word of Wisdom. He shared with the class his renewed understanding that smoking is hindering him from feeling the spirit and that he needs to quit. He is now going to try to be completely addiction free by October 1st! This is such a giant step for him!

We've also been teaching a lot of LARCS (less active and recent convert)

Yolanda was baptized a year ago but she has been struggling and didn't get the attention she needed. We taught her the first new member lesson this week and helped her get a temple recommend so she can go to the temple. She went for the first time on Saturday. She started to tear up the night before as we explained how each of the names represents a person that is waiting to be baptized. It was super sweet. We love her.

Toni is a less active that I found on my exchange with Hermana Bartschi. She called this week in tears saying she needs help. Her home situation isn't great and her son is really against the church. She asked if it was Sister Millet talking and said she only feels comfortable talking to me and that she feels a special connection with me. As she said this I had a feeling that I am here in this area to help her. I want her to form a connection with the ward which is most important but I am so grateful that I can be here to help her.

Shane is a man who is not all there and was baptized about 6 years ago. We taught him the restoration again to see how much he understands and he did great! I taught him like I might one of my kindergartners and it went so well. It was so fun and I had a moment of just loving being a missionary and teaching the gospel.

Our alpaca friends: Ted, Teddy, Big T and Tedster. They're our best friends. :)

I think that's about all. Today Brother Millett is taking us to Neverland Ranch (Michael Jackson's old ranch place). I love you all so much! Thank you for all of your support and love. The church is true. Missionary work is great and I love you!

Love Hermana Millet

Monday, September 9, 2013

Danish Days Here I Come!


Guess what! I'm staying in Solvang! Hooray! It's a little anti-climactic to get a call saying that nothing is changing but I love Solvang and I really didn't want to leave the people or the area. Plus, Danish Days are coming soon. I don't really know what all that entails but I hear there are costumes worn to church and we get to serve delicious food to the community or something. In this town, I know it's got to be good, whatever it is. Maybe I can convince one of the sisters to make me a Danish dress lol! All of the other Hermanas are staying as well so for us transfers don't mean a whole lot. We will be getting a new district leader and a few new elders in our District but most everything is staying the same.

This picture is for Grandma! I saw this and thought
of her.  And, I love her a hug around the neck too!

Thank you sooo much for the package! I especially loved the puppy. I sleep with him every night (shhh, don't tell anyone I'm sleeping with a stuffed animal at 22 years old). I also loved the "I love you" sign language pin. They were definitely my favorite. As well as all the things that I asked for and you sent so promptly. You're the best. :) I love you all and miss you soo much and that made my day.

I hope you don't think I am being too negative about my investigators. Thank you for your words about agency Daddy, I really appreciated it. I know that I cannot control what my investigators do. I just want to make sure I am being the best missionary I can be so that my weaknesses don't affect them. I appreciate all your words of advice and help. Thank you for the continued letters. I know you all get busy and it is hard to find time to write but they really strengthen me. I am still going through waves of homesickness and receiving letters from you brightens my day.

Here is my letter to President Castro, sorry my writing isn't very eloquent these days:

President Castro,

This week we made it a goal to achieve the Standard of Excellence with all of our key indicators for the week. We have been working hard up until this point in the transfer but we hadn't been able to reach the standard of excellence in all key indicators at one time. So this week our goal was to work hard and have the faith necessary to reach our goal.

Monday started out as a difficult day during p-day which started out the week with a lot of stress. That night, however, was full of miracles. We ended up having a last minute dinner appointment that we hadn't prepared for and as we sat in the car right before it was to start, pondering what this sister that we would be eating with would need to hear, we said a prayer asking for the spirit to be with us. From that point on, the night was beautiful. We had a wonderful dinner with Sister Ballentine and her non-member boyfriend and were able to share some of our beliefs with him. Her member friend, Sister Young was also there, and we were able to discuss how we can help her less active son. It was a miracle that we were able to attend this dinner with all three individuals and strengthen each of them.

That evening we went to a street in hopes of contacting Blake, a referral we received the week before but hadn't yet been able to contact. As we walked up to the house we met two young men and began chatting. They just happened to be going to the same house which provided a perfect way for us to meet Blake's parents in a natural way. We had heard that they are not very enthusiastic about the church but we were able to be there in the right time at the right place to have a positive interaction with them which will hopefully help in Blake's journey to the church.

The rest of the night we spent tracting in that area and we felt completely guided on our way. We both just had a feeling of peace that evening and were guided to houses that we needed to visit. At one house we were able to visit with a woman whose parents had both just died. She told us that she knows who Christ is but that she is angry with him at the moment and that she knows she will need to talk to us soon. She wasn't ready at that moment but we gave her our number and we will be going back soon to help her through her grief by finding the gospel of Jesus Christ when she is ready. We also found a new investigator that night!

After such a stressful day it was such a beautiful blessing to feel the peace of the Lord leading and guiding us in our way. In just three short hours we had 1 lesson with a member present, 3 other lessons, 1 new investigator, 6 declarations and 1 baptismal invite.

On Tuesday we also received a miracle member present lesson at a dinner appointment. When we arrived to the home for dinner, they weren't ready yet so we began teaching them a lesson before dinner. As we began the lesson with this sister and her children, one son looked out the window and saw his non-member friend in the front yard. He invited him inside and we were able to teach the gospel to him with the family. It was such a simple act but such a miracle that we needed this week.

On Wednesday we a received a few more miracles. The night before during planning, Sister Cannon found a street called Lucky Lane in our area and said, "Maybe we'll get lucky and find an investigator there." We had no idea how true that statement would be. On that street we met a woman named Alisa. As we shared a bit of the restoration with her she stopped us in the middle and said, "I just have to tell you, I was praying to God the other night asking him for a sign that He is there and now here you two are coming to my door." We were able to testify that God is aware of her and that we were sent to help her find the truth she is looking for. My goal for the day was to feel the spirit working through me in hopes of knowing that He is pleased with my efforts. As I testified to Alisa I received that witness that the spirit was speaking through me and therefore, that the Lord is pleased with my efforts. One of my worries this transfer has been in wondering if I am the kind of missionary the Lord wants me to be. I was so grateful for this experience which assured me that Heavenly Father loves me and is pleased with my efforts.

That night we went to CHOMP, a local restaurant with a member for dinner. It just so happens that Blake, the referral we were trying to contact Monday, works there. We received another miracle that night as we were able to meet and talk with Blake for a few minutes. Unfortunately, she isn't yet ready to meet with us but we are not giving up on her. We know there is a reason that we are here and we feel a connection with Blake and we will continue to find ways to talk with her and introduce her to the church.

On Thursday our miracle was with our investigator Andy, whom you met at Stake Conference. As he mentioned, he has been meeting with the missionaries for months. A few weeks ago we almost considered dropping him because we weren't sure he was progressing but this last week we had a breakthrough lesson with him. Andy is so spiritual and has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith but he hasn't yet been able to connect that belief to the idea that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet and that this is the true church. On Thursday, however, he really opened up to the idea that Thomas S. Monson could be a prophet. He is going to look up general conference online and we are so excited for him to gain this portion of his testimony. We have faith that Andy will be baptized. We are so excited to continue teaching him as his testimony grows slowly but surely.

By Friday most of our goals were doing well but we hadn't yet contacted any LARCS (Less Active Recently Converted). We focused that day on this effort and Heavenly Father blessed us so much. We were able to visit three LARCS, each of which needed our help. Each and every one of those meetings was filled with the spirit and we were so blessed to be able to visit them.

Alpaca friends we made when visiting a less active.

On Saturday we knew we had a lot of work to do with Stake Conference being the next day and much of our proselyting time being taken up with travel and studies. It was a difficult day for much of the afternoon and we hadn't found any new investigators or been able to teach any other lessons by that evening. As we went back into Solvang before dinner we were able to teach four lessons and get four new investigators in just over an hour and a half. We couldn't believe how the Lord had blessed us. As we walked away from the third lesson we were feeling so grateful and elated to have met our goals. We almost walked right past a man in his driveway but he stopped us and asked to talk and we were able to teach him a small portion of the restoration and set up an appointment to teach him more this next week. The Lord blessed us even more than we had asked or would have seen on our own. It was an amazing day.

By Sunday we were so close but we still hadn't contacted 2 more LARCS. Earlier in the week we discussed together how we know the Lord would make us work right up until the end if we really wanted these goals and He did. We were rushing from house to house that evening but with the help of Heavenly Father were able to have two great lessons with LARCS. Although we wanted to reach our goals, I was so grateful that each of these appointments seemed to be what the members needed. We weren't just getting them for the goals; we really were able to help the people. As we ended the night after visiting with Shane, a man who seems to have some sort of mental disability, I was so happy. He has such a desire to do what is right and our encouragement and teaching of simple truths really seemed to help him.

By the end of the week we met or exceeded all but two key indicators of the standard of excellence. My testimony of faith has grown so much this week as I've seen how faith needs to be used to actively find and teach people. I have also grown in humility as I've learned that we can do nothing without the help of our Heavenly Father. I know we could not have accomplished this on our own but when we have faith in the Lord and are willing to work hard he will bless us to accomplish his work.


So as you can see, it's been a week full of miracles. I wish I had time to tell you about all the wonderful lessons and people we met.

Fun story of the week:

On Thursday we didn't have a dinner appointment and we were running low on food because we didn't want to spend a lot Monday with transfers coming up. Hermana Cannon had the idea to make tuna pasta with some of my white sauce, a can of tuna, and some noodles. It basically looked like cat food, but we ate it and it tasted...okay. We laughed about eating cat food all week.

That's about all. Thank you so much for being the best family in the world. I love you so much! Hopefully I'll have time to write letters today. LOOOOOVEE YOU!!!!!

Hermana MIllet

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Key in the Mailbox.

Here is the excerpt from my letter to President Castro:

Each week I am learning and growing in my desires to be more like my savior and be the type of missionary he wants me to be. This week has been full of a lot of contemplating and thinking about what that entails.

On Monday night Hermana Cannon and I had a discussion about fulfilling our purpose. We talked with a less active woman for a while and ended up teaching her the restoration, which was a wonderful opportunity to teach her things she had never known or forgotten since she had gone inactive. Hermana Cannon then brought up the question of whether or not we were fulfilling our purpose as missionaries by talking to her about her and her family beforehand. I had to do some thinking about that because I want to do all I can to fulfill my purpose and I know we are to be trusted more than loved but I also don't want to become a missionary robot who doesn't understand the feelings of others and whose only focus is on baptismal numbers or statistics. I want to maintain the person I am and make that person better rather than have a missionary self and a non-missionary self. This discussion was a time for me to reflect on who I am going to be as a missionary. I had to pray to my Heavenly Father for forgiveness and for humility to accept who he wants me to become and not hold on to my pride. I'm still not sure the best way to handle helping less actives feel loved and accepted but also make use of our time to share the gospel. I do know that I want to follow the Savior and be the kind of person he would be in all circumstances.

On Wednesday we also had another eye opening evening as we took a member with us to a lesson with a Hispanic woman in our neighborhood that we have visited a few times named Selena. We taught her the Plan of Salvation. She is quite knowledgeable in the Bible and has a lot of opinions about how it should be interpreted. She and the member we brought with us to the meeting ended up spending much of it arguing. We are learning how to be bold and loving and listen to our investigators but "to teach and not to be taught". We want the spirit to be foremost in all of our lessons and we didn't feel that the lesson was focused on the spirit that evening. Hermana Cannon and I discussed that evening what it means "to teach and not to be taught" and how to do that without turning discussions into an argument or by interrupting our investigators. Again, it is a process that we will have to find a balance for.

Our next big learning opportunity was on Friday night. We had a lesson lined up in the home of a member family (the Swolgaard's) with their friends the Stacy's. The Swolgaard's have been doing wonderful missionary work with them and have been praying for them for years.  We had met the Stacy's the week before and then we were able to arrange this meeting. I was so excited about this family and really wanted this lesson to go well. We had talked with the Stacy's about forgiveness a little the week before and Sister Swolgaard told us how much Sarah Stacy appreciated that message. I wondered about sharing the wonderful Mormon message about forgiveness with them but I also wanted to dive right in and get to the restoration of the gospel. In our planning Hermana Cannon and I decided the restoration was the best option and I felt good about the plan. At dinner, with both families, there were 8 children all running around and things got a little chaotic but we were able to have some good conversation with the adults. When it came time for the lesson, however, things were still a little crazy and we weren't sure if we would be able to keep the spirit long enough to teach the restoration the way we wanted so we decided instead to share the Mormon message. We were able to tie that into Christ and our purpose as missionaries and a little of the restoration but not as much as we would have liked. I left the lesson feeling that it went pretty well considering the circumstances.

As we got in the car, Hermana Cannon immediately began evaluating and asking what we should have done better. As we talked, and as I have studied further since then, I have come to the realization that yes, evaluating our lessons is necessary and important and I want to learn all I can, but I also have to learn to accept my best. Maybe the restoration would have been a better decision, maybe not. We will never know. But in the moment, hopefully under direction of the Spirit, we decided to go a different way and that is okay. I learned in Ether 12 today that Moroni was worried about his imperfections as well. The Lord told him, however, that His grace is sufficient for the meek. If I am humble enough to follow the Lord, He will make up the rest. I want to be positive about the choices I make and how I teach as long as I am doing my best and trying to follow the Spirit. I will never be a perfect teacher but God will make up for my imperfections as long as I am doing all I can to be diligent, obedient and faithful.

This attitude has been necessary this week as our miracle family, Carl Dawn and Woody, haven't responded well to our calls and visits and didn't show up to church or our lesson that was scheduled on Sunday. Another one of our investigators, who even had a baptismal date at one time, has also seemed to be avoiding contact with us. It is easy to wonder what we did wrong and to feel guilt about losing one of God's children. The weight of knowing that God is relying on me and my companion to take care of this area and the people in our stewardship is so overwhelming. I don't want to be the reason someone loses out on the blessings of salvation. Heavenly Father is helping me see, however, that as long as I am trying my best that is all I can ask for. I want to constantly improve and become a better missionary and a more Christlike servant of the Lord and He will help me along the way.

This week I have been learning lots of lessons about who I am as a missionary and how I can become better. I'm trying to have more humility to learn from Hermana Cannon and faith to know that Lord will help me."

Now here is some of the fun stuff:

First, let's start out with a story. Once upon a time there were two missionaries who LOVED checking the mail. One day there was nothing inside but a funny little key. Not knowing what it was, nor having time to ask the manager about it at the moment they ignored it and went on their way. Well, this continued for a week, or maybe even two, until one day they happened to remember to ask their manager about the strange little key abiding in their mailbox. "Well," said the manager, "that means you have a package." "A package!" They exclaimed! This whole time the rusty, old, lonely key signified the most glorious surprise a missionary could behold! That evening they finally took the key out of its resting place in the back of their mailbox, found the lock that it belonged to, and pulled out a wonderful little package full of goodies and surprises of all sorts from Sister Millet's sweet, generous Aunt Mary. Sister Millet was SOOOO grateful for the wonderful joys she found in the package and it made her whole week brighter. The End.

Morale of the story: keys in the mailbox are kind of like gold, and Aunt Mary is the sweetest person ever.

PS. One of the happy joys in the package was Dr. Pepper Lipsmackers so now I can feel like Mama every time I put it on.

Next story: On Monday night we went to dinner at the Williams. They are an adorable family that is SOOO sweet. (Shout out to Sister Williams if she happens to look at the blog. Thank you for being amazing to us!) We ate amazing food and taught the plan of salvation (Ygnacio was supposed to come but he's avoiding us now. :() As we were about to leave, little 5 year old Beth who just started Kindergarten whispered in my ear, "When you taught Kindergarten did you share the gospel?" Is that not the sweetest thing you've ever heard? I love her.

Oh, also on Monday Brother Millett took us to see a cool bridge.

Holding up the bridge.
Sister Millett and he both like to tell us all about how people like to commit suicide off the bridge and they put up a fence but that doesn't stop the crazy people from jumping.

Have I told you how awesome the Millett's are? They're hilarious. We also found Hidden Valley (as in Hidden Valley Ranch) and let me tell you, it looks nothing like the pictures. Quite disappointing actually. There are no giant carrots or bowls of ranch dressing with kids having delicious looking picnics.

Jen with Brother Millett (Stake Patriarch) and another missionary.

Tuesday we ate at Paula's Pancake House for Hermana Wright's birthday. It was delicious. I got French toast again. It was amazing. Then we had a funny little health conference in Goleta (not sure how to spell it) where they told us to eat fruits and veggies and be good girls and boys. That night we ate a Burrito Loco with this awesome lady who is like 79 and has cancer but plays tennis and walks 3 miles a day and donates tons of money to charity and is more active than I think I've ever been in my life. (She told us all about how awesome she is as I scarfed down the best burrito of my life the size of my face...actually I did save some of it for lunch the next day.)

On Friday we discovered a Snow White cottage complete with a little dungeon next door.

Cellar next to Snow White's Cottage
It was the coolest thing I've ever seen. I'm kind of on my own version of parade of homes here every day. We also got awesome hats from a less active member who let us do some service by helping her clean out her closet and organize. The picture doesn't do it justice, but it's awesome. And I can't wait to use it for a Halloween costume.

Hermana Cannon and Hermana Millet wearing the
crazy hats they received.
Friday was insanely hot here. Actually, it's been hot all weekend and apparently we're heading into the heat of the summer here. They're just getting me ready for Argentina! I also had a spider on my pillow that got away that night and another one that we had to kill. EEW! Even more preparation for Argentina. Maybe my VISA is on its way!

Ooh! Good news from Friday we finally got pastries from Mortensen's. They are the best, for sure. I got a giant eclair. It was amazing! We also decided during planning to try to meet the standard of excellence this week for our weekly goals. It's going to be insanely difficult but I'm going to try to have faith and work like crazy to make it happen. It's the last week of our transfer and we have no idea what might happen next week.

Last little story: we have met a cute little Honduran family in our apartment complex who always smiles and says hi to us. We were finally able to teach the Mom on Friday. She still has two kids back in Honduras! She is shipping them over one at a time. She works so hard and her kids are so sweet and polite. The six year old daughter gave me a cute picture during the lesson (sometimes I have to force myself to try to listen to Hermana Cannon and the mom and not just smile at Luatany). She is so sweet and I can only imagine being her teacher and having no idea about her home life. They are moving right now because we think they were evicted and her dad is in prison. It is so sad, but she's so sweet.

Ah! Time's up. I LOVE YOU! Have a great week. Talk to you soon!