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:
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!!!!!