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