Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hola familia!

How are you all? I´m sorry I wasn´t able to call you on Thursday Daddy! There wasn´t a lot of time during the layovers and it was costing money. It was good to hear all of your voices on Wednesday night though.

This week has been full of travel. The 10 hour flight here was...LONG. We got a dinner and breakfast on the plane which was kind of fun. I had a hard time sitting for so long and I didn´t get a whole lot of sleep. I´m here though now and I don´t have to do that again for another 14 months!

BTW in Texas we met up with some other missionaries traveling to Argentina. I was able to talk to Elder Cline and Elder Kelley from my district in the MTC. It was great to see them. When we got to Argentina we had to go through customs and visa checks and everything. It was pretty overwhelming to do all this in a language I can barely speak. I passed though haha. Apparently we are all here on tourist visas, so they are still working on getting us real ones. We were then met by the AP´s and President and Sister Carter. Guess who else I got to see!? Heremana Redford! She came in on a different flight! I was so excited to see her.

We took a little drive to the temple where we took pictures (I should get to go to the temple around Christmas time). Then we went to a park where Elder Marvin J. Ballard dedicated South America for missionary work almost 100 years ago (I think it was about that long). President Carter talked about the dedication and how we are continuing to fulfill that revelation. He talked about how this area is growing like an oak tree in which it starts out small but will be strong. It was pretty cool. We then went back to President Carter´s house where we ate a delicious lunch of salad, mashed potatoes and some sort of steak with gravy. They also had a delicious cake with layers (kind of like pie crust) and dulce de leche and chocolate. Me encanta! We then had some training and interviews there at their home.

President Carter is very different from President Castro. He is much the point. President Castro was very meek and quiet and President Carter is kind of more normal and/or down to earth. They are very different but I love them both. My interview with President Carter was pretty normal, nothing too exciting.

We then went to the mission offices, had a little more training and ate sandwiches. Afterward some of the elders took Hermana Redford and me to an apartment near the office. It is an empty apartment they have on hand so it was just the two of us. It was great to catch up with her. The next morning we had a little more training and by 11:00 we were out with our temporary companions for the weekend. I went with Hermana Stevens and Hermana Gomez in San Justos. I spend Saturday and Sunday with them and then we had transfers today.

The Hermanas I worked with in San Justos.  We bought a pizza
for lunch and they made a cute welcome sign.
Hermana Gomez spoke basically no English but luckily Hermana Stevens is from Utah and was able to translate a little. On Sunday all of the members were really nice. They had me bear my testimony is Spanish which went pretty well I think. They all think I know Spanish but I can speak better than I understand at this point.

The work is quite different here. Everything is different. The milk comes in bags. There are stray dogs EVERYWHERE: The water really is toxic. I´m not allowed to drink out of the tap, and have to have my filtered water bottle for everything or put bleach in it. Apparently I might also come back with basically no hair because the water is also hard on our hair haha. We don´t really eat dinner here (maybe I really will lose some Solvang weight lol) so the members feed us lunch. There is no carpet in any of the homes or buildings. The people have siestas every afternoon and all the stores close for a few hours. Those are just a few of the changes.

The living conditions are also really sad. The apartments I´ve been in aren´t too bad but it makes the one in Solvang look like a palace. It´s kind of cool how I have had the opportunity to work with really wealthy people in Solvang and now I am seeing the poorest of the poor. Some of the places we go are so sad. There are new born babies living in basically shacks. There is so much trash everywhere and it is all just cement walls and floors. It´s crazy! Some of my favorite lessons from the week were in these places, however.

This week has been full of travel and experiencing different companionships and areas. In the Ventura Mission I was able to work with a companionship of sisters for a few days in their area before flying here to Argentina. I was then able to work with Hermana Gonzales and Hermana Stevens in San Justos here in the BAW mission. It was good to experience different kinds of missionaries and areas and learn from all of them.

I have learned a lot here in the past few days. I am still getting used to the focus on the key indicators here in this mission. It took me a while, personally, to not focus so much on the numbers and focus more on my investigators. When my companion and I really focused on the numbers one week and were working like crazy to achieve them all I didn´t feel as successful personally. I didn´t feel like we made as much of a difference in the lives of our investigators. On the other hand, in the past few weeks in Solvang our numbers didn´t look very good but our investigators were really progressing. We had several that were extremely close to accepting baptismal dates and had come so far.

The missions are very different, however, and I know that the council President Carter gives is what is right for this mission. I want to fully adopt this mission and the culture here and accept what President Carter teaches, while taking what I learned in Solvang and finding a way to use that to help me be more successful here. As an educator I appreciate using results to drive how we do things and so I appreciated seeing today how focusing on the indicators has proven to bring more people unto Christ, because that is the ultimate goal. If I can be assured that I am helping people to come unto Christ I know I can gain a testimony of the way things are done in this mission.

Today's transfer meeting was also very different. I liked it a lot though. It is super exciting! In Ventura we got a call the day before about transfers, where we are going, who our companion is etc. Here you get a call the night before letting you know if you need to back your bags but you have no idea where you are going until you go to the meeting. They have a slide show where they go through all the areas. When your face pops up that is when you find out where you are going. Even the Zone Leaders and HTL (Hermana Training Leaders) don´t know about their calls until that moment. It´s crazy. I have a great companion. She is from Mendoza Argentina. She´s 28 and is trying to learn English so she can sometimes revert to English if I really don´t understand but hopefully she will speak mostly Spanish to me. She seems great and everyone tells me what a great missionary she is. She is also an Hermana Training Leader. (If that tells you anything about what kind of missionary she is). I know that having a native companion will help me to learn Spanish quickly. I can speak better than I understand and I really hope to work on listening intently to everything I hear in order to learn quickly. I think we will get along great and I want to learn all I can from her.

We are in an area called Lujan. It is about an hour and a half from the mission home by bus. It is in a more suburb area which I like. Our zone seems great as well. I am really excited to be in this area. I think I may be riding a bike here too. We´ll see.

I still don´t really know about mail because I don´t have all the info with me right now. I know you can find it all on the blog though. You must use USPS or dearelder etc. I believe I only get it when I go into the office. I do get a little more time on the internet usually though, except for today.

I love you all lots and lots and lots! Sorry this letter is a little crazy. Thank you so much for being so amazing! You´re the best!

Love Hermana Millet

Monday, October 21, 2013


IT'S HERE!!  Stop any mail you might be sending today! I won't get it!!! I'm going to Argentina on Thursday! AH! I'm freaking out a little. I'm super sad to leave Solvang but also super excited!  I will be traveling with Hermana Parrish who has been in the California Ventura Mission and is going to Buenos Aires West as well. Hopefully one of my other Hermana's might be with me as well.

I have been having mixed emotions about leaving here. I am so sad to be leaving everyone here. I love them all so much! I am terrified to go to Argentina where I know the culture and the food and the people and the language will be so different but I'm also excited for the adventure and I'm trying to remember the excitement I felt when I first got the call. It's hard now that I've gotten so comfortable here but I'm trying to trust Heavenly Father. I know he has a plan. I've been here for a reason but I'm also supposed to go the Argentina for a reason. This is the right time. I know I'll probably go through a lot of hard times in the next little while though so please keep me in your prayers. Pray that I will have the gift of tongues and that I will be able to adjust to the culture and people and a new companion and not get too homesick again. I'm so lucky I have you to rely on and to know that I have your support. Thank you so much!

So yesterday we get this text from President Castro before church that says, "Call me when you are done with your church meetings." What the heck?! Does he know how much stress that causes?! Needless to say, we had a hard time focusing in church yesterday. When we finally talked to him that afternoon he told me my VISA had arrived. I am so excited and terrified.

I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity I have been given to serve here in Solvang. I have learned so much being in the California Ventura Mission, from President Castro from my wonderful trainer and from the people here in Solvang. This mission and the people here will hold a special place in my heart forever. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has a plan for me and that he knows what is best for me, even when I don't. I know I have been here for a reason to help people here and to learn and grow personally. I now feel at peace about going to Argentina and continuing my mission there. I know it will come with many more trials and challenges to face but I know if I trust in the Lord it will all work out. I am heartbroken to be leaving my amazing investigators, the ward members and Hermana Cannon here but Heavenly Father has given me such peace to know that they will all be taken care of and that things will all work out.

This week I have continually felt that peace, knowing that Hermana Cannon will continue the work here as we've anticipated transfers. Our numbers this week have been considerably lower than we would like but the conversion and change in our investigators has been so great. I have truly come to see how the key indicators are just a means to an end. At week six last transfer we almost achieved the Standard of Excellence, which was a great feeling, but now, with dismal numbers, I feel such greater joy knowing that the people we did meet with are changing drastically and coming closer to Christ and the lessons we did have were full of the spirit.

On Thursday we had another great lesson with Andy. We wanted to keep it very concise and directed on the 10 commandments. As we went through each one we had great conversation with him and he seemed to enjoy the focus and structure we were trying to create in the lesson. The biggest challenge we knew he would have is with keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Andy has arrived at the point where he will come to church every Sunday unless his friend Barb comes down and wants to go to lunch. As we talked about keeping the Sabbath Day holy he didn't completely agree or understand the need to not spend money. He is changing so much, however, and he continues to soften his heart and be open to the commandments. He agreed that it would help him to focus more on the Savior by not spending money and committed to live the commandment. He really is making all of these changes slowly but surely. He is continuing to pray about baptism and is even starting to mention planning it out. I am so excited for him to make this commitment. He knows that it will be a lifelong change and I know it will bring him such happiness!

That day we also had an amazing lesson with Alisa. We found her by a miracle weeks ago as we were tracking. We also taught her daughter, Ashley, at one point but haven't been able to have a solid return appointment with either of them. Each time I have talked to Alisa or Ashley I have felt so guided by the spirit. They are both so ready to hear the message of the gospel and find the truth and Heavenly Father has filled our mouths to give them the words they need to hear. As we taught Alisa the plan of salvation she said, "This is like what I believe! No one has ever explained it to me this way before!" I am so grateful that Heavenly Father led us to her. If she continues to learn and pray and feel the spirit I have no doubt she can change her life and be baptized.

We also had a miracle moment with Carl that day as we taught the Word of Wisdom. He had talked to Hermana Bartschi and Hermana Cannon about tea on their exchanges a few weeks ago and had some questions about it. As we began teaching the lesson, however, we realized he had completely resolved his own concerns about tea. He decided the habit alone can be addicting, whether or not it has addictive properties or negative health affects, if it takes him away from God then it is a bad habit that he shouldn't do. This was such a wonderful tender mercy. He is now working on quitting coffee. He was able to attend a baptism with us on Saturday, which he enjoyed. We are praying that his soon to be ex-wife will cooperate so he can finalize the divorce and get married soon in preparation for his own baptism.

On Friday we met with Georgi. She is so incredibly sick but so full of faith. She really is an inspiration. She has such faith that her prayers and our prayers will help her to heal but also accepts that if she doesn't get better it is God's will. She was able to come to church on Sunday and meet with the Bishop to begin her process of returning to the church. She has no doubts the church is true and this is what she wants. It is amazing to see how she has changed in the past 12 weeks. The Lord really prepared her for us. She was just waiting for us to love her and help her see the light of the gospel again.

I have learned so much about trust from Georgi and from other experiences over the transfer and this past week. On Saturday evening we taught a lesson to a Spanish woman named Maria. She has not read the Book of Mormon because she knows it will change her life if she reads it and knows it is true. It was a really powerful lesson but I was having such a hard time understanding. In this past transfer Hermana Cannon and I have really only taught about two Spanish lessons per week and so I have gotten really out of practice. Saturday night I was tired and so frustrated that I couldn't follow along. As Hermana Cannon and I talked about it afterward I broke down and explained my fears about this next transfer and not being able to speak the language, whether I was here in Solvang training, in Argentina or transferred to another Spanish area I was terrified about what all the possibilities would mean.

Connie, my favorite Grandma investigator.
We then received a call from Robert, one of our ward missionaries who is headed on his own mission soon. He was having a really hard time and felt so alone. He told us he has no relationship with anyone that he feels that he can turn to as he faces doubts, questions, and concerns that Satan is placing in his path before he goes on his mission. He has been such an example to Hermana Cannon and me as we've seen his faith amidst so much adversity his whole life. We have grown to feel so much Christ like love for him and it was so hard to see him suffering.

The cutest ward missionary team ever.
I had such a moment of sadness that night as I thought about Robert and all of the other people we are trying to help and all of their problems. I knelt at my bedside praying for all of them and I really understood how Enos and the Nephites and so many others in the scriptures felt when they poured out their hearts for their brethren. I just wanted Heavenly Father to make their pain go away. I felt such an ache knowing that I can't fix all of their problems. I know that is where faith and hope come in and trusting in Heavenly Father and his plan for all of us.

We were able to meet with Robert on Sunday and share a message with him about hope and comfort and the joy he will feel on his mission. It was such as blessing to be able to help in some small way. Just as Heavenly Father can't take away all of our pain and trials, we can't take away the struggles Robert, or Toni or any of our other investigators face, but we can hopefully help them find joy in the gospel and comfort in the atonement of the Savior.

I am so grateful to have you, my wonderful family to rely on. Everything in life can be dealt with when we know that we have a family who loves and supports us, but some of the people we talk to don't have that at all. Their family is their struggle. They really are completely alone. Thank you so much for being there for me so that even when I go through hard times I know I am not alone.

I wish I could express to you all how wonderful the people here are and how much I love them. I am so full of love and gratitude for them all right now. Here are the top ten things I love about Solvang:

1. Hermana Cannon
2. My investigators (who are all getting baptized this year!)

Carl and his baby parakeets.
Carl and Woody
 3. The amazing ward members
4. The fact that they have Danish Days and Scarecrow contests and fairy festivals etc.

Our favorite scarecrow in the scarecrow contest.
5. The Christmas lights that are on the trees every night
6. The delicious Danishes and pastries and fudge

Our last Burrito Loco dinner.
I probably won't get to send you all a handwritten letter today but know that I love you so much! I pray for you every day and I am so grateful for your love and support!

Hermana Millet

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Surprise! It's a Baptism!


Sorry my email is a little late today. The wonderful Haws family offered to give us free teeth cleanings this morning (Brother Haws has his own Dentistry practice) which was during our regularly scheduled email time. He said my teeth look beautiful. :)

This week turned out to be a little different than we had planned, but so much better!

We have been debating about what date would be best for our investigator Dane to be baptized for a few weeks now. We had originally set it for the 12th of October but last week we weren't sure if he was ready so we talked to him about pushing it back to the 19th. We had concerns about receiving ward support on the 19th because it is ward temple day and two of our ward missionaries will be taking out their own endowments on that day, meaning a large majority of our ward council and fellowshippers for Dane would not be in attendance. Ward fellowship is so vital for Dane and we really wanted to make sure he had the support of the ward at his baptism.

Jennifer, Dane her first convert, and Sister Cannon
We gave him a list of the baptismal requirements in D&C 20 and the baptismal interview questions and asked him to read them before our visit on Tuesday to see how he felt about them. When we had that visit he had studied each question and answered affirmatively to each one. He was so ready! We asked him when we would like to be baptized and he chose the 12th. After a lot of questions and concerns on our part over the past week we both felt great about that decision. So we called our district leader and scheduled the interview for that evening. By 7:00 that night he had passed his interview and we began planning a baptism for Saturday.

The rest of week was a whirlwind of phone calls and planning and meeting with Dane to continue to prepare him for the ordinance and give him support. When Saturday came both Hermana Cannon and I were giddy with excitement.

Pre-baptism excited faces!!
The service was absolutely beautiful. Robert, one of our ward missionaries, who will be heading out on his own mission to the Philippines in about three weeks, and who accompanied us on about 50-60% of our lessons with Dane was able to baptize Dane. They were both a little nervous but it went so well. I felt such an amazing rush of the spirit as Dane went under the water. I can't explain what a beautiful feeling it was.

Jennifer with two of the ward missionaries.

Sister Cannon, Jennifer, Dane and Robert
After the ordinance I was able to give a talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This was another highlight for me. I felt the power of the Holy Ghost testifying through me as I bore my testimony to Dane and to a room full of investigators, fellow missionaries and ward members I have come to love. There is no greater feeling than knowing the words which you are testifying of are true and that the spirit is touching others' hearts through you.

I feel so blessed to have been part of the whole process with Dane. I not only got to be here for his baptism but I got to experience his whole conversion, from finding, teaching, growing to membership in the church. It was such a wonderful blessing and I'm so grateful Heavenly Father allowed me to be a part of it.

Sister Cannon & Jennifer with Andy
Our investigator Andy also had a major baptismal breakthrough this week. We haven't brought up baptism with Andy for a few weeks now because we were trying to address some of his more immediate concerns such as the Word of Wisdom. In the middle of our lesson this week, however, he suddenly brought it up and started talking about his desire to be baptized! We couldn't believe our ears. I remember just sitting and saying a prayer of thanks in my heart as he opened up to us. He still has some word of wisdom issues to work out as well as fear of change but he has a desire to be baptized which is a miracle! He was able to attend Dane's baptism and he told us that he experienced a feeling of happiness as Dane came out of the water. We explained to him that is the spirit! He asked us to give him two weeks to pray about it and Hermana Cannon explained to him exactly how to ask Heavenly Father if he should be baptized. I am confident he will receive his answers if he continues to display the faith he showed this week.

We also had continued miracles with one of our less active sisters, Toni, this week. We were able to teach her on Wednesday and then have her over to dinner on Thursday at the Relief Society President's home. She has a lot of questions and lot that she doesn't remember from her childhood growing up in the church but I am confident that she can find happiness in coming back to church. She has a lot of unhappiness and hard trials in her life right now but hopefully we can help her experience the atonement of Christ and see that He really can help her through those struggles. She came to church on Sunday and told us today that she felt herself smiling a real smile in Relief Society which she hasn't done in a long time. The sisters were so great to fellowship her and love her and I am so excited to see her life continue to change.

Hermana Cannon got sick this week and so part of Friday she spent sleeping while I planned for the baptism. She got kind of stressed about the whole last minute baptism thing. Luckily I like planning though so I was able to take over some of it so that she could rest.

Jennifer and Hermana T with their fingerprinting cards.

On Wednesday we ended up having to drive all the way to Santa Barbara to be fingerprinted again for our FBI clearance, which apparently they have to redo. In some ways this makes me excited thinking at least something is being done but if they have to reapply it could take a while. I'm trusting the Lord. I'm trusting the Lord. (That's what I have to repeat over and over again.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be in Solvang. I have really felt my purpose here and I know I am here for a reason. While I have trust that the Lord will do what is best for me I am hoping that I will be able to continue working in this area for another transfer to continue to work with our wonderful investigators and ward, helping them and learning from them. I love the ward so much! We have such wonderful members who are so sweet to us. I don't even know how to thank them for all they do. It just makes me feel so happy to sit is sacrament meeting or see our dinner calendar and feel like I'm home and love them all so much. Unfortunately, this might be a sign I'm leaving. Each time we visit with some of our investigators I kind of get the feeling that I might have to accept that Hermana Cannon is going to take care of them. I hope they will all get baptized even if one or both of us leave. We have so many that are so close and it's hard to leave them all. I'll go where he wants me to go though haha.

Wow. I think I might be done a little early. I love you all SOOOO much! Thank you for all the love and support! You are the bestest family ever. :)

Love Jen

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

General Conference is Wonderful!

Dearest Family:

Wasn't General Conference wonderful?!?!?! I absolutely loved it! I hate to admit it but this may have been the first time I stayed awake the whole time. It was totally worth it though to have to be in a freezing chapel wearing a skirt. The talks were all so good. I'm so sad it's already over.

This week may have been my favorite of my whole mission. Things have just been going really well. I love Solvang, the ward and the people here. Hermana Cannon and I are continuing to get a long and I am losing myself in the work further each day. I am so excited to go to Argentina but also so scared. Today Sister Truman called from the office for me and Sister Cannon and I had a slight freak out moment. I have to go be fingerprinted again at the police station here. I don't know if that means things are moving along or that they are finally getting started. As long as I know it is all in the Lord's hands I'll try to be patient.

Our first major miracle of the week occurred on Tuesday night. We had a dinner appointment with a family in the ward and their non-member friends. We had met Mayra, the non-member woman, at the Relief Society Broadcast on Saturday and were so excited to teach her and her husband about the restoration. We both felt prepared after personal study and got to work practicing what we would say. As we EDPEP'd (explain, demonstrate, practice, evaluate, re-practice) we really began to struggle explaining dispensations clearly. We continued to practice but it just didn't seem to come. We eventually moved on and hoped for the best.

The first step in the miracle occurred when I received a letter that day from an old seminary teacher, Sister Egbert. I haven't seen her in a long time but I loved her in Seminary and it was such a wonderful surprise to get a letter from her. She somehow found my address and sent me a beautiful letter talking about her mission and some experiences she had. It was exactly what I needed at this time and I was so grateful for her wisdom. One message from her letter was especially applicable that day, however. She explained how at one point in her mission after teaching about the restoration, she found herself discouraged that they were not getting return appointments. She pointed out that our message is so beautiful people should be begging us to come back and explain more. She began a process of fasting and really focusing on her teaching skills over a month. She then explained how after weeks of study she began to see that the Lord was blessing her with the ability to teach clearly as she had investigators ask questions such as "Where is this pattern now". They really understood how God works throughout history.

This was exactly what I needed to hear right before we went into our lesson. As the evening progressed we realized we wouldn't have the amount of time we hoped we would have to teach the lesson, but things worked out perfectly so that we were left with just two couples and us at the dinner table. We began teaching and the Lord literally filled our mouths with the words to say. The spirit filled the room and this couple began asking questions such as, "So does that mean there is a prophet today?" and "How do you know Thomas S. Monson is the prophet?" It was music to our ears! We testified in unity of the divinity of our message and left them with a Book of Mormon. As we left we knew we had taught by the spirit and that Heavenly Father really had blessed us to teach through him. It was a beautiful experience. Some of my favorite moments in the mission are when I can feel the spirit testifying to people as I teach and I know I am doing what the Lord would have me do.

That day we also had a fun adventure with Louie our Syrian friend. He doesn't understand a lot of English but we tried to teach him a little about the restoration and help him read a little to practice his English. He has five kids waiting in Lebanon right now for immigration issues to be able to come to the US and he misses them a lot. He really is just a nice guy who is super lonely. He kept saying, "You are welcome!" (meaning we were welcome there in his home.) He offered to take us to lunch and so we went to a super overpriced coffee house place for sandwiches. He is so great though. At the end when we tried to set an appointment he said, "You no set appointment. You come all the time. We friends. We best friends. You call and say, Louie we come over in an hour and then come. We eat dinner or lunch." He's just so funny and sweet.

On Wednesday evening we had another miracle over dinner with our investigator Connie. She is the super sweet 78 year old woman we are teaching who kisses us on the cheek every time we see her and is basically like our Grandma. She and Pat Opp, her adorable sister-in-law, took us to Panda China for dinner. We had prepared a lesson about fasting for her in hopes of helping her received her answer about baptism through fasting and listening to General Conference. As we began teaching our lesson she mentioned that she forgot to bring her Book of Mormon and that she wanted to show us something. Connie has been reading the Book of Mormon by asking a question and then opening up to a random page and reading for a few minutes each day. She told us in our last appointment that all of her questions had been answered (which is a miracle in and of itself) but this week we asked her to focus on receiving and answer about baptism. We asked her what she wanted to show us and she told us that she had already received her answer! What the heck?! She had just let us talk all through dinner and for five minutes about our lesson before telling us she knows she needs to be baptized! No big deal. We were so excited! She explained that her next task is to pray to have the strength and desire to accept God's will. She now knows what she needs to do but she needs to accept God's answer. It is taking some time with Connie but we are so excited to hopefully set her baptismal date in our next appointment and see her change her life. She is so wonderful and has so much work to do for her family in the temple. She really is so prepared!

On Friday this week I had exchanges with Hermana Coleman. I had the opportunity to go up to Santa Barbara with her and work in her area. It was wonderful to talk to her as we drove and really learn from her and myself as we talked about our goals for the mission and how to change and become what the Lord needs us to be. Being in Hermana Coleman's area was a great opportunity for me to practice my Spanish since all of her investigators are Spanish speakers. I was nervous but also excited for the opportunity. My goal for the day was to really work on teaching by the spirit. Since my experience on Tuesday, I really want to work on teaching powerfully and I figure the best way to do that is by the spirit.  If I am always listening to Him my teaching will be powerful and fit the needs of my investigators. Throughout the day we had many great opportunities to teach and as I focused on recognizing and acting upon the promptings of the spirit I was really able to feel the Lord working through me. It was such a great learning experience and really helped me to rely on the Lord, especially in speaking Spanish. We both found ourselves saying things in teaching opportunities that might not be "the norm" but we knew because we were teaching by the spirit we were teaching to their needs. There were many people throughout the day who didn't seem interested at first but as we continued to teach and listen to the spirit we were able to see their countenances change and their desire to learn increase, right before our eyes. Hermana Coleman and I also had a great opportunity to talk throughout the day. Through talking with her I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses and how to be a better missionary. Throughout the day we didn't necessarily have any grand miracles but everything I learned through talking with her and through teaching the people we found gave me a fresh determination to serve more fully. I am so grateful for Hermana Coleman and her wonderful example and the kind way she listened and helped me learn.

Jennifer and Hermana Coleman

One awesome quote I loved from Hermana Coleman was, "If you don't trust your companion you're not really trusting Heavenly Father." I really love this idea. Heavenly Father gave me the companion I have for a reason so if I'm not putting my trust in her I'm not trusting God and his decision to put me with her. Awesome right?

One final miracle of the week occurred yesterday after conference. Toni, a less-active member in our area, had been texting us for the past few days telling us she needed us but she was never able to arrange a meeting with us. We were finally able to visit with her after General Conference on Sunday and really get her story. Up to this point we have talked over the phone and in short visits but we hadn't been able to really hear the whole story and understand her needs. I feel such love for Toni and was so grateful to be able to talk with her. She expressed confusion and sorrow at how her life had turned out. She grew up going to primary and knows the church is true but her life has somehow become something she never planned. She feels trapped in her situation and doesn't know how to get out. She is the same age as you, Mom, and I feel a connection with her like you. It's as if her life is what yours could have been if you hadn't made the choices you did. She married a non-member and didn't stay faithful in the church and things have kind of spiraled. Her husband has also been out of work but without the help of Heavenly Father and the church they don't have the hope that we've had.

We were able to talk to her about the Savior and how through His atonement He can help her and things will look up. We asked her to read her scriptures and pray every day and we are going to make sure she comes to church on Sunday. She has shown such humility to ask for help, when I know it is difficult for her to admit that she is in this situation. I am so grateful that we are able to be here to help her on the path to happiness again. She expressed that she needed sister missionaries and I was once again given a confirmation that I am here for a reason.

On Saturday after conference we were able to drive up to Goleta with our investigator Dane to witness a baptism. It was a beautiful baptismal service and the guy being baptized was so converted and changed. We have decided to push Dane's baptism back a week to the 19th of October in hopes that he will be more ready. He is keeping his commitments but we want to make sure his heart really is changing. I think with a little more time we will be able to see him really further develop his testimony and become a lasting convert. (Hopefully not just because he wants to marry us lol!).

It has been a wonderful week full of little miracles. Sorry I can't tell you everything! Thank you so much for all the letters! I know it won't be as easy in Argentina so I appreciate them all now so I will know I'm loved even when I get there and don't get letters lol. Tell the family and all my friends hello. Thank you for being such wonderful examples and supporters! I love you all SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much. :)

Questions: EDPEP stands for explain, demonstrate, practice, evaluate, re-practice. It's a way to role-play and practice teaching.
Other news:

THANK YOU so much for the wonderful package. I am wearing the slip right now and LOVE it. I also love all of the yummy food. Hermana Cannon and I had fun with the spray cheese and crackers yesterday and I am so grateful for chocolate haha! Thank you also for the soft lips and eye liner.

Just FYI because I think you will think it's cool. The punter for BYU, his last name is Arlano, is from my ward as well.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Success in Solvang


Hello everyone! How are you!? I hope you are all doing well and enjoying life. Things are going great here in Solvang.

Sister Cannon and Sister Millet

On Tuesday we spent most of the day in Santa Maria for interviews with President Castro and a little training put on by the Sister Training Leaders about planning. It was a wonderful day with lots of good information.

There is so much good stuff I might just make a few bullet points with all the goodness:
God and Jesus Christ spiritually created the world before they physically created it (Moses 3:5) and planning is the way we are able to spiritually create our week.
We should leave our area better than we found it. Don't let all your hard work in your area go to waste because you didn't record it well enough in the area book.
Remember every name in the area book was a miracle for some missionary.
Pay the price to have unity in your companionship.
Treat planning as a divine activity so you can receive divine inspiration.
Did I bring about much good among Heavenly Father's children?

President Castro also gave the four Hermanas in Solvang a beautiful promise. He said that if we maintain our focus miracles will happen here and that promises regarding baptism with be realized. He also said, "You are here because your voice will connect with certain people. Don't worry about your weaknesses, use them to develop empathy."

That probably isn't as exciting for the rest of you, but it was a pretty cool meeting and I loved all that was said.

In my personal interview he gave me another amazing promise. He told me that if I keep working hard to fulfill my purpose and become the missionary I am supposed to become that my Spanish will be made up in Argentina and that it will be as if I had been using it the whole time here in Solvang. This was such a relief for me and I am going to rely on that promise as I try to learn all the Lord wants me to learn here without worrying about Argentina. I am finding myself getting more and more anxious about leaving as time goes on and the day approaches that I might be leaving. He talked to me about how the Lord has a plan for me being here and when I leave. We may not know it yet, but he does have a plan.

This week has been somewhat interesting. Our numbers haven't looked so great which has been a little discouraging for me but it has still been good. I have also learned about myself and am constantly trying to improve.

On Thursday we had five appointments planned back to back to back. We worked so hard on Wednesday to make sure everything was planned and we had members for all the lessons etc. As it turns out, our members backed out and three of the five appointments scheduled cancelled. I was pretty discouraged. Hermana Cannon and I discussed this morning the point of numbers and key indicators. If we see great numbers but no real change in our investigators it really doesn't mean anything. This week, although our numbers were not what I would like them to be, we spent a great deal of time trying to make sure our investigators were taken care of, that we were contacting them through the members, that they were able to come to church and have spiritual experiences throughout the week. I'm learning that, yes it is great to do it all, but what is most important is taking care of those investigators we already have and really helping them to progress towards baptism. President Castro told us in our training this week: In the end it doesn't matter if we reach the goal. It's what happens in the process that's important. I just need to remember that.

That day one lesson that did work out was with Amanda, our miracle find in Los Olivos last week. Her friend from school, who is a member of the ward, came with us. Amanda had a lot of questions about music, tattoos, modesty etc. Savannah and we were able to answer some of her questions and talk about the Book of Mormon. It was a great lesson and I am so excited to continue to help this sweet girl who has been through so much find peace and truth and guidance through the gospel.

We are working a lot with our investigator Dane, who currently has a baptismal date for the 12th of October. He has severe hearing problems and our greatest obstacle with him has been communication. Each time we teach him, however, the communication seems to increase. We are really working to keep our teaching simple and have the gift of discernment and as he continues to learn and have the Holy Ghost with him more we believe his understanding is strengthened by the power of the spirit as well.

We were so excited to hear he has no problems with the Word of Wisdom this week. He seems to accept everything we teach so fully. It really is a miracle.

Our biggest concern with him at this point is making sure he is converted to God and is coming to church to worship and feel the spirit not just to find a wife and get married. He is so lonely and really wants a family more than anything, which we totally understand, but he has expressed thoughts that church is just to find someone to marry and we are trying to help him see the blessings of the restored gospel in his own life, not just in finding a family.

On Saturday we were able to invite him over the a member's home to watch the Restoration in hopes of helping him really develop his testimony that this is Christ's true church restored to the earth. As we watched the movie I personally felt the spirit so strongly and was really touched by the message more than I ever have been when watching before. The spirit in the room was so strong as we stopped the movie and just sat for a few seconds letting him absorb the feeling. He really enjoyed it and I think it helped his testimony of Joseph Smith grow immensely. As we discussed how he can know the truth he asked Sister Bell, "How do you feel the spirit?" I was so excited that he was finally connecting that the spirit is how you know of gospel truths. Up until this moment I wasn't sure he really understood how necessary it is to receive a spiritual witness. He then explained how he had felt it in the past as a sort of tingly sensation. Best quote of the week right here (it's hard to explain how great it is when you can't envision him saying it with his deaf accent): "Thank you God. That feels good." It was such a wonderful lesson and I was so grateful we were able to have that opportunity with him.

In Ward Council the next day Gigi Bell (the amazing YW president whose house we were at for the lesson) explained how she has been praying for missionary opportunities. When she got our message asking if we could come over in the middle of the day on a Saturday it was hard for her to say yes but she did anyway. Then when she saw that it was Dane it was even more difficult because she knows how awkward he is. She talked about how she has to be willing to do what God wants her to do, not what she wants to do. It was an awesome testimony about how sometimes God asks us to do things that are hard, but that is how we grow. She's awesome.

We also had a wonderful lesson with Carl this week. We taught him "The Gospel" and I was just so impressed with his sincere desire to change. Earlier that day we had watched a video from the district and were amazed at the change that took place in one of their investigators and I found myself thinking, "I wish one of our investigators were like that." I realized that night as we taught Carl that we do have an "investigator like that." Carl understands the atonement so well and has such a desire to do what is right. I am so grateful for him and his wonderful example.

Another one of our great miracles this week is with a few of our LARCS (less active recent convert). We taught Yolanda this week with her Visiting Teacher and the Liljenquist family. Last Sunday we visited her and she was pretty upset. We were pretty worried about her and expressed our concerns in Ward Council. This week she was contacted just about every day by someone in the ward. It was so great to see the ward work together to take care of someone who needed it.

Another one of our LARCS, Shane is also progressing wonderfully. Last week we talked to him about sharing the gospel with his family. He was pretty excited about the opportunity and when we visited with him this week he told us he had talked with them. He came to church again on Sunday and really enjoyed it. We were involved in an EDPEP for the joint 3rd hour meeting in which we showed and practiced with the ward how to share the gospel with their friends in a short invitation. It was a great opportunity for us as a ward missionary team to prepare and help the ward and afterward Shane told us how helpful it was for him. He said, "I didn't know how to do it before but now I do. I'm excited." It was so sweet and we hope the rest of the ward felt the same way.

At church this week we had 9 investigators attend! It was such a miracle! Carl, Dawn and Woody were able to come for the first time in about a month. Dane and Connie were both there as well and the Stacy family came to see the primary program (which was an amazing review of all the Preach My Gospel lessons and so full of the spirit!). It was incredible.

In our training on Tuesday the STL (sister training leaders) taught us about contacting our investigators daily through the members. That way we are able to know how they are doing without bugging them to death. We tried that with Carl, Dawn and Woody this week by having the Haws family invite them to church instead of us. Dawn texted Sister Haws back immediately and said they "would be honored to sit with them." and then they actually came! They never text us back! It just goes to show how effective it is to work through the members.

Other news of the week: a member of our ward Alec Watson was some sort of special guest at the BYU Utah football game because he has a sickness. I think they said it's called Thursday's hero. He was on ESPN and everything.

AH! Time is about up. Darn. I love you all soooooo much! Sorry I didn't get to share everything. Have a wonderful week and I will talk to you soon.

Love you!


P.S. I have exchanges in Santa Barbara on Friday! Yay!