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