This week we saw a recent convert named Ofelia and she reminded me a bit of you. She just had shoulder surgery on the 15 of December and no one in the ward knew about it. She is the only member in her family and she was baptized in secret...she still hasn't told them. It was really sad to see her like that all alone. I'm really glad that unlike Ofelia you are really proactive and that you have established a group of friends that you can rely on adn lean on. Don't ever stop doing that, Keep being you, keep being warm and friendly and quirky. I love you. Ash
29 December MONDAY- Monday was your typical pday. Writing, shopping, napping, and the regular letter writing until we left for district activity. At district activity, we played "the couples game" with our companions...surprisingly we won. During the activity our district leader got a phone call from president and he kept talking about going with Elder Gonzales somewhere and having to be there at 8. They said that Elder Vorkink was getting Emergency Transferred out. Turns out that they were just kidding. President asked our district leader to come sing at his FHE (with the whole Toone family) and Elder Gonzales was his accompanist. Elder Vorkink almost peed his pants because he was so nervous/excited/angry (when they said it was a joke, he has been in the same area for almost 6 transfers.) That night we went out with a youth and we put this 14 year old girl, Sarah on date. Sarah is Kathryn's sister (Kathryn was the one with the dream and the Helaman 5:12 answer.) That was rad and totally unexpected.
30 December TUESDAY- this morning Greenie meeting kinda sucked. I'm struggling with Sister Bishop in a few areas. One of them is totally absolutely selfish, but it bothers me a lot. She can very very harsh and when she gets like that it just isn't fun. Today she said things that made me look like an awful, lazy trainer and the looks I got from Elder Vorkink just made it worse. During Greenie meeting the zone leaders asked about training and she said that we had only done it twice and that we didn't finish. What she left out was that She and Sister Day did 0 training during Book of Mormon week so we were working to catch up on all of that. On top of that we have had Christmas lights every other night and so if we scheduled I our hour of training (on the days we have meetings) we would have 30 minutes of pros time, so we decided to do the discussion part of training in the car. She also neglected to say that we did all of the training for the week...we caught up. It was just very frustrating. We had zone meeting right after that... I think my training went well.
After that we went to look for Ofelia. Ofelia was baptized 2 months ago but I'd never met her in church. We found her at home...turns out she had shoulder surgery on the 15 of December and nobody knew about it at church. She wasn't at church because she couldn't drive. She wouldn't ask her kids for a ride to church be a she still hasn't told them that she was baptized. It turns out she has kept all of it a secret from her family. Absolutely no one knows and the friends that do know are sworn to secrecy.
That night was our last night doing the Christmas lights...Finally!! It was a really really good night to end on. While we there we were walking around this sketchy looking guy in a hoodie stopped us. He was a tall white guy that couldn't have been more the 27 years old. He asked if we were members of "this church," when we said yes, I thought for sure that we were going to get anti-ed by him. Then he asked what sets his church apart from all the rest, and so we started talking about living prophets and then we taught him the restoration, and then...we invited him to be baptized and he said "absolutely I will." It was amazing. James lives in LA. He was in Tempe visiting some friends and they took him to see the Christmas lights and he said he felt something different. So he decided to come back and ask some questions. It was absolutely amazing. We gave him a referral card to fill out and when he finished we escorted him into the visitors center. The Lord truly is preparing people to receive the gospel. There are people out there who are searching for the truth and they might not even know it. These last few weeks I'd felt like we had been wasting good proselyting time to go to the temple just to take people's pictures. James made it all worth it.
31 December WEDNESDAY- Today wasn't that best day for finding people at home...actually, no one was home. That was a little bit rough but we did have three lessons on Facebook. We got to go to the Ward Party for the first hour...it was interesting. The party started at 7 but there was no one there. We had to be in the house by 8, but we heard that the party really picked up around 9. Mormon Mexican standard time.
1 January THURSDAY- We talked with Johana Guzman on Facebook. I met Johana in Tempe. She lives with her aunt and her aunts family are all members ( super awesome family-really really missionary minded.) Johana is 17 and she lives with her aunt because home life wasn't so good. So when I met her we became Facebook friends and then other rest is history. It was awesome. I just asked her why she goes to church ( she's been going for like 6 months) and what she feels when she goes and I just asked her if she wanted to learn more and she said that she does. But because she just had surgery she doesn't want missionaries coming over...so that makes her the idea Facebook candidate.
2 January FRIDAY- Finally a Weekly Planning meeting that wasn't a fight. I'm so happy that it went better. Friday's were becoming my least favorite day of the week. After planning we had an awesome hour of Facebook. We had 3 lessons on line and Alma Garcia being the boss of all bosses was in two of those three. Alma is this awesome youth that used to come out with us back in Tempe. With our investigator Sarah, we focused on prayer. Sarah said that she felt like she wasn't getting any answers to her prayers and that she didn't think that God was listening. Alma taught her that answers don't always come in the ways that we expect them to. Alma said,"Hey Sarah so sometimes God doesn't answer us in an instant with a feeling of peace or happiness, but sometimes he does with feelings small enough that you might not even notice them until they start to grow more and more and it grows to the point where you can't deny that it is God's answer for you." Alma shared her experience with trying to figure out if the church was true or not. She said that she never had "got the answer," but she got baptized anyways. She went to church and would feel fine, not bad, not amazingly good but just fine. Then she got to a point where she decided that since the answer never came, the church must not be true. So she decided that she wasn't going to go to church. So she didn't go and her week was horrible, it felt off, she wasn't happy, she didn't feel good. She talked about how she took that as her answer. She was being sustained and recharged at church and she didn't even know it. God had been answering her but she had looked past it.
We had this lesson with this guy, Luis Gaxiola. Luis didn't seem to understand the need for authority so we went in ready to talk Authority with him. We read Matt 3:13-17 and we talked about how Jesus had to go to John the Baptist because he was the only one with the Authority to baptize. We asked Luis how he knows if the person who baptized him had the authority. He said he didn't know but that God had told him that He accepted his baptism. He then told us how God gave him the priesthood and how he has used oil to heal people and how he has that gift to heal people but because he is not going to church he is not able to use it. That lesson definitely did not go where I thought it was going to go.
3 January SATURDAY- Today I went on my first exchange as a Sister Training Leader. It was really really fun. I got to go with Sister Mello into the Aguila Ward and it brought back a lot of memories. It felt like a really good exchange. Their area book is really messed up~with transfers their teaching pool disappeared so we drove around and I pointed out some houses of investigators that I remembered teaching. It was really cool because a few of them are now recent converts. On exchanges we taught a lesson in the nastiest shack in Phoenix. We went to this lady's house and it was very...humble. We were sitting at the table talking to them and in through the doorway (they didn't have doors) walked a chicken. It just walked around the kitchen and then pooped on the floor and walked back out like it was nothing...and it didn't even phase the family we were teaching. There were also cockroaches crawling around everywhere and to top it all off there was a mouse that kept coming out from under the couch into the middle of the living room. It just couldn't seem to decide whether to stay under the couch or to chill on the carpet...it was all very entertaining.
We had dinner with the Alonso family. This is a super sweet family. They made us carne asada. It was super tasty. There is this missionary serving in Aguila right now, His name is Elder Scott. He is really funny. He started his mission in the Arizona Tempe Mission as a visa waiter, waiting to go to Brasil. He told us about how when he was there a man who was standing behind him was shot and killed...I guess he was a drug dealer guy in someone else's territory. I guess while he was in Brasil he got really sick with some type of lung infection so he went home for two transfers and he was reassigned to the Arizona Tempe Mission. It's funny how it just kinda works out like that.
4 January SUNDAY- Funny thing that happened today...before sacrament meeting Hermana Jones asked about dinners this week, when we told her that we only had one...it was going to be with her...that night, she told us not to worry, that she would take care of us. During Sacrament meeting, Hermana Jones (the relief society president) went up made an announcement about how we haven't eaten with a family at all this week and that the members need to think of their children not getting fed. To think of their children going out and working all day and coming back for cereal for dinner or a sandwich. She went off on how the mothers of the missionaries have trusted us with their children for two years and how "we need to be worthy of that trust." Then she told them that if we are not getting fed by he members in the Ward then their children, wherever they serve will not get fed and that if they want their children to have food, that they need to treat us better. Essentially what goes around comes around. After that she passed our dinner calendar around during sacrament meeting. It was full by the first row. It was ...interesting.
Today we also had our first facebook lesson with Johana Guzman and Kelli Oka joined in too. Kelli is this amazing member that I met back in Tempe when Hermana Smuin and I were working the English Ward. She is kind of our missionary guru. It was an awesome lesson. Johana is so ready to get baptized.
Also this is the training that i gave on Tuesday...tell me what you think.
Elders and Sisters...how many of you want to come to know your Heavenly Father on a more personal level? That is awesome. I am going to be totally up front with you. My goal with this training is to help you all do that.
What is pride?
- enmity towards God
-when we are prideful, we distance ourselves from God
What is the opposite of Pride?
Humility is what helps us to become closer to God
11 ¶And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
The son left, he distanced himself from his Father
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
He was humbled by his circumstances
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
He returned to his father~~~repentance
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
How well did the son know the father?
- not very well
—He thought his father would not forgive him
—he thought his father would take him in as a servant
-to me it seems that the son didn't know his father very well, he did not see the compassionate side of his father
As we become humble we draw closer to our Heavenly Father.
13 And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.
14 And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?
15 Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed--yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty.
So my commitment for you all is to humble yourselves today. Don't waste time playing around. Do you want to waste time getting to know the world or do you want to spend time getting to know God. Don't wait until you must be humbled by circumstances. Choose now, act now, and be humble. I promise you that as you do so you will come closer to your Heavenly Father and you will then be able to help your investigators to do the same.
So will you all take a self inventory, try to identify some pride, and then ask Heavenly Father for His help and guidance as you work to be more humble?
10 And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am