Out in front of the Avenal sign this week... of course on a hazy cloudy overcast day haha
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Hello Family and Friends!!
It has been a busy week here, with lots of stories to share. So please be patient if this is totally discombobulated.
Favorite question of the week from a 9 year old investigator with all sincerity of heart, "If I make like.... 10 mistakes, can I still go to heaven?" Ah, I love that kid.
Scary moment was a man we didn't know tapping on our car window in the middle of a prayer at night in a sketchy trailer park. Turns out he is a member and recognized our car from the Elders and the bike rack. Anyhow, he took and introduced us to another member family who lives over there... so it all worked out after the initial panic haha.
Good exercise moment of the week? Sister Johnson and I making our mandatory morning run into a run for donuts. Haha it was so worth it... 85 cent breakfast to the rescue.
This week was full of LOTS of driving. To Fresno to Hanford to Coalinga you name it. Craziness.
Alright there was a very interesting exchange this week. This certain sister who shall remained unnamed is NOT very high on my list of people I want to be around. Ask me about it after the mission but seriously it was a disaster. She "corrected" me on buying an ice-cream cone while I waited in the deserted Burger King for her to use the restroom, she brought lice into my house (pray that we don't get it and know that is a whole other long story), and she forgot her towel so she decided it was perfectly normal and alright to use mine... NOT ok. This isn't even all of it but I just wanted to give you a snippet of what that day was like. I'm very grateful that she is not my companion all the time. Oh and for the heck of it I'll just ask you what she asked me "what type of sprinkler would you be?"
Miracles of the week! Maybe this is just really one big miracle, but either way it is awesome. So we went to Subway for dinner one night and as we talk with everyone we offer a pass-a-long card to a very disinterested man in the line. Well the lady making the sandwiches sees this and asks us for a card. Pretty awesome. Well then after talking with her we set up an appointment to teach her family the next morning.Even more awesome! Then we switched companions for exchanges. The next morning as we go to that appointment as we are knocking on the door the sister on exchanges with me in Coalinga recognizes members from her ward (which is an hour and half away driving). We go over and talk to them and find out that they are family of a man in the Coalinga ward who I hadn't met yet. We go out to lunch with them and find out the member who lives in the Coalinga ward wants to go to the temple! (Which I guess has been a struggle in the past between the local ward and the family but now after this it sounds like everyone is ready to help get him to the temple!!) It was a miracle for sure. Heavenly Father truly knows where to put each one of every time.
I gave a talk in sacrament about developing Christlike attributes. It was good. I was nervous because it was like an introduction of us as missionaries to the ward, but It went really well. The Spirit guided me to open up and share a personal story I hadn't planned on and I think it really helped the ward to connect.
So all in all things are good and crazy here in Coalinga. We are seeing success and working hard. We had 29 quality lessons this week, and 12 member presents. Things are still rough but overall good.
Oh I can't forget to mention the other time we ended up at a donut shop this week looking for a member whose address popped up as that on the ward list. It was this little Chinese food restaurant and donut shop combined and the lady was from Cambodia and didn't speak very much English haha oh it is always an adventure. But we'll go back because supposedly the man works there and is related to the son and was the husband of the lady but separated...
Pictures this week are of me with pig snouts this morning at the grocery store and Sister Johnson and me on the way out to Avenal!
What a week it has been! I finished out my time in Yosemite teaching in horse stables and inviting more people to be baptized. Then off to the next adventure in Coalinga.
This little town is so strange haha. It reminds me a lot of Los Banos in the sense of the ward and the work. It is technically a ward, but actually it is more like a branch. Less than 10 active priesthood holders and maybe 40ish people attend sacrament. Our whole ward list is just three pages long. We are the first sisters to serve here in over 20 years... that is crazy! (And my mini-missionary from Hanford actually lives in this wards boundaries! Huzzah for awesomeness!) I also really appreciate NOT having to run up a mountain every morning now, sweet flat surfaces haha. It is very isolated though. No Wendy's or Walmart or Target still. 45 minutes to Lemoore where our district meetings will be. The whole town really evolves around the State Penitentiary and the State Mental Hospital (that is the whole work force and economy here). The letter the Elders left us said that there is no tried and true sure way to success in this area other than overwhelming creativity and enthusiastic positivity.
But we are loving it here in Coalinga and off to a terrific start! Our 1st day here Sister Johnson and I found four new investigators, the 2nd day we had seven quality lessons, and yesterday we had five investigators at sacrament! I'd say those are some pretty good starting averages! We are working with some truly amazing people. Amber and Vince who are ready to get baptized, they just need to be married which is waiting on Dad's approval (he wants them to wait till June). Damien and Kirsten and Haley are all part member children and super excited to get baptized (we are just waiting to see when Dad's and Grandpa's can fly in to baptize them). Then there is also Julius a recent convert who has been struggling with activity and he agreed to start passing the sacrament!! Ahh it is so wonderful.
A really special experience for me came during relief society on Sunday at church. We were sitting next to Sister Ciseneros and Sister Johnson was translating for her. In the middle of the lesson Sister Ciseneros says that she would like to say something and to have us please translate, and she immediately starts bearing her testimony. It was a powerhouse! She has been inactive for quite a long time but decided to come back that day (who knows why, other than it was inspired by God). Even though I still struggle with Spanish there are moments where the gift of tongues really kicks in, and I understood ever word of her testimony perfectly before Sister Johnson translated. I wish that through translation the power of that testimony could be conveyed but it couldn't. Yet, there were many of that small group with tear-filled eyes before it was over. Retelling this story really doesn't do it justice, but I know that there was a reason that this Spanish sister came back on the 1st Sunday that there were Spanish speaking sister missionaries in Relief Society.
Another miracle was the RAIN!! After our fast for precipitation it began raining yesterday! The Lord really is so aware of each of us and all of our prayers.
I was also able to go on an exchange with Hna. Gneiting this week in Lemoore! It was fun to get to work with her again. It was also interesting to run into members who recognized me from a talk I'd given at a baptism while serving in Hanford months ago. Just goes to show us that we don't really know when people are watching or what they will remember us for.
Have a great week! I love you!!
PS Picture is of part of the Webb family and my companion and I in front of some other church with another Pastor man the night before I left haha
Well Family and Friends it has been yet another week!
I wanted to share with you a tiny article from the January Ensign: http://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/01/can-he-see-me?lang=eng
This article has truly been so helpful to me this week. I even found myself closing my eyes and soaking in the wonderful warm raise of the sun some days after I had read it. (And if you haven't tried doing this recently, you should go outside and try it. Guaranteed feel at least a half an iota better in an instant haha.)
I'm sorry that I didn't write last week. Things were a little crazy here, but they seem to be sorted out now. Lots of news!
We had a wonderful Relief Society Activity called "Chocolate Never Faileth". Seriously... Charity and Chocolate are ingredients to success. We discussed how the chocolate chip cookie came about. It was actually a fluke really the chocolate was expected to melt under the heat, but it didn't. So in the same way we need to keep our integrity even under pressure. There is so much more to it than just that but really I'd be better off just transcribing my notes. However, I didn't bring them... Sorry!
This next week for Fast Sunday the whole state of California is fasting for precipitation. The drought here right now is horrible. The canals are all dried up and there still is no snow even in the mountains. So please join us with your prayers and faith. (And hey if it rains/snows before then we can give prayers of thanks!).
One of the miracles this week came in an unexpected manner. We were out and about and we prayed to who to visit next. My companion and I came up with two different families after the prayer. We started heading over to the family that had come to my mind. I was nervous that this less active family would not let us in or be at home... that maybe it wasn't a spiritual prompting. As we drive to their home I, seemingly randomly, tell my companion of an experience I had while I was a sophomore in high-school... The elders came to our home one day after we had recently moved into a new house. They asked me if I would serve a mission when I was old enough. I told them that there was absolutely no way that could happen because I would be to busy working or going to school. One of the Elders asked me if I would serve if I got a full-ride scholarship. I figured sure, since that'll never happen. I shook hands with that Elder (whom I never saw again), not realizing that later in life that very scenario would come to pass and I would serve a mission. So anyhow, my fears of the family not being there were subsided as we arrive and the Father is out peeling off some old decals off his truck in the dark with a heat gun. (Note: this father is slightly crippled due to a work accident as an iron worker). I was so happy to be able to do such simple service and help pull of the decals, but the story gets better. (Note: I had no idea that this family had a 19 year-old son before we got there.) The message we were able to share with this father and son was soooo Spirit-filled. We talked about serving a mission and it was incredible. He knows what he needs to do, and I was just grateful to be able to be there and witness that confirmation come to him. I was able to testify of the blessings that come from serving a full-time mission that extend beyond self to your family. I might not have known what I was walking into as I followed that seemingly small spiritual prompting, but I felt the power of the Lord as we walked away at the end.
Got to go back to Atwater this week on another exchange! That was pretty great. One of the same ladies I taught there on exchanges (maybe 6 months ago) finally set a date for baptism while I was there! Yay for Bonnie!! Another sweet experience on that exchange came in the middle of a lesson. The investigator's phone went off, and she answered explaining it was her daughter in Juvenal Hall. The phone was broken so they couldn't really talk, but the mother (investigator) said that she always accepted those collect calls even though she couldn't her or talk to her daughter, so that way her child would ALWAYS know she could call home. It hit me in that moment how lucky we are that we can always call home via prayer and talk with our Heavenly Father. He truly loves us.
Lastly, TRANSFERS!! I am getting transferred to Coalinga to be with Hermana Johnson. I'm pretty sure that we are getting doubled-in, because that was an Elders area last I heard. (Plus Sis Johnson was serving in Lemoore with one of my prior companions this transfer). Sister Melling one of Sister Vernon's trainee's will be coming here to Yosemite to replace me, so I am sure they will have a blast together again.
And that is all I got for you this week!