Monday, August 12, 2013

"Started from the bottom now we here". This week, I quickly learned the definition of the "pride cycle". So on Monday, Sister Smith and I were walking to less active homes, and we prayed that we would find people to teach on the way. We walked by so many people, but were too scared to talk to them because we were worried what they would think of us. How pathetic does that sound? So finally, we took a step back and evaluated ourselves. It was 8:30, and we had taught no lessons, because we were being babies. We thought, " who cares what people think of us, this isn't about us. This is about The Lord." As we were walking back to our car, it was getting dark. And we prayed that we might have one more chance to teach someone. Right after we prayed, we found someone to teach. Her name is Karen, and she was suuuper drunk. But that's okay, because she cried to us about her brother's death, and we taught her the plan of salvation. Tuesday we decided we were going to go up to everyone, and introduce ourselves. And that's exactly what we did. 
We are teaching this boy named Lorenzo, and we couldn't find his house. We called him but there was no answer. We were so discouraged because he is a "golden investigator". So me and Sister Smith both felt we should go to the library, and work on our map of the ward boundaries. While we were at the library, I saw this man at a computer on facebook. I had the strongest impression to go give him a card. I thought "okay, this is my chance to prove to The Lord I'm not afraid of what other people think." I wrote down our phone number on the card, and walked up and introduced myself to him. We handed him the card, and he told us he just moved here from West Africa, and his name is Stephen. That was our conversation, and we walked away thinking that would be the end of that. As we were walking out, we got a text from Lorenzo, explaining that his phone died, and wondered if we could meet with him and his family right then. We went to meet with him and his cousin named Ron. They had so many questions about the church. Lorenzo has sickle cell anemia, and has been shot 6 times, and stabbed 3. He is a living and walking miracle. He still has a hard time believing in God, because he hasn't felt him in his life. We taught them the restoration, and about prayer, and invited them to be baptized. They said they would pray about it, and would be baptized if God told them to!
Later that night, we got a text from Stephen!!! The man at the library! He said that he looked at the sight, and was confused, and would like to meet with us. We met with him the next day, and we brought a member with us. (Quick testimony on member present lessons... they are SO POWERFUL). He told us how he investigated the website, and he had so many questions for us! Everything we said to him, we could see the spirit testifying to him. He told us how he felt so good about everything we were saying, and that these were questions he has had for a long time. He said he has been searching for a church such as ours, and he has spent so much money on books, trying to investigate religions and find answers, but we just answered everything for him. He told us that when we went up to him in the library, he would've normally snubbed us away, but surprised himself by listening. After we left, something was telling him to go to the website. When he went on the website and saw the word "Christianity" he knew he needed to meet with us. Stephen has been being prepared for this special message for a while, he just hasn't realized it :) He even told us he would meet with on on Friday night, because he isn't going to party anymore, because he said "things are changing". :) He even came to church this Sunday! It's so amazing to see the power of the spirit in conversion. 
So if our first appointment would've worked out with Lorenzo, we wouldn't have gone to the library, and wouldn't have met Stephen. It's amazing how things always seem to work out, when you're being guided by the Lord. 
Tuesday and Thursday were the most successful days I've had on my mission yet. We taught so many lessons, found 5 new investigators,  And I was so prideful, because I knew I was doing awesome! I thanked the Lord many times a day, but forgot to rely on him. Thursday things started going downhill.  But Friday was an absolute joke. We had 6 SUPER SOLID appointments... in which all but 1 cancelled. We tried almost every less active in our area, and noone was home. We felt so lost and confused at what was going on. Same thing happened on Saturday, our appointments cancelled, and noone was home. These passed few days have been some of the hardest days on my mission yet. I felt so lost and so discouraged, and especially so alone. I felt The Lord wasn't with me at all. Saturday night I prayed and begged The Lord to help me. I hated feeling like I had no guidance! Then the thought came to my mind, "just wait till you take the sacrament". 
When I took the sacrament Sunday morning, it was probably the most spiritual experience I've ever had. I have always taken that sacrament for granted, but this time I truly thought about what the Savior did for me. And I thought about my baptismal covenant I had made. And how if I always remembered the Lord, I would always have his spirit to be with me. I felt so refreshed after I took the sacrament, and I immediately felt him in my life again. Not that The Lord wasn't there for me, because I know He was. He just wanted me to remember that.   
I'm grateful for this week and the opportunity that I had to be humbled. I am so grateful for The Lord and the tender mercies he shows us everyday! 
I super duper love my compaion. She is so amazing! She is my best friend and I couldn't get through this without her. 
So also, college football season is about to start. I'm super nervous because people are going to get grumpy and not want to listen to the gospel at all! I feel bad for my friends serving in Omaha... since noone will ever answer their door once the games are on... But yeah. Also, I found out some weird laws in Iowa. One is you can't kiss a girl in public if you have a mustache. and the other is, you can't kiss a girl for more than 5 minutes in public. ahahah soooo crazy. Anywho. Love you all!

Okay. So I got a little taste of real missionary work this week. I walked. and walked. and walked. and walked. annnnnnd walked.
So last month... we did a lot of driving. Things were crazy with transfers, and we went to Omaha as well. Needless to say... we went 500 miles over our driving limit. Whoops.... (see mom, I haven't changed much). So. Of course we had to face the consequences, and the zone leaders barely gave us any miles this month. So me and sister smith decided to be real missionaries, and walk everywhere. I LOVE WALKING!!! We have walked in the rain, in the heat, and it is so much fun! So I guess I'm being humbled a little bit. We haven't found many people walking though, and I think it's because we get all sweaty and stinky, and literally... look like hobos in this humidity. I mean come on...
But yeah! It's been a great experience! There is this street called "court street" and the sister missionaries were told its not very safe to walk on that street, but if we have to, to not do it at night. Well, I hate to admit it, but we had to walk down that street. And we found a new investigator that way! His name is Lorenzo...has the thickest black person accent I've ever heard. You know the youtube video.." Aint nobody got time for dat"? That is Lorenzo. Anywho, he stopped us, and asked us if we were crazy for walking down court street. We told him our purpose and he was super interested! He said he's "looking for the truth". I love when people say that. Cause in my mind I'm thinkin..."GOTCHA".
So. Last monday we were at the church playing basketball with our district, and this lady called the church, saying she wants to meet with the missionaries. This never ever happens. So we were super stoked to go meet with her. Her name is Annie. She is a little old lady. Anyways, first lesson with her we committed her to baptism on August 31st. She accepted our message like it was water on a hot day. And she asked for a book of mormon. She gave us her coffee and cigarettes so she could keep the word of wisdom. And we've met with her 3 times the last week. Sounds like a dream come true no? It's not. She is our hardest investigator yet! Because she's too easy, and too accepting. And we never feel the spirit in the lessons, but they still seem to go well. We don't know what the problem is yet, but we'll figure it out soon. The spirit doesn't bare witness to phoniness. So yeah. It's exciting/confusing/I dont know. 
So yeah! Also, yesterday I got to go to church for 6 hours, and I absolutely loved it. Hearing all those testimonies were amazing! I love this gospel. I love my mission. I think about going home, and I never want to! haha (Sorry mom). I just know this is where I'm supposed to be. I love seeing how other people are so humble, and have literally nothing. But yet, are so willing to give up all they have for a stranger on the street. I love this gospel, and I love seeing the changes it makes in people's lives!
whaddup buttacup...s.

So this week I said goodbye to my trainer Sister Sakurazawa. She left on Tuesday morning, and honestly I feel like I've never felt so lost in my life. I was then put with a temporary companion who had a different understanding of obedience than I did.. and we really struggled. It was weird being with a companion who didn't have the same spiritual strength as my trainer, and I could feel it taking an effect on me! I felt so disgusting and hopeless those few days, because we were not being exactly obedient. We weren't doing anything wrong... but the difference from the week before was insane!
So Wednesday night I was praying, and the thought came to my mind "God is testing me right now, to see if I qualify to train this new sister." That's when I decided that I needed to step it up, and bring back that same excitement I had before. 
I received my wonderful new companion on Friday morning, and her name is Sister Smith. She's from Fresno Cali, and she is so adorable!!! Her excitement kills me!! It reminds me of my excitement when I first got out, and sparked it back up. With both of us together, we are like this crazy team of excitement, and I think people can feel that. I feel like she is training me, more than I am her! The first night she was out, we went and taught so many lessons just to random people, and they listened to us! 
We are now serving in both spanish and English wards... So on Sunday I go to church from 9:30-4:30....HOLLLERRRRR!!!! Talk about spiritual nourishment! 

So some cool little stories that happened this week...
I got to work on a farm. Yep...  a real farm... and do real farm work. We helped this old man pull out all the sour dock in his field. And I guess when the sisters tried to teach him before he was totally closed off. But we taught him again after the service, and he said he was so impressed with us young people helping him, that he is open and wants us to come back!
So I have this investigator Mina, I don't know if I've talked about her before. But she knows the church is true. You can see it. She reads from BOM daily, and prays about it. She met with missionaries before but didn't accept the message. She told us that she surprised herself by even meeting with us! But yesterday we asked her to be baptized for like the 578575 time.. and again she said no. So we asked her to pray about it, and she said no. We then asked her why she won't... and she said "because I know the answer is going to be yes! and that scares me!!" This didn't make any sense to me... But whatevs. 
We also had our first bible bash! Some J-Dubbs invited us in, and ripped us apart and it was so much fun! We totally lost... because we decided it wasn't worth the argument. 
So I've been really thinking about what makes our church so different. A lot of other Christian churches teach the same principles... The Gospel of Jesus Christ. (faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost, enduring to the end). And so I was thinking whats the difference? The difference is the Priesthood. That power was lost when Christ and all his apostles died... and it was restored through Joseph Smith! It's so logical!!! How can this church not be true?! Ah, I love it!!! I love being a missionary. I want to thank all the worthy priesthood holders that are reading this, for holding that wonderful power of God. 
This week really strengthened my testimony of why I am on a mission. We didn't do very good with our teaching, because we were so busy with other things! We had zone training on Wednesday, and I gave a training to my zone on working with members. That went really well. And then we went to Omaha on Thursday for a trainer/trainee meeting. That was so amazing!!! I received some super good inspiration.
At the training, we were challenged to keep a "prayer journal".. and to write down revelation we receive through our prayers. They told us it would be like our very own Doctrine and Covenants. They also challenged us to double the length of our prayers... crazy. I'm super impatient, so getting on my knees and praying at night is already hard for me. But I now say 20 minute prayers... I sound like a crazy person... haha 
But let me give this advice for anyone who is reading this.... Keep a prayer journal. It is so amazing, and almost weird... the revelation that you get. I feel like my relationship with my Heavenly Father is so much more personal, and I feel like he actually speaks to me. I love it. So I'm committing everyone who is reading this to do that! I promise you won't regret it, and you'll see such a difference in peace in your life:)
So something cool that happened... we were talking to this less active who hasn't been to church in FOREVER. Literally... like years I think. And we've been coming and meeting with his wife who is an investigator. He normally avoids us like the plague when we come over. But this time he came out and talked to us. He told us how he's grieving over his sisters death, and can't find happiness. But when we come over, he feels the Holy Ghost.. and feels this happiness, but that it doesn't last long. We talked to him about the atonement, and how important the sacrament was, because it renews your baptismal covenants, which allows you to have the Spirit with you always. We challenged him to come to church. But we didn't think he would come. But guess what... he came!!!! That was so cool. Such a tender mercy from the Lord. Also, we had 2 other less active families that we've been working with, come to church for the first time in a long time:) 

This week my companion goes home to Japan, and I'm really sad about it. But I know that she will do great things! I can't believe my first transfer is already over... I am so grateful for this gospel. How blessed am I to know the truth...? Out of ALLLL the people in this world that don't have a clue... How did I get so blessed to know the truth. It's pure madness! But that's why I'm on a mission... I can't stand the thought of people not knowing the truth. ( mosiah 28:3..check it out. so good) anywho. Love you all!
hola ya'll!? 
kind of a mix of my new language I guess.. haha so not anything too exciting happened this week. I found my new favorite food.. called Molette. Its like chocolate spicy sauce with chicken, tortilla, cheese... haha SO good. 
So this week we had exchanges. It was really weird teaching with someone else! But they went good.
 Also this week we had interviews with President Weston. I found out my new assignment... So I'm staying in Sioux city Iowa. And I will be getting an English companion. Which means I will be switched to work in an English ward. Except I will attend the spanish branch as well.. So on Sundays I will go to 2 churches. haha but just working with English. Then in September with this new transfer, I will be switched back to just Espanol. KIIIIIINDA difficult. But yeah. Oh, we have zone training this week, and I was asked to give a training! So that's going to be a really cool opportunity :) 
So something really interesting that President told me, is that we are super focusing on making the members do the missionary work. He asks that we invite all the members to fast and pray about one person they want to bring to the gospel. And we as missionaries have one job-- to help them come up with a teaching plan that they can teach that person themselves. He said to me "These new investigators will not be your investigators, they will be the members. you won't be doing the teaching."... So it's crazy how much we're going to be involving the members now! Missionary work sure is changing!
So my spanish is coming along excellent! When we had exchanges, my comp didn't speak any spanish. so I was forced to speak it to the members.. and I was having conversations with them! It was really neat.
So I'm still teaching my English class... And I dont know if I shared this experience with you guys yet, but something super funny happened. So in espanol, when you're praying and you say "I ask thee..." you say "Te Pido". So I was writing this on the board during my english class, and I accidently said "Te Pedo". And everyone started busting up laughing and almost crying. And I felt so dumb cause I didn't know what I just said. So then finally someone told me that I basically said " I fart". So yeah.... gotta love learning a new language right?

Yo se que este evangelio de Jesucristo es verdadero.  Yo se que el libro de mormon is verdadero. Estoy agradecido que Jose Smith restauro el evangelio de Jesucristo. Yo se que oracion es muy importante, y que Dios quiere comunicar con sus hijos, porque El nos ama. En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen. 

This week was so amazing!!!!!
Me and Sister Sakurazawa have been extremely well with obedience. But Tuesday, we were offered to attend a BBQ with the first ward elders, at a less active house. They were going to bring an investigator that we could teach. We were so excited to attend this BBQ! But then we thought about the rule, no dinner with elders at a members house. We thought long and hard about this. And tried to justify it being ok. But finally we just made the decision not to go. We told the Elders and they thanked us for our obedience. That night, we found 5 new investigators, and taught many lessons! Something we couldn't even accomplish in one week. It was so amazing. Its so true that obedience brings blessings, but strict obedience brings miracles.

This week we have been trying so hard to be exactly obedient. And we taught 18 lessons! 20 if you count lessons with members. The standard for our mission is 16 :) We found 8 new investigators overall when we normally find like 3, and we reached and exceeded most of our goals. Also, we met this girl named Veronica on Friday, and she's looking for a church that makes her feel like shes close to God. She came to church yestrerday! Our first investigator to come to church.. Hollerrr! Ah. Also, I bore my testimony en espanol during testimony meeting. Without looking at notes...:) This week was just great.  I have felt the spirit so strong and looked at my mission through a new perspective.
I am so grateful for sister s. She is the best trainer I could have. This week was amazing and really helped to strengthen my testimony. I have also seen so many miracles through fasting and prayer too. Holy cow this gospel is absolutely remarkable! I'm so grateful to be apart of this hastening work:)
Also, I really love Iowa, cause it has epic thunderstorms. (yes, I can't believe I just said epic either) But the whole sky is purple for hours! cray.
TESTIMONY BUILDER: This week was tough, but an amazing testimony builder. I have come to love this gospel so much, and truly witness miracles. I had some challenges this week, like the whole first half of the week I feel like we got nothing accomplished. And then we found out someone keyed our car, big time. all over the hood and down the drivers door. so thats cool. I weighed myself... That wasn't cool. My spanish is terrible. I hadn't received any letters from family. I was discouraged and just down right bummed. But thursday things started to pick up. we had a spanish training in omaha, and there were like a trillion elders, and 4 sisters. Its crazy to think that there are only 4 spanish sisters in the whole mission... but anywho... I couldn't really understand what was being said. But I just felt the spirit so strong. It was amazing. Then, our mission president spoke. Thank goodness he didn't know spanish. He talked to us about struggles of learning the language. He told us the power of fasting and prayer. Then. At the end of his remarks, he said this
"Elders and Sisters, I'm gonna make you a promise. And I'm probable going to get in trouble for it. But I promise you that for every Less Active you activate, God will bless you with one baptism."
That statement was so powerful. And the spirit was so strong I was almost in tears! After I went up and talked to president and thanked him. Long story short, he told me that I am an official spanish sister, staying in spanish for my mission. and that I'm training next transfer... uhmm... I was so scared when I found that out.  So the next day, friday, I fasted. I fasted that I might learn the language by the end of this transfer.. Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday, I was able to teach part of lessons in spanish, bare my testimony, and say prayers in spanish. All because of fasting. 
COOL EXPERIENCE: So we met this lady named Mina Ramirez, she is 59 and lives alone. She was part of the Jehovah Witness church, but was disfellowshipped for smoking (psh.. .and they call themselves Christians...) And then her husband left her. So she's alone, and depressed. Long story short, we met with her twice this week. and she's doing awesome. Shes reading from the BoM, and keeping her comittements. Shes our first progressing investigator! yay!!
CRAZY STORY: So. I don't remember if I've talked about Rafael or not. But We've met with him 3 times now, and he's not progressing. But he is so interested in the gospel. He's the one that always is drinking when we meet with him. Last week he invited us over for sunday dinner. So we show up at his house last night, with a freakin awesome lesson plan right..? We're talking for a little bit, and then all of a sudden all these people show up with tons of alcohol. Pretty soon, it turned into a party. Literally. Us poor little missionaries at a darn party. So we were trying to say we had to leave. But Rafael started talking to us about baptism... in front of all his friends. And his girlfriends started talking about eternal families. So we taught them a tiny bit, at this party.. and had to leave because obviously the spirit wasnt there. haha but I know rafael is gonna get baptized. I look at him, and can see it. Every week he wants to know more. We should probably try teaching him sober though. 

Sorry this was such a long email! there was lots to say. I love you all! Thanks for your support. This church is true. I know that with my whole heart. And I know the BoM is true. Everytime I read from it, I learn so much. #readthebookofmormon

Love, Hermana Vogel