Tuesday, April 30, 2013

And now, my beloved brethren, for ye are my brethren, and ye ought to be beloved

To those I love with all my heart,

Sunshine and happy days! Springtime is the BEST. We went to the temple today. Which you know what that means: Miracle Monday! Once again, I have a testimony that miracles ALWAYS happen the day before the temple. Sister Sanchez and I are considering sharing this theory with President Mullen so we can go to the temple every transfer. Or every week...Shoot, I could use a miracle day like this once a week. 

But ok, ok. We do see miracles everyday. Even little things like people answering their door and letting us inside. But yesterday was topping the charts.

Melissa got baptized on Saturday which was so great and happy but that left our teaching pool pretty shallow. As in nobody. We didn't have any investigators in the Bowdish ward. So we've been praying pretty hard that we can just find SOMEBODY. In both English and Spanish truthfully cause we've been struggling. We went on exchanges last week. Did I tell you Sister Tippetts got transferred to an English ward here? SO happy to have her! And so she's the traveling sister up here and so we went on exchanges with them. I just love her so. Anyway, I'm giving a lot of back story just to tell you that on exchanges we walked a lot. The sisters only have a few miles to drive their car each day 'cause their area isn't very big so they walk a lot. The sun is shining so it feels great to be out talking to everyone. I walked more on my exchange than I have my whole mission. I was loving it! Of course, because we cover all Spanish speakers in the entire Valley, we are driving everywhere. We are constantly in the car. It can drive me crazy sometimes. So we decided yesterday that we'd park our car and walk more. Especially because we were trying potentials in our English area. Wouldn't you know that the day we decide to walk more it's ferociously windy and freeeezing!? But we walked anyway.

And we walked right past a garage sale that we would've zoomed past in our other circumstances. So we stopped to talk. The lady selling happened to be a less-active member and she wasn't too excited to talk but the guy buying came up to us. 

"Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons?"


"Ok. I'll listen. What do you want to tell me?"

"Do you have time right now??"

"Yeah, let's go to the park."

Thankfully the park was about ten steps away. We sat down at a picnic table and the first thing Dusty told us was that he had a 3 year old daughter who means everything to him. He hadn't been able to focus at work that day so he took a half hour for lunch. Then he stopped at the garage sale and he'd been there for about an hour just mulling around until we showed up. He knew God sent us to him so he decided to listen. We taught him a powerful restoration lesson and promised him the peace and blessings that come from the Book of Mormon. He gladly took a copy and nodded his head in agreement. It was all making sense. Then we invited him to be baptized. For May 25th.

"If I know this is true by then, I will be baptized."

He'll know it's true. Because it is. There is a real peace in the Book of Mormon. He will feel the truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and he'll change his life. 

Just like that. 

And we met him at a garage sale that we only stopped at 'cause we were walking. 

God is amazing at orchestrating these things. I see His hand, and His love everyday. I'm so grateful to be here and to be His missionary. On top of that miracle, we had: some members invite us for dinner on Thursday to teach their friends, a less-active we've had the hardest time getting a hold of let us in for a lesson, and Gloria Cooper couldn't get enough during our Plan of Salvation lesson and prayed right there to know if it was true. It was a really great day.

Typically week 3 or 4 is the miracle week of the transfer but we're up to week 6 and I know it'll be full of good things. It may be because it's probably the last week Sister Sanchez and I will be together. I have no idea what'll happen. I have no idea what I want to happen either. I'm willing to go where God needs me. But also that means send all mail to the mission office until further notice!

Well, I love y'all! The work is good. It's tough but good. I love my mission more and more everyday. I love this place. I love President and Sister Mullen just so, so much. I know God is there. He loves us. He knows us. We matter to him.

Keep up the good work, y'all!

Hermana Em

Monday, April 22, 2013

When we turn outward, we give everything to God and to others.

Querida familia!

What a week it has been in the Washington Spokane mission. Seriously.

Melissa is getting baptized next Saturday so we've been meeting with her everyday. She is super excited and we are too. Her prayers are so faith filled and sincere. It's really sweet to be with her and teach her. 

We've been phonebook tracting this week which means we go to all the addresses of people with Hispanic sounding names. We haven't had a whole lot of luck but on Wednesday we knocked on a door to a family who turned out to be English speakers. We always try to knock all around the area because we know that even if we didn't find someone the first door, God has a reason for us to be in that area. And so the next door we knocked on was Talen M. We had just received a district training about being brief and bold and teaching the Restoration on the doorstep. So he opened the door and we started to testify. Almost instantly the light of Christ deep inside him recognized us as servants of the Lord. He taught about how Christ established his church and it was lost for a time, but today it has been brought back in it's fullness and glory. We showed him the Book of Mormon and he said, "Where do I get started? Where can I go to church?" He was almost in tears. He said he'd been praying for an answer and he felt like this was God's answer for him. We invited him to be baptized and he said, "You know I don't know but I really feel like yes, I would. This is such a clear answer for me." I felt so full and happy. He's not in our English area and so we gave him as a referral to the Elders but it was an answer to my prayers. That we are instruments in God's hands. WE are doing our best and following the spirit and being exactly where we need to be.

We've given away 5 other referrals just like that this week. It's been both rewarding and super tough. It shows us that we are in the right places, inviting and being bold. But it's a little disheartening because even though we are working hard and finding the elect, we aren't finding anyone in our area to teach. I sometimes worry that maybe our leaders won't see we are working hard because we haven't been having as many lessons but we are working. SO HARD. Probably more diligent than ever before. But then I remember that God knows. He sees our efforts and He is pleased with us. My Zone Leader, Elder Whiting asked us about why we were here. What's your purpose? We're here to become like our Father in Heaven. We want to be perfect like him. Then he said that Sister Mullen explained to him that becoming perfect means to "turn outward". From the inside out. God is perfect and He does everything for us, His children. When we turn outward, we give everything to God and to others. He told us that because we were learning to be selfless and give our prepared, elect people away as referrals, we are really learning to turn outward and be more like Christ.

It gave me a new perspective and I've actually been really grateful to meet so many prepared people and to help the work move forward in any way possible.

I know that every missionary has tough times and I know these tough times are building me. I really have learned so much about Christ and the Atonement these last few months here in the Valley.

I love this Gospel. I have really grown in my testimony lately. I know that Christ is my Savior and God is my loving Heavenly Father. I regret so much not opening my mouth more and sharing this message with everyone. We all need it. I am learning how much I need it most of all.

I love you! Be a missionary this week. Support the missionaries in your ward. Invite them over and always try to have referrals for them. Pray for people you know, so you can know how to share your testimony.

The work is good. I love this beautiful place. I want to live in rolling hills and lush farmland like this someday. I just love it so.

Hermana Em

Monday, April 15, 2013

Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren

To the greatest people I know,

It's so great to be a missionary in the Washington Spokane mission. Seriously. This is the best place for me to be. 

We had a good week. We had Sisters' Conference. It was maybe the most fun I've ever had. Sister Mullen is like as cute as they come and she danced at BYU and she's a health nut and so she shared with us her secrets. We did yoga stretching and she gave us lots of ideas for healthy snacks. We also had Dr. Ashby speak about stress management and Brother Richardson speak about "overcoming our perfectionist tendencies". Perfect for Sister Missionaries. Sister Sanchez and I gave our tips on how to be happy in your mission and so many sisters came up to us afterward to thank us cause they had really needed some help. It was so sweet and felt so great. There are 70 missionaries with their calls to my mission and 49 are sisters. Can you believe it?? It's a little overwhelming because sisters and elders are so different and I feel like elders are key to the mission. We just work in different ways and we need the balance. So I hope the influx of sisters doesn't add to the drama. I know that the Lord trusts the younger sisters and so I will too.

Sister Sanchez and I are still working with Veronica and her family. Our Ward Mission Leader and his wife came to our last lesson and it was perfect. They are like the older version of Veronica and her husband. Veronica really loved all that Sister L. was saying about raising her kids in the gospel. Sister L. has four boys and two serving missions right now and Veronica is always raising four cutie chamacos. One thing that we want as missionaries, is to help people progress and find friends in the gospel. The L family were perfect because they invited the S. family to have dinner one night. So tip for all members: When missionaries invite you, they want you to bear sweet and simple testimony and then BE A FRIEND. Call them, invite them to lunch, read the scriptures with them. This work is so much the member's part. We are just helpers to help the work move forward.

I don't have a lot to say today, but I am happy! I am learning so much now. I feel like my mission is a role play for my marriage. I make mistakes and sometimes say things I don't mean, but then I have to soften my heart and be kind and ask for forgiveness. I am learning a lot about communication. 

People are wonderful. I just love all the sweet spirits I get to meet on my mission. We took Melissa T. to see a baptism this week and she loved it. She felt the spirit so strong and she was so happy and excited. She kept saying, " I can't wait until I can be baptized." I feel super blessed to be part of it all.

Well, I love you! I love the Lord. I know He is our Father in Heaven and I know that Christ is our Savior. This is their work. And it is true!


Hermanita Em

Monday, April 8, 2013

And she said, I will go.

Dearest dears,
Was conference not the best ever!? Seriously, I had been counting down more anxiously than as if it were Christmas. Oh, it just filled my heart with love and joy. i loved every minute. Every song and prayer too! If I could narrow down my favorite talks I would choose Elder Holland, Elder Falabella, Elder Scott, President Uchtdorf, L. Whitney Clayton. and Sister Dalton! I could go on.
We watched it at the stake center and then also with a less-active member in the branch. It was so great. All week we invited EVERYONE we met to tune in and watch it. I really hope people did. What is better than hearing the Prophet of God speak? I felt so surged with power after each session. It renewed my strength and really helped to put things into perspective for me.
Tomorrow we are having a Sister's Conference with all the sisters in the mission and I am so excited! Sister Mullen asked Sister Sanchez and I to speak about how to stay happy, and finding joy in the mission. We feel really honored that she asked us and grateful too. We try really hard to find the joy and be happy! It's one of our greatest strengths as a companionship. It's nice to know that Sister Mullen has noticed.
So we are teaching Melissa Taylor in our English ward and she is precious. Her brother and sister-in-law (Luke and also Melissa C.) joined the church about a year ago. Luke and Melissa have had some rough things happen in their lives and because of it, they face a lot of mental difficulties. They are accountable, wonderful people, but they are not totally socially apt. They are smart and capable, but they are sweet and innocent like children and Sister Sanchez and I LOVE them dearly. The first time we met with them we were really unsure of how to handle the situation but then the next time we had a lesson, Heavenly Father opened our hearts completely. We both walked out of their house feeling and undescribable love and concern for them. Melissa T. is getting baptized on April 27th and she is so excited. Luke and Melissa C. are so excited too because they love the gospel. They may not understand everything but they know the power of the Spirit and they have felt the difference in their life.
This week they invited us over for dinner and it was so tender. They have lived in a special needs home in the past and now they live in their own apartment so it was the first time they had a kitchen and were able to feed the missionaries. They were so excited and they wanted to go all out. They made cornish game hens and mash potatoes and asparagus. I guess you'd have to know them but it was seriously so touching.
Last night we were asking them how they differentiate between the two Melissas and Luke said, "Easy. I call them Bravo VIP 81 and Bravo VIP 67." Haha, so funny. I love these people! I feel so grateful Heavenly Father put them in my life because they have changed and softened my heart. God really does love all His children.
We are teaching Veronica Salazar still and Mayra and Jose Rosas. Love them all dearly. We are also teaching Yesica Pavon who is from Honduras. Her spanish is the strangest I've heard in all my mission so I keep thinking about Hermana Brown and the spanish she is learning. Every mission is SO different. Love mine, that's for sure! We are working with lots of less-actives and finding new people everyday. The Lord is hastening His work, but the missionaries REALLY need the members. Invite everyone! Share what you hold dear. You never know who needs this TRUE message.
I'm trying to be like Rebekah this week (and for the rest of my life) and be virtuous and loyal. When I recieved my call a year ago, I said, "I will go." And now I'm here. It's so crazy somedays still to wake up and put my badge on. I'm a missionary. I really am the Lord's servant. What an honor and privilege. The Lord trusts me here and is giving me the most incredible experience to help shape me into the woman I am supposed to be. I am forever grateful.
I love you all!
Hermana Em

Hermana Em over for dinner with Luke, Melissa T., and Melissa C.

Monday, April 1, 2013

virtue loveth virtue, light cleaveth unto light

Dear loves of my life,

It's a wonderful day to be a missionary in the Spokane Washington mission! :) That's what President Mullen tells us every week in our letter. And it's TRUE. I love being a missionary in Spokane Valley. It's been 60 all week and yesterday it was 70! What a dream. I think I will love, LOVE being a missionary in the summer the most of all. I could drink in the sunshine all day everyday. 

This week was so, SO great.

On Tuesday as we were driving, Sister Sanchez turned to me and said, "Promise me that we'll find a family to teach this week." I just laughed because hello?? I wish! And then a few minutes later a quiet but distinct voice came to my heart and my mind, "I promise you that you'll find a family to teach this week." And I knew it was true. We've been working so hard here. Sister Missionaries moved into the Ponderosa ward where Aridai has been going to church and so they started teaching her instead. I prayed a lot to have trust in them and feel good about having them teach her because WE LOVE Aridai. I know God loves her and I just want them to know how much she means to us. We fasted last Sunday to know how to help her progress more and then we got our transfer calls and found out Sisters were taking over the Ponderosa area so we knew that was the answer to our fast. Even though we didn't want that answer. Humility is accepting God's will as your own. Learning a lot of that on my mission.

We watched the YW General Broadcast with Katelyn on Saturday and it was so, so, SO great. You really are so much more in tune with the Spirit as a missionary. As soon as the first notes of the introductory hymn began, I started to tear up. My heart was so full the whole meeting. And they showed this beautiful video about this girl getting ready to go to the temple and she has little glimpses of her whole life like mission, temple marriage, children. It was so sweet. And I just remembered again how sweet it is to be a missionary. This is the honor of my life. They talked so much about virtue and being virtuous and that is my great desire. I want to be a virtuous daughter of God. 

So a couple weeks ago we had an open hour of finding and as we prayed right before we went out, Sister Sanchez said, "Please help us to find a miracle." And so the first door we knocked on was Veronica S. And she let us in and when Sister Sanchez said the opening prayer with her she began to tear up and say that she was having a hard day. She felt like God was answering her prayer. The lesson was not that great because she has a dog that NEVER stops barking and the few times we've been back have been kind of crazy, but nevertheless we knew that was our miracle! 

Finally, on Friday, we invited Veronica and her husband and her 4 cute boys to come on a church tour with us. We had a hard time finding a member to come and I was certain it would fall through anyway. Not because I don't have faith, but because that is our luck. And I do have faith! We were praying all day that we could think of which member to call and that things would work out. I felt like I should look at our branch directory one more time and I passed Juan A.'s name. Juan A. is the sweetest little guy. Probably in his late 40's. He's single but he is devoted to the gospel and he comes every Sunday. He wasn't the perfect fit for Veronica and her family because well, he's single, and a man, and I just didn't think we should call him. But my heart told me to anyway. And he answered and he could come! Another miracle. 

Then all day we kept trying to call Veronica to remind her about the tour and verify if she was coming but we could never get a hold of her. I was so sure they just wouldn't come. But then at 5:45 right before the church tour at 6, her husband, Luis called to ask us for directions to the church. Sister Sanchez and I cheered for at least five minutes. We were SO happy! The church tour wasn't miraculous. The spirit was there, but their 4 year old cutie boy was a little rambunctious and it was hard for them to all focus. Then at the end of our church tour and lesson we kneeled down and asked Luis to give the closing prayer. He had never prayed before so he was really nervous. We taught him how and then we waited, with bowed heads for what seemed like FOREVER. Just sitting there in silence. This happens a lot with new investigators and so I silently said my own prayer that he would say something. 

And then his 9-year-old son finally said, "ok, I'll say it." The moment his mouth opened and he said, "padre celestial" the spirit entered in stronger than it had the entire lesson. It was so incredible. And so precious. In his sweetest little Spanish voice he said, "Thank for you this day. Thank you for everything we have. Thank you for our clothes and our house and our family." And then he stopped because he couldn't remember what else to say. As soon as he did, his dad picked up where he left off and finished the prayer. 

It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. And at the end we said, "what a great team you make!" and they smiled and you could tell they felt it. They felt the spirit and the love of the gospel. And just like that I kept my promise. The Lord kept his promise to me and to Hermana Sanchez.

We found our family.

And as they were leaving the church building, the little 9-year-old said, "we forgot something in our prayer." "Oh, you did, what did you forget?" "We forgot to ask for the things we want to know." Which was so sweet because we had told his dad to ask in his prayer if what we taught was true. So we told him that that night he could go home and pray with his family again. Oh, children are the best missionaries. 

Well, my friends, being a missionary is the privilege of my life. I love you! Find ways to strengthen your testimony each day. God loves you. Oh, he loves you.

I love you too!

Hermana Em
Bonus picture! Sister Percivel sent us this picture on Easter where Hermana Em and Sister Sanchez had a lovely Easter meal!