Monday, October 28, 2013

And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man;

Queridos amigos,

Life is good. Different and difficult, but good and happy and sweet.

I just never know where to start. Welp, we moved out and moved in on Tuesday. We're living with the Manito sisters in a little apartment and it's fun. The South Hill is like a bitty New York city. Cute brick buildings and crammed apartments and the most picturesque homes with wrap around porches that you've ever seen. And the colors! It's so autumn and so cozy. Yellow leaves EVERYWHERE. We're obsessed. Like can't get over how beautiful it all is. 

We don't have any investigators yet. But we have a lot of potentials we've been trying and the members have given us a few referrals. I've been in little 'ol Cheney for so long, so being in the big city is so strange for me. Lots of Hispanics. Lots of families to meet and teach and baptize! I feel a little in over my head but I have to know that God trusts me. And I trust God. 

I know He shuffled us out of Cheney with miracles brimming from our pockets so that we'd remember him when the going gets tough. And I bottled up all the happiness I could from last week and Saturday so that I could take some extra sips now and again when I really need it. And there was so MUCH happiness on Saturday I could die.

I'll tell you right now that the baptism for Chris on Saturday was easily the most beautiful baptism there ever was. The spirit was just so strong. He was glowing. He was SO happy. We walked in and waved us down and he just had a grin plastered to his face that never left. He asked that Bishop baptize him and I think it was a really tender experience for Bishop because he was around the same age when he got baptized himself. He said the whole day was like dejavu. Oh so sweet. The service was simple and perfect. Of all the baptisms I've had a part in planning, this one meant the most to me. I wanted every detail to be special. When Chris stood in the font, my heart could have exploded with joy. He came out of the water, still smiling! And Virginia. She was ecstatic. I don't think anyone in the ward ever realized there was a happiness like this. So many of us were moved to tears because the spirit was so profound. And then Chris stood and bore his testimony and he told of his conversion experience and how he knows the church is true, he knows Joseph Smith was a prophet, and he knows that this is exactly where the Lord wants him to be. I am forever grateful the Lord let me teach him. The Elders in Cheney even took him to a lesson to teach with them that evening! We're all pointing him to a mission. To the temple! What joy!

And Anthony's baptism was right after. Also sweet. Also happy. Anthony was so grateful and just so energized. The gift of the Holy Ghost will be such a big blessing in his life. What a miracle. From the beginning to where he is now. What a huge miracle.

These things give me hope. I know there is a great work to be done here on the South Hill. We have 13 missionaries covering the Spanish branch now. How crazy is that. It's exciting for the whole ward. I'm just thrilled to be a part of it. It all feels historic. It feels like miracles are just right beyond our fingertips.

I just gotta stretch.

Love you!
Hermana Judd

Monday, October 21, 2013

and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work

My sweet, sweet family and friends,
If you really want a sincere understanding of how I'm feeling y'all ought to read Alma 26. I've never been so happy in my whole life. This has been the sweetest, most joyful, most beautiful week of my mission. Actually of my life. The joy of the gospel is so deep and filling, my heart could burst. Joy to the roots of my hair. Love, gospel, My Savior Jesus Christ. I'm so thrilled to be here. I'm so grateful to my Heavenly Father.

Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men?

Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.

First, on Tuesday evening, we sat down with Chris and we asked him how it went when he talked to his friend Nick. Nick had a few arguments against the idea but in the end, he was supportive and he was accepting. And that was what Chris needed. He said he could hardly sleep the next night and he kept thinking over and over about being baptized and then he said the sweetest thing I'll always remember. I think I'm ready to be baptized. And without missing a beat I looked at him and asked, Will you prepare yourself to be baptized on October 26th?
And he said yes!
I've been on a spiritual high ever since. I'm like about to cry even thinking about all the blessings the Lord has bestowed on us this week. Since then, Chris has taken off. He's SO thrilled to be baptized this Saturday and so are we. Because this isn't just a blessing for him. He will be active all his life. He will preside in righteousness as a priesthood leader in his home. He will be married in the temple for time and all eternity. This has been the most rewarding teaching experience of my mission. I feel so much gratitude to my Father in Heaven that He let me be a part of it all. But truly it's the Spirit. It's always the Spirit. I'm just an instrument and I'm so blessed to see it unfold. We invited Chris to stand up and bear his testimony in sacrament meeting yesterday so that the ward would see and hear him and want to attend his baptism and it was so simple and sweet. I know God is pushing me to be here and to be baptized. Last night there was another baptism in our stake and so Chris and Virginia came to see it. It was beautiful and perfect and the warmest, softest spirit filled the whole room. Chris was just grinning the whole time. Afterwards we walked him through how his service will go and I have just never felt so happy in my whole life. This is the very happiest time ever. And I'm a happy person. I physically feel like my heart will overflow because this is such a sweet time.
But this is not all. The miracles poured down from heaven this week. We went on exchanges with the Cheney 2nd sisters on Fridayand Sister Kunkel came with me to blessed 'lil Cheney YSA. We had full day of appointments and nothing fell through or anything but we had a open time between 6:30 and 7:30 and none of the people we had planned to see were home. So we stopped the car and said a prayer. We wanted to be where the Lord needed us. This girl we had met on campus came into my mind. I knew it probably wasn't a good time but I decided to follow the prompting anyway. As we drove to see her we passed another house of potentials and the lights were on so we stopped. They weren't interested but I knew just a couple houses down Christina might be home. Christina is a less-active we met on campus a few months back when Sister Gardiner was here. The fact that we ever ran into her was a miracle in and of itself and the first time we talked she said "yeah i used to go to church with my family all the time and I would really love to go back" so we got her address and phone number and for the last 3 months we've gone by to visit her like 4 times a week. No success. We always catch her roommates. It was getting to the point where I felt a little silly always stopping by. But I went anyway. And Christina answered. It was clear to see that she had been crying. She let us right in and we just told her we stopped by because God knows her and loves her. She needed that so bad. And then (because we've received TONS of great trainings on using "how to begin teaching" in every situation including less-active visits) I asked her what her experience with the church was.

"My dad was raised in the church and my mom got baptized and they were married in the temple. We went every Sunday when I was little and I loved going but we stopped going when I was around 6 or so."
My heart might have stopped.
"Christina, were you ever baptized?"
"No, but I always wanted to be."
Like WHAT??? You're NOT a less-active?? So we invited her to be baptized. And within in the first five minutes of our lesson she was on-date for November 16th. Then she scooted her chair closer to us and we taught the restoration. The spirit was so strong. It was so beautiful. After Sister Kunkel taught the First Vision we asked Christina who Joseph Smith saw in the grove and she just wept into her hands, "He saw Him." It was easily the most serene moment of my mission. She was so grateful saying over and over, "I needed this. I want this so bad. I have wanted this for so long." We took her on a church tour the next morning and it was like coming home. She was so happy to be at the church. She told us, "I can just tell this is the beginning to a beautiful journey." AMEN! And she also told us that her dad is a man that never cries but when she called him after our lesson on Friday evening and told him that she was going to be baptized, he wept. I am so touched. She has waited 16 years to return to the safety of the Gospel and to be back home with her Heavenly Father. I have never been so grateful for the gospel in my life. She came to church on Sunday and she was glowing. She was so happy. I'm so happy. It's the most amazing thing. The Lord knows each of His children. He wants them all back home!
And we have another new investigator named Erica who has been dating a member for 6 years and she comes to church everySunday. She's already met with missionaries before and she is in Helaman in the Book of Mormon and she knows it's good, but she has a lot of family pressure. I think the baptisms this Saturday will help so much. And another boy named John who has a best friend on a mission and has been coming to church and activities most of his youth. There are several more people that are just plopping on our plate. It really is an incredible and exciting time in our ward. The elders have been teaching Anthony and he is also getting baptized on Saturday. We're having two baptisms! How crazy.
We have had a feeling for the last 3 weeks that we were getting swept out because that would be best for the Spanish work and even though I'm sad that I won't get to continue teaching all these precious souls, I feel so peaceful. SO happy. I've been praying for whoever would be coming in that they would be responsible and obedient and hard working and I will just say now, the Lord does LOVE His missionaries. He always answers prayers. The first thing I asked when we got our transfer calls and I heard that Sister Walton and I would now be covering all the Spanish work on the South Hill was who would be sweeping in. Elder Brodale and his little trainee. It's the new zone leader area. (For the past two transfers President Mullen has been putting zone leaders with newbies so that we could train the newbies up right! :) I think it's a brilliant idea ) I could not have been any happier. Elder Brodale is SO hard working, and loving and obedient. Peace came to my heart. I feel so excited. And I feel so pleased. I've worked so hard. I have LOVED Cheney with my whole heart. I've given it everything. We have kept the area book updated and things are planned for the baptism this Saturday. I know this ward is in good hands.

And let's not even begin with how excited we are to be doing ONLY Spanish work. ALL the time. My little heart. The joy is too much! And we will get to go to the baptism this Saturday so it's all great. The work is hastening. There is no better time to be a missionary.

I love my Savior. I LOVE my Savior.
Love y'all!
Hermana Em

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

never look back. look ahead at what we still have to do.

Dearest loves,
Fall was made for Cheney. Or Cheney was made for fall. Either way, it is the most glorious place to be on the face of the Earth. Our walk to campus everyday is lined with burning golden, and orange and red trees. And there is this BRIGHT red crimson bush all over campus that is just delicious. Heaven!

Well, Chris is the best person ever. He knows the church is true and he wants to be baptized! He was a little nervous to set a date just because this has all happened so fast for him but we are meeting tonight and I'm pretty sure he'll be baptized on the 26th. I can't stop smiling because I just love it so much. He loved conference, loved the idea of a prophet and eternal families. We had dinner at Bishop Tait's home with Virginia and Chris and the spirit was so strong. He really recognizes it's a good thing. We asked him if the spirit had prompted him to do anything during the lesson and he said, "yeah. i need to talk to my friend Nick." Because when Chris was 16, he wasn't attending any church, but his friend Nick brought him into a Christian church. Chris has been nervous to talk to Nick because they recently had another friend start dating a Mormon girl and then get baptized, and Nick wasn't too happy. Chris knows he needs to let Nick know how he feels and that it's true. Nick will probably send their youth pastor with some anti but I feel confident that Chris will hold true. He is a true miracle. And he is going to get married in the temple and raise a family in the gospel and I could not be more thrilled. He came to church on Sunday and everything said just hit right on his circumstances. He told us it was really insightful.

Keisa told us last night that the first time we walked up to her she just felt something. Usually, she would try and hurry to get in her car if she saw missionaries approaching, but she felt good about us. And she always feels that way when we are with her. She knows it is a good thing, but she still doesn't understand a lot. But I know that she is prepared. She has good fellowship. Rickia has been calling her and texting her and Whitney invited her over for dinner. It will be a little slower with her but she is moving.

We didn't find any new investigators this week and it's been a struggle for me. This whole transfer has just been hard on me. I have felt inadequate and unprepared. I know that is Satan, working against me, but I have been battling to stay positive and continue to work hard, even though my outward results don't always reflect my effort. We are having a ward fast tomorrow that we may find more people to teach. Because the ward is so great and we are trying our best. We really need some divine intervention.

We had the Latin American festival on Saturday and it was so, so, so fun. I just wanted to stay there forever. I love the Hispanics. I love the Spanish branch and their hard work. They had a show and then dinner and it was all so great. Lots of mariachi and dancing. I was loving it.And SO MANY non-members came. There were more than 200 people there and more than half were non-members. This was the first year putting it on and so I know in a few years, it will be giant. Our Hondurian family, Ernesto and Vilma came. It was like the Luau from the District dvds. SO cool. And then on Sunday we had a graduation for all our English class students because they finished the first level. They were all dressed so nice and all the husbands got up and spoke a few words to say thanks. It was beyond precious. They were all so happy and proud that they were learning and growing. Ernesto even said, "I know that the Holy Spirit is helping me to learn and speak English." Ahh! So great.

We went over to Ernesto and Vilma's house a few times this week to do our language study. They are the best. There hearts are being softened to accept the gospel. And they love us! "Mi casa es su casa!" nos dijo Ernesto. 

We had an assignment from President Mullen to set up a jam-packed evening with members for Friday. The schedule 
went as follows:

5:00 – 6:15 – Dinner with a member and a non-member in the member’s home with a lesson afterward
6:30 – 7:00 – a lesson with an investigator with a member present (preferably in the member’s home)
7:00 – 7:30 – another lesson with an investigator with a member present (preferably in the member’s home)
7:30 – 8:30 – 2-4 visits to the homes of less actives or prospective elders to share a spiritual message and extend an invitation, accompanied by a member of the Bishopric, Elders Quorum Presidency, High Priest Group Leadership or Relief Society Presidency.
8:30 – 8:45 – 1 member visit to share a spiritual message and help with missionary efforts

We don't have very many investigators so we set up 4 less-active visits instead and then dinner with Chris and the whole evening was perfect! We had received training from the assistants on how to work with members and I feel like it will revolutionize my whole mission. We saw a lot of miracles working with our members and ward council. If I was supposed to learn one thing as a missionary it would be to a great member-misisonary when I come home. My whole perspective has completely changed on how I want to be when I come back. I will always be working to invite people to come closer to Christ!

We find out transfers on Sunday. Our feeling is that we are staying in Cheney but instead of doing the YSA we will just focus on Spanish. We don't know for sure but that has been the vibe we've been getting from President Mullen and McCombie. I'm not sure how I feel. I LOVE the YSA. I am serious when I say I could finish my mission here. I really love it. But I know that the Spanish work needs more push and I would be happy to focus just on that. It would also make me really sad because I've worked my tail off in the YSA and I just hope that whoever would sweep in would be a hard worker. Quien sabe! 

Not a lot of pictures. just some to give you an idea of the festival!

Kay love y'all! byeee

Monday, October 7, 2013

And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Dearest loves,

My third and (maybe last) conference on my mission! Can you believe it? So, so good. It's so much like Christmas around the mission that we listen to all our favorite Christmas hymns the whole week before just to get us EVEN more excited. And the prophet and apostles never fail us. It is always perfect.
So we have a new investigator! It's a miracle. It really is. It always is. Like the first week Sister Gardiner was here the Elders gave us this referral for this girl named Keisa from Venezuela. They only had her phone number to give us so we tried and tried AND TRIED and TRIED. To no avail. Never answered. THEN like two weeks ago we were stopping by to see a potential investigator and we walk down the steps and this girl comes out of her car. Lo and behold! Keisa! from Venezuela! It was no coincidence. It was perfect because we were handing our fliers to a Latin American festival we are having this weekend and so we had an instant connection. We set up a church tour. Couldn't make it. Then we set up another. Had to cancel. So THEN last Saturday after the Relief Society broadcast, we were sitting in our car just trying to figure out where to go and so we decided to pray. And then after the prayer, we both had the same thought: KEISA! So we stop by and she lets us right in. She opens up to us and tells us about her brother passing away this last year and how she has a lot of faith that God is there. We testified of the Plan of Salvation and she loved it. So we FINALLY took her on a church tour on Monday and she loved it. She loved how simple it all was and how she felt the spirit. We saw her a few other times and she came to conference yesterday! We didn't get to talk to her too much but she seemed to like it. She's on the track team with our Relief Society President and that helps a lot. I have the strongest testimony in member fellowship. If you don't have members to help you and be their friends, you can forget about it.

Also, Chris came to conference. He had TONS of questions written down and he took lots of notes. He really liked it. And in a lesson this week we asked him if he knew Joseph Smith was a prophet and he said, "yeah, I'm really starting to believe it." YAY! Could conference not have been more perfect?? There were so many testimonies about Joseph Smith and modern day revelation. Chris just really liked all of it. And he looked so sharp. Virginia (his member girlfriend) must have taken him shopping for some more church clothes. I mean last week he came in black pants and a striped button up and he looked totally fine but yesterday he was wearing a white shirt with a tie. I could just picture him as a little Priesthood holding husband someday! Oh, the church is true!
We also had Sisters Conference. It was the best ever. Like always. We have like 90+ sisters in the mission. I couldn't even believe it. It was SO fun to see all my little trainees. It was a little strange to see all the sisters I worked with and loved come together like two worlds colliding (All my other companions have now gone home. YIKES!) Seeing Sister Gardiner was the best. I really love that girl and miss her a lot. The theme was "Happiness is the design of our existence." So true! It was really powerful and motivating. Sister Mullen told us at the start that her desire was that we would walk out different woman, changed forever. I really do have a deeper motivation now to be even more happy and serve my Father.
So much happened this week and this is just touching on it. Anthony also watched conference, and he is temporarily living with some boys from our ward, so that is good.
Pray for the work in Cheney to keep moving forward. I want to find more people to teach. More Hispanics and prepared souls! I hope you all take Elder Ballard's challenge to invite one friend to hear the gospel before Christmas.

LOVE you!
Hermana Judd

sisters and elders at MLC. some of my fave friends are going home at the end of this transfer. I can't even believe it. mission life is SO fast.
all my baby girls! sister walton, sister gardiner, sister haynes, and sister johnson.
sister walton and i outside of the temple. fall is glorious in washington. i looooove it.