Monday, February 24, 2014

Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die

Hello loves,

Great Scott! I'm going BACK to the Valley! I was honestly shocked. I thought for sure I'd finish my mission here in the West Stake. I'm still surprised. But super happy. I've grown SO much in the year since I served in the Valley. I get to apply all these good things and see all the people I taught and loved. It's a surprise but a true tender mercy. I'm not at all the missionary I was when I first got to the Valley. I've changed so much. My heart is so much softer now. I just love this work.

I'm really going to miss Hermana Walton. She's been my best friend these last six months. We were expecting her to leave. It's my fault. I've been talking up the idea to her for the last few weeks. So she's a little stressed to stay. But she's going to be amazing! We found a family last week! We actually just had tons of beautiful miracles!

First and foremost, the most beautiful baptism of all time! Seriously, Miguel and Ramon were so prepared, so happy! The spirit was just so strong. Everything went smoothly. We even sang a musical number (it rocked! I'll try to send the video) and they bore their testimonies of the Book of Mormon. So solid! They wore white shirts and ties and new shiny black shoes to church. All that was missing was their missionary badges! And I will do everything I can to make that happen! I'm sad, I won't get to teach them anymore, but I'm also excited to be their FB friends in a month. Is that so crazy or what? (editor's note: 42 days, but who's counting?)

Ok, so we fasted last Sunday as a mission to find, and I can just see the Lord working here. We've met more spanish potentials in the last 3 weeks than in our entire 3 transfers here combined. Incredible! Last week, one of our lessons fell through and we felt impressed to go to the Windsor Crossing neighborhood. It's old military base housing and they don't allow missionaries to proselyte there but we saw some members' names on the english ward list and we thought we'd give them a try. We weren't even sure if they were active or not. We tried three families and none were home. I just felt like maybe I'd heeded the wrong prompting and we weren't actually supposed to be there. So we prayed and I felt the impression that we needed to be diligent and keep trying! So the next house we try there was a little hispanic boy, AJ,  standing at the door. I was floored. They had JUST moved in that same week! And we asked him if they went to church. "yeah, we used to go to the mormon church." I knew it was NOT a coincidence. His mom wasn't home so we tried back again this week. When his mom, Jessica, answered, she was not very warm. We stood on her doorstep and politely asked her a few questions about why she stopped coming. Then she let us in and we stood in her front entryway talking a little more. Her heart was softening and she said, "If you MAYBE wanted to stop by-but I'm not promising anything! And I need some time-but if you maybe were to stop by you could come on a Saturday." And then we asked her if she had a Book of Mormon and she let us give her one and then she said, "And so if you WERE to stop by on a Saturday in a FEW weeks from now, you could mark up some scriptures for us to read and give us a list or something." and then she said, "do you want to sit down?" Her heart had softened SO much. ALL in a matter of minutes. So we shared Helaman 5:12 and talked a lot about how building her foundation in Christ will bless her family. She loved it. And then we asked if there was anything we could do for her family and she said, "well, AJ needs a tutor for school. could you help with that?" And we were like HECK yes! And so she said, "well if you were to find a tutor, you could stop by earlier than Saturday, we'll be home after 7pm" HAH! So God is good. We asked a sweet sister in our branch to help and she is more than willing! I am excited for Sister Walton to bring this family back to the gospel! 

THEN another day we were trying a family in a trailer park but they weren't home. But the Spirit nudged me strongly to stay. So we prayed to know which side of the park we should knock. It was clear. Go Right! So we got out of our car and walked right and THERE was a little mom with her baby chamaca girl! A new Hispanic family! Like, prayers answered. Crazy! So Chayla let us in and we pulled out the Book of Mormon and showed her the pictures and explained how it would help her family come closer to Christ and she said, "how can I get one of these books?" YAY! And she said, "my husband only speaks Spanish. your church is in spanish?" HECK yes it is! She was loving the whole message. It was amazing. 

I'm so grateful the work is moving along and that Sister Walton still has her whole mission FULL of miracles ahead of her. I'm going to be with Sister Taylor, Hannah's old roommate. I'm really grateful because I needed a little change so that I'll stay totally focused to the end. Because I was really not expecting it I didn't even really say goodbye to a lot of people but it's better that way. God knows my heart. And I love Him for that.

I finished the Book of Mormon this week. This was the BEST transfer reading it so quickly. Oh, I love that book! I love the Gospel. Watching Miguel and Ramon get baptized was one of the highlights of my mission. This is TRUE! 

I love y'all! I will send some pics and hopefully videos in a bit!

Hermana Em

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

And they did look steadfastly towards heaven

Hola Queridos,

The sun came out this week and melted all the snow. It was a spring tease and it was glorious! We loved it and drank it all in. Instead of three layers of tights, only one! Pea coat instead of the big black one! And flats instead of boots! Glorious, I tell ya! And then it rained and rained and rained. Asi es la vida.

But it really is always like that. Missions are full of happy and HAPPY and SUPER HAPPY but mixed in those days are plenty of rainfall. But I love my Father in Heaven. I love Him for loving me and giving me experience to grow. He's letting me learn how to stand on my own two feet and more importantly, kneel on my own two knees. I've been praying A LOT this week. It wasn't an extraordinarily hard week. Not like the week the mission split. But I just needed my God and my Savior. Ramon and Miguel are getting baptized this Saturday and Satan is giving us a run for our money. But seriously. everything is happening! We are just not letting our guard down for one second!

On Wednesday, we had a lesson at the Wilson's (they are a senior couple in our branch that we just adore!) and also the Bomans came along. We had Zone Conference on Tuesday (my last one! Welp!) and we talked about using Family History work with our investigators and new converts. So we took the counsel and ran with it. Miguel was sick so only Ramon came along but he LOVED it. The spirit of Elijah was there. It was just incredible. Ramon's mom past away in March and he shared an experience that he had a dream his mom was standing there, beaming, just smiling from ear to ear and he woke up and thought, "I wonder why she is so happy. OH! It must be because I'm getting baptized." Amazing! And he just COULD not wait to start his own family history work and go to the temple! It really was SO cool. 

Then, Satan came along and tripped things up and they didn't come to church on Sunday. It really stressed me out. I mean, they've come for the last 2 months so it wasn't like that big of a deal, but we still had lessons to teach and things to do to plan their baptism and so it was just overwhelming. And then I went on exchanges to Cheney Sunday night and Monday's lesson was left in Sister Walton's hands. And I totally trust her and wasn't worried but I knew she'd have a stressful day and SHE did. Satan still worked hard to fiddle with our appointment and plans. But she was amazing and made it work and taught a stellar lesson and things are good! 

We printed off invites and had them write their testimonies in them and OH! it is precious. I will send one home for y'all 'cause you're going to love it! Ramon invited like everyone to come and he has aunts and his sister and the whole gang coming! I'm so excited!

We also had a mission fast on Sunday to find new investigators. Miracles are already on their way! Two families on our line up this week and we knocked into some less-actives! So great. 

They are kicking us out of here so I don't get to finish my email time. Sorry!

Sure do love ya! And the gospel! AND the Book of Mormon. I'm finishing it this week ('cause it's the last week of the transfer! Crazy!)

Hermana Judd

Monday, February 10, 2014

Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.

Oh my sweet friends!

What a wonderful week. SO good. SO SO SO COLD. SO snowy! I've never seen it snow so many days in my life! I'm staying warm. Hand warmers in my gloves and scarf! It's a like a legit burning in the bosom! :)

I'll cut to the chase. On Thursday we had the BEST, the best lesson with Ramon and Miguel. In MLC on Tuesday, President and Sister Mullen taught the doctrine from Alma 32 and it was so perfect. In our Zone Training, I was supposed to train on what they taught so I read up on Alma 32 and knew it was what we needed to share with Ramon and Miguel. We had already given them the chapter to read before but we knew a good refresher would help. The power of the word is better than anything that I could ever say. We had a lot of people in their lesson. We invited Brother Torres and then Elder Wilson wanted to join and then Jose Estrada wanted to too. Lots of talkers. But I just wanted the spirit to speak the most. Oh it was beautiful. The scriptures carry so much power. I'm truly converted to the Book of Mormon for life. It is my very favorite book. We read through faith and the word and talked to them about what those could mean. Then we read verse 27 about feeling swelled, enlighted, enlarged and tasting the deliciousness of the goodness of God. I asked Ramon if he had every felt that before and he smiled and said, "yeah, every time I read the Book of Mormon I feel that way." And then Brother Torres cut in and asked him to be baptized. It wasn't the first time they've been asked. We've probably asked them like 8 times. But it wasn't the right moment. The spirit was there but it wasn't the peak. And it just felt weird coming from Brother Torres, bless his heart. So we just kept reading and reading about growing faith and experimenting. And then I felt impressed to let us have a moment of silence for the Spirit to really work on their hearts and minds. So we invited them to pray and read and ponder. We sat in silence for at least 12 minutes. But I was watching Ramon and Miguel and their heads were bowed and so I didn't want to interrupt them. Finally I felt the push to ask them, "what are you thinking?" I looked at Miguel because usually Ramon is the talker and I think Ramon is more prepared and maybe some of his hesitation is that Miguel doesn't want it as much. So I knew Miguel needed to share his feelings.

He said, "I don't know why but I remembered a time in my life when I was younger. My family is Catholic but we didn't go to church all the time. But I remember one weekend I went to this thing for the youth where we sang and worshiped and prayed. I just felt really happy and felt the Spirit. Then a lot of the kids started receiving different gifts of the Spirit and good speak in tongues and were doing amazing things. I just really wanted to have that experience too. So I kept praying that I would be able to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We were getting ready to leave and even getting on the bus and I was just praying and praying that God would hear me and then all of a sudden, I felt a surge go through me. I felt tingly and alive and it felt so good and happy. I knew that God answered my prayer. During those days, all I wanted was to be close to God. But when I grew up I forgot about that and made some bad choices to take me away from God. But I want that again. I want to be close to God."

I told him that the Spirit brings things to our remembrance to help us. And he said, "yeah. because I also remember having doubts that I really would be able to feel the Holy Spirit. I wasn't sure if it was possible. But I did. And that is how it feels when I read the Book of Mormon too."

Then I looked at him and I said,

Miguel, se preparará para ser bautizado el 22 de febrero?

He paused and then smiled and said,

AHH! Happiness and Joy!
Then Elder Wilson looked at Ramon and said, y tu, Ramon?

Creo que sí

The spirit swarmed in so powerfully. SO incredibly strong. It was amazing.

I asked Ramon what he was thinking and miraculously he had a very similar experience. He said, "I also thought about a time when I was younger. My mom always took us to church and I always grew up believing and doing good things. I remembered one time that all the kids had to go through this maze to get to a Bible because it represented God. People would get lost and turned around but eventually everyone made it back to God."
Then he paused and got choked up.
"After my mom died, I was lost and turned around from God."

Then Elder Wilson said, "Ramon, the reason the missionaries found you is because you were never lost to God. He wanted you to be found."

It was beautiful. We closed the lesson there. At the peak of the spirit and we asked Ramon to pray. He didn't want to because he was crying but we waited a moment and then he said the most beautiful prayer. 

Thank you God, for finally letting us say yes. Thank you for letting us say yes and come closer to you.

OH! so happy! And yesterday after church, we made a brainstorm list of all the people in their lives that they could invite to their baptism. They thought of more than 200 people combined. And they are SO excited, SO happy. All their doubts and reservations are out the window. It is a TRUE MIRACLE!

Adriana dropped us a couple weeks ago and we were pretty shocked and bummed about it and we finally decided it was time to stop by to see how she was doing and it turned out that the last time we stopped by (she wasn't there, we left a note) she got pretty mad. It was a big misunderstanding and we felt REALLY bad and she felt really bad and then we had a nice lesson with her and she felt the spirit again. I wish so badly she'd soften her heart and take the step of faith to come to church. It would bless her immensely. She forgave us but we're still easing back into things with her so hopefully we'll get to teach her again.

Hispanics are popping up. It's a good, happy work! I love it. And I love my Savior. And boy do I LOVE the Book of Mormon.

Hermana Judd

Monday, February 3, 2014

And thus the work of the Lord did commence; thus the Lord did begin to pour out his Spirit upon them

Howdy y'all!

What a beautiful time to be a missionary. I love it the most, the most!

My life has come full circle. Yesterday was Stake Conference in the West Stake and I was there LAST YEAR for the same stake conference. I mean. I've been serving in this Stake for a full year without breaks! So crazy! I remember sitting in the audience last year thinking "this Stake President sure seems missionary minded" because all the messages were so focused and purposeful. And now, after a year full of experiences with President McCombie I just feel so full of love and gratitude. He's incredible! Every session of conference was inspired and beautiful. I think it's church wide that youth are invited now to the adult session and that rocks. And I think the theme church wide is "hastening the work." which totally includes the youth because they are the most courageous missionaries! In the Saturday session they had a youth choir but they were a little worried that there weren't enough voices so they asked the missionaries to join in so we got to sit on the stand, right behind my bffs, President and Sister Mullen. Looking over the congregation I seriously felt like Ammon when he reunites with his old pal, Alma.

 17 Now the ajoy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the bexhausting of his strength; and he fell cagain to the earth.
 18 Now was not this aexceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker ofbhappiness.

I love these sweet, farmer folk. They are good and kind and I just love 'em. The West Stake is mine, forever. And because we cover the whole stake for Spanish work and because I served in Cheney for 6 months, I really have come to know so many people. Before the Saturday meeting we had a soup and bread dinner and we could hardly sit down to eat because people were stopping to talk and say hello to us. It just feels nice to be loved and appreciated. 

President McCombie made both the Saturday and Sunday sessions interactive. He had people write down their impressions, share with their neighbor and then he put mikes out in the audience so people could stand up and share what they were going to change and do differently. It was a really great learning experience. And so many beautiful insights for missionary work. I just feel excited to follow up with the different families in the stake to help them keep the fire.

One sister missionary in our stake was asked to bear her testimony and she said, "they will have to drag me out of here to get me home, but among the the two things i'm looking forward to most about going home are my family and being a member missionary." Can I just say, "amen!" I love my full time missionary status and I love my badge and the confidence it gives me and I love the miracles and the growth and everything. I LOVE being a missionary. But I'm grateful that in the Lord's wisdom, He let me go at the beginning of my life to experience and learn all these things because I want to forever more apply them and lead a life of service and love and I want to focus on inviting people to Christ ALL my life. That has changed about me. Of all the things, my perspective has changed and my motives are different. This is the work and glory of God and it matters most. 

We found someone new! Lauro! He was a semi-referral from some cutie cute members in the Spokane 1st ward. They are managers of an apartment complex and they told us about him but then they glumly told us that we weren't allowed to proselyte in the complex but that they would continue to invite him to activities and talk to him about church if he ever brought it up. But their little six year old chamaco hinted that he shared walls with other members, the Stringhams, in the complex. And so one night we were driving around, heading to try some members and I thought, "we should visit the Stringhams." because sister Stringham speaks Spanish and she could become his friend and SHE could invite him or something. So we went. And then as we were leaving I just thought, "ah heck. this is God's work. "no proselyting" or not, I'm knocking it" and Lauro answered and just loved us! We have been focusing on using the Book of Mormon in our street contacts and now it's all I use because the Book of Mormon just carries the Spirit and can teach way better than I can! So anyway, we introduced the Book of Mormon and taught the whole restoration on his doorstep and he just kept joking and loving it. Le cayemos muy bien! Y el nos cae muy bien tambien :)

But the lesson I really learned is that God knows me. Because I had been wondering if I receive promptings or if I follow them well enough as a missionary and then, he prompted me and I acted. As if He was telling me, "I do trust you, little one."

Anyway, we received 8 referrals this week! I mean it's like crazy! We'll find this family the Condons trust us to find. I know it!

Con todo mi amor,
Hermana Em


this is from our last zone training like beginning of january.

sister walton, sister kunkel, and i. this was the day i was throwing up so i just look lovely, i know.

sister gifford, sister kennach (who is samoan and from temple square and she was SO excited about jacob serving in a samoan ward)

sister walton's mom sent us matching pjs for christmas. we wear them every day. we've also been told by 10 people now that we look like sisters. what the crazy??

 it's been snowy all week. like everyday it snows more. ALL my life (and even last year here in washington) i've only ever seen it snow one day and then stop and then another random day and stop. but it snowed like 4 days in a row here. and then there was sunshine. so fun!
so here's a bunch of shots of sister walton and i, and our roomates a cute little bridge by our house. 

k all my pictures. the snowy pictures are fresh from today. so you can have an almost real time idea of what i look like and what i'm wearing. seasonably fashionable enough for y'all? :)  jsyk i took my coat off for the pictures!