Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Week of Miracles!

Dear Family,

First of all transfers were this week and I'm in the same area with the same companion.  We have a lot of people to baptize though so it's ok.  Neither one of us wanted to leave the area so it worked out the way we wanted I guess.  Out of the 8 missionaries in our branch only Sister Mortensen got transferred.  It was so sad!  She served in her first area for 9 months, this area for 7.5 and got transferred for her last 6 weeks in the mission.  She cried when President called to tell her she was leaving our branch.  I really look up to her and cried a bit to see her go, but she's still in the Phoenix area so hopefully I'll see her a few more times before she goes home in October.  The other sad transfer news is that I had to give up Sister Grooms :( :(  Sister Doolhoff got transferred to New Mexico so Sister Baros is now STL (Sister Training Leader) companions with Sister Wheelwright.  That makes Sister Penalba my new exchange companion.  She's from Panama and is here from Temple Square, it will be nice since she speaks Spanish, but I'm going to miss Sister Grooms a ton!  She and I have become really good friends over the past 12 weeks!

Sister Mortensen

Even though I didn't get transferred, I still got to go to transfer meeting yesterday which was super neat!  Sister Baros was playing piano for some missionaries doing a musical number, and the 2 of us got roped into singing with a group.  It was the coolest song though!  We made President and Sister Sweeney cry!   Sister Doolhoff was asked to sing a solo at the meeting, but behind President's back she planned this whole musical number.  She went up and sang the first verse of her solo, then an Elder joined her on the chorus.  On the next chorus me, Sister Baros, and 2 other Elders walked up to the pulpit and sang with them the next verse.  Then at the end we sang the chorus again, but Sister Doolhoff's entire zone stood up where they were sitting in the chapel and sang with us.  The words are, "One, but not alone.  A thousand voices sing.  Praises at the throne, of our Master and Our King, with one voice."  I could barely sing it was so powerful!  

Sister Doolhoff & Sister Jackson

Thank you family for my package this week!!  I got it September 10th and was going to wait til my actual 3 month mark to open it, but I couldn't constrain myself :)  I've all ready eaten all the M&M's and cinnamon bears :)  I cracked up when I found more chapstick in there!  

Now for this week's miracles, because it seriously was the best week ever!

For 12 weeks we have been working with Lorenzo, Daniel's mom, and Leticia.  Two transfers!!  And all of them came to church on Sunday!!!!!!!  Here's how it happened.

Last Wednesday-ish we go to see Daniel and his brother and as I'm dismounting my bike I cut my leg on the gear shifter thing.   I've got blood running down my leg and I'm trying to hold it in the air to keep it from getting on my shoe.  Daniel's mom was outside so she runs inside and brings me back toilet paper and antibiotic ointment.  Ha.  Then she realizes I probably need to sit down so she invites us inside :)  Then I realized cutting my leg was part of the plan!  We go inside and she sits on the couch and tells Daniel to come sit with us so we can teach her a lesson.  What??  We weren't planning on teaching her!  Sister Baros looks at me and I said, "Word of Wisdom?"  So we taught her the Word of Wisdom.  We asked Daniel to name the things we shouldn't drink and the first thing he says is coffee.  Xochitl's eyes went huge and she whips her head around to look at us!  It was hilarious.  By the end of the lesson she decided she wasn't going to allow her kids to drink coffee anymore and she intended to stop herself.  She also said she'd come to church on Sunday, but we'd heard that before!  Sunday morning sure enough we call her and she's asleep.  We call her an hour later and she tells us Daniel will come to Primary and she'll come the last hour for sacrament.  When sacrament started Daniel was getting antsy and excited next to me waiting for his mom.  I turn around and here she comes in a dress and everything!  She sat next to me and tried to sing the hymns and paid attention really well!  When we were taking the water she put her cup back in it's hole instead of the garbage hole and so I told her, "Oh aqui!"  And showed her.  Daniel whispers to her in Spanish, "It's ok mom, it's your first time."  It was adorable!  He held her hand the whole time and would explain to her what they were doing.  After the meeting I asked her if she liked it and she turned to me with tears in her eyes and told me she remembered the feeling of coming to church with her parents when she was a kid, and I could tell she wanted that for her family.  I was grinning the entire meeting!!

Also, earlier last week we were biking past Leticia's house (whom we had dropped weeks ago) and we stopped to talk to her and her friend Rita.  They both told us they would come to church this week!  Again, me of little faith didn't know if I believed them.  During Sunday school we get a call from Leticia and they're outside the building!  Leticia and Rita had both come and Rita invited her husband who showed up for sacrament meeting!  We met with them the next night and set baptism dates with Leticia, Rita, and Leticia's two teenagers for November 1st.  It was magnifico!  In that lesson we were talking about what the Spirit feels like and Rita told us she felt it when we talked to her and Leticia that night the week before, she said because it was so strong, she quickly accepted the invitation to come to church.  We are so excited for them!  Rita -we have to hand over to the other Sisters, but she lives in our branch boundaries still so we'll see her often :)  I just got a call from Presidente Alvorado this morning saying he had met with Leticia, her husband, and Rita to discuss helping them with food and other provisions since they had told him their struggling right now.  He said he feels like Leticia and her husband are ready to be baptized sooner than November and asked us to work for an earlier date.  He's a great Branch President!

Lorenzo.....oh dear Lorenzo.  We are going to baptize him September 27th.  We hope.  He keeps telling us he's not ready, and that he needs to feel prepared, but we can hear it in his voice, and see through his actions that he is soooo prepared!  He reads the book of Mormon more than any of our other investigators, he believes Jose Smith was a prophet, he believes Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, he obeys the word of wisdom and law of chastity, and he begs us to get Yasury and the girls active in the church again.  He's a member missionary without the member part!  He asked us to give him a test to see if he's really ready.  So what'd we do?  We scheduled his baptismal interview for this Saturday :)  We told him an Elder has to administer the test and he said ok.  Hahaha I love that guy....we told him if the Elder who has the priesthood and power of discernment decides he's not prepared, then we will move his date back.  But we know he's ready :)  He came to church for all 3 hours this past Sunday which was a miracle!  He even sat by a member throughout all of Sacrament and made new friends :)

Sister Penalba, Sister Wheelwright, Sister Mortensen

Our other Sunday miracle was our 10 year old former investigator Emmanuel, the one with the Dad who slammed the door in our face.  Sister Baros saw his dad on exchanges and he was drunk, so they set an appointment with him for this week!  Haha, but we didn't end up having time and we figured he was drunk so he wouldn't remember.  Well, we went by on Sunday night and he was back to the scary, cold, angry man we knew.  He wouldn't look at us!  I asked about his 10 month old baby and it seemed to spark something so he responded "bien."  Sister Baros then apologized that we didn't make our last appointment.  He looks at us, and says "Ok" then waves his arm towards the door and invites us in!  We taught the restoration and he was talking and asking questions and leaving comments!  It was incredible!  We watched this guy that looked like he could take on an entire gang coddle a 10 month old baby, joke around with Emmanuel, and talk about Jesus Christ.  We even were able to set up another appointment for this week.  I'm telling you, it was the best Sunday ever!

This week is going to be the best week of our lives!  

Yesterday was transfer meeting, today is P-Day and we are going to a Diamondbacks baseball game!  A real MLB game!  Apparently they stink, but that's ok :)  It is taking up most of our P-day, so I don't think I'll be able to write hand-written letters, but I'll for sure write some on Monday!  Friday we are having a giant Fiesta with 3 Spanish branches.  There's going to be all sorts of delicious Mexican food, cultural dances, a church tour, and musica!!  We have been waiting months for this Friday as missionaries!  All of our investigators have said they want to come!

Saturday the Scottsdale and Mesa missions are coming together to hear from Elder Russell M. Nelson.  We've been told he wants to shake all of our hands, so that will be cool!  Sunday is Stake Conference and Russell M. Nelson just happened to choose our stake to speak at!  We get to hear from him twice in one weekend!  So cool!

I'm about halfway done so I'll give my food update now :)  I crack myself up that I do this every week!  Presidente Alvorado bought us Salsitas yesterday and so I got my Carne Asada fries which is pretty much all my favorite foods in one dish.  French fries covered in guacamole, salsa, and re-fried beans.  Last night a member made us lasagna :(  Luckily most of the other missionaries had been craving lasagna so they were fighting over who got to eat mine!   I did try one new food this week!  Tuna!  Not's the fruit that grows on top of a cactus :)  It was like a cucumber I thought.  

Carne Asada Fries

Oh we had one more fantastic lesson this week I have to write about.  Liliana we had to drop this week, because she doesn't read, doesn't pray, can't remember what we've taught her, and is adamant about not preparing for baptism.  Her sister Selene on the other hand and her two sons Christian (12) and Yahir (8) are fantastic!  We went over this Sunday to teach them the Plan of Salvation and decided to really direct it to the boys.  When we first got there Yahir was playing with his friends and took some begging to come inside, but finally did.   I took my Plan of Salvation kit and we explained the whole plan then had the boys scramble and reorganize the plan like we'd taught.  As they did Yahir got confused at parts so Christian would explain to him the different pieces of the Plan, and their mom would explain it to them with smaller words.  At the end of the lesson we asked Yahir to say the closing prayer and his mom told him he didn't have to, but this shy little 8 year-old decided he wanted to!  He said the cutest prayer including thanking Padre Celestial that his parents got him Legos :)  At the end of the prayer his mom was crying and thanked us for teaching her and her boys.  She later told us that when we left she asked Yahir if he was mad he didn't get to play with his friends and he said no, and that he liked it!  We invited them to be baptized October 25 and Christian jumped up to check the calendar!  We have to wait for Selene to pray about it and talk to her husband, but we are really excited for that family.  We just recently met the husband, and he was very kind and said we could come teach him another day :)  

Yikes this is a long email!!  And there's still so much more to tell!  Sorry family, keep reading :)

One cool thing that happened for me this week..... I was having a hard morning on Monday.  Sister Baros was in a mood, and we hadn't even gotten to 11 o'clock.  I was feeling like a little bug and didn't know what I could do.  So I said a long prayer and I asked Heavenly Father to help me feel the prayers of my family members.  The peace and comfort I felt after I said that was unmistakable :)  I have a testimony that sometimes Heavenly Father has blessings for us, and when we let the Spirit help us know what to ask for, we can immediately have those blessings he's been waiting to give us. 

We're still teaching Julio, and still waiting for him to get Sundays off :/  He said he's almost sure he has this Sunday off!  We'll see.... Yelitza is a new favorite of ours.  She's 15 and wants to come to church, get baptized, and go on a mission.  Once again we're dealing with a resistant father, but he just recently gave her permission to come to church!  He said she can hang out with us, but not join us :)  She reminded me of Kellee Burkinshaw because she said she can when she turns 18 :)  She came to sports night on Friday night and was surprised to see her friend Roberto from school.  She's like, "I had no idea he was a Mormon!"  She's amazing :)

All right, I think I've touched all the important stuff and then some :)  I get to email again in 5 days, so if I forgot 
anything I'll let you know then!  

I love you so much!  Thank you for your prayers, they are working :)  It took 12 weeks of prayers to get Daniel's mom to church, but Heavenly Father always comes through in his own timing! 

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU!!!!!

Soaking wet after riding in the rain!
Hermana Short :)

Sister Grooms and I......just a little wet!

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