Monday, July 27, 2015

There Can be Miracles...If you Believe!

Brother Phil and his "Little Angels"

Querida Familia,

I can't wait to tell you the best part of this week, so I'll just start by telling the whole story.

About 3 months ago, Sister Erekson and Sister Zavala got a referral for Russ and Marie, a couple in their mid 50's. They went to their door and Russ told them, "We are NOT interested!!!!" and shut the door in their faces.  About a month later Sister Erekson and I received a referral for the same two people.  She told me what happened the first time so we just automatically dropped them, thinking the church offices had made a mistake.  The next week, the same referral came back! So we decided to try again.  Russ answered the door and told us his wife was sleeping, so we should try the next week. Sister Erekson was kind of in shock because he had been so rude the last time!  The next week we went over and Marie answered the door.  She told us her
husband was sleeping, but she might call us to help them move some stuff in their house later.  We told her we would check back next week.  Knowing they probably just wanted service, we dropped them as potential investigators. For some reason though, our iPads would NOT take their name off of our list. It kept a red flag on them even though we did everything we were supposed to to get rid of it!  We thought we would try one more time. We  came back the next week, expecting them to give us some service to do, and Marie invites us

Now imagine this. We step over a dog gate to get in the door.  There is green carpet, 7 Shitzu dogs, 3 bird cages with 5 birds between them, 2 cats, and a fish in the back room.  Of course the dogs are all over us and licking me like I'm a lollipop, but we sit down on their couches and began to try to visit over the barking and squawking of
the birds.  They told us that Marie is a hospice nurse and takes care of a 95 year old couple who has been sharing the gospel with them. Within the last month they had been to stake conference, began the Book of Mormon, and now had pictures of the Living Christ, Articles of Faith, and Proclamation to the Family hanging on the wall.  The change in them was incredible!!!! We taught them the Restoration right there and they loved it.  They told us they are looking for a change in their lives, and they feel drawn to the gospel.  We left their house
in pure shock.

Three days later we went over for lesson number two with the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric. Our mouths hung open when Russ told us he started the Book of Mormon again. "Again?" He said "Yeah I finished it the first time in a week!"  WHAT?!?! The poor man can't sleep at night so he got up and read the Book of Mormon every night.  As we taught the plan of Salvation, Brother Brimhall was in tune with the Spirit and answered every one of their questions before they could ask them. We finished the lesson and invited them to be baptized.  Marie began to cry and they both nodded their heads with smiles on their faces.  The Spirit was strong in their home and Sister Erekson and I sat in the car amazed after their lesson.

Come Sunday, we were anxiously watching out the windows for about 15 minutes. Members joked about taking pictures of our anxious waiting! Then in pulls Russ and Marie :)  They both liked Sacrament meeting and
Russ told us "It feels different, I feel comfortable." His smile is priceless :) He is missing parts of his jaw, has a pony tail and has to be hooked to oxygen.  When he smiles....oh it melts us :)  Marie just adores him and its adorable! They couldn't stay for all 3 hours because he didn't have enough oxygen to last.

We have been praying for a family, our members have been praying for us to find one, and finally we have found the most prepared couple I have met yet!  All because two 95 year olds with hospice care opened their mouths to share the gospel :)

Brother Phil takes us out to eat every Friday!

We needed that miracle this week too, because I had the hardest lesson of my mission this week as well. The Butlers.

Axxxx has been telling us for a while that her mom is struggling with her testimony. We went over to try to help and instead we got a 45 minute lecture. Not one thing we said could console, comfort, help, or encourage in any way.  I finally broke and started crying as I told her how much we loved her and that nothing else in this world would bring her the happiness that the gospel brings.  She didn't give a hoot.  She then glared at me and re-ranted.  I was so sad for her and her girls.  I just sat on her couch and cried.  Sister Erekson was trying not to yell, and our poor mini missionary that was with us that day just sat there, none of us really knowing what to do.  After discussing it with the ward council, we know we need to leave her alone for a while, but it just kills me to know that nothing we could have said or done would change her mind.  We took Axxxx and Sxxx out to lunch today and their mom gives them a hard time about the church even at home. Our goal is to keep these 2 girls active and strengthen their testimonies.  Honestly, if anything, it just made me more grateful for the gospel, and the happiness that I have through enduring to the end...even when the path is rocky.

Exxx is doing awesome. She loves loves loves coffee, and even works at a coffee shop, but last night during our Word of Wisdom lesson she committed to let it go :)  She's asked the Seniors in our ward if she can start hanging out with them, and they all jump on the chance to support her.  Surrounded by good friends who live the standards of the gospel is going to be an incredible force for good in her life. Her faith amazes us every week.

Txxxx is done with the lessons :(  We still aren't sure exactly what flipped the switch in him, but his buddy told us he's started hanging out with his old friend group and gives excuses for not coming to church now.  We hope he'll come around again once he settles into his college classes and work schedule.

Paul and Amanda are still awesome.  They were all sick this week, but we still managed to get in a lesson, and they all showed up for sacrament meeting.  Members are surrounding them as well.  Every week a new member invites them to dinner or FHE and they eat up the support :)

I heard a great quote in Sacrament this week :)  "Truth is truth.  Grass is green, the sky is blue, spiders don't fly,
and Jesus loves us. Spiders don't fly because Jesus loves us. That's it! Truth is truth :)" -Bro. Masters

Eeeeewww ok so this new investigator, Silvia, speaks English and Spanish and she invited us over for Pozole. That is my absolute favorite Mexican dish so of course we went.  After one bowl she told me I could get more. So I went to the giant pot and stuck in the ladle.  I hit 5 giant hard things. I pulled up and saw giant bones!!!!!  There were also large squishy looking things and so I went back and sat down.  Lesson learned. Let them serve you, and don't look in the pot!!!

Sandra made us a "sopa." It was macaroni noodles, beans, and potatoes in a red sauce. Mmmm right?  Then she made us meat....but after a couple bites and hearing the fat/blood vessels pop in between my teeth I was done.  Luckily she always has ice cream to finish :)

Judy is a less-active that we were asked to find and visit. After a couple weeks of trying her house, we found her at home and she asked if we could meet in a members house because her boyfriend is anti.  So we met with her for the first time this week in the ward mission leader's house and had an incredible lesson.  She really opened up with us and asked to meet again. We invited us to church and she said maybe.  Low and behold, her visiting teacher was on top of it, texted her Sunday morning, and for the first time in years Judy came to church :)  That visiting teacher has been there for Judy the whole time she's been inactive and on Sunday all her friendship paid off. I have a testimony of visiting teachers :)

Well I better go get my mini-golf face on :) We are finally doing something fun for a p-day!!!!  I love you family!!! Happy end of July :) August monsoons here we come!!!

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU
Hermana Short

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Striving to Harvest

Hello Family!!!!!!!

It has been an awesome week for missionary work!  Emily finally got back from 2 weeks of trips, Paul and Amanda are progressing like rockets, Nuri set a baptism date, and we got into multiple Spanish homes with successful lessons. We felt a lot better about this week than we did about last week :)

This week we taught Paul  the Plan of Salvation and he basically taught us the entire thing. While he was incarcerated he studied the church pretty heavily and there gained his testimony of the Book of Mormon.  So he had heard the Plan of Salvation before and was all ready a believer :)  He and Amanda brought up his future
baptism.  We told them that they have to fully live the gospel for 6 months before our mission president will write the letter necessary for Paul to be baptized.  Amanda said "Wow!  Well we quit smoking,but we occasionally chew. But knowing that 6 months rule, I'm done starting right now!!"  They have a wedding date set for September, the same weekend that their son Aiden who is 8 will be getting baptized. After Aiden and Paul are baptized, they have plans to work to be temple worthy and be sealed as a family.  They talk about it every time we meet.  It is the neatest thing!  They were all at church again Sunday and we talked about the Sabbath Day.  Paul wanted to fish on Sundays and Amanda told him no.  Hahaha they just keep each other in line and we love it :)  Later in Relief Society there were some chatty sisters.   Amanda raised her hand in front of the whole class and told them she couldn't concentrate, then glared. Hahahahaha I wanted to high five her so bad.  It was awesome!  Mom, you would like her at the movie theater :)

Emily just can't get enough from us.  We met for 45 minutes on Sunday and she said, "You're leaving?!  That was so short!!"    I wish she could get baptized sooner because she is so ready....but she has to be 18. At least she will have plenty of preparation.  We are planning to do a temple trip with her and her friends and talk about covenants and her end goals.  I think it will be a really neat experience for her.  

Nuri shocked us this week when she accepted an invitation to be baptized at the end of September.  She is still cautious because she is afraid her family won't accept her decision, but we knew she was serious when in her closing prayer she asked Heavenly Father to help her husband understand and be supportive if this is the path she chooses. Tom her husband is always in the woods logging so we haven't seen him yet, but we need to.  He needs to keep learning with his wife!  Their next door neighbor is the Relief Society president so they have awesome fellowship.  Nuri is going to help her coach her daughter's soccer team this year even!  She just needs to have spiritual experiences and begin attending church.

The Contreras are a less active family who have not let us in to teach since week one here.  Yesterday they let us in to teach again and it was incredible!!! We taught the Restoration explaining that we knew they knew it, but we wanted to help them strengthen their testimonies.  The 18 year old, Tony, we thought would be the least interested, but he was literally the 3rd missionary in that room.  He helped answer his mom's concerns, and bore his humble testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  The daughter Sadie had her best friend there who we are now teaching as a new investigator.  If we can keep this up with will be a great strength to the ward.

We had our first exchanges of the transfer in Taylor this week.  I have been preparing and pondering a lot on how I could be the best Sister Training Leader this time around.  So Sister Erekson and I came up with a leadership training to give each of them, and talked about how to hold an effective exchange.  After my exchange that night, the Sister told me that it was the most effective exchange she had had in 10 months of being a missionary.  I realized then that as a leader we make the most difference when we go in with a purpose to help and encourage, rather than to "check-up" on and visit.  We have another one tonight and I hope it goes as well as the last one.

Sandra is our Spanish eternigator - or Eternal investigator.  She fed us a hearty Mexican lunch this week and then we talked about keeping the Sabbath Day holy with her.  She told us she would come to church "one day."  Realizing that would be as much as she committed to that day, we prepared to leave.  Sweet Sister Erekson said as we were leaving though "Bye Hermana! And I am excited for your 'one day'!" Sandra cracked up and said "Si hermana!"  We then visited with one of Sandra's best friends who is a member and invited her to invite Sandra
to church.  She committed and we shall follow up!  Sandra's other friend who visited Sandra during our lunch told us where she lived so we can go visit her too :)  Hoorah for more Spanish work!

More Ipad Selfies

The lesson with Hermana Trujillo (Sandra's member friend) was amazing!   She said she was about to take a nap, but she knew we had driven a long way so we could come in for a bit.  Her parents were there visiting from the border of Mexico and come to find out they are members of an Apostolic church there.  The father told us it was ok if we shared a message with them. We had planned to teach the Sabbath Day and since its a doctrine in the Bible we decided to go ahead with it.  After teaching the principle, her dad began to ask us questions about the Book of Mormon. We taught him about why we have it and offered him one.  To our surprise he accepted it and repeated several times, "I'm really going to read this!"  His daughter who is less active then bore the strongest testimony of the church.  I  had never felt the spirit so strong in her home.  She talked about the focus on families, the power of family prayer, FHE, priesthood blessings, youth activities, etc. I wanted to leave my jaw hanging open!  She told her dad "We aren't very active, but I know that if we were doing these things our family would be more united."  Her dad stayed quiet for a while and said "That's really good."  After that
visit I thought about it for a while and realized more fully that we are on the Lord's schedule.  We needed to be there that day at that time so we could meet Hermana Trujillo's parents and have her bear her testimony to them.

That's our excitement for this week :)  We are finding where the fruitful trees are and we are striving to harvest each ripe fruit :)  I think one of the hardest things as a missionary is that you live for teaching appointments.  So when people just leave and don't cancel with you or change times it just breaks your heart because you've
prepared so much!  So we are working around everyone's schedules every day and learning to be patient :)  But we love the people we are working with and we love seeing them succeed.  It's a great day to be a missionary :)

Yes, all four of us sleep with our beds squished together!

I spy Sister Ereckson!

Our study areas

I love you family! I miss you!!! Have a great week and enjoy Pioneer day :)  I think we get a Stake Barbecue this week...yes!!!!

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

Hermana Short

Monday, July 13, 2015

Servicio sin Sol

Buenas tardes!

Show Low seems to want to be Seattle!  We have gotten so much rain!!!  Last night the roads flooded for a while because it was raining so hard.  Luckily its keeping away the forest fires.  Last year they had a bad one.

Within these last 5 days we did a lot of service and knocked a lot of doors.  Summer time takes everyone out of town and slows down their progress, so we have been getting frustrated :p But the work moves on and school starts in 2 weeks!

Thursday, we had District Meeting and Sister Erekson and I got put in charge of a get to know you game. We made everyone write down 3 things about their companion and give us the list.  Then we chose two missionaries at random.  One was a missionary and had to teach a principle of the gospel using the 3 points about the other missionary "investigator."  Then the group had to try to figure out what the 3 things were.  It was hilarious!!  Sister Christensen is a Senior missionary and she had to teach me using my 3 points.  So Sister Christensen starts telling the story of the Brother of Jared and how they were probably afraid of the fish getting into the barges, and
when they got to land they were probably afraid of mother moose attacking.  I looked at Sister Erekson and she was dying laughing....she thinks she's so funny!  Now all my district knows about my ridiculous fear of moose!

After the meeting we had a service project for a member who was moving out.  We had a mini missionary, Makenna, with us that day and the 3 of us got put on wall cleaning duty.  Well this lady has 4 young kids, and man do they like to dig for gold!  Wall wiping quickly turned in to booger scraping!!!  We were laughing pretty hard and told the member what was happening.  She was disgusted and blamed it on her twin boys.  Well, Sister Erekson and Makenna went into the oldest daughters room to clean her walls, and there we found the culprit!
The twins had nothing on her! Oh the things we will do for members :)

That day we also had a lesson with the Valenzuela family.  She used to be the Relief Society President when the branch was still here, but now she and her husband are both inactive.  I was so bold with them it made me nervous!  President Sweeney said to be though. He pointed out to me (and I should have seen this sooner) that they aren't coming to church because they think they are not succumbing to the Stake's desire for them to integrate into other wards.  Its such a Latino way of life....your way or the highway.   I told them, "I know we are being bold, but we do it because we love you and want what's best for you."  Brother Valenzuela said "You just want us to be happy like you two are happy."   Exactly :)  He invited us over for dinner this week and promised to be at church this upcoming week.  Now we just need to try the same tactic with the other 20 Latino families.  I'm determined to get them back!!!!

We saw another miracle that night as well.  We went to visit Jade and Brooklyn from girls camp, but only their mom, Kendra was there when we got there.  Usually she is very cold towards us and turns us away, but
that day she was friendly and told us we could come over to visit!  Her kids won't be home til next weekend, but she said we could come over and visit with her before they get home.  That was such a miracle.....her support of her girls will be so important in their conversion!

Friday was the High School's service day.  They have a pretty old school and they didn't have funds to hire people to fix it up, so they called in the community.  We spent 2 and a half hours that day painting the cafeteria walls white. It was fun till all the paint fumes started getting to our heads. :)  So many members and non members came.  It was actually pretty neat! The superintendent is a member and was super excited to see us there too. Brother Phil took us to our favorite pizza buffet afterwards and I think I won the award for getting enough food for your money....I was an empty pit that day.  :)

Saturday, we had another mini missionary, Kaitlyn, with us.  Sadly for her it was one of our slowest days in a long time!  We probably knocked on 20 doors of formers, potentials, and referrals, but not one let us in!  We did meet Rick and Ben though.  They were sitting on their front porch and Rick called out hello to us so obviously we went to talk to him :)  He was smoking and drinking, but Ben was a grandpa and not doing any of the above so we felt safe.  Haha.  Rick started telling us about how much he loves Jesus and wanted to sing us a song about him.  He told us about all the homeless people under bridges that he used to sing to, and how he would let them camp out on his living room floor.  Such a nice man :)  Ben kept trying to interrupt him and get him to stop.  It was entertaining for sure!  Ben knows the Bible like the back of his hand and the two of them wanted to test us.
They asked us what we know about Jesus so we bore our testimonies to them on the Savior.   Apparently we passed because they took Restoration pamphlets, promised to read them, and said we could come over again this week. Sister Erekson seemed skeptical, but I think they're awesome :) hahaha

Sunday was our normal 6 hours of church and then after church we went to try to visit the Butler family.   We took Alexis with us after dinner to visit Paul and Amanda who are the most prepared people I've met. Amanda is a returning less-active and Paul is an investigator.  They've been coming to church for about a month now, but between moving and some sicknesses they haven't been able to have us over.  Finally yesterday we set an appointment.  Their tiny trailer was covered in pictures from the gospel art kit, and the whole family was at church Sunday.  Paul and Amanda have a lot of changes to make in their lives, but their goals are so high and so incredible!  Paul told us he wants to be baptized so that he can be a member of the church and work towards getting the Priesthood.  They want to get married right away so they aren't living in sin, and then they want to be sealed within the next five years.  Their son, Aiden, turns 8 in September and they are helping him prepare to be baptized.  We were amazed by the Spirit in their home....we didn't know what to expect from them, but they have all ready progressed a long way on their own.  Now we get to help :)

Its been a wet week, but we love every minute of it :)  Even the days where no one is home....we still find experiences like Rick and Ben to put a smile on our faces :)

I love you family, I think about you every day!  Have a fantabulous week :)

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU

Hermana Short

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer of Showers in Show Low

Buenos Dias!!

Ha sido una semana increĆ­ble aquĆ­ en Show Low este semana :).  Sister Erekson and I have decided to do a full Spanish when we are out of the apartment or doing studies it's all Spanish! We will see how long we last :). We are just incredibly excited to stay together another transfer!!!! Saturday we waited anxiously for our news and finally we texted President because we were so nervous!  He called us within 15 minutes to tell us we are staying together and serving as Sister Training Leaders over the Show Low and Snowflake sisters.  I'm super excited for Sister Erekson because that's a huge compliment to be a leader straight out of training....she will be awesome :). In August, 22 new missionaries are coming in, so I bet she will train after that.  This transfer only 8 new came in and none were Spanish sisters :(.

This has been one of the rainiest weeks of my life!  Yesterday was the first day it didn't rain! It makes the weather here real nice though.  July 4th was especially rainy and very unexciting. In the morning we went to the Show Low city parade as volunteers. From 7-9am we were trying to round up waivers from all of the "floats." It was
mainly pick-up trucks with trailers!   At 9 we watched the parade and waited to be assigned pick-up duty, but at the end the city decided they were just going to leave the streets a mess because they didn't want to deal with it.  We thought it was weird, but we headed home none the less.  Thanks to our Area Books we were inside all stinking day that day.  We have 3 area books filled with paper records of people.  We had to manually enter every single one and all of their information and lesson reports into our iPads.  It took us 2 full days inside and 4-5 extra afternoons.  We were pretty behind because of girls camp :/ Now we are caught up and if we do an hour a day we should be able to get through our monster of a Spanish area book.  Once everything is on the iPads I'm sure we will appreciate it, but for now we still hold bitter feelings :)  One of our Elderly couples in the ward had us over for a barbecue that day which was nice :)  Their grand-kids were there and made us sit at the little kid picnic table with them.  I wish we got a picture! Whoops....

The rain made our investigators depressing this week too :(  We seem to be on a downhill slide!

Kxxxx told us over a text that she has a problem with the emphasis we put on the Book of Mormon.  We told her we probably didn't do a good job of explaining why we have it and we asked for a second chance.  She told us of course and we set up an appointment.  She ended up canceling and rescheduling, then canceling, and didn't respond to our attempt to reschedule. We are super bummed about it because she was supposed to be baptized this week and was progressing so well, but someone got in her way :(  We are going to give her a
small rest and try again.

Txxx tried to drop us this week :(  His friends talked to us at church and warned us that he was feeling overwhelmed with school and work and that this church stuff was just another thing on his list of
to do's.  Sure enough when we got to his lesson after church, he told us it would probably be our last lesson for a while.  We spent the next 45 minutes trying to get to the bottom of his concerns and what we basically figured out is that he is afraid the church will distance him from his family.  He agreed to put his whole heart into applying the teachings we've given him for 2 weeks and then meet again and decide if he still wants to take a pause or continue.  He told us he knows that if he takes a pause that he will pick up the lessons again
in the future, but he feels too stressed out right now.  Poor kid must have seen the sadness in all 7 of our faces. After the lesson he said "Everyone looks so depressed now!!"  If only he knew what we all know he will miss out on.

Emily on the other hand is on fire. She always reads her assigned chapter multiple times, creates a list of questions for us, and is super attentive in the lessons.  She could probably get baptized in August, but she has to wait til she turns 18 in September.  Unfortunately she'll also be gone for 2 weeks at different camps.
Luckily her testimony is all ready pretty strong and she reads and prays daily, so we aren't too concerned.

Lxxxx is 12 and the daughter of a Spanish less-active.  We taught her and a few of her siblings and cousins the restoration last night and she's excited to have the church back in her life.  She was meeting with missionaries over a year ago and was supposed to get baptized, but those missionaries flaked out! Lxxxx told us yesterday, "I was supposed to get baptized on my birthday in February, but I don't know what happened!" She told us she will be out of town this weekend, but the next week she will walk to church with her cousin :)  Hopefully we
can get in with her whole family because her dad isn't a member either.

The Ys' got their patriarchal blessings on Sunday!!! We called them to ask how it went and Sister Y said "Well....we are still trying to understand it."   When we first started talking about getting these blessings they were concerned that it was like fortune-telling, so I'm sure when the Patriarch said things about them that he didn't know previously that it was a bit weird!  We are excited to talk more with them tomorrow.

Sharolena, Jeremy's grandma, is a funny character.  When we go over there she tells Jeremy to get out his "bible" and then Jeremy always has to tell her, "You have to listen too!" We taught her the Plan of Salvation with his help this week and she accepted it well.  She also told us some interesting Apache history....they are a peculiar people.  She has been part of several religions in the past, but she feels comfortable in ours. Jeremy was sick on Sunday, so they didn't come though :p  Hopefully that wasn't a fib, a member was even ready to
pick them up!

Sxxx and Dxxx are two of the less-actives that came to girls camp and for the first time since I've been here, their whole family came to church on Sunday!  We were quite happy to see them at our church and not their grandma's :)

Zxxx is another non-member that attended camp and we met with her and her less-active mom this week.  We taught the Restoration and Zxxx said an awesome prayer to end the lesson.  Her mom bore her testimony
of the prophet Joseph Smith and Zxxx  paid very close attention to everything.  She accepted a soft baptismal committment, but isn't ready to set a date.  She's skittish about the church because of past experiences, so we want to help her gain a strong testimony and not push her past her limits.

We had a few Spanish less-active lessons last week, but once again only the faithful Hermana Gonzalez and her daughter were at church.  A couple ladies visiting from Phoenix attended the Spanish class as well, but none of our members. :(  We can't figure out what we need to do to make it click for them.  They won't create another Spanish branch if no one is coming to church right now! You will be blessed for faithfulness, not rewarded because of laziness.  What we pushed with one family this week is that taking the sacrament is more
important than any English message they can't understand. 

I wish I had more exciting stories to tell from this week, but I can't remember anything else.  Sister Johnston finished her mission and went home on Monday.   Sister Lords is training a new missionary from American Fork, Sister Suter.

Oh we did get a kick out of fireworks this week.  Those pull-poppers have been used in scaring multiple unsuspecting sisters :) One morning I hid in Sister Erekson's closet and shot the confetti popper at her
when she walked in.  If only I had had a camera ready!  Sister Lords got me pretty good when she put poppers under our toilet seat :p

And that's it for this week!  I love you all so much, and I hope you had a brighter 4th of July than we did here!  I'm not jealous of the bear sighting though.....nightmares for days!!! Have a good week, I love you all :)

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU

Hermana Short