Hey mom and family,
How are you all doing? Sounds like the fireside went well mom and I'm sure it's just crazy busy. Jael I know you’re a smart chick and despite what you might think you're are going to look back at nursing school and just smile at all the experiences you are having now.
Thanks mom for your questions it is really going to help me direct this letter as I just forget what I've written about in the past and I don't want to bore you all. hahaha. Okay so schedule is pretty regular mom. wake up at 6:30, exercise, get ready, study for 3 hours, go out proselyte come back for an hour and eat lunch go to appointments, go to a members for dinner, and teach more appointments. return to the house at 9 plan get ready for bed, journal, pray, sleep 10:30. Hahaha No but seriously that's what I do. But for exercise Sister Harry is a big runner which is good for me. It's been hard to run everyday lately because it's getting colder and it finally snowed here in New York. I can't believe we are in almost February and it just barely came to the first snow storm. It was beautiful and I kept Sister Harry entertained while I played in the snow and made snow angels along the way as we were finding and contacting people. It made it a little more fun and people were curious about we two happy young girls. Over my mission I've changed between running, the mission workout guide, p90x, yoga, taichi, stretching, plyo, etc. I didn't think I could survive w/o a gym but I’ve learned how to manage just fine. Doesn't mean I'm not excited to go back to the Sports Mall. I love study time! It is just the nourishment for the day. I love personal study. Studying as a missionary has really taught me a lot on how to study. mmm... imagine that. You think I would have learned that in college or something but no I feel like my study habits have improved a lot. Companionship study is so awesome I love it. Sister Harry and I have brains that function in completely opposite ways so it is cool to see how our brains come up with different solutions that both work well and it helps us make a good team and find new insights. She is a living scripture master and knows her scriptures so well. Yes I'm still using the CD's you sent me for Christmas. I finally sent that package home that I told you I was going to send like a month ago, today. It has that recording as promised in one of the CD cases. Hope you can tell what I'm playing.
Right now we are doing a lot of finding. We are however teaching a part member family right now from Ecuador. They have an 18 year old daughter who is a member and her parents are progressing right now. They have been investigating for quite some time but the members have really been helping recently. Pray that Hermana M opens her heart and not only has the desire to be baptized but that she will act on her own desires despite the actions of her husband.
We are also teaching a young man from Paraguay. He is a living example of faith and conviction. He is the only one from his family in the states. I haven’t met too many people from Paraguay in these parts so it makes it hard as far as fellowshipping purposes. He has made significant changes in his life and I really admire all his righteous desires. Hermana Harry and sister Fifeild talked to him on the side of the street one day and it was just like a scene from a movie as sister Fifeild contacted him and told him she had a book for him that would change his life. He, in an enthusiastic sort of way, said great! And she pulled out a beautifully wrapped Book of Mormon out of her bag which they had wrapped for Christmas. Thanks! I'm going to read this! And ran for a taxi cab and jumped in just like in the movies. Sister Fifeild and Hermana Harry had the opportunity once to teach him before I came and now we've been teaching him for the last few weeks. He is amazing. He is through Jacob now and his testimony is just exploding. Since really starting to read the book of Mormon he has quit drinking coffee, alcohol, quit smoking, and broke up with his not so chaste girlfriend. He really has a desire to follow God and always is prepared for his appointments. First week into the transfer Sister Harry and I sat down in his living room with the member we had brought. He runs into the kitchen and back with a small white box in his hand and throws it at Sister Harry and says, here I'm done with these. We look down to see that he has given us his cigarettes. He says, “I'm quitting.” We hadn't even taught him the Word of Wisdom yet.... uh... legit! We had mentioned that he would have to give it up eventually but it was the perfect way to start off the lesson that we were about to teach on Word of Wisdom. lol. The legit concern he has expressed to us now and that we are fervently praying about is this: He feels good with his new life. He knows that it is the way that God wants him to live. He also knows that the Book of Mormon is true and has a testimony of the church. He has made so many drastic changes in his life in the last month. That it has also isolated him from his entertainment and network of friends. He can't socialize with those people he used to spend time with because he doesn’t live their lifestyle anymore. He likes the church and the people but doesn't feel quite like he fits in yet. He knows he needs to keep going but knows that he shouldn't have to always feel alone and sad in order to do what is right. I think it is a very legit concern and so we talked about how the gospel is a way for us to find happiness. After every trial in life comes a large abundance of blessings. Faith is the ability to look past the darkness and continue on to the light in the future. It's hard to make life changes by ourselves, practically impossible but that is the reason we have a savior that lifts us up and puts us back on our feet. Through his love and grace can we be made whole and not only make those changes but feel the love and feel cleansed from sin and guilt. Ariel has a good heart and I believe in him a lot. He has been one of those many people in my life who has showed me just how much the atonement affects each and every one of our lives. The atonement is real and cleans us from the inside out. I love it. I'll keep you posted on him and let you know how he progresses. With God all things are possible. Pray that God will answer his prayers and that he will have the faith and desire to follow through on the goals he has set for himself.
We were teaching this wonderful cute family of 3. Noemi is the mom and she came to church my first week. She is really awesome but she got verbally attacked by one of the less active crazy members in the gospel principles class when she asked a weird question. She studied with the Jehovah Witness before her mission and so it has been a little difficult to straighten out some of her doctrines. She got pretty hurt and won’t let us come back which has been a pity. She was sweet! Members have such an important influence! For good and for bad! Remember even though we as members may not be the church; we still have a huge impact on how the church is viewed. The majority of people don't know how to separate the 2.
We are also teaching this man named Charbyl. He is the one that calls me Hermana Hermana. He is the husband of one of the members in the ward. She is from Argentina and he is from Costa Rica. He talks a lot but we definitely always have a good story to tell afterwards. I like him and he seems to be progressing. He came to church last week and is reading in the book which is saying more than most.
Dad, yesterday we went over and visited this family. They are from Chile. They fed us hot dogs but they put stuff and expect you to put stuff on your hot dogs I’ve never even heard of before. It was actually pretty good though. I've never seen someone put so much mayonnaise on one dog in my whole life. But I do like avocado with hot dogs I decided. Pretty good. They don't eat the regular type of hot dogs either I guess it's more similar to a sausage. Their daughter is not a member and she is going to be a toughie to crack her shell but her mom finally converted after 4 years of back and forth. Her dad is a solid rock in the church and has his own conversion story that would just blow your socks. I think that is one of my favorite parts of serving my mission is hearing the conversion story of members.
Did I tell you about Hrna Paiz from Brentwood? Her conversion story was one that is like from a movie. She had been inactive from the Catholic Church and had attended several evangelical and Christian churches in the mean time. One morning she woke up and she felt strongly that she needed to return to church and so she started praying to God to help her find the one that he would have her go to. She hadn't ever been to church in the states since she had left Guatemala. She lived with her marido and kids at this time. A couple of weeks later she was at the laundry mat and she saw the Elders. They looked at her and walked straight towards her. She said it was kind of weird because out of all the many people she felt like they had just chosen her specifically. They introduced themselves as the Elders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As soon as she knew who they were, (get this) she says, I've been waiting for you Elders. I prayed to God that he would send you to me. What is this message you have to teach me? Can you imagine contacting someone while doing your laundry and having them basically tell you they know the Lord sent you to them and they want to listen /follow the message that you share? Ya legit and I am going to find an investigator like Hermana Paiz. As you can imagine she was baptized a few weeks later. Baptism included changes in her life like getting married to her partner and living the word of wisdom. Converts have amazing stories that just strengthen me so much.
The Elders are really awesome in this district. We work together as a team pretty well. We had a street sweep by the train station the other day when it snowed. We made hot chocolate, set out DVDs, movies, pamphlets, and cards for people passing in the steet. We have them sign up with their information and then we make a visit to their home and give them a lesson along with their free DVD. It's one method of finding new investigators. Our bishop is also really awesome and really supports us missionaries in our efforts. We had a huge meeting yesterday with all the different branches of leadership for the ward and he told them we got to organize our efforts for the mission work and we came up with a sweet plan which will have a chain effect and really help the whole ward grow as a whole and be strengthened. Good things are going down. And yes I am still the pianist. I can't tell you how handy it has come to have those piano skills.
Mom, I am so tickled that we are planning a trip back here to NY. I want you to come with me for sure. It would be tight to have Jac and her mom come along. We could go down and visit Virginia as well. That would be sweet! Jac did you know Tatiana and Cisco went to Colombia for a vacation? Well at least Tatiana did. She should be coming back soon though. Um, and yes whoever else wants to come is welcome. I'll just tell you now... the more people we bring the harder it will be to find room for all of us. Houses in New York for the most part are compact and inconvenient for large groups of people but I'm down for whatever . I would love to take a trip up to Palmyra and upstate New York to do some church history. If you wanted to mom we could even go to Maine for a couple of days to see Abby and Curtis.? That's an idea. April sounds great to come back and visit. That will be springtime and not super cold. I just want to go before my birthday in May so I can be easy either way. I love you so much mom and fam! You are the best! Mom , also if you could kind of keep your eyes open for any job prospects. I'm probably going to have to get one of those when I get home. Weird... normal life. I don't even know what that means anymore. Okay mom you know I love you to infinity and beyond! Can't beat that! You all rock. Peace love and blessings upon your heads. Have a wonderful week.