Monday, December 20, 2010

Feliz Navidad!




Hola! solomente yo tengo algunos dias mas aqui... estoy triste por eso... pero, yo se que todo va estar bien... estoy contenta con mi mision... yo he estado aqui por casi 18 meses... holy cow!!!

It has been one roller coaster of a week for me, the highest of highest of highs, and, well, not really lows, but just sad to say good bye... I will have been here for 9 months in Fort Myers. It feels like home. We had dinner at the Roman’s house last night, (ward mission leader) and I have gotten so close with them. I literally feel like I am a part of their family. They are all younger than me, and I pick on them, they pick on me. It is fantastic.

I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!! Caroling all over again like last year. I love it. We went as a ward last Sunday to a senior home. It was fantastic. I just feel sorry for every ones ears... :-) I have never been a good singer, but I do hope I have improved since I left. We sing every day multiple times. So we'll see.

I feel so blessed. The week before last we had the baptism of Arnaldo from Honduras. We found him during our morning exercises and this last weekend we had three, Adela from Honduras, she is a little old grandma of a member family in Bonita. Also Mambert from Cuba. He is the genius that we found while putting up English class fliers, and Pedro from the Dominican Republic. We found him at 7/11 while we were stopping to use the bathroom!!! Woo hoo! I love gas stations! ;-) We have one more baptism next week right before I come home and many more planned in the next month. It is going to be hard not being here.

Something about the baptism this last weekend is that Satan knew how important it was! They are very special people that will be stalwarts in the gospel, and through the night he was working on the pipes in the church. The font would normally take an hour and a half to fill, but that changed to a good 3 and a half and it was cold water. Even though the baptisms were 2 hours late it was still an amazing experience.

It is amazing to witness baptisms, especially for those people that you have found, but what brings much greater joy is seeing them grow in the Gospel. Heriberto from St. Pete is preparing to enter the temple soon and an inactive family that I have worked with a lot will be sealed in the next year and are coming to church nearly every week. No hay palabras! William just received the priesthood, Arnaldo and Mambert will receive it soon. That is what makes it hard to leave.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Feliz Navidad!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, December 6, 2010

Less Than Three Weeks Remain

Well, it has been an amazing week! One of trials and Joys, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Trial, well, apparently I am VERY allergic to bees... I haven't been stung since I was maybe 8 years old. Well it took one little bee while we were teaching Cruz (my grandpa from Mexico that will be baptized on Christmas Eve) and next I was in the hospital. Now I get the joy of carrying an epi pen with me everywhere I go. Fun stuff!

Joy! We had 8 investigators at church on Sunday and they all have dates set before I come home! Isn’t that FANTASTIC! People we have been working with for a long time now as they have had to overcome some very hard and rough obstacles in their lives.

Joy! Well, I get to work on a car Thursday of one of our investigators and a recent convert.

I do not know where to even start as we have been so blessed in these last weeks. So many miracles happen with the people we are teaching that it is so hard to include it all. I would like to share a little bit more about Mambert. This man is very, very special to me. I have no doubt that before this life we promised each other that we would find each other. Who knew it would be in a little Spanish Tienda putting up English language class fliers. I can't remember how much I have told you about hum, but I will give a quick summary.

He is a black Cuban man, 59 years old, and just a bundle of joy. When I approached him in the store to "contact" him he said, "Yes, I will go to your church if you can find me a job." A little sarcastic needless to say, but I just felt so impressed that I needed to testify that if he did learn from us he would find more joy in his life than any work could ever bring him. I also felt impressed that we should have a prayer with him. As awkward as it was, we followed that prompting (he was sitting in a stool at the front counter). In the prayer I felt prompted that I could promise him that he would find work. Well, one week later, we had a tour set up for the church, but it ended up falling through, but as we approached the church, outside of the locked gate was standing Mambert and our fellowshipper, so we taught him. With a huge smile he just said, "I am here to give thanks. I didn't just get one job, I got TWO! You are my angels!"

As we were sitting in the chapel and started to teach him the restoration, he got a phone call... he answered it, and he got a third job right there! He started to weep and put his head in his hands. He quickly walked outside (he left to catch his breath). We were so full of love and joy and the spirit. We quickly got on our knees and offered a prayer of thanks. I can't describe the joy I felt, and to know that the promise that I felt inspired to give was fulfilled.

Well, it has been a battle ever since, but we are winning. He has been strongly addicted to cigarettes for 40 years. On the spot we asked him for his cigarettes and he gave them to us as he committed to be baptized. Oh it was so amazing! He has faulted a few times since and has smoked. When that happened he would try to avoid us, but we are stubborn sister missionaries that refuse to let Satan win, so we would chase after him. We have seen an amazing change in him.

The other evening I had the most spiritual experience I have ever had in my life. The spirit was so strong that I felt weak after and couldn't talk, not even to my companions to explain to them what happened. I will not share a lot of it, but I do want to share a few things just to let you know how amazing Mambert is. It was while he began to tell his life story. Mambert is hands down the smartest man I have ever met in my life. In 2 days he read the Book of Mormon. He is sooo brilliant. Since he has read it 4 more times and knows more of the chronological history than I do. He was before a professor of history and philosophy in Cuba, until he was forced to quit teaching because of the influence of Castro. Well, it began with a hard and long journey until he came to America. I cannot share a lot of what he shared, but this is the most special man that I have ever met in my life. I’m sorry, there are not words to express the love I feel for this man... he WILL change the world.

Sorry I do not have much more to write, but I would like to say thank you for the support I received from so many as I have spent this short time in Florida. It really does feel like such a short time. Like a dream or a blink of the eye, but I love you all so much.

Now, all I wonder is if I have really changed since I first put my tag on. I really hope I have started to become the person the Savior would have me be.

‘til we meet,

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, November 29, 2010

One Month To Go

Well we have three amazing sisters here in the Rio Vista ward. Hermana Phelps from the Bay Area in California joined us last Tuesday. Double training is great! We make quite the trio!

One month. Just even writing that puts a pretty large lump in my throat. More and more people are talking about me going home. I am a little nervous to say the least, but I received such a tender mercy from the Lord.

On our way to Tampa to pick up Sister Phelps we drove through St. Petersburg. The entire 2 and a half hour drive I sat and reflected on my mission. As I held in my hands pictures of the people that I have found and walked into the waters of baptism. Oh what great joy was I filled with, but also sadness, because I love the people here with ALL of my heart. I was brought to tears and couldn't utter a word. As I saw the first sign that read "St. Petersburg" I got so excited and screamed it, "ST. PETE!!!" All of a sudden I became like a little girl in a candy shop. As we drove down good ol' highway 19 (i could probably count the number of cracks in the side walk from riding my bike on it so much ;-) ) I was like, "Oh! That’s where the Saldivars are, oh, there is where we found Virginia, oh, that’s where I was hit by a red Mini Cooper on my bike, ooohhh, I don't like that street at all, that’s where the evil water tower lady is, oh, that’s where we found Peggy and she painted the picture of the Sacred grove, that’s where..." over and over again. A flood of just wonderful memories came into my mind. That sorrow that I felt was immediately filled with a joy that is only describable in the words of Ammon.

Alma 26:10-12

“And it came to pass that when Ammon had said these words, his brother Aaron rebuked him, saying: Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting. But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”

I feel so content with my mission. I do not feel regret. It was in that moment that I felt the spirit of the Lord confirm to me that the Lord was pleased with me. As I reflected on so many of the miracles that I witnessed that I know it was only by the Grace of the Lord that they were brought about. By His power. I LOVE MY MISSION! More than anything, I love my Savior and my best friend. All I have wanted on my mission is to "become" a missionary. I still have a lot of work to do... ;-)

A little bit of funnies...

I got food poisoning for the first time on my mission. Fun stuff. Thank you sis Quiones for taking care of me. ;-)

We made gingerbread houses with our investigators and our recent converts last night using Helaman 5:12.

Love you,

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fort Meyers Week 22

We had an amazing week!!! We found an amazing family.

Her name is Socorro. We were completely lead by the spirit to find this family in a miraculous way. There are too many details to write, but miracle after miracle. Anyhoo, she is a 90 year old grandma with her husband Juan. We found them while putting up English class flyers. We just "felt" like we should walk down this road and there we found Socorro sitting outside with 3 of her daughters. She has 8 children that all live in the Palm Beach area with her children and their families. They have a HUGE family!!!

Well, we won her heart over the first time we taught her. It was something very special and personal to me. We started by singing a hymn and sharing a few thoughts about the Savior. Socorro's eyes were locked on me and she started to tear up. We taught Socorro yesterday with one of her grandsons that is studying for some position in the Catholic church. She was so excited that we were there. She said, "Sit, sit!" and she told her grandson (22 years old) to sit and listen to "angels." So he did and we had an amazing first lesson. While we shared the first vision, and as I said the words of Joseph Smith, again Socorro’s eyes were locked on mine. I felt a spiritual connection with her that I can't explain, and her grandson felt it was true. He explained that it was like all his worries in life went away. They both know it is true! They couldn't deny it. Oh boy! I was jumping up and down after this lesson. I am so excited to see them on Tuesday!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fort Meyers Week 21

Talk about an amazing week! General Conference is always a little bittersweet for me. There is so much excitement leading up to it, then it passes, and then it is like, "Oh man, we have to wait another 6 months." But it was GREAT!!!!!! Every Conference I try to come up with 3-4 questions that I have pondered about but seem to have trouble finding the answer too. Well, it never fails that I ALWAYS get my answer as I listen to the Prophets, Seers and Revelators that lead this marvelous work.

Something that has been in the forefront in my mind in the last week is the responsibility of stewardship and the "mantle" that we carry with us in our selective proselyting area. We as missionaries have the ability to receive revelation to find those that are prepared to receive the gospel in our selective area. It is very overwhelming! I have stood in front of the map in our apartment many times and felt a heavy burden come over my shoulders as I look at all of the million and one areas we could search. It is a great realization to me that we cannot have success in this work, we cannot find the elect, unless we humble ourselves in mighty prayer and seek the Lord’s inspiration. And more than anything, we must have the confidence in the calling that we have that we are able to receive this revelation.

During conference I reflected a lot in the last year that I have been in Florida. Conference a year ago was my first weekend in the field. WOW!!! That is scary. I reflected on my time spent serving in St. Petersburg, and to be honest, I have been homesick, but not homesick for Seattle Washington, but homesick for my family in St. Pete.

I can think of so many times where I have literally felt like an instrument in the hands of the Lord in finding someone that is prepared. As I reflected on these moments, tears streamed down my face as I sat in the chapel listening to conference. I felt the dews of heaven pour out abundantly over me and I was filled with a joy that there are no words to describe. I thought, "Why am I so blessed? Why am I blessed to have this opportunity? How could I ever repay the Lord for the countless blessings he has given me?" Well, I never will be able to repay Him. We never will be able to. I feel my time is running short, but I feel like there is so much more to do. The two things that have brought me comfort as I have thought about going home is, the "mantle" and stewardship that we hold. It was a humbling realization that anyone can do this work, and that every missionary that will come after will do just the same thing. They will feel over whelmed and tired, but as they seek the Lord’s inspiration and will this work will not stop. That is what comforts my heart. I feel so happy right now. I never want to leave the "mission field" and I never will. It is so great!

The only thing that made this weekend better is that the AGGEIS beat YBU I mean BYU! ;-). Oh that is soooo amazing!!! I will definitely be living that one up here! Most of the office staff are Aggies so we make sure we let those "baby blue" Provo people know who is on top! This will be braggin’ rights for the next year! Woo hoo!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 19

I guess I must have learned some Spanish since I’ve been here, I translated for stake conference and it was sweet! I was pretty proud! :-)

Sister Lai and I went to early morning seminary this morning! It was great! I loved it! It made me a little sad to think that I missed the opportunity to attend during high school, but I really hope I get the opportunity to serve as a teacher. That would be SWEET!!!

The work is going so wonderfully well. I honestly don't feel like I deserve it. We are teaching amazing prepared people that are at the edge of their seat to accept the gospel, but we are also teaching some people that have huge obstacles in front of them that they have to overcome. Oh but what joy it is to see them change and start partaking of that fruit that is, oh so divine.

I have been really impressed lately with Lehi's dream. It’s interesting that in the very instance that he partook of the fruit, this joy the gospel brought him, his first desire was to share it with the people that he loves. This has been a truth woven through the time I have been serving the Lord. The times where I have felt the atoning influence in my life, are the times where I testified with more vigor, when I would want to run from door to door and pretty much scream from the roof tops the message we bring. It’s the most important message in the entire world. However, a truth that I have also learned, from hard experiences, is that our purpose is to bring the word "unto" the hearts of the people, but it is up to them to allow the word "into" their hearts. This is a gospel truth for the rest of our lives.

As I have seen those that I have helped come to the waters of baptism, and I look at where they are now, I wonder, "What was the difference?" "Why did some stay strong and others not?" "Did they really come unto Christ?" Then I asked myself, how do we come unto Christ? For me, four and a half years ago, I didn't know who Jesus Christ was and as I reflect on how I came to know my Savior, it really isn't all that much different than how I come to know any one of you that are reading this. It is by passing time with a person, by talking to them, by sharing experiences, tears, heartache and joy.

We need to spend time with our Savior one on one. Surely, we can study the scriptures, and learn everything "about" His life and ministry, but I could read all about anyone and their history, but I really won’t get to know them. If we rely too much on our teachers or other people for our spiritual edification, then we will never "come unto our Savior" and really partake of this joy that we could have to REALLY know that He is there.

I know without a single doubt, no less than if the Savior was standing beside me that He lives. That He is my brother and best friend. There is nothing in the world that has more value to me than my journey of coming to know my Savior. I want EVERYONE to feel the peace and security in this. I wish I was the missionary I am now in the beginning of my mission. I might have done things a little differently, but now, my entire focus will be on helping them feel that atoning power and truly come unto Christ and have a personal relationship with him so that they can know with a surety that they can turn to Him even when they feel alone. That is how they will stay strong and that is how we can help them.

I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY WITH ALL MY HEART!!!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz