Monday, December 28, 2009

St. Petersburg Week 12

Well, we thought it was going to be a "normal" Sunday yesterday, but boy were we mistaken. During PEC the bishop told us that President Emery (Stake president) and his counselors want all of the Spanish-speaking members to stay after sacrament for a meeting. Needless to say, immediately Hermana Murray and I had huge smiles! The Bishop didn't know what it was about, but we knew! We have been praying so hard for the Spanish group to be a branch. To be able to grow in the gospel in there own language, so many of our group members are impeded by language that they can't have callings. So we anxiously waited for the arrival of the stake presidency. They needed translation but the first scripture that President Emery shared with us was Doctrine & Covenants 90:15. He asked Sister Murray to stand and read it to all the members. As she read this, I just felt an overwhelming feeling and love for the group of Spanish members. I felt the spirit overcome me with a great amount of fuego (fire) to get to work. I want these members to have this promise, but I know that the success of this is only going to be because of our diligence in gathering the lost sheep.

We are going to combine with the Spanish members that are attending in Clearwater. They are all very excited and we work with them a lot as well. This has been a long time in the works, but we’ve finally got the number of priesthood holders necessary to make it work. Oh my! I am so excited! I was shouting “Hurrah for Israel” ALLL day yesterday!

One sad thing about this change is that Sister Murray and I will be changing buildings. We will be at the stake center, which is actually closer to our house in Seminole. I didn't realize how much I have come to love ALL of the members in the St. Pete ward until we were told that we would be moving. My emotions went from pure excitement, to a little sadness for leaving, then to excitement, then an overwhelming feeling of, WE HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO! There are roughly 1 million people in Pinellas county and 50,000 Spanish-speaking people in all of the stake... and then us! Oh my! THAT’S A LOT OF WORK. Essentially we will be opening a new area! We’ve been here serving in the stake now, but the areas that we focus on will be a little different.

As I sat there on the pew and listened to the comments from all of the members, my mind was flooded with all the people that we have talked to or brought to church that didn't like it because of how much English was involved in the services. Good thing we have kept good tracting records because we are GETTING THEM TO CHURCH AGAIN! :-) The spirit bore strong witness to us that this is the will of the Lord. It will be hard for some of the members (especially those that are bi-lingual) to decide where to attend, but President Emery assured them that they would receive a witness through prayer what they should do. January 17th is the first day.

OH, I don't even know where to begin! SOOOOO many amazing experiences this week! I’m sad that the Christmas time has come and gone away! I loved saying "Merry Christmas!!!" when we talked to people. “Happy New Year” just doesn't have the same meaning :-) Christmas was amazing! A LOT of food! The Spanish people celebrate "noche bueno" on the 24th more than the 25th. So we were doubled on dinner appointments that night. Of course we had investigators there :-) but oh my goodness we ate A LOT of food!!! Tamales! Yakas! From all of over the world! We gathered in celebration of the birth of the Lord with from people from Columbia, Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico and Puerto Rico! We tried all of their traditional foods por la navidad! It was so neat to ask them, “So what do you do in your country to celebrate Christmas?” I’m definitely going to try to incorporate them in my future Christmas celebrations.

Christmas day we were with our family…our ward family. We started off waking up early to open presents, studied in our pajamas and enjoyed a cup of “Santa soup” (hot cocoa) while studying. :-) Then we were off to have an amazing breakfast with the Calhoons. It was just so good to sit around with their family and play with their children.

Later, we went to the Hesse’s and we had an authentic Italian dinner. It is their family tradition. I love the Hesse family. Brother Hesse is half German, so we always share our common heritage. Our favorite cakes are German chocolate. At the ward Christmas party he cut me off a piece and brought it to my table to make sure I got a piece. AND…he is having a German New Years, so I’m excited! Sour kraut and sausage! He is so funny. At church he’s like; “We're having German New Year’s for you!” I’m his little blonde German granddaughter it seems like. :-) It’s amazing.

The best part of Christmas was sitting at the table with Sister and Brother Hesse and talking about the temple and the blessings of temple worship. They are temple workers. Oh, they described the celestial room of the Orlando temple and I can't wait to go!!!! Ahhhhh! But to be sitting around a table with such good saints talking about the House of the Lord was very special to me. How important it is to have the temple in the center of our home. The temple is the reason we do everything in the church. There is nothing that can bring us closer to the Lord than to make sacred covenants with Him and live them. Baptism is only the gate. I miss the temple so much. It is the one place in the world where I can go and have the burdens of life taken off my shoulders. It is where I can ALWAYS feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. We should go as often as we can. If there is any goal that anyone should have for the next year, it should be to go to the temple. Get yourself worthy and go! Heavenly father has so many blessings that he would pour on us as the “dews from heaven” from temple attendance, but it is us that keep Him from blessing us. GO GO GO GO!!!

Can you believe I only have a year left? Yikes! It is coming tooo soon and it’s going by faster and faster. It feels like it was just November first, now December is gone.

Thank you everyone for your support! All of the Christmas gifts, cards and letters. It really does mean the world to me. There is nowhere else I would rather be!

Have an amazing week! We have A LOT of work ahead of us!


Hermana Vaughan Schultz

Monday, December 21, 2009

St. Petersburg - Week 11

Oh boy oh boy, did we have the most crazy Sunday ever yesterday. From the time we woke up to the time we fell into our bed from exhaustion, it was the best day ever. You know how I said last week that we were going to do whatever it took to get Mercy to church, well, we got her to church but it took a LOT of effort. :-) But it was sooooo worth it! We woke up early, thinking that we might have to drive up to Clearwater to help her get the lady that she takes care of in the car. So we were up, and ready for the phone call. We called her, and it turns out that Satan had worked on her car over night and it didn't want it to work, so we frantically called members that would be able to drive them. What makes it harder, is that she is outside our ward boundaries, but she has to attend our ward because she only speaks Spanish To find a member, Sunday morning that is willing to drive clear up to Clearwater and be able to have room for a 94 year old woman in a wheel chair. I was about to pull my hair out, but we quietly knelt in prayer amongst the turmoil. After the prayer we knew that a way would be prepared for her to attend church, and it was! A member so willingly picked them both up. She didn't have room for the wheel chair so we had that in our car, but oh my was it so special to look behind in the rear view mirror and see them on the way to church. We could also tell that there wasn't ANY conversation in the car since the member only spoke English. Sis Murray had some good laughs on the way to church, but we were all richly blessed.

Joel is amazing. He is a friend of the Bible genius, Raul that I told you about. We actually tracted into Joel. when walking next to him as he was carrying his laundry. I asked him if he would have time to hear a message about Jesus Christ. He said, "Orita? Yo dijo, por que no?” So we sat right outside the door of his mobile home and started with a prayer. There was something different and amazing about this lesson. Not that we don't have the spirit in our lessons, but in this lesson it was particularly strong. We taught the entire lesson and I was still feeling the spirit really strong and I thought in my head, "We need to act on this." I have never done this before but I knew we needed to. Hermana Murray shared Moroni's promise and then I bluntly asked him, “Do you have these three things (spoken of in Moroni's promise)?” He very humbly said, “I hope so.” Then I said, “Let's pray right now. Will you pray (orita), to know if the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the fulness of the gospel." His hands started to shake because he was nervous, but he humbly knelt and bowed his head in prayer, and the spirit touched me in a way that I have never felt. I knew that he knew that it was true. We are teaching him again tonight, and we are really excited. We plan on giving a date for baptism and it is just so amazing to see how people are prepared. It is so amazing. God loves us soo much.

Lately we have been working with a less-active family in our ward. I can't remember how much I have told you about them, but they have been inactive for quite awhile now. Sister Murray and I have been visiting with them since I got here. She is from Venezuela, and her husband is American. They used to be so active, ward clerk, Sunday school teachers, the seemingly "perfect" couple. But after some personal events, they stopped attending. I have loved going over to their home and seeing the difference since our first visits. Sister C. has been a lot happier. Her husband even has pointed out to us that she laughs a lot more. She and I have inside jokes and I usually leave with a stomach ache from laughing so much with her. The last two visits with them we invited the Elders with us and really started to get Brother C. involved in the missionary work. He always says, "I know what I'm doing wrong, but I just keep doing it. I get ready for church in the morning, but I just sit around the house and don't go." So we have him giving our investigators rides. He doesn't speak that much Spanish, but he loves it. He needed to feel needed! This last Saturday we went over there with the elders for an authentic Venezuelan dinner. The dinner was great, but what was even better was the miracle that happened before we even got there. They have been having marital problems. It's personal and I don't need to go into details, but this is what Sis C. said at the dinner table, "I had so much fun with Tom today. We cooked together and just spent time together, and we laughed." Just that time together was so important. They were uniting in the service of the Lord and they were really excited to have us over.

Yesterday, after our hectic ordeal of getting Mercy to church, we arrived at church with about a minute to spare and still had to set up ALL of the translation equipment. STRESS!!!!! As I had my hands full of equipment and walking down the aisle, I felt a hand reach out and grab my arm, and I looked over and it was Brother and Sister C. !!! I let out a little scream and jumped almost dropping all the translation equipment. A lot of the people in the congregation laughed but I didn't even care. I was sooo happy! I put my arms around Sis. C. and gave her a big hug and shook Bro. C.'s hand. Oh it felt soooo good to look back at them in the congregation. I learned many important things from this. Lifelong principles. Members of the church need to know why they need the Savior in their lives. Bro. C. recognized it when he felt the spirit again. Also, they need to feel needed. Bro and Sis C. have united in the service of the Lord, forgotten about their previous problems and they are happier than I have ever seen them.

SERVE SERVE SERVE the Lord in whatever capacity you can. Losing yourself in serving others does "fix" the things that seem daunting in our lives. I know these things to be true. Through my service to Lord and those around me.

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, December 14, 2009

St. Petersburg Week 11


Wednesday we had our mission Christmas conference. It was so amazing! I remember just after I was baptized I went to a transfer meeting for the Everett mission and remembered how it felt to be in a room full of missionaries singing hymns. It is all the more powerful when YOU are the missionary! We had about 100 missionaries there. I had a part in the program and got to share the nativity. I also got to share my testimony. THIS IS ONLY MY FOURTH CHRISTMAS! Isn't that exciting?! I say that because this is only my fourth Christmas since I have come to know who my Savior is and why we really celebrate Christmas. There is something special about this time of year and sharing the love of the Savior with the people here in St. Pete. Everyone has this glow about them. "The Christmas spirit." They are happier and more willing to listen. Just last night, we had a couple appointments cancel, so we had and hour and a half before we had to head home. It was dark, but the streets were lit up with Christmas lights. we had planned on tracting a lighted apartment complex, because it is late and kind of a not so nice part of town, but we said a prayer and felt like we needed to tract a particular street. We knocked on one door, and as we waited for a response, we both looked at each other and said, "we need to carol." Any one that knows me, knows that I can't sing worth beans, but I had so much fun! I can't wait until Tuesday when we do it again. People were so surprised when they opened the door, then they smile and invite there children to stand at the door. One house last night was amazing. They were a family from the Philippines. They were actually singing Christmas songs when we knocked on the door. Dad was playing the guitar with mom and three daughters singing. They invited us in to join them. It was amazing. We sat on the couch and sang with them. They came here 10 years ago, and it was 6 yrs ago when they "found" Jesus Christ. In their homeland it was forbidden to be a Christian.

Just little miracles every day!

PEGGY! Oh my! I'm soooooo excited. I could not even write the words to express my feelings and experiences with her, but I'll try my best! Yesterday, we went with Sis. Bangeter to pick up the painting. Peggy greeted us with a huge smile! She and Sis. Bangeter talked a lot about paintings and all that stuff. :-) Then she invited us to sit down. Sis. bangeter said, "these girls sure have told me a lot about the painting." So Peggy stood up and went and grabbed it from the dinner table. When I saw it I had that same feeling like I was in the sacred grove and I started to tear up. So did Sis. Bangeter. She felt it as well. Peggy said, "I don't know how you got in my door, but I know that you were supposed to. I know that this is a special place I painted. I believe in miracles and I know you are supposed to be here." My heart was just burning inside. I started to express to Peggy why this painting is so special. I tried to reference everything that she said from before... "The light is like God shining down...." I said, “That that statement is true. God did appear in that very grove of trees.” I referenced how she had been confused about religion, and said that a young boy, was once confused like you and wanted to know the truth. He had the faith that God would answer his prayer, so he walked out of the back of his house, in these woods, and knelt in prayer and an amazing thing happened. God and Jesus Christ appeared to him and his question was answered. I told her that I have been to the sacred grove, and have felt how special that place is. I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father was there. Sis. Bangeter also testified and shared her feelings of being there as well. I told Peggy that the last time that we were at her home, when I saw the painting, I felt like I had walked into the sacred grove. I thanked her for that. Peggy started to tear up. The whole time while we were talking, the painting was sitting on a chair across the room, and I just kept looking at it. It is the most beautiful thing I have seen. Strong testimony was borne, and the spirit permeated the room. It was a miracle that Peggy let us in her home that day but I know we needed to be there. I feel so blessed to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. It is what I strive to do everyday, but I'm afraid I fall short a lot, so I am humbled when miracles like this happen. Ahhh, its so exciting! we left the Restoration movie with her, and next week we will teach all of the first lesson, she wants to learn. It is amazing!

Isn't it amazing to have two witnesses of the birth of Christ? Oh how special and beautiful Luke is, but also the testimony of Samuel the Lamanite as he so fiercely testified with outstretched arms on top of the wall of the city. I just recently finished an intense study of the Book of Mormon, and in the spirit of Christmas I moved to prophecies of the coming of Christ. It has strengthened my testimony sooo much, and I have realized how much I don't know. :-) Oh how I long to have been able to go to seminary when I was younger. Those years are precious. I'm having to do a lot of catch up :-) I feel close to the Savior as I have read through Luke. I try to imagine myself there, witnessing the miracles that he performed. I often wonder if I have the kind of faith that the women did who touched the hem of the Savior's robe and was healed. I love how Christ taught those that needed to hear it. Even a Pharisee asked him, (paraphrasing) why do you talk to "these" people... people being those that are troubled or sinning. (I feel bad i'm not doing this justice, but I don't have my scriptures with me). Christ responded and it applies so much to the work we are trying to do. He teaches the people that need Him, and need to know about Him. Oh so amazing! It gives me strength when I think of some of the people we talk to and an added fire to find those that Christ wants to help and that need His help.

I feel so grateful for the Atonement. I feel like the person that was indebted 500 rather 150 (Luke 7) and was forgiven of my debt. I feel a desire to testify more strongly because I feel such a strong desire to have others feel what I have felt.

Speaking of not feeling like I know anything in the Bible, we are teaching this man, Raul that we found. I have never met someone, at least Spanish, that is so literate in the Bible! The first time we taught him we sat in the middle of s shuffle board court in a trailer park. We started with a prayer and I started testifying about God (the usual first lesson start) then I asked him, "Who is Jesus Christ to you?" He asked for my Bible and immediately went to Genesis and said, “That God and Jesus Christ are two personages.” I was floored and shocked! “Golden investigator” rang in my ears and got me sooo excited! We have had two lessons with him, the last lesson was an hour, just on the spirit world. We dove into the scriptures and he likes to teach us too. I'm floored by it. The hard thing is that his Bible is a "New Era" edition, so we spend a lot of time explaining the differences and what the doctrine is and some things get lost in translation. It so amazing! I have a lot of homework to do, but I'm up to the challenge! :-)

We've had a struggle getting people to church, Especially Mercy because of the care for her patient. So next Sunday we're going to be at her door at 7 in the morning and WE ARE DOWN RIGHT DETERMINED TO GET HER TO CHURCH! Should be pretty exciting!

Well, have an amazing week! I know I will!!!

Oh, we find out transfers on Saturday,. I have a feeling that we will stay together for another transfer, but we'll see. Here's hoping! :-)

LOVE YOU! I'm going to try my hardest to get Christmas cards out today, but there are so many that some people might get them late, but hey, its the thought that counts, right?!

te querro!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz
also known as "baum-hul" that is how they pronounce it. :-)

Monday, December 7, 2009

St. Petersburg Week 10

Hola familia!!!

Wasn't the Christmas devotional amazing?! Definitely what we missionaries needed to hear! The opening prayer was one of the best I have ever heard at a conference. We watched it (in English) at the stake building in Seminole and hurried home so we weren't late.

We've had yet another amazing week. We have quite a few (brothers and sisters) on date right now, but it has been so hard to get them to church. Many of them don't have cars, and struggle with finances so much that they have to work on Sunday. They don't have a choice,. It's that or not having any food. So we try to help them the best we can. We've made food and taken it to a lot of them using our food storage and the food that we get from members. It's hard to see, and I wish we could do more to help them.

I want to tell you about Carlos and Helen. They are absolutely amazing. They are the kind of family you dream about finding on your mission. Helen is the sister of recent convert, Karen. Helen has been visiting her sister for the last couple months. We've been teaching her, and she wanted to get baptized but the only thing that was holding her back is that she wanted her husband to be taught too. We tried really hard to get missionaries to contact him in Peru. Lo and behold, who would have thought that the missionaries who would contact him would be the son of Hermano and Hermana Ross (members of our ward in St. Pete). Heavenly father has really provided a way for their family to hear the gospel. Well, Carlos has been here for a couple weeks now awaiting the birth of their new baby Angelina, but he is leaving today. That is the sad part. We taught him all that we could with the time that we have had with him. He knows it is true and wants to be baptized. He just has to leave to go back to work. He is a manager for a bank in Peru, so they are fairly decent shape financially. Every time we would stop by there home, he would grab two stools right away, and put them in front of the couch. He would be so eager to sit with his wife and listen to our lesson. The spirit was always very strong in every lesson that we taught them.

Carlos and I really connected. its interesting how that happens. He was very interested in my conversion story and how I came to know of the gospel. Every time we saw him he would have more questions for me until I finally wrote it all out for him. As we parted ways last night it was very sad. When Helen returns to Peru with her new baby in a month and a half they are going to be baptized there. They already have plans for a temple sealing. They live right down the street from the temple in Peru and have always had a "draw" to the House of the Lord. Helen and Carlos want us to be there at the sealing and we plan on keeping communication. He has turned into a father figure for us in a way. I am sooooo excited to go to Peru for their sealing when I get back! Hermana Murray and I are already planning on it!

We had our Cuban feast with Mercy and it was amazing! It was such a special evening. We arrived at her home and she had the table all set up formal, with a bunch of fruit in the middle. She asked us to sit, and said, "In Cuba, we always start a meal with fresh fruit." So she fed us fresh papaya and for the main dish we had Cuban style sweet papas, arroz negro, and a type of shredded beef that I can't even remember the name of and of course Pan de Cubano. the color of the sauce was like a fire engine red. The best part of the whole night was just sitting and listening to her talk about what life was like in Cuba for her. She had a hard life growing up, but it is interesting to see how Heavenly Father has always taken care of her and provided a way. She gave us Christmas gifts too. It is a tradition that if you invite someone over for a "formal cuban dinner" you give them a gift. So she gave us a box of chocolate. Then what was really amazing, she excitedly ran to the other room and said, with a lot of laughter, "close your eyes." Then when we opened our eyes there on the table in front of us was this adorable Santa Claus on a tricycle with a lollypop. We then had a lot of fun playing with him on the table.

I thought that I ate a lot of food at home for Thanksgiving. I have never eaten so much food in my life in one sitting then I did that night and it wasn't because I was putting any food on my plate. Mercy kept putting more and more! :-) I could have eaten four meals with what I ate. I really didn't want to offend her, so I just kept eating. Hermana Murray and I had A LOT of good laughs on our way home talking about how much our stomachs hurt and how that was the worst way to start a fast. We have some great video of it.

This is one of the reasons why I love Florida so much and the opportunity that I have to serve here. If I went anywhere else I would not be able to be engulfed in so many different cultures. We've met people from all over the world. it is amazing!

OK, this experience is very tender to me. I've shared a little bit about the situation with Li. In the last couple of weeks she has really opened up about how she is feeling. Through the experience I am about to share, it amazes me how the power that the Holy Ghost can comfort us and give us strength. We went over to Li's home. When we got there, we could tell that she was just absolutely stressed out and weathered, so we told her, we only want to make you feel better right now. So just forget about your worries, just even for 20 minutes. So we watched the Restoration DVD. I swear Satan's little helpers were poking her daughter because she was so restless, but the spirit was still there. After the movie, we asked her about the last time that we were there. Specifically, how we knelt in prayer with her, and she asked with all the sincerity of her heart if the gospel was true. We asked her how she felt about this experience. This was her response. "I felt a power. I felt confidence. I felt like everything was going to be OK." I asked her how her husband would feel if she was to be baptized and she said "Oh, he would be furious. I would be scared of him." I was so sad. she then said "I really want to be baptized, I want my daughter to be baptized, but I don't want the reason for us to separate to be because of region."

What I want to pay attention to, is that night when her husband came home. She was different. She was strong and courageous. Her situation didn't change, but she has the Holy Ghost with her. The Holy Ghost will be the greatest thing that she can have in her life right now. Having the Holy Ghost doesn't change the ability she has to pay her bills or stop her husband from his bad acts, but it does change how comforted she feels. The Holy Ghost can have the same affect in our lives. I know it has in mine, more so now than in any other time of my life. I remember the first time I recognized the Holy Ghost. I will never forget it.

I love you all! Have a good week! Sorry I can't write more!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bi-Lingual Thanksgiving -- St. Petersburg Week 9

I was worried that Thanksgiving was going to be hard being away from family, I thought about family a lot, but this has to be the best Thanksgiving I think I have ever had. While at an appointment last week with Mercy, (Cuban lady that immigrated here 6 yrs ago, 60 yrs old, baptismal date Dec. 19th. AMAZING) we invited her to Thanksgiving with us at Sis. Fleck's house. She takes care of an elderly women in her home. She got sooo excited! So Thanksgiving we woke up extra early to make sure we got time for our studies and to roll out dough for my favorite rolls at Sis. Fleck's house. We got there and had a wonderful time. Flour fight included! What was so special about this day was that we all felt like family. The Elders came over too.

We got a call from Mercy and she was lost in Sis. Fleck's housing development, unable to find her home. It is REALLY hard trying to give directions in Spanish! It's hard enough in English, but she made it finally and she was so excited to come that she brought the lady that she cares for. She had been ready all morning and just sat at home waiting for the hours to come. She doesn't have any family here, but she helped the woman that she takes care of get all "dolled" up with makeup. It was precious and it honestly warmed my heart. The elders wheeled her in. Mercy doesn't speak English in the least, and well, the elders and Sister Fleck don't either, but it was amazing sitting around the table. To bless the food, we each said a prayer around the table for what we are thankful for. The spirit was very strong in the room. I have so much that I am grateful for. I feel more blessed now then ever as I have been serving the Lord. You recognize more that you are blessed with when you are around so many people that are in such humble and dire situations.

They would all laugh when we would call it dia de pavo! day of turkey! We did a lot of translating across the table. Mercy constantly thanked us and said that this was the most special holiday that she had ever had! She loved my rolls and we gave her all of the extras! She quickly invited us all over to her home for a Cuban feast this week. I'm really excited!
I had an "educational" experience this past week. We had kind of pointed out an area where we wanted to tract, so we hopped on our bicycles and we were on our way. While we were riding, we were keeping our eyes open for another area that felt right for tracting. While riding, I glanced over at this street, and I kind of had this little feeling like "Hey, that would be a good place to tract," but Sis. Murray was ahead of me and I kept going. We rode quite a bit longer, and nothing was feeling right. We stopped in the middle of an alley and said a prayer with busy cars driving by. When we finished the prayer, and I said "Hermana, we need to go back to a street over there." So we headed on our way, I was leading, and we searched and searched for this street. I was so frustrated. my heart literally ached because I knew that we were supposed to tract on that street but I couldn't find it. I could see it in all its details. I even remembered a little red gas can that was on the corner of street. we hadn't rode that far and I knew it was right around where we were. With an aching heart, we prayed to heavenly father to help us, in the middle of street, but we still couldn't find it. So we left, and headed to our next appointment.

I was very frustrated with my self. I apologized to Heavenly Father for not following that prompting. With a last minute effort after our appointment, we quickly rode to this area again. I felt that same feeling again as we found the same street we were on earlier. It turns out that we had been riding up and down the right street for 20 minutes. It was right there the whole time! I need to open myself up to those quiet impressions. Heavenly Father taught me a very important lesson, to follow every little impression that I have. It is so very important. The fruits of this was finding a Philippino woman that is just amazing. Her family in the Philippines are members and her son there is even a member. She had been taking the lessons 6 yrs ago in another part of Asia but moved to the states and she was lost in the transition. She has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon. She knows a lot!!! She was just lost and needed to be found. We never would have gone down this street otherwise because that portion of it had been tracted already. It is amazing how the Lord knows where each of his sheep are. We are also teaching 3 Spanish families from that same street. I love this work! I never ever want to feel the way I did during that 2 hr period when I didn't follow that impression. Never again.
Oh I love the food here! I can't decide what type I like the most. Puerto Rican is amazing, but so is Peruvian... Cuban is to die for! I can't wait to come home and cook all these amazing types of food. Get ready for some feasting when I get home!
Just an update on Peggy. She is doing great! Her family is up from Hawaii for Thanksgiving so we haven't had a chance to make it over there, but we have a member, Sis. Bangeter that is an artist as well, and they are very excited to meet each other. I'm so excited! I'll send the painting home so you can have it until I get home. It really is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
So you know how I said last week that it was the week of canceled appointments. Well this week is the week of not having enough time to do everything! The area is exploding! Literally! We have 45 lessons planned for the next week. we are so busy that we will have to be doing splits to get all of the lessons done. We have to cut into our study time in the morning to fit everything in. We feel so blessed! This work is amazing. It's true that if you do the little things, and truly give your all to the Lord, he will bless you. I feel so blessed to have met so many wonderful people. We have 16 people that we will be setting dates with. I know they have there agency, and can choose to accept it or not. Some of our investigators (I don't even like using the word investigator) some of our brothers and sisters, that's better, can accept the commitment to follow the example of Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism or not... It is our job to bring it to their hearts It's their job is to open their hearts so it can be let in...
I just wanted to share an experience that I feel prompted to share as I write this. We were tracting in a lighted apartment complex not too far from the church. As we walked up the stairs, there was a man standing outside putting cat food in bowls. He told us how he adopted a stray cat. He then yelled inside and said, "Hon, your AVON is here!”

“Oh,” we said, “we're not Avon.” She ran out and tried to hand us a check, but once she saw our name tags she threw her hands in the air and said, "The missionaries!" and ran and gave us a huge hug. In my mind as I looked at Sis Murray, I was like "Is this lady crazy?!” This is not the usual welcome that we get. We're used to a slammed door or a, “we're not interested,” and other more colorful things that I don't care to write about :-) but she also said, "Are you here for me?" She invited us in and as we got talking to her, she has been a member her whole life. She has had a hard life, but she went to seminary and was fully active in her young adult life, but something turned her away from church. She started making a few small, bad choices, and it was like a "flaxen cord" for her. Before she knew it, she was too uncomfortable to go to church, so she stopped.

She asked us to share a scripture, and I instantly saw in my mind the scripture I wanted to share, Alma 34:38, "That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost but that ye receive it..." She started to tear up. I asked her if she remembered her baptism, and when she received the Holy Ghost. She said she did and it was beautiful, but she leaned over and said, "You don't know how precious the Holy Ghost is until you don't have it anymore." The spirit was very strong. After talking a little bit about repentance, I shared the story about my little brother Jesse and how he was dirty after a soccer game and how my mom wouldn't let him in the car because he was dirty as an example of repentance and the need to be clean to be with our Heavenly Father. What she said next broke my heart. She said "I thought once you lost the Holy Ghost it was gone forever." She has been living the last 8 years of her life thinking that she could never have the joy that she once felt or ever feel the influence of the Holy Ghost again in her life. I bore testimony through tears that the Holy Ghost is real, and it is a gift from God, and we can always change. We can be as clean as the day we were baptized if we but come unto him and surrender our heart to him. Not only our heart but all of our actions and deeds. He wants you back. He wants to help you. She started to cry. She felt the Holy Ghost for the first time in at least 8 years. I'm really excited that we were lead to her.
Don't ever let Satan think that you can't change or that you don't deserve the blessings that Heavenly Father wants you you have.
Love you all!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, November 23, 2009

St. Petersburg Week 8

If I could label this week as one thing, or maybe two, it would be the week of mighty miracles and canceled appointments.
It is the first week we haven't gotten our goal of 20 lessons in. We're using the “Tom Pretty” program where we focus on getting 5 investigator lessons, 5 less active and 5 part member, 5 others. It is really hard to get 20 lessons in, especially when the person isn't at the house when you knock on the door. Funny how that works. :-) Every missionary that has ever served a mission knows what I am talking about. :-) You have to love ALL of the parts of the mission, but miracles come from it. We have met amazing people just because those appointments have canceled. That is where the miracles come into play.

I can't remember how much I have told you about Marcario "Lima" but he is the most amazing humble person I have ever met. We set up a lesson with him at the Ross's house that is just down the street from his house. Walking to the Ross's we were greeted by Helen and Carlos from Peru. Sister of Helen (recent convert) we have worked with them a lot. The only thing that was keeping Helen from being baptized was that she wanted her husband to be baptized too. Well, we met him outside as we were walking... HE IS AMAZING!!!!!! We continued to the appointment and we had just finished the hymn and prayer and next thing we knew, Helen, Carlos, and Karen joined for the lesson. So they we were sitting in a small living room with a ton of people talking about planting "un semilla en nuestra corazones". Alma 32. It was just absolutely amazing and VERY intimidating for a me. Just a little over a month ago I was sitting in the "teaching appointments" at the MTC with "fake" investigators. Now I'm sitting in front of 6 native speakers, 3 of them investigators and I feel like I don't know any Spanish at all. And, teaching them the first scripture that was ever shared with me out of the Book of Mormon when I was an investigator. I struggled through the first parts of it, my voice was almost gone because I have been fighting a nasty cold. After a long pause in my Spanish, I said a silent prayer, "Heavenly Father, I only wish to say the words that thou would want me to say." and then I just opened my mouth. and it was AMAZING! My crackled voice went away, and we quickly got to the Book of Mormon, and I shared the first vision... I apologized for my Spanish or lack of, and I was quickly halted in my words. "Your Spanish is perfect". I peered over at Bro Ross who was sitting at my right and he was teared up. (HA! My Spanish perfect, not in your life is my Spanish perfect!) but through tears after they said that, I testified of these things. I forgot about the words that I didn't know and focused on the words that I did. That is what we have to do, that is what we have to have faith in. That has been a lesson to me this week.
We started a new tradition. after church each Sunday the missionaries have a "potluck" with recent converts. Mostly for those that are struggling. We'll grab a quick bite and then have a lesson. We taught a girl named Ashley that I just adore! She is amazing! We taught her the first lesson, and as I was testifying of Christ's earthly ministry, an interesting reminder came to my mind of my previous struggles of understanding the atonement. There was a point in my life where I used to be so mad at myself for the mistakes that I have made. I would think in my mind "because I did that, Christ had to suffer these pains," and I would put a lot of guilt on myself. But there came a point where I needed to realize, that Christ has already felt them. He has already felt all of those pains, and that the price has already been paid for ALL of my sins and hurts. Whether they be from my wrong doings or hurts that have been caused from other people. He wants us to just let them go. There is no need to hang on to them any longer. I don't understand how it works, but I know it does. Necesitamos le fe de un semilla. solamente!
This Wednesday we missionaries had the opportunity to have a Thanksgiving dinner with the Young Women and Young Men's (YM/YW) organizations. Oh it was soooo wonderful. I guess they do it every year for the missionaries. There was a lot of food, and each missionary had the opportunity to speak for a few minutes and share their feelings about missionary work. (We get this opportunity a lot but this time was especially special for me). As I stood up in front of these young men and women, I couldn't help but feel like I was at home. The YM/YW at home (Marysville 6th Ward) will never know the impact they have had on me, and I shared that with them Wednesday night. I shared how vital the YM/YW programs are in our lives, and how it is not just about fun activities, but it is about building a foundation for our lives. A foundation not built upon sand but of rock, and it starts here. All of the decisions that they make now, will forever affect the rest of their lives. The grades they get in school might determine where they go to school, what people they associate with. I told them that I know what it is like to go to high school and battle all of the temptations. but they have something that I didn't. They all have the gift of the Holy Ghost. I let them know how important that gift is, and the quicker they learn how to hear him, the easier time they will have battling those "temptations." I thanked them all for the fellowship that they give to the investigators we bring to church.

The church auxiliaries are vital in retaining converts. the families that we bring to church usually have children. The investigators really have to feel like they can trust the church members, because after Sacrament meeting, they part ways and go to Sunday School. That first interaction with the child and parent at the end of the meetings is always a little nerve wracking for me because either we get a "Mom dad, I love primary! That was amazing! I learned about Jesus Christ and that he loves me!” (usually saying this while they have a lollipop sticking out of there mouth) or there is a "Mom, dad, the kids weren't nice to me”, or “I was bored." That has a tremendous affect on whether or not they will come back the next week. There are just so many things that I didn't even realize were a part of missionary work.
This Sunday we missionaries in the St. Pete ward had a special fast to try and find a way to build the fire of missionary work in the barrio. On the Spanish side of things I think we have been doing pretty good, but the English Elders really struggle. They are some darn hard workers, but we sincerely need the help of the ward to cover the area that we have. So, we are going to copy the Marysville Young Single Adult Branch program and have a "Tuesday night splits." On Sunday, we will have a kneeling prayer and select an area where we should tract (find people to baptize) or if we have appointments we'll all go on splits to those appointments. Needless to say, we want to gain the trust of the members and show them that we really want to work. I am really excited! I think there might have been a reason a few months back for the members not to trust the missionaries and I think we are starting to feel the repercussions of that. SOOO, thank you Marysville YSA! We are really excited and fired up about it!
LIMA! oh LIMA! He is on date for Dec. 12th. he has a hard time making it to church because of work. Sooo, we were teaching him two nights ago (this is after the lesson at the Ross's) as we were sitting on the couch and he was across from us, he said he had a few questions about Joseph Smith or doubts (dudas). We had planned on teaching la palabra de sabaduria, word of wisdom and few other commandments. We tried to address his concerns but insisted we just answer them at our next appointment which is tonight. So Hermana Murray started digging in to the scriptures and talking about the word of wisdom. Then the thought popped into my head (spirit), we should watch The Restoration video. So I whispered to Hermana Murray, pienso que es un bueno cosa para murar la restauracion. Boy oh boy am I glad we did! The entire time we watched it Lima was nodding his head up and down. The spirit filled the room. At the end of the movie, he clapped his hands together and said, "I know that is all true, I don't have any questions anymore." We were floored! He had an open heart, the spirit had been brought "unto" him, but in this moment the spirit was brought "into" his heart and testified of the truthfulness of the restoration! So amazing!!! He has so much faith! So much! It is an example to me!
Oh how humbled I feel to be a missionary. I have recognized more and more how insignificant I really am in this work. Every person that I have watched enter the waters of baptism were prepared long before we even got there. The Lord's work would never be frustrated because of my faults, but how humbled I feel to participate in this work. Miracles every day! On my planner on the cover I wrote, "don't give up on anyone." "There are people that are prepared”. !Encontrar ellos!
Next week I will tell the whole story for Luis and Melon and Carlos and Helen! Send me an email for a reminder!
Funny little tidbits...
Chiggers love me!!! Especially the places that we have to walk with skirts, lets just say that chiggers love me!
Played with some baby alligators the day before yesterday! Funny stories I won't say until I get home. :-)
Um, we were at that good old Waterside apartments again. We heard a gun shot, first thing that came through my mind was, “That was close and someone was shot not even a block from where we were standing.” We were like "I think it is time to leave now."

Gotta get to work. It's a working day, no P-day. we get a full P-day on Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to making biscuits with sister fleck. She is already planning on a flour fight! I know I am!
Love you all!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

St. Petersburg Week 7

Hola! Un ultra marvillosa semana!

I Don't know where to even start... but im going to try!

While tracting on our bikes the other day we went into a neighborhood that looked like it might have a few Hispanic people, but who we found was a little old lady named Jane. I would guess she is about 85 years old or more, blind, but the most adorable thing in the world. We talked to her for a little bit on her porch and we are going to keep returning back to read to her out of the Bible. Her husband just passed away. This will be a great experience. She is only Enlish speaking, but this is such a tender mercy. I am so excited. There are so many different aspects of missionary work, such as just showing kindness to this little old lady.

Remember Eddy? Well, he is on date for DEC 17th!!! Yay!!! We taught him this last week and he really likes how he feels now. I had the privilege of doing a Bible study one on one with his wife (inactive) while Hermana Murray taught Eddy. Well, she felt very comfortable with me and told me some of the struggles her family was having, and there was a lot, some very serious. This is a huge step for Eddy. A huge lifestyle change. But I know that the gospel will bring their family closer then it ever has. I left this lesson a changed person. I have had my struggles with family experiences that I wish I never had while growing up, but listening to her made me so grateful for family. Even more so, for my future family. That I truly can have a home where the spirit dwells and is safe, where the world can stay outside and it doesn't have to brought in. MOSIAH 2... let our homes be facing the temple. Always! Eddy's son Levan was baptized yesterday. :-)

[Note: A few weeks ago, Hilary asked us to send her a few pictures of the Sacred Grove to share with a woman that they were visiting. We visited the Sacred Grove as a family shortly before Hilary left for her mission. As requested, we sent her a couple of photos to share with the woman. Hilary asked the woman if she would paint a her a picture of a “special place”, but didn't tell the woman what the place was. Below is Hilary's report on what has happened since she asked the woman to paint the picture.]

So remember Peggy with the Sacred Grove picture? Well, yesterday Hermana Murray and felt like we should stop by for a visit, so we did. It was amazing. She let us right in with a huge warm smile. She took us back to her painting room and said, "now I don't have it all the way finished, I have a few touch up things to do..." When I walked in to that room, and saw the painting, it felt like I had just walked into the Sacred Grove. Honestly, the spirit was so strong and I was in awe at how much the painting looks exactly like the Sacred Grove. Even more so than the pictures I provided. The way the light goes through the trees is just... awwww, I can't even describe it. the best part was how she was describing how she felt as she was painting it. She has no idea why this place is so significant, I just told her it was a special place to me. She said, "This painting is different to me. I really really enjoyed painting it. It feels so warm, how the light comes through here, it is like God is shining through the trees.” She said more but isn't that amazing? She could feel the spirit. Little did she know that God really did shine through the trees there. I have prayed my heart out that she would feel the spirit of this amazing place, and she has. We spent about 25 minutes talking about religion. She believes everything that we do up to the restoration of the gospel. This is the same lady that didn't want to have anything to do with us at the door step and pretty much told us to bug off. Now she is saying, "You girls remind me of my granddaughters." So sweet! I didn't know I would get "another" grandmother out of this.

We have soooo many amazing potentials right now that are just maybe one lesson away from having a baptism. We visited Li on Friday. It was her daughter's first birthday. We met her husband. He was very nice to us. I'm glad that we met him so he could see that we are normal people, and he will be more likely not to intervene with her baptism. Li has soooo many questions. being a devout Catholic. We have to keep on our toes, which is really good. It's just a little more difficult to try and express your feelings in Spanish the way you want to, but it is great!

We are teaching another man from Guatemala! He is just amazing! Soooo ready for baptism. He is here for two years to work and sends the money home to his family. On our return appointment he was so excited that he had the lawn chairs ready for us outside and was eagerly waiting for us. So cool. We are teaching him tonight. He accepted a soft commitment that when he knows it is true, he will be baptized. He recognizes the spirit so I'm sure it will be soon. He wants to take a picture with us tonight and send it to his family so they can start learning in Guatemala!

The first night I was here we moved the Equiluz family, and this last week they had a house party and the Elders came and blessed the home. Can I just say that the Hispanic culture is so much cooler than we are? Sorry, but it's true. ;-) A lot of their member friends from Tampa came and there was A LOT of food. When we walked in (because we were a little late) they all were like, "Hermanitas!! Yay!!" and all stood up and clapped their hands. They support us sooo much! It is like that every time we come over to one of their homes. I love them sooo much. Every other Monday we have a family home evening, or "Noche de Hogar" with the Spanish group and it is definitely a highlight for the week. They had dancing and everything. It was so hard to not get up and start dancing. especially with the salsa music. I couldn't understand hardly anything the music was saying, so that wasn't a problem, but I have to admit that my feet were sure tapping as I sat on the couch! I cannot wait to come back here and have a fiesta with them after my mission is over.

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

St. Petersburg Week 6

Hola Familia! Muchisimos gracias por su cartes! siempre! y tambien su "recording" de Noche de hogar! Tuvo bueno sentamientos mientras eschuchando a su testimonios de este obra y deseos. Te querro!

So, this week was amazing like always! I am really really starting to love this work more and more! I really wanted to stay in St. Pete another transfer. I am getting so close with the members here and we have had some amazing progress with the work. We have sooo many people close to baptism it is going to be amazing to see what happens this transfer. So much potential! Got the call Saturday morning and Hermana Murray and I are both staying!!! Yay!

Frank is baptized and confirmed!!! Yay!!!!!!!!! He is happier than I have ever seen him. and I am so excited for the month I come back because they will be sealed in the Salt Lake Temple and I will get to go!!!! Yay!!! :-) I am sooo blessed! Frank and his wife have been through a lot and it is amazing to see how much the Gospel has changed their lives!

Another amazing person we are teaching lives clear up in Palm Harbor! We will be burning a lot of miles this month! Hello bicycle! His name is Eddy Pederosa. He is from Cuba, which has one of the hardest Spanish dialects to understand. They don't pronounce all of the words and it kind of sounds like one run on sentence that is gobbed together, but its fun! Where he is from, they weren't allowed to practice religion of any kind. He always had a desire to but couldn't. Hmmm, reminds me of a story out of the Book of Mormon in Mosiah :-) I'll be sharing that with him tonight :-) So, the only knowledge that he has of Jesus Christ is from reading the Bible in "secret." His testimony is so strong and he is so fluent in the bible. Oh boy, I'm soooo excited to teach him. The Elders are teaching one of his sons and he is being baptized in a week. There is I think 6 in the family. His wife is a member (inactive). She really likes us sisters so she has asked us to come about 45 minutes before his lessons to have scripture study with them. They are a bilingual family. I'm not totally sure on the whole situation, but I know that they were recently married and I don't think that the children are his. He has been reluctant to listen to us, but he seems to have a huge desire to now. He wanted us to come over the next day. he really loves the principles of dispensations and the apostasy, and why there needed to be a restoration. He is just going to love the plan of salvation. I know that if he is baptized his entire family will follow! so exciting!

We missionaries of the St. Pete ward hosted and organized a musical fireside that we had last night, and it was AMAZING! We took the lesson and taught it through song and testimony. I had the privilege of bearing my testimony and teaching about Joseph Smith. Hermana Murray did an amazing job playing the violin. We had about a 100 in attendance. Lots of investigators. That's almost as good as sacrament meeting! The spirit was so strong. I think we will be doing things like this more often. In the South, the people really love music in church, especially gospel music. So it was a really nice change to teach the second lesson in this way. I think more than anything, the members (especially in the last weeks) have gained a lot of trust with us (the missionaries) because they have seen us try to work hard. We had a lot of people participate in the musical fireside and that seemed to help a lot. It is amazing how much serving people can bring you closer together.

I love tracting... I mean, "finding people to baptize." :-) There is no greater feeling than to go to the Father and ask Him in prayer where he would like us to go and where there are people that are prepared to hear the message of the restoration. Then to act on those feelings that you get and trust them. You have to trust them, and when you do act on them, you KNOW you are in the right place. I'm not sure how to describe the feeling, but every time you knock on a door you know you are planting a seed. it truly is amazing. We did this on Saturday. It was a golden street. Plenty of potentials and we had the opportunity to teach on almost every door step. My favorite part was walking back to the car. we were walking next to two little 7 year old girls that were skipping and holding hands while there uncle was walking them to a girls sleep over. They were soo cute. We laughed together as I told them about my experiences I had with sleep overs. Sleeping on the trampoline... they thought that was funny. The best part is that their uncle said to us that they were learning Spanish. I was like, "Oh, well, como esta... como fue su dia... etc." They responded. It was sooo cute. I can't remember what I said, but I didn't pronounce something right, and she said very sternly, pointing her finger at me "Now remember, Z's are like S's!" Oh I about died... so cute and funny. I got put in my place by a 7 year old. :-)

Funny experience yesterday. Hermana Murray really laughed at me. We were "finding people to baptize" and sister Murray was on the phone with the AP's and this old Korean lady riding a big trike came by. So I started to contact her. She kept riding so I walked by her. I said I was a missionary and showed her the card of Christ and she is like "I don't speak English." But she looked at her basket behind her and I thought she wanted me to put it in the back. so I did, and she said "I don't speak English!" Oh it so funny! Just little tender mercies of the Lord to keep your spirits up. The lady later turned around at me and smiled :-)

Love you all!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, November 2, 2009

St. Petersburg Week 5

Oh my goodness! This has been an amazing week! My mouth drops just thinking of all the miracles that I have witnessed. In my personal life it has been hard. I lost my grandmother and it has been difficult, but I feel her close. I feel her love and I know she is helping me in the work. I feel so blessed to know the plan of salvation. To know of God's love for all of His children. That is what has brought me so much comfort in my life. I have had had no greater Joy than to see little Matthew (9) jump out of his seat with excitement when we told him he could be sealed to his family forever in the temple. Hector and Matthew were baptized on Friday. They beamed with the light of Christ. I am soo blessed because I will be able to go with them through the temple in one year and see their family be sealed. They practically already have the date set for it. This is every missionary's dream, and I am so fortunate and blessed to be able to experience it. President Colton (Mission President) came to the Baptism and he said to me with a huge smile and handshake "looks like you will be going to the temple in a year!" :-) Yup!

Carmen was also baptized on Friday. I don't think I have had a chance to talk about him much. but he was a captain of a fishing boat from Nicaragua. he is absolutely amazing! His faith and readiness to be baptized is mind-boggling. He always says "Sista!" with a funny accent. When i called him the day before his baptism, just to go over the things to bring he said out of the blue, "Sista! sista! I'M RRREEEEAAADDDDYYYY!" Oh I laughed so hard and tears came down my face. Carmen is ready! He hurt his knee awhile ago and had troubles with his family, so his brother kicked him out and sold all of his stuff. He is 60. Because his knee is hurt he can't work, so he has to stay in a homeless shelter until it heals. But I tell you, he is probably the happiest person I know, and the light of Christ is soo bright in him. I know Heavenly Father has soo many blessings in store for him. The ward is working hard finding him a job and I think they have one for him now. The ward is also taking him in to care for him. It is just amazing.

Frank has his baptism on the 12th. he is still going strong. The rest of the Velasquez family will be baptized very soon. Joseph and Elaine. Ahhh, sooooo exciting.

Karinas mother from Puerto Rico called right after the baptism on her cell phone. We got to talk to her for about 10 minutes and she just thanked us over and over again. It was hard to understand her through the tears. She told us what a miracle it is for Hector to want to be baptized. She called us angels of God. it was very special! Hector bore his testimony during the baptism, he said "I am a new man. My children don't even recognize me." He is changed. He has taken the name of Christ upon him and stopped running away from the truth. Oh boy, I love this work!

So, i had the best Halloween of my life. We tracted into a women in a trailer park. Can’t remember if I told you about her or not. Her name is Georgia. Her husband is Spanish and doesn’t really speak English and she doesn’t really speak Spanish. Somehow they are really in love and make it work. She said at first, “usually I would slam the door in your face and tell you to go away, but for some reason I feel like I should listen” so we talked to her a little bit, left her some pamphlets and went tracting a little bit more waiting for her husband to get back (this isn’t on Halloween) so we could make a return appointment. When we returned she she looked a little upset, and said pointing to the picture of the Book of Mormon on the pamphlet, “I don’t like this.” I was thinking, "oh well, there goes...". But what surprised me is what she said next, “but I still feel like I should listen to you." So we set up a return appointment. The next day we stopped by and her husband was outside. So we started talking and he wanted us to teach him right there. So we sat down, and we sang to him, “Soy un hijo de Dios” (I am a Child of God) he teared up and asked if he could go inside to change his shirt. He went from wearing a tank top to putting a collared shirt on and got his wife up from a nap. So we taught them. It was great and a lot of fun translating back and forth for them. They didn’t show up for the appointment the next day and it worried us. We were low on miles and tracting clear on the other side of the peninsula (this is Halloween) but Hermana Murray and I both couldn’t get them out of our head, so we said a prayer and decided we needed to go see them. It didn’t make sense because they had said they were busy and couldn’t meet with us, but we went anyways. I am sooooo grateful that we did. This IS the most amazing spiritual experience I have ever had in my life. I am afraid a lot of it is very personal and I cant share it all. But I will share what I can.

So we walked up and they were sitting in lawn chairs in there driveway and they greeted us with smiles and invited us to sit down. I sat to the far left next to Georgia, and Hermana Murray sat on the opposite side next to Braullio. We had two lessons going at once. I asked her how her reading is going (we gave her 3 Nephi Chapter 11). She said she is done with learning. I got a huge pit in my stomach. I asked her what her concerns were. She said she couldn't understand and be okay with the people in America touching the hands and feet of the Savior. It didn’t sit with her right (it is just so different than what people are used to. They are both very literate in the Bible). I said to her, “Well maybe if I give you the history of how the Book of Mormon came about that might help you. So I went through dispensations, Biblical prophets… she said, “That’s great, you are telling me about my book, now I want to hear about yours.” So I started with the time when Lehi was commanded to leave Jerusalem. Because of the wickedness of the people. That he was a prophet just like all of them of old. That just like Noah, he was commanded to build a ship.

Everything that I said I related to something from the bible so we could have a middle ground. It was amazing, as I testified, more and more I could see her open up. Even her body language was sincere. I went through a brief history of the entire Book of Mormon. As I was talking about priesthood authority, I went to my scriptures, and a picture of my grandma Lois that had just passed away fell into my lap (not a coincidence) and I started to tear up. (I can’t explain everything that happened but I know that my grandma is helping me). I looked up at Georgia and testified of the power of the priesthood. How I received a blessing just the other night from a man that holds the priesthood of God, the same as all of the prophets from before, for comfort with the loss of my grandma and worry about my family. I told her of the comfort and love that I felt through that blessing. I testified, through tears, that I know that the three people that were baptized last night, were baptized with the true authority of God. The same authority that Jesus walked 60 miles to find to be baptized by John the Baptist holding that same authority. Jesus Christ knew the importance of this true authority.

She got teared up and so did I. you couldn’t deny that the Holy ghost was there. I then got to the restoration and Joseph Smith. I quoted the first vision to her (it was a little difficult in English haven’t said it in English since the third week in the MTC, I had help) and felt prompted to say something. “ I don’t know why God does things the way that he does. I too was confused and troubled that a 14 year old boy could be called as a prophet. But I know that he is. I know God needed someone that had the Faith of a Child.” She stopped me right when I said that and said, “I just read that this morning in the Bible” she said, “I was completely done learning, but will read the first book (Nephi) and the intro, just because of your sincerity” I was shocked! Oh my!

I would go on and on but I don’t have time. We had dinner with just Georgia last night and it was amazing. I’ll try to write more later, but oh my Miracles! Last night as we left and were getting ready to walk away, she said, “I know you are supposed to be here. I had a dream about this.”

She is the center of the trailer park. Many more will follow in her foot steps.

Love you all!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, October 26, 2009

St. Petersburg Week 4

What a week! It just keeps getting better and better! I don't even know where to start!

We have two more baptisms set. The first is Frank for Nov 12th. He has been a heavy smoker for a long time. and he is working on quitting right now. So far cold turkey and he is doing great! I'm so proud of him. His motivation is his family. They really want to have a baby. His wife Corianne is an inactive member. They got married a little over a year ago. The missionaries have been teaching him for that long, and finally he felt the motivation and faith to be baptized. Soooo cool. he wants to be sealed in the temple. He is soooo amazing! I've been craving hot wings for two weeks now and he got me some so today. When we visit him tonight he is hooking me up! I am soooo taken care of! He loves watching wrestling! He is sooo funny! His family will be life long friends. I'm reallly excited for him, AND I will get to go to the temple on my mission when they get sealed!

AND!!!!! for the Valasquez family that is getting baptized this next weekend they will be going to the temple as well. Yay!!! It is so amazing to see people change! Hector is from Puerto Rico and has been drinking coffee since he was 5. No joke! He just gave it up like it was nothing. Nothing is getting in the way of him going to the temple and having his family sealed to him. He is definitely a future Bishop! Their baptism will be very special!

Our zone has 24 people on date for baptism right now! We are on fire! we had a mission fast the other day and it has brought so many miracles! All we did was change our focus, that we don't tract, we find people to baptize. Every day we sisters go out with the mind set that we are going to find someone to baptize. Ever since we did that, we have! We have another baptism on Friday, but it might have to get moved to Saturday because of his work. Carmen had taken the first lesson like 3 times but wasn't motivated at all. Now he is getting married to a member, and he really really really wants to be baptized!!! he showed up at church yesterday and said, I'm ready to be baptized, when can I be baptized? We were like, “well, we can help you with that” with huge smiles. So we taught him the first half of the second lesson during the third hour of church. It was great. We stole the room where Spanish priesthood is and we just had one big conversation/lesson with about 6 other Spanish members. It was a great lesson. What was really amazing was Bro. Alvarez stopped and kind of got teared up and faced Carmen and us and said, in Spanish "It amazes me the dedication and energy these sisters put into learning Spanish. It humbles me, and it amazes me that i can see the face of Christ as they teach." Well that made my week! We don't have a Spanish branch yet! Yet! But, we do have an amazingly strong group of Spanish members, and it is growing quick!

We've had many miracles while tracting this week, but for lack of time I'm going to focus on two. First, a woman named Esmilda. She lived Honduras and was a very active member in Young Women's and Primary. She is the only member in her family, but when she got married and moved to the states she slipped under the radar. When deciding where to tract, we went to the ward list. There are roughly 750 people on the ward list, but only about 150 attend church. That is sad. :-( But out of that huge list we came to her name, and visited her. We stopped by her house, and found a huge neighborhood of Spanish people. It is a trailer park (we spend a lot of time in trailer parks) but she wasn't home. So we left and note and we had to leave for another lesson.

We were a little early for the appointment so we decided to tract for a while and we found a man from Cuba. His name is Hebereito. He is amazing! Sooo much faith, I was amazed. We talked to him for a half hour about really deep doctrine about the reformers. He knows that things were lost during the apostasy. He is going to love the message of the restoration when we teach him on Wednesday. He reads the bible every day for an hour. He has a doctorate and used to be a veterinarian in Cuba before he got an immigrant visa for the states. he calls his pastor from Guatemala every day to have scripture study. It should be really interesting to teach him. I am soooo excited though! It's a little intimidating to teach someone so fluent in the bible, because i m not, but i felt the spirit soooo strong while talking to him that i know it is going to be good! After this amazing experience we went back to see Esmilda, and she is excited to go back to church. we got her hooked up with the bus route so she can be independent in getting to church on Sundays and for Noche de hogar every other Monday. it is sooo exciting. her children are almost baptism age. Oh, i love this work!!!!!

Something has kind of surprised me. So many people here say they are really strong Catholics, but don't really know the bible. I think it is because so many people that we work with are so poor and don't have much schooling that they can't really understand the bible. They are just so used to going to church because of family traditions, that they really don't know that much of the scriptures. It is hard sometimes. When we give them reading assignments from the Book of Mormon they have a really hard time understanding what it is said. so we have to go over it very slowly. So a lot of the dates we've set have to move back a little bit because of this. It is so humbling to me and I feel so fortunate to have the education that I do.

Not many of the people we teach have phones or cars. We have to rely a lot on our Spanish group for providing rides for our investigators. Just the short while that I have been here has opened my eyes so much. So many people don't have employment. It is sad to see. We try to do what we can for them, but you know what, they are still happy. We have little Spanish kids running all around us when we go into some neighborhoods. They like us to sing "I am a child of God." or "Soy un hijo de Dios". A lot of them don't have shoes, but they are still so happy and their families welcome us with open arms. What makes them so happy when they don't have all of the worldly things that most people think they need to be happy? Well, they have their family, and they have a great faith in Jesus Christ. We give out pass along cards that have a picture of Jesus Christ, and the children love them. On some return appointments we see the pictures on the fridge and one girl put it on her fish tank. So funny! I love the people here so much!

Love you all!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, October 19, 2009

St. Petersburg Week 3

I just want to say, I hate Satan! I hate him with everything that I am! I have had a huge reminder of how much he works on people that are starting to know the truth. I know he sure worked on me.

Wednesday we were going to meet with Frida, and she opened the door and seemed a little reserved and didn't invite us in like usual. She said she had talked to her pastor, and she has been involved with her church for so long that she can't go back on it now. But what is so hard, is that I know that the spirit touched her. I remember how hard it was for me when I was investigating the church. Satan did everything he could to make me scared and not want to learn about the church. It is definitely a battle in heaven! I feel more conviction to bear strong testimony like Elder Holland than I ever have before.

Another heart breaker was yesterday, we stopped at Gemina's house (run away girl) to see when we could teach her again. She had a baptismal date for the 30th. Her family loves us!!! She invited us right in. she said she doesn't feel comfortable attending another church that is different than her family, which I can understand. She is the sweetest 16 year old I have ever met and has a lot of love for her family. They have really grown a lot closer in the last two weeks. She reads the Book of Mormon every day and feels the spirit when she reads it. Her family still wants us to keep stopping by and they really appreciate what we have done for their family and especially for Gemina. Gemina said, “I know I need to have God in my life.” She carries her Book of Mormon to school with her. I can not even tell you how much my heart ached. A lump grew in my throat as I hugged Gemina and especially her mom. Her mom wept and squeezed me really hard and whispered "gracias... por..." in my ear. I know we have planted a huge seed and some day they will be ready. Gemina has a strong testimony of the restoration. She knows what the spirit feels like and her mom has seen that difference in her. I will keep in contact with gemina for now on. I love that girl. I started crying when we went back to the car. I had a weak moment where I was just like, "I hate Satan. This is a war in heaven and so much we desire for the eternal welfare of these people, and we just have to let them go." But I’ll tell you what, these two experiences made my testimony grow. I do testify with more conviction. We have to let everyone know how important our message is. "Till Christ says the good work is done."

The food is interesting at times. IT definitely isn't Mexican. The other day we had pastilles, kind of like tamales. It has ground up bananas. potato things, some other stuff, with a piece of meat in the middle, wrapped in banana leaves and boiled. It just was very interesting. I’m not sure if it is my favorite thing to eat if you know what I mean. I don't want to hurt feelings because it is a huge delicacy in Puerto Rico. I ate some bones in it, and it was REALLY hard to not gag. But you really do have to eat everything on the plate or you will offend them. So I asked for some hot sauce to put on it thinking that that might burn my taste buds so I could get it down. We just really don't get fed that often but everything we do eat I ask how to make it. I have a killer recipe for refried beans and fried plantains! Mmmmm I love fried plantains and beans! It’s soooo good! We get three plantains for a dollar at the Saldivar shop and cook up beans and have it for lunch a lot!

Antonio is on date for baptism for the 14th of November. He has some WOW (word of wisdom) problems, but we're working on that with him. He is hard to understand a lot of the times. Portuguese is weird, but we do our best. He is a really neat guy. At our last lesson when we pulled up, he was dressed all nice and we didn't even get a chance to knock on the door before he was out and ready to go to the church for the lesson. Sooo much fun!

The Valasquez family is being moved back a week. I think Corina is realizing how much of a commitment it is, especially a time commitment. So she only wants us to teach their family on Fridays, so we have to move it back a week. Hector is sooo fired up to be baptized, so is his son Matthew. Even Elain, the 15 year old girl is growing in testimony. Last time we were over there, we gave her the assignment to read Enos, and told her to think about if God answers our prayers. When we saw her again she said she had that feeling that we talked about when she read. yay! She recognized the Holy Ghost! :-) She is awesome!

We have started to change our mighty prayer in order to be more selective in the areas we tract. We cover the whole peninsula pretty much. All of Pinellas county. That is a LOT of area. So whenever we think about the area we want to tract, this is what we do. We will both look at the map lying on the ground, and not say anything to each other. One person will stay there, and it is their job to select the area to tract, while the other person goes into the bed room and offers a vocal prayer for the other to choose the place where some one is prepared to be baptized. It is sooo effective! We have a goal of finding at least one inactive or person to baptize every day and it has worked every time this week! We found Juan and his friend from it... he took the discussions a year ago in Tampa and had to be dropped because of scheduling conflicts. He really loved it and we found him through this process. Also, we found a less active member not even a block from one of the areas I chose that was accidentally put in the Spanish list and would have been lost in it if we didn't go by and visit them. They are English but it is so amazing how you can truly be lead by the spirit so precisely. There are people out there that are ready. The only way to find them is to be lead by the spirit.

Hermana Murray and I are getting really close. I know it is because we work hard and really desire to do our best to find people. We have a lot of fun! Today the zone is going to Sawgrass Park. It is an alligator park! I get to eat alligator! Last week, someone’s dog got off the leash and got too close to the water and got eaten. Oh man! I won’t get that close but, before I come home I AM going to touch an alligator!

The members are amazing! There are three families I have gotten really close with. Friscos, Bangeters, and the Ross's. They take good care of us. The Ross's are Spanish and he is the 2nd counselor in the ward. His wife just had surgery. The Friscos are crazy fun! But mostly crazy! :-) They are so humble and happy. The Bangeters are awesome! Bro. Bangeter tries to give me a hard time, but I dish it back to him. He works for the anti terrorist stuff (don't know the details, probably shouldn't) in South America. He speaks fluent Spanish. So he flips us a lot of stuff. I have made a purpose of memorizing things in Spanish just for him. Just so i can flip him stuff back. His wife picked me up in Tampa when I first got here. So she got to hear my whole story as we were stuck in traffic on the bridges. So they really like me and I like them. They are having us over for dinner this Sunday. 4:00-4:55. :-)

The weather is nice. I like it. The last three days I have felt cold. It’s crazy! I just started to get used to the heat. Last week was warm though! One day all of our appointments had top be rescheduled. So we tracted for 6 and a half hours in 99 degree weather with a 100% humitity. It was the hottest day here yet and we tracted it the most. It was good though. I slept good that night and added to my killer sun tan lines. :-) AND we got 9 potentials from that day! And met an awesome guy that lived in Utah that I think will be taught by the elders!

The lady that we met last week, Anna Cortez whose husband we helped move chairs for, is loving the lessons. She is amazing. We have a soft baptismal commitment with her. We want to set a date with her this week. I know it will happen. She has a really good friend that is a member and that helps a lot.

HELP the missionaries there! They really need it. Fellowshipping is soo important!

I had an interesting experience this week. It was kind of scary. Evil spirits are soo real. We were tracting, and this lady just let us right in to her house and it felt really weird. She asked us to teach her, so we started to, but no matter how hard we tried to bear testimony and invite the spirit, it could not be in that home. I left there feeling disgusting. Something was wrong in that house. As she said a prayer I felt like something was behind me. We both had our back packs in hand so we could leave. She tried to place a lot of doubt and fear in us about the work that we were doing. She looked me in the eyes as we left and asked me, "are you sure you are ok?" I wanted to say "lady are you sure you are ok?!" It was the creepiest experience I have ever had. We quickly left and walked down a back alley and said a prayer. It helped a lot. There are a lot of satanic worshipers here. It’s kind of scary. We are safe with the lord.

I love you... I’ll try to write more if I have time.

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hola de St. Pete!

So we were tracting the day before, down a really impoverished street and a man caught my attention, i started to contact him but he clearly didn't want anything to do with us. We were in the area yesterday for 4 return apts. Just after the apts, I looked over and a man was working on his Camaro. I said, "Hermana Murray, I really want to go to talk cars with this man." So, she said "ok" with a smile. I asked the usual... "What’s under the hood? What have you done to it?" Then the man who first denied us walked up. I talked to this man about cars. He was pretty surprised that I even knew anything. A blonde in a skirt. Well, we started talking about church... to make a long story short, we placed a Book of Mormon. He was so excited to read it. He was prepared and had an open mind. He is taking the discussions and it is looking really well. We find so many great people here. He was so shut off to us at first, but we just had to find that common ground and his wall was broken down and it was amazing! I really feel like he will be baptized!!! Isn't that amazing? It would have been so easy to say he doesn't want to hear and not try again.

Right before this, we experienced another miracle. The day before we tracted into Anna Cortez we taught her quite a bit on the door step and made another appointment. She opened up to us a little bit. We could really tell she was hurting. She told us that she and her husband were having a lot of problems. We felt like we should say a prayer with her. So we did right there, and I could tell she felt better. We promised her that our message could help her family, that faith in Jesus Christ could help her. SO, yesterday, for those appointments I wrote about above, we were running late from church, but as we were walking I saw a man carrying chairs, A LOT of chairs into the back of a trailer and I felt like we should help him carry them, so we did. We carried about 250 chairs for him. Now we were REALLY late for the appointments. but two of them ended up rescheduling. Anyhoo, as we were walking away, we stopped to talk to the man again. It turns out, that he is the husband of Anna. Just from that act of service he opened up to us too. Amazing! It is so important to follow the Spirit in the little things!!! yay! we are so excited to teach their family. I know we were there in the right moment. Heavenly Father is helping us so much!

The success in the area is incredible. We have 8 people that will be baptized in the next month and we started a week and a half ago with no one. We see the Lord's hand in everything we do. We go a lot of time without eating because we are so busy. We had an end of the year goal to have enough people for the Spanish branch to be established but we will have it before the end of the month! Oh how amazing!!!!

I laughed out loud really hard when Dad sent the letter about the gangs in St. Petersburg. OH THEY ARE HERE! That is for sure. We are around it all of the time. I have shook hands with people that have the tear drop tattoos on their eyes but I have felt protected. We've heard gun shots, in fact, there was a shooting outside of the Elder's apartment. They are trying to relocate them now. We don't live in a scary neighborhood, so that’s good. About the scariest place we go is Waterside apartments on the south side of St. Pete. One day, we were tracting there, and as we walked, and I could definitely smell drugs. As we knocked on the door, they opened it and everyone inside was running around because they thought we were the police. Oh funny! The "thugz" actually have a lot of respect for us. They keep us safe. They tell us where not to go and they are always looking out for us. Not sure if you like hearing this, but it is what it is :-). I think these are the reasons why they didn't have sisters here before. I have only felt unsafe once, and we left very quick!

So GEMNINA! what an amzing girl. That is the girl that ran away! She has taken a complete 180 in her life. I can't remember the last I told you about her, but her family loves us, and they are so excited to learn. I think it is because they saw the light in us. We took her on a church tour the other day and she loved it!!! We committed her to baptism for the 24th. However, she didn't make it to church this Sunday so we'll have to push it back a week. She had way too much homework from missing school, so her mom said it would be better for her to do that. Oh I am soooo excited.

I love the people here so much! I get excited to talk to everyone! The ward is amazing! This work would not be possible here without the ward's help. The missionaries need help! Our mission focuses on the members and using them. It has doubled our success. We always make sure in our lessons we have a member present, and I think that is why we are having so much success. So if you are not helping the missionaries, please do so. Also, DON'T let them stay at your house more than a few minutes UNLESS they have an investigator! They need to be out knocking doors! Quick spiritual message, and then kick them out! It will be good for them. We never stay long. I think it builds a lot of trust in the members as well! YAY for missionary work!

So last night we had a church tour with a man named Antonio. We had a lesson on his door step last week and it was my first time saying the first vision. He is from Brazil, so he only really speaks a little bit of Spanish. At the church last night, I felt the spirit so strong, and the Spanish was just coming. I was amazed. I was like, how can I speak like this? Well, only through the help of the Holy Ghost. At the end of the lesson, he said that my Portuguese was really good. Figure that one out! The gift of tongues is sooooo true!

Another ultra amazing investigator is Frida Perez from Peru. Her family is very poor in Peru, but she has organized a non-profit organization. She saw the commercial for our church, and thought it could help the people there... so here we are to share it with her. She loves the doctrine and soaks up everything that we say. She reads and reads. She is a very smart woman. In Sunday School yesterday, she spoke just as much as the members (Spanish Sunday School). I'm really excited. She has a soft commitment for baptism, meaning, when she prays and knows this is true, that she will be baptized. Oh, it is soooo exciting!!!!

I was called a potato yesterday by Hector. I was sharing my story a little bit with their family and talked to them about the temple and the meaning of temple sealing and work for the dead and he stopped me and said, "You are a potato. There are two types of people in this world, potatoes and eggs. If you put them in the boiling water of life or hard things, they either harden up, or they become soft and beautiful. You my friend are a potato." I thought this was amazing and I loved it. Not that he called me a potato, but that it is sooo true of an analogy and I am going to use it!!!

Well, I might get a chance to write more later. The zone is going bowling today! :-) so sorry if everyone doesn't get as many letters today.

So much to write. I can't wait to come home and tell you these stories in person. There is sooo much more to them.

Love you all soooo much!!!
Thank you for the support!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First Week in Florida - St. Petersburg

October 5, 2009


Where to even start! :-)

Only send US mail, otherwise it could take a month to get a package.

My companion is Hermana Murray. She is from Bellevue. She lived a couple blocks from the temple! sooo cool! Mom, we want you to go on a temple trip with her mom. Her name is Pam. Isn't that cool? Hermana Murray goes to the University of Oregon, so it will be easy to keep in contact.

My first area is St. Petersburg. I have a lot of love for this area already. They only recently opened it to Spanish missionaries for three transfers, only 18 weeks. That is crazy. It is the last zone in the area that doesn’t have a Spanish branch, and it is not because of a lack of Spanish people. That is for sure!!! We didn't have hardly anyone in our teaching pool when I got here, but some really great and amazing miracles have happened. I thought about this as I sat in the chapel at conference with a family we just put on date for baptism that was sitting in front of us. In general conference when the area seventy talked about how he prayed that missionaries would enter Russia and how his son was a part of that answer to a prayer, well, I felt like I was a part of a lot of prayers. This area has grown so much in just the week that I have been here. I am really excited! When I heard about the area I was really surprised that they would put a greeny like me here when there is so much important work to do!

I don't even know where to start. I think I might just send what I have in my journal home... or I might make you wait.

The first day in the field was work! I LOVE TRACTING! Some missionaries don't like it. But I love it! In fact, the first Spanish door contact we did, and I did it by myself, is taking the lessons right now! They have a daughter that is 14, Juni. She is going to mutual now. It is great. I have a good feeling about it. We plan on committing them to baptism the next time we meet on Wednesday. :-) Yay!!!!!!! They have a family of 6. …but my first Spanish contact! Yay!!!

Next we went to the Saldivar shop. I’m definitely taking you to meet the Saldivars!!! They own one of those mom and pop’s stores on the corner with all of the weird Hispanic food; like pig heads hanging in there and everything. But they are really great to us missionaries. They were inactive before the Spanish missionaries got here, now they are actively participating. WE ARE SOOOO CLOSE to having a Spanish branch! We always stop by and they bring us in the back and we teach them a quick lesson. We laugh a lot. The first day I didn't understand them very well, THEY SPEAK FAST! But we stopped by there the night before last and I was doing really good understanding them. My Spanish has made a lot of improvement! It is amazing. It is completely the Lord helping. I wouldn't be able to do it without Him.

The first night was fun. We moved a family for four hours in the sweltering heat! 96 with 85% humidity! I’m pretty sure I got heat exhaustion. I have been soooo tired since and it hasn't been from lack of sleep.

I've lost 7 pounds since being here! It’s crazy. This is the most disciplined mission I have ever heard of. They don't pass around a dinner sign up at all, because from 5-9 is prime time for doing the work and we shouldn't be in someone’s home unless there is an investigator there. I think that is soooo awesome!!! So we can eat at 4, but usually we are so busy that we don't eat until we get home. I thought the members would be feeding us a lot more, but we are so busy we put them on the bottom of the list. Food is just food anyways :-)

So I know I said the teaching pool wasn't full when I got here, but we have been blessed so much. We have been guided by the Spirit so directly that that has changed A LOT!!! Dozens and dozens of times while tracting my companion and I have felt directly that we needed to contact particular doors and people. One in particular just amazed me! We walked up to the door and it was my turn to do the contacting. It was Spanish and something really amazing happened. I will never forget this for the rest of my life. I felt my heart leap as I knocked on the door. (It was in kind of a rundown area) the spirit hit me so strong that I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest. A woman answered the door. She looked like she had been crying. I felt prompted to just bear strong testimony of the Savior and the atonement. I didn't even ask for her name or anything. I said (in Spanish… it just came. I haven't said this ever before) "Jesus Christ loves you, and He wanted us to come here because you need help. We are here to help you and to tell you that the Savior loves you. Through prayer and the atonement...” I didn't even get a chance to finish my sentence before she was sobbing in my arms. We were not planning on coming in this area, but we were directed by the spirit. We weren't able to say much to her other than bear testimony to her of how the atonement could help her. She talked to us for 25 minutes without us really getting a word in. Through her tears and speaking so fast I hardly could understand her... So instead as I sat there and looked into her eyes I prayed my heart out to Heavenly Father that the Holy Ghost would tell me the worries of her heart, how we could help her, and that she would see the light of Christ in us... and Heavenly Father blessed me with that. My companion offered for us to leave them with a prayer, and turned to me to offer it. Oh boy! I was nervous, but the spirit helped me. (at this point I didn't know what exactly was going on. I knew her daughter was gone, and had tried to commit suicide a few weeks ago. Can you imagine how scary this might be for a new missionary that has only spoken Spanish for two months!) but the Lord helped me. The spirit was strong when I prayed. I cried through the whole thing and so did everyone else. I prayed for a miracle. I felt prompted to say that that the daughter would return.

I didn't know what exactly happened until my companion and I left. We found out after they had invited us in that there 16 year old daughter had just ran way with her boyfriend. She said she was coming back today but she didn't show up. (this was all on my second day here...) We came to visit two days later, and the daughter was back. The father thanked us so much as he talked to us on the door step. They really want us to teach them I feel really good about the family.

OK! Now, the Valasquez family! So amazing! The mother is an inactive member (Karina), from Puerto Rico. They moved to the states 5 years ago. Hector, was a very stern Catholic. He’s not really active, but very against even thinking about any other religions. The family started looking into other religions. They really desired that their children would have a good faith in God and Jesus Christ. Once Karina’s mom in Puerto Rico found out, she quickly sent a Media referral. A month ago the sisters taught them, and Hector didn't like it. So they weren't able to visit again until last week. As we were going through our area book, we felt prompted to follow up with them. We prayed for a mighty miracle that would soften Hector’s heart. Karina desired to become active again. AND IT SOOO HAPPENED! We went there, and it was amazing! Hector and his son Mathew are on date for Nov 6th, but he is so excited that it will probably happen sooner I’m sure. When we got there he was so ready. He already knew Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, the Bbook of Mormon was true. He even taught us about the Urim Thummin. It reminded me of my first contact with the missionaries. "the teachers become the teachees!" Ya! Totally happened! It was one of the strongest testimonies of prayer I have ever heard. He had never prayed out loud in front of people before, other then scripted prayers, and before we left we wanted to pray. So we asked him who he would like to say the prayer. He said " I will. I need to set the example for my kids." He was so nervous, but he did it! I was soooo darn happy! I didn't even sleep that night.

During our weekly panning we set a very high number of 4 baptisms for this month. We prayed and felt strongly about that goal. They haven't had one baptism in 3 months in this area. Well, we have two right now so far, soon to be four. I talked to the ZL last night, and they said we've broken the glass ceiling on all of the numbers for the last year in just a week. WE WORK HARD! We never let a moment go by! Everything is in the Lords hand’s!

Hector loved general conference! Just after conference he came right out and said, “When can I learn more about prophets?” with a huge smile on his face! Oh man! We do church tours here... the first priority is to have the first lesson in the church building with a fellowshipper (member). The next lesson is at a member’s house, or at the investigator’s house with a fellowshipper. They really know what they are doing here. We only do what works. Bikes are more effective because you get more contacts. So, we bike a lot! It is great!!!

Yesterday we taught a man named Antonio. We gave the whole first lesson on the door step. I said the first vision for the first time. Yay!! The spirit was so strong. I know he felt it. He is from Brazil. I am really excited to teach him again. I just know he will be baptized. You just get this feeling! Yay!

Our teaching pool keeps getting fuller! Trailer parks are our friends! We have been in some REALLY scary areas with drugs and crime. Heard gun shots the other day, but I definitely feel protected and think of Elder Scott’s blessing often that we will be kept safe as we are obedient.

We had two little Spanish girls run out and give us some paper ring chains that said “we love you”. They like to follow us around when contacting. We have really built up a good reputation with some of the areas. I am just amazed on how humble the Spanish people are. I really have learned a lot of life lessons in just my first week. Also, I never realized until now that I have been preparing my whole life for my mission. I love it here. I love the people sooo much. My prayers have never been as meaningful as they are now when I offer a mighty prayer for our investigators and for direction.

I’m already sad to leave the people here!

Love you all

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz