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

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