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

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