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