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

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