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!!!

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