Monday, December 14, 2009

St. Petersburg Week 11


Wednesday we had our mission Christmas conference. It was so amazing! I remember just after I was baptized I went to a transfer meeting for the Everett mission and remembered how it felt to be in a room full of missionaries singing hymns. It is all the more powerful when YOU are the missionary! We had about 100 missionaries there. I had a part in the program and got to share the nativity. I also got to share my testimony. THIS IS ONLY MY FOURTH CHRISTMAS! Isn't that exciting?! I say that because this is only my fourth Christmas since I have come to know who my Savior is and why we really celebrate Christmas. There is something special about this time of year and sharing the love of the Savior with the people here in St. Pete. Everyone has this glow about them. "The Christmas spirit." They are happier and more willing to listen. Just last night, we had a couple appointments cancel, so we had and hour and a half before we had to head home. It was dark, but the streets were lit up with Christmas lights. we had planned on tracting a lighted apartment complex, because it is late and kind of a not so nice part of town, but we said a prayer and felt like we needed to tract a particular street. We knocked on one door, and as we waited for a response, we both looked at each other and said, "we need to carol." Any one that knows me, knows that I can't sing worth beans, but I had so much fun! I can't wait until Tuesday when we do it again. People were so surprised when they opened the door, then they smile and invite there children to stand at the door. One house last night was amazing. They were a family from the Philippines. They were actually singing Christmas songs when we knocked on the door. Dad was playing the guitar with mom and three daughters singing. They invited us in to join them. It was amazing. We sat on the couch and sang with them. They came here 10 years ago, and it was 6 yrs ago when they "found" Jesus Christ. In their homeland it was forbidden to be a Christian.

Just little miracles every day!

PEGGY! Oh my! I'm soooooo excited. I could not even write the words to express my feelings and experiences with her, but I'll try my best! Yesterday, we went with Sis. Bangeter to pick up the painting. Peggy greeted us with a huge smile! She and Sis. Bangeter talked a lot about paintings and all that stuff. :-) Then she invited us to sit down. Sis. bangeter said, "these girls sure have told me a lot about the painting." So Peggy stood up and went and grabbed it from the dinner table. When I saw it I had that same feeling like I was in the sacred grove and I started to tear up. So did Sis. Bangeter. She felt it as well. Peggy said, "I don't know how you got in my door, but I know that you were supposed to. I know that this is a special place I painted. I believe in miracles and I know you are supposed to be here." My heart was just burning inside. I started to express to Peggy why this painting is so special. I tried to reference everything that she said from before... "The light is like God shining down...." I said, “That that statement is true. God did appear in that very grove of trees.” I referenced how she had been confused about religion, and said that a young boy, was once confused like you and wanted to know the truth. He had the faith that God would answer his prayer, so he walked out of the back of his house, in these woods, and knelt in prayer and an amazing thing happened. God and Jesus Christ appeared to him and his question was answered. I told her that I have been to the sacred grove, and have felt how special that place is. I know without a doubt that Heavenly Father was there. Sis. Bangeter also testified and shared her feelings of being there as well. I told Peggy that the last time that we were at her home, when I saw the painting, I felt like I had walked into the sacred grove. I thanked her for that. Peggy started to tear up. The whole time while we were talking, the painting was sitting on a chair across the room, and I just kept looking at it. It is the most beautiful thing I have seen. Strong testimony was borne, and the spirit permeated the room. It was a miracle that Peggy let us in her home that day but I know we needed to be there. I feel so blessed to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. It is what I strive to do everyday, but I'm afraid I fall short a lot, so I am humbled when miracles like this happen. Ahhh, its so exciting! we left the Restoration movie with her, and next week we will teach all of the first lesson, she wants to learn. It is amazing!

Isn't it amazing to have two witnesses of the birth of Christ? Oh how special and beautiful Luke is, but also the testimony of Samuel the Lamanite as he so fiercely testified with outstretched arms on top of the wall of the city. I just recently finished an intense study of the Book of Mormon, and in the spirit of Christmas I moved to prophecies of the coming of Christ. It has strengthened my testimony sooo much, and I have realized how much I don't know. :-) Oh how I long to have been able to go to seminary when I was younger. Those years are precious. I'm having to do a lot of catch up :-) I feel close to the Savior as I have read through Luke. I try to imagine myself there, witnessing the miracles that he performed. I often wonder if I have the kind of faith that the women did who touched the hem of the Savior's robe and was healed. I love how Christ taught those that needed to hear it. Even a Pharisee asked him, (paraphrasing) why do you talk to "these" people... people being those that are troubled or sinning. (I feel bad i'm not doing this justice, but I don't have my scriptures with me). Christ responded and it applies so much to the work we are trying to do. He teaches the people that need Him, and need to know about Him. Oh so amazing! It gives me strength when I think of some of the people we talk to and an added fire to find those that Christ wants to help and that need His help.

I feel so grateful for the Atonement. I feel like the person that was indebted 500 rather 150 (Luke 7) and was forgiven of my debt. I feel a desire to testify more strongly because I feel such a strong desire to have others feel what I have felt.

Speaking of not feeling like I know anything in the Bible, we are teaching this man, Raul that we found. I have never met someone, at least Spanish, that is so literate in the Bible! The first time we taught him we sat in the middle of s shuffle board court in a trailer park. We started with a prayer and I started testifying about God (the usual first lesson start) then I asked him, "Who is Jesus Christ to you?" He asked for my Bible and immediately went to Genesis and said, “That God and Jesus Christ are two personages.” I was floored and shocked! “Golden investigator” rang in my ears and got me sooo excited! We have had two lessons with him, the last lesson was an hour, just on the spirit world. We dove into the scriptures and he likes to teach us too. I'm floored by it. The hard thing is that his Bible is a "New Era" edition, so we spend a lot of time explaining the differences and what the doctrine is and some things get lost in translation. It so amazing! I have a lot of homework to do, but I'm up to the challenge! :-)

We've had a struggle getting people to church, Especially Mercy because of the care for her patient. So next Sunday we're going to be at her door at 7 in the morning and WE ARE DOWN RIGHT DETERMINED TO GET HER TO CHURCH! Should be pretty exciting!

Well, have an amazing week! I know I will!!!

Oh, we find out transfers on Saturday,. I have a feeling that we will stay together for another transfer, but we'll see. Here's hoping! :-)

LOVE YOU! I'm going to try my hardest to get Christmas cards out today, but there are so many that some people might get them late, but hey, its the thought that counts, right?!

te querro!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz
also known as "baum-hul" that is how they pronounce it. :-)

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