Monday, December 20, 2010

Feliz Navidad!

Hola! solomente yo tengo algunos dias mas aqui... estoy triste por eso... pero, yo se que todo va estar bien... estoy contenta con mi mision... yo he estado aqui por casi 18 meses... holy cow!!!

It has been one roller coaster of a week for me, the highest of highest of highs, and, well, not really lows, but just sad to say good bye... I will have been here for 9 months in Fort Myers. It feels like home. We had dinner at the Roman’s house last night, (ward mission leader) and I have gotten so close with them. I literally feel like I am a part of their family. They are all younger than me, and I pick on them, they pick on me. It is fantastic.

I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!! Caroling all over again like last year. I love it. We went as a ward last Sunday to a senior home. It was fantastic. I just feel sorry for every ones ears... :-) I have never been a good singer, but I do hope I have improved since I left. We sing every day multiple times. So we'll see.

I feel so blessed. The week before last we had the baptism of Arnaldo from Honduras. We found him during our morning exercises and this last weekend we had three, Adela from Honduras, she is a little old grandma of a member family in Bonita. Also Mambert from Cuba. He is the genius that we found while putting up English class fliers, and Pedro from the Dominican Republic. We found him at 7/11 while we were stopping to use the bathroom!!! Woo hoo! I love gas stations! ;-) We have one more baptism next week right before I come home and many more planned in the next month. It is going to be hard not being here.

Something about the baptism this last weekend is that Satan knew how important it was! They are very special people that will be stalwarts in the gospel, and through the night he was working on the pipes in the church. The font would normally take an hour and a half to fill, but that changed to a good 3 and a half and it was cold water. Even though the baptisms were 2 hours late it was still an amazing experience.

It is amazing to witness baptisms, especially for those people that you have found, but what brings much greater joy is seeing them grow in the Gospel. Heriberto from St. Pete is preparing to enter the temple soon and an inactive family that I have worked with a lot will be sealed in the next year and are coming to church nearly every week. No hay palabras! William just received the priesthood, Arnaldo and Mambert will receive it soon. That is what makes it hard to leave.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Feliz Navidad!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, December 6, 2010

Less Than Three Weeks Remain

Well, it has been an amazing week! One of trials and Joys, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Trial, well, apparently I am VERY allergic to bees... I haven't been stung since I was maybe 8 years old. Well it took one little bee while we were teaching Cruz (my grandpa from Mexico that will be baptized on Christmas Eve) and next I was in the hospital. Now I get the joy of carrying an epi pen with me everywhere I go. Fun stuff!

Joy! We had 8 investigators at church on Sunday and they all have dates set before I come home! Isn’t that FANTASTIC! People we have been working with for a long time now as they have had to overcome some very hard and rough obstacles in their lives.

Joy! Well, I get to work on a car Thursday of one of our investigators and a recent convert.

I do not know where to even start as we have been so blessed in these last weeks. So many miracles happen with the people we are teaching that it is so hard to include it all. I would like to share a little bit more about Mambert. This man is very, very special to me. I have no doubt that before this life we promised each other that we would find each other. Who knew it would be in a little Spanish Tienda putting up English language class fliers. I can't remember how much I have told you about hum, but I will give a quick summary.

He is a black Cuban man, 59 years old, and just a bundle of joy. When I approached him in the store to "contact" him he said, "Yes, I will go to your church if you can find me a job." A little sarcastic needless to say, but I just felt so impressed that I needed to testify that if he did learn from us he would find more joy in his life than any work could ever bring him. I also felt impressed that we should have a prayer with him. As awkward as it was, we followed that prompting (he was sitting in a stool at the front counter). In the prayer I felt prompted that I could promise him that he would find work. Well, one week later, we had a tour set up for the church, but it ended up falling through, but as we approached the church, outside of the locked gate was standing Mambert and our fellowshipper, so we taught him. With a huge smile he just said, "I am here to give thanks. I didn't just get one job, I got TWO! You are my angels!"

As we were sitting in the chapel and started to teach him the restoration, he got a phone call... he answered it, and he got a third job right there! He started to weep and put his head in his hands. He quickly walked outside (he left to catch his breath). We were so full of love and joy and the spirit. We quickly got on our knees and offered a prayer of thanks. I can't describe the joy I felt, and to know that the promise that I felt inspired to give was fulfilled.

Well, it has been a battle ever since, but we are winning. He has been strongly addicted to cigarettes for 40 years. On the spot we asked him for his cigarettes and he gave them to us as he committed to be baptized. Oh it was so amazing! He has faulted a few times since and has smoked. When that happened he would try to avoid us, but we are stubborn sister missionaries that refuse to let Satan win, so we would chase after him. We have seen an amazing change in him.

The other evening I had the most spiritual experience I have ever had in my life. The spirit was so strong that I felt weak after and couldn't talk, not even to my companions to explain to them what happened. I will not share a lot of it, but I do want to share a few things just to let you know how amazing Mambert is. It was while he began to tell his life story. Mambert is hands down the smartest man I have ever met in my life. In 2 days he read the Book of Mormon. He is sooo brilliant. Since he has read it 4 more times and knows more of the chronological history than I do. He was before a professor of history and philosophy in Cuba, until he was forced to quit teaching because of the influence of Castro. Well, it began with a hard and long journey until he came to America. I cannot share a lot of what he shared, but this is the most special man that I have ever met in my life. I’m sorry, there are not words to express the love I feel for this man... he WILL change the world.

Sorry I do not have much more to write, but I would like to say thank you for the support I received from so many as I have spent this short time in Florida. It really does feel like such a short time. Like a dream or a blink of the eye, but I love you all so much.

Now, all I wonder is if I have really changed since I first put my tag on. I really hope I have started to become the person the Savior would have me be.

‘til we meet,

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, November 29, 2010

One Month To Go

Well we have three amazing sisters here in the Rio Vista ward. Hermana Phelps from the Bay Area in California joined us last Tuesday. Double training is great! We make quite the trio!

One month. Just even writing that puts a pretty large lump in my throat. More and more people are talking about me going home. I am a little nervous to say the least, but I received such a tender mercy from the Lord.

On our way to Tampa to pick up Sister Phelps we drove through St. Petersburg. The entire 2 and a half hour drive I sat and reflected on my mission. As I held in my hands pictures of the people that I have found and walked into the waters of baptism. Oh what great joy was I filled with, but also sadness, because I love the people here with ALL of my heart. I was brought to tears and couldn't utter a word. As I saw the first sign that read "St. Petersburg" I got so excited and screamed it, "ST. PETE!!!" All of a sudden I became like a little girl in a candy shop. As we drove down good ol' highway 19 (i could probably count the number of cracks in the side walk from riding my bike on it so much ;-) ) I was like, "Oh! That’s where the Saldivars are, oh, there is where we found Virginia, oh, that’s where I was hit by a red Mini Cooper on my bike, ooohhh, I don't like that street at all, that’s where the evil water tower lady is, oh, that’s where we found Peggy and she painted the picture of the Sacred grove, that’s where..." over and over again. A flood of just wonderful memories came into my mind. That sorrow that I felt was immediately filled with a joy that is only describable in the words of Ammon.

Alma 26:10-12

“And it came to pass that when Ammon had said these words, his brother Aaron rebuked him, saying: Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting. But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.”

I feel so content with my mission. I do not feel regret. It was in that moment that I felt the spirit of the Lord confirm to me that the Lord was pleased with me. As I reflected on so many of the miracles that I witnessed that I know it was only by the Grace of the Lord that they were brought about. By His power. I LOVE MY MISSION! More than anything, I love my Savior and my best friend. All I have wanted on my mission is to "become" a missionary. I still have a lot of work to do... ;-)

A little bit of funnies...

I got food poisoning for the first time on my mission. Fun stuff. Thank you sis Quiones for taking care of me. ;-)

We made gingerbread houses with our investigators and our recent converts last night using Helaman 5:12.

Love you,

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fort Meyers Week 22

We had an amazing week!!! We found an amazing family.

Her name is Socorro. We were completely lead by the spirit to find this family in a miraculous way. There are too many details to write, but miracle after miracle. Anyhoo, she is a 90 year old grandma with her husband Juan. We found them while putting up English class flyers. We just "felt" like we should walk down this road and there we found Socorro sitting outside with 3 of her daughters. She has 8 children that all live in the Palm Beach area with her children and their families. They have a HUGE family!!!

Well, we won her heart over the first time we taught her. It was something very special and personal to me. We started by singing a hymn and sharing a few thoughts about the Savior. Socorro's eyes were locked on me and she started to tear up. We taught Socorro yesterday with one of her grandsons that is studying for some position in the Catholic church. She was so excited that we were there. She said, "Sit, sit!" and she told her grandson (22 years old) to sit and listen to "angels." So he did and we had an amazing first lesson. While we shared the first vision, and as I said the words of Joseph Smith, again Socorro’s eyes were locked on mine. I felt a spiritual connection with her that I can't explain, and her grandson felt it was true. He explained that it was like all his worries in life went away. They both know it is true! They couldn't deny it. Oh boy! I was jumping up and down after this lesson. I am so excited to see them on Tuesday!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fort Meyers Week 21

Talk about an amazing week! General Conference is always a little bittersweet for me. There is so much excitement leading up to it, then it passes, and then it is like, "Oh man, we have to wait another 6 months." But it was GREAT!!!!!! Every Conference I try to come up with 3-4 questions that I have pondered about but seem to have trouble finding the answer too. Well, it never fails that I ALWAYS get my answer as I listen to the Prophets, Seers and Revelators that lead this marvelous work.

Something that has been in the forefront in my mind in the last week is the responsibility of stewardship and the "mantle" that we carry with us in our selective proselyting area. We as missionaries have the ability to receive revelation to find those that are prepared to receive the gospel in our selective area. It is very overwhelming! I have stood in front of the map in our apartment many times and felt a heavy burden come over my shoulders as I look at all of the million and one areas we could search. It is a great realization to me that we cannot have success in this work, we cannot find the elect, unless we humble ourselves in mighty prayer and seek the Lord’s inspiration. And more than anything, we must have the confidence in the calling that we have that we are able to receive this revelation.

During conference I reflected a lot in the last year that I have been in Florida. Conference a year ago was my first weekend in the field. WOW!!! That is scary. I reflected on my time spent serving in St. Petersburg, and to be honest, I have been homesick, but not homesick for Seattle Washington, but homesick for my family in St. Pete.

I can think of so many times where I have literally felt like an instrument in the hands of the Lord in finding someone that is prepared. As I reflected on these moments, tears streamed down my face as I sat in the chapel listening to conference. I felt the dews of heaven pour out abundantly over me and I was filled with a joy that there are no words to describe. I thought, "Why am I so blessed? Why am I blessed to have this opportunity? How could I ever repay the Lord for the countless blessings he has given me?" Well, I never will be able to repay Him. We never will be able to. I feel my time is running short, but I feel like there is so much more to do. The two things that have brought me comfort as I have thought about going home is, the "mantle" and stewardship that we hold. It was a humbling realization that anyone can do this work, and that every missionary that will come after will do just the same thing. They will feel over whelmed and tired, but as they seek the Lord’s inspiration and will this work will not stop. That is what comforts my heart. I feel so happy right now. I never want to leave the "mission field" and I never will. It is so great!

The only thing that made this weekend better is that the AGGEIS beat YBU I mean BYU! ;-). Oh that is soooo amazing!!! I will definitely be living that one up here! Most of the office staff are Aggies so we make sure we let those "baby blue" Provo people know who is on top! This will be braggin’ rights for the next year! Woo hoo!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 19

I guess I must have learned some Spanish since I’ve been here, I translated for stake conference and it was sweet! I was pretty proud! :-)

Sister Lai and I went to early morning seminary this morning! It was great! I loved it! It made me a little sad to think that I missed the opportunity to attend during high school, but I really hope I get the opportunity to serve as a teacher. That would be SWEET!!!

The work is going so wonderfully well. I honestly don't feel like I deserve it. We are teaching amazing prepared people that are at the edge of their seat to accept the gospel, but we are also teaching some people that have huge obstacles in front of them that they have to overcome. Oh but what joy it is to see them change and start partaking of that fruit that is, oh so divine.

I have been really impressed lately with Lehi's dream. It’s interesting that in the very instance that he partook of the fruit, this joy the gospel brought him, his first desire was to share it with the people that he loves. This has been a truth woven through the time I have been serving the Lord. The times where I have felt the atoning influence in my life, are the times where I testified with more vigor, when I would want to run from door to door and pretty much scream from the roof tops the message we bring. It’s the most important message in the entire world. However, a truth that I have also learned, from hard experiences, is that our purpose is to bring the word "unto" the hearts of the people, but it is up to them to allow the word "into" their hearts. This is a gospel truth for the rest of our lives.

As I have seen those that I have helped come to the waters of baptism, and I look at where they are now, I wonder, "What was the difference?" "Why did some stay strong and others not?" "Did they really come unto Christ?" Then I asked myself, how do we come unto Christ? For me, four and a half years ago, I didn't know who Jesus Christ was and as I reflect on how I came to know my Savior, it really isn't all that much different than how I come to know any one of you that are reading this. It is by passing time with a person, by talking to them, by sharing experiences, tears, heartache and joy.

We need to spend time with our Savior one on one. Surely, we can study the scriptures, and learn everything "about" His life and ministry, but I could read all about anyone and their history, but I really won’t get to know them. If we rely too much on our teachers or other people for our spiritual edification, then we will never "come unto our Savior" and really partake of this joy that we could have to REALLY know that He is there.

I know without a single doubt, no less than if the Savior was standing beside me that He lives. That He is my brother and best friend. There is nothing in the world that has more value to me than my journey of coming to know my Savior. I want EVERYONE to feel the peace and security in this. I wish I was the missionary I am now in the beginning of my mission. I might have done things a little differently, but now, my entire focus will be on helping them feel that atoning power and truly come unto Christ and have a personal relationship with him so that they can know with a surety that they can turn to Him even when they feel alone. That is how they will stay strong and that is how we can help them.


Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, September 13, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 18

I had the best Sunday I think I ever have had on the mission...

We are teaching a family that is just absolutely amazing! There are not words to describe the love that I have for this family. The mother, Elia is 25 and I feel like we are best friends... she is like a sponge. Whenever we come over the first thing she says is, "Do I need my books?" Oh, I love her so much! She is living with her boyfriend. At first we thought he didn't like us all that much. He is very spiritual and has a lot of knowledge about the Bible. But after a week of teaching Elia she accepted a baptismal date. Well, then he completely opened up, and guess what we found out! He is a MEMBER! He was just keeping his distance so that Elia could make the decision on her own. She didn't even know he was a member. She has 3 children, none with him. They have only been together for about 6 months but they are so in love! He is 18 and he didn't finish school because he had to go to work at the age of 14 to support his family because his mom was dying of cancer. It is just an amazing story of how these two found each other. The lesson that we taught Elia about the law of chastity made me a little nervous because she is living with her boyfriend. Well, it went amazing, in fact right when she realized that she was breaking one of the commandments, she was like "Oh, I need to change." So she prayed about it and she wants to get married. The only problem is that they want to wait awhile, but we are working on that! :-)

So yesterday, we were anxiously waiting for their family to get to church. I was nervous... really nervous because they hadn't called and they were late. So I called her and she said, "We're on our way." When I got off the phone I screamed, “YYYEEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!” Then I jumped up off the couch and danced around! The members of the Haitian branch got mad at me and closed the doors to the chapel. I felt bad for maybe a second... Maybe ;-) but oh boy... I couldn't have been any happier!

While we were sitting in the church we filled an entire row with her family. I was sitting next to them and I looked over right in the nick of time and managed to see Aldair, her boyfriend take a ring off of his pinky finger, and put it on her ring finger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh man! HAVE ANY OF YOU EVER HEARD OF THAT!!!!! A PROPOSAL DURING SACRAMENT MEETING???!!! WOOOOOHOOOOOO!!! So we will be having a wedding here soon and a sealing in a year no doubt in my mind!!!!! We know that Satan will bring out the big guns because this is a very special family. I have no doubt they will become very strong leaders in the church. Satan tried this morning. We got a call from Aldair and Elia got pulled over. She had an expired license and well, got arrested. So the ward pulled together and got bail and got everything figured out. BRING IT SATAN! WE WONT GIVE UP! :-) OH I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!

Hermana Lai is amazing! We are having a lot of fun! She is definitely a lot shyer than Sister Baum but it is a great experience working with her. We are exact opposites but definitely united in this great cause to bring the Gospel to EVERYONE! We both want that more than anything!

Love you all!

Hermana Vavughan-Schultz

Monday, September 6, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 17

Well, I believe I am killing my trainee! Her name is Hermana Lai. She’s a little LITTLE Chinese girl from Vancouver Washington. She’s a little shy and timid but I know we'll have a great time working together. It didn't help that when we arrived back from Tampa that our car had a flat tire. In my head I just said, “Alright bring it Satan!!!” Well, we got the spare on and drove it to Firestone. I had really itchy feet and just wanted to work. The mall was behind the store, so we decided to storefront contact. Oh she looked so scared. :-) but all was well and we found a man named Pedro to teach. We gave him a church tour just two days later. I prayed so hard in the days leading up that we would find someone to teach and baptize the first day we were together, y alli esta! :-)

So, yes I think I’m killing my companion. We were in the heat all morning, so I thought I would treat her to an ice cold Slurpee. Well, on our way out she rolled her ankle in a pot hole and we spent the next three hours in the hospital. Again in my head I’m thinking, “Alright! Is that all you got Satan!?” This work is not going to stop! :-) And yes, I carried her into the hospital.

Kind of funny, but while waiting for her in the waiting room, I talked to the most wonderful family from Guatemala. We just laughed and laughed together. Especially when the dad wouldn't tell me his real name, he just said, “My name is ugly,” and all his kids would laugh so hard. I love the Spanish people so much. I have never been happier than to sit there and just talk to them. When they first walked into the waiting room their mouths dropped open to see some white blonde girl talking Spanish on the phone. They loved it and I have gotten so that I can depict the different dialects from the different countries. It’s so funny! What was really great is that last night while planning we got a call and all I heard is, “Hola, soy ugly!” He called US! Whooo hoooo! His family is coming to English class and we are teaching him the gospel after the English class! It is a testimony to me that the only way to be a disciple of Christ is to love the people. I loved them so much sitting there. I love being a missionary! I love my job and who I work for! :-)

I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on ugly! :-) He has a wife and 5 kids.

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 13

Oh my, the things that Sister Baum and I have faced this week! We have been led to amazing people that I know we were led to find, who before felt like they were lost or hadn't attended church in years. They started to find their faith again when they planted the seed of faith and read the Book of Mormon. We would start to see a change in them, they would be happier, they would love being in the church. They would say they knew it was all true. Sister Baum and I would be beaming, and then we would ask them to follow the Savior and be baptized in his church. Dun dun dunnn, they would say, “I don't want to change religions,” or “I can't change religions,” or “I finally feel good going back to my church, but thank you for everything you have done for me.” after they left the church sister Baum and I pretty much put our faces in the pews and screamed! We went from 10 baptismal dates to 1 because of those two things! Grrrrrr!!! But, the work is still rolling. In two days we filled our teaching pool again and now we don't have enough time to teach every one. And get this; between the elders and us we had 20 investigators at church on Sunday!!! That’s amazing! We filled the chapel and we hardly fit in the high council room for gospel doctrine class! That is all for just one ward! It is soooo much fun!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 12


Como estan? Estoy super bien aqui en Fort Myers.

Donde debo empezar? Pues, if I just write this in English it will be a lot quicker :-)

Wilson P. was baptized and confirmed!!! Woohooo!!!! He was the man we found in the gas station 15 minutes after he arrived from Miami. He is absolutely amazing. I can't even begin to explain it. He wanted to be baptized for 8 months. I have never seen a bigger smile than his on the day of his baptism. Oh, I’m sooo happy!

I have had the best week on my mission. You want to know something cool? I really have changed. Cherelle, a girl that we take out with us often said something about me that really hit home. So, we were on splits on Tuesday, and Cherell and I were riding bikes in the 99 degree weather, in the sun for 3 hours. We could have been hating life, but I felt on top of the world. We were putting up English class flyers in restaurants and other shops. We stopped at this Peruvian shop and as I talked, the lady stopped me and said, "Where are you from?" I told her I was a gringa, and she said, "Your accent is so good." That is what every missionary dreams of! So I was really on cloud 9! As we were biking away I started singing hymns really loud and Cherell said, "Sister Vaughan-Schultz, I have never met anyone in my life that is always happy like you are." Isn't that amazing?! I didn't notice how much I changed until she said that. I truly am happy!

As Sister Baum is preparing to end her mission here in Fort Myers, I can't help but think of the things that have happened on my mission. During my personal study a few days ago, I reflected on the names that I have written in the front of my “Preach My Gospel” manual that have I had the privilege of helping come to the waters of baptism. If you glance at it, it just looks like a list of names, but as I sat and pondered and reflected on each individual, I think my heart actually grew bigger. I have prayed since the beginning of my mission to have the ability to love and serve beyond my own capacity, and as I reflected on each individual I couldn't help but feel my heart over flowing with love and gratitude. My whole purpose as a missionary is to help others to come unto Christ. Every individual on that list has their own story of finding faith in Christ. What this work really is about is helping people find faith in Jesus Christ and to be able to utilize the enabling power of the atonement, having hope of changing that they never would have had without the gospel.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 11

Well, I’m sitting here just not reallyeven knowing where to start!

Oh, HERMANA BAUM AND I WILL BE TOGETHER ANOTHER 6 WEEKS!!!! We are so excited! The Lord really has blessed us so much as we have served together. She will finish her mission here. We're just going to work even harder to make sure that she ends on an amazing note. We're set to have a baptism every weekend! So it is soooo exciting! I’ve wanted that my entire mission! But not only that, there are many families we are teaching. It really doesn't get any better than that!!!! We truly are so blessed. I don't even feel like we deserve it, but we'll just keep putting one foot in front of the other!

Oh, it’s been HOT down here! HHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTT!!! I have fantastic missionary tan lines, especially on my feet! That’s something I am definitely proud of!

Next week I’ll write more. I just didn't know what to say today.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 9

Oh boy! This was an amazing week! We celebrated my birthday yesterday and it has to be my most favorite birthday ever! :-) The Roman’s (ward mission leader) and the Ramirez families (our recent convert family) threw a birthday party for me! It was so much fun! I felt so special and loved. As we all sat around the table eating, I couldn’t help but feel so much love and gratitude for the opportunity I have had to serve here, and truly become a part of so many wonderful families. After eating, they brought out a cake and sang to me. After the song they started yelling, “!Mordida! Mordida! Mordida!” which means, “BITE IT!” So I did! And yes, my face got pushed right into the cake! Illiana loved getting that opportunity! And they all laughed so hard. It was a very heart-warming experience feeling at home even though I am thousands of miles away from home. I love being a missionary, and I truly love the people here.

Now I have said many times before, that I love gas stations, but now I REALLY REALLY love gas stations. We were around the Pine Manor area and we had just finished visiting Juan. Well, it was my turn this time to really have to use the bathroom. Usually we use the Canteras family’s bathroom when we are in the area. (Let’s face it, gas station bathrooms are never a first pick) but I kept thinking, no, we should stop at 7/11… so we did. I kind of hurried into the bathroom and Sister Baum said, I’ll contact these two Spanish guys in the store. So she did. From the bathroom I could hear her yelling with excitement. When I came out Sister Baum had a big smile on her face and the first thing she said was, “Hermana, this is Wilson, and he has been studying with the sisters in Miami for 8 months!” Then after some conversation she said, “So were you baptized?” He said, “No.” “WHY NOT?!” He said, “Well, my girlfriend that I lived with would never marry me.” We asked, “Well, is she living with you now?” He said, “ No.” Then Sister Baum said, “So then problem is…” He said, “solved!”

We totally just found Wilson. He might as well have been an active member. He truly and sincerely is a future stake president. What is crazy is that he had just driven into Fort Myers 15 minutes before that. He came to the 7/11 to get deodorant and a tooth brush that he had forgotten. After talking a little bit more, we asked, “Well what are you doing right now?” He said, “Nothing.” We asked, “Do you want to walk to one of our members houses and we can have a lesson?” He said, “Sure!” So we did. While we were there we had a great lesson and just talked and got to hear more of his story. At one point he asked, “I’m not sure what God is trying to tell me right now.” And then Hermana Cantera said, “Duh, he is telling you that you need to be baptized!” It was really quite funny!

We have had about 5 lessons with Wilson. They have been the most spiritual lessons that I have had on the mission. I think it is a demonstration of the faith that he has. He is in a sticky situation… He has been with his girlfriend for 11 years. They might as well be married but she won’t marry him so now he is not living with her but it is still a very hard and difficult thing for him. It is a huge trial of his faith. He understands the commitment it is to be a member of the church, including the importance of keeping the law of chastity. As he has persevered through this I have never before seen someone more like Nephi. Ever. He has so much faith. I feel completely unworthy to even teach him. Just in the short week that we have known him, trial and test after test have been placed before him and he still keeps going. First, his girlfriend said that she wanted to move in with him here. So that was a problem. Then there was something else. We stopped by his house when he still was a little unsure about whether or not he should be baptized. We read with him Hebrews 11 and talked about faith, and the faith that was necessary for these amazing people to do what they did. He was very quiet and somber during the lesson. We just kept testifying to him. We invited him to say the prayer and to ask Heavenly Father if he should be baptized or not. We told him to pause after and wait a few minutes to listen… And we did that. The spirit was so strong. He said he felt really good. We made sure we left him when the spirit was the strongest. The next day we met him at the Canteras home. We watched the Restoration movie. He has seen it a million times before but we felt like he should watch it. His eyes were entranced on the TV. After it ended we just sat silently. Then he said, “Well, I know what I’m going to do and I got my answer.” He said, “ I know I need to be baptized. I will be baptized whenever you want me to. Tomorrow!” We were in pure shock! Two days ago he said that he wouldn’t even set a date or do anything to move in that direction. Sister Baum and I are so happy!

I love this work! Every day we are finding prepared people! There is no greater work or joy that someone can feel than to help our Heavenly Father in this great cause of building up His kingdom.

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 8

Okay, I'm going to admit, this week was exhausting, but in the best way possible! I felt like we have been in a full on brawl with Satan as we have tried to help Freddi prepare for baptism. It has been weeks and weeks. For awhile I was lacking in faith a little bit because I didn't know if it was actually going to happen. Well, you better believe that we stomped on Satan and Freddi was baptized this weekend along with Juan. Also in St. Petersburg, Cipriano was baptized (he was the one that Sister Alva and I found that didn't believe in God. He was very angry with God for allowing his mother to be sick with cancer. His mom just died in Mexico. He said that he realized the difference that the Gospel has had in his life when he saw how he "dealt" with his mom's death, with faith in the Lord. :-) So cool! I'M SOOOO HAPPY!

President and Sister Colton drove down to come to our baptisms. It was so nice to see them one last time! It was a little sad seeing them drive away, but this was a baptism that should go in the Guinness Book of World Records! First, Sister Baum and I had to do splits at the last minute because Freddi was freaking out and said he was too scared to be baptized. So Sister Baum and a fellowshipper drove out to his house in Lehigh to talk to him. That left me and Cherell at the church to get everything ready. Well, we thought it would be nice to have Rojelio (baptized last week) go get Juan. Well he got lost and was 15 miles out in the middle of nowhere. So 20 minutes before the baptism was supposed to start, we didn't even know if we could get Juan OR Freddi to the church!!! Then president and Sister Colton showed up and I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to... ahhhh... you get the picture. :-)

Well, through prayer and miracles they both made it safe and sound. Oh, did I mention that the air conditioning broke in the church, so it was like a 100 degrees in there! So the members were really excited with us when they had to sit and wait for Juan and Freddi to show up. Well, while Juan was changing in the dressing room connected to the font, Freddi changed in the bathroom down the hall. Freddi finished first so we started to take pictures outside the baptismal room. Then all of a sudden we heard a big splash and a lot of laughing. With terror in our faces I looked at Sister Baum like, "OH MY GOODNESS!!! WHO WAS THAT?!" Well, Juan fell in the water! He full on fell into the water! At this point I about had it and couldn't help but fall on my knees and laugh hysterically! Sister Colton couldn't hold back the tears from laughing so hard! Oh, but it gets better! We never knew that it would be a fight with Freddi until the very end, but it was. Eleven times! He had to be baptized 11 times! Elder de Hoyos is a strong guy, and he still couldn't get him all the way under. Oh boy, I can't describe this well enough. It is surely a day that I will never forget. I love Juan and Freddi so much. They are amazing! I'm so excited for them. Yesterday in Sunday school we were still laughing about how Juan fell in the water. Oh boy! I love every part of being a missionary!
Well, we thought yesterday between the hours of 2 and 5 were going to be prime tracting time, but we couldn't hardly get anyone to listen to us. Why? Because of the World Cup! It is so amazing being down here and seeing how much of the culture is centered around soccer. Our chapel is full of people from all over South America! To see the rivalry between them is so great! I was sad to see that Mexico lost. Now everyone from Mexico that we talk to is going to be upset or sad. :-) So awesome!
So Sister Baum and I were driving down Highway 41. It is a pretty busy six lane highway. While we were stopped at a stop light, we looked to our right, and there was this amazing looking Spanish family in a Ford Explorer. We both looked at each other, and despite the awkwardness, Sister Baum undid her seat belt and started to stretch out of the car to try and hand them a pass along card. Well, the light turned green!!! SATAN! I didn't know he had control of the lights too! No I'm just kidding, but really! This was last Wednesday I think, so yesterday, we had just knocked on Luis's door (baptism date set for the 17th) to wake him up (didn't answer) as we were leaving the apartment complex a black Ford Explorer pulled in and Sister Baum yells, "That's that family!" So we turned right around and chased after them! :-) When we got out of the car after they parked, the dad was like (in Spanish), "Hey! you are the girls from the 41!" He was so excited to see us. He didn't know why but he said he felt sad the other day when he didn't get what we tried to give him. BUT WE FOUND THEM! Oh man, we are so excited to teach them! the Lord is in the work.
Have I told you about Luis and how we found him? Well I will now just to make sure. I don't think I could even count how many extremely awkward but amazing experiences that Sister Baum and I have had making sure that we talk to everyone that we can. Well, Sister Baum and I go on a walk or jog every morning. Usually around the mall that is close by, or on lighted streets. Well, this particular morning we took a different route, at first not knowing why. As we were leaving the apartment complex, we passed a Spanish man walking. We didn't think much of it. Well this is what I thought in my head, “Um we're in sweats and don't have any cards. Lots of excuses. Well, we didn't make it too far, maybe three blocks around the corner, and we both looked at each other and said, "um ya..." and we turned around and literally chased after him. By the time we reached him we were so winded and all we told him is who we were and asked him if he would like to learn more. He accepted. We took his info and the next day we called him and set up a time for him to come to the church. He arrived and it was an amazing lesson. He told us, "I never walk. My car always works, but for some reason that day it wouldn't start, so I had to walk to the gas station so my friend could take me to work." The next day the car started, so he took it so the shop to get it checked out. The mechanic couldn't find anything wrong with it. Luis is being prepared to be baptized on the 17th. He came to church yesterday and loved it!
I don't think I have told you anything about Diana. Diana is from Puerto Rico. She has a baptismal date for the 24th. (I feel like there are a lot of people I haven't been able to write about.) So Diana used to be a pastor for a pentecostal church with her husband in New Jersey. when we first started to teach her I thought she was crazy because she talked so much about the book of Revelations and things I have no idea about, but after about 4 visits I think she gained our trust. and it all made sense when she said she used to be a pastor. Her knowledge of the bible is amazing, and the reason I thought she was crazy is because I don't hardly know anything about the book of Revelations. To be honest, the book scares me, so it has been so much fun teaching her. What has converted her to the gospel is the spirit and the happiness that she has felt since we have visited her. I mentioned that every time we have come over she seems happier and happier. We asked her why and she said, "Well, it's because of this good book here, (holding the Book of Mormon), and because this is true. I used to try and make up excuses so that you girls couldn't come over, but now I just put everything else to the side because I know I need it." She isn't with her pastor husband anymore, she is married now to a Mexican man that we taught and he also accepted a date for baptism. I could go on and on about how amazing this women is. She left her church because of a bad experience with her husband and a member of the church. She has fallen away from God, and now she has found the iron rod and she couldn't be happier.
Love you all,
Hermana Vaughan Schultz

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 7

Each week goes by quicker and quicker! It is kind of scaring me to be honest. I'm realizing more and more that this time is so short. It has made it even more clear why it is important to follow every prompting that you receive. Just one little funny thing, we were driving by the highway and I saw a Spanish women sitting at the bus stop off the side of the road and for a split second it popped in my head that we should talk to her. So I kind of had to step on the brakes rather hard and very awkwardly as I pulled off the side of the road. This surprised my companion and she looked at me like I was crazy. Well, I said, "There is lady at the bus stop back there, maybe we should go talk to her. I mean it popped into my head." So we did, and I wish this was some awesome amazing story where this women is going to get baptized and what not. Unfortunately, it's not in the least. What happened is that Sister Baum went up to her and started to talk to her and she was probably one of the rudest Spanish women I've ever met. She made fun of us for our lack of Spanish abilities. Walking back to the car I couldn't help but laugh. I thought in my head, "My poor companion, I just made us pull off the road like that, and we just got torn apart!" It was so funny! We laughed so hard when we got in the car! Well, I've made a commitment to do all I can to follow all the little things. This is just a funny consequence of one. :-)
Feliz is one of our investigators that has taught me more than I could ever teach him. If anyone believes that miracles do not happen in these days, they are wrong. If someone believes that the Book of Mormon doesn't have the power to change a person's life, well it does and Feliz is that example. We found Feliz at an address that we got from someone when we were street contacting. We found him sitting in a lawn chair on a cement slab under an awning with beer cans scattered around. Out front was a bus that the "pickers" ride out to the crops to pick melons and there was a mobile home on the back of the lot. (It is harvesting season right now. There is nothing like eating ice cold watermelon picked fresh from the fields. I'm just saying :-) )

Feliz was a little bit under the influence of alcohol. He seemed to be somewhat interested so we asked him if he had a few moments that we could talk to him. He accepted and we sat on pieces of split wood in a circle. In my head I'm thinking, "Is this guy just like all of the other drunk men that we talk to (ther e are many)? What could we teach him?" I looked over at Sister Baum and it was a moment where neither of us just didn't know what to do. Well, the next 15 minutes I will never forget for the rest of my life. I kind of took the lead, and I was like, "Alright, Feliz, we have a message that is going to change the rest of your life. You will not be the same person that you were before we came here tonight. I promise." Then we sang to him, “I am a child of God.” After that we listened to a little bit of his story. He is from mexico and has worked to support his family since he was 12. He is now 35, single, living here alone. We asked him the question that we already knew the answer to. "Have you been drinking?" he said, “Yes.” He said he hasn't stopped drinking for a week and hasn't been to work for a week (he is a picker).

I couldn't count how many times we have stood and talked to completely intoxicated people and tried to share something, but we always knew that they would forget it. Often we would say, "Call us tomorrow," or something like that. But I sincerely felt something different about Feliz. There was something in his eyes, a sadness, but also a hope. I can't explain it sufficiently in words. It is one of the most spiritual and personal experiences I have ever had. Reflecting back on it now I felt like I finally had the “spectacles of Christ” on and saw Feliz for the person that he really is inside. Not the "borracho" that he looked like on the outside. Leaning over resting on my knees I looked him square in the eyes. I testified that he was a son of God, that Heavenly Father wants him to be happy. I felt like my heart was going to explode it was sooooo full!!!! The only thing that I could think of that has the power to help him is the Book of Mormon.

Before even really explaining what it is, I said "we are going to give you something that will give you strength and will save your life. I promise you. But you need to read it. You need to take the action and have the desire." There was more but I can't describe it all. We gave him the Book of Mormon and we read through Alma 36 and from the beginning. He said he had the desire to change. I told him that I believed in him with all my heart and that I knew he was going change and that I had faith in him and that he was going to do it. We tried to set up a time to see him again, but we couldn't really settle on a time and since he doesn't have a phone we told him that the next time we were going to be in the area was in three days. That worried me, but we told him that he could do it.

When we left and got in the car, I turned to my companion and said, "I have no doubt in my mind that he getting baptized and will not drink another drop of alcohol." I don't know if she thought I was crazy or not. I wouldn't be surprised if she did. Three days later we stopped by once and left a note. It wasn't until the next night that we got a call from Feliz. Oh, I will never forget this! Can you guess what happened? That night he stayed up reading. He said he promised God that if he would help him he would stop drinking. Feliz has been to work every day since and has not had one drop of alcohol! He is a different person. We taught him two nights ago and I have never seen someone radiate with so much light in my life! He was changed just like Alma the Younger! Oh my, I have never felt so much joy in my life!
I love this work!!!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 6

I love it when you know you are in the right place, at the exact time that Heavenly Father wants you to be. There really isn't any greater feeling as a missionary. A great example of this would be how we found Juan. Well, we started by visiting an inactive member, and they didn't work out, so we decided that we should knock doors on their street. Then we met this amazing old man that turned 91 the day before (he actually stormed the beach on D-Day, he told us some cool stories) but we felt like we should sing him happy birthday, so we did in Spanish and he really liked it Then he told us about this Spanish family that lives behind him that made him a cake. Our radars went up! :-) Then after we went over to that house, we found a rather rude Catholic man. It was kind of disappointing, but hey, we just kept knocking. Sister Baum said we should do the next door and that's where we found a ridiculously crazy woman, like really crazy. That was the craziest door contact that I have had and I have had some doozies! I'll save it for later, but Sister Baum wanted to do one more door and that next house was Juan's. When we first started talking to him he didn't seem all that interested. He didn't have a phone number so we didn't think too much of it, but we sat down and shared the message of the restoration with him. He said he felt good, but I wasn't so sure how things would end up with him... He said he would come to church but wouldn't really allow any of our members to come by and pick him so we didn't think he was that committed. Well, we were kind of right in that he didn't come to church but we still felt like we needed to do some follow up with him.

We kind of saw him as the typical "flojo" guy. Pero todavia hay milagros! At the next visit, he came right out to the car when we pulled up and pretty much rushed over to sit down. He was so excited to learn. When we spoke and taught, he just sat intently listening and soaking up everything like a sponge. Sister Baum and I just looked at each other like, "What in the world happened to him?!" He was a completely different person. This is the power of the spirit, the sanctifying power. He recognized the spirit when we shared the first vision with him the last time we were there and knew what it felt like. When we left, and he read the Book of Mormon he felt the same way as when we were there with him. He kept saying over and over again how amazing and wonderful this feeling is. I couldn't hardly believe this!

There are some really funny things about his family. He lives with his brother and wife. His wife is from the country of Georgia and doesn't really speak a lot of English, but she loves us! I think every time we have gone over there she has offered us something that is against the Word of Wisdom. So we have to be pretty creative on how to not accept it and not offend her. It is so funny! Vodka, tea, coffee... :-) She really has come to like us. I think we are winning her over through our stomachs! She just keeps feeding us and it's great! It's making up for the communication barrier! Just like all of the Spanish culture! Well, Juan is pretty much to the point that he wants the spirit so bad I don't think that we could keep him away from baptism. So amazing! Sometimes I don't feel like I deserve to be blessed with such amazing and prepared people.
I had my first real EMT experience the other day. I've had little ones here and there but this one was so amazing. We were heading to appointments, and there was a truck sideways in the road and a white car off in the ditch. The accident had just happened. So I said, Sister Baum, I have to stop. So we did. When I went past the truck I could see that everyone was alright in there, so I ran over to the white car, and there was a little old woman slouched over in her seat. There was quite a bit of blood and broken glass every where. This old woman had labored breathing, and in the position she was in she couldn't hardly breath and was trying to say, “help”. So I jumped in the car, got her airway stable and just tried to talk to her to calm her down. I thought for sure she was going to pass out and I'd have to do CPR, but I just started talking to her. Her name was Gladys and I'll never forget it, but she told me that I was her “angel”. She could hardly talk at all but she told me that I was her angel sent to take care of her. She said that she was just told that an angel would come for her. I was speechless and started to choke up. The ambulance got there and took over. I "accidentally" left a pass-along card on the passenger seat. I don't know if anything will come of it, but I know that lady wouldn't have lasted much longer in the state that she was in. I know that the Lord takes care of us, if we just put our confidence in Him.
Love you all!
Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ft. Myers Week 5

Here is a picture of one of the families here that I love, and here is a picture of Alex. He is the cutest little kid! He was baptized this last Sunday. One day we were pulling out of our favorite gas station, and I just felt prompted that we needed to turn down a road that we had never been down before. Well, I'm sure glad we did because we found his family! I think I shared it before, but we taught him about the three little pigs and the big bad wolf and likened it to Helaman 5:12. He is setting the example for his whole family. It is so amazing!!!

Well, we didn’t have any time to email with the holiday and we were too busy yesterday but I thought I would just send a quick hello! Things are going great in Ft. Myers. Sister Baum and I had the best week we’ve ever had on our missions last week. It was fantastic! Can you believe that we found and set 7 baptismal dates in one day?! It's ridiculous!!! The Lord definitely has His hand in the work. We’re excited to get out and work today! Hope you like the pictures!

Love you all!

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz