Monday, March 22, 2010

St. Petersburg Week 23

Hola! I have a new email account! Please share it with everyone, because I lost my email list with the change. Thanks dad for figuring it all out! This Thursday at conference I don't have to get in trouble by president now for not having it changed. :-)
I don't know where to even start with this absolutely miracle filled week we have had. I am bursting with excitement and joy to think that the next week can be even better! :-)
I'll start with the reason I think why this week has been better then any other. PROJECT PURIFICATION. This last Sunday as a zone we had a fast to start our project purification. It is a 40 day “fast”. We all fasted on the last Sunday, while doing so, we created a list of things that we thought impeded us from having the spirit with us more abundantly and could get in the way from the tender promptings of the spirit. It was one of the most spiritually uplifting fasts I have ever had. I had long conversations with my Heavenly Father regarding the things He wants me to do better, to become the missionary He wants me to be. My lists seemed rather long, so I chose a few that I really wanted to focus on.

I have felt the spirit pour over me as the dews from heaven as I have focused on those particular things. Whether they are distractions, faults that I have, and especially fear. I have felt a change and I have seen a change. In the last week, I cant wait to have the opportunity to read the scriptures. Even if I am utterly exhausted, I get out of the car quicker to start tracting and talking to people. I have a new fire and excitement for the work that I haven't felt the entire time on my mission. It is amazing! It is a testimony to me that Heavenly Father has so many blessings that he is eagerly waiting to pour out upon us. It is us that impede them. I think every one should do this... fast and pray to know the things that Heavenly Father would want you to change in your life, and have the faith that he will help you. It won't always be easy. I've spent a lot of time on my knees, but the blessings are a 100 fold!
We are really low on miles this month, so HELLO biking! It has been wonderful, and it is a great contacting tool. You talk to a lot more people that you usually would just drive by. Well, on a day we biked nearly 30 miles, we rode to Heriberto in South St. Petersburg from Pinellas park. :-) So fun! But when he saw us ride our bikes... it was so funny... he is like our grandpa. He randomly calls us to make sure we are okay. That night he called us and left a message. "Call me when you get home so I know you are okay." He is so wonderful. My heart has been filled with so much joy as I have seen him grow in the gospel, especially last week when we helped him prepare for his Aaronic priesthood interview. Heriberto received the Aaronic priesthood this Sunday. I was sitting at the piano playing the prelude music at the beginning of sacrament. As I saw him walk in the room with white shirt and tie, I felt a sense of Joy that I cannot describe in words that brings tears to my eyes even now.
Antonio! Oh my goodness, he is from my first week on the mission. He is a testimony to me that you never give up on someone, unless the spirit directs you to. I have felt a connection to Antonio that has never let me give up on him, and it has payed off. He is the first person I shared the account of Joseph Smith's experience in the sacred grove. I shared this account with him on his door step. He is the one that said I spoke really good Portuguese. I have called him at least two times every week trying to keep in contact with him, inviting him to church, trying to see if he has time, but it was ALWAYS something, but we never wanted to give up. Since Sis Alva came here, we kept trying to contact him. AND HE FINALLY CAME AROUND!!! Oh my! I am sooooooo excited! Last transfer, he answered the phone, and we invited him to church like usual, and something was different. He seemed really excited to come to church, and lo and behold, to make sure that happened, we just happened to be at his front door bright and early so that he could follow us. :-) Work and schedule conflicts made it so he couldn't come until this last week and he brought his friend, which was an amazing surprise.

Something was different about Antonio. He had a light around him and a new "fire" to learn about the gospel. We also had three other investigators at church, so Sis. Alva and I had to go on splits with two other members of the ward to teach them during Sunday school. I was privileged to teach Antonio and his friend who is from Brazil as well. This was one of the most amazing lessons that I have had on my mission. The spirit was so strong as we stood in front of the picture of Christ giving his apostles the priesthood authority to act in His name and establish His church. The spirit of revelation was there teaching, not me. I don't know how to describe it, but I know it is because of the purifying power of the atonement. That is how our internal vessel, slowly can be cleansed from the inside little by little to illuminate around us. There is a scripture that is about that in the Alma, but I can't remember the reference. I must be a bad missionary right now, I don't have my scriptures with me. :-)
Oh, the elders in Clearwater talked to the same lady that we did last week. You will remember that I referred to her as being an "anti-Christ" so to speak. They too had an interesting experience with her. I still just can't comprehend how you could read the bible and not believe that Christ is our savior. It is by reading the scriptures that we become close to him. We learn His voice and become familiar with it. We can become as familiar with the voice of the Lord as a child is that hears the beckoning call of his or her mother. As I have prayed to understand more of the calling that I hold as a missionary, I have realized the importance of being able to hear His voice. That this work is about saving souls. Each one of us as a member of His Gospel, of His fold, has a responsibility to save souls. to reach out and help. I would exhort every person, to pray for the ability to hear his voice as he calls to those that are lost.

As Sister Alva and I have worked to purify ourselves, the missionary opportunities have exploded even more so than before. In two days we placed 8 Book of Mormons while tracting and set 6 dates for baptism. In every one I felt lead by the hand of the Lord. This is His work and our opportunity to help. This is my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

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