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