Monday, September 26, 2016

Florida....September 26, 2016

We had a special fast yesterday for Hermana Monson and her companion, that they will be able to find people to teach.  We are excited to see what miracles unfold - especially as her Mission embarks on their Hunt for 100.  I am continually amazed by Sadie's positive attitude and the courage she displays.  I learn so much from her!

From Hermana Monson:

 I joined you all in the fast on Sunday, and I am sure miracles will come of it. We are not longer working with Damian or Veronica because someone from their Catholic church came over and told them to stop taking our lessons....bummer. Maggie we aren't too sure about, she is really sick right now, but she also works a lot, so it is hard to find a time to meet with her. However, we are hoping that this week we will be able to determine if she is really an elect investigator or not. Our big goal for this week is to find a family to baptize! We are dying to contribute to the mission goal of 100, and we are running our of time to find someone to baptize because in order for them to be baptized they have to receive all the lessons and come to church at least two times. We are doing everything we can to follow the Spirit and work hard so that the Lord can bless us with miracles. 

In fact, one day this week we took a huge leap of faith. Each month we are allotted 1,400 miles to use with our car. Other than that we have to bike or walk. So, there was one day where we were really praying for guidance about where we should go in order to find our family and Sister Root thought of a family that we had shared a prayer with a few weeks ago. This family was not super receptive when we knocked on their door a few weeks ago, but we figured that maybe the thought was from the Spirit. The problem was that this family lived in Fort Meyers, and we had some other people to visit in Lehigh that afternoon. We knew it would take a lot of miles to drive to both cities, but we wanted to show the Lord that we were doing everything we could to find our family. So we went. We weren't really sure what to say, and it felt really awkward to knock on their door again when they'd already told us they weren't interested. Well, it turns out that there was only one member from the family of 7 that was home. He said we could share a message with him, so we taught him about the Restoration. At the end, we invited him to be baptized, and he Well, we tried really hard to testify and promise blessings and everything, but he just wouldn't have it. So, we decided that maybe there was another reason that the Lord had sent us to that area. 

We decided to knock some doors on a nearby street. We ended up sharing a prayer with Stephen. Stephen is a HUGE black man, super tall and buff. He was out mowing his lawn when we offered to share a prayer with him, he wiped the sweat off his face, and said "sure". He expressed his desire to find peace because his brother was murdered a few months ago, and he has a desire for revenge on the people who did it. He also wants happiness for his wife and kids. I said a prayer for him, and the Spirit was way strong. This huge black man started crying during the prayer, turns out he was really just a big teddy bear. He was so nice, and he said he would try to come to church this Sunday. We aren't sure if he was able to make it because he would go to the English ward, but it felt really good to be able to brighten his day. We also ran into this adorable little Haitian grandma that was wearing a turban and didn't have any teeth. She was so pleased that there were "such lovely young people going about and standing up for what they believe in". Her motto in life is "everyday is a holiday", and her name is Catherine Simmons. She was so CUTE! Even though our original plan didn't work out the way we wanted it to, we believe that maybe the Lord sent us to that area because he knew Stephen and Catherine needed a prayer. 

I loved listening to Women's conference as well, but unfortunately the only people that showed up at the church to watch it were ladies from our Spanish ward, so they didn't have it playing in English. I was actually surprised at how much I was able to understand, so I was excited about that. However, I didn't really get quite as much out of it in Spanish. I'm hoping I can go back and read it in English, but I'm so glad that it was great for you. From what I could understand of President Uchtdorf's talk, it was amazing! Our plans for conference will be to watch it in the chapel with the other missionaries and whoever else from the stake shows up. We should be able to watch the other sessions in English, so that will be nice. 

Another fun thing this week was that it was Hermana Root's birthday yesterday. On Saturday we made a huge pan of frozen lasagna and we tested our baking skills by attempting an angel food cake, it actually turned out pretty good! We had fun, even though it was just the two of us. Then yesterday I made her muffins for breakfast, and I totally burned myself on the oven and took off a couple layers of skin, for some reason it didn't really hurt, maybe blessings? Anyway, now I have a super cool burn mark scar thing on my arm. She also opened a birthday package from her family. Other than that it was a normal Sunday, and she had to speak on her birthday. Poor thing. After church we got together with the Elders from our ward to discuss how we can help our ward. Our ward is seriously struggling right now. Home teaching and visiting teaching practically don't exist. There are 300 less-active members, and most of them are less-active because they were offended that they never received a visit from anyone in the ward during a hard time. For instance, one lady left because she was offended that no one from the ward visited her when her mom died. How people in the ward were supposed to know that her mom died, we aren't really sure, but a lot of these people seem to use the smallest excuse to leave. They just aren't truly converted to the gospel. So then we are left with the problem of, how do we convert 300 less-active members while still trying to find new converts? Our poor bishop has a LOT on his plate, and a lot of the members don't like him because when he was called he laid down the laws regarding tithing and the humanitarian aid from the church. We have an FHE activity planned with the bishop tonight, so we are going to discuss some things that we hope will help the ward. We have been trying to visit lots of the less active members, and we have seen a little bit of success from that, so that's a good start :). 

Something cool that happened this week was that Hermana Root and I have decided to come up with a new "spiritual creation". We created a vision of the family we want to find to be baptized in October. This family has 7 people, and the youngest one is 8 yrs. old (kind of like our family). They are Catholic, the parents are married (which is a rare occurence in Latin culture), and they will recognize us as servants of the Lord. We know this vision seems a little too good to be true, but we had a district training this week about raising our expectations and having deeper faith, so that is what we are trying to do. Well, we were out knocking doors yesterday and we talked to this lady who was out getting her mail. She invited us into her garage to share a prayer with her because it was sprinkling rain. After the prayer we did our usual invitation to invite her to be baptized, and she explained that she wasn't interested because she's already been baptized in the Catholic church (which is pretty much true of all the Latins). We explained the Restoration, and why she would need to be baptized again, but she wasn't interested. However, just as we were about to leave it started DUMPING BUCKETS. It was raining super hard, so she said we could stay in her garage for a little while to wait for the storm to calm down. Well, while we were waiting we got her talking about life and her family. She told us that she has a husband (which may or may not mean that they are married, Latins usually use the terms husband and wife whether they are actually married or not), and 6 sons. Get this, the youngest son is 8!! We were like "wow, this might be our family!!" After talking with her a little bit more about what we believe, and about our missions she seemed more interested. I think she was probably interested because we explained a little bit of what mission life is like with all the rules and everything, she wants to know why anyone would want to do that. So, we got a return appointment :)! We aren't sure if Rosa and her 6 sons are the family we are searching for, but we have hope that things will go well on Wednesday when we go back to visit her. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pictures from September 20, 2016

 Hermana Monson and Hermana Root bowling on P-day.

More from Florida (September 20, 2016)

Hello everyone! 

I hope all is going well :). This week was great! Last P-Day we went bowling with some of the other Elders and Sisters, and it was super fun! I don't know how, but I managed to beat all 5 of the other sisters on my lane, so that was cool. 

That night we went to visit our investigator Veronica, we were super disappointed when she wasn't home, but her brother Damian turned out to be super cool. We asked if we could share a short message with him instead, and he agreed. He lives with his sister, works pretty much 24/7, and has a wife and a son left in Mexico that he hasn't seen for a really long time. He really wants to find happiness in his life, so it was awesome to be able to tell him that we can help him find happiness. He doesn't have time to meet with us during the week, so we decided to visit him at his work instead. He works at a mechanic shop, and when we got there we couldn't find him anywhere. A couple of his co-workers told us that he was working in the building "around back", but when we went in search of it we couldn't find another building. We were about to leave, but one of the workers noticed us leaving, and stopped us to see if we had found him. When we told him no, he kindly walked over to the building that had been hiding behind some trees and a huge padlocked fence. Well, we knocked as loud as we could for about 5 minutes on this huge padlocked fence, and thankfully Damian heard us and we were able to share another message with him. It was cool to see how everything fell into place so that we were able to meet with him again, and he has promised to come to church this next Sunday, so we will see how that goes!

His sister Veronica that we were supposed to see that night rescheduled with us, and we were able to visit her last night. She is a really pretty Latin mom, with two adorable little boys and a 10 yr. old girl. Her 10 yr. old daughter is preparing for communion in the Catholic church, and Veronica doesn't want to influence her decision by investigating another church, but she was super receptive to our message! She asked all the right questions, said the closing prayer (which most people refuse to do), and she even picked her own baptismal date of Oct. 16th! We are so excited, she is really sweet, and we are excited to be able to help her family. 

Our other investigator is named Maggui. Maggui is from Cuba, and she also works a lot. We have had to reschedule with her for the last 3 weeks, but we were finally able to teach her yesterday. She was also very receptive to the message, she always cries when we talk. She kept telling us that we speak "con poder" (with power). She has agreed to pray about Joseph Smith, and we are hoping to set her with a solid baptismal date this week. She also likes to write music, so she sang us one of her little hymns. She has a beautiful voice! Super cool! She has a friend who is a member of the church, and when Maggui mentioned that she was meeting with the missionaries this friend told her that missionaries really love food. So, Maggui made us a TON of cupcakes. Instead of frosting they had powdered sugar and cinnamon on top? Maybe it's a Cuban thing? Anyways, she is really sweet and we are excited to teach her again this week. 

One cool experience that happened this week was that on Saturday the Elders that work in the same ward as us were supposed to have a baptism. It had been 8 months since anyone had been baptized in that area, so they were SUPER excited. They got everything all set up with chairs, programs, speakers, music, and we even made cookies to take. However, about 15 minutes before the baptism was supposed to start David (the one getting baptized) still wasn't there. At that point the Elders got a call from him saying that he would not be able to be baptized that day. The Elders were devastated, they told everyone to wait and they would go to his house to see what was going on. Well, they came back about 45 minutes later, thanked everyone for coming, and said that there would not be a baptism that day. David is living with a younger woman, who is kind of like a nurse for him. She takes care of him because he has really bad knees. Well, for some reason, this lady found out that he was planning to be baptized and she told him that if he was baptized she would kick him out of the house. The Elders were so sad! Even though David had said he would get baptized the next day (Sunday), they didn't really want to get their hopes up. Well, around 8:00 on Sunday morning my companion and I get a call from the Elders. David was at the church, ready to be baptized! It was so unexpected that only a couple of missionaries and random members were able to make it to the baptism, but it was perfect. David had decided to sneak out of the house, and be secretly baptized, without telling the nurse. The Elders baptized him, and then he quickly returned home so that she would never know! He is a super cool old man, and he didn't even seem to mind that he had to be baptized 3 times because his pinky toe kept sticking out of the water :). This experience illustrates that missions are hard (when your investigators decide not to be baptized), but they are also amazing (when your investigators decide to sneak out the house and do an early morning secret baptism). Super cool!

We also had a "specialized training" this week. It was kind of secretive, and we all wondered if we would be getting ipads. Nope. However, it was awesome. Our mission has a goal of baptizing 100 people every single month. The last time that goal was achieved was during the historic "miracle March" back in 2015. I have heard the story of miracle March at least 4 times and I haven't even been here for very long! Since that time we have come close, but we have never reached 100 baptisms as a mission. Well, President said that is about to change!! We had an awesome training about "the hunt for 100". The hunt for 100 is what we are going to be doing in October so that we can reach our mission goal of 100 baptisms! Everyone was really pumped up, and we had a really awesome training about doing everything we can and then a little bit more. We also had a mission wide fast this last Sunday that we would achieve our goal, and we are so excited to see the miracles! Now we all wear little stickers on the back of our nametags that say "The Hunt for 100". 

That's all for this week! I just want to end with an awesome quote from Elder Bednar "the work you perform is a whole lot more about WHO you are and WHAT you are than what you say." 

This does not just apply to missionary work! Everything about the gospel is geared towards helping us to become more like Jesus Christ and like our Heavenly Father. As we become more like Jesus Christ we will find greater happiness in this life, and eternal life in the next, pretty awesome!

Love you all!
Love, Hermana Monson

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Pictures from September 12, 2016

Tijuana Flats where she ate some deep fried cookie dough flautas dipped in chocolate sauce.

Herman Root and Hermana Monson enjoying their matching Halloween pajama pants.

September 12, 2016

Awesome Hermana Monson didn't have the time to write a group email this week, so I pulled some things from her letter to me.  I am impressed with her "high spirits", when it seems they have no investigators and all their dinner and other appointments fall through.  I think missionaries must learn the art of positivity!  Love her!

 I don't really have any story that stand out from this week.......Oh! We went to a funeral. Hermana Root was teaching a lady named Isvette before I got here, so I never met her, but she passed away this week. She really wanted to get baptized, but she had cancer, and was too sick. Somehow, Hermana Root ended up speaking, and I ended up saying the closing prayer, in Spanish.We were both super nervous.  It was an LDS funeral, even though all of Isvette's family is Catholic. It was sad, but Hermana Root gave a great talk about the Plan of Salvation, so we are hoping that helped them. 

This week was pretty much the same as last week. EVERYTHING fell through, and we are not really sure why. We are still in high spirits, and we know that miracles will come, it is just about having patience. We met an awesome family this week. The dad's name is Fransisco and he is really nice, his wife is super sweet (she works in a beauty salon so she gave us a free sample of mascara to try-sweet!), and they have the FATTEST two year old daughter. She is SO cute! From what you have told me, she probably looks similar to how I did when I was little. Fat rolls everywhere, three chins, she waddles when she walks, and her shirts was too short, so it rolled up, and her little belly was just poking out. She really didn't seem to care.

 That is another thing, people in Florida seriously don't care what they look like. There are always Haitian mamas out in their shower caps, house slippers, and sunday dress mowing the lawn-what?. We were laughing because we were parked at a red light this week and there was an old lady waiting to cross the street. She had one of the dollar-store styrofoam visors on, tennis shoes, her shirt was all bunched up so her belly was hanging out, one sleeve was falling off, her socks were pulled up to different heights on her legs, and she had a water bottle stuck down the back of her pants. She was just like "hey, 'sall good." So funny! That's pretty much everybody's mindset. It's almost weird when men answer the door with a shirt on, or ladies walk around with their hair done.

 Anyways, Francisco was super excited to come to church, so we told him that we would knock on their door on Sunday morning so that they could follow us to the chapel. We went over on Sunday, and he explained that his wife was just getting out of the shower, but he had already visited the chapel to check it out so he knew where it was. We were SO excited! He promised to meet us there, we had to leave because church would be starting soon, so he said he would just be a little late. My neck was sore from glancing over at the doors so often. I was so hopeful that they would walk in. They didn't, and when we went to see them later, they didn't answer the door. We aren't really sure what happened. It just seems like lots of things like that have happened this week where people aren't home even though we had scheduled an appointment to see them, or we are knocking doors in an apartment complex and someone from "the board" ushers us out of the area. It was really frustrating, but at the same time we made lots of plans for this week, and we are hopeful that things will be better. 

Hermana Root and I are actually having lots of fun. I am learning to laugh at every situation, because if you don't, the days are really long. Last P-Day we played an awesome game called Smashface with the other missionaries. We also bought matching Halloween pajama pants, which made us super giddy. We also went to an AMAZING mexican restaurant called Tijuana Flats for dinner. Kind of like Cafe-Rio, but they had these deep fried cookie dough flautas of goodness, that you dip in chocolate sauce. They were SO GOOD! 

September 6, 2016

The next four pictures are in the downtown area of Fort Myers....the first picture needs little explanation.  I am glad to see these two Hermanas have some fun while they are at it!!

More from Florida. (September 6, 2016)

Hope everyone is doing well, and enjoying the start of a new school year and everything. 

This week was great! Right at the beginning of the week all of our investigators dropped us, and told us that they would not be baptized, and that we shouldn't bother teaching them anymore. We were really sad. We know how much the gospel would bless them, but it is difficult to help them see that. A lot of people are willing to talk to us about religion, but they don't want to make any changes in their lives, even though they might know what we are teaching is true. For example, one of our investigators has read the Book of Mormon. Somehow he obtained a copy many years ago, and he has read from it ever since. He told that he knows it's true, but that he is going to be baptized into the Baptist church instead because there are no requirements. He doesn't have to attend church before or after, or comply with any standards in order to get baptized. We tried to teach him about why we have standards that we need to live before we can be baptized, but he just doesn't want to have to do anything. It was a good lesson to us that there really are reasons that the Lord gives us commandments. It is so that we can learn and grow and become like Him. If we didn't ever have to do anything, if we never had a chance to prove ourselves, then what would be the point of this life? 

Anyways, after our investigators dropped us we didn't really have much to go off. So, we spent a lot of time knocking doors. Especially because literally every single appointment we had this week fell through (meal appointments, lessons, member moments, etc). Everything fell through. However, something that was cool was we met a girl named Yadi. We shared a prayer with her, and she just started crying. The spirit was so strong, and she told us that she could really feel God's love, and we testified to her that God had sent us. It was a super cool experience, and even though she didn't want to learn more, it was really nice to talk to her. 

Another cool thing this week was that we got to do a mini-mission. That is where one of the young women from our ward, Karen, came with us for 24 hours. We were showing her what missionary life is really like, and what we do all day. We had lots of fun cooking breakfast for her, and staying up late talking. We dragged the poor girl all over the place with us knocking doors, but she said she really enjoyed it, and on Sunday she bore her testimony and mentioned that because of the experience she was considering serving a mission, it made us so happy! 

In our mission we are only allowed to listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and so we listen to LOTS of hymns. Well, the MOTAB has just a couple of songs they sing that aren't hymns- like the Circle of Life, so whenever those songs come on we get really excited. We accidentally sat at a four way stop jamming out to MOTAB for three minutes because we didn't realize we were at a stop sign and not a red light! That's how excited we were! It was super funny, and Karen thought we were crazy. 

Just want to say that I love having the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. I know it's true, and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Love you all!