Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pictures from October 24, 2016

Explanations: Our car door that is taped shut, a papaya that a member gave us (Sister Root thinks it's gross, but I really like it), making cookies for our neighbors, us feeling super fat and sick after we had 3 meal appointments in one day! A "red dragon" is a drink that missionaries are always dared to take, pretty much it helps with constipation and causes some serious bowel movements. I lost a dare with our district leader, and so I had to drink one. I decided to do it after our day with 3 meal appointments, and let's just say: it worked! And I felt way better after that ;). 

October 24, 2016 Fun Stuff!!!

Hola everyone! 

This week has been great! Last P-Day a member took out entire zone bowling, and she bought us pizza because it was one of the Elder's birthdays. It was the best! The next day we had District Training and at the end we had a "funeral" for one of the Elders who is "dying" (going home) at the end of this transfer. Of course, Hermana Root and I had to do the musical number because we are the only Hermanas in our district. So, we decided to sing "God Be With You Till We Meet Again," in false vibrato voices. Super funny, thankfully we aren't allowed to use the video recording settings on our cameras or the Elders would have some serious blackmail material. 

Wednesday was great because we found 3 new investigators!! We decided to go and visit Maria, a former investigator. Hermana Root had taught her for a few months before I got here, but they decided to stop working with her because her boyfriend wasn't willing to marry her, and she wasn't willing to make changes in her life. Well, when we went to visit her we found out that her boyfriend is in jail. He will be there for another 6 months. She has four little kids, no job, and no way to pay the rent. Thanks to some friends, she has enough food for the kids, but she is really struggling. This situation has really humbled her, but also her boyfriend, Lelis. Before, Lelis did not want to get married or baptized. Now, as soon as he gets out of prison he wants to marry her, and then be baptized. We aren't sure if we are going to be allowed to teach Lelis at the prison yet, but we are really hoping that they will be able to take that step together, we know it would really bless them. 

Later that night we were knocking doors, and we had just finished sharing a prayer with a man named Travis. He didn't want to learn more about the gospel, it was dark, and we knew we needed to leave soon, but we decided to ask him who else he knows that might be in need of a prayer. He referred us to his next door neighbor. We decided to knock on their door real quick before we left, and we are so glad we did! We found Miguel and Olga, our other 2 new investigators. They are looking for a church right now, so we were able to teach them about the Restoration. They had a TON of questions, but they were really receptive. They were so excited to set up a return appointment so that we could teach them more. They weren't able to come to church this weekend, but we are planning to see them this week. 

Yesterday was a pretty crazy Sunday. We accidentally slept in, because our alarm never went off! As nice as it was to have an extra 45 minutes of sleep, we nearly missed ward council! However, due to our amazingly quick showering/getting ready skills, we were only 20 minutes late. Church was good, as always, although sometimes it takes a lot of brain power to translate everything in my head for 3 hours, but it is getting easier :). After church we decided to go see if we could visit Lelis in the prison. However, Hermana Roots door (that had been perfectly fine before church) would not latch closed when she tried to shut it! It would just swing open again. We called the mission office, and they just told us to wear our seatbelts and hold it closed until we could get it fixed. So, now we have to roll the window down and Hermana Root has to hold the door closed so it doesn't just fly open while we are driving! Anyways, so we go to the prison, after accidentally interrupting the inmate picnic at the labor camp, we managed to find the front desk of the visitation center. Turns out we have to call the ministry office and set an appointment, so we will do that this week. After that we had a meal appointment, combined with the Elders from our ward. After dinner, we asked if they could come look at the door to see if they could fix it. Bad idea. 

Next thing we know, the other door on the passenger side of the car is broken too! We had to go ask the members if they had any duct tape. Hermano Freire came and took a look at the doors, and said it looks like someone tried to break in and that's why they won't latch closed anymore, because a piece was broken off. Well, there wasn't much we could do to fix it, so we just duct taped the back door closed, and prayed that it wouldn't fly open. We drove home, and spent the rest of the day biking, thankfully the weather has been absolutely perfect this week!!

That's all for this week! Next week is transfers (November 2nd), I will probably be staying in Fort Meyers, but I will most likely be getting a new companion. Hope it's a great week for everyone! 

October 17, 2016

I wanted to share Sadie's letter that she sent to just Scott and I.  Mainly I share it, so that she will have a copy of it, and because it is one of my favorite letters so far even though I cried for her as I read it.  It is amazing what the Lord will make of us, as we try to do His will.   There are some great life lessons that she learned in this very difficult week.  Lessons that I am still learning.  I love that whatever the circumstances, she looks for the lesson and continues to apply faith.  I sure love our Hermana!  Missionaries are brave, strong, and wonderful.

-this week has been WAY hard. You both know that we have been working hard and trying to find investigators. Specifically we have been looking for a family of 7 to baptize in the month of October. We drew a picture of "our family" and taped it to our door, and we have been praying everyday that we will find them. 

We knew that this week was pretty much the last week we could find our family, and still be able to baptize them in October because they have to come to church at least twice before they can get baptized. Anyway, we decided it was "do or die" this week. We decided that we were going to do literally everything we could to find them. So, we decided to sacrifice talking/singing/thinking about wordly things (no movies, no worldy songs,etc). We decided we were going to talk in Spanish everyday. We even started calling former investigators while we were driving in the car so that no time was wasted. We were exactly obedient to all the rules of the mission. 

On Friday, we have what's called "Find a Family at Five Friday". That is when the entire mission spends one hour knocking doors from 5:00-6:00 in an effort to find a family. We decided that Friday would be the day to find our family. All morning we thought about a specific prayer that we could say that would help us to find our family. We decided to pray that we would find our family of 7 during the hour, they would all be home, the mom would answer the door, they would invite us in, and that they would agree to say a kneeling prayer with us. We were so excited. We cut our dinner hour short so that we could start at exactly 5:00. We started off the hour strong, only knocking on doors we felt impressed to knock on, talking to everyone we met in the street, and being super excited. 5:30 came and went. 5:40. By that point we were feeling a little desperate, so we LITERALLY ran from door to door. We knocked on all the doors with latin lights, suburbans, mini vans, and Santa Maria statues, but to no avail. Eventually 6:00 came and went, but we didn't stop. We stayed positive. Finally, at 7:45 (almost 3 hours later) we decided to call it quits. We had invited a couple of people to church, but we hadn't been able to teach anyone the Restoration. We were super disappointed. I was so tired, my feet hurt, my head hurt, and my voice even hurt from talking to so many people. We did not know why God had not answered our prayer when we felt like we were doing literally everything we could to qualify for his help. 

Well, yesterday we had church. We didn't have any investigators there, and so all hopes of a random family showing up were gone. We came home after church and we just cried for a little while, but then we made cookies for our neighbors, and I felt better after that, but we still couldn't understand why we hadn't even been able to find one person to teach when we had worked SO HARD this week. Not only that, but we haven't had any solid progressing investigators for the last 10 weeks. We know that no effort is wasted, and we are planting seeds, but we really want to baptize someone. Especially because all of the missionaries around us are baptizing in the month of October. We have fasted and prayed, our families have fasted and prayed. We just couldn't understand it.

Last night we called to account with our District Leader on the phone. We expressed to him how we were feeling, and after thinking for a while he told us to ask ourselves the difference between these two questions: "how much must I pay?" and "what can I give?" At that moment I realized that my mindset has been all wrong. I know that the Lord promises to bless us when we obey him, but the mission is not about sacrificing enough that the Lord feels obligated to bless us. It is about asking ourselves what we can give to the Lord because He has already given us so much. 

We really don't earn anything, because no matter what we do we would still be unprofitable servants. In the end, we find more happiness by asking what we can give because as Christ promised "he that loses his life for my sake shall find it." I have really been working hard since the very beginning to give my heart and mind to the Lord, but it was a great reminder for me to continually ask "what I can give?" rather than "what must I pay?". Even though I'm still feeling sad that we won't be able to baptize anyone in October, I feel like I have learned more about humility in the last 2 weeks than I ever have in my whole life. The chance to see how people live here makes me really grateful for everything that I have. I really am grateful for the chance I have to be serving a mission, and even though knocking doors for 4 hours a day isn't always fun, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

October 10, 2016 Hurricane update

Hola everyone! 

It has been another great week here in Florida. It was pretty crazy with the Hurricane! Rest assured that all is well here, and thank you for all of your prayers. 

Originally it looked like the Hurricane was heading straight for our mission, and that it would hit Miami pretty hard. We received a text on Thursday morning telling us to pack a bag with essentials, fill our bathtubs with water, pack our non-perishable food, and secure the apartment. We ran around all morning trying to get everything ready for a potential hurricane. Then we had a big mission-wide conference call for President Richardson to give us further instructions. They had all of the other zones in the mission take refuge in the chapels, and they evacuated the missionaries from Miami. We kept working like normal because our zone is on the West Coast, so we were just supposed to get hit by a tropical storm (it would have been nice to know that before we spent all morning packing our apartment...oh well :).) However, at the last minute the hurricane took a turn and hit Orlando instead. We heard that there was some pretty bad damage done in Orlando, and some ward members left to help with the clean up efforts. Of course Cuba and Haiti got hit by the hurricane as well, so we are keeping them in our prayers. We did not really see any damage in our area, but there was a lot of people at church on Sunday. I think the fear of a hurricane reminded people about God. 

Other than that on Thursday and Friday, it was a pretty normal week. We have been knocking doors like crazy trying to find our family, nothing yet, but are going find them this week! On Friday I had my first exchange! Our Sister Training Leaders met us at the chapel, and I left with Sister Hebdon to go work in her area for 24 hrs. We ended up handing out some flyers for a family history event at the mall, and that was fun. We got some free samples from the food court as well, so that was a plus. After that we spent all day contacting some former investigators. However, for some reason all of them had faulty addresses. At one point we walked four miles to get to a house, only to find out that the address was faulty, major bummer. However, it was a great day! Sister Hebdon is really sweet, and I had a great time working with her. She caught a huge toad, and I got to hold it, it was pretty gross. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera to take a picture, but let's just say it was the size of a cereal bowl. 

Just a quick thought, I was reading in Alma 7:11-13. In verses 11 and 12 it talks about how Jesus Christ will go forth suffering pains, and afflictions, and temptations of every kind. The beginning of verse 13 says "Now the Spirit knoweth all things, nevertheless the Son of God suffereth." It caught my attention that the phrase "now the Spirit knoweth all things" was inserted in the middle of these verses about the Atonement. It seemed a little random, but the more I though about it the more I realized that Jesus Christ could have known, through the power of the Spirit, how to have sympathy for our sorrows, pains, and worries. However, because He truly loves us and wanted to be able to know EXACTLY how to help us, he suffered for us. It was a great reminder to me that Jesus Christ really does love us, he not only has sympathy but he also has empathy because He actually experienced everything that we go through. The atonement is about so much more than just receiving forgiveness, although that is a HUGE part of it. It is about Jesus Christ being able to comfort us in EVERY affliction, and that is something that I am so grateful for. I am so grateful to be a missionary and to spread the love of Jesus Christ with the people here in Florida. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week! 

Love, Hermana Monson

October 17, 2016

I hope you are all doing well :). Nothing too out of the ordinary happened this week, just lots and lots of knocking doors. I love meeting lots of different people, it is pretty awesome.

It is so cool how often we get to meet someone, and they say that our visit was an answer to prayer. One night this week we were out knocking doors, and we ran into a woman named Sarah. She was helping her son move into a new house, and we could tell that she was really stressed. We talked to her for a while, and I think it was just good for  her to have someone to talk to. After that I offered to pray for her, and she accepted. It was amazing how strong the spirit was during the prayer, I can't remember anything that I said, but it must have touched her because she was crying at the end. She could hardly even speak. She just gave us both a big hug, and thanked us over and over again. That is probably my favorite part of being a missionary, is helping people to feel the love of God. It is so real. He really does know each of us, and He loves us. He is aware of each of His children. 

Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement! 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Florida (October 3, 2016)

Hola everyone!

This weeks was great, and I especially loved watching conference as a missionary. It was so much easier to pay attention and receive personal revelation! One of my favorite talks was from President Uchtdorf. I loved how he cautioned us not to take the gospel for granted. I also thought about how I should not take my mission for granted. Even though the daily routine is the same, and it is sometimes easy to fall into the habit of going through the motions, I need to remember that this is truly a privilege! As Elder Oaks said in his talk "what could be more joyful than sharing eternal truths with God's children?" It is so true!

Right now I am reading about the story of Ammon in the Book of Mormon. I love reading about the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, they are incredible! I love that after they had become truly converted to the gospel, nothing would deter them. They would rather die than commit sin again, they were so humble, and later on when some of the Zoramites came to them for help the people of Ammon welcomed them with open arms. It is such a testament of what being truly converted to the gospel will do for you. We experience the greatest joy in becoming who we have the potential to become, and the gospel of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to do that. 

One miracle that we saw this week was that due to a mix up of telephone numbers, we accidentally ended up visiting a lady who lives in our area, and speaks Spanish, but usually attends the English ward with her husband who only speaks English. It was a testament to me that God is aware of His children because she really needed a visit. She was sobbing, and feeling very depressed when we arrived. However, by the time we left she had calmed down and she was feeling much better. She even took us over to meet her non-member friend. We were able to teach her friend about the Restoration. It was a great experience to be able to be in the right place at the right time to help this lady feel better. 

Another cool experience happened one night while we were knocking doors. It was dark outside, and the street we were knocking was pretty creepy. It was time to head home so we started walking back to the car, but there was a big stray dog sniffing around between us and our car. We were feeling a little more nervous that night because it was dark, and this dog was really big. So, we decided to wait at the end of the street until the dog walked away. Well, we waited and waited, and eventually the dog moved. However, because we had waited for the dog we ran into a man on our way back to the car. We told him that we were missionaries and that we would like to share a prayer with him. He said his name was Gus, and that that would be fine. We asked if there was anything we could include in the prayer and he mentioned how his ex-wife and child were living in Miami, and that he wasn't able to see his child very often. He also mentioned that another child of  his had passed away a few years ago and he was looking for peace. The way he was talking you could tell that he was really struggling with life, and confused about his belief in God.

 He told us that he had gone to school to be a pastor, but that he had not been to church for a while. Well, I said a prayer for him, and he was very touched. He in turn offered a prayer for us. We tried to share our testimonies and at first he wasn't very receptive at all. He just kept trying to preach to us. Finally, we were super bold and straightforward with him. We just said "Gus, we know that we have the only true church on the earth. The only way to return to live with God is through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints." Well, that got his attention. He listened to a little bit of what we had to say. He told us that he'd heard of our church before. We testified of the truthfulness of the gospel and God's love for him. He was absolutely shocked that "a couple of girls as young as ourselves" were so sure in our testimonies. At the end of our conversation he said "I will take one of your bibles now." (Referring to the Book of Mormon). He was so touched, he promised to read the Book of Mormon that night, and to come to church. We didn't hear from him again, but he said that "whatever you ladies set out to accomplish today,  you did it." It was so amazing to know that we had been able to help him feel the love of God, and learn a little bit more about God's true church. 

That's all for this week! I love you all!