Thursday, March 30, 2017

Coral Reef March 27, 2017 Angela's Baptism!

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all doing well. I am doing so great! This week has been absolutely amazing!! 

On Tuesday the highlight was having a lesson with Rose and Angela, we reviewed the baptismal interview questions with them so that they would know what to expect. They both answered them all perfectly! It was so awesome! 

On Wednesday we went to Angela's house to show the video of the Restoration. When we arrived she was so excited because she'd made us tacos and brownies and icecream. She loves us, and I think it was some small way she felt like she could serve us. We watched the short video of the Restoration with her, and she loved it! The whole time she just kept saying "wow, this is such a good movie." At the end she begged us to know where she could buy one. We told her that she could keep the copy we'd brought, and she was so excited to share it with her family. After that we had another great lesson with Rose and she loved the idea of doing baptisms for the dead, and also eternal families. 

On Thursday Rose and Angela both had their baptismal interviews with our district leader. Sister Carling and I were a little nervous, but they both did great! Our district leader said he was very impressed, so we were very excited. We spent a lot of time trying to get everything figured out for the baptismal program, but we got it all set!

On Friday we had interviews with President Richardson. He talked to me a lot about how to help our investigators stay active after they are baptized, by getting them a calling and getting them to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. I love President and Sister Richardson, they are the best.

On Saturday morning we both woke up feeling a little stressed. We had so much to do to get ready for the baptism and also a whole bunch of other appointments and meeting that we had to go to. We were very worried because we were not able to get a hold of Rose all morning. We had tried to call her probably 75 times! She didn't answer so we tried calling Chikira, nothing. Finally at 2:45 we were getting desperate so we stopped by her house, and no one answered the door. As we were pulling away her grandpa came out of the house, so we stopped to ask him where Rose was. He said she'd left, not super helpful. There was really nothing else we could do, so we just prayed that she would show up at the chapel. After a crazy morning of running around without two seconds to eat or pause, we finally made it to the chapel at 3:30to set up for the baptism. We set up the chairs, moved the piano into the gym (which is where our chapel's baptismal font is), filled the font, and made a cute little refreshment table complete with our homemade (jk, frozen and boxed) cookies and brownies! We set out the programs and hymn books and then met with out ward mission leader to review the program. Our ward mission leader is Brother Sanchez, he was so excited to conduct (he is a recent convert himself of 2 years), but also nervous because he doesn't really speak English. We helped him practice what to say. 

Then Angela showed up with her family. Her son, her son's girlfriend's mom, her niece, her nephew, and her granddaughter came. None of them are members, so that was awesome to have them all there. Angela was so cute and excited. She put on her jumpsuit, and then the members started to show up. We were very pleased with the turnout. Everyone was so excited for her, and she felt so loved. We were still anxiously waiting for Rose, but around 5:10 we had to call it quits and move on with the service. One of the young women in our ward played the piano, then we had a short talk on baptism, and on the Holy Ghost given by two women in our ward. Next was a special musical number by the bishop's family. Then Angela got baptized!! Sister Carling and I stood outside the font to hand her a towel. When she came out she gave the bishop the biggest hug, and then came up the stairs to give us a big sopping wet hug. I love her so much! After she was all changed Brother Sanchez went a little off script and asked Angela to share a brief testimony. I am so very glad he did, that was one of my favorite parts. Angela talked about how she has visited many many churches in the past, how she has had some very major struggles in her life, but how she truly has the desire to follow Christ. She shared her conviction that God had witnessed to her that this is the true church, and that she feels so grateful to have it. Then she got very emotional as she talked about the day Sister Carling and I knocked on her door. She said she was in a very dark place, but that she could see the light of Christ within us. Ever since that day she has felt so much peace, and happiness. She said she could feel our love and support every day, and that she will never ever forget us. We have changed her life. My eyes watered about 50 times. Those are the words that a missionary wants to hear! It is so amazing to know that all of the hard work made such a difference in her life. I feel so humbled to have played a small role in helping Heavenly Father reclaim one of His precious daughters. I just kept thinking that He must be feeling even happier than I feel. I cannot even describe how much love I feel for Angela, or how much joy we felt as she was bearing her testimony. It made it even better that after she was done our Zone Leader's came to talk to us and said "wow, good job Sisters. She is truly converted." It was the best!! Her family loved it as well. When Angela came out of the font they were all crying, and they all just gave her a big big hug. We got to talk to them a little bit afterwards, they are so nice! We are really hoping to be able to teach them as well this upcoming week. 

After that some sweet sisters in our ward offered to take us to grab dinner, which was super nice because we hadn't had much time to eat all day. We got some delicious subs with them, and they talked about how glad they were to have been able to be at the service, all of the ward members love Angela. Later we went back to the chapel to clean up the baptism stuff and then we watched the general women's session, which was awesome! There was such a focus on keeping our lives centered on Jesus Christ, and I truly know that that is the only way to find peace and happiness. 

Yesterday (Sunday) Angela was able to get the gift of the Holy Ghost in sacrament meeting. Another awesome experience.  Then we helped her to fill out her first tithing slip. She is doing so well, and we have some very very high hopes for her. 

The only downside was that Rose did not come to the baptismal service. We still have not heard from her or Chikira. It breaks my heart because we feel so much love for them, and we know what a difference the gospel will make in their lives, but they are choosing not to accept it. We are still praying that maybe one day (in the near or distant future) they will be ready for baptism. 

Last night we went to go visit a less-active member in our ward that we hadn't ever met before. Terri and Dave (her non-member husband) welcomed us right in. Dave was overjoyed when he found out that I play tennis. He loves to play, and even makes tennis courts as a living. I think that helped him open up a little bit, so that was awesome. Terri talked our ear off about her horse, TJ. She showed up pictures, told us stories, and at the end she honored us by letting us try some of "TJ's favorite apples". Apparently his favorite are the honey-crisp, but only if they are imported from Canada.....but she was super duper sweet. By the time we walked out she had gifted us some apples, some drinks, a jar of marshmallow crème, and some fruit dip. We committed them to watch General Conference this weekend, and Dave (who has never actually been to church before) agreed immediately for the both of them. They begged us to come back for another visit, they are such a cute couple. 

It has been an absolutely crazy, stressful, busy, but so so so happy week!! I love being a missionary! I know that this gospel is true, I have officially seen the difference that it makes in someone's life, and I am so grateful to be able to share that message with the people in Florida! I love you all!

 Hermana Carling, Angela, and Hermana Monsons at Angela's baptism.

Love, Hermana Monson

Coral Reef March 20, 2017

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all doing well, it has been such an amazing week here!!

We went to the zoo with a member of our ward. She has 4 adorable little kids, so that was lots of fun. That night we had a lesson with Rose and Chikira. They texted us before hand and said that Rose's grandma doesn't want us meeting in their house anymore, so we met at a park instead. We had decided beforehand to teach about prophets, but as Sister Carling was saying the opening prayer I received the overwhelming impression that we needed to talk about fasting. I don't think I've ever received such clear guidance about what we needed to teach. Thankfully Sister Carling just went with the flow as we entirely switched gears, and after the lesson we both agreed that that was absolutely what we needed to teach. They are both going through very rough times right now, they are looking for a job, Chikira is recovering from a miscarriage, there is a lot of fighting and heartache in their family, and so they were very excited to fast with us the following day. 

We had an awesome lesson with Angela! She is progressing so well, she LOVES the Book of Mormon, and reads it faithfully every day. We were a little worried to teach her the Word of Wisdom because she has to be living it for at least a week before her baptism, and we were running out of time, plus she enjoys coffee and tea. We finished teaching the lesson, she looks at us and says "well, I guess I better stop drinking my coffee then. Why don't y'all come in the kitchen and help me throw it away?" We spent the next 10 minutes knifing her little coffee packets and then dumping them in the trash. It was super fun, and she hasn't had coffee since! She has so much faith. I love her. As we were talking she asked "do y'all want to know why I opened the door to you in the first place?" She looked right at me and said "because I could see Jesus Christ in your eyes. Girl, I will never forget those eyes!" I almost cried. I was so so happy, and so humbled to be able to help one of Heavenly Father's precious daughters understand the love that Jesus Christ has for her. 

We were fasting for Rose and Chikira, but we hadn't been able to get a hold of them since we had prayed over the phone in the morning to start the fast. Finally, at 10:15 pm, we got a call from Chikira. She told us that she and Rose had been in a fight, and that she would be moving to Northern Florida to stay with her mom. She was really upset, anxious, and bummed that she wouldn't be able to get baptized. We told her that she could contact the missionaries in Northern Florida, but there wasn't much else we could do. We were so sad, we love Chikira! We still couldn't get a hold of Rose that night. 

We had an amazing zone conference! I love President and Sister Richardson, so it is the best to hear from them. It is always fun to see the other missionaries as well. 

We stopped by Angela's house for a couple of minutes to take her a water bottle. When we'd taught her the Word of Wisdom she said she needed to drink more water anyway, so we went and bought a bottle at the dollar store for her. She loved it!

That night we decided to stop by Rose's house. She had not been answering her phone, and we needed to know if she still wanted to get baptized. Her grandpa answered the door and told us that Rose had been "ducking" us, that she didn't want to keep meeting with us, and that she just didn't have the guts to tell us. We walked away feeling so sad! We had just lost two of our investigators! We were about to pull away when I looked in the rearview mirror  and saw Chikira running outside. We stopped and ran back to meet her. We asked her what she was doing there, we thought she'd moved! She told us that she and Rose had prayed together, and then they had been able to work everything out, so she wasn't moving anymore! Rose wasn't home, but Chikira assured us that they still wanted to keep meeting with us, that her phone was broken which is why she hadn't been able to contact us, and that they still wanted to get baptized! We had the most amazing lesson with Chikira, she told us more about her life (it has been ROUGH). I felt so much of Heavenly Father's love for her. We all sat outside, in the dark, in the cold, being eaten by bugs, and just cried because the spirit was so strong. We asked her how she'd known that we'd stopped by. She said she had been inside sleeping when "something" had told her to wake up. When she did Rose's grandpa had told that we'd stopped by, and so she ran outside to catch us. We know that was the Spirit because if she hadn't caught us, we would have stopped trying to contact them, and with their phones being broken I don't know how we would have been able to see them again! 

Soooo.....I accidentally locked all four of us out of the house. We went out for exercise, and I forgot to grab a key, and locked the door behind us. Ooops. All of our phones, phone numbers, keys, and everything were locked inside. Thankfully there is a member that lives about 1 mile from our house, so we ran over there, and she tried to help us pick the lock. Needless to say a locksmith, and 3 hours later we finally made it into the house. Good times. 

We met with Rose and Chikira again and Rose said she had felt so bad when she found out what her grandpa said to us. She still wants to keep meeting with us, and they are still set to get baptized!!

We went to go give service at the food pantry this morning. An adorable little Cuban lady that comes every week walked in the door, looked around, and bolted straight for my table. She showed me a little gift bag with fingernail polish inside that she'd bought me because 2 weeks ago I told her I liked the color of her nails. It was so cute!

Then we had a temple tour with Angela. An older lady from our ward drove us and Angela to the temple. Angela LOVED it, and she is so excited to go inside someday! The member and Angela got along really really well, so it turned out to be such a great day!

Rose and Angela came to church! Chikira was stuck at her mom's house in Northern Florida with no way home. We will have to push her baptism back a week, but Angela and Rose are set for this upcoming Saturday March 25th!! 

We are so excited!!!

Love you all, 
Hermana Monson

Monday, March 13, 2017

Coral Reef March 13, 2017

Crystal Worthen sent me an adorable package and it made my day!

We got food from Fritanga. Carne asada, arroz con gri, maduros, and queso frito (fried cheese). Yum!

 A GORGEOUS sunset. I love Florida. The pictures don't even do it justice.

We have been biking a ton, having a lot of investigators takes a lot of miles on you car. So then you don't have any left. So then you have to bike. 

This is a text message that we got from Rose last night. Angela had given her and Chikira a ride home from church. We were SO happy when we got that text! 
Hola everyone!!

I hope this email finds you well! It has been another wonderful week here in Coral Reef! I just love Sister Carling, and we have 3 progressing investigators whom I just love as well!

First of all, we knocked into a new investigator named Angela. We were biking around, trying to figure out which street we should knock, and we both really felt like we should stop and knock on a particular street, now we know why! Angela accepted a prayer right away, and she was very emotional from the beginning. She told us about how she'd had a car accident a while ago, and that had caused her some serious injuries, which had led to some depression. She went from living in a beautiful home in Georgia to being forced to move in with her son here in Florida. She feels like she has lost her faith, but she really wants to gain it back. She let us right in, and we both felt that instead of teaching the Restoration like we normally do, we should teach the Plan of Salvation. It was just what she needed to hear. She eagerly accepted a baptismal date for March 25th, and has been steadily progressing ever since!! She is absolutely wonderful! She takes notes during our lessons, and she came out of church yesterday with almost 4 pages of notes, she loved it! We were able to give her a tour of the chapel on Saturday morning, and that worked out very well because there was a bunch of ward members there cleaning the chapel so she got to meet all of them. She loves the concept of the sacrament, and being able to start over again each week. She was so excited that before we had even called her on Sunday morning to wake her up for church, she texted and said she was excited to see us in a few hours. She loved gospel principles because we watched a video of President Monson, and talked about modern prophets. At the end she said"Wow! That was powerful!" It was very sweet because in Relief Society they have a "good news moment" thing where sisters can share if they had any cool things happen during the week. Angela said that her good news moment was the two sister missionaries knocking on her door and bringing her this gospel. I think those are the words that every missionary wants to hear. At the end of church she was asking us all about her baptism and what clothes she will need to wear, and it is still two weeks away. I love her so much! Every time she says good-bye to us she says "I love you sisters!!" Please pray that everything will go well for her baptism on March 25th!

Our other two investigators Rose and Chikira have really been struggling. Satan is throwing everything he can think of to keep them from progressing. They have been to the hospital, they have been discouraged by their anti-Mormon grandmother, and their phones have broken down so we couldn't get in contact with them! However, the hugest miracle was that they were both able to come to church yesterday!! We were so happy, and they both really enjoyed it. They said that they have had a "calming feeling" ever since. They are also set to be baptized on March 25th, and we are so excited! They are just amazing!

The craziest thing that happened was last night when we were contacting some former investigators. We were sitting in a parking lot outside one of the apartment buildings, and we were putting a new address in our gps. All of the sudden two police cars pull up next to us and demand that we roll down our windows, and show them ID. Sister Carlings window was broken, so that was an extra hassle. They asked what we were doing, why we were sitting there, who we had come to visit, and if anyone could vouch for that. We explained that we were missionaries, we had just been visiting some members of our congregation, and that we were terribly sorry for idling in the parking lot. Once they saw that we were two innocent white girls from Utah they softened up. They said that they have to be very careful in that parking lot because bad things happen a lot, so an idling car is either doing something illegal, or is an easy target for other people who want to do illegal things. We apologized again, and they said we could leave. Before we left they wanted to know a little bit more about the church, so we invited them to come. That would be quite the story if they showed up on Sunday!! We got out of there quick, and just started laughing. It was a little freaky, but mostly just funny. 

Those are most of the stories that I have for this week! I hope that you are all doing well, just know that I love you and this gospel. 

Hermana Monson

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 6, 2017 The Zoo with her Zone

                                      Sadie got to spend her P-day at the Zoo with her Zone.

Coral Reef March 6, 2017 Welcome Hermana Carling!

Hello everyone!

I hope that you are all doing well :)!! This has been an amazing week, and we have seen so many miracles!! It has been great being a trainer so far! My trainee is Sister Carling, she is from Logan, Utah. She went to Utah State before the mission to study Spanish and social work, and she is amazing! So ready to work hard, and she is so good at testifying to people. I love her to pieces and I am so excited for this upcoming transfer!

Like I said: so many miracles!! We started off on Wednesday with finding a new investigator. A sweet little old Nicaraguan lady named Lila. She said that she has some Mormon friends, and so she was open to listening to our message. Sister Carling did great in her first lesson. It was funny because we went back to see her the next day, and she was having troubles with her car. Well, neither one of us knows much about how cars work, but we spent about 20 minutes in her driveway trying to help her figure out how to turn her lights off inside (the button wasn't working). Well, eventually we figured it out, but then next we know she says "gracias", gets in her car, and drives away! We were like "well, I guess we won't be having our lesson with her right now." We won't be able to keep teaching her, but she was so cute, and we definitely planted a seed!! 

On Thursday we had some awesome miracles!! After knocking in a super rough area with lots of bible bashers (poor Sister Carling, first time knocking and we run into some HARD CORE bible bashers, the kind where all you can say is "we are going to leave now, have a nice day"). However, later that night we knocked into Rose and Shakira, two of our AMAZING new investigators!! They are progressing so well! They weren't able to come to church yesterday because their grandma wouldn't let them use her car to get to the "Mormon church". Well, we went over last night, cleared up some concerns, and now they are set for baptism on March 25th! The Spirit is so strong with every lesson we teach them!!

Other miracle we saw last night was when we were knocking we ran in to two old ladies that let us share a prayer, but afterwards they wouldn't rest until we'd left the neighborhood (because it was too dangerous). We relented and drove a few streets over, turns out that is where we needed to be anyways because we found another new investigator Laquita!! She is a young mother with 6 little kids, she is looking for more spiritual guidance, and she also has a baptismal date for March 25th!!

Other crazy stories: the police showed up to interrogate one of the formers we were teaching (we managed to slip out unnoticed before things got too crazy), and Sister Carling accidentally dropped our phone in the toilet!

I wish I had more time, but things are a little crazy!! Just know that this week has been absolutely amazing!! We found 7 new investigators!! I am doing so well, I know that this gospel is true, and I'm so grateful to be sharing it with the people here in Florida. 

Love, Hermana Monson

Turns out, we actually have a little bit more time, so I can explain things better!

So, on Thursday we ended up finding Rose. Rose is a young black mother, and she has a 5 year old daughter. She is really looking for spiritual guidance right now, and she accepted baptism right away at the end of our lesson on Thursday night. When we went back the next day, she had invited her friend (Shakira) to join us, because Shakira had been curious after Rose told her about our visit. By the end of the lesson they had both promised to read from The Book of Mormon, and Shakira had committed to baptism as well. We were so excited!! The spirit was so strong during that lesson, Sister Carling and I had a miniature freak out on the street outside their house. We were supposed to give them a tour of the chapel on Saturday, but Rose's daughter was sick so we couldn't. However, they both promised to come to church. We went to go knock on their door on Sunday morning so they could follow us to church, but their grandmother answered the door. She did not seem thrilled to see us there, and she told us that they were asleep so they wouldn't be coming to church, and also that they would probably be sticking with their religion. We were so disappointed! Well, we decided to go back and see them on Sunday night. Luckily, Rose answeredd the door instead of her grandma. She let us right in and explained that they had wanted to come to church, but their grandma wouldn't allow them to use her car to get to the "Mormon church." They both had some concerns about polygamy, about the Book of Mormon, and they got us confused with the Jehovah's Witnesses (their grandmother had heard some things), but we got it all cleared up, taught a very powerful lesson about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and committed them both to baptism on March 25th!! So exciting!

On Friday we were out knocking and we ran into a lady named Johanna, she let us right in and we taught her the message of the Restoration. At the end of the lesson she committed to baptism, and to come to church. Right as we were about to leave another lady walked in the door, and Johanna introduced us to her wife. We got out of the lesson, looked at each other, and just started laughing. What do we do? So funny. Well, we called the Bishop and Relief Society president to let them know that Johanna (and possibly her wife) would be coming to church. Then anxiously waited for Sunday to roll around. Johanna had to cancel her lesson with us on Saturday, and she did not end up coming to church. We haven't had much contact with her for a few days, but we are hoping to be able to stop by her house later today.

We had dinner with the most amazing member family on Saturday. They invited us, the sisters from YSA, and the Elders over for dinner. We had the typical Cuban arroz con gris, maduros, pork, and tres leches cake. It was amazing! After dinner the YSA sisters shared the spiritual thought. One of them is Brazilian, and so they shared the first vision in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The Brazilian sister is a convert to the church, and she got very emotional as she was sharing it. The spirit was absolutely amazing! This family is so on fire with missionary work! We normally walk out of a member's house with 1 or maybe 2 referrals if we are lucky. They gave us 11 of their neighbors to go visit!! They are so awesome!! Victor and Rosabla were baptized about 4 years ago, then they met each other in the temple, and now they both LOVE the gospel and are always trying to share it with everyone they meet. It was funny because Victor speaks a tiny bit of Italian, just enough to invite this Italian couple he met on the street to church. It threw us all for a loop when they actually showed up to church, and no one actually knows how to speak Italian!! Thankfully they could understand a little bit of Spanish, so we were able to introduce them to the Bishop. They don't live anywhere near the chapel, but we are going to find out if missionaries from their home ward could pay them a visit. Also, Sister Carling accidentally dropped the phone in the toilet at this meal appointment, it stopped working. Thankfully, we already had a new phone in our house, we just hadn't transferred the contacts. Well, now all of our contacts are lost, so we will have to put them in manually. I guess that is our punishment for procrastinating transferring the contacts. Oh well, we had a very good laugh about that!!

Another crazy thing that happened was when we went to go visit a former investigator named Barbara. We show up, she opens the door, we introduce ourselves, and next thing we know another lady comes storming around the side of the house and starts yelling at Barbara in rapid Spanish. Barbara starts yelling right back. They were speaking way to fast for us to understand everything, but we knew they were calling each other names, and they kept gesturing to us as if we knew what the heck was going on. We stood there for about 10 minutes, trying to interrupt and excuse ourselves, but they ignored us. Finally the lady went back around the side of the house, and Barbara apologized and let us in. She explained that the lady was a tenant, that she wasn't paying rent, and that she was demanding that Barbara fix her outlets in the room she was renting, but Barbara didn't have the money because she got robbed. She literally has 5 dollars and that is it. She is pregnant, and going through a very rough time. Well, we are sharing a scripture with her, and trying to help when there is a huge knock at the door. Barbara answers the door, and the police are standing there, they start asking her about the situation. We just look at each other. What do we do? Will they need us to testify? We decide to kind of just slip out the door, thankfully the police didn't mind. It was so crazy!

Anyways, it has been a crazy busy, but absolutely amazing week! We are so exhausted, but so happy!! I hope that you all have a great week!! 

Meet Sadie's new companion Hermana Carling!  Also, at transfers, Sadie got to see her trainer Hermana Root, so they took a "three generation picture."

Hermana Monson

More pictures from February 28, 2017

Sadie and her companion Hermana Hernandez went to a beautiful beach area with the Sisters from the YSA ward.

Coral Reef South February 28, 2017

Hi everyone!

I hope this email finds you well, I am doing great! It has been a good week of missionary work! We have not found any new investigators, and not really any potentials either so we have spent a lot of time knocking doors, contacting former investigators, and visiting less-active members. 

Yesterday we saw a cool miracle. We had planned to spend our whole day in a city called "Lakes By the Bay." We had some people to visit over there, but for whatever reason when we had planned our day we had decided to go see Sister Ferro at 3:00. When we looked at what we had next on our agenda, we were confused as to why we had put her right there because she lives about two cities away from Lakes by the Bay, and so to visit her we would have to drive all the way back to this other city, and then return to Lakes by the Bay for the evening. We weren't sure what to do, sooooo....we prayed! That's what we always do. We felt like we should still go see her, even though it would take some extra driving. 

We have visited Sister Ferro in the past, she is from Honduras (so she loves Sister Hernandez). She has some health challenges that make it difficult for her to get out much, and when we have visited her in the past she did not seem interested in coming back to church. Well, by the end of our visit yesterday, we knew that it was Heavenly Father that had put her on our agenda. She needed a visit. Her husband is a member of another faith, and since she can't drive herself, she has been going to church with him. She told us that she has been attacked for her beliefs a lot at the other church, but she still hasn't lost her testimony. She told us that she has been reading from the Book of Mormon everyday, and truly desires to come back to church! We were so glad that we had gone to see her. We shared some scriptures with her, and she loved the visit. 

On Saturday we were both feeling a little off, and pretty discouraged. We were trying to figure out why, and then we realized that it was because we hadn't taken the sacrament for 2 weeks in a row. Sister Hernandez had been sick, and then we had Stake Conference. Sunday was so wonderful to be able to take the sacrament! It made me appreciate what a huge difference it makes. My week has already gone so much better. I know that having the Spirit makes the biggest difference, it is what allows us to feel peace and happiness even during difficult times. 

So, this week is transfers!! I found out last night that I will be staying in Coral Reef and I will be training a new missionary!! I am so excited! I will have more details next week. 

Love, Hermana Monson