I like shake when I type these emails home because I am so happy and I just want to write everything as fast as I can aaahhh!! Hi!!! I am so happy. I love everything. It has been raining here which is such a MIRACLE! I thought it was cold here until I heard it snowed in Idaho so I am grateful for the sunshine :)) SO....
Last Monday, I went on exchanges for the first time! It was with the Sister Training Leaders and I got paired with Sister Martinez. Usually when it's your first transfer, you go the STL's area and they show you around and you are the junior companion. BUT the Lord wanted Sister Martinez to come to MY area!! I got to be the Senior companion and I had to drive (for the first time in 2 months...in California..so scary) and show her around and lead the lessons and everything!! It was a little intimidating at first, but I prayed and received strength and it went very well! They are there to help you and teach you, so I also prayed very hard for humility and to be teachable because it is hard to hear what you need to work on!!! It is VERY easy to be defensive or offended. But through the Lord, I was able to humble myself and even DESIRE criticism to change and BECOME BETTER! :)
Every month, they have this AMAZING fireside called "Why I Believe." It takes place in the ISC building up on Temple Hill (where the temple and Visitors' Center, VC, are). It is where about 10-15 recent converts go up and tell their conversion stories and bear their testimonies! You are only allowed to go if you bring an investigator. We brought one of our investigators named Paradize! There are also musical numbers. It was SO beautiful. SO powerful. It is really good for our investigators to see the wide variety ( W I D E variety let me tell you) of people who have joined the church and their SIMPLE yet very powerful testimonies. I cant wait to bring 23948 people next time :) So beautiful.
SO about some of the people here in my life in SAN LEANDRO:
Ann Helen is a beautiful mother with one son and she has a baptismal date for November 29! She is from Norway, speaks english very well and is extremely quiet and just as sweet. She is nervous and timid, but the Lord gives her strength :)
Roslyn is a beautiful single 45 year old African American who LOVES the scriptures. She is getting baptized on November 28th!
Paradize is the investigator we brought to Why I Believe. He is around 20 African American really chill guy haha. He has come to church every single Sunday since I got here! His grandma is a less active and we are teaching those two and his 9 year old cousin LaReese. They are doing really well and we are going to challenge them to baptism this week!!
John and Mary were a referral we received from our VC. He is a less-active and she is the kindest, most open-hearted woman I have ever met. We taught them the Restoration and she committed to baptism. The next day, we ran into them (not by accident, there are NO accidents) and she ran up to me and hugged me and goes, "WE GOT MARRIED!!" MIRACLE. This shows how the Lord is preparing these people's hearts. They knew they needed to get married for her to get baptized, so they went and got married the next day. They are some of the coolest people I have ever met. BUT they moved :(( To Idaho actually, so I am passing them on to my family!! YAY! JK but we are keeping in touch.
Lucia is a beautiful single Hispanic mom of two children. She met the missionaries where she worked (in someones home) and had been driving three hours to meet with them once a week. She finally couldn't make the commute and asked if she had missionaries that were closer and IT WAS US!!!! Now we are teaching her and are committing her to baptism this week!!!!!!
One thing that is really hard is our SACRED time at the VC cuts our time in our area in half, then on top of meetings and P-days and everything, we dont get to meet with these people or contact our referrals as much as we would like :( But we are doing our best!
Thank you for your prayers for us to be able to find the elect who are SO READY for the gospel. So ready, that it's almost like we don't even have to do anything but show them the way. It's like they already know it so we just have to show them the steps. We had a beautiful miracle this week. During one hour of our shift at the VC, we go on what is called outside tour, where we get to walk to the grounds and talk to people/admire the beauty OH MY I LOVE IT. I practically cry when we have to leave. But we felt prompted to talk to this lady, so we offered to take a picture for her (she was trying to take a selfie). This is a very effective tactic because then we are holding their cameras and they kind of have to stay and talk to us hahaha :)) Anyways, we started talking to her about her beliefs and everything. She is Christian. She completely opened up to us about her violent and troubled past. She told us that one night she told Jesus she couldn't do it any more and turned to Him. She said her life hasnt been the same since! We invited her into the Visitors' Center and you should have seen her light up. She just grabbed her chest and cried and kept saying, "oh my goodness, oh my goodness, wow, wow." The Spirit was so strong and she was there for HOURS. She told us that she knew God led her there and the gospel was perfect for her, just what she had been looking for. I had the sacred opportunity to bear my testimony that He had in fact led her here. HOW BEAUTIFUL that we get to be a part of these little miracles every day. One awesome thing about the VC is that we aren't the missionaries in her area, but we get to send the missionaries to her house AND keep in contact with her from the VC phone center. It's the best.
I got to go to the TEMPLE today!!!!! I have been dreaming of going in the Oakland Temple since the day I got my call, April 28th. Every single day I walk the ground. Every single day I take pictures of this beautiful building. Every single day I bear my testimony to people of the House of the Lord. I seriously just stare and admire it from the Visitors' Center ALL DAY. And I FINALLY got to go inside!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so beautiful. The temple takes on a whole new level of power and the Spirit when you are set apart as a full time missionary. The Spirit was so strong and my heart was very full. The diamonds on the chandelier in the celestial room clink together because the AC blows on them, and it makes magical heavenly music. I love the temple.
I came across a beautiful concept that I would LOVE to share with you. I hope it makes sense :) There is a powerful talk called "Willing To Submit" by Elder Maxwell. It is all about us submitting our will to the Lord's. He says,
This parallel is SO beautiful. The Lord has revealed all of these qualities so we can EASILY trust in Him, without hesitation, so we can realize His will for us! Why wouldn't you want to give everything you have to a God who is FULL of love and patience and kindness and forgiveness?? He revealed all of these qualities so we can trust in Him, knowing He will take care of us! I want to yield to Him because He knows me SO much better than I know myself. I would not be here on a mission if it weren't for Him. I am so grateful for this beautiful and comforting knowledge that we have a Father in Heaven who LOVES us so much."It is only by yielding to God that we can begin to realize His will for us. And if we truly trust God, why NOT yield to His loving omniscience?? After all, He knows us and our possibilities MUCH better than we do."Then I came across this statement in the Bible Dictionary about FAITH:"The Lord has revealed Himself and His perfect character, possessing in their fullness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power,and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in Him without reservation."
I am so happy. I just can't get enough of anything. I am learning and growing more than I ever thought possible. My time here is so short and I wish time would just slow down!!!!!! I can't believe it has been a whole transfer....Time FLIES here. Can I just say how frustrating it is when one of your investigators FINALLY comes to Relief Society and you are expecting some INCREDIBLE lesson about the Atonement and changing your life around, and your lesson is literally on food storage. Sorry if that is rude but I mean SERIOUSLY. People are constantly bringing us cookies and treats at the VC, so I have narrowed my diet down to only 10 cookies a day.... The lights are going up on Temple Hill and Christmas is coming!!! I am so happy. I seriously go to sleep and wake up smiling. There is no where I would rather be. I LOVE it here, I love my call, I love the Visitors' Center. I love eating 35 bowls of cereal before bed every night. I love that my trainer Sister Harper is a living and breathing heater so she holds my hands and warms them up. I love being a missionary. I love reading the scriptures. I love bearing my testimony. I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ that helps us become better each and every day, at our own pace!!! He will change our hearts. Every single day I realize how far I have to go.. I have SO MUCH to work on and change about myself, sometimes it if overwhelming how far I am from perfect BUT all things are possible through the Lord. I try not to let my weaknesses and faults weigh me down, but motivate me!!!! How beautiful is it when you are working on patience, the Lord places a situation in your life that requires patience, and you succeed!!!! I am so grateful for the temple and I know that as we STRIVE to keep our covenants, we will be blessed with a multiplicity of blessings. I am so grateful for Prophets who are called of God. I know they are the Lord's mouthpiece here on the earth today. We would be lost without them! Prophets are a manifestation of God's love for us."If we could daily remember and recognize the depth of that love our Heavenly Father and our Savior have for us, we would be willing to do anything to be back in their presence again, surrounded by their love eternally. What will it matter what we suffer here if, in the end, those trials are the VERY THINGS which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God with our Father and Savior." -Sister Reeves
I am so grateful for all of your love and prayers. I couldn't do it without you. Eat some Chickfila for me someone...I'm dying.
FOREVER and back again,
|Exchanges with Sister Martinez|
|Me and Sarada with matching coats :))|
|LOVE OUR NEW COVERTS|
|Akshana, Sarada's baby...she is PRECIOUS|
|Akshana and Abby|
|Lunch with our ward mission leader!|
|Tanada, Tanaye, and Jasmine. We read bible stories to them!|
|Me and Sister Neves (Senior couple at VC) have matching necklaces!|
|After ''Why I Believe"|
|Temple day with my ZONE!|
|The cute girls in my zone...TEMPLE DAY|
|Sister Winters! She is a VC sister...LOVE HER!|
|Sister Housley, also a VC sister. Love her too :))|