Thursday, January 5, 2017

We reached our GOAL!!!

     We finally had a lesson with David! We caught up with him and Bee, his girlfriend, then they said they had some good news for us! He prayed about being baptized and set his own date!! He feels good about being baptized on January 28th!! WHOO HOO!!!!! I have never had an investigator set their own baptismal date. He went on to share how he has grown and how he knows God is real (huge step) and how his prayers have been answered. They will eventually be sealed!
     We havent heard from Mauricio and Oscar is out of town, but still reading and praying!
     There was a power problem at the Visitors Center so we turned all the power off for about 2 hours. It was exciting! The performance that night was called, "Embers of Christmas" and it was so appropriate as the lights flickered on and off. It was such a tender mercy that this power problem happened the very last day, instead of in the middle of the Christmas season. Wow Heavenly Father really loves us.
     I spent this entire year 2016 as a full time missionary. It is over whelming to think of everything that has happened. Time has really flown. I am really tired.
My year in review:
6 companions
3 areas
2 calls home
28 exchanges
10 weeks spent in the temporary Visitors Center
4 temple trips
4 zone conferences
1 car accident
6 weddings missed
6 companions when home
19 Visitors' Center sisters went home
339 mission baptisms
countless tears
countless laughs
countless lessons taught
countless tours given at the Visitors Center
countless taco trucks
countless people invited to hear the gospel
countless people rejected the gospel
countless prayers
countless miracles
     I was weepy all morning Jan 1 thinking about the year being over. Missions really change you. It has changed me. 
     No, we didnt reach our 400 baptismal goal. (We finished 2016 with 339 baptisms. This is just 4 fewer people baptized than in 2015, yet with approximately 22% fewer missionaries.)BUT we reached something better. I can not imagine my mission without this 400 goal!!!!! It would not have been the same. It changed my mission. I was here for the entire year. I prayed for the 400 goal every day. It motivated me every day. It helped me to set high stretch goals and work hard to achieve them. It taught me to really pray. It taught me to rely on the Lord 100% and accept the fact that I couldnt do this on my own. it helped me to give the credit to the Lord more than I would have. It helped me to recognize His hand. It helped me to have a better attitude about passing off investigators or referrals to other missionaries because it was for the 400. It created unity. I worked to eliminate doubt and fear. I grew closer to the Lord. I was more in tune with what He wanted me to do. I have never exercised faith like this before. Setting the monthly baptismal goal of everyone having a baptismal date by the end of the month, when we fasted and prayed to know if the goal was truly from the Lord, these experiences changed me and deepened my testimony. Some people have argued or murmured saying, "If the Lord was really in on this goal, why didn't we achieve it?" or "Why did the Lord want us to set this goal?" The Lord was 100% in on this goal. We are all stronger and better and more faithful and powerful missionaries and people because of it. The goal drew us to Him. It caused us to search our souls! Do I really trust the Lord? Is this really His work? We reached something way more precious and important than a few more baptisms. Our purpose as missionaries was more fully achieved with this goal. Wow I am so grateful for it. 400!
     We got a lot of time in our area this week! Quite a contrast to the Christmas season. Sister Chiang and I had an interesting discussion about how people in Berkeley are so different than the other areas we have served in. Most of the conversations we have with people are about having faith. Most of the people & students on campus we talk to are Atheist. A ton of people say they dont need a religion, they are just "spiritual." One guy even said, "I know it is so cliche of me to say because we are in Berkeley, but I am spiritual." Another interesting thing is that most of these Atheists were born into a religious family and aren't originally from the Bay Area.
     So we discussed, WHY. Pride. Accepting God and religion means they are admitting that they need something else. They need a higher power. They need something stronger than just themselves to be happy or to be forgiven, etc. They have to say. "I cant do this on my own." That takes humility! They are so smart and wealthy and independent and successful. But are they at peace? Do they have a knowledge of their divine worth? Do they have hope in their future? Do they experience joy when their burden or sin is lifted? It kills me when people say. "I am not interested." or "It's not for me." What do you mean you aren't interested? You aren't interested in being happy or forgiven? You aren't interested in seeing your loved ones again? It's not for you? It's for EVERYONE!!! It is for ALL! Joy, peace, truth, blessings, resurrection, forgiveness, it is for all. He who makes all of this possible to us declared:

"I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent." D&C 19:16
"He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female." 2 Nephi 26:33

     When we talked with one Atheist, he said he would need a sign to believe in God. Sister Chiang kindly asked him what kind of sign he was looking for. He said that God would practically have to come down and stand here in front of him. I taught him how that doesnt require faith. I bore my testimony that I know God lives and loves us. he actually really listened to me. It really felt like a Book of Mormon story! Me asking if he believes in God, him saying no and that he needs a sign, me testifying of faith and of God's reality. Maybe I should have caused him to be struck dumb like the scriptures, to give him a sign. But I love opportunities to bear my testimony! 
I love you
This work is everything to me.
We are working harder than ever. The Lord's time is precious. Every second counts.
Yay for a new year with new goals and motivation. Hopefully we can all have a New Years Resolution to come closer to the Savior and share the joy of the gospel with OTHERS!
Christmas Dinner

New Years Eve Movie Night

Movie Night

My disgusting watch that is supposed to be white

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