Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Love Is the Motive (May 16 email)

Charity & love; it's something that I've had on my mind constantly for the last 9 weeks or so. Recently a friend told me, "love is your motive". That has stuck with me. I've really been working these last 18 months on loving people. I've had good days & I've had bad days. As I was thinking more about love being my motive I started to see how love should be everyone's motive & the motive of everything we do! Heavenly Father's motive is love for His children. Jesus Christ's motive is love for His Father & all of us. Our parents' motive comes from their love for their children. My motive should be love for everyone around me. It's quite a challenge to love every single person around you; but I've truly come to know that charity is a gift that can only be given from God. I cannot envelop charity, charity must envelop me.

I can't wrap my head around how fast my mission is coming to an end. I can't put into words how grateful I am for these past 18 months & everything I've experienced. It has been harder than I ever imagined, yet sweeter than I can even describe. I've come to know who my Father in Heaven is, what His plan is, who I am, & how I fit into that plan. I know God is real. I've felt Him in my life more times than I can count. Missions are the hardest things. I've come to see time & time again that there's no way possible I could have made it through this experience without help from God. I am weak, but through Him I am made strong. I've never loved anything as much as I love serving the Lord. 
But if there's anything I've learned it's that there's more to God's plan than we have yet experienced. Just as I know there's life after death, I know there's life after going home from a mission. Although I won't be physically wearing the name of Jesus Christ everyday as I have for 18 months, His name will always be on my heart. 

"Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage...and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad." D&C 128:22

Thank you all for your love & support. I'll see some of you soon, some not for a while & some maybe never again, but just know that you all have impacted my life for good.
xoxo Sister Viraldo

Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 9 email

(Short and sweet since we just Skyped yesterday for Mother's Day!!)
I went back in time this week.
I had the opportunity to go to two of my old areas: Wrightwood & Chino Hills!
Wednesday I was on exchanges in Wrightwood for the last time & it was awesome. Tuesday night they had mutual & I got to go in & say hi to everyone there. It was the BEST. I saw Alissa & Kealin, & Alissa gave me the biggest hug ever! Then I went in to see all the YW & they were so excited to see me, which was pretty special because I didn't feel like I got to know them all that well.
Wrightwood YW
We had a great day! Our dinner fell through with a less active, & as we were going to visit someone, Brother Howe came outside his house & was super surprised to see me! I asked him what him & his wife were doing for dinner & he said "feeding you!" haha. Sometimes it's nice being a missionary. They made us some awesome hot pot. 

The other highlight of the week was going down to Chino Hills for the baptism of Ben Nelson. Ben is 14 years old & he's someone Sister Bergstrom & I both taught! He finally got permission from his mom to be baptized & it was a glorious day! I got to see some of my most favorite people of all time too! 

Also my last MLC was this week & it was awesome. Not only that, but it was on my 18 month mark! So to honor that, we got a picture of all of us. Elder Jensen, Elder Redhair, Sister Martinez & me. 
STLs and Zone Leaders
And we didn't get a chance to get the best ward mates picture ever, so we did that too. :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

God's love is for everyone (May 2 email)

I told you last week how Sister Bergstrom & I were praying for patience & boy did we learn something.

This week was crazy.
168 hours in a week. 84 hours together. 84 hours apart.
I can't go into details about what happened, but I learned a lot about God's timing. 
Pretty much, we were on exchanges from Tuesday night at 8:30-Friday morning, then exchanged with another set of sisters Friday night until Saturday night. Poor Sister B slept in her own bed only 3 nights this week. 
Because of exchanges I've come to appreciate my companion even more :')  But all in all it was a pretty great week with good things happening all around.

Crystal is doing amazing! She is reading her scriptures & praying daily. What's even more remarkable is that she has a hard time comprehending things, especially the scriptures, yet she pushes through. She attends as many institute classes as possible. 
Jane is still good. Things have been going on with the family she's living with. The mom had to get surgery & so Jane has been super stressed taking care of her, worrying about her family in WA & finishing up school.
We found 2 new investigators in YSA, Taylor & Jessica. Taylor wants to be baptized in July!
Genie & Murry are doing well & progressing toward baptism on the 14th of this month!  They came to church & loved it until Murry had an anxiety attack & had to leave. But he got his first priesthood blessing & it really helped. 

On Saturday we had a cool miracle! I was on exchanges with Hermana Metcalf & we were going to try a YSA potential in felony flats. Yeah, that's what they call it...don't worry we went during the day time & it's not THAT bad. There was a lady sitting outside with all her belongings & we asked her how she was doing. She just looked really sad & said "I'm waiting for the police to show up." (not gonna lie, that freaked me out a little) I walked up closer to her & asked if we could share our card. She asked if we were JWs & I said no, we're mormons! She said "I'm mormon too". That was unexpected. 
We started talking to her more & she's in a pretty rough place in her life. Her roommate stole her money & kicked her out & other stuff. We gave her a Book of Mormon & she almost cried! We asked if she wanted a blessing & we called the elders to come by. It was a really great experience. We got her information & called the Bishop of the ward she lives in, which is Desert Knolls. She really wants to start coming back to church & getting her life together again. She bought cigarettes also that morning to help calm her down, something she hadn't done in 5 years & when we came up to her she was holding one in her hand, but as we sat & talked with her she had no desire to smoke it anymore. She'd been praying for help that morning & Heavenly Father was very aware of her. I know that He sent us there at that time just for her. It was amazing to see how very personal He is & how He uses US as His hands on this earth.

xoxo Sister Viraldo  
On exchanges with the La Mesa Hermanas!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Become (April 25 email)

Another week has gone by & here I am trying to think of what to write. Today's one of those 'procrastinate writing an email & do anything else you can think of BUT that' days. I don't know why, it just is.

This week was a very good week. The highlight was Crystal got baptized! 
It was a very happy day for all of us! It was full of the Spirit. Sister Bergstrom & I had the opportunity to sing Joseph Smith's First Prayer. Sunday she got confirmed a member of the church & received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. What an incredible experience! A lot of this week was preparing for her baptism. We had a lesson with her every day prior to Saturday.
Went on a couple exchanges Wednesday & Thursday. We had a great lesson with Genie & Murry this week. Sister Bergstrom & I decided we needed to push back their baptismal date a couple weeks so we could have time to finish teaching them the lessons. I was kinda worried about how Murry would take it, but by the grace of God he took it very well! No worries there. They will be baptized on May 14th :)
They are starting to read the Book of Mormon together too! We taught them the commandments of scripture study, obedience, keeping the Sabbath day holy, & prayer. Genie said "it will be a lot of change", but that she would keep those commandments. They unfortunately weren't able to come to church this week because Murry forgot to take his meds the night before.
Well, that's about all the info I have from this week, but I have a cool quote from doing "My Plan" this week. (what "my plan" is: "This program is to assist you as you prepare to return home. The program is designed to help you set goals and make plans so you can continue to grow and progress spiritually following your missionary service.")
"In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something." - Elder Dallin H. Oaks 
I've liked that word for awhile now; become. The gospel of Jesus Christ is how we progress in this life & in eternity. This life is meant for us to grow. Sister Bergstrom & I have been working on a Christlike attribute each week for a few weeks now. Today we started working on patience. Yes. It's pretty scary to pray for patience sometimes, but we shouldn't be scared to progress & become who our Heavenly Father wants us to become. That's what this life is about. I'm looking forward to seeing what praying for patience can do for me this week. I'll let you know what Heavenly Father throws my way to test me! Wish me luck!

xoxo Sister Viraldo

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Love--The Essence of The Gospel (April 18 email)

I don't have too much to write about this week, so I'll sum it all up pretty quick.
We got a couple new investigators in YSA from the Maple Sisters, but one has already dropped us because her parents are anti & she doesn't want to go against them. She was super solid though. One day, one day.
We had a couple lessons with Jane & Crystal. Crystal is excited for her baptism! She went to West Virginia this weekend to visit some friends. They had this trip planned for a long time. We expressed to her the importance of going to church & she ended up going to church there with her friends!
I got to go on exchanges with Sister Pinto! She's the cutest, sweetest Navajo ever! (she's 100% Navajo Native American) 'twas a good day.

So I say I don't have much to write about this week because on Thursday Sister Bergstrom had oral surgery done. She was in a lot of pain most all weekend, so we stayed inside & let her rest all Thursday until institute, all Friday, & all Saturday except for the lesson we had with Genie & Murry & Jane. Sister Bergstrom was a trooper through it all, but I'm still kinda sad she wasn't loopy after surgery. :/

Now on to the subject line of my email:
This week in the Mojave Narrows ward we had ward conference. In preparation for ward council, the stake presidency wanted each ward to come up with a topic that they would like to be "trained" on in ward council by the stake presidency. Our ward council chose charity & love. President Gibbons, who just so happens to be the institute teacher & counselor in the stake presidency & also one of my favorite teachers ever, gave the training. He used President Monson's talk from April 2014 General Conference titled "Love--the Essence of the Gospel" & that talk has changed my life. I'm not meaning to sound really dramatic when I say that, haha. But really, I've been thinking about charity & love a lot these past few weeks because that is something that I've come to gain more of on my mission, but I know I could use more, especially in transitioning into home life after my mission. 
I've also been thinking about charity & how loving our ward is to Murry. Lots of people have noticed & commented about him to us & saying how great it is to see him & how delightful he is. It's been amazing to see how loving & caring they are to him. I've learned a lot about charity & how important it is. 
Read this talk, ponder it, & pray about things you can improve on. I know as we were discussing it, the Spirit has prompted me how I can improve in so many areas.  Love is the answer to most problems in the world. 
xoxo Sister Viraldo

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Celestial Transfer: Week 1

I'm going to start off by addressing the elephant in the room. Today is the start of my last transfer as a full-time missionary. It's super weird if I think about it too long, so I don't let myself. I've been blessed by Heavenly Father to stay focused & driven to being diligent & working hard til the end. The inevitable is bound to come, so why worry about it? I love life right now, but if there's one thing I've learned on my mission it's that there's life after death. So things are good, I'm staying sane & that's all I could ask for.

And I'm SOOO happy to say that I am still in Apple Valley, Mojave Narrows/Ridgecrest YSA with Sister Bergstrom. We are Celestial companions. I guess that's what they call companions that are together for 3 transfers. My first & only 3 transfer companion & I couldn't have asked for a better one!
In other news, my friend & fellow missionary I came out with, Elder Jensen, is the new Assistant to the President! Wow. Life is crazy, folks.

I take a look at the past couple transfers & realize I've grown & learned so much. Lately Sister Bergstrom & I have been noticing our lack of disappointment/discouragement when we lose baptismal dates, when nobody seems interested, & when investigators aren't progressing & drop us. I know I've mentioned this before, but I'm going to reiterate it. Our purpose is to find the prepared. Those who are ready to listen to & accept the message we have to share. We've been blessed lately to be finding & teaching really prepared people including Jane, Crystal, Genie & Murry. Because we've experienced teaching them, we have a better idea of who's prepared & who's not. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean we judge everyone we come across as whether they are the ELECT or not...we still talk to everyone & invite everyone to learn!

Jane did not get baptized on Saturday--BUT do not fret! She is still amazing & prepared & wanting to get baptized. She just wants her family to be there. Her family lives in Washington state, so she's planning to be baptized there this summer. (& mom, don't worry about me...I'm fine!) It's all in God's timing. I firmly believe also that if she is meant to be baptized down here the Spirit will prompt her & she will obey.
Jane and apples
Update on Genie & Murry: They both got caught up a little bit on 1 Nephi 4 where Nephi is told to slay Laban. Gosh darn it. It's okay, they'll get past it! But they really seem to like the Book of Mormon. We committed Genie to read the first chapter, & when we came back a couple days later she had read all of 1 Nephi! She is an avid reader :) When we came Murry spilled to us that he hasn't read since we were there last & how he lied to us & God, so before we came he started reading. His comprehension is amazing! He was talking all about how Laman & Lemuel were beating Nephi with a rod & how that wasn't nice. He offered to say the opening prayer & apologized for lying to us & God. It was so cute haha.
They watched the last session of Conference on Sunday & loved it. Well, Murry fell asleep, but Genie loved it! Murry did love the picture of the dinosaur during Elder Holland's talk haha. Genie said she knew the speakers are servants of God. We taught them the Plan of Salvation & the Gospel of Jesus Christ this week. They came to church on Sunday & LOVED it. In gospel principles Murry said, "we used to go to a fake church! it was a fake church! they didn't talk about God! this is a real church!" Luckily he was comfortable enough to go with someone to 3rd hour, & after church he put his arm around his mom & said "Mom! I loved it. Can we come back next week?! PLEASE? Do you promise?!" Best. Thing. Ever. As of now their baptism is still planned for April 30.

Crystal is doing amazing! She loves everything we teach her & is making soooo many friends in YSA! She's excited for her baptism on April 23 :)

That's about it for this week! Give Jacob, Ali & Evie hugs & kisses from their favorite aunt!!
Love you all, 
xoxo Sister Viraldo

Friday, April 8, 2016

Week 7...what?! (April 4 email)

For some reason Sister Bergstrom & I have been extremely blessed in both our areas lately. We can't think of any rhyme or reason except for the fact we're trying our hardest every day, allowing ourselves to be instruments in the hands of the Lord, & boy, is He bringing about great things!

Last week I told of the miraculous story of meeting Genie & Murray. Well, we taught them this week & set a baptismal date with them. They really want to be baptized. Murray is 19 & has autism. He said such a sweet & heartfelt prayer, like he was talking to his father. He also added in some questions that are near & dear to his heart such as: please help us find the new species from Noah's ark & that God will guide us in our dreams. It was probably my favorite prayer I've ever heard. We had a good lesson with them Saturday evening about prophets & invited them to watch Conference on Sunday. Genie told us she watched the afternoon session & really liked the messages but didn't understand who the seven or twelve are...haha

I don't remember if I wrote last week, but as we were heading home from institute on Thursday we got a call from Cassandra (a member in YSA) telling us her friend, Crystal wants to take the lessons. So Tuesday we had a lesson with them at the institute building & it was AMAZING! We taught the Restoration & she said "This HAS to be true!" We set a baptismal date for April 23 which just so happens to be her 29th bday! We've had a couple other lessons & they've gone amazing as well. She is SO prepared. She even watched both sessions of General Conference on Saturday at the institute building.

Jane is still Jane & is progressing toward baptism for this week. If all goes well, she'll be baptized on Saturday! She LOVED Conference this weekend. She watched Saturday morning by herself & we watched Saturday afternoon at her house.

We finally had a lesson with Toni in YSA, who has been a potential for a couple months, but has been way too busy to meet with. She & her roommate are going through difficult things right now & really wanted to meet with us. We taught them about the Atonement & baptism. They both committed to be baptized in May. :)

We found out this week that Michael was moving, but just to another part of Apple Valley. We brought up the YSA ward & he said that sounded cool, so we passed him off to the elders to teach him. 

We had MLC this week & it was so great! This month we're studying chapter 4 of PMG, recognizing the Spirit. 
We had a really nice dinner with a VERY less active member, Jessica. I might've mentioned her before. Her husband is a nonmember & active catholic. 

Well, my last thought for the week is about General Conference. So many good talks, so much spirit felt this whole weekend as we listened to Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ speak to us. I LOVED President Uchtdorf's talk about reaching out to God & obedience. Also, Elder Hales's talk about the Holy Ghost, so good! And of course Elder Holland's. But this time I didn't just LOVE his talk, but it hit me pretty hard & comforted me with some concerns I've been having lately about going home. But I know that the Lord blesses those who want to improve. 

Well, this is the final email before the beginning of my last transfer in the mission. I'm looking forward to see what this new transfer has to offer. Take care!
xoxo Sister Viraldo