Tuesday, December 30, 2014

First Big Change of the Mission!


First things first, transfer calls came on Saturday. Sister C was transferred to the desert to be a Sister Training Leader. I freaked out a bit because that meant I needed to know and be able to explain EVERYTHING to my new companion. I've only been out 6 weeks. I don't know even know the ward members, let alone how to teach our investigators! I have to keep reminding myself that I may not know the people, but the Lord knows them and their needs and He will help me to know how to help them. I think this experience will force me to grow way more than I would have if Sister C would have stayed. It will also force me to rely wholly upon the Lord. 
Transfer meeting was this morning at 10. I met my new companion; her name is Sister K. She's from Hawaii and has been out almost 1 year (in January). She's so fun. I can tell we're gonna get along great! Also, she doesn't have a driver's license so I'm the driver! AHHHHH. I had to drive home from Rancho with only printed out directions & we only had to stop & ask for directions once!

I'm a little sick. I feel fine, but you can tell by the way I sound that I'm sick. Oh well. Life goes on. Missionary work goes on! But I'll be honest, the last 2 days I've been in a daze. with transfer calls and Sister C packing and cleaning the house & saying bye to people. It's been weird. Not much work has been done, but now that things are normal, we're back to work tonight! it'll be good.

New Year's Eve we're eating dinner with a really cool couple, the Bs. I'm pretty positive we have to be inside by 6pm, so I don't know what we'll be doing on that night. No plans yet for New Year's that I know of. We probably have dinner, but I don't remember. I'll let you know next week :)

Wednesday was Christmas Eve! We went caroling during the day: weirdest thing ever. so awkward. no wonder everyone goes caroling at night! Then we had dinner at the M's. Their home is up in the canyon and is gorgeous! President and Sister Hobbs were there. After that, all of us sisters in the zone went caroling!

CHRISTMAS! We woke up and opened presents! I got a couple presents from members of the ward, you, Jake, Jeff, and Tess. Studied then went over to the M's. They fed us breakfast and then we skyped :) Skyping was fun, it was good. It wasn't hard saying bye, luckily. After that, we left and spent the afternoon at home studying and other things. 
We had a dinner appointment at 5:30 with the Ps. At 5:20 one of our investigators, C, called us in a panic. He was drunk & depressed. He was in a very dark place. Sister C got on the phone with him and I went into our bedroom and prayed for him & for her to know how to best help him. It was pretty scary. Thank goodness for the guidance of the spirit. We were able to talk him through things and testified boldly of God's love for Him and that He has a plan for Him and how this church and this gospel is what he and his family need and how it will bless his life so much. We were able to set up an appointment to go to his house the next day and get him a priesthood blessing. After dinner we went caroling for the last time with our zone! 

Friday we were inside all day until our lesson with C at 6:30. President and Sister M came with us. We got there and C said he'd had a long day and didn't have much time to talk, but he agreed to a blessing. President M was the perfect person to take with us. He explained all about the priesthood and how C needed the faith that it would work. They also invited him and his kids to church and to come to their house sometime. They have a couple kids the same age as C's. The blessing was so powerful and the spirit was so strong. We've never seen C smile, but after the blessing he was glowing! It's amazing to know that man can hold a portion of God's power and use it to bless the lives of others. 
After the lesson it was 7:30 and we hadn't had dinner yet, so we decided to visit people for the next 30 minutes and take dinner at 8. We went to visit the R family, a less active family in our ward. Since I've been here we've knocked on their door at least 4 times with no answer, but lo and behold they answered!! Brother R told us that his brother just passed away on Christmas Eve so he'd really like us to come by and visit them. We set up an appointment on Tuesday to go back. We'll teach the Plan of Salvation.

Saturday. Transfer info came. Much of our zone is changing. Like I said, Saturday and Sunday were kind of a daze, I think I was in shock. But anyway, we went to see a less active member and talked to him for a little bit about motorcycles, which I know nothing about, reason 1 I'll miss Sister C. Then the guy across the street was painting his garage and I told sister C that I LOVE painting! So she told me to talk to him about that. So I did. Unfortunately he didn't need any help :( He thought we were Jehovah's Witnesses at first. He was super friendly and said we can come back whenever. Side note: he had the radio on and Taylor Swift's new song 'Blank Space' was playing. GOOD SONG. It's those little things that put a smile on my face :) we went to the R's home for dinner because it was their daughter's wedding reception. good food! after that we went home and Sis C packed and I worked on my talk for Sunday! yippeeee..

Sunday we had ward coordilation (coordination/correlation) with Brother H. (OH I FORGOT TO SAY THIS LAST WEEK. last Sunday Brother H aligned my neck. (he's a chiropractor) I figured it might help me have less headaches. he felt my neck and asked if I'd been in an accident...haha he cracked it a bit and when i stood up I thought my head was going to roll off my neck. I had no idea my head could turn that far! I'm still not normal, but he said I can get there eventually. hahaha)  Then ward council, then sacrament meeting where I got to speak! eh, it was alright. I talked about how we can do small good things everyday of our lives to be examples of Jesus Christ and have missionary opportunities. People seemed to like it, idk they were probably just being nice. Sunday night we had dinner with the other P family in our ward. They have a grandson named J who is my little buddy. He sat by me on the couch. SO CUTE. I just want to hold him, but that's against the rules :(

Today we drove to Rancho at 9 and met our new companions! that's about all I got for today :) Ummm, I haven't picked a favorite scripture yet. I'll try to do that this week and tell you next week. THERE'S TOO MANY GOOD ONES.

I'll send pictures too!
love you and thank you for everything :)
xoxo Sister Viraldo

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

12-21-14 It's Almost Christmas!

Christmas as a missionary is weird but also AMAZING. We haven't had many lessons lately, but we have so many opportunities to do service. Gift wrapping, caroling, more gift wrapping, and more caroling. It rocks. It's amazing how the spirit of Christ truly is in each person's life at this time of year, even if they don't recognize it as such. 

Yes, our ward had their Christmas program. I didn't sing by myself, but I was in the ward choir. We sang 4 songs. We did "Hark how the bells" or whatever it's called a capella, and it was really bad. I thought so anyway, but the rest of the songs were good & we got really great feedback from people. We only had one speaker, it was good, not super great. then bishop said a few words.

Mamma B is in Utah visiting family for 2 WHOLE WEEKS!!! I don't know what we're gonna do without her for that long. On Monday we went and got a Christmas tree. She wanted to get one pretty much just for our enjoyment since she wasn't even gonna be home! she also made us a pillow case & got us an ornament and bought us stockings and filled them with stuff (haven't looked what's in it yet, I'm waiting for Christmas!)

Tuesday we didn't do much. We had to finish p-day things and our lesson in the evening got cancelled.
Wednesday we went to Let It Be Wrapped and wrapped Christmas presents for about 2 hours, and visited less actives, then had dinner with the T family. They showed us a really awesome video by The Piano Guys with David Archuleta. look it up if you haven't seen it yet! oh, never mind, here it is http://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/articles/mormon-tabernacle-choir-record-breaking-nativity?lang=eng

Thursday was fun! We had the mission Christmas Devotional in Rancho. Wednesday the missionaries in the desert had one, then Thursday the missionaries in the valley had one. So half the mission was there. We ate lunch, then had a program in the chapel. President & Sister Hobbs did most of it. We watched a couple really awesome bible video type things. Then we went into the cultural hall and they had presents for us! I guess it's a tradition: every year wards from the area knit a hat for each missionary and young women make scarves. So we got to chat a bit with friends.  then we drove back and stopped by to see one of our recent converts and had a GREAT lesson with her & her daughters. We didn't even have a lesson plan for them, but that goes to show how big of a role the spirit plays in teaching. Then we had dinner with Sister S, a really cool story of growing up in Chile, moving to California at 17, being inactive for 20 years, now she's getting ready to go through the temple!

Friday was awesome! I'll tell you about it when we skype. :) actually, I'll just tell you about the rest of my week when we skype! Can't wait to see and talk to you!! 

love you! see you soon :)

How did she know I LOVE Little Mermaid?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

News from the Mission

In case you're a new reader, most names of people Jessica mentions in her emails have been shortened to an initial to protect their privacy.

It feels weird to be 20. That's too old...but my birthday was great! Sister C & Mamma B are the best!! I walked in the door and saw a guitar on the couch & said "it's a guitar!!" I didn't know it was for me. but yes, Sister C borrowed it from a family for me. I got to play for almost 2 hours! I played the new Hallelujah Christmas song. It's pretty fun. Also, I brought it home so I can play it on p-days. Not sure when we'll give it back.

So, every morning we wake up at 6:30, get ready to go outside and "exercise" (we just go on a walk) until about 7. then I usually lay down for a bit until I get up and get dressed, then eat some breakfast (usually I eat a bagel thin with peanut butter/nutella), then at 8 we have personal studies until 9, 9-11 comp study (it's 2 hrs because I'm still being trained). I do love personal study time, but I'm not very good at it. Or at least I'm not good at it compared to my companion. It'll come with time, I'm sure.

Tuesday last week we had zone meeting. Sister C & I gave a BOSS training on becoming a disciple of Christ and how as we develop/change our Attitude, Gratitude, Charity, and Enthusiasm we become more Christlike which allows us to become a better disciple of Christ, which enables us to be more devoted missionaries. Do you remember Elder Bednar's talk in this October's general conference? He was directing a part of it to nonmembers, saying how "our eagerness to declare this message is not merely the result of a sense of spiritual duty. Rather, our desire to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with you is a reflection of how important these truths are to us." We declared a bold statement to the missionaries: "if you don't feel like you are eager to share the gospel, you are not converted enough". As we become more and more converted to the gospel, our enthusiasm to share it with others increases.

I could see that in my life when I was living in EL. One reason I wanted to serve a mission is because I was so eager to share the gospel with others. My eagerness came from going out with the missionaries, reading my scriptures, and praying. As I was becoming more converted, my enthusiasm grew. As missionaries, we get days where we're not the most eager to talk to people, so this is something everyone needs to work on. Then that night we had dinner with the K's. they're so great!! such wonderful people. 

Wednesday we drove down to diamond bar to pick up Sisters S & P for our 4 week new missionary meeting and then drove to Rancho. before that, we got lunch at Chipotle! the meeting was really good and I got to see my MTC friends!! most of them have had troubles (not feeling adequate, wanting to go home, etc) so it's kinda strange to me to have not felt like that. Scratch part of that, I sometimes feel inadequate, but I haven't wanted to go home. I haven't even felt homesick. My companion has asked me a couple times "why haven't you had those feelings?" and things like that, and I don't know how to answer it. I'm not complaining, but it's weird that I haven't felt that way. Ya feel?

Thursday was really good! I seem to be more happy when we're out of the house & talking to people because God blesses us! We pretty much just went to a ton of less actives homes and invited them to the ward christmas dinner, but like zero of them were home. except we visited with one lady Sister R, she served a mission, her husband is active, but she doesn't agree with some of the things in the church...sad.

Then we went home for lunch & Sister C's old YW president (who reactivated her) had 2 pizzas delivered to our house! It was funny and awesome. Then we were planning on going to a park to update our area book & contact some referrals, so I chose which park we were gonna go to. On our way there Sister C said "you couldn't have chose one further away!" as we were passing 7 different parks. Well when we got close, sister C had the impression we should visit a less active lady, Sister B. She's always super busy & rarely home, but guess what! she was home! and we had a really nice visit with her :) and she told us to come back anytime. After that we visited the B's, then L & A, then to dinner with the D's. They're a nice old couple. I enjoy them. Then we had a SWEET visit with a less active/part member family, the W's. We went with their home teacher & taught a lesson. The dad really wants to increase his faith & the son said he'd like to learn more. hopefully we can set up regular appointments & teach the son & he'll get baptized! :)

Friday was good, nothing too special. But before our ward Christmas dinner, we went over to visit C, our investigator whose pastor gave him all the anti stuff, to invite him and his family, and standing in his driveway we taught him a lesson. I was super bold with him. I told him he needs to come to church to find out for himself. He wants the structure for his kids, but won't come! He thanked me for being persistent with him.

Saturday after my bday party we hung Christmas lights for the G's who are this really sweet old couple. As we were doing that, their neighbor came over and said he wants to hang lights up too, but he's never done it. I offered our help. And he ASKED FOR OUR NUMBER! that doesn't happen! He said he'll give us a call. Sister G came up to us on Sunday and said she was talking with his wife that morning and they're going to go shop for lights. She also said her young sons really want to learn about Jesus! Hopefully we can teach them. Their oldest is 8, so him along with his parents, that would be 3 new investigators!

Sunday was good, nothing too interesting happened. Sister C and I have been talking, and we're not sure why people think missionaries are always starving! I eat more as a missionary than I did at home...it's bad.

Converting Santa!
Hanging Christmas lights in t-shirt, shorts, and sunglasses--California style!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Happy Birthday 2 Me!! (December 13th)

Excerpts from her letter home:
We've had  a crazy/weird week this week. It was really good though!

Tuesday I hit my month mark of being a missionary, a month since I went into the MTC. I couldn't believe the time went by so fast! At district meeting this week we made the goal to find 12 new investigators in 2 weeks! We did service at a thrift store that a couple in the ward own. Besides having a headache, it was a good time. Service is always really fun to do. After that we met with some of my favorite people. I'm not sure if I've mentioned them before but there's a mom 3 kids, D (10), J (11?), (13?). D & J got baptized and are really enthusiastic about the gospel! S seems interested but wasn't ready to get baptized when they did. We think it's because her mom wasn't all for it and they have a really close relationship. We go over there every week and help D with her homework then have a little message. We're hoping S will want to take the discussions and be baptized. She was quite involved in the last lesson we had. We talked about baptism and why Christ was baptized and she said "He was an example to all of us". SO COOL. And she prays with us :) We mentioned "S knows she can get baptized if she wants too" and she nodded. Then we had dinner at the M's. They're such a cool family! We were at their house for 2.5 hours...hahaha whoops. 
Thursday we did some more service at Let It Be, which is a non-profit organization for cancer. We wrapped presents. It was so fun!

We had a lesson with our less-active, J. And had a lesson with L & her son A. Sister C tutors him and then we read from the book of Mormon with them. Then we had dinner at the H's. they had Samoa girl scout cookie ice cream!! It was the best thing ever. Then we were supposed to have an appointment with our investigator C, but he wasn't home, so we went over to another investigator, J's home. We got in and talked a bit about what we believe. We didn't get a whole lesson done (or even much of one) because he controlled most of the convo. he's pretty religious, grew up (another religion) and has studied with (another religion) and he despises Christmas/Easter/Halloween. He sees nothing but Satan in all those holidays. It's really really sad. So, in that way he has many fears, but the things that we did teach him he agreed with. Next time we see him we'll probably just have to address his concerns and get those out of the way before we can start the discussions. But he is earnestly seeking for truth and WE HAVE IT!

Friday was very strange. So, Thursday we noticed there was a screw in our tire, so we put the spare on. Friday we went to the car place to get a new tire & were there for almost 3 hours. Sister C and I decided to try to be productive so we memorized almost half of The Family: A Proclamation to the World! then we had lunch & studied, then went to Costco with Mama B for her party(which I'll explain later). then went out to dinner with Brother & sister T to a Thai restaurant! weird day, but good!

Saturday we had a relief society breakfast. We met with Bishop's friend, C. A little background on him: missionaries have been trying him for about 10 years. Sister C met him a few months ago and got his phone number(bishop was SO surprised, because it'd been 10 years and missionaries couldn't even get that). He met a few times with missionaries, but the missionaries weren't addressing his needs, so things didn't go much further. So we stopped by his home and got inside! CHECK IT. He was actually about to leave to go to the store, but we sat down with him and he told us about his religious background and that he NEEDS to come closer to Jesus Christ. We began telling him what we do as missionaries and how as we teach him, it is his CHOICE to make the step to get closer to Christ, then he said "yeah, but for me it's not a choice, I need to get closer" and we were like "AHH PERFECT!!" haha, so we had a good first meeting. at the end he said "well, I need to go to the store now, but why don't you come back next saturday around 2?" What?!! we didn't even ask if we could come back, he WANTS us to! He's a new investigator!!! the Lord has been preparing him for 10 years for this. Hopefully we can get him converted and baptized. Hopefully his wife and 2 kids(at home) will want to learn too!

So that night Mama B had party. Said party consisted of inviting E (who is 13)'s friends and their moms over for a *drumroll please*......jamberry party. yes, I know. side note: sometimes on a mission you do things you say you'll never do in your life, this being jamberry nails. it was actually pretty fun, and not as terrible as I thought it would be. but along with that Sister C and I shared He Is The Gift and talked about discovering Christ, embracing Christ, and sharing Christ. We directed our message toward the younger girls. It was really good.

Sunday was super busy with tons of meetings. Choir, Church, ward council, WML(ward mission leader- I'll use this abbreviation in later letters too, so I'll explain now: we go out with Brother H to presidents & presidencies of the bishopric & different auxilleries of the ward. beforehand, we missionaries pray and ponder the Be Attitudes in Matthew 5 and choose which trait we believe that person holds. Brother H does the same thing. Then we go to their home & tell them that trait and if they'd be willing to use that to help in the missionary efforts.

The Christmas devotional was so good. One thing that hit me was when President Eyring was talking about the Spirit of Christ. he said something along the lines of "you may feel that spirit here tonight. it is because these words are true" I love that. Truth is truth & the spirit will always testify of that. At ward coordination Brother H asked us the difference between being faithful and being full of faith. Being faithful is doing what is right by living the way God would have you live and being full of faith is someone who is consistently being faithful, which in turn evolves into conversion. Someone who is full of faith does the right thing because they love God. someone who is faithful receives blessings. someone who is full of faith witnesses miracles.

In my studies this week I read a lot in the December 2014 Ensign. There's an article titled: "Helping Others Find Faith in Christ" by Elder L. Tom Perry. He gives us 4 ways to bring others back to their Christian faith. The first step is to pray daily. President Monson is quoted, "To those within the sound of my voice who are struggling with challenges and difficulties large and small, prayer is the provider of spiritual strength...Prayer is the means by which we approach our Father in Heaven, who loves us. Speak to Him in prayer and then listen for the answer. Miracles are wrought through prayer...Remember to pray fervently." I love this quote. Prayer is really an amazing thing. Since being on my mission I've learned a lot about prayer because on average you say about 20 prayers per day. I've learned to pray for specific things. Be careful what you pray for. Listen when you pray to be more susceptible to the promptings of the spirit.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Excerpts from Sister Viraldo's email

MOM says...

Dear Friends and family,
Here are some excerpts from Sister Viraldo's email this week. As we expected, she is finding it hard to find time to write a separate blog post, so she asked me to cut and paste from the email she sent home.

Thanks to all of you who are keeping up with this and especially to those of you who have taken the time to write to her personally.  I know it means a lot to her, though she may not be able to answer you right away.  She and her companion are living with a family in her assigned area, so her mail can go directly to the address below. Of course, when she is transferred this address will change and I will update it here.

Sister Jessica Viraldo
15414 Ficus St.
Chino Hills, CA  91709

OR jessica.viraldo@myldsmail.net

Thanks again for your support. She seems to be doing super well, and as you can see, she is keeping busy!

First off, I'll start by telling you about my week:
Monday night: we had dinner with the T family. She is a single mom with 2 less active sons who are older(20s) and an 11 year old daughter. Sister T is very nice! then we wrote thank you cards for the dinners that we had that week and delivered them. we just put them in their doors very sneakily.

Tuesday: district meeting. where I got to see my zone friends, aka Sister S! they have their district meeting in the same building as us. then we had district lunch, we just packed a lunch to bring. then we drove to Rancho because my companion had a doctor's appointment for her concussion. then we were supposed to have a lesson with our investigator, (haven't met her yet), but she forgot about it, so we didn't meet with her. then we had dinner at the P's, waffles with strawberries, tater tots, bacon. it was really good. then we tried to visit our investigator, J. He's a really cool guy. I've met him at least 3 or 4 times, but haven't had an actual lesson with him yet. He's super bad with appointments, he always forgets. So he told us to stop by one night and if he's home to have a lesson then.

Wednesday: really busy and good day! we taught a less active member who is making good progress at coming back. she says she wants to be a more diligent member. then we met with our recent converts, M and her two daughters. M isn't very interested in being taught, or really in the church at all, but she LOVES watching the girls learn and wants the gospel for the girls. The girls are very bright and seem to have a testimony. hopefully they'll be the example for their mom. that night we had dinner at the D's. The mom is less active, dad, 2 sons & daughter are non members. They study the bible together and pray together morning and night and they feed the missionaries, so yay.  after that, I finally met  one of our investigators, C. He is just as crazy as my companion told me. He must have some sort of add or ocd because we were in his garage TRYING to teach him, but he was all over the place. we were talking about the restoration and he got up on his ladder to fix the garage light. we're still not sure what he did to the light, it wasn't even broken...he says he wants us to be persistent with him, so we are. He likes the BoM. we have a lesson with him this week, so I'll let you know how that goes.

Thursday: Thanksgiving! holidays as a missionary are weird. we can't go out and knock on doors, so what are we supposed to do? we make cookies to give to ward members! it was good. then we had lunch/dinner at the H family's at 2:00. it was really nice. they're a fun(crazy) family. we were there until like 6pm. we worked on a puzzle. then that night we delivered the cookies.

Friday: weekly planning for 4 hours. we finally left the house at 4pm. then we went to see J again and talked with him awkwardly in his kitchen for 30mins, then we went contacting! Idk if you've gotten your December Ensign yet, but in it are He Is The Gift cards. worldwide, missionaries are challenged to give out 10 cards per day. so that's what we did! pretty much everyone we saw outside we went and talked to. some were friendly and accepted the card, some were friendly and did not accept the card, and a lady I talked to doesn't like Christmas...what do I even say to that? I didn't know, so I just said "okay, have a great day!" 

Saturday: no lessons. we walked and contacted people, giving out 11 He is the Gift cards. we had dinner with the R family, super cool wife & husband. we had RIBS and they were SOOOO good.

Sunday: weird day. i didn't feel too good, but church was good. we also sang with the choir at the stake Christmas program that night.

and today is another p-day! we had a fun zone activity. we played a game that was pretty much just dodgeball, but no teams. i wasn't very good, but it was fun. Sister S (the one from Indiana) has decided to go home. she was having a really hard time; it wasn't what she expected. I'm super bummed she's going home because I'll miss her TONS, but I'm just happy she's happy.

now I'll try to answer your questions:
no one's ready for baptism quite yet. we actually are teaching a 13yr old boy, B. he's in the process of being adopted by his aunt(member) and uncle (non-member). once that is finalized, he can be baptized. like I said, we haven't taught any investigator lessons yet, but we've taught less active and recent convert lessons. last week + this week = 9 i think. we've had dinner appointments every day but 1. and today we don't have dinner, but sometimes that's okay because we eat at home. I eat fast then take a nap haha. yes, we have a car. it's just us 2 missionaries in our ward. our ward mission leader is THE BEST. He & Bishop H gave the ward a "ward mission plan" that will hopefully help members be more involved in missionary work. 

you might have heard, but IT RAINED YESTERDAY. all day. and not just sprinkled, but it poured! everyone was thanking Heavenly Father in their prayers for the rain. it was just kinda odd to hear that.

I can't figure out how to connect my camera to the computer, so no pictures this week, but next week! oh, my comp and I have been making daily videos. at the end of the day when we get home, we put the camera up on the dashboard of our car and talk about our day. they're usually pretty funny. I'll have to send them home somehow. probably when my memory card gets full I'll send that home.

that's about it for this week, I'll talk to you next week! 
love you lots,
Sister Viraldo