Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Another Week, Another Dirt Road (April 13 email)

Well, this week was pretty great!!

Monday we didn't have zone activity, but we drove to Victorville (ghetto) to go shopping & find some hats for Sister O to send to her brother. We got home around 5 & I took a nap until 7 (we didn't have a dinner appointment), and then we stayed home the rest of the night preparing for our training in zone meeting.

Tuesday was CRAZY as usual & even crazier than usual. We have another set of sisters in our zone who live actually outside of our zone in Apple Valley. Last week they got into a car accident & their car was in the shop so they needed us to go & pick them up, which is TOTALLY out of our way to the stake center. But we were their only option, being the only other sisters in the zone. So we left the house at 8:30 (zone meeting starts at 10:30). We decided to follow the GPS since we didn't quite know how to get there, & this dumb thing took us down small, bumpy dirt roads, STRAIGHT through the desert. Come to find out, the settings were set on "shortest distance" instead of "shortest time". About an hour and a half later, we got to Apple Valley & I then figured out how to change the gps settings. Luckily, the hermanas (they're Spanish speaking) knew how to get to the stake center from there. 

We got to zone meeting at 10:31. Pretty darn good timing! We pull up in the parking lot & saw two people walking in the door to the stake center: "Uhh, President & Sister Hobbs are here!" Oh man, Sister O & I were freaking out a little, seems how we were giving a training... We ended up doing a really good job. We trained on Pray With Faith. We started out doing a role play of a nightly planning session. Sis. O's role consisted of her giving a really short, half-hearted, faithless prayer to start nightly planning, & I ended it with giving a sincere, faith filled prayer. Then we talked about how important it is to pray with faith & we read an account of Alma praying in Alma 31:26-end. We noted how and what he prayed for & how we need to pray as he does. Everyone seemed to like it & Sister Hobbs even texted us after telling us how much she & President enjoyed it & how we (as a mission) "don't do enough role plays". SUCCESS. 

It was just a really great zone meeting overall. The spirit was so strong & I had a renewed sense of motivation. Let's be real, after every district meeting/zone meeting I feel like I can take on the world aka missionary work in Phelan. Then we had to take the sisters home & I got to see Sister M (the one I was in the MTC with)!!  On our way back, we drove past Rubio's & then we decided that we were hungry & wanted fish tacos! So a few turns, switching lanes, and car accidents (kidding) later, we got to Rubio's to remember that it was TACO TUESDAY! Yummmm.

After lunch, we saw something super scary. We were sitting at a stop light & across from us I saw a car sitting at the red light & a car was coming up behind him with smoke coming out of it & you could hear the wheels screeching & BAM. The car must not have seen the one stopped in front of him & going probably 40mph crashed into it. It was a pretty shocking thing to see, but we could see that no one was seriously hurt. 

On our way back to Phelan, C, who we set an appointment with on Sunday called us asking what time our appointment was. We never set a specific time, so we said "4:15". One thing you have to know about C is that she HATES when missionaries are late to appointments. She is a former investigator from a couple missionaries ago & one time they were late coming to her appointment & she blew up at them. Yikes. Anyway, this was the first time for us to have a lesson with her. We did How To Begin Teaching (stating our purpose, setting expectations, etc) She told us how she really wants to be baptized & how she is "ready to be a Mormon". So we set a baptismal date for June 6th with her. After C, we went to the H's because brother H is fixing the scratches on our truck. From there we had a lesson with a recent convert, E, and his less active wife G, and then we had a lesson with a less active, S. Since we had a late lunch we figured we'd just have dinner later because no one was feeding us. 

Wednesday we had a lesson with B, less active, & M. After that we went home for lunch, then to the H's again because he was going to do more to our truck, but we got there & he wasn't there. We stuck around for a bit, looking at their horses, chickens, & dogs. After a bit, he got home & worked on our truck more. From there we went to E's to help her with dinner. We had taco salad! Yummmm. Then ward coordilation.

Thursday morning we had a service project with the investigator we found last week, L. We invited the Wrightwood Elders because we're passing her off to them because she lives in their area. After that, we went home to get cleaned up/have lunch then did We went to see J, an eternagator (eternal investigator). Her husband is a member & his mom is a member. She lives like a Mormon and has a testimony, she's just afraid of baptism. She is afraid to tell her family, even though she's an adult...(off the record, she also may be afraid of the water because she is maybe 3ft tall) Hopefully we'll be able to help her overcome her fears and learn to trust Heavenly Father! We had dinner with the Cs, & played a little basketball to work off our pizza haha.

Friday a member from Sis. O's last ward "down the hill" (this is a VERY common phrase up here in the desert meaning places such as Rancho, Chino, Upland, Ontario, etc. kinda like how we refer to everything north of where we live in Michigan as "up north") took us out to lunch & to pick up a package that Sis 'O is sending to her brother in Hawaii. After that, we went home to weekly plan.  For some strange reason that neither I nor Sis 'O can figure out is why the heck weekly planning takes about half the time in the desert as to down the hill...It's really strange, but really great as well because that means we actually have time to go and see people! But unfortunately we didn't get in to see anyone...haha

Saturday our zone leaders had a baptism in our ward building (our building is the only one that has a font in our whole zone! even our stake center doesn't have one.) We invited C & J, but neither showed up...and President & Sister Hobbs were there! Haha crazy seeing them twice in one week. Oh I forgot to say, on Tuesday Sister Hobbs told me she was trying to get a musical number together for zone conference. I told her a few months ago in Chino Hills that I have a really good medley of Savior, Redeemer & she really wants to hear it! But she couldn't put it together in time, because zone conference is this week on Thursday. But she promised that we'll do it before I leave! Haha 

We were able to visit a less active, V (88yo) & her daughter who we're kinda teaching that lives with her, D. Just that morning they found baby kittens who were just born outside their house that the mommy cat left! So we got to hold them, but they're not sure if they're gonna live. Also we had a lesson with a recent convert, M, & a less active, J (88yo). There are some OLD people in this ward. haha

Church on Sunday was pretty interesting. The speakers in Sacrament meeting talked on Jesus Christ & His Atonement. One of the men was talking about Mary Magdelene & said "in my humble opinion, Jesus' wife." I wasn't listening to intently on his talk, but I heard that part & turned to Sister 'Otuafi & said "did he just say Mary Magdelene was Jesus' wife?" hahaha oh boyyyy. I'm pretty sure that is not doctrine, am I right?! But Relief Society was really good, we had a great lesson about the Atonement & how testimony & faith are related. Then we went home to have studies, visited the Ms, but they were just about to leave, so we visited a less active couple, the Gs until dinner with a really awesome family, the Ls. Then went to visit the Hs again (yeah, we went almost everyday this week), but this time it was for a lesson. 

The last couple of days my studies have been really awesome. I've been reading in Mosiah, around chapters 18-27 right now, & usually in the past when I've read the Book of Mormon I can't quite understand the stories & what is happening in them. But I've totally been understanding it & keeping everyone straight, if they're Lamanites or Nephites & it's awesome. Maybe it's because I watched the cartoon Book of Mormon movie "Abinadi & King Noah". It's awesome. 

It's starting to warm up here...oh boy. I don't know how I'll handle the heat, but at least I'm in a truck with AC!

Well, I can't really think of anything else to write, but I think this email has been pretty informative, if I say so myself.

Oh, also you asked if Sis 'O & I are still getting along. YES. It's been so great. We're so similar it's actually crazy. :) 

Thank you for the love & support. I LOVE YOU!!
xoxo Sister Viraldo

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Post Conference Blues

As you can tell by the subject line, I LOVED conference & am so sad it's over! It was really amazing. I think my favorite sessions were the Priesthood session & Sunday morning, but they were all so good!

This week started out pretty slow, as far as reaching our weekly goals for lessons taught, but luckily hit the ball out of the park as the week went on! (baseball reference because today is opening day & I'm slightly sad I'm not watching the Tigers play right this moment...)

Monday we played kickball for our zone activity. It was pretty fun. I'm really not very good, hence my knees getting scraped up. I was playing defense on second base & Sister O was running from first. Elder F had the ball & tried to throw it at her to get her out. Thinking he was throwing it to me to tag her out, I stepped in the way of her running & she plowed me over...a little blood & dirt never hurt anyone, right? Yeah, it hurt a bit then & still hurts a week later, but I'm fine! ;) We had dinner at the C's house where I got to play guitar! It was awesome, but I'm a bit rusty haha

Tuesday after district meeting & lunch we ventured off to find a referral we got named L. She actually lives outside of our area, so we used the GPS to find her address. This darn GPS that we borrowed from the Wrightwood elders took us on some crazy roads that were definitely not meant for cars or trucks, they were just paths for dirtbikes & quads. An hour later, we didn't find where she lived, but we DID find a snake! But it was time for dinner. We went over to the E's (ward mission leader & wife). She always likes having us help her make dinner & she teaches us in the process. This time we made chili & cornbread. It was DELICIOUS!

Wednesday we decided to find L! This time without the elders' GPS. And we found it! When we got the referral, we got conflicting information. One said she was a member, & one said she wasn't a member, so we didn't know. Come to find out she is not a member. A guy that was over working on her lawn who's a member in Redlands asked "if I sent missionaries to you, would you talk to them?" So he sent us. & boy did she talk to us. She asked so many questions about ALL different types of things. We started reading the intro of the Book of Mormon with her & got a couple paragraphs in & she veered the conversation off in a whole different direction. We taught her gospel principles, but it was one of the craziest "lessons" I've ever had. She wants us to do service for her, so we set up an appointment to come back this week (in which we invited the Wrightwood elders because technically she lives in their area, we're hoping to pass her off to them...) & said a prayer with her & left after being there for almost 2 hours. 
From there we were going down the road & had to turn around, so we turned around going down a little dirt road right beside the main road. We saw a lady was walking towards us down the same road, so we thought we'd say hi & sorry for getting in her way. We rolled down the window & this lady seemed really off, we asked how she was doing & she said that she was really tired... not sure what was going on but she asked us if we had water, so we gave her a bottle of water, & asked if there was anything else we could do for her, she said "I don't think so..." but there was definitely something else going on.. we told her to have a good day & drove off. We drove for a couple minutes & I said "man, I feel like we should've talked to her more." We both felt pretty bad, so we decided to go to Burger King & get a hamburger & fries & try to find her again. So we did. It was about 15 minutes since we talked with her, & we found her on the same street as before! We parked, got out of the car & walked closer to her. We offered her the food but she said "no thanks" & walked away. It was one of the strangest interactions with someone I've ever experienced, & even though she denied the food & help, we both felt better that we did all that we could. Our conscious was clear.

Thursday was just a day of trying to find where people lived. We helped Sister C out with Activity Days. The girls were learning about what to write & what not to write to a missionary. 

Friday comes along & like I said earlier, we were slacking on our lessons being taught. We had a weekly goal of 6 lessons with less actives, & thus far we only had 1! We had a lesson with 3 less actives this day! Wooo. And we had dinner at Brother & Sister B's house. Sister B is half Thai; thus makes AMAZING Thai food! It reminded me of the food Joey made. She made coconut curry with sticky rice, pad Thai & a delicious coconut rice dessert with mangoes on top! She even gave us left overs. :)

Saturday- CONFERENCE! 
For the morning session we went over to the A's home. (they're service missionaries here; they are in charge of checking apts of us missionaries). They fixed us breakfast. For the afternoon session we went to the N's...  In between the afternoon session & priesthood we visited a less active who is 88 years old! She's super sweet. Then we went to the H's to watch the Priesthood session & Sister H fed us dinner too. The Priesthood session was amazing. I loved Elder Ballard's talk about missionary work & President Monson was HILARIOUS. 

Sunday- Happy Easter!!
We went over to the T's for breakfast & the morning session of Conference. My favorite talk was by Elder Nielson where he talked about the prodigal son, & his sister's story of how she became inactive, & for 15 years her family loved her & supported her & tried bringing her back to the church, & finally she did! I guess this talk really hit me because that was one of the questions I had in mind going into conference, and that was really an answer to my prayers. Be patient & love those who've gone astray.
For the afternoon session we went over to the A's again, & they invited over their friend, C (who is a former investigator here). Besides the fact she fell asleep a few times during the session, I think she liked it! hahaha we have an appointment with her this week, she seems to be ready to learn again. She is VERY interesting though. She was asking us a ton of strange questions during conference. Right after conference was over, we went over to a less active family's house for dinner. We made foil dinners just like at girl's camp! It was great. Then we visited the M's because we hadn't seen them all week, but didn't have a lesson with them because we had to go to the H's. They've had terrible luck lately with dogs. 3 have died within the past week...they were super down & sad. We just sat & talked with them for a while & had a really really great & spiritual lesson with them about prayer. Brother H opened up a bit about how he feels terrible about holding his family back from being active in the church. (side note: they're really great people who have great faith & testimonies, but have been offended a lot) 

So you probably didn't do the math, but at the end of the week we crushed our goal of 6 lessons with less actives & got 8! Woooo!

I'm doing great here. Don't worry about me. I've been a missionary for 5 months, can you believe it? It's gone by so fast!

xoxo Sister Viraldo

Friday, April 3, 2015

March 30, 2015

***New Address for letters, cards, and SMALL packages***
Sister Jessica Viraldo
9965 Valle Vista Rd.
Phelan, CA 92371
This is the address of a member who lives nearby and has volunteered to accept mail for the missionaries.

First week in my new area, & oh so many adventures!

So first off, let me say that Phelan is a city unlike anything I've ever been in before. There are about 4 or 5 paved roads & the rest are rocky, bumpy, dirt roads. and it's AWESOME...until you hit a crater in the earth that is just the right size to fit a truck's tire....details to come.

Monday was a pretty chill day. After getting to Phelan & emailing, we went home & I unpacked a bit, but I was so exhausted from lack of sleep the previous 2 nights of packing, that I had to take a nap until dinner. We had dinner with a really awesome young family. They have 4 children who are CRAZY. After that we went home & I finished unpacking...exciting day, I know.

Tuesday is when the fun began. So it began like most Tuesdays do: wake up, exercise, study, then we had district meeting which is 30 minutes from home! but luckily we pretty much take one road there the whole way & it's paved! I got to meet my new district & they're pretty cool. Funny, my district leader from my last area, Elder W, is again my district leader here. ALSO I was so excited to find out that one of my favorite people ever, Elder F is in my district! He was my first district leader in Chino for my first 2 transfers! So that was way exciting to see him again. 

After district meeting we went to Walmart to do some shopping. So normally we shop on p-day, but in our town there is no grocery store except for Stater Bros, which is way expensive, & Walmart is over by the stake center. Then we went home to drop off our groceries then went over to see our Ward Mission Leader's wife, Kim E. We helped put her fish tank together & I'm such a klutz & spilled a bunch of those colorful stones all over the floor........ Then we went to try to visit some less actives in the ward & I'm telling you, these roads here are crazy. So bumpy, pretty much all we do is drive down the road laughing because it's so fun. Also, there's a ton of "roads" that do not look like roads at all & don't have street signs, so therefore we spend most of our time trying to find people's houses and then look at the time & realize we're gonna be late for dinner. After dinner, we had a lesson with a recent convert/less active family. 

Our last appointment that day was with a less active family & they live on this wonderful road called Smoke Tree. It was about 8pm & we were driving down the road trying to look for their house & all of the sudden we're bumping along & BOOM. We're stuck & sideways in the a dead end of that "road". We look at each other "uh oh..what do we do?!"  So I said, "okay, let's pray." "Heavenly Father, we are stuck. Please help us know what to do or who to call."  We get out of the truck to see what the situation was. We go to the front & see the front right tire is in a hole. It fit in there PERFECTLY! 
So I get in the truck & try to reverse it, with no success. I was a little nervous of making it worse, too, you know, since I've had those kinds of experience of getting stuck in snow & sand in Michigan! So we called our ward mission leader and he & his wife came to help. We were standing outside for 30 minutes in the cold & wind with the sound of coyotes howling. Kinda freaky. Also, we were laughing so hard and I really needed to go......thank goodness for girls' camp for teaching me something useful! Anyhow, sorry for that, tmi maybe.

Finally Bro and Sis E came & he looked at our truck & commented on how bad it was. We thought we'd have to call a tow truck, but he got in & reversed it & MIRACLE he got it out!!! with only minor scraping on the bumper. Tender mercies from the Lord. Needless to say, we did not see that last family that night. We went home & crashed (into bed).

Wednesday we did service for our RS president, working on her greenhouse. From there we had a lesson with a 19/20yr old couple, S & J. They are both less actives & J was just baptized a couple years ago. They have a goal with getting sealed in the temple, so we're helping them with that! Then from there we went over to the E's to help Kim with dinner. We made fish tacos! Then we went to the H's, the family we missed last night. They're a really nice family, but they just don't come to church because they were offended by members of the ward. These situations are always really sad & sorta frustrating for me. We don't go to church for other people. We go for Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ & for ourselves. They have about 20 dogs, btw. hahaha

Thursday was the day that first showed me how different missionary work in the desert is vs missionary work in the valley. In Chino Hills we would mostly try to visit our potential investigators & throw in some less actives here & there. When we would visit less actives, they rarely ever opened the door for us right then (and they were rarely home). This day we stopped by 3 less active's homes and & they opened their door! It was amazing. 

Something to know about the Phelan ward: there are more inactive/less active members than there are active members...and I'm not overexaggerating. Needless to say, there's work to do here! I'm beginning to understand just how important it is & how much the Lord needs us to save His lost sheep. Baptisms of new members are awesome & everything, but the reactivation of those who were once lost is something special. The Lord's hand is extended to each one of us always; it's not Him that withdraws, it's us. I love the Savior's parable of the lost sheep. And this scripture...

Matthew 18: 
12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

Friday we did our weekly planning & went over to a less active family's home to do service. The Ms & their 3 kids, age 4, 2, and 3 mos. They have a farm! 5 dogs, 4 cats, 8 chickens, 2 pigs & 2 cows. We pulled weeds & raked for the 2-yo's birthday party on Sunday. They also fed us dinner! Salmon & pork! sooo delicious. 

Again on Saturday we went to help at them & they fed us lunch. Then we went home to shower before the General Women's broadcast. If you didn't watch it, I would highly recommend it. It was phenomenal. The videos that they showed were so spiritual. And I LOVED how they focused on the family. It meant even more to me because recently I memorized the whole The Family: A Proclamation to the World. So that was pretty neat. Something that stood out to me in that was how perfect Heavenly Father's plan for us is & His promises are perfect. He knew us perfectly before we came to this world & He knows how to help us through it all. So many places in the scriptures it says that His hand is extended out to us. He never leaves us. We're the ones that leave Him. And how silly of us to leave and turn away from Him who knows how to help us & knows the ending? But we're human, we have our agency & we have our pride. Luckily, as the scriptures tell us, His hand is extended towards us and we have the opportunity to repent. What a blessing that is. 

After the broadcast we went over to a less active family's home, the Ws. Their home is CRAZY! They have like 23 snakes/reptiles & a tarantula. It was amazing because we were able to sit down with the whole family & have a lesson. We watched the mormon message Wrong Roads & talked about how we all have trials in our lives & we need to have faith & trust that Heavenly Father will help us. If you haven't seen that video, you need to watch it!

Sunday we had ward council at 7:30, church at 9, then went home to do studies. Then we went to the birthday party for a a bit until dinner at the Ds, a family with 10 kids!! 7 of them are at home, & get this...they all start with K's. Kyle, Kaitlyn, Korey, Kurt, Kole, Kade, Kyra, Kowen, Kace, & Kollins. (I've been practicing) hahaha!! Then we went to visit some people & had a lesson with one of our investigators, V. Her daughter A is also investigating, but she wasn't home. Super nice people.

This week was really amazing. My new companion, Sis O, & I get along really great & laugh all the time. The work is fun, the roads are even more fun :)

I'd really love to hear from some of you, just to make sure you're still alive ;) I love you all & am so grateful to call you family. Thanks for all the love & support.

xoxo Sister Viraldo