Thursday, July 23, 2015

SO. MANY. BLESSINGS. (July 20 email)

My heart has been full of gratitude lately for the numerous blessings the Lord has been pouring out upon us. These past 2 weeks have been nothing short of miraculous. I wrote last week about our 3 new investigators: Austin, Candy, & Candita. Due to the grace & mercy of God we found 5 new investigators this week: Michelle, Christina, Diane, Richard, & Sergio. We've been teaching more lessons than ever before & witnessing the hand of the Lord to an even greater extent.

Tuesday we had a lesson with Candy. We brought Sister Shook along with us. This lesson as compared to previous one was way better! We were actually able to teach the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her biggest hold-up is mankind. She doesn't understand why the world isn't following the golden rule, you could say, focusing too much on people & things she has no control over. 

After dinner on Tuesday we picked up Sister Haskins to bring her to our lesson with Austin. On our way, we got a call from Sammie saying "just warning you, there's like 7 people here and they all want to talk to you" Oh boy. Just a bunch of kids who want to ask us interrogating questions and think this is all a big joke. We were rightly nervous, but proceeded to the lesson. We got there and met a few of Austin's friends. There weren't quite 7, more like 5 & 4 of them sat in on the lesson. We taught the Plan of Salvation. After 1.5hrs of really great spiritual questions and discussion, we concluded with a prayer & asked Richard & Sergio (who were the 2/4 who ended up staying the whole lesson) if they'd like to learn more. They accepted! new investigators: 2/5 

Wednesday we finally got to visit with Virgie & Diane after not seeing them for over a month! This was Sister Wagner's first time meeting them. We chose to read 3Nephi 11 with them. After reading I felt impressed to talk about baptism and the power to baptize that Jesus Christ gave to the 12 Nephite apostles. Diane (if you remember, is not a member) & I were discussing some things while Virgie was distracting Sisters Wagner & Valentine (our 2-wk missionary). haha. I asked Diane what was holding her back from joining the church. She said her issue was no coffee. I knew there was something more, but I couldn't put my finger on it. She then said "Well, I don't know...." I could feel like that was the truth. She really didn't know what was holding her back. Right then I felt impressed to invite her to take the missionary lessons. A few minutes went by before I could get a word in. They LOVE to talk. Diane even got up & ran upstairs for a minute & I leaned over & told Sister Wagner "I feel like we need to invite her to take the lessons". Diane came back downstairs & in the midst of showing us a ton of family pictures I said "Diane, will you agree to let us teach you the lessons so you can find out for yourself if this is true?" She replied "Yeah, I will try my best." An invitation. That's all it took. Often people just need an invitation to act before they'll do anything. She said "My sister has been trying to get me to do this for years. She'll be so happy." 
new investigators: 3/5

We had dinner at the Oversby's. As we were sitting there eating, Sis Oversby's phone rang & she was talking & asked us "do you have an appointment after this?" "Not a set appointment, we just have people to see" "Okay, now you do." Her nephew Steve was on his way to their house and wanted us to teach him a lesson. Steve is 35 & grew up in the church, but later fell away & removed his name from the records. Recently he's shown an interest in coming back. He's began reading the Book of Mormon and praying. Not until his life was at it's lowest point did he yearn for the peace & joy that the gospel brings. With very little time to prepare, we prayed at the dinner table asking for inspiration as to what lesson Steve needs. Sister Wagner & I both felt good about the Plan of Salvation. When Steve got to their house he didn't even want to eat dinner, he just wanted the lesson. Someone asked him "aren't you hungry though?" He responded that he was hungry for gospel knowledge. The spirit was strong as we taught about God's purpose & plan for us. It was an amazing blessing from the Lord that we were in the right place, at the right time to be able to help Steve feel Heavenly Father's love for him.

Wednesday evening we picked up Kellie to go to a lesson with a 13 year old, K. It's a confusing family situation that I don't know everything about, but let's just say her parents had some trouble with the ward in the past and got permission to move their records to a ward in Hemmett(sp?) with the grandma. There, K supposedly got baptized, but we have no record of it. Last Sunday she showed up to church out of the blue & said she wants to start coming back now that she's old enough to have a say for herself. So we were going over to her house to teach her & get her permission to be baptized if she hadn't been yet. We got there & her dad said that he baptized her a few years ago in Hemmett. Okay, cool, got that straightened out, so  now we'll just teach her so she understands. 
As we were outside teaching her the Restoration, her mom walks out & takes a seat waiting for a break in the lesson. As soon as she could, she started going off in her *outside voice* about what had happened years ago and why they left the ward, blah blah blah.. I tuned her out, silently praying "Heavenly Father, we have to stop this..please help me know what to say..." Suddenly, out of no where my mouth opened & words came out: "We're sorry this happened, but we are here to teach K more about what she can do to strengthen her faith & come closer to her Father in Heaven. She has expressed to us her desire to learn more, so if that is okay with you, that is what we will do." She sheepishly responded "yeah that's fine." & walked away. 
At that moment I felt the true power & authority that comes along with being a missionary. It wasn't me who said those words. I could not have done it if it wouldn't have been for the power of the Holy Ghost within me. In all honesty, at that moment I felt like Ammon or Alma, those powerful missionaries we read about in the Book of Mormon. It was such an amazing experience I can't quite put into words. 

Since we have 3 hours of study almost every day, we normally have lunch right afterwards and then go out at 12. But Thursday was a little different. But it was exactly as the Lord had planned. We got a referral from a member for their next door neighbor, but they told us we need to go in the mornings after he gets back from his run & before he starts drinking. Supposedly he drinks all day every day. (He is in mourning.)
After studies at 11, we went out to contact a few referrals including Dave, Robert, & Michelle. Dave wasn't home. Robert doesn't live there anymore. So our last one was Michelle. She was a referral from a less active member in our ward, Terrayna, who lives in the OakHills boundary, but since she was a referral we had permission to see her.  Terrayna told us that Michelle just LOVES Mormons. We followed the map that Terrayna drew for us & ended up at a house that we felt was Michelle's, although there was no way of really knowing due to lack of address given.  So we got out & a lady was outside. It was Michelle! She told us how she really wants her girls involved in Young Women, even though they're too young right now. She invited us in to talk. 
Michelle is really friendly & outgoing. She calls herself a "hitchiker mormon" She sees values & standards that the Church has & tries to incorporate them into her life. She would sometimes visit other churches & when ministers would talk badly about Mormons, she would call them out & tell them that they're wrong for saying things like that. She has really good friends who are active LDS in Hesperia. We invited her to learn more & allow us to teach her & her family. She said yes & that she would love her daughters to get involved too. She didn't know if her husband would be interested. She invited us to come over on Wednesday for a lesson & said she'll make dinner! We talked to her a bit about the Book of Mormon & invited her to read it & pray. 
Michelle was telling us about her friend Christina, who is having a really hard time right now with some family legal problems. We asked if Christina might be interested in meeting with us, and she said "yeah maybe. Actually she's on her way over here right now, do you have time to meet her?" "Of course!" A few minutes later, Christina came & we went outside to talk to her. We ended up teaching her the Restoration & she said "this makes total sense" & we could see the spirit testifying to her. She accepted our invitation to learn more & read & pray. She'll be at Michelle's on Wednesday. 
new investigators: 5/5

Due to the fact that Michelle lives in Oakhills & has a family, it will be best for the elders to teach them because they are in their area. We're not sure where Christina lives yet, but most likely Oakhills, too. We'll probably end up passing both Michelle & Christina to the elders, but either way, it was amazing that we were in the right place at the right time & had the help of the Holy Ghost in these unplanned opportunities.

Sunday we had 2 investigators at church! Sammie came with Richard, Sergio, & Anthony. Anthony is not an investigator...yet. Austin was supposed to come, but didn't. It's alright though, we'll get him next time. Sunday night we had a lesson with Sammie & Richard, & Sergio sat in & participated.

A few other cool things happened this week! Friday we were weekly planning & got a text from the Samoan elders in our zone saying "so is there a huge fire over there?" We ran outside & sure enough, thick dark smoke all over the sky over in Phelan. Turns out a fire started on the freeway & had spread. The last thing I heard was it burnt 3500+ acres. We went to the Erickson's for dinner & could see the flames from their house. 
Fire from our house
From the Erickson's (notice the flames)
Then on Saturday we were on exchanges & we woke up in the morning to a voicemail from the elders in Wrightwood saying they got evacuated from their house because there was another fire in Wrightwood! 2 fires in 2 days. We're fine though :) Saturday & yesterday it stormed!!! & poured! & there were a few flash floods, but it was awesome. 

Transfers are next week. This Saturday we'll get the call. There's really no way to know whether I'll stay again. This mission is going to be changing dramatically with the 22 missionaries going home & the 30 coming out. I feel like I'll finish training Sis Wagner, but who knows where the Lord needs me!? 
Giving Sis Valentine back to her family
 So that was my amazing week. I hope ya know this email took me so long to write, but I'll gladly do this every week as we continue to see the blessings the Lord has in store for us here in Phelan.

Thank you for your loving support 'n stuff.
Love you!! Have a wonderful week :)
xoxo Sister Viraldo

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