Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (Email from 12-28)

Oh man, I cannot believe Christmas has come & gone in the blink of an eye and now it's almost 2016!

I really don't have much to report on this week since I got to SKYPE MY FAMILY on Christmas day, which was the best ever! Being on a mission, away from your family for so long makes it a very strange experience when you have the chance to talk to them face to face, even over skype. Although it was strange, it was the best strange I could've asked for. That was my 3rd time skyping my family on my mission & I don't know about you, but that was my FAVORITE. Just one more skype session to go & I'll see you all in person a couple weeks later :)

Sister Helms
Hermana Whitten
We went on a couple exchanges this week, which were AWESOME!
Wednesday I stayed in my area for the first time with Sister Helms, who was Sister Anderson's MTC companion. She is SO SWEET. I just love her & really enjoyed the day with her. & on Saturday I was in my area with Hermana Whitten. She's sooo funny. I'm really liking going on exchanges with the sisters :)

Christmas eve was so great! during the day we were able to find an old folk's home to carol to. They brought some of them (just about 10) in the dining hall & we sang for about 20 minutes. It was the toughest crowd I've ever sung to. We found out as we were leaving that it was not your ordinary old folks' home, but a home for those who have mental deterioration such as Alzheimer's or Dementia. After we knew that, we understood why the audience was the way they were.

Later our recent convert in YSA, (Young Single Adult ward) Desiree, texted us & asked if we could have a lesson with her. We took Hanna Schulthess & after the lesson Hanna brought Desiree back to her house & we had Christmas Eve dinner with the Schulthess' & the Schaeffer's (bishop, his wife & 2 kids)

My little spiritual thought for the week is about repentance & the sacrament.
I was reading from an old ensign this week--the April 2007 general conference edition. I read "I Am Clean" by President Hinckley. In it he tells a story from Joseph F. Smith & a lesson that he learned--cleanliness is next to godliness. And he quoted this scripture that really hit home for me.
Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
Learn to do well; …
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:16–18).

Sometimes as a missionary you feel as though you need to be perfect. We're held to very high standards & sometimes it's a daunting task to measure up. When we fall short we can easily become discouraged & feel that we could've done better. This is kind of the way I was feeling at one point this week. But I know that the Lord loves me & will forgive me & strengthen me when I come to Him. I know it's the same for you. He doesn't expect us to be perfect now. He does expect us to do our best, but He knows we will fall, we will fail. With our fallings & our failings comes feelings of guilt & sorrow. However, this scripture states it perfectly. The Lord wants us to come to Him & reason with Him. The best way to do this is through sincere prayer & partaking of the sacrament. The Sacrament is the Lord's way in telling us our sins are forgiven. I'm sooo beyond grateful for the sacrament. It meant more to me this week, as I've been studying repentance, than in recent weeks. 

A challenge to all: the next time you feel down & out because of a mistake you made, a harsh word you said, a thought you might've had, stop & pray & ask the Lord to forgive you & help you be better. I promise He will. Then take the sacrament knowing He has forgiven you & not only that, but He strengthens you to do better & to be better. 

Welll, I think that's about it for this week. I'll talk to you in a quick week when it is WEEK 6. Can you believe it? only 2 more weeks of this transfer! ahhhh.
talk to you next week!
Until then, stay gold.
xoxo Sister Viraldo

MERRRY CHRISTMAS!!! (Email from 12-21)

It's that time of year again...CHRISTMAS!
This whole past week has been full of Christmas cheer. I feel like missionary time is back to normal--flying by! This week happened in a blink of an eye, I swear...maybe it's because I've been sick. Yes, Tuesday evening I started getting a sore throat. Wednesday morning I woke up with a terrible sore throat I wanted to die. 

Well, Tuesday morning Sister Hobbs called us & asked if we would sing "While Shepherds watched their flocks by night" at the desert Christmas devotional the next day. So when I woke up Wednesday sick I was worried I wouldn't be able to sing. But I just figured I'd save my voice & give it my all when it was our time. It worked out pretty well. 

Wednesday night we were supposed to exchange with the Ranchos sisters. I still wasn't feeling well so after dinner we went home to rest before exchanges. I got up at 8pm & wasn't feeling well at all, so we cancelled the exchange & said we'll see how I'm feeling in the morning & maybe exchange then. 

Woke up Thursday morning with a slight sore throat, but mostly I was just congested, but I felt good enough to go on exchanges. So I went to the Ranchos area with Sister Stallings, who came out 1 transfer after me. It was a pretty good day besides the fact I was incredibly congested & whenever I talked I sounded like I was wearing nose plugs or something.
We ended up exchanging back a little early so we could have dinner then go to institute. It was the last institute class of the semester & a really good one at that. It was interesting because one thing that President Gibbons (the institute teacher) talked about was exactly what my email last week consisted of: the importance of feeling the spirit every day of our lives. 
Friday we weekly planned & took a lunch break to eat with the Silver Lakes & Mesa Linda sisters in Victorville, just a little sister bonding time :)  Friday night we went on exchanges with the spanish sisters in La Paz! I got to go to their area & learn spanish ;) I was with Hermana Ivey, who is definitely one of my favorite missionaries ever. We've actually served around each other a long time. Let's go back to April in Phelan. Hermana Ivey was in my zone for about 4 weeks. Left for a couple transfers then came back to the VVB zone. I never knew her much at all, but always wanted to get to know here better, so going on exchanges was great! We got to visit lots of people & I heard lots of spanish, but most of them spoke some english as well. 

The best day of the week I'd have to say though was yesterday, Sunday, aka my first Sunday at the Mojave Narrows ward. THIS WARD IS AMAZING. It was the Christmas program & we were lucky enough to be part of that. Sister Wood & I sang "Away in a Manger". Everyone was sooo kind & told us how great we sounded. The YW Pres, Sister Bell, asked us to come into YW & sing, the RS Pres asked us to sing at the end of RS, Sister Curry asked us if we could come to her home sometime before Christmas to sing so she could record us & add it to her playlist, & during church Landon Ebmeyer (who is in our YSA ward & his dad is the Apple Valley Stake President) texted us & said his dad wants us to come sing for his family after church. After church we went to the Ebmeyer's & turns out there was about 30 people there. They were having their annual Christmas family party. President Ebmeyer said "Last Sunday I had the privilege of being in the YSA ward & these two sisters sang & I swear the angels themselves stopped to listen. I came home to tell my wife about it. My sons Landon & Dallon both came home & were telling their mom about their song. & Tory (his nephew) went home & told his mom about them." So pretty much he was hyping us up SOOO much which made us pretty nervous haha. 

ANNELISE HELPED YOU MAKE PUMPKIN BREAD?!? that is just tooooo cute! did you get any pictures?!?! I'll tell you what it means to be an STL when we skype, so remind me! haha

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Email from 12/14

I'm feeling SO OLD!! Ah, I never thought I'd live to see the day I'd be 21...

This week was a really good week, but it was one of the longest weeks of my life & I couldn't tell you why. 

Tuesday we had zone meeting. So at the last transfer, President made a bunch of changes in the mission, including combining zones. In the past there were 2 Apple Valley zones, but now we're all one BIG zone. It's pretty great though. 

Wednesday at 10am we had a meeting with the zone leaders & President & Sister Hobbs--for the leaders in the Apple Valley zone. It was a great meeting packed full of information. Afterward we had our individual interviews with President Hobbs. The first question he asked me was "When was the last time you felt the spirit?" For some reason, I KNEW he was going to ask that question. Luckily I was able to say the last time I felt the spirit was that morning in my studies.
I pondered that question & idea throughout the week. I think back to before my mission--if I would've thought of that question & answered it, I probably would've said something like "at my baptism" or "last week at church". Both would've been true, but all too often we think of big events or conferences are where we feel the spirit. The Holy Ghost should be in every aspect of our lives; therefore, we should feel His presence each & every day. I'm SO grateful to be a missionary & to have had countless experiences with the spirit, where I now know what He feels like & how He works with me. I want everyone to have that experience. I want everyone to know & recognize the spirit's promptings in their EVERYDAY life. 
So my challenge to you is to slow down & use the Holy Ghost's guidance in choices you make everyday. Do things that will increase the spirit's presence, such as praying, reading the scriptures, or doing good things for other people. Too often we take for granted the greatest gift--the Holy Ghost. He should be our constant companion to warn us of dangers, to prompt us to do good, to give us feelings of love, peace & joy. 
After our interviews we had the wonderful privilege of taking Sister Hobbs out with us for a few hours! It was so neat to see Sister Hobbs in action & BOY does she do a good job. We went out to lunch & she talked to everyone in her sight! I knew I had to step up my game. We had to stop at Stater Bros to get Hanna Schulthess a bday cupcake. The first opportunity I had I started talking to a lady with an adorable child & gave her a Christmas card :)

Thursday was my first exchange ever as an STL (sister training leader)! I went to Victorville with Sister Carter. I knew of her before & I'd seen her around, but never really talked with her. She is adorable! She's been out about 5 months & is from Utah. Sister Wood stayed in our area with my MTC companion, Sister Dinkel. It was a good day!

Friday we had to take our car into Pep boys for an oil change & stuff. We planned on working on our area book while in there, but there's no time for that when there's friendly people to talk to. We ended up spending the whole time there talking to 2 different men. One was a man in his 70s who has been a firefighter for over 50 years & is also an ordained minister. He was super kind. Then after he left, the man that was sitting next to us struck up a conversation with us. He knows quite a bit about the church & has gone to temple square before. 
After we found out our car would take longer than normal, we called Sister Wagner & Hammond to pick us up. We went to Hanna Schulthess' house to weekly plan, because this girl, who just turned 18, is going to be the most prepared missionary there ever was. She comes out teaching & tracting with us about 3-4 times a week & she wanted to know how to weekly plan. We told her it's super long & pretty boring, but she didn't care. So we spent the rest of the afternoon weekly planning and then went to our ward Christmas party. Man, Mojave Narrows really knows how to throw a party! It was super fun. :)

Well, all week Sister Wood was keeping secrets from me about my bday. I was hoping that moving to a new area nobody would know when my birthday was & I could spend ONE birthday of my life not focused on me. But alas, Sister Wood is the best & made sure EVERYONE knew. She even woke up at 5am to decorate the house & make pancakes. Yeah, I know...haha
We got to sing in the YSA (young single adult) ward, our rendition of "Away in a Manger/Jesus Once of Humble Birth". We had dinner with the Schulthess' & they also celebrated Sister Wood's bday on the 30th. They gave us a couple gifts :)

Thanks for being the best family ever! I miss you all & love you!
Sister Viraldo

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Email from 12-7

Okay, I'll start off with answering your questions since I'm usually not the best at that.

Everything is going pretty swell. Change is always hard, but it's really good! My daily schedule is WAY crazier now than it was. I told you I'm in the Ridgecrest Young Single Adult (YSA) & the Mojave Narrows wards, & that means that we cover BOTH! But alas, we do not do it alone. We have ward mates in both wards, meaning a set of elders. So how that works is that they split up our proselyting area, so we have 1/2 & the elders have the other 1/2. But for YSA it's that we teach the girls & the elders teach the guys.
So yes, covering 2 wards keeps us SUPER busy, which is really great a lot of times, but it also makes it VERY difficult to not just be BUSY, but to be PRODUCTIVE--meaning fulfilling our purpose as missionaries. It is very easy to get appointments with less actives & recent converts all day, even some investigators, but it leaves very little time for finding. And a missionary who is not finding is not a missionary at all. So the struggle is balancing appointments & finding time. 
As of right now we go to one ward's sacrament meeting one week & the other the next because they are both at 1pm, but come the new year Mojave Narrows will be at 9, so we will be in church/church meetings from 7:30am-4pm, at least, every Sunday! hahaha & people think 3 hours for church is long! It'll be really nice, though, because then we'll get to be able to know the ward better. It's tough getting to know everybody in 2 wards. I've found that it's harder in the YSA ward because they're single people--in family wards it's easy for me to group them into families then learn their names, but it's different for the singles.
My mailing address for letters & small packages is:
17929 Siskiyou Rd Apt #6
Apple Valley, Ca 92307
but for bigger packages send it to the mission office! You never REALLY know what will happen with transfers, but if I had to guess...I will die (finish) here, so it's pretty safe for people to send me things with that address. 

Ahh and it's SO FUN to live with Sister Wagner again! I LOVE her. I also love her wardrobe, so we share a lot.  It's just really nice to live with another set of sisters. :)
Happy together again with Sister Wagner!
Sister Wood is from Orem, Utah & is awesome. She is so hardworking & SELFLESS. If there is one word I could use it would be that. For example, she volunteered us to help someone move on PDAY! I was not too fond of the idea, since we only get from 10-6 as it is. PLUS our dinner tonight is at 4:45. After some repenting on my part, I was glad to help. She is a great example to me of selfless service & love. And yes, she is a great singer. We sing together all the time. We've been singing "Silent Night" for members/nonmembers we meet :)

So this week was a really great week! Here are some highlights:

Monday evening we had Family Home Evening at the institute with the YSAs, & we got to teach the lesson! hahaha I say that very sarcastically, because it was just sprung on us when we got there, but luckily Sister Wood is on top of things & came up with a great lesson.
We stopped by to see our investigator, V. She is a woman in her low 60s. She is just the SWEETEST! We watched the Restoration video with her & testified of Joseph Smith & the Book of Mormon. She says she will be baptized when she knows it's true. YAY for the Holy Ghost & how He testifies of truth!
Thursday I got to experience my first MLC--Mission Leadership Council. It was so great! It's a meeting that happens the first Thursday of every month for the Zone Leaders & Sister Training leaders in the mission. It is run by President & Sister Hobbs & the APs (assistants to the President). They invited the old Stake President from Chino to talk to us because this month we are studying as a mission chapter 13, Stake & Ward leaders. It was super good! It's fun to see President Hobbs in a different setting, who knew he was so funny? They also fed us lunch! When we were getting our food President asked me "do you miss Wrightwood? You did great work there." That made me happy to hear! :)
There was a pretty big Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Saturday where local groups set up tables & hand stuff out. Our stake set up a table & handed out cookies & pass along cards. A few missionaries went to help & Sister Wood & I ended up singing Christmas carols for 1.5 hours. It was so fun to see how it made the passerbys so happy :)
Sunday we went to Mojave Narrows ward council & I got to meet some of the "celestial members" as Sister Wood calls them. She has talked SO much about this ward & how great it is. I got to see a little glimpse of it so far, & it's definitely living up to its expectations. We went to church at the YSA ward & afterward had "break the fast". Yummyyy food. Then watched the Christmas devotional. 

Exchanges are coming up this week & I'm a little nervous, but it'll be great! We have one on Thursday & one on Saturday.  I love being a missionary, especially at the Christmastime because it's not weird to talk about Jesus every hour of every day!!!
Hope you all have a great week & THANK YOU for the birthday wishes. I feel so old.
xoxo Sister Viraldo

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

New transfers, new opportunities (11-30 Email)

I am writing to you from Apple Valley with my new companion, Sister Wood! I've been called to be a Sister Training Leader in the Ridgecrest YSA & Mojave Narrows wards. I'm really looking forward to this new opportunity to grow, yet was super sad to leave the beautiful Wrightwood. BUT I am STL over all the sisters in the high desert (about 9 sets)--meaning I get to go on exchanges in Wrightwood!! ALSO I am living in the same house as my first born, Sister Wagner! :)
My new companion, Sister Wood

My daughters! Sister Wagner and Sister Anderson
I'm amazed at the stark contrast between the world's definition of a leader & the Lord's definition. The world sees leaders as those who can exercise control & power over people & gaining praise & honor along the way. Jesus Christ was the greatest leader. But He did not exercise control over those he led. He served them in the very greatest sense. I know that I've been called to be a leader not to gain any praise or honor, but to serve. I'm SO grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord & now my  fellow sister missionaries on an even greater level. I'm really looking forward to learn from each of them & to grow as a missionary.

This last week was great! Ya know, Thanksgiving & everything :)

Yesterday (Sunday) was a bittersweet day for sure. I had the privilege of bearing my testimony in sacrament meeting & singing "Thy Word Is A Lamp Unto My Feet". The response from the members was amazing. I'm forever grateful for my gift of music & how much it can bless the lives of others as I use it for good. Every time someone tells me "you have a gift", "I felt the spirit so strong when you were singing", "that was so moving", etc. I am reaffirmed that THAT is exactly what Heavenly Father wants me to do: bless others' lives through music. 

I love this work, I love this gospel. It is a gospel of HAPPINESS! 
I LOVE LIFE BECAUSE IT'S OFFICIALLY CHRISTMASTIME! Go watch the new Christmas video "A Savior Is Born" on
Sister Viraldo