Top of the mornin’ to ya Petunia, Dad, Nathan, Amber, Aaron, Wade, and more family and friends!!!
So, I need to tell you about Ana... :) Do you remember last week how I told you about how we have the Ward Family Home Evening with Ulises (an incredible less-active man that we have been working with) and his son, Aldis.
Aldis´ friend, Ana, who came is incredible. She seemed to have a lot of fun (we play some ridiculous games and people tend to see that we are goofy, real people) and was very interested in learning more about religion, especially about the Book of Mormon. We had our first lesson with her on Tuesday after she came to English classes. I will never forget this day! She really opened up to us and told her all about her life, which she said she rarely does with people. She is 20 years old, and has had such a rough life. Her mother died of drug overdose when she was very young, and was born with drugs in her body. Luckily she is okay. Her dad is also a drug addict and has been in and out of jail various times. So her grandmother has really raised her all of her life. She is such an intelligent girl and makes the best of what she has. She was SO excited to hear that we have English classes for free. She is so grateful for any opportunity she has to learn. She reminds me a lot of Amber in the way that she loves art and plays the violin; they are very similar in that way!
But this first night she just kept saying that she didn't know nice people existed like those she had met in the church. This has resulted in her staying inside her house all day instead of having friends that aren't good influences or hearing the hurtful things that people say about her appearance on the street. But ever since she began to come to church, she keeps saying: I am so happy! We taught her the first lesson. The most incredible first lesson I have ever experienced. She asked so many simple and sincere questions, all things she had been wondering her whole life. Like what really is sin and how she can get rid of this weight that she feels. And she also asked us... how do I "Come unto Christ". I loved that. We felt the Spirit so strongly as we testified that we come unto Him but receiving his gospel and ordinances through the priesthood authority. We could see it in her eyes as she felt the truth of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She told us that this is really what she has been looking for her entire life. She clearly understood. It was incredible!
She explained that what she felt as she heard of how Christ has established His church and when Joseph Smith saw the first vision. She felt a tight feeling in her chest, almost like she felt like crying, but it came and went. She said it was like nothing she had ever felt before. We invited her to baptism, and asked her if she would kneel down then and there to ask if this is truly the Lord's church re-established on the earth and if she should be baptized. As she ended the prayer, that same feeling she had in her chest was back. We all knew it was an answer that YES!!! We all felt it so strongly!!!! She will be baptized at the end of the month :) I sent you pictures of her. I love how happy she is, we just want her to feel so loved. Something she has been lacking her entire life. I have never met such a prepared person to accept the gospel.
One morning this week, I woke up thinking about what a difference it has been from last transfer to this transfer. We did a whole lot of "seed-planting" and I am beginning to realize how important this seed planting part of missionary work is. It is as if the Lord is telling me that no effort in missionary work goes unwasted. Because after our entire last transfer of planting seed after seed, teaching The Restoration on the street day after day, we have come in contact with 4 people who have come in contact with the church up to years ago, in one way or another: Jorge, Nelson, Ana, and Luis. Each of them is progressing incredibly well, and every one of them came to church yesterday. The incredible thing us, the missionaries that planted their "seeds" have NO IDEA the influence they have made in the lives of these people. We never know how our actions and words and conduct are influencing other people. It was a miracle (and very stressful!). There were 7 investigators that came to church! Miracles!
Nelson is also an incredible man and on his way to getting baptized the same day as Ana. We have seen so many miracles of inviting others to baptism this week. Nelson is from the Dominican Republic, about 45 years old, and he was a little miracle, too. When we stopped him and his mother on the street, he told us that his mother normally never stops to talk to anyone, but he knows this wasn't a coincidence. We just started meeting with him this week, too, and he is always aware of his mother, helping her with whatever she needs, very family oriented, humble, and has always had a strong relationship with God, seeking to do His will in His life. But he always wondered where to find the truth as well. This man found his testimony in the Book of Mormon. He said there is no way that this Book cannot be the words of God. He actually said he woke up one night after having a dream about us, the sister missionaries, haha, and decided to read the Book of Mormon at 3 in the morning. He reads the chapters we give him 3-4 times and I feel like we come to lessons and he just teaches us. People like Nelson and Ana that have such a thirst for the truth make me want to treasure the incredible knowledge that we have in our reach every day and share it with everyone. I love being a missionary and being able to share the peace and joy that the gospel brings us. He says that the Lord had put us in his path so that he can be shown the way to go.
Jorge is also a man that we met on the street, from Columbia. haha He is so funny. He comes to English classes and never fails to make us all laugh. He has a great sense of humor. He remembers the sister missionaries from over 8 years ago, their names and everything. It just wasn't his time. But now, after all that has happened in his life (deaths of his mother and father, living more in the world, etc.) something has touched Him to find God again. He is a man of a lot of faith and so much light. The Lord has prepared him, too.
One more miracle! Luis!!! Late one Sunday night, we were headed home and decided to talk to him! He said he had also seen missionaries before and talked to them. We have started teaching him the lessons and he is a little bit more hesitant to accept everything, but he gets this sincere look of pure light in his eyes when he feels the spirit, it’s incredible. He is hesitant to accept anything very fast, just because of how deceived he has felt form the whole world. Turns out as well, that the Elders knocked on his door the other day! He was in some of their old contacts and decided to stop by and teach him a lesson. If that is not a sign that is it his time to, then I don´t know what is!!!! He is from Cuba, and is alone here, he works all the time, but his face lights up when we go visit him where he works. It can be hard because he can only meet during our free time to go home and eat and we feel exhausted by the end of the day, but it’s all worth it!
There is so much more a wish I could tell you :) but I will keep it at that :) we never know the seeds we are planting, and I believe there are so many blossoms that we won't see until after this life, but everything matters in the Lord's eyes. This is His work and he will not let any effort go unwasted.
Each of these experiences this week have continued to affirm my testimony that this is the Christ´s church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that the only way we can receive all of the blessings that the father has for us is through his restored priesthood here on earth. I feel it every time that we testify of these truths. I know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is a divine Book of God, and like Nefi [Nephi] I know that I do not know that truth of all things, but I do know through my prayers and experiences that Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and are so aware of us, I feel their love and answers as I read their words and feel the Holy spirit guide my studies. I know without a doubt that this is His work, and 4 months is starting to seem like an incredibly small amount of time to do all of those important things that he has sent me here to do. What a privilege it is to where the name tag everyday and testify of the FULL truth of his words. I know that we must past through challenges to comprehend just a small portion of the rejection and grief that Christ felt, and so that we can appreciate so much more the times of Joy. I know that His plan for us is real. :)
I love you all so much!!
Have a great week! Moroni 8:3
Love, Hermana Mather
P.S. Oh and wanna hear a funny story? hehe. Elder Howard and Elder Muller told us that yesterday they found a Pokemon card on the ground, supper cool huh? So, of course, they picked up this little treasure and put it in their pocket. Then got back to work! They met a man on the street who was in a hurry, but wanted to give him a card at least with his number on it. But what does he pull out? The pokemon card. hahahahaha. "Here sir, here is our information... oooo... I mean..." Next time Pikachu...
|The day we had our first lesson with Ana|
|With Ulises on his birthday!!|
|Our faces when we go to the mailbox and there are no letters. hahahaha|
|We went to a Young Adults activity with Ana!|
It was at Elder and Sister Hatch´s house, the senior couple here!
|Zone meeting! So fun. I feel so blessed to serve with incredible missionaries.|
Can you believe Hermana Aagard goes home this week?...
|A family of seven from the Canary Islands in our ward!|
Jonas, the older one in the pink, is like our third companion.
He is always willing to go to appointments and contact with us.
|Ulises and his family :)|
|Spending the day with Ana yesterday!|