Mom notes this week's 5 Questions:
1) Do you have any special activities or events you get to do (service projects, etc) because it is Christmas?
2) Do you get to listen to/watch the 1st Presidency Christmas devotional message?
3) How is the weather treating you? Still pretty mild? Or has winter shown up with a vengeance?
4) Is the borrowed coat (from the Mission Home) doing OK for you? Do you need money for one of your own?
5) (Last week she asked for certain Christmas songs in mp3 files sent to her.) Did the mp3 files come thru to you OK?
1. We will most likely get to do service Christmas morning, yes. At least, that is my understanding. And then there are plenty of service projects throughout the month that we will probably get to help with, directly or indirectly. (We bought batteries last week and donated that to the "Stuff the Bus" project.)
2. We did get to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, however it was in Spanish. I actually understood the majority of it, and got the message across, but it really was just such a testimony builder that you don't need to understand everything in order to feel the Spirit. Like when you're little and read the Book of Mormon--I know I didn't really get it, but I knew it was good. And sometimes, that's enough.
3. The weather is actually pretty good. It's been raining the past day or two, but not a downpour. So far the weather is pretty good, but I know it won't last.... There's a pond/lake right by us and it's been frozen and unfrozen multiple times already. It's even snowed a couple times--great big flakes--but it didn't really stick. So far, so good, if you ask me.
4. I actually have not yet worn the coat I borrowed from the office....so I can't report on that just yet.
5. Yes, the files came through. I'll have to pull them off the email next time I'm at the church on P day, but I believe I got seven or so emails with two files each, so when I try downloading them, I'll let you know if it works. Thanks so much Momma!
So. This week:
First off, I can't believe it's December. Who said that was okay?
Secondly, I love this area. So much. Why? Well, let me tell you why:
1. The members here are amazing. We got a call this week from a member, Brother Tandy, asking for our names so he could tell his friend who wants to get in contact with us. Next, Sister Eschmann is going out of her comfort zone to have her neighbors over for a Christmas open house sort of event and basically to introduce the topic of religion.
2. We have awesome investigators. The Bloomington 1st Elders are teaching a woman named Lupita, and we are teaching her sister, Ana. They've been helping each other, supporting each other, and go to activities together. Then there's Jorge, who unfortunately just started work and doesn't feel comfortable asking for Sundays off, but prior to that: we met him Saturday night and he asked if we had church services because he wanted to come--and he did--before we had even taught him! He also came to the family history night activity we had as well as the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. And then there's Angelina (we thought her name was Maria for the longest time....and we're still not sure if it's Angelina or Angela...). About a month, her son and grandson passed away in a terrible accident, and we had the opportunity to teach her and about twelve other individuals the plan of salvation. When we went back and taught her the restoration, she was practically crying while I told her Joseph's description of the first vision. And then when we invited her to be baptized on a certain date, she told us that she wants her daughters to be there too, so we're going to set up a time of the week when we can meet with all of them on a regular basis.
3. Hermana Israelsen and I are working so hard, I feel. I guess I've never known anything else as a missionary, but I feel like we do everything we possibly can to achieve our goals. And then this morning, we had an awesome companionship study session. We read over the most recent Harvester and just talked about what we need to do to improve, and how we can better work with ward leaders, and how we're going to achieve our goals. Based solely on what we did during that time, it shouldn't have been productive but it was one of the best comp studies we've had, if you ask me. I don't want January to come because I feel like we work so well together and I'm going to have to learn how to work with someone new. But it'll be good. Anyway, we were thinking that we really need our ward leaders and members on board with "Baptizing is a matter of desire, attitude, and faith" because it feels a bit like they do not have attitude/faith in us with our part member families, if I'm being completely honest. But we're hoping to strengthen that relationship so that we can achieve our goals. It's definitely a learning process.
I did learn this week the definition of "not keeping commitments". My understanding was that a person is not keeping commitments when they accept a direct invitation and then don't do it. But that is not the case. Which is good to know. Unfortunately, that means that we have no progressing investigators because no one came to church. However, they are progressing in that their faith is growing--they're just not progressing toward baptism. So we'll have to remedy that. But I believe we can do it.
One really sad thing this week is that the A-family went to Mexico for the month. So they won't be back until January. However, we did get an address (sort of) so that we can send missionaries to them while they're in Mexico. Hopefully it's enough of an address that the missionaries can find them. I think it'll be good for them to meet some other missionaries too.
We're still kind of struggling to find Charlie. We had left a Finding Faith in Christ DVD at his house for him on Monday last week, then Tuesday he texted us--we thought he was dropping us. But he actually just said thank you for not giving up on him and that he liked the movie. So we invited him to the family history night, and he came. He didn't actually do any family history, but he did talk with the zone leaders and also with Brother Smith and I think that really helped a lot. However, we haven't been able to get a hold of him since then, so hopefully he's doing alright.
Maria and her husband Manuel are also doing well. Manuel was really intrigued when we read from the introduction of the Book of Mormon where it says it's the most correct book. So he's been reading. Then Maria, we had felt like we hadn't explained clear enough for her to understand but when we reviewed she actually remembered a lot--even specific things. So that was awesome.
Julia still isn't coming to church, so we haven't really progressed anywhere with her; she's been sick this week so we weren't able to meet with her. Supposedly her job is ending in January, and she said she would even quit her job if she received an answer, but I feel like she's had ample opportunity to receive it so it's more likely she's not recognizing it. So we'll see what we can do about that this week.
Ana is doing really well. Lupita (Ana's sister) told us that Ana told her that she (Ana) wants to come to church and is thinking about not working so that she can come. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and last we met with her she asked what the difference was between Nephi's mayores plates and menores plates. This lady is just stellar. We just need to make sure she isn't too distracted by all the cool information and that she has a testimony of the truth of the Book.
The Rodas familia, that just moved in a few weeks ago, is amazing. They came to the devotional last night and totally fellowshipped Jorge last night. Oh, they're just so great. I love Hispanic people. Their adorable son, Victor (8 years old) is awesome. He's so excited to be baptized. And then Rogelio, who is three, has this bien lindo mass of hair. Oh man. It's to die for. They also have an 18 year old, Jose, who is preparing for aa mission. He's also great. Basically, they're one of the best families ever. haha I just wanna adopt them.
We also found two new investigators this week: David and Beverlyn Garza family. They're so cool. So here's what happened: about a month ago, we met David outside washing cars (mom, these cars are so legit and I am so sorry that I don't know what they are) and he told us about the Guerrero family who had just lost two family members in an accident. So we taught them and have visited them a few times. But then this last week, on Monday or Tuesday, we decided to try David too. He hadn't seemed particularly interested when we first met him but then we decided, you know what, why not give him a second chance. So we knocked and then when he answered the door, he was willing to talk to us on the porch, but he said the house was too messy. However, it was freezing, and we can't really be alone with a man, so we asked if we could set up a return appointment. We did, for Saturday at five. We also thanked him for telling us about the other Guerrero family; we said we got to help them by telling them about what happens after death. He told us he just had a buddy pass away last week or so, and we offered to talk about the same topic with him on Saturday. He said that'd be great, and then we parted ways. We got back in the car to figure out if we were gonna go to a different area or not, but then he knocked on the car window and told us, "why don't you just come in and we can talk about that right now". So, we did. We taught David and his wife Beverlyn about the plan of salvation and they were SO into it. Oh man. It was awesome. We gave them the pamphlet to read and then decided we would come back on Saturday.
Then, when we did that: we asked if they had any questions and they did: what's the Book of Mormon? and why are there so many churches? Oh baby. It was perfect! They had read the pamphlet (together) and had questions that led us right to the restoration, as planned. It was just simply amazing. Also, what was cool, was their two oldest daughters (10 and 8) listened in on the lesson too, and when we offered to bring a Book of Mormon with pictures, they said they would love that. I mean, can it get any better than this? haha I love them.
I would tell you more about them but I'm sick of writing. (Sorry.)
I'm going to attach (hopefully) a document written by our amazing mission president and I want you all to read it because it is SO SO SO good. I mean, for reals. Everybody else is missing out because this is the best mission ever. President Fenn is a genius.
Anyway. I love being a missionary, even though it is THE hardest thing I have ever done. I have the greatest experiences and the worst experiences, but I am beginning to trust in that everything happens for a reason, so it's completely okay. I love this Gospel and it brings me so much joy to be able to share it, even when it's not totally accepted. Keep spreading the Gospel in whatever way you can and look for the blessings that come, because I promise they are there.
Love you all!
Todo Mi Amor,
We didn't actually almost get hit by a train. But we thought we almost got hit by a train--it wasn't moving but had it's lights on, and it was dark, and we were afraid we were about to die. But it's okay, because we were fine.
(: I hope you didn't have a heart attack when you read the subject line.