Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Post #61


This week has been great. Especially this past weekend :]  I loved conference so much. It lifts me spiritually and strengthens my testimony so much. There were so many scriptures that I had just read, and just been pondering when they were used in conference. One in particular was Helaman 5:12,

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the arock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."

I had read that in my personal study this week and was thinking about its promise. If we really have Jesus Christ as our foundation, we will never fall. I really did a self-analysis. Is Jesus Christ my foundation? Is there a possibility that I might fall? Because if there is... my foundation is completely centered on Him, and there are some things we need to do to strengthen that foundation! I invite each of you to do that same self-analysis.

Of course there were many many talks that I loved and that meant so much to me. I could write all day but I'll just mention a couple. I loved Sister Dalton's talk! The world needs virtue! And it starts with parents living virtuous lives and giving that example. So much filth in the media today. We cannot have that in our homes. I go into so many homes where the television is always on. Parents expose their young, innocent children to immorality and filth as something glamorous and desirable. Return to virtue :] It goes right along with Elder Bednar's talk on the law of chastity.

I also loved Elder Perry's talk on obedience. There was something different about the way he spoke in this conference, so bold and with so much power. He means business. And of course, Elder Holland's on faith. I loved how he invited us to lean on his faith we were are in lack.

With the combination of meetings, conference and our VC schedule we had very little time in our area, but the Lord blessed us to really help us use that time effectively.

We had a miracle on Sunday morning! We had three investigators committed to come to conference. We are so excited about the new investigators that we have found. We are having a lot of success by working with less-active members--they generally have family/friends that are not members; This is how we have found most of our new investigators. The Sunday Morning Session began and none of them showed up :[ We were pretty bummed and I remember just praying about what we need to do different. I know that people have their free agency... but I want to do everything that lies in my power to help them progress. We got up about 40 minutes through the conference and saw Sister Tolman in the hallway that had told us earlier in the week that she was going to visit one of our investigators, Lupita, on Saturday at the hospital (to visit her 2 week old baby that was born 4 months early). We asked her if she had been able to visit Lupita and the baby. She had, and had done se with her husband (a counselor in the bishopric) and were able to meet Oscar, Lupita's husband! We haven't even gotten to meet him yet because they've been so busy with the baby. They all got along so great, and they even invited Lupita to come to general conference--and she came!! We didn't even have the opportunity to commit her to it and she came! It was such a blessing. I know that even thought we didn't plan on her coming, the Lord did; because every single one of the talks on Sunday morning were perfect for her. Exactly what she needed to hear in this time! We are so blessed to have such great members! And we love Lupita!

We found two new investigators on Sunday night by passing by the house of 2 less active members that we had never met before. We found Marcos (15 years old) and Janet (17 years old). The two of them live with their older sister that is around 22 years old, her husband, and the husband's kids. Their mom lives in Mexico, and their dad in Chandler. These kids are so precious to Heavenly Father and I know he wants us to help them. They practically have no adult supervision. And both of them have a lot of anger and sadness towards the things that have happened in their lives. They were so open with us telling us how unhappy they are in life. I love them already and want to help them. The situation is so hard, but I know the gospel of Jesus Christ will bless their lives!

This morning we woke up at 4:45am to go hiking!! We hadn't done it in a long time but the weather is getting to be perfect for it. It was an activity that we did with the whole zone. It was a hiked called "flatiron" that I did my second transfer with Sister McKee. But it had been over a year and I forgot how hard of a hike it is! It's super intense and a little scary. Not to mention that I've gotten out of shape in the past year haha. Sister Aquino and Sister Weber (Sister Cottrell's companion) don't like exercising and don't really like the outdoors... but they came and we all survived. Barely. haha. I'll send a couple pictures from the hike!

It's been a busy week--but I like it that way!!
I love having prophets on the earth that lead us and guide us in righteousness.
May we build our foundation on Jesus Christ and never fall.

I love you all!!
Sister Larson

Post #60

I braced myself reading my emails today... thinking that lots would try and pull April Fool's Day jokes on me. The only one I got was from Jake... telling me that he wants to postpone the wedding. haha. I didn't believe it :]

This week has been fabulous having the Easter Pageant! We love it so much. We're exhausted. But we love it and all the miracles that come along with it! I wish I had all the time in the world to be able to share the many miracles we saw.

This week we were really pushed for time in our area. But the Lord blessed us. We really focused on finding new investigators. We set a goal of finding 6 and again last night with half an hour to spare the Lord led us to a family and we completed our goals. I know this is the Lord's word and I love being a part of it. We are still working with Deysi (a less active from El Salvador) and her husband! She was baptized when she was 8 but has been inactive since she came to El Salvador. They are such a wonderful family and I can just imagine them active members of the church and sealed in the temple! We are also working with Deysi's best friend, Lupita! They all live right next to each other and we love working with them. Lupita was 5 months pregnant... and had her baby this week. We have been praying so hard and fasting that the baby will be okay. I think everything will be fine. It's so interesting to me. Having these experiences in my mission I really have been able to see how the Lord prepares people, and that everything happens for a reason. This has been such a hard trial for Lupita, but it is humbling her and helping her realize that she needs God in her life. And she is not going to be working so much (she was working 2 jobs) so she's going to actually have time to do the things that she needs to, to know that this message we share is true. Everything happens for a reason. As we realize that we are happier through our trials.

Our Easter was so wonderful. There are so many incredible members that help us and help us to feel at home during holidays. We ate breakfast with the family that lives in the house right in front of us. A super sweet member, Sister Rachel Tyler made us dinner. We were in the visitors' center from 4-7pm. So we didn't really have dinner. But she made a plate for us!

Another Easter surprise was that we were locked out of our house! haha. There were some sisters that had asked to study in the house (because we live RIGHT by the temple and VC) before the VC opened. And we only lock the actual door... not the screen door. Well it's like bigger than a little screen door. Anyways. They locked both from the inside and we couldn't get in. But we have an awesomeee vehicle coordinator that helps us with everything and came down from Scottsdale to break us in :]

Wow this week has been so long. I almost forgot about the super awesome training that we had by Steven B. Allen from the Missionary Department. It was super cool and he talked a lot about the vision that the department and the prophet/apostles have for missionary work. He talked about how all missionaries soon will be using the internet as a proselyting tool. It's so useful. I love having that as part of my call. Speaking of which... Robert is doing so awesome. He has progressed so much in just the past 3 weeks. He's ready to tell his family of his faith in Jesus Christ to be able to start practicing what he believes.

I was also able to talk to Haley this week on the phone!! (does anyone remember her?? I taught her with Sister Valladares when she was in the hospital!) She went to a rehab center in Chandler and is now living in a half-way house kind of thing. But I loved talking to her again. It was like talking to a best friend after so long. I know that God has just given me so much love for her.

There is so much more that has happened... but I'm out of time. One day you will all hear it all :]

Love you so much.
Happy Easter
Have a great week :]

Post #59

Hello all! 

Well this morning we all discovered that yesterday was St. Patrick's Day! And everyone here at the Visitors' Center TOTALLY forgot. I guess we have much better things to worry about. But. We were still kind of bummed. We figured it out this morning at a service project we did here at the Visitors' Center. We came and DEEP cleaned! We have a company that comes and cleans... but there were a lot of things that needed to be cleaned... especially getting ready for the pageant! The walls were so dirty and the glass everywhere. Anyways it was fun to be able to come help out... where we spend like ALL our time :] And we're really getting ready for the Easter Pageant... starting tomorrow! They've been out practicing every night! It's so fun because we live SO close that at night 9:00-10:30 each night we live our doors open and can hear it. I love it. On Saturday morning they set up the 10,000 chairs! It's such a sight out there! Sister Aquino and I are passing out invitation every chance we can get--I know that we'll get referrals in our area as a result!

This week has been great. I just want to do what the Lord wants from me. I know that he can work miracles in our area. So we are exercising all the faith we have to really be able to find new investigators and to help the ones that we already have to progress. We found an investigator this week named Guadalupe and she's SO prepared. She works a ton so that makes it a little harder. But seriously we knocked on her door and she just looked at us and said "do you want to come in?" She was so receiving... like she was waiting for us or something. She's five months pregnant... so hopefully she'll start working a little less and be able to have more time. 

We have an investigator named Carlos. He has met with missionaries for a while now, but just recently we've seen him a lot more serious and he's started to progress. He says that he wants to get baptized but just doesn't feel that he has received his answer.  We taught him the word of wisdom this week--he has problems with smoking so we are helping him rely on the Lord to help him stop. We are going to set a baptismal date with him this week. He wasn't able to go to church yesterday because he was in Mexico, but has been coming regularly when he is in town.

This area has so many people in it. We find a lot of investigators but they they just don't progress... but like a week and a half ago we found a lady named Erlinda, who is super interested. She has always believed in God but never really been super religious because she didn't know which church was true. So we are helping her understand that she can receive answers from God and know for herself! She was going to go to church but her daughter is in the hospital and wasn't able to.

This week I've really been focusing on following the guidance of the spirit... I know that I can't do this alone... but for some reason it's like I just forget that--and get stuck in a rut. Being exactly obedient and doing everything I am supposed to, but not seeking the Lord's help in everything I do. And we've totally seen miracles this week and I changed how I worked. I can feel a difference in our companionship and in the way I view people in the streets. This is the Lord's work.

We have an investigator in the Visitors' Center (like on the phones) that is SO awesome. He's 19 years old and lives in Washington state. He called in wanted to learn about Jesus Christ. He has grown up devout Jew and has always heard about Jesus Christ but honestly has no idea who he is. We've been teaching him for two weeks and the spirit is so strong every time we teach him. When we explained to him that Jesus Christ is the Jehovah that is testified of in the Old Testament he just started crying, telling us that no one had ever told him that before. He has tons of questions and really is progressing. He told us about his experience at Sinogoge this past Saturday. He was there with his family... but he could stop thinking about all the new words we have taught him, like Jesus Christ, Savior, Redeemer, Heavenly Father. He has a lot of fear of his family rejecting him, and talks about how guilty he feels talking to us. I can't imagine how hard it is going against everything he's been taught growing up, but I know he's doing it because he's felt the spirit so strong. The Lord is guiding him to the trust. We are just working on increasing his faith in Jesus Christ because we know that he feels the spirit. It's so awesome teaching him. It increasing my faith doing so! 

I'm doing so well!! I can't WAIT for the Easter Pageant! It is such a blessing this city has to have incredible missionary experiences. 

Sister Larson

Post #58

Hey everyone!!!

Well. First thing--we got a voicemail from the zone leaders last night telling us that we could plan to have and hour and a half on emails for today. So we were like uhh. weird but okay. We figured there was like a survey or something that president wanted us to do. But then when we got here there was an emailing telling us that the missionary department of the church has changed the policy and we are now given an hour and a half every week and have permission to email family, friends, converts and priesthood leaders. So that's exciting--for Julie :] haha she doesn't have to forward my emails every week to Laura!

This week has been great. We recieved transfer news on Saturday night and Sister Aquino and I will be staying together--in the visitors' center. I really thought that we would go full-field because Sister Aquino has been out 10 months and has never been full-field. But in the VC we only have 9 Spanish sisters--just not enough and so no one can be full-field. Transfers were insane--recieving 15 new sisters. None of them were Spanish VC. But a ton of the Sisters (like 6) are going full-field English training. Sister Valladares (my old companion) is going to train, white washing, ENGLISH, with only 2 YSA wards. She's really nervous about it, but she'll be so awesome. With all the changes coming in our mission I can feel how everything is directing by the Lord. So many things that just don't make sense, President would never come up with these things. I know this is the Lord's work. Sister Cottrell has been transferred to Liahona 3rd as well :] So although we are not companions we are serving in the same ward and are going to be living together. Which will be fun. But we'll be sure to not make our companions feel unloved because we get along so well. It'll be good.

The weather this week has been crazy as usual. You never know what to expect here in Mesa. It rained like crazy (SUPER UNUSUAL) and hailed. So that was a crazy day. The easter pageant starts in a week and so things are in full-swing getting ready for it. We are having trainings, the cast is outside practicing every night, we invite everyone on the streets. I'm so ready--miracles are all over the place during the pageant. I can't wait. We always have general authorities that come down for it. I love the pageant.

This week was full of miracles in our area. It's been pretty dead, but we are doing everything that we can to get the work to pick up. This past week we set a goal of finding 8 new investigators. Sister Aquino and I were so excited each day as we were about to go into our area. We could feel the difference as we talked to every single person. We always "talk to everyone." But something was different. We invited everyone. Just talked to everyone. And the Lord blessed us! So much. We didn't have a ton of time with all the time in the VC, trainings for the pageant, we went to the temple, zone conference. But we met our goal. I'm so excited to have another transfer with Sister Aquino in this area. I know we'll see even more miracles.

I love you all so much! I hope everyone has a great week and spring break (to whom it applies :] )

Hermana Larson

Post #57

Hey everyone!

This week has been crazy. And good. And hard. I've had days where I just break down crying--not sure how I'm going to do it anymore. And days where I've been really happy and have seen so many miracles. So I guess all in all it's been a pretty typical missionary week :]

Last week we had an awesome zone conference! The spirit was so strong. The theme was Teach Clear, Use the Scriptures, and Bear Testimony. I think the mission is just really focusing on our teaching skills. We have SO many new missionaries coming that we have new missionaries training new missionaries! It's incredible seeing all the growth in the mission though.

Last p-day our whole zone went to Golfland and played mini-golf, which was really fun because honestly we don't do a ton of fun things on our p-day. We have so many things that need to get done that we barely have time finish that! But I'm glad that we went because it's always fun to get out and do something! Especially now as the weather is so beautiful! It's really perfect, not too hot, not too cold. But it won't last long. I can feel the Summer coming!

The cast for the Easter Pageant has started practicing outside everyday and it's so cool to walk out of the visitors' center and see it getting ready! We are inviting everyone we see on the streets and are praying that there are people in our area that will go to it and feel the spirit. We dropped a lot of investigators this week. They just aren't prepared, aren't progressing. And I think that that induced my mini breakdown. There are so many people in our area, but I just feel like I don't have time to find them! It's actually a struggle that a lot of the sisters in the VC are having since they changed the schedule in the VC (we are there SO much more). So it'll be interesting to see what president does next transfer. I have had a feeling lately that I might go full-field this next transfer in the area with Sister Aquino. She's never been full-field before. And even though I've already have my 3--let's be honest, anything can happen. And this is my last opportunity to be full-field, because your last transfer is always in the VC.

Anyways. This is not the most exciting letter ever... sorry! But I love you all! Have a great MARCH! Can you believe it?? :]

Love,  Holly

Post #56

Hard to believe that this Friday is MARCH! So insane. You would think that it almost being spring break, here in Arizona it would start heating up... but no. IT SNOWED THIS WEEK. Well barely. But it happened. It was fun to see all the houses with white roofs. I never thought I would come to Mesa and see snow. But it made for an interesting night as we had to return to the apartment and bundle up. The weather here changes SO quickly. So by like the next day during the day it was a little hot.

This past Saturday Omar got baptized! I thought that I wasn't going to be able to go to the baptism because I was working in the Visitors' Center and we were the only Spanish sisters on shift. But then I talked to some other sisters that were just here for a lesson and said that they were going there afterwards with an investigator. And so we got permission for me to go on exchanges with one of them... while the other stayed in the VC. I don't know if that makes sense... but pretty much it was a miracle I got to go. Because it was just like ten minutes before we figured all of this out. So Sister Valladares and Omar didn't think that I was going to be able to make it. But then I showed up right as they were starting. It was awesome. He was so prepared and ready.

So as  all of you already know... they are opening 58 new missions throughout the world. Super necessary. Mission Presidents just can't keep up with that many missionaries. We have about 220 right now... with more on the way. This transfer coming we have 17 new sisters coming. Just sisters. It's insane. The entire world will be training. Only 4 of the 17 are Spanish sisters... so I doubt I'll train again. But I have no idea where he is going to find 13 English trainers. (we have like 8 that are training still from the last transfer). And he is going to have to open a lot of new areas. We have three transfers before the split happens... and I suspect that they will all be insane. Just preparing for it. Here in the Valley they are opening two new missions--Gilbert as well. So there will be a Tempe, Gilbert, Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale mission. Look it up on a map.. they are each like 10 minutes from each other. So I don't think they'll just split our mission--I suspect they'll redraw new boundaries for all of them. It's madness... but exciting times. I'm sad that I'll go home before all the splits.

We've been seeing a lot of miracles this week. It's incredible. I know this is the Lord's work. His church has been restored and He wants everyone to know it. To prepare myself spiritually and be able to testify of the Savior during the Easter Pageant this year I'm reading the New Testament in Spanish. Right now I'm in John 13. I'm learning so much and my testimony of the Savior grows each day. There's a month before Easter; I invite each of you to read one of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) before then. Or all four if you are feeling ambitious :] I know as each of you do it your faith in Jesus Christ will be strengthened and the meaning of Easter will be clearer to each of you. 

I love each of you so much. This week Julie sent me a package with pictures from the wedding! It was so awesome to finally get to see pictures from it! I loved seeing the pictures of all of you. The grandkids have all grown up so much. They aren't going to know who I am :] It made me realize how much I missed all of you. Here in the Visitors' Center there are a lot of 19-21 aged girls that come in asking what it is like to be a missionary. And I get to testify so often about the changes it has made in my life. I can't imagine my life any other way. It hasn't been easy. But I'm grateful for every moment of it.

Love you all,

Sister Larson