Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to ALL!!

Merry Christmas Family!

I love you all. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas filled with gratitude for the Savior and the peace we have because of Him. 

This week we got to do a zone service activity, where we worked with Salvation Army and some other community members. We were in a large warehouse and there were mounds of toys. We got a paper that had a family on it. The children's names and ages and wishes for Christmas were listed on there. We had huge garbage bags and a paper with names and we got to shop for them! We got to pick what toys they got for Christmas! They told us not to be stingey, so we stuffed big toys, little toys, stuffed animals, etc plus every family got a games and coloring books. Then when we filled that bag, we got another family! The whole warehouse got filled there were so many needy families. I saw a a really funny book in the pile that never got picked, and it was called Why Cats Paint haha, its was the cutest thing, but no one wanted it sadly. But it was THE funnest service project!

I also tried cactus flower icecream and octopus this week. Neither was very good :( The icecream was after the project, we went to downtown Oakland in the Mexican area, and our car battery actually died and we were stranded for a little while, but dont worry we are safe! The chinese sisters helped us out. Just another mission story. The octopus was from a Tongan family in our ward, they made us island delicacies. It was not the calamarie we had in Boston, but it was so sick, it squeaked in my mnouth as soon as I bit it! Ugh that did it for me. Rubbery, nasty thing. 

I am performing in the vc and we see over 1000 people every night!

Well I will talk to you TOMORROW! I am using a members house at 12:00 here, so maybe 2:00 texas time? be signed on to skype!

love you,
sister martin

Monday, December 17, 2012

Book of Mormon

Hello Family,
This week in the Visitor's Center, I met an older lady who was from Ethiopia! She spoke only Amheric and was a Coptic Chrsitian (which I remember writing a paper about coptics in high school). She was soooo excited though that we had a Book of Mormon in Amheric, and she kept saying thankyou and touching me and Sister Hewett like she was so grateful. It was really cool, and its awesome that the Book of Mormon has been translated now into over 100 languages, and people can feel the Spirit of it when we explain what it is and that it is a gift.
Lucia got baptized yesterday! She is a holistic chiropractor that was a referral from another ward's member. She was great, there was a huge turn out and she is already well into all the singles activites! She is really fun to teach, and has crazy good comprehension with the Book of Mormon.
I have the chance to watch a G-rated movie with my zone on New Year's Eve. We are asked to ask our families what is a new G-rated/non romantic comedy movie that has come out recently?
We met an amazing lady this week who just walked into church one Sunday! We had a lesson with her and she wants to get baptized! I will update more on her later.
Zone conference was amazing! We got tons of presents from member who just wanted to do something for missionaries! I got toilet paper, a blanket, toothpaste, and a Handel's messiah CD! And candy! It was really fun, we all got to steal from the other missionaries and we alwasy cheered when someone got toilet paper or else the other hot gift--watches. Then the stake relief society fed us a christmas ham dinner and we felt soooo spoiled! It was really fun.
I will be working in the VC every night this week. And performing on Christmas Eve and Day.
I hope you are all excited for Christmas. Stay warm and remember our Savior and everything he has sacraficed for us so we can have joy. So lets be joyful! Every day!
Love you!
Sister Martin

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Field is White!


This week has been incredible and full of miracles. First of all, Zaya is now a member! We took her to the Visitor's Center/temple and she was so happy and told us that was her next goal!

 Another investigator, Lucia, is getting baptized on Sunday! I will tell her story next week. THEN we had been wanting Lacie, another investigator, to have a baptismal date. But she was still praying to know for sure, etc and we didn't know what to do everytime she said she had been praying but no answer. She came to Zaya's baptism and everything. We fasted for her last Sunday, and on Tuesday we were texting her when we could meet up. We wanted to meet up to give her a lesson on just taking a leap of faith and just getting baptized because she knows its good. But all the sudden we got another text from her, I look over and my companion sets the phone down and puts her head in her hands. I immediately thought the worst (which is what I learned missionaries do haha) and thought we had lost Lacie. but no! Lacie texted us saying, "I decided yesterday I'd like to get baptized on the 29th". My companion and I started jumping and screaming we were so excited. And her husband is worthy now to baptize her! They are the cutest couple and we are sooo happy for them!! What did I tell you about Walnut Creek? It is truly on fire, full of prepared people! D&C 31:4 says "...You shall begin to preach from this time forth, yea, to reap in the field which white, already to be burned." You notice it doesn't say harvest. During the harvesting process, the burning comes after to purify and put nutrients back into the soil. We are here to help burn the area! We talked to some great people during our "Christmas" tracting, where we hand out Joy to the World pass a long cards on the street or talk about Chrsitmas Temple Hill events. As we help those already found, finding our own, and just working hard, we are seeing so many miracles, and harvest just doesn't seem like quite strong enough a word. So I have been very busy!

The Visitor's Center has been crazy. We have a live Nativity outside which I have been itching to see, and free concerts every night, so its been busy. When I am on "outside tour", we always joke we feel like Salt Lake Temple Square sisters. I go around asking people if they have been to the VC, or I might refer them to if they are not members as well. But I like it, because we get to walk around in all the lights and everything. I love Christmas time as a missionary! Everyone seems to be more open to talking about Jesus Christ. Also we get to perform ourselves! On Chrstmas and Christmas Eve, we are singing as a sister missionary choir.

I have my first zone conference tomorrow. I heard we are getting christmas goodies. Also, I get to either call you or skype you on Christmas! I will be sending out Christmas cards soon.

Well I hope all is well at home. Please send more cute christmas family pics. I love you all.

Sister Martin

1)zaya's baptism
2)mom, you sent the wrong boots. this is what the rain looks like here outside my front door. the boots you sent would get soaked. becky has matching ones of the ones i need, ask her
3)our district leader gave us each a "snowball" to have a 'snowball fight", since there is no snow here in california. we put our name tags on them

1)Tank, the cat. He was huge and soft and loved me! I wanted to keep him.
2) Us with Lucia at the temple. She is getting baptized on Sunday. This is also what I look like when I am on "outside tour" at the temple.
3) mom and dad will be happy to know, I actually did meet Elder Flemming this week. He was at the Visitor's Center and came up next to us and asked what I thought about El Paso. His parents sent him a picture of me so he recognized me. I made sure to get a picture so you can see the proof. He is also about 2 whole feet taller than me.
4)a crazy decorated house just down the street from our house. we got to see his window displays too, which included a lot of villages, which made me think of mom!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Hello Family!
I am so mad I forgot my cord this week, because I have a picture of MY FIRST BAPTISM!! Our Mongolian investigator Zaya got baptized on Saturday, and confirmed on Sunday. I played the piano for it, but that left no time to take pictures with her in white, I am so sad. But I did get one after, with her hair wet, holding her little girl in front of Jesus getting baptized painting. The service was great. Her husband came with her two girls and sat in the front row. We had other investigators come as well. After the service, Zaya just looked at me and said "I feel so happy!" I wanted to cry (I know, I am such a girl missionary) at that simple statement. Zaya speaks little English but her whole story was the mongolian sister missionaries before us found them, Zaya's mom (who was just visiting from Mongolia) taking their trash out one day. They talked about Jesus Christ and she was interested in hearing more about following Him. They taught one lesson to Zaya and her husband, and then Sister Hewett and I got transferred in. We have been working with Zaya slowly, getting help once a week from another missionary who speaks mongolian (from mongolia) to clarify gospel terms. Zaya is taking English classes, but obviously community colleges don't explain most of the things we teach her. But she kept telling us she wanted to get baptized and follow Jesus Christ. When she told me of her happiness at her baptism, and I could see her glowing with it, I was reminded just how simple the gospel of Jesus Christ really is. What wonderful hope, light, and restored knowledge and authority we have. It reminded me of my baptism; whole I don't remember much, I remember I couldn't stop smiling all day. As we follow Jesus Christ, and feel His spirit, we make changes in our life.
I have been reading in "Our Search For Happiness" by Elder Ballard in the missionary reference library and there was a part about how missionaries were teaching a man, he was a bit of a dirty man, into drugs, etc. But he found the elders on the street and asked what they were selling. They said they weren't selling anything, what they had they were giving away. He said he would take it. Every time the missionaries came to teach the man had showered and trimmed his beard, cleaned his house, dumped out his booze, applied for jobs,etc. The missionaries didn't even ever invite him to do anything, he just did it on his own as they talked about Christ. I thought of Zaya and how the Spirit really is the universal language and causes us to change and better ourselves naturally as we let Him into our lives. This is a major reason we ask everyone to read the Book of Mormon personally, every day. It allows the Spirit (especially the spirit of the Restoration) into our hearts and we change. We can try and try to get more temple marriages, less actives back to church, etc but really as they read the Book of Mormon daily, these things will naturally happen. There is so much power that comes from reading the Book of Mormon. I've been blessed to see it in my life, now I have to focus on helping others do the same.
I loved the Christmas Devotional! We got to eat dinner and watch it with a member family. I actually stayed awake the whole time. I thought of Pres Uchtdorf and how I need to show more love for those who give me things, Pres Eyring I thought of the question "what will be in my treasure box in heaven? memories of what was important? or things that wasted time?", and with Pres Monson-woah, his story of visiting his primary president when she was in her 90's was amazing. I thought what a grateful person Pres Monson is. He didn't care that the others were scoffing at him saying it was no use, she didn't talk to anyone. It made me ask myself how much do I actually lose myself and show that kind of care to others?
Sunday we had a special combined 3rd hour where we showed a part of "the district", missionary training videos we use of actual missionaries getting followed by camera men. We watch a segment of a recent convert sharing the gospel with her friends and they turned out to be super prepared and ready to be baptized! Then the missionary purpose flashed across the screen (PMG P1) and lots of the ward was crying. Then we talked about turning comments and questions from friends into invitations. We talked about Christmas tools. By the way, visit and link things to your facebooks. Share videos, ecards, free motab, bible apps, etc. or your friends can request a christmas message from the missionaries. Everyone was told to think of 3 families and then we gave them kits full of pamphlets, cards, etc.We already have members telling us they immediately thought of people!
I must go, I LOVE YOU! Walnut Creek is on fire!
Love, Sister Martin

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Visitors Center!!

Hello Family!

Crazy it has already been a whole transfer out here! 2 months already gone. Since I am getting trained, my companion and I will of course be staying in Walnut Creek for at least another transfer. HOWEVER, we got an early transfer call from President Meredith last week asking us to additionally serve in the Oakland Temple Visitor's Center during the busy holiday times.

So I started this weekend! Saturday night was the night they turned on all the lights, and there were a ton of people there! We had 22 sister missionaries plus some senior couples holding down the fort. I got to meet an old man from Scotland! He joined the church in Australia then moved back to Scotland to start the first branch in his area and now it is thriving apparently. I also got to talk in Spanish just a little. I had to help close the God's Plan For His Family presentation, but it was a Spanish family. My companion helped me practice right before on saying "Que les gusto?" (what did you like) and then bore a brief testimony "yo se jesu cristo es mi salvador y mi familia es muy importante a el." (i know jesus christ is my savior and my family is important to him) not the most advanced spanish, but it worked!

Also, Becky, Sister Benson, Sister Coulson, and Erin Jones(which by the way if you see this on my blog, I wrote you back and they said bad address so sorry! rewrite me with a new address) will appreciate, I ran into Debbie from Time to Blossom in Arizona at the Visitor's Center! We hugged and she took my picture and asked if she could use my picture in next summer's program! She wants to add classes for the girl's on missionary work because of the age change, so she wants to use my picture for inspiration :) I felt so bad I forgot to email my girls about my mission call this summer and I asked her if she could email all the girls and let them know where I got my mission call, and she said she would! A small prayer answered.

I was very tired from standing for 8 hours straight on Saturday. I didn't really get any formal training, so I just picked up things other sisters did, seeing as how I worked with 6+ different companions while at the VC. I learned some cool facts about the painting of Christ in the Garden of Gethsamene, and that the VC half the time is a glorified restroom stop, most people just ask where the bathroom is. Funny thing is, the Cristus statue actually points one hand to the women's and one hand towards the men's haha.

Thanksgiving was crazy! I ate at FOUR houses. The first was some appetizers, then we ate lasagna vegetables bread and pie with an investigator, then more dessert at the Relief Society President' house (which was awesome cause all the sudden their nonmember son inlaw started asking questions which he apparently never had before), and THEN we went to a Hawaiaiin member's house, where she had heaps of food that was mostly cooked in cream. I woke up with THE worst stomach ache the next day. I didn't even eat until lunch the next day and even that was a small bowl of cereal. But I did get blueberry pie that was made with organic blueberries from Oregon and it was very good!

We have our first baptism in Walnut Creek on Sunday, we are very excited and hope everything goes well, so next week I will have to write about that and her story.

Well I need to go, but I REALLY LOVE YOU ALL! I am so glad to hear Thanksgiving was a hit. Many people asked me what my family did for Thanksgiving, and they thought flag football was a great idea.

Sister Martin

1)at the temple with an investigator
2)with district leaders playing volleyball at a zone activity

 1)picture after thanksgiving district meeting. gospel gobbler is the turkey's name. i have learned missionary's get very creative with gospel terms, games, pictures, etc.
2) me with ziva the cat! on thanksgiving

Monday, November 19, 2012

Making goals is awesome!

Dear Family,
Last week I told mom about how we were stuggling to get our investigators to church. Well this week, we made that our number one goal. So we emphasized teaching Sabbath Day, constantly reminding them about church, arranging rides, giving church tours, and being devasted about how they didn't come last week. After a busy week where we actually went past some of our numerical goals, we were blessed and pleased to see FOUR investigators at church! The Relief Society was especially pleased because they were all women, and we had a lot of visitors to announce. Seriously, we are so blessed as a companionship. Our district plus other misionaries we know around here don't even have investigators to teach, so thank you for your prayers, they are felt. We have two of those who have a baptismal date before the end of the year, and another one that we will hopefully have one by the end of the year. I know as we have written down the goals, made plans to acheive them, and just work hard and be obedient, and also praying sincerely and specifically, the Lord will bless us.

Also at church, we got to teach sharing time in Primary! It was soo fun. We packed a suitcase full of missionary things like a tie, alarm clock, scriptures, a name tag, etc. and asked them if that is all they needed on a mission. Then we read Doctrine and Covenants 84:62 and talked about what a testimony is. We gave them mormon.orgcards to write their testimony on them and give them to their friends (for the littler ones we just gave pictures of Jesus or the temple to give out). I thought a lot about my neices and nephews! How blessed they are to be learning gospel truths at such a young age.

This week also was a week of being at the hospital! One lady said she had a dream to call the sister missionaries and got a hold of our bishop who called a counselor who called us. We went right away to a lady who has been less active for a long time but was so kind and loved our hymns we sang and scriptures we shared. It was weird checking into the hospital desk nearby and them asking if we were clergy and if she requested us. Basically, yeah. That is still weird to me people look to me for spiritual guidance and hopefully I can point them in the real right direction for guidance. SOOO many people this week asked me how old I was. The ages guessed only ranged from 14-19. yeeeaaahhh... anyways, we also visited out investigator who ended up in the hospital this week. So we are getting familiar with the medical centers around here haha.
Last week on P-day we went to a place called Cream in Berkeley. It was a place where they made a real icecream sandwhich in front of you ( not very hard, but still). So I had a chocolate chip cookie sandwhich with cookiedough icecream in the middle. The place is super popular, there was a line out the door when we were there and everytime we passed it. Berkeley campus was pretty sketchy. We went to a Japanese store that had everything for $1.50 and we bought cat stuff. I got a pencil pouch that had cats on it with badly translated English haha. I thought of Todd especially!

One lady that is feeding us on Thanksgiving asked what was one thing we traditionally have on Thanksgiving in our families, and she will make it. My thing was blueberry pie!
I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving! I am thankful for every member of my family, my good friends, that God has allowed me to come on a mission, that He loves me, that I have the restored gospel to give me answers to life's questions, and that I have someone that loved me enough to suffer and die for me. I am thankful that Jesus Christ is my Savior and because of Him I can live again and see my family forever!
Love you all,
Sister Martin

Monday, November 12, 2012

A week of service

Hello Family!

This week we contacted some former investigators, one of which is an awesome lady. First of all, she shows dogs, owns chickens in her back yard, grows like 5 different fruit trees, works at UC Berkley and owns a cat named Ziva! Which by the way, curled up on my lap the first meeting! I will have to take a picture some time with her. But I thought of Mom and Todd especially and our NCIS! Which is actually what she is named after. The lady invited us to come back and help her rake leaves the very next day. We got to see all her cool trees and animals and raked all morning at one of the coolest houses I have ever been to. Then we went to help bishop with pulling up grass in his yard. It was very muddy, but we got an invite to a nomembers house for a Mexican dinner this week out of it! He is always so good about having nonmembers around when we come by, and they were his good friends helping him out with his yard. They really liked that my companion spoke spanish and apparently we have to try her food that is "increible".

We got another investogator named Lucia this week! Some elders from Concord were teaching one of their member's friends, but that friend lives in Walnut Creek! So they have already taught her the restoration and invited her to baptism on Dec 1st and she said yes! So now we are taking over since she is in our area. We met her last night at the "Why I Believe" fireside which is all recent converts sharing their story. She is great, really prepared and looking. She is also a holistic chiropractor, maybe she can help me with all my soreness from raking leaves and pulling grass! All the up and down movements made me wake up super sore this weekend in my legs and back.

Temple Hill is getting ready for Christmas! I think next to Salt Lake City Temple Square, we have the biggest Christmas decorations at the Oakland temple. They already have the Nativity set up, and several of the the lights. There are tons of Christmas events happening as well, so we get to invite people to it. I also have heard all the sisters are needed to work in the Visitor's Center at Christmas time because it is always so crowded with people! So hopefully Christmas will be busy busy! It is sucha great time to use Christmas tools to share the gospel with your friends! For Thanksgiving, we get to spend two hours at each members house, all day long. So far we already have 3 appointments! I don't know how much food I can eat :(...

We had a great Preach My Gospel fireside with members, and a big thing taken away from it was turning comments into invitations. When you have a coworker or a friend who asks you something about Mormons or your family, turn it into an invitation to FHE or church or to have dinner with with the missionaries in your home. Simple! Also to pray for missionary opportunities everyday. Also make a list of 100 names of people you know are not members and pray and pick one that you feel would be prepared. Not so hard coming up with that many names with facebook and such these days!

A great scripture I came across this week is from Isaiah, and its Isaiah 30:20-21 I really like how even though we go through adversity in a scary world pulling you all directions, the spirit is the voice and teacher guiding us saying "This is the way, walk ye in it."

Enjoy the pictures, I remember my cord this week!

Sister Martin

pic 1) at our ward halloween party with our bishop who painted himself as moroni! sooo cool!
pic 2) a chick-fil-a opened here in walnut creek! we are converting our non-southern members here who do not know what "that chicken place " is! also there were tons of gay marriage and anti gay protestors at the opening.typical california.
pic 3)raking leaves!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 1st miracles

Hello family,
I am glad Halloween was fun for most of you! Send more pics, my companion thought Lizzie and Gavin were beautiful children! Halloween for missionaries here was "Happy Haunted Housecleaning" and it was from 6-9 at night. We finally got to get rid of stuff left behind by old missionaries. Oh man, especially sisters leave bath products that stain shelves and old clothes and blankets that hang out in bags, etc. We also found rice STILL in the rice cooker!! It was green and smelled horrible! :p Also our shelf with all our pamphlets and books was crazy, so it felt soooo good to finally get organized and sanitized! We felt like our apartment was now ready to feel the Holy Ghost better. But before Halloween, I went on my first exchange!
I got to travel to a city called San Mateo, which is a spanish area right by San Francisco! I was with one of the mission's sister trainers, Sister Croft. It was such a great experience! Of course she took me tracting right away, which was what I needed. She helped me out sooo much with her advice and experience. She said I was a good luck charm because almost every door we knocked, people talked to us. I told her it was cause I was blonde. Of course most people were talking in Spanish so I just stood there and caught bits and pieces of "Catolica" haha.  But we went to an apartment complex and talked to some English people so I did get some practice, and we got invites to come back! When I went to a lesson, she explained to the investigator that I didn't speak Spanish, so she asked me a question or asked me to bear my testimony and then she translated, so that was pretty cool, although I didn't get to use my Spanish testimony I had practiced. The members we took with us were so nice, calling me "an angel" and giving us tamales! Also, the fact that the Giants won the World Series is a huge deal around here. San Mateo had Giants shirts on sale in the street and San Francisco had a parade for them that everyone was watching. I got to stay in the sister trainers apartment and see all the full proslyting sisters names and areas so I found out where the other English places are that I could go to. But overall, Sister Croft taught me a lot and my companion learned a lot from her exchange as well, so we came out pumped and ready to be better missionaries!
So November 1 was a day full of miracles. First of all, our morning appointment with our Korean investigator got cancelled, but we were already at the library where she likes to meet so we decided to just contact in the park next to it. It was my turn to approach, and the first person I talked to was a guy living with his friend and looking for a job and looking to get closer to God. We told him about the Book of Mormon and if he wanted to learn more about it, etc. He said he didn't have a place to meet, he didn't want to meet at the library, but how about our church?! Of course! Then we contacted a guy that actually recognized us from our street display day. He didn't want to learn more, but said he would go the visitor's center. Then we went to go knock on a former investigator's door, and there were professional carpet cleaners cleaning everything out, so clearly he had moved. Sad, but we decided to knock on some doors around the complex anyways. A college student answered the door. He lives with his parents there who are Catholic, but he is not a practicing one. We gave him an invite to and asked if he wanted a Book of Mormon that we could drop off the next day, adn he said yes! The day after we did come back, and he had actually looked at the website! He said that it was cool we were Christians and then accepted the Book of Mormon. We are meeting with him this next week. Then we went to our Mongolian couple investigators, Zaya and Peter. The language barrier is hard, but they want to learn more about following Jesus Christ. We were concerned for the husband's understanding, becasue he seems embarrassed sometimes. But later his wife told us he had read all the pamphlets and was researching Jesus Christ. Oh and while I had been on exchanges, Zaya said she wanted to be baptized on November 25! This is good progress for them, but we are struggling getting them to church. Even reminder after reminder and they said they were coming and they still havent. Then after dinner we went to go to another former's apartment, but her roommate answered the door. After talking with him a little bit, he came outside and talked about how he was actually looking for a church, and his name is Emmanuel! He wanted us to come back, but then he didn't know when. So I thought well if he's looking for a church, he should come to ours! So I invtied him and he said that would actually be perfect! THEN we went to our forever investigator's house, and during the lesson, I felt the Spirit so strong after we talked about following the prophet (and watching a video about President Monson), obedience, and baptism is a commandment. I started getting frustrated with her joking around, and turned on the bold missionary switch. I said that it was not the missionaries asking her to be baptized, it was the Lord, and I started testifying of the Savior, and it was like nothing I had experienced before. I looked her straight in the eye and I can't even remeber what I said but you could feel the Spirit almost tangibly, and everything was dead silent. She finally said that she did want baptism and that she would change (word of wisdom habits) once she got that testimony. That is what we had been looking for, was for her to say it from her own mouth that she would change. So now we are helping her get her answer. And can I just say, her member daughter has been reading the scriptures and watching lds videos with her now, and she is praying, and cutting dramatically down on her word of wisdom. Everytime we saw her it was different. She had us over for dinner and had cleaned her house and made a really nice dinner, and we could feel the Spirit in her home again.
All of those lesson and contacts were on November 1st and I was so excited I couldn't sleep that night. If I could feel like that everyday out here....I know that is a rare day, but one I will treasure! Since then some of those appointments got dropped or people didn't show for church, but we have more exciting things happening this week! Namely our next door neighbor family is really prepared and eager to hear from missionaries! Sorry I forgot my cord again, but I will send some great pictures next week. I LOVE YOU ALL! Share the gospel with someone this week. Turn a comment into an invitation.
Lots of love,
Sister Martin

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cali week 2

Hello Family!
Well this week has been a rollercoaster. Many investigators and people we try to see are getting flaky. Also, many many new concerns came up with some of them that will take a lot longer road to baptism than we thought. Also, can I just say I hated dogs before my mission, but now I REALLY REALLY hate dogs. Little ones AND the ones that look part grizzly bear.
Also, if you truly want to help with missionary work, give missionaries referrals!! We are trying new ideas this week to get referrals. I spoke in sacrament meeting about a quote I found from Elder Ballard " The key to successful member missionary work is the exercise of faith. One way to show your faith in the Lord and His promises is to pryerfully set a date to have someone prepared to meet with the missionaries.  I have received hundreds of letters from members who have exercised thier faith in this simple way. Even though families had no one in mind with whom they could share the fospel, they set a date, prayed, and then talked to many more people. The Lord is the Good Sheperd, and He knows His sheep who have been prepared to hear His voice. He will guide us as we seek His divine help in sharing His gospel." So we are inviting the members here to pray about a date instead of a person. Then take BOM's and pass along cards with them everywhere so they will be prepared as they talk to people by that day. Then that day, us missionaries will follow up with them and get their referral. We will see what happens!
However crazy things are, there are of course, even more good things that happen. First of all, Sis Hewett and I got to be involved in dirty, legit service. That bishop who passed away that I talked about in the last email had all these plans to renovate His family's yard, and obviously never got to do it. While his wife was out of town, the ward and community members came and renovated! It was two whole days (we only went a few hours one day) of shoveling dirt, raking leaves, building fences, and Sis Hewett and I even got to help set an irrigation pipe all along the different gardens. Members had sent out emails and invited non member friends, so Sis Hewett and I got to talk to them as well! Mom, it was just like the HGTV shows we always watched, that's what I kept thinking of while I was muddy.
Also, everyone here is so healthy! We got fed by a wonderful sister who is 52 and single, and she has a health blog apparently. She fed us all of the strange soy and organic stuff but it was actually pretty good.
I get to go on my first exchanges with the trainer sisters in the mission this week. I will be going to a spanish area for two days, so Sis Hewett has been helping me with my testimony and prayer in spanish!
We also got to do a public display board with our district. It was the coldest day I have been here, in a really fancy rich outdoor mall area, but it was actually pretty fun! We had a giant sign that said "are mormons christians? YES." then something about Christmas haha. BUT the fact that it said we were christian, attracted one guy who we gave a BOM to and got his information to send missionaries to.  Also Sis Hewett and I (we had the most luck of all our district that day) talked to a lady who had an ex husband who was an ex mormon but still reads the BOM. So we gave her one and got her information after talking a really long time. Also some funny hispanic ladies drove by and rolled down their window and asked for a pamphlet, and we scrambled to grab one to give to them before they drove off, and the one I grabbed was about member missionary work. oops, haha. oh well, it at least had on it. Which, by the way, do you all have a profile? You should make one if not!
This week was also our ward's GIANT Halloween party. There was a chili cook off, pumpkin dessert contest, root beer, bouncy house, door decorating where the kids trick or treated, a brazilian zumba performance from a lady in our ward who teaches a million zumba classes, and games for the kids. It was crazy! But we had two investigators come, and a lot of non members. Sis Hewett and I had a booth set up with pamphlets about the temple, visitor's center, family history, family proclamtions, copies of the book of mormon, etc. with a display board from profiles from people in the walnut creek/oakland area! I have pictures, but i forgot my cord this week, so i will send them next week.
My P-Day is Mondays, so that's when I write and email. I sent a few letters out this week finally.
I need to go, but I LOVE YOU ALL! Share your testimony with someone! Send me pictures! I do get them in email, so you don't have to print them.
Sister Martin

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hello from California!


I am in the Visitor's Center in Oakland on my first P-Day in the field writing you an email! Crazy! Obviously there is a lot to tell you.

First, I had to wake up at 3 am- 3! To get on a bus at 5 to go to the Salt Lake City airport. It was dark and cold, and when we got there, I pinched my finger in my luggage so bad it was bleeding everywhere with little blood blisters. Sorry, that's probably gross...but I thought what a terrible start. But I was so wrong! One of our elders in our travel group (13 of us total going to our missionthat day) had a mom who works at Delta. She paid for all our bags, overweight or not. Then she told us they had breakfast waiting for us at the gate. WHAT?! We were basically treated like rockstars. Then her and her coworkers lent us their cell phones to call our families so we didn't have to pay! I called mom and dad. Then they pulled out Halloween candy, cheezits, caramel corn, etc to make ourselves large treat bags to take with us. I have never been so impressed with Delta haha. Also in the airport, we talked to a couple from Arizona who had tons of Mormon friends, but said they didn't really want missionaries. A man came up to Sister Olsen and I and said he shed tears just standing next to us because he thought of his daughter who is 19 and putting in her papers, he said he texted her to let her know he was standing next to sister missionaries :). The elder I rode with on the plane was one of many of the elders going with us who are Tongan. Let's just say he took up his seat, AND half of my seat.

We all came down the runway in Oakland airport to see President Meredith and his wife smiling and waiting for us. They are some of the kindest people I have ever met. Apparently the last president had to clean up the mission and send several missionaries home and he was a lot stricter with rules and obedience. President Meredith is very patient and kind. Someone said he is like a cool grandpa. Their story is so interesting. He never served a mission due to military (air force), and they wanted to serve after seeing their kids go. They were in Richmond, VA for only 4 months when Elder Nelson happened to go to their mission conference, instead of the next state over for his original plans. Elder Nelson knew that the supposed-to-be-new  Oakland/San Francisco mission president's wife was too ill to fill the calling, so he was looking for new one. President Meredith said he wouldn't stop looking at them almost the whole conference. Later they got a call from Elder Holland and were asked to fill the calling. They were given much shorter notice than most mission presidents are, but they accepted. On the first day, we took care of paper work, a quick interview, a buffet (where sister olsen and I tried chicken feet because the Asian sister told us it would give us good skin haha), a temple walk around the Oakland temple, a quick tour throught the visitor's center, a talk standing on top of the temple overlooking San Francsico and the whole mission (I will send a picture), and then HOMEMADE chili/chips/cheese and pie. I was so spoiled allll day. The area is absolutely beautiful though.

That night, I got assigned my first companion/trainer- Hermana Hewett! I say Hermana, because she actually speaks spanish and just served in the spanish areas. Her tag still says Hermana too. I will talk more about Spanish later...but she is so welcoming to me, and we are getting along great. She is actually a convert of only a year and a half, and she left behind a job in China and dumped her boyfriend because she got an answer to go on a mission. She is from North Carolina, and we are both blonde haired blue eyed and serving in the English speaking Walnut Creek area! 

Walnut Creek is in the Oakland zone, and is very warm in the day and very cold at night. We are staying with a family called the Greaves, who are from South Africa, and they joined the church only two years ago in the States, but they knew when they moved in, they wanted to build a place for the sister missionaries to live. So we live with members who are so kind and have cool accents and adorable children! They also have two cats! I couldn't have asked for a better living situation, especially after hearing about the scary apartments the other missionaries live in. Our apartment is actually really cute. We had Mongolian sisters live there before us, so they left a TON of blankets and clothes we had to go through, not to mention random mongolian books that are hilarious. 

We have been talking to a few people who speak mostly spanish, so Hermana is trying to teach me some things, like basic testimony phrases. We also are teaching a mongolian couple, so that language barrier is tricky, and we are giving them mongolian pamphlets and Book of Mormon. Already we have seen such diversity. Why did I only get trained in English?! A language would have been very helpful. Also, they rotate the missionaries here no matter what language, so I have heard that I could very much go into a Spanish area . And just like my trainer, Spanish go English, etc. Also, my companion said she did not get called to the Visitor's Center, but she served there anyways for her first transfer. She said all the sisters must work there during Christmas because it is always full and busy, so I will definitely have to work there sometime, which I am very excited about. I wish I would have gotten better training for it in the MTC though, you get a whole week of Visitor's Center/Tour guide training. Also, currently only spanish and chinese sisters are in san francisco, no english. I really hope to get to work there anyways though.

Our ward is the BEST I could have asked for. We have had members tell us they love missionary work and WANT to come with us. They call US and approach US. They really are so pumped about missionary work! We talked to our bishop, and he told us a small reason why. The last bishop was only 42 and died of a heart attack on a scout hiking trip this summer. His first counselor is our bishop now and he is no older than 30 probably. He said there is a "rawness" about the ward right now, and he said he had felt a stirring inside that something big was about to happen in the ward, and that when us sisters came over to his house, he felt that stirring again! We actually were going to make contact to a referral from the VC (Visitor's Center) when this shiny black Prius pulls up with a young guy who reminds me of a mix between Hugh Dancy and Mark Zuckerburg from the social network, straight skinny pants, stylish sunglasses and he calls out "sisters!". We were just shocked and said "biiiishop?"  We went to his house later for dinner where they fed us pizza and told us about five names of people to see (all in the ward, less actives/focus families, but he has a friend we are seeing as well). The next day in church we had to bear our testimony about 3 times and afterwards, Bishop Oyler announced to the combined Sunday School he had full trust in us and told us to refer their friends to us. MTC told us different ways to build that trust up, but its already so easy actually, because the members are ready and willing to talk to their friends! Everyone is also excited because they can pronounce our names unlike the mongolian sisters before us haha. A very dynamite, put together ward. They have a HUGE Halloween party/chili cook off this Saturday, where they said it is so well organized and attended, that out of 300 people that go, 20% are usually nonmembers from the neighborhood-- perfect for us to set up a welcoming booth with displays, a video playing, pamplets, cards, etc We are so excited. Also there is a photo booth where they are going to have to retrieve their picture online with a question asking if they want to hear more from the missionaries. The ward has this thought up already, we just have to come and be the missionaries haha. Once again, spoiled. Also a lady in our ward teaches like 15 Zumba classes a week and in the past told us she hosts some IN the church building so the sisters can have a booth set up in the foyer. Seriously, I have never seen this much natural missionary spirit in one ward. 

However, we still have empty blocks of time where we tract or try to find people (Sister Hewett is new to the area as well so both of us don't know where we are going and the area book is a little messy still). I didn't realize there would be such...awkward times to try and fill. Hopefully that will pick up though as we are getting to know people and get new investigators. Usually, the converts around here are actually found through street contacting though. My first time doing it, we talked to a guy fixing a show car outside in his driveway. He was very open, nice, religious, etc. He is not even doing anything right now, he is taking off of work for a year he said. So since he has time and is looking to do right things with his life/read scriptures or uplifting things, I gave him a Book of Mormon, he said he would read it, and we are going to go back this week. It actually was a Book of Mormon from EFY, so a teenager from Texas had their notes/testimony in it that I had been wanting to give away. So if my EFY kids, or Mary Tony reads this (it was one from your kids)- a guy in California has it! What a cool connection of my life in Texas and now in California. 

Our investigators are great. Annette basically is a member. She is having trouble giving up coffee, but loves church and we see her just serving and being the last person still cleaning up at ward activities. Korina loves her husband and kids and wants them to have good traditions and religion in their life. She is looking for guidance right now, and when her car broke down in front of the sister missionaries before us, she saw it as a sign. I invited her to be baptized (on my third day in the mission!) and she said yes! We are working to get her baptized Nov 11. Norman Su is married to a member, Mandy, from Salt Lake City. We are seeing them tonight, but he talked to us in church on Sunday and he seems very willing and excited to meet with us. Zaya and Peter are our mongolian couple, they heard the sisters say "Jesus Christ" and they wanted to know more. They are so sweet and have two little kids, one of which are the largest cheeks I have ever seen on a baby :). 

Sorry this is so long, there was a lot to tell. But I am well, this area is exciting for missionary work right now, and the church is true!

Sister Martin

p.s. enjoy my pictures finally! pic 1) mom and dad and i at the slc temple, thought they would like it 2) my mtc comp, sister olsen 3) the sisters in our district 4) sister coulsen (gwen) and i. she is going to russia, this is also a good picture of my tag, which is rare because my hair covers it up a lot. i will put more pics in a separate email.

 that last email, i forgot to say that the last pic was my district, going to oakland/ san fran, san fernando cali, and salt lake city. these pics are me and our favorite teacher, sister winters! we seriously loved out mtc teachers. sister loie benson and i were able to be at the mtc for a week together! the last pic is the sisters in my zone (going to texas and arizona), we are not really ready for the picture...

also one at the temple, you can see sister dyreng's personality a little.

1)at the airport, with the table of breakfast and treats! how fun
2) mom, you can give this pic to sister williams for the ward board, this is me on top of the oakland temple which overlooks san francisco and oakland mission.
3)President and Sister Meridith, me, and Sister Hewett

1)a mongolian language book we found that says "let's make our country up!"
2) a bearded dragon lizard (like the ones todd mom and i saw at petco!) that belongs to a family in the ward and the son really wanted us to hold it. i was smiling right until sister hewett took the picture he scared me cause he started to crawl up my arm.
3)it was cold and rainy today, so we both wore scarves. a close up of sister hewett and i in our apartment.
4)mom you would be so proud. i have made my bed every day. also the greaves already had cute matching bed sets for us.