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 mormon.org 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