Monday, December 30, 2013

Acting on the Spirit Daily

Dear Family,
It was great seeing you on Skype! Thanks for singing to me, I really loved that.
 
This week I saw a coyote walking alongside the road. Being closer to the mountains, we see a lot of deer, but first time to see a coyote here.

For Christmas, We had 2 breakfasts, a lunch, and a dinner. We spent the day with members, but we took time to always share a message, invite them to pray to share the gospel and invite others to meet with us. Looking at this ward's past, the only converts have been through members, and its been over a year since they had any. So with that said, some new year's goals Sister Olsen and I have are to just work hard and live the rest of our mission with happiness and satisfaction. I want to enjoy it and see miracles. We want to start off the Alamo 1st ward's new year by having baptisms and reactivations. This quote from President Uchtdorf's Talk, "Your Potential, Your Privilege" sums up a goal of mine for the whole year of not letting a day go by without acting on the Spirit.:
"The words written in the scriptures and spoken in general conference are for us to “liken them unto [ourselves],”7 not for reading or hearing only.8 Too often we attend meetings and nod our heads; we might even smile knowingly and agree. We jot down some action points, and we may say to ourselves, “That is something I will do.” But somewhere between the hearing, the writing of a reminder on our smartphone, and the actual doing, our “do it” switch gets rotated to the “later” position. ...let’s make sure to set our “do it” switch always to the “now” position!
As you read the scriptures and listen to the words of the prophets with all your heart and mind, the Lord will tell you how to live up to your...privileges. Don’t let a day go by without doing something to act on the promptings of the Spirit...If we are not seeking to use this channel of revelation, we are living beneath our ...privileges... Let us earnestly seek the light of personal inspiration. Let us plead with the Lord to endow our mind and soul with the spark of faith that will enable us to receive and recognize the divine ministering of the Holy Spirit for our specific life situations and for our challenges and ...duties."
I had a day this week, where I did a lot of work of tracking down people, knocking on doors and trying to talk to many. However, by the end of the day it was not very fruitful. This made me ponder what went wrong. I realized I hadn't really asked the Lord where He wanted me to go, instead I focused on checking off what was in the planner. While this is good, it could have been better, because He knows where His prepared children are. I read a story about some missionaries who prayed at every single street and house until they both confirmed for sure that a particular house was the one that was prepared. They knocked, said they were representatives of Jesus Christ and they had a message for them, and they let them right in!
Then on Sunday we had a general authority randomly come to our sacrament. It was Bishop Davies from the presiding bishopric. It was an amazing meeting, the Spirit was so strong. He apparently used to go to our ward, but he hasn't been in our chapel in 21 years. He said he remembers when he was here last time, one of the being-released bishopric members didn't get a chance to share his testimony, and so at the pulpit on the spot he called up this brother. So after 21 years, he was able to give his departing testimony haha. I think about how general authorities always have to rely on inspiration and act on it with how many people they visit. Sister Olsen and I also got to talk to Sister Davies his wife. She was so amazing! She talked to us about their time as mission presidents, and she talked to our members asking them if they were finding for us.
Anyways, so summary of the week, I have been setting goals to rely and act on the Spirit even more, and I know that the Spirit acting through the members and missionaries, will do the Lord's work, and do it right.
Much Love,
Sister Martin

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry and Bright

Happy Christmas Family!
 
Christmas Online 
Did you forget the challenge from general conference?! You still have 2 days.
 
For you to please watch, this is so beautiful and moving, it really made me think about how Christ's miraculous life really did start in a manger.
 
Catholic High School
I really really love this season. The Spirit is so strong. I love my Savior and all He has done. My life is the way it is because of Him. I love being His missionary and getting to share His message.
This week we had a unique experience in getting to share that message. We were asked by a local Catholic high school world religions class to come answer questions. Sister Olsen and I were asked to help with this, so we went one morning to stand up in front of an all girls class. They presented their report and slideshow first (which only had a little false doctrine ;)) , the slideshow being titled "The Mormons", and then said they had some guests here to answer questions. They had soooo many! They asked why we were called Mormons, and I explained a little about the Book of Mormon, and how we got out nickname from a prophet who wrote in it, and I said I didn't mind being called that, he was a pretty cool guy :). They mostly asked about serving missions, but when they asked about crazy or scary experiences, we talked about the Holy Ghost, and that spurred more questions on what the Holy Ghost felt like. Afterwards, the girls in charge of us escorted us back to the office, and told us on the way that we were the most interesting and exciting religion that has presented to them :)
 
Funeral
This week was also another wake up call to the reality of the Savior and the Plan of Salvation. One of the recent converts in East Bay ward passed away this week. He was just baptized last year in September, and transferred to our ward. We never got to teach him, he said he didn't want the lessons from us, he wasn't comfortable with sisters. However, now I know he was suffering from schizophrenia.This Sunday he took away his life (which is apparently common when people who suffer from this reach middle age). We attended the funeral on Saturday, where his completely nonmember, mostly Catholic, family was all there. They chose to have an LDS funeral in honor of his decision to be baptized. His parents were great in expressing how much the church helped him find peace and knowledge that God was there. He had said he wouldn't be able to keep going in life if he didn't know God existed. He was an all-American guy, a leader, played water polo and track for UCLA, so a lot of UCLA athletes were there, as well as his coach from high school. His girlfriend from East Bay ward was there as well. We stayed around and served there all day. We talked to some people and had great conversations. Offered missionaries, they kindy declined, but readily accepted our invite to learn more from Mormon.org or talk to missionaries on the streets when they see them. They said they liked the scriptures read from the Book of Mormon (Alma 7 and 40 were quoted frequently). I know this good brother is no longer suffering and that he will be made whole one day due to Jesus Christ. His girlfriend told me later she knew that the messages shared at his funeral were what he would have wanted his family to hear. I know hundreds heard the word of God and the Plan of Salvation and this will affect them all one day. Also, interesting I had to do a presentation on this particular affliction at BYU, the Lord really has prepared me in so many ways to better understand things and serve my mission here.
 
I am grateful that the Savior makes things more merry as we experience the joys of this mortal life, and also that He sheds brighter light on the harder times.
Merry Christmas! Talk to you in 2 days--face to face!
 
Much Love,
Sister Martin

Monday, December 16, 2013

Miracles and Moral Authority

Dear Family,
 
Thanks for your emails and prayers. I have truly been blessed to have you as my family, I can't thank you enough. I love talking about what my family does at Christmas and holidays to others here. And to be able to testify how the gospel has blessed my family is always hearfelt and true.
 
The fancy thing I did this week was attend a ward council "get together", aka have a catered dinner in a mansion. They served us appetizers, then basil chicken, steak tips on a stick, samon, rolls, fancy potatoes, fancy flourless chocolate cake thing with cream sauce on top, etc. I felt like I was at a wedding. Everyone here is so successful. You have to be to afford it! And yet, you wouldn't think we would find people to teach---wrong!!!
 
This week alone we had many miracles. First, after seraching through the area book and finding a name and address but no other record about one person, we decided to stop by. I was on exchanged when this happened, but SIster Olsen told me what happened. This woman answered the door and said right away "You're Mormons." After a pleasant conversation, learned her family had JUST moved in 3 weeks before. They took a Christmas pamphlet and said we could come back. So the next day when Sister Olsen and I were back together, we took a member and went to their house. Turns out it was a family of 7. Only 6 lived there, but still, how cool that big of a family let us in. The husband is Jewish and the wife grew up southern baptist. But they had us sit around their table and talk. We just wanted to get a feel for how interested they were, and when we invited them to church the husband said they would like to see one of our services. They are going to talk and consider learning from us this week. PLEASE PRAY HARD FOR THEM. They would be such a wonderful addition to our ward and such awesome people, totally searching. They are new and looking for community as well.
 
Also, miracles of visiting our members. As soon as we come over, they are like "sit down sisters, we have some people to talk about." and they launch right into referrals. Recently our stake presidents were taught by area 70 to have"moral authority", which means you cant just stand up at the pulpit begging members to share the gospel, you have to be able to say "look what happened to me" so now they (the stake presidents) all have to write and email and report to the area 70 about their personal missionary experiences---weekly!  And that is trickling down to the stake presidencies reporting to the stake presidents,etc. We happen to have a member of the stake presidency in our ward so he is all fired up and ready to help us now that he is having experiences. Our area 70 told us about this at last weeks zone conference, it's so exciting, the stories we have heard are incredible. The area 70 asked us as full time missionaries to help members know how to pray for opportunities. Some of our members are finding families! I love Alamo!!
 
Ok, speaking of zone conference, the time we spent with the area 70 was the highlight for sure. Before he even started, he just walked around the room and walked right up to random sisters and elders and asked them where they were from and what they wanted to do with their life. He just got to know us before he ministered to us. Such a great example of love and leadership! He says its always best if you ask someone 15 things about themselves before you get them to listen to you. So then he told us about his childhood, and he brought in a larg bag of marbles. He said he was the marble champion, but one day at school the marbles all spilled out of his pockets, and he got in trouble. So his mother made him a drawstring bag. He said usually we can help all our scattered problems with one thing. In this case, it is the Book of Mormon. He challenged us to study the questions of the soul more, and how we can answer them with the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is like the drawstring bag. I don't know if I typed that right or if that made sense, but basically use the Book of Mormon more to help people resolve their concerns(the marbles). Then he taught us about moral authority, and what our own stake leaders were doing to share the gospel. And he didn't say it, but it was clear from the Spirit that that is how we ourselves help people into the gospel. Love them and invite them, share experiences, not just talk at them. Same with us also working with members, help them share the gospel by loving them and saying look at what we are doing, not convincing them. It was so so good. I had been feeling stressed the entire conference, which made me a bit sad seeing as it was my last zone conference. I was stressed with constantly having to last minute play the piano for everything, including multiple special musical numbers, and also giving a training 3 times. So to have such inspiration from a leader was so uplifting. Part of the reason I know this is God's church is by the fruits of the leadership. How can they not be men of God?
 
MUCH LOVE,
Sister Martin

Monday, December 9, 2013

#ChristmasDevo and Alamo

Dear Family,

First, I thought it was hilarious that during the 1st presidency Christmas devotional, in the corner was a little twitter sign, "#ChristmasDevo" --so hip church! Hashtag the gospel!!!!

#Alamoisamazing. #Ilovemycompanion
This week has been THE craziest!! Every day is an adventure with Sister Olsen. We are constantly laughing and having a blast, but yet we are stoked to be together and work hard and turn around Alamo! Our first day, we had to take care of one of our sisters we are over in my new zone. She was training, and had to wait to pick up her new companion, so it felt like a giant trio slumber party! And we saw miracles on the first day! The first man we walked up to at his garbage can let us in his house with his wife. She said they have never let in missionaries all these years until now. Then we visited some members, and I don't know what people are talking about, but this ward is doing amazing with missionary work! One of the couples in our ward told us about how they just got a mission call to Hong Kong, only to be personally called from Elder Oak's office a few weeks later!! Then they had a video conference with President Uchtdorf!! They are now being called to serve as a mission president and wife!! They will be so amazing! So President Uchtdorf told them"You only need to know 3 things. Preach My Gospel. Preach My Gospel. and Preach My Gospel." when she shared that with us, it just reminded us how amazing that book is. So anyways, they are having us teach them the lessons to help them prepare! They are so cute, they have all the PMG videos, pamphlets, etc sitting around in their house. AND this means they are praying VERY diligently to have missionary experiences. The sister said she had to go to the bank for the first time in 10 years (I will discuss the richness of this place later), where she ran into an old neighbor from like 22 years ago!! After saying her name, which she completely remembered, they caught up on each others lives. Turns out the neighbor had JUST lost her husband, and was now mad at God. Our member testified about the Plan of Salvation, and when the neighbor didn't want to believe her, up comes ANOTHER MEMBER in the parking lot. She came over, and our member told her what was happening, and the other member just looked at the nonmember and said "It is absolutely true." BY THE MOUTH OF 2 WITNESSES! How cool is that?! Reminded me why we go in companionships. Anyways, so now our futuremissionpresidentwife went over to her house later with chocolate offering chocolates and a hug. They talked some more and then our member invited her to our fancy relief society dinner. She accepted the invite and totally came. We were there, and just got to know her a little. Eventually, she is going to invite her to meet with us!

#ourwardisold.  
Sooo speaking of rich, this place is loaded! We are the richest part of the mission. The member I was talking about earlier who said she hadn't been to the bank in 10 years, is so funny and just says"my husband is my ATM. Whenever I want money I just take it from him." I think I have been in like 20 mansions since I got here. One time was for our relief society dinner. It was the men serving us in matching cumberbuns (sp?) and bow ties, with a full blown meal on porcelain plates with wine glasses.  We even had the men chauffeuring and parking everyone's cars. However rich though, they did good in bringing nonmembers, which was the idea. In our last ward, a sister commented how she went out with a rich guy once, partially to use as an opportunity to share the gospel, because quote "missionaries can't get to that door". So profound! We are going to be working really closely with the members here. We will work as hard as we can to find as well, but we know the miracles will come through the members. Even if on Sunday, literally 95%of relief society has gray or white hair. They can share the gospel too! :) Also, I love older people, they are hilarious, which made Sunday so funny. You know our ward is old, when they have an electrical wheelchair lift on the stand in sacrament. And I had to use a microphone to even make a comment in Relief Society. I love it here :) Also, please pray for our investigator, even though there are old people here, we are teaching my first teenager on my mission. She is 14, and the only nonmember in her family. But her family is less active.

#istruggleridingbikes
Also, Sister Olsen and I had to be on bikes for a day! The elders had to borrow our car to go to Oakland, and so we said "ok we need your bikes then, we have appointments." So we took them. So. Painful. Here is Sister Olsen's version/account of that day for you:

"It's been SO cold here!!!! I'm freezing my buns off!!! Last thursday was the coldest day of the year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And guess what we got to do all day..............................WE WERE ON BIKE!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I hated every second of it! haha just kidding! It actually was REALLY fun and it was REALLY FUNNY to watch sister martin struggle on the bike because she's so short!! hahaha we were in our fancy fur coats with tights on and our nice shoes...riding elders bikes. I kept looking back at her and each time I did I almost crashed because I was laughing so hard. I bet we looked RIDICULOUS!! hahaha it was the funniest day of my mission! The elders had to borrow our car to go to Oakland and so we were like okay sure! Give us your bikes and they couldn't believe we wanted to ride bikes! We were like "Well, we have places to go, people to visit! We have appointments all day! We aren't walking!" haha half way through the day I repented and said a prayer for all the missionaries on bike. I take being in car for granted. I now have a new respect for elders and sisters on bike. "

I think that is enough said. Except she was kind enough to not mention when I fell off trying to contact a sweet Asian couple on the street. Haha. Thank goodness our members gave us rides in the evening. Alamo is also super hilly. And riding a bike is so dangerous!We of course had Mission Leadership Council the next day, which was a bunch of sitting for hours!!

#tightlikeuntoadish
We call our car the Jaredite boat. It is a Chevy Malibu, therefore, tight like unto a dish. Horrible turning radius. We miss our Corolla. But we are grateful to not be on bikes!
Sister Olsen and I are also giving a training! AT ZONE CONFERENCE! This is one of the biggest training opportunities, and one of the assistants specifically told me they counseled with President who needed to give the training, and they picked us for our conference! Thankfully we don't have to do it al 3 days, just our own zone conference. We were given the topic of "asking inspired questions". We are so excited, and already have an object lesson planned.This is also the funnest zone conference of the year! We get to do missionary Christmas things, like a white elephant exchange, and our mission president's wife is reading us a Christmas story, and we have a bunch of Chirstmas special musical numbers. We have been soooo busy with meetings and trainings, we are excited to get into more proselyting time together and exchanges this week. I have been feeling so much anxiety about how fast this part of my mission will go. I am so happy, and I don't want to stop being a missionary!

I LOVE CHRISTMAS!
and
I LOVE YOU ALL!,
Sister Martin

PICS:
We are so excited and happy to be together again!! Especially for the holidays :)
1. We were in a trio for a day...funnest night ever!
2. we love bikes:)..hahaha
3. Santa already loves us!!!! :)



More pictures for those of you who can appreciate more pictures of me...:
1)This first pic is at our first district meeting together. We ate these things called "Dropeys" ? Our district leader brought them to us. They are basically licorice with salt. Suuuuper nasty.
2)We have too much fun. This was our first official companion picture.


Monday, December 2, 2013

God Works in Mysterious Ways

Family,
First of all, TRANSFERS.
I got transferred to Alamo!! haaaaah I kid you not. Heavenly Father must really want me to learn to do hard things. But I am excited as well because SISTER OLSEN will be my companion! We were MTC companions!! We will be paired-up Sister Training Leaders for the Walnut Creek Zone. We have been praying to serve together again but we started to think we would both really be training our whole mission. Alas, the Lord listens to specific prayers! Hopefully we can help fire up Alamo. I already plan on many Texas/Alamo jokes with the members...
I am sad to leave Sister Evans. She was a huge blessing and example to me of humility and obedience. She has grown tremendously these past 3 transfers. We have laughed and cried through a lot of hard things, relied on the Lord to bring some less actives back, build up a new ward, fired up a few members,and we were even blessed with a miracle baptism. East Bay will be in good hands. She will be receiving a Tongan companion!
Sunday was interesting. We had a scary start to fast and testimony meeting, and we HAPPENED to of course have a random nonmember walk in our doors just to see what it was like. Sister Evans and I both shared our testimonies, and the end was about missionary work and the Atonement, so I hope they left with a better feeling. The guy was not interested in meeting with us, but we gave him and Book of Mormon, our number, a pamphlet, and let him know he was welcome anytime.
Oh yeah, Thanksgiving. We ate a fancy dinner with our bishop and his family. I got to see Katie Ruefenacht again (their daughter, a good friend of mine from BYU). We had a fancy green jello square on a lettuce leaf for an appetizer, multiple silverware, candles, and nametags to our assigned seating. Very fine dining experience! And the only one I needed. Last years four dinners I think were a little much. This one was perfect and delicious. We also did some service and raked our elder's nonmember neighbors yard. Service is the best! I am thankful I get a chance to do it so much on my mission.
Sister Ruefenacht, Bishop's wife, was particularly sad to see me leave. When I told her, she said "oh my gosh....seriously?!...well I guess the church is true...."
Well, my mind is a mess with stress. A lot to do today. So there will be more next week!
LOVE,
Sister Martin

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Diligence Wins Everytime!

Dearest Family,
 
P-Day Miracles
First, I wish I could have written you last Monday night instead of afternoon. Because we had an awesome story after. So we had the Walnut Creek sisters in our car, as the elders had theirs. We all got done with the hike in Oakland and had to face traffic on the way back. We had to go to Martinez to meet the elders cause they had left their bikes at a member's home. We are almost there when the elders call us and tell us they are still in Oakland because of an accident. That would mean there was 10 minutes lef tin P-day, 30 minutes til they got there, we are all in hiking clothes in a different area. I really prayed to know what to do, what would be the most obedient thing. We decided to just take the sisters home, but as we were leaving the parking lot of the grocery store we pulled into, we saw a family standing outside with a sign that said "need a job. please help." I felt so moved by this family, which had a husband, wife, and a small baby wrapped in her arms, I pulled over to the gas station across from them. I told the sisters we were giong to be a miracle for that family. We proceeded to go into the gas station to buy random food and juice. As we were checking out, we talked to a man in line and the cashier. We got BOTH of their information, and one even asked for a Bible, so we gave him a Book of Mormon, and said missionaries could deliver the Bible later. They were amazing contacts. Then we walked across the street to the family. They were from Romania, spoke very little English. We gave them the food and talked to them about the gospel, and gave them Book of Mormon. We said we wanted to meet with them with a friend (a man in our ward who served his mission in Romania) who spoke Romanian. Within that 30 minutes, we had like 3 miracles. Diligence of proselyting at 6 for the win! Even if we were in "normal" clothes, we couldn't help that. I was just reminded how powerful members can be...dressed in normal clothes all the time...at gas stations a lot...just saying. YOU CAN DO IT!
 
SICK
Also this week was interesting as I was SICK! Ironically, Becky just asked me in her email if I got caught in the nasty weather here, with the rain and a ton of wind. Well, yes, literally caught in it. I was on exchanges and we were knocking on doors and contacting in the rain. I did take a rain jacket and umbrella, but sometimes you just get caught in downpours. My boots have holes in them, so it got through to my feet all day. Anyways, with the weather change and general horrendous allergies here, and who know what else, I had major sinus pain and a cold, I had to call the mission nurse and she was afraid of it turning into sinusitis, so she told me to STAY HOME for a few days and rest. That was painful, I have never had to do that on the mission (minus the MTC). But we were still able to teach one of our lessons over the phone, I organized a lot of papers and binders, and read almost all of "Our Heritage" in the missionary library. Amazing what just reading about church history does to inspire your testimony. So with NyQuil and naps, I feel much better now. It was exactly what was needed. This East Bay business must be stressful, that sleep felt way too good!
 
Prayer
This week I have pondered a lot about specific prayer. Our zone had a training on it and also I re-read Elder Gifford Neilson's talk from Conference. He asked us to pray for some pretty specific things. There is a lot of power when we remember that God wants to "give us good gifts": Luke 11 teaches
 
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give athe Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
 
So let us be specific in asking for good things. Call upon that power of heaven. Because who are we? Children of God.
 
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday this week to Mom and Heather!
Lots of Love,
Sister Martin

Monday, November 18, 2013

Remember the Alamo!

Hola Familia,
This week I did a special exchange with Sister Olsen and her companion so that Sister Evans and Sister Kwan, our companions could have their very own exchange with a STL, instead of just being stuck with us all the time haha. It was great! I got to go to Alamo... Where I have never faced such rejection in my life!!! There is literally nothing but residences there, so its all talking to rich white people in their yards. We were offering a lot of service, but once we mentioned the word "missionaries" it was like jekyll and hyde. I was very proud that Sister Kwan was very diligent. I liked the exchange, but was happy to go back to East Bay for sure.
It's interesting, because the moral of the story is, MEMBERS ARE THE KEY! If you haven't caught on yet. Because the town RIGHT next to Alamo is baptizing families like crazy. Why? Because the members are finding them, and the ward mission leader literally fills their calendar for them. So while members continue to catch on, we fill our own calendars, but the areas that have figured this out are seeing the fruits.
This week was also an AMAZING leadership training. It was two days long, with all the district and zone leaders, and the sister training leaders.
I had to give a training on "dynamic leadership" with a cool science experiment. We had breakout sessions, large discussions, food, etc. It was a spiritual feast! I came away with so many more tools that I applied right away to my exchanges, and it made it 10 million times better! I learned how asking inspired questions and all the skills of teaching investigators applies well to the sisters I am over. Not that that was news, but it was good to see examples of how that is. We needed this training, because there are now more missionaries who have been out 6 months or less than older missionaries in our mission. There are district leaders who are in their 3rd transfer. We have so many new missionaries, we have to make sure we bring them up right :)
Thanksgiving is soon!!! We are teaching our ward FHE lesson tonight on gratitude, followed by a Thanksgiving dinner. We invited Brad and Alvaro to come. We are listening to Christmas music and getting ready to prepare a Christmas message in our finding efforts! The weather is getting colder and we are going hiking again today for zone activity.

Well this week is a challenge to you all to write me about how you gained a testimony of paying tithing or living word of wisdom.

Much love,
Sister Martin

Monday, November 11, 2013

High(er) Expectations

Hello Family!
Here is Annette's Baptism in Walnut Creek! She has been learning from missionaries forever! I taught her almost the whole time I was there! AND GUESS WHO BAPTIZED HER? NORMAN!!
Here is Alvaro's Baptism. He is really shy, so just ignore that is may or may not look like a mug shot...haha. We promise he was really happy. His mom was happy too, we even had her say the opening prayer...IN SPANISH!

Well, I am sure the apartment maintenance loves having two sister missionaries with thick hair live there...we had to call them to pull this out of the shower drain! Sick.





Well I like this new thing I discovered on email about inserting the pictures instead of just attaching them. Hopefully it works. 
Well at Mission Leadership Council, President Meredith just got back from a 3 day long training from Elder Ballard! We discussed a lot of ways to improve and teaching shortly and powerfully. We talked about high expectations. How much of the scriptures have absolutely MIRACULOUS things happen, parting the Red Sea, surviving a den of lions, not to mention all the Savior's miracles and miracles in the Book of Mormon. What did it take to have these? FAITH and KNOWING WHO YOU REALLY ARE. Not just a prophet or a missionary, but a child of God, which means you have divine in you. But how do we build that faith in ourselves and others? The emphasis in this training was on having spiritual experiences and then also sharing and hearing testimonies. We discussed bearing testimony frequently, and promising specific blessings, especially as we have seen them in our life. As we share this with others, it helps them build the cinderblock foundation of their testimonies'.
We have also been talking about becoming more consecrated missionaries. The law of consecration is a celestial law. It not about just changing behavior, but changing your whole nature. 
We had a miracle of one of our less actives coming to church this week. We needed a female for our investigator. Noone in our ward seemed to be able to come when it got down to 2 hours before the lesson. We finally resorted to calling a less active we hadn't seen. She agreed! Despite our investigator falling through at the last minute possible, we taught her instead (it was on the Plan of Salvation) and she cried and said how much she needed the lesson and needed to come to church. It was amazing, and we KNEW that was what the Lord needed to happen that night. 

LOVE YOU ALL!!! Hug a cat and invite someone to church.
Love,
Sister Martin

******Her pics didn't come through for this portion of the email...sorry everyone. Hopefully she'll resend them next week ********

Guess who I got to hang out with for Mission Leadership Council? SISTER OLSEN! And SISTER COOPER! They just got called as new Sister Training Leaders.Love them. It was a blast. 
Inline image 5
This is what we really feel like after Mission Leadership Council. It is looong. And stressful. 
Inline image 6
Happy Haunted House Cleaning time! As missionaries, we were locked in from 6-9 pm on Halloween, not allowed to proselyte, so instead we are supposed to deep clean. Here we are with the caramel apples we made with the caramel Mom sent. We also have a coloring sheet and a cleaning checklist ready for the night. Forget trick or treating, purging out old mission stuff is very rewarding!
Inline image 7
For example, I finally let go of my old running shoes. We run a lot on the mission, and you can tell where I hit my stride haha, they are diagonal. I have new beautiful ones from Target I am loving. 

Inline image 8

Monday, November 4, 2013

November!

Hello Family,
 
If the Lord can hasten His work in a mid-singles ward, then family wards have NOTHING to ever complain about again!
 
Investigators
We have another investigator with a baptismal date. That is a miracle! His name is Brad. We found him in a park dressed in baggy black and a box of cigarettes in his hand, over his ears, etc. At first we had just been hit on by a drunk man and he had overheard so we debated whether it was too awkward of an image to talk to him. But I thought, "talk with EVERYONE" and so I did. (I have learned not to tell the Lord who is ready to hear it and who is not). He was awesome, told us he was looking for change, gave his info. We tried so hard to get a return appt, but over the next few weeks he kept not showing up, not answering etc. BUT THEN this Saturday night he called us at 6:30 saying he was on his way home from Bart and asked if we were still doing the church thing. We were like we are now! So in an hour and a half we managed to take Annette and an awesome priesthood fellowshipper and it was amazing! He said the day after he talked to us he got a job offer. He then not only accepted baptism, but a date! For this month! He has been through so much, with his girlfriend died last year, he has been to jail, etc. Anyways, we were so excited for him, he was nodding his head during Joseph Smith's experience saying "yeah I feel like that guy"! Annette, funny story, was like "are you sure you want to be baptized that soon? It's a big decision.I took like 2 years." But surprisingly that did not deter him, he said "well if we are going to meet 2-3 times a week, I think I can do that".
 
Alvaro's confirmation went well. His nonmember mom and uncle came again, and we even had someone come help translate for them in gospel principles! Also we have another nonmember who keeps visiting us every week at church. We are trying to see if we can meet with him. We are also starting a temple prep class for those in the ward who should go through or who haven't been in a while. Also we are talking to the ward about starting a Book of Mormon class taught by us (not on Sundays, but another night of the week). So the ward is picking up on catching the vision of helping other's along in their conversion.
 
We also heard back from our old investigator Celeste. I had an impression to call her, even though we had tried several times that week. She answered and we had a great conversation. She is in a rough spot right now so she can't meet with us, but said we can call and text her scriptures, because her land lords threw out her Book of Mormon we gave her. Such opposition these days.I don't doubt Elder Hales saying that the persecution will be like unto the early saints.
 
Season Change
Well its November, the leaves are changing here. I have worn my boots and tights a few times. But it is still pretty sunny for the most part. It gets cold at night and the early morning, but pretty warm in the afternoons. It will change soon. On Saturday for service I helped put up the Christmas lights with other singles wards at the Oakland temple! That was so cool, I have always wanted to help with temple grounds.
 
I will attach pictures next week of the baptisms and caramel apples we made :) I LOVE YOU ALL! Have a great week, share a gospel principle with someone.
Love,
Sister Martin

Monday, October 28, 2013

East Bay Love

Family,
 
Alvaro's baptism was amazing! The day before we took him to the Visitor's Center to watch the Testaments, it was so powerful and amazing. If you havent seen that movie, the first hour is pretty painful and awkward, but its all worth it for the last 5 minutes!!!!
 
Then we had a large portion of our ward come support him. His family came, the elders who first taught him got to come, and Bishop even spoke a little Spanish. Everything went well, the priesthood welcomed him and gave him a beautiful new quad set of scriptures. He loves the scriptures so I know he will eat those up! Our first baptism in this historical ward! It was stressful getting a font booked, but through fasting, prayer, and others help, we made it happen. Not a bad problem to deal with honestly!
 
A talk given at his baptism mentioned something interesting. He said when we get the gift of the Holy Ghost, the words used are "recieve the Holy Ghost". This means we need to work on and be worthy to welcome that invitation to us to receive Him.
 
Sorry its short this week, love you! Happy Halloween! Happy Birthday Dad! I sent you a card tellin gyou how amazing you are.
Love,
Sister Martin

Monday, October 21, 2013

Boots and Baptism

Hello Family,
 
I am staying in East Bay Midsingles another transfer. Nothing changed.
 
We were handed an investigator with a baptismal date this week. Turns out his baptismal date is THIS SUNDAY. So Crazy, but we are planning it. His name is Alvaro and he has an amazing testimony about Jesus Christ. He has given up so much addiction in his life. He loves our ward, so he wanted to be baptized here, so the Richmond Spanish elders passed him off to us. We are going to ward FHE with him tonight, studying about the life of President Monson, should be fun.
 
GUESS WHO ELSE GOT BAPTIZED?! Annette from Walnut Creek. I have officially hung around long enought to see every fruit from those I taught there. She has investigated for over a year now. I went through everything with her. But through a crazy story she thought the new Walnut Creek sisters had set a baptismal date with her (turns out it was a dinner haha) but she had secretly given up smoking to work towards that date. Also she had some Jehovah's Witnesses come to her door, and she started testifying and telling them that she knew what was right and true! It clicked with her somehow! What a blessing for her daughter who was just baptized over a year ago, to see her mom finally enter the waters! I got to go to the baptism cause it was still in my district and we took Alvaro. I will send pictures probably next week.
 
Well we also randomly called this less active guy who was referred to us by another set of sisters. We invited him to go to the midsingles barn dance activity. It didn't sound like he could go, but apparently he did and told EVERYONE that the sisters told him to go. He kept looking for us all night (we didn't go obviously) haha, but SO MANY people at church talked about him, including Bishop, said how much fun he had, how social he was. We are curious to actually meet him ourselves, we are hoping he comes to church soon. But also our bishop's family went to go buy boots for the activity, and talked to the guy at the boots store about the church. They just asked him at the end if he would like missionaries to talk to him and he said YES and gave them his card. Amazing what the power of opening our mouths and inviting those around us, does, whether they are members or not!
 
Love you,
Sister Martin

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Inner City

Hello Family,
 
My week was interesting. I GOT TO DO EXCHANGES IN INNER CITY OAKLAND. Scary. President put one set of sisters there for this first time ever this transfer, and I had to be the Sister Trainer Leader for them. So I went twice. The elders there(who are the assistants to the president) need a lot of help, so they call the sisters a lot to go to their area (they try to give the sisters safer places, but still...) and we visited this miraculous less active wanting to come back to church. But she lives in a neighborhood where she has seen multiple shootings, morning, afternoon, and night.It was in a super ghetto house, and she told us she looked out her window once to see a man bleeding from his head, dead. So sad the world and crime and secret combinations. So my eyes continually are opened to the sheltered life I lived beofre. And this lady was in a mess. She was married to a guy who almost killed her, but now he is out of the country and she doesnt know how to get a hold of him so she can divorce him. She also has a child, a boyfriend, and broke her hand and when she went in to get it treated, got a pregnancy test that came back positive. But she cried to us in her living room when I asked her why she wanted to come back. She felt a prompting to go the visitor's center a week before. She has also thought a lot about her grandma who has passed recently. Just amazing stories of the spirit prompting her. Oakland is such fertile ground for prepared people. However, that means the ward has its own challenges. It's basically run by stake service members, the ward is full of a lot of poor, mostly single people with a lot of problems, no cars, etc. The sisters said there are not very many families at all.

In East Bay I was trying to to talk with everyone, and this girl even looked mid-single. We set a return appointment, and met her this week. As the lesson started she had some great questions about the Atonement and how we viewed Christ. But soon her friend showed up (they always bring a friend) with her bible and we knew exactly what was happening. It was really funny and sad at the same time, when she pulled out Revelations I said "we know what that says!!" Haha, they weren't sure what to do after that, and didn't even really try. I just gave the schpeel about we could actually give you a lot of answers for that, but really can only invite you to read the Book of Mormon and pray for yourself, ONLY if you are willing and sincere about learning more. They were not, but gave us material from themselves about what the real, or yet "a Christian's definition of gospel" is. Also, when they asked us about our view of heaven and hell, it was so funny to hear them try nicely to tell us that we were going to hell.
 
On a happier spiritual note, I gave a zone training this week on small and simple things, how they make us great missionaries (and people). It made me study the word "simple" in the scriptures. I really liked Doctrine and Covenants1:23 "That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world..." The Lord works through simple servants. I know this to be true, I have seen it!
 
I will send another email with pictures from Fenton's Creamery (in Oakland, the one they sit in at the end of the movie "Up". However I do not reccomend eating these things by yourself) and a cool street corner we found after some service in Oakland.
 
MUCH LOVE,
Sister Martin




Tuesday, October 8, 2013

You Guessed It, Conference!

Ok, you guessed it, I will give you my favorite recaps of conference...
Edward Dube
Besides the awesome accent, the quote "never look back! look at what we still have to do!" "Stop being caught up in personal aspirations, and be interested in the common goal of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."
Elder Bednar
Windows letting in light, hence light is shed on our life when we pay tithing. Gaining subtle peace and assurance in our life is more prevalant than temporal blessings. Law of tithing is so simple, and yet it WORKS.
President Uchtdorf
10 hours of conference, 3 hours of church, seminary. family history, youth camps, tithing, fasting, etc.-why would anyone want to join such a church?! We see assignments as opportunities to fulfill covenants.God is perfect, but he works through us imperfect people, He knew we needed the responsibilty to grow.
"There is room for you here."
Elder Christofferson
"There are enough women in the world who are tough, we need women who are tender."
"Strive to be a disciple without apology."
S.Gifford Nielson
It doesn't matter the game plan, just score a touchdown! The exclamation points in the scriptures are about sharing the gospel! Specifically pray, pray for the investigators and missionaries in your ward by name, and invite someone to an activity in or out of the home.
I also loved his TV voice haha. And the fact he is from Texas. And played for BYU.
Elder Holland
"If the bitter cup does not pass, drink it."
In the context of those who know those who suffer from depression, be aware and be charitable because "charity never faileth"
Wow. He went where no general authority has gone before.
Elder Ballard
Top two fears of members in sharing the gospel, 1)fear and 2) misunderstanding. The power of asking and relying on the Lord will help us in this.
FIND SOMEONE BY CHRISTMAS!!! A challenge!
Elder Oaks
"Land laws cannot make moral what God has said is immoral."
Elder Scott
"The Lord sees weaknesses different than rebellion." He shows mercy on weaknesses, but we must repent of rebellion.
Elder Andersen
"Women have good opinions, if you just ask!....After all, they are your mothers." "A priesthood holder might open the drapes to the sunlight, but he does not own the sun or the light." He addressed so many great things about the role of men and women.
David M. McKonkie
Basically what missionaries are taught. It's more important to be worthy of the Spirit, than to have the manual memorized. Must study as well. We quote here a lot "the Spirit can not draw from an empty well."
And of course, President Monson, "Tonight, I will write in my journal, 'this has been one of the most inspiring conferences." SO TRUE! There were so many diverse topics, I loved it!
My thoughts- the world is becoming more and more gray, which makes the gospel more and more black and white. Some don't like that, and feel we have to conform to the gray. The Lord is clear, and "whether by my own mouth, or by the mouth of my servants, it is the same." We had the privilege of watching one session with some other sisters and their investigator. He was probably in his late 30's, and he was only able to watch a few of the Sunday morning talks, but he loved it! He said it was better than the pamphlets the sisters gave him :). He said it is so true "to hear the way the world is going". I thought, isn't that what prophets have always done? What Lehi did when he said Jerusalem would be destroyed? What Noah did when he said the earth would flood? We are being warned of today's spiritual dangers.
I love conference, I know the words they speak are truly from the Lord and I feel strengthened when I listen to them. I have already made plans to apply specific counsel in my own life, I invite you to do the same. THE CHURCH IS TRUE!!
Much Love,
Sister Martin

Four of us sisters watching conference at a members home! :)


Monday, September 30, 2013

Blessings, Books, and Broadcast

Hello Family,
Mission Tour
This week we had our general authority visit, Elder Audukitus. It was so good. He basically called us to repentance for not talking to as many people as we could everyday. Then he gave us awesome training on helping a family pray for the first time and also helping investigators invite their friends to their baptism, resulting in many referrals. He said if we talked to more people, we will see baptisms. He helped us see that if we really wanted and relied on the Lord, we could baptize every week of our mission! He picked on my companion out of all the missionaries there to present her talk. We were all told to come prepared with a 3 minute talk on diligence, and were told he would pick randomly 3 people. Turns out he only picked one and he started walking towards us and pointed at Sister Evans. I was soooo grateful it wasn't me! But she had to talk about what our companionship has done to improve our diligence in front of everyone, so basically it was both of us. She did great. He also asked a question about recognizing the Spirit, and no one said anything so I raised my hand and quoted Moroni 7, and he told me "thankyou for that inspired answer" and then we all turned and read from there. This may have been the equivalent of a (spiritual) rockstar concert for missionaries haha. It was such a blessing to have him come visit us and feel his spirit of enthusiasm. Helps he and his wife have a super cool accent too! :)
Book Cleaning Service
Some of our service lately for some reason has been cleaning and organizing libraries/ books. A recent one was with our ward at a community clean up day. We were a bunch of mid singles and missionaries and then the people from the community were mostly 70+ years old that were there :) everyone else our ages had signed up to do outside stuff. So with a bunch of baby wipes and grody childrens books, we wiped them down for 4 hours. So I took advantage of the situation, and talked to a lovely elderly couple. Bob and Jackie have been married for about 60 years. They were saying how God put them together in college, it was so cute. We talked about families, family history, being parents, etc. Basically long story short, they were very impressed with everything I had to say. They said the time flew by. I asked them if they would like missionaries to come....and they said no :(. BUT I know that they will someday, things I said "made sense" to them and they felt something for sure. We had a few other members talking to nonmembers there too, so it just showed how this is what we are all about. Serving, making friends. Then questions come up and you can talk about the gospel. It was a great experience.
Broadcast
I got to see Priyali at the Women's Broadcast! It made me so happy to see the fruits of her living the gospel and being in the room with her fellow sisters. I can't imagine her not being baptized and getting to hear the prophet speak. The conference was so great! I loved the first counselor, Sister Stephens. And how about that sister missionary choir?! If you didn't get to see it, here is the link- http://www.lds.org/broadcasts/watch/general-relief-society-meeting/2013/09?lang=eng&vid=2703212494001
You are all amazing. I LOVE YOU!
Love,
Sister Martin

Monday, September 23, 2013

Restoration of The Gospel

Hi Family,
So I wrote you my big email last Thursday, and we found out since then that Kevin is actually already a member! The elders who originally told us about him had said he was less active, but then some sisters said that no he was an investigator with a baptismal date. So when we met him, we asked if he had been baptized. He had said no. So we did our best and continued to teach him. He came clean and He met with the bishop, and said he wanted to be re-baptized. He didn't understand that you can't be re-baptized (unless excommunicated), and he was hoping to be. He said he didn't feel like he was really committed to it the first time. So good for him that he is looking to re-commit himself, but he talked with the bishop and he explained about the sacrament :). The adventures of East Bay Mid-Singles. It is extremely ironic with the timing, given we just had a zone meeting training on being honest with our key indicators (our goals/numbers we report), and we found out 3 days later, right before our report was due, that he was not an investigator. Good thing I have been told I have a gift of laughing about these things.
Sunday was amazing. The 3 temple workers in our ward spoke about the Restoration and temples. It was very powerful. Especially talking about Restoration, it was straight doctrine and I could feel the spirit testify to me of the truth. Made me ponder if that is how others feel when I teach the doctrine. Made me want to work on being more clear, short, and powerful.A great quote about the temple "man's questions of life, receive answers of eternity". Also someone put the perspective on Alma 34:32 "this life in the time for men to prepare to meet God" as that is why we have temples. They are for this life, which is why those on the other side cannot. This is our only time to be proxies for them. God's work should be hastening, for the living and the dead.
Celeste came to church! We are also suspicious of her being a member too haha. Knowing our luck, we wouldn't be surprised. She loved all three hours. We are going to try and take her to the women's broadcast this weekend.

I know this gospel is true. I know that even though we experience hard things, the Lord know who we are and answers prayers. Many of our doubts and questions arise from the fundamental understanding and believing in God and His existence. The Restoration of the gospel cleared up much confusion of Him. The first word from Heavenly Father's mouth was "Joseph",- He knows us individually. Jesus is the Christ, as Heavenly Father pointed out (literally). As we listen to Christ, we find truth and answers in His words. Joseph Smith History 1:19 starts off with "I was answered".
Thank you for your testimonies and prayers.
Much Love,
Sister Martin

Friday, September 20, 2013

His work

My dearest Family,

I hope you are ready, because I have a novel of miracles to write about to you!!! Just know that I don't know what it is except to say this is His work.
Kevin
We have been teaching Kevin, and he is progressing so nicely. He has a slight learning disability, so we have to get creative and make a lot of visuals and remind him to take notes. He does, and he is so sincere in repenting, it's amazing and very humbling. He will hopefully be baptized in October. He is the one that lives in the mountains. He has an awesome cat.
Celeste
About a week ago, my companion and I decided to street contact downtown Concord. We are still not too familiar with where everything is, but we just started walking, and inviting everyone to visit mormon.org, and if the conversation went well, to learn more. We were passing a bagel shop when I saw a couple sitting on a table outside a bagel shop. I was thinking it would be awkward to go talk to them (Satan...) but my companion was great and invited them anyways. The redheaded girl asked us if we wanted to sit down and talk. When does that happen??!! We had a great conversation, she opened up to us about how she loves Mormons, and thinks the world should be more like them. She has seen missionaries a lot, and our church buildings, but has never officially learned more. After probably a great half hour conversation, we set up a return appointment. Fast forward to the next week to the time of the appointment. We were worried because our church was having some construction work done, and we had wanted to give her a church tour. It was not very nice or reverent. Then it started to be 45 minutes past when she said she would be there, but she had said she was on her way. We finally got a hold of her, only to find out she went to the wrong chapel, but she was walking and way too far away to come to us. So we said we would come to her with our member. We tried calling the elders to see if they had a key and could let us into that building, but they didn't answer. We thought oh well, we can just sit outside. We show up, she brought us flowers. Wow. We start randomly trying the doors, but they were locked. We walk to the back, and my companion half jokingly says "I have faith!" and trys the back two doors. The first one, locked, and I thought oh no way.THEN THE SECOND ONE OPENED! I kid you not, it was the strangest thing. Instead of awkwardly sitting on the grass and telling her we can't go in, we had a wonderful lesson inside. Then she said she had always wanted to come to our services but the times were never posted, even though it said visitor's welcome. Then she says "what are you girls in your early 20's? I'm in my early 30's". It was pure miracle we had a last found someone we couldkeep teaching! It was an amazing lesson, she is one of the MOST prepared person's I have ever met on my mission. She cried at some parts, and was soooo excited about the Book of Mormon. I remember asking a dumb question when she read the introduction, but she comprehended it amazingly well. Something about what do you think the fulness of the gospel means, and she says "like it's truth, the truthfulness". After the lesson, she texted us saying she was having really good feelings about the Book of Mormon and about Joseph Smith. Now we are blessed to actually be teaching two mid singles preparing for baptism, Kevin and Celeste. 

Gerald
We randomly (there are no coincidences!) decided to street contact downtown Pleasant Hill, and we turn the first corner to find an older man in a wheelchair with cowboy boots on. I talk to him, give him a card, and he says "Mormon? oh yeah , I love mormons! How do I become a Mormon?" He was so sincere about asking us how he could become one. He was so funny "Do I have to go all the way to Utah to become a Mormon? where is your church building? Can I got to church this Sunday?" Pure amazing miracle. He gladly gave us his information, we even talked about baptism a little bit. He was awesome, he is a retired fire fighter. He told us "You know I think I was meant to run into you today, it was really great meeting you." We passed him off to the elders, and I know they have been trying hard to find someone to teach. It all sounds like a joke, right? But he was so sincere, the elders are meeting him next week, so I will keep you posted!

Adrian
Then right after we finished talking to Gerald, we were about to walk past a bunch of teenagers hanging out eating sandwhiches. I walk past, and one boy leans back and says "What cards are you giving out? Can I have one?" Something was in the water that day! He has Mormon friends and went to church a few times. He loves church. We got his info.

Temple
We got to go to the temple. Which by the way, is why I haven't emailed you this week, it becomes our P-day when we go to the temple. For those of you who get to go whenever you want, you are so lucky. Missionaries in our mission are allowed to go only every 3 months. So we were all super excited all week. I even woke up and couldn't go back to sleep around 5:30am. The updates at the temple were so moving and so amazing, I almost cried. God's plan for us is so perfect. We were supposed to go and seek guidance to prepare for our general authority visit next week, so that was cool. And we got to go as a whole Oakland Zone, so it was a full session of a lot of missionaries, a very special spirit there.
Stake Conference
AND we had stake conference this week, another spiritual feast. I really loved President Stewart's talk. He is from the Walnut Creek ward, and we had taken his daughter out with us before she left on her mission. His talk was actually about sister missionaries! It was titled "Ye Sisters of Israel: Rise Up O Women of God" He talked about how much he loved his mission, how it changed his life, and taught him about long work, hard days, and understanding what he was capable of. He said of course I wanted that for all my children, boys AND girls. He never forced it upon them, but his point was to prepare all young men AND women for missions. Because even if they don't serve, they learn to stay worthy, maybe learn a new language, etc. which will bring benefits in the future anyways. Why not talk about it more with girls for that reason alone? He read from an email from his daughter, serving in Maryland. She said the coolest thing about sister missionaries is that they gain a confidence in themselves, but it's not from their clothes or looks, but from the Lord. They know their work is the most important work, that you can be led by the Spirit, and that we are of real worth. We see unity being manifested through missionary work as both elders and sisters unite in the Lord's work.

Then an 11 year spoke in conference. It was so powerful it made everyone cry. He talked about the stake primary challenge of reading scripture, saying prayers every day, and having FHE every week of the summer. He said once he had a friend over while they were reading scriptures, and when he spelt over that night, his friend asked him about the Book of Mormon, and what was the difference between their churches. This 11 year spouted off the first article of faith about our belief in God, and said we can repent and be baptized and live with God again. It was amazing seeing what happened when our families do the little things, we grow closer to God, and that allows us to share the gospel with others. Simple faith can be so powerful!!!
I must go, but know that I LOVE YOU!! Have a great week, I will be writing again on Monday.
Sister Martin