Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fourth Book of Walnut Creek

Hello Family!
Crazy Transfers
This week we said good-bye to Sister Erdenebaatar and dropped her off at the mission home on Tuesday to get her new companion. Of course, it was pouring rain in Oakland, so all the craziness of transfers and all the missionaries there and their luggage was soaking wet! Sister Hewett and I didn't need to be there except to drop off Sis E and pick up a few things, including our car. Well after a mix up of cars and a long story, our car had been lent to some Elders who weren't there even there! We didn't have a car so we couldn't leave. After waiting forever, when they got there it turns out one of them was transferring so our car was packed with their stuff, including bags of snacks and smelly cologne! Our car still lingers of those smells. But we had to help unload and load their stuff, plus some other missionaries, all in one parking lot, all in the pouring rain. It was quite the adventure, maybe I will attach a picture. It turns out that Sister Hewett and I were a rarity in staying together, almost all the sisters were transferred around this time! We are excited though, we have really loved our ward and the people here. Also, Mom and Dad might appreciate that Elder Flemming was transferred into my district.
More Mongolian Miracles
After a rough week of some tracting, we were sad because the few return appointments we had were flaky, including a wrong number given to us. We looked up some old potentials and former investigators and that wasn't very successful either. Walnut Creek is a very transient place, so everyone moves in and out soooo much. Finally it was a glorious weekend, filled with a women's temple conference, someone paying for our dinner annonymously (we found out later it was a member), a great trip to the visitor's center with an investigator, and a great sunday at church. However, most of our goals had fallen short for the week. We decided to work on seeing Zaya Sunday night. Zaya had a friend from Mongolia in town and she brought her to church! Her name is Augie. She sat in on the great lesson our ward missionary did for Zaya and then we were all just talking, and Zaya said she told Augie about her baptism and the temple and Augie wants to be baptized!!! Woah! She didn't speak much English (Sis Hewett and I think the Lord is telling us to learn Mongolian) but she said she wanted to be clean and be a new woman, have a new mind, etc. It was amazing, and I felt the Spirit so strong as she tried to express this desire to us. She will be in town for a few months so we can help out with that! Zaya already told her she needs to go to church 3 times (we didn't know Zaya remembered that) so she took her already once, so as long as she keeps a few other commitments that long we will probably see a baptism possibly as early March 10. That night that meeting with her helped us out with 3 different goals, not just the one we had planned on. Blessings!!! Sister Hewett and I have a dream of starting a Mongolian branch here!
Earlier that day we ate lunch with another one of our ward missionaries and her nonmember friend and after long conversation of seeing how she has been searching, I invited her to learn more from the missionaries and she agreed! Sadly she is not in our area so we won't be teaching her but we went home and immediately sent in her information for the missionaries in her area.
The work truly moves forth better through the members!
That is amazing I heard 58 new missions were opened! Let's hope members are ready to give all these missionaries work to do! Things are changing for missionaries (we are getting some missionary department training this week) so members need to be ready for it, its happening, and its happening now. What a great time to be on the earth to witness all of this! 3 Nephi 12:14,16 "...I give unto you to be the light of this people. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid...Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Light is so much better than darkness, it was the first thing God created/separated in the creation, and we need to help others recognize the difference as we are examples of light, joy, and goodness.
Sister Martin

Monday, February 18, 2013


Hello Family,

This week we had the privilege of serving with Sister Erdenebaatar, a sister from Mongolia serving in the Northgate 1st and 2nd ward. I mentioned in the last email her companion has gone back to the Salt Lake City Temple Square mission, so president asked us to be her companions for a week until our mission's transfer day (this tuesday). Oh yeah, mine and Sister Hewett's transfer calls were both to stay in Walnut Creek again! I am now officially the only missionary in my group that came out at the same time as me to stay with their trainer this long. I have also been sister hewett's companion that she has had the longest. Don't know why, but the Lord sees that we need to both stay here, which we are ok with!

Anyways, so since we had Sister Erdenebaatar, we had to work three wards this week! Almost every hour of every day was filled with appointments, it was crazy. We had to drive back and forth between Walnut Creek and Concord so much, every night we have all been exhausted. But it has been soooo fun! I have learned even more about the power the Book of Mormon has when you take time to read it with everyone you teach, including less actives. Also Sis E is still learning English, so it is fun teaching her new things (she pronounces squirrel as "skiddle"), and her attempting to teach us Mongolian. She is very humble and sweet when she teaches and prays, you can feel her love for the gospel, and she is also a convert! I'm telling you, something is happening with the Mongolian people and the gospel! I also had some Mongolian food this week, basically any Mongolian will tell you their favorite thing is "meat!!!" so I had this thing pronounced ho-shore, it was really good, like a folded over pastry thing with a juicy piece of meat inside. Sis E says you can also put onion and garlic in it. But so far we have seen she doesn't really like too spicy or sweet of things-not even cereal! Sis Hewett and I love the Mongolian people we have met here, maybe we will go visit one day! 

On Valentines Day, we got to visit some of the elderly in Sis E's ward. They were in different nursing homes, but it was so cute when they got excited about the Valentines we brought them (you know I like the ones with cute kittens on them). I was very impressed with one of the ward missionaries we took with us. He brought different things to each person, like three avacados, or two notebooks, etc. You could tell he visited these people often, and knew what they needed and how to serve them. It was very touching and inspiring, it reminded me of President Monson and how he always visits the widows. What a lonely life they lead, and how blessed are not only we, but them as well when we take the time to visit and bring good cheer. When we earn someone's trust, give them of our time (as the Savior did to people) and show we truly care, they will open up to how we can help them.

Also while in Concord, we went to contact a referral at night (we should have known it would be sketchy) and the whole apartment complex was blasting mariachi spanish mucic for a birthday party- at 8:00 at night! It made for a very loud and awkward conversation at the door, and it is so important that we help them feel the Spirit with the first contact. Sis E will go back another time, but it reminded me how much in our life we need to make sure its not too loud to feel the Spirit, or else we could miss out on great opportunities. 

Well this week we are teaching a new part member family, they seem to be a hot item in our ward lately! We are continuing teaching two Indian investigators, who are soooo polite, and also very insightful about the Book of Mormon. Keep praying for us to find more investigators, and that they will come to church (we seem to be back at our original problem when we first got here, but now we know how to work on it). Also, don't forget that while its nice to pray for the missionaries to find people, its even better to pray for your own missionary opportunities!

Love you!
Sister Martin

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Spirit of Elijah

Can I just say new converts going to the temple for baptisms is awesome?!
On Tuesday night, we had last minute scheduled Zaya, our Mongolian recent convert (my first baptism here in December), to meet with our family history specialist in the ward. Out of nowhere, Zaya had asked if she could be baptized for her grandma one day, so we really wanted to help her out. Mind you, we have no idea how she understood anything about family history, we taught it once in gospel principles class, and she has been to the Visitor's Center and said she looooved being around the temple and her new goal was to go inside. But this is a miracle because Zaya still struggles with English, especially gospel language english, and some people were worried about her retention as a new member. But somehow she understood and had gotten all the information/death dates of both her grandmas and her husbands grandmas, so when we took her to get the names printed, we had had a goal of one name, and came out with FOUR!
We had zone conference that next day, Wednesday, and right after, Sister Hewett and I headed over to the temple, which was just across the parking lot. Our ward was having a youth temple trip that night and we had been invited to tag along with our recent convert. We went and got the names officially printed and waited for our ward missionary to bring Zaya. Of course, first time through Satan works really hard to not get someone to the temple. She was really late. Most of the youth were baptized and changing by the time she showed up. But we were able to just sit in the waiting room with President Lopez, a member of the temple presidency, and he kept sooo calm and said 'have faith. have faith. she will come." then we had an amzing conversation with him about calling men with cigars in their mouth to be stake presidents, miracles of being able to retire so they could be on a senior mission, and the power of ward unity bringing forth convert baptisms. It was a blessing to be able to wait just so we could learn from him. Finally when Zaya came, we went in to do the baptisms. The YM/YW presidents said it was such a cool experience to see someone do their own family names, it really did change the whole atmosphere of the trip. Zaya went into the font and the poor priesthood holder from our ward didn't know how to pronounce the names so she whispered them to him every time, he said those were probably the only names he got completely right all day :). It was really powerful. She also did some extra names the temple had, she was worried at first about being dunked 10 times, but she loved it! We then went to confirmations, where our bishop and ward mission leader were helping out. Zaya later said she felt the Holy Ghost strongly when the hands were on her head. A kind temple worker asked if she wanted to sit somewhere for a while or if she needed to go. The look on her face was so clear, she was really torn, she wanted to stay so badly! We kindly reminded her she had a hungry baby at home she needed to feed and she said "oookay". Then when we got to the parking lot, she literally skipped across and kept saying how happy she was! My companion and I still have no idea how it all came together, except to say literally the Spirit of Elijah had touched her heart to turn to her ancestors so they could be as happy as she was. I have actually never felt the spirit so strongly in temple baptisms before. I realized that because we helped Zaya receive the gospel, we ended up helping others we didn't even think about. I hope to meet these wonderful grandmothers someday that have such an amazing granddaughter :). Little did they know someday in Oakland California, their posterity would receive the truth.This is a testimony of it is literally not us (missionaries) doing anything, it is all the Lord and His work.
We are still teaching her husband, Peter. He is a little harder to teach, he understands even less English and struggles to know if God is there. However, we got a call this week from President Meredith saying we were going to be in a trio for one week. The sister we are getting is from Mongolia! MIRACLE! Prayers really are answered, we will be visiting him as much as we can with our Mongolian speaker sister. Her companion was from the Temple Square mission and their transfer days are different from ours, so she will be companionless for a week. They are in the area right next door, so we picked her up. We are really excited. I will send pictures with Sister Erdenbataar next week.
Well, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY! I hope you all feel loved from each other, your ward, your Savior, and your Heavenly Father. Even if it may seem like a silly holiday, we have been commanded to love our neighbor, so now is a great excuse to show some Christlike love for someone who needs it more than we do. Go serve someone else. Make a visit, a note, anything to make someone smile. Give the missionaries work to do and people to teach, and you will experience no greater joy.
Also, happy birthday to Jen and Todd this week! I am sending cards.
This really is the truth on the earth restored again, and it brings no greater happiness!
Sister Martin

Monday, February 4, 2013

Why Cats are cooler than NFL football

Hola Familia!
1) I need to correct a scripture from my last email, I meant to say Alma 32:21, not 12.
2)This week was stake conference!
I first got to go to the adult session, because we rode with Mandy and Norman, our RC. It was amazing, definitely some general conference worthy material. One talk in particular, was a lady who taught about helping children, youth, and young adults stay active/get a testimony. I know some of you have emailed me about this for your own youth classes, so I am happy to share what insight I gained. She first gave an analogy of a tree she was growing in her backyard. She thought it was doing pretty good and was proud of herself, she had staked the young tree down with ropes thinking it would help keep it safe...until a professional pruner guy came and asked "what have you been doing?!". He told her it was important that the tree needed to feel the wind, so its roots could grow stronger. She applied this to our children. She said we need to share our conversion, not just our testimony with youth. Explain exactly how knowing that gospel principle helped you in a hard time, how exactly you came to know of a truth and how it has made you happy! Bearing testimony and hoping they get the nourishment at church is not enough! They know the "whats" of the gospel, now they need to understand the "whys" and the "hows". Then as they go through their own trials and wind, the gospel will help their roots grow stronger as they know they can apply it.
Then we had a missionary stake meeting, with bishops, ward mission leaders, ward missionaries, and full time missionaries in attendance. We went over the stake vision of missionary work for 2013. But what was cool was Pres Criddle, stake pres, talked about how a ward has a different feel to it when it is focused on missionary work. He then made a shout out to the Walnut Creek 2nd Ward and the sisters there, and said how the missionary work has never been like it is now! Sister Hewett and I were in the very back, blushing pink I'm sure. Then to add to it, our bishop raised his hand and asked when he could get MORE sisters, and then he clarified, "I don't want a replacement, just additional sisters!". Man, if our ward has anything to say about it, we are never getting transferred!
Then we got a satelite broadcast on Sunday from Salt Lake City, and we got to hear from Elder L. Tom Perry, one of my favorite apostles! He also talked about missionary work, particulary with the new missionaries coming out! He said Northern California will be seeing a new wave of missionaries come summer, and we need to have work ready for them as members! He said members need to help fill the missionaries calendar! He also said to familiarize yourself with Preach My Gospel first three lessons, so you can be a good assett in lessons with missionaries and investigators. He then taught from Preach My Gospel, about the basic doctrines of the church. I got the goose bumps several times as he talked about this year of missionary work--I know right now really is different. We heard the MTC usually has 2000 missionaries there, and now will have 8000.
Then again in that session, a young women counselor, sister cook, spoke. She told a story of a young woman who would justify to herself that she was fine dating a guy when she was 15 as long as they were always in a group. Then at 16 they steady dated. Then she justified that she needed soccer to get into college, so she woud play on sundays to get ahead, and rationalized it by saying that she could still go to sacrament meeting. Pretty soon she was having a harder and harder time making decisions. She was losing the companionship of the Holy Ghost and was not really happy. She decided to do something about it. She talked to her bishop, who told her to read her scriptures in the morning before she went to school, and that would help her with decisions. Also to pray in the morning and at night. After doing this, she decided she needed to dump her boyfriend, drop the soccer games, and get new friends. It was hard, she had to feel alone for a while, but she ended up finding and choosing friends who helped support her, and she spent more time with her family as they supported her. She got the guidance again from the Spirit and now enjoys a temple marriage. Once again, that topic of the importance of youth seeing the "how" the gospel can apply to them. On my mission, I can honestly say I feel the companionship of the Holy Ghost almost all the time. Someone in stake conference actually mentioned that, how youth and then returned misionaries get discouraged and fall away when on their mission they were so sure of their testimony? It's about removing the static/noise/distractions (hence missionaries lifestyle) in our life to hear that still small voice. The small voice will never change, but our volume of our life does, so we need to adjust it so we can hear. Sometimes it is hard and lonely to make changes, but then comes happiness!! Happiness as we change our lives and become closer to becoming like the Savior- our ultimate goal.
I have been reading in Alma lately around captain Moroni, and how he is awesome at defending against the Lamanites. But soon some of the Nephites start to get prideful and want a king instead of a judge, because they are "of noble birth", Moroni gets so upset that he has to take time to fix the humility of his people so they can then together defend the Lamanites, the real enemy,. Because of this setback, it hurts them a little war-wise. But then as they covenant to work together to have peace and freedom, they are awesome again. It reminds me that we are all running a race, but its not against each other, its against sin. Satan wants to distract us by taking time to look at the other runners, and see how much faster or slower they are. But when we think of the ultimate goal, to fight against the real enemy, Satan, we should work together in that cause against sin. 
3)This week I had exchanges again in San Mateo. I went into foreign-language coma once as I could only sit in one of the lessons entirely in Spanish. I was trying soooo hard not to fall asleep. I hope I did not offend anyone. But one lesson was part English, and I felt the Spirit so strong as I testified to this family about the Book of Mormon and how the restored gospel allows them to see their mom/wife who passed away two years ago. The member we had with us, Socorro,who I thought was kind of a cynical person at the time, started crying and after the lesson said "Marti,"(thats what she called me, she nicknames all the missionaries)" I guess you are an ok person." Then Sister Croft looked at me, and said that is a huuuuge compliment. She let me escort her around (she was part blind) and wanted to sit by me on the couch in the next lesson. She also ended up  respecting me cause I told her Selena was from my home ward town. She as surprised I knew what Lake Jackson was. She had at first said "let me guess, you are from Utah?" and was pleased I was from Texas. We experienced other miracles on the exchange as well, like an old referal that Sister Croft had not been able to contact due to her lost planner, just walking up to us in the park and saying she has been wanting to meet again with the misisonaries but had lost their information as well!
4) Superbowl Sunday. Well obviously everyone and their dog here was in their living rooms with the game on, due to the 49ers popularity. Everyone was so pumped becasue the Giants already won the world series, and that was bad enough trying to get undistracted appointments. Then even though the 49ers lost, our neighbors I guess had bought celebration cigars, but wanted to smoke them anyways right outside, so we came home to our house to the absolute foulest smell EVER. Gross. Call me whatever you want, but I despise the Superbowl and football on Sundays. But despite all that, we found an awesome less active man who is apparently on fire with missionary work and gave us a referal, and we finally contacted another referal who is really prepared to hear from us! He was so down in life, then they lost their cats, we went to visit and prayed for their cats, then the next day someone brought it to them at their front door after being lost for 3 days!
Sooooo conclusion? Cats are awesomer than NFL football.
Well sorry this was long this week. I really love you all, I am going to try and send Valentines this week!!!
Sister Martin