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.
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-
You are all amazing. I LOVE YOU!
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.
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.
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, 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. 

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!

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.

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

On Fire!

Literally, Mt. Diablo, close by us, was on fire last night! It has been so hot lately I wonder if that was the cause. But we were driving back from Oakland last night, to see the orange flames and smoke billowing from behind the mountain. It was crazy! Thank Heavenly Father I did not wake up a crispy sister missionary this morning. Although I guess technically I wouldn't wake up...anyways it was far enough away we were ok. I think my emails have been getting crazier. It's because I left my safe little niche in Walnut Creek. Sorry I talk about dog bites, puddles of blood, and mountains on fire. Truly the end times!
Well transfer calls came, and for the first time in 5 transfers I am staying with my companion! I actually get to finish training Sister Evans! Our ward definitely needed some stability, we are both really happy. We are only switching out one sister in our district, and adding one elder. So now our district leader will be on bike and in a trio, training 2 elders. One of which will be a visa-waiter. We get a lot of those.
In other news, Sunday was great. We heard a testimony at "Why I Believe" fireside, about how one guy said if you think about a seed, how much nutrition and everyting it packs, it's all you need. Same thing with faith. It has everything we need. Also, I was so proud, Zaya spoke! Her English has gotten so good. She shared a very simple version of her story and how her heart has changed. Also in sacrament, we heard a good acronymn for times when you want to shrink, remember G.O.D. -Gratitude, Others examples/experiences, and Different perspective.
We found out our investigator is into Taro cards...I swear I will learn every weird thing a person can be into. Ok, that's probably not true, but it feels like it. I never imagined this would be an issue. But we will press forward teaching him that we need to turn to the scriptures and prayer for answers and guidance! When I was on exchanges, the elders tried to pass a drunk/high 33 year old man to us, while he was sitting around a camp fire in his backyard, after the fact that the cops had just left the house...the elders felt really bad after. We were glad they were there with us at least. Our poor member, it was her first time coming out with us...the sister I was on exchanges with commented how she felt bad we had to work with weirdos. Ha! So true. Mid singles in the world are so lost and confused without the gospel!!
Well, I love you all! Say your prayers and read your scriptures every day, it wll bring greater light to your life.
Sister Martin

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"Pour You Out A Blessing"

Hello Family,

One of our members talked to a man in the grocery store about how she was giving a talk on Sunday. She invited him, he came, he loved it, we are teaching him. She talked to another guy at the landromat about the law of chastity... but still she set up an appointment with us and him. Can I just say, the power of members finding is incredible. I told this to Mom in her email after she told me about the stake conference back home that talked about not just planting seeds, but harvesting! Whose work is this? Look what happened with one statement in General Conference, thousands of missionaries flooded the world. If He can move mountains, He can move people!

I had an interesting experience in the Samoan program when I was on exchanges. One of the members neighbors had tripped on the stairs on the apartment complex, hit the window with his head and had fallen to the ground. This all happened about an hour before we got there. Which explains the ambulance leaving right before we got there. And the fresh-ish looking puddle of blood we had to step over. Only Oakland/ least we found out it was an accident, not like a stabbing...I will send a picture...although one of our members got mugged this week, and now has a broken collarbone...

We are teaching a guy named Kevin. It's a long story how we got to teach him, but he is progressing, he came to church, and he even shared a testimony in sacrament fast and testimony meeting. He is set to be baptized in September! And his house in in the mountains, with craaaazy trails that look like you are about to drive off into a ravine(dont know how you spell it). 

Sorry if my emails are getting random. I think my brain has been fried this transfer. I feel like I am so busy, and I think about stuff to write you but then forget what it is. I will send some pics to make up for it. I remembered I never sent you a pic of sister Evens. This picture is us matching at Zone Conference. Then the puddle of blood. Then our district at the top of the hike last Monday, it was a great hike. If we come back together some time, we will go on it, it has a beautiful view of the bay.

LOVE YOU! Romans 1:16.

Sister Martin