Thursday, January 30, 2014

Are You Kidding Me!?

This week has been the biggest pouring of blessings and miracles I have ever seen. Every day with Sister Goddard is so diligent! She pushes me so hard, its great. I feel like she is training me! We knock doors every day now, even at night sometimes, just so we can talk to more people. You have to here in Alamo since it is all residential and really quiet. This has led to many many potentials and new investigators!! We also tracked almost every former investigator we could, no matter what, even if the address was wrong. This led to 10 NEW INVESTIGATORS IN ONE WEEK. We reset a baptismal date and even found families. We also tried less actives that no one seems to know about, all in one night the Lord allowed us to see them and get many return appointments.
One of our families, the Lincolns, we met door knocking. They were super open and the son is taking Japanese so he wanted to talk to my companion, who is half Japanese and speaks it. We went back to follow-up one night, and our member made treats. The dad answered and said they were having dinner, but he took the treats and said to try back at 4 the next week. Yay! So we came back, and the mom thanked us for the treats and let us in the home and we just had great conversation, which naturally turned to the gospel. It was there we asked if they had ever wondered why there were so many churches, they said "we were JUST talking about that the other night after you brought by the treats" and then we talked about the Book of Mormon, and they got so excited and said they would read it when the went to Tahoe that weekend, and even try to find an LDS church there! THEN we said we wanted to come back and talk about God's plan. We asked if she had ever wondered what her purpose was here. She responded "I have asked myself that question so many times in my life!!" We couldn't believe it. We are going back to see them this week to teach plan of salvation. The son wants to come to church so badly! He is so smart and kind and would add so much to the young men's program. They are amazing. We have tried the treats thing with a lot of people, and let me tell you it softens the heart like nothing else! We figured out people here need gifts. We are trying to have moral authority and get to know our neighbors and take them treats too haha.
Another miracle. We got a referral from some other missionaries in another area. All it said was "stevie. in his 20's, a rapper. lives on the first house on the___ street" we went to the street only to find it was gated. We went back one morning, praying we could just get in somehow, and literally as we pulled up a car came up behind us and pushed their remote, smoothly letting us in no problem. We went to the first house and they said he didn't live there, there were only 2 houses that even had younger people in it. She pointed to one saying it had college aged kids there. We were planning on that house since it was a different street than the one we were given, but we thought maybe it was the Spirit guiding us, or why not, but whatever the prompting it was inspired. We didn't ever meet Stevie that day, but we met Caitlyn. She was so amazing, looking to do mission service/peace corp types of things and it was so easy to talk with her! Weasked if we could come back to share a message and she said she was busy that week, but we asked what she was doing right then and she said "nothing really. i guess we could talk right now." so we went in, taught the restoration and asked what she would be willing to do if this was true. She said she would change everything!
We went back to visit an old referral from a member when Sister Olsen and I were together. She originally wanted to give us back our BOM. But we said we just wanted to come visit because she had been so nice to feed us and our member. She is a sweet Norwegian lady that recently lost her husband. We just had a very normal conversation. Then she was really intrigued by my companion's re-activation story, we explained a little about word of wisdom (one of her questions), and our simple testimonies of the Book of Mormon. We just casually said we needed to go, and on her own all the sudden she said "well maybe I will hold on to this a little longer and read some more." Wow! She said we could come back. Another heart softened! 

We have had to ride bikes twice so far this transfer and it gets so much better after the first time you do it. Our district is working really hard, and our total investigator pool is getting so much bigger! As a mission we have seen an increase in investigators lately. We are working on expecting to find daily and its really pushing us.
On top of this, we are getting swamped at church! We have almost 6-7 families setting up dinners with nonmember and less active friends and we got to speak to the young men about serving missions (which many are struggling with that decision) and we have a request to come help with seminary one morning and also take the Laurel aged young women out from a different ward that has elders. Last week we helped with Primary and Relief Society. Things are really starting to catch fire here and it is so exciting! We are working really hard to show the ward we are serious and trying to find on our own, and many are so surprised to hear about the miracles happening here.

Our zone got to go to the temple today. It was so cool being in a session with mostly set apart missionaries. And throughout the temple the workers just gush over you and make you feel like a rock star! Its moments like that when you never want to give up the tag! With all the miracles we have seen this week, we literally cannot stop smiling and screaming and are left to wonder. A typical night in our car lately consists of "Are you kidding me?!" "What just happened?!" It's amazing. I love being a missionary. I LOVE ALL OF YOU!!!
Sister Martin

Monday, January 20, 2014

A God of Miracles

Helloooo Family,

I love you all, thanks for all you do to email and pray for me. Keep supporting your local full time missionaries as well!

My new companion is Sister Goddard. She is amazing. She was born in Los Angeles, but came on her mission from Japan. She is half Japanese, and speaks it too. She is very driven and has already pushed me to work harder. She actually lived in San Francisco for a while before the mission, where her records were in the YSA ward, and that is where she just got done serving! She wasn't active at the time, so ironic part is as a missionary she saw her name on the records as a less active haha. Her story is incredible how she came back to the Church and her testimony is super solid now after some experiences with the Spirit in Tokyo Japan.

This week we knocked doors everyday, and we had at least 73 conversations about the gospel with an invitation extended to either nonmembers or less actives at doors or on the streets. We are working hard to find. Through this we saw many miracles. But before I explain them, I wanted to copy to you the definition of miracles from the Bible Dictionary:
"An important element in the work of Jesus Christ, being not only divine acts, but forming also a part of the divine teaching. Christianity is founded on the greatest of all miracles, the Resurrection of our Lord. If that be admitted, other miracles cease to be improbable. Miracles should not be regarded as deviations from the ordinary course of nature so much as manifestations of divine or spiritual power. Some lower law was in each case superseded by the action of a higher. They were intended to be a proof to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ (Matt. 11:4–5John 2:1110:2520:30–31)...Miracles were and are a response to faith and its best encouragement. They were never wrought without prayer, felt need, and faith.
It is important to notice the different names by which miracles are described. They are called signs, as being visible tokens of an invisible power; they are powers or mighty works, because they are the acts of One who is almighty; they are simply works, or the natural results of the Messiah’s presence among men; they are wonders, marvels, because of the effect produced on those who saw them...
Miracles are a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If miracles cease it is because faith has ceased. See Mark 6:5–6Morm. 9:10–20Ether 12:12."
Notice what I bolded. So saying it is manifestations of His power in His work, than if you want your faith built, talk to your local full time missionary and ask about the miracles they see. So sometimes I share what I consider miracles, and maybe not everyone agrees, they think missionaries just think anything positive happens is a miacle. Well you would too, if you saw what happens 90% of the time. But its the 10% that makes it all worth it. So this week in Alamo, Miracle 1)Finding a former investigator from Houston Texas ready to learn 2)you would never think knocking doors would produce someone prepared, wrong. A mom and son want us to come back, they happen to love Japan and my companion happens to be from there 3)we found out an apostle is coming to our mission, and its before I go home. These are just a few little things of God putting people in our path to show us that He knows us and loves us. His work is so well orchestrated, I don't believe it needs to always be a miraculous healing to be considered a miracle. It can just be those "coincidences" in life we take for granted. Like John Bytheway says, how many times do we pray to get home safely and we actually do? Do we thank Him? Our lives are miracles!! We need to share miracles and experiences with people, and that is one of the biggest ways to build faith.
I love you, God lives.
Sister Martin

P.S. I have the temple next week, so my P-day will actually be Wednesday, so thats why you will not hear from me until then.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Missionary Life

Hello Family,

How are you?

This week we went on exchanges and then a few days later got a call from the sisters saying to not freak out, but their ward had a breakout of lice. They said we needed to come get it checked immediately. Then we realized we had borrowed the elders bikes after the exchanges. So then we had to call the elders cause we had to wear the helmets (don't worry we put paper towels in them). Six missionaries getting checkd for lice on a Friday night=party. Siiiiiiick. No worries, I am clean!!! Thank goodness.

In other news, transfer calls came. I will officially be staying/dying in Alamo. However, Sister Olsen will not. She get surprise transfer call Saturday morning, she is going to Oakland 9th, which is inner city, where I used to do exchanges. She is really lucky, that will be an awesome last area. She also got released as Sister Training Leader. I am getting a new companion on Tuesday, Sister Goddard. She has been out almost 9 months, and will be another Sister Trainer Leader with me, so basically I have to train her up as STL, so President had to separate Sis Olsen and I ( alot of the leaders are leaving next transfer with me). But from what I have heard, Sister Goddard will probably be training me, she is a fireball and a hard worker, so Alamo will only continue to get better.

One of our less actives is really starting to love our lessons and the Spirit he is feeling. He is a personal football coach/trainer that played for Cal Poly and helps kids now. We had to go to the football field at the local high school to teach him one night. He had a football in one hand and The Book of Mormon in the other. We had a great talk about Alma 32 and he said he believes Joseph Smith was a prophet-"why wouldn't God call another prophet?" Amazing, we know through his example, his nonmember wife and son will want to learn more.

I love feeling the Spirit so much as a missionary. It always comforts and inspires me, and truly is a companion. I know as we study the word of God daily and share the gospel, we can all have the Spirit, the best feeling in the world, with us always.

Much Love,
Sister Martin

1. All the amazing sisters in the Walnut Creek Zone that we went on exchanges with!!
2. SICK. Lice check...
3. on bikes again....haha 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Calling Down the Powers of Heaven

This week has been mind blowing with miracles!
First of all, Sister Olsen and I have set goals and started applying having better prayers, and relying on the Spirit more. We are praying for fervently for missionary opportunities and for our members to have missionary opportunities.
Praying for Baptism
On exchanges, I was in Alamo with Sister Pena. We were trying a lot of potentials that weren't home, we weren't getting in anywhere, and finally I talked with Heavenly Father and said this isn't working. Help us be guided to those being prepared for baptism. We have changed our prayers to not just find someone, but find someone ready to be baptized. We felt prompted to go to a certain park. We pulled up in the parking lot and Sister Pena gets out first and says hi to the first lady we see right next to us in the car with her window cracked down. The lady is really nice, and SHE starts the conversation. She is from Thailand, and likes that we are missionaries, she wants to be one, she is looking at different churches. She then asks a golden question 'I've always wondered what the difference was between Mormons and other religions. Can you tell me?" We'd thought noone would ever ask haha. I asked her if she had a few minutes right then. She said yes of course and we got out, found a bench, and offered a prayer, taught the Restoration, and committed her to baptism. SHE SAID YES. To all those who read this, I want you to know that Heavenly Father is real, He knows us, He listens to us, and He answers us. This is His work, we need to help Him hasten it, but we need to ask and then seek. By the way this woman's name is Seeve, if you could keep her in your prayers, we are meeting with her again tonight.
Praying for Our Members
We have really been praying for our members to have missionary opportunities in almost every prayer we offer. We have been trying to visit members and help them pray for them too. One of our members gave us a referral, he arranged for us to have dinner with her, and she wasn't really taking the invitation to learn more from us, but when we said the prayer at the end of the night, the Spirit filled the room and she was softened. I bore my testimony to her and opened up to Alma 40 to talk about her husband that had passed. We asked her to finish the chapter, she accepted, and asked if we could call her to follow up and we got her number. Then we are working with a member of the stake presidency in our ward. He has been wanting to invite 2 families to meet with us. One is a part member family and the other is somewhat less active and needs the lessons. We finally went over there to see how it was going and he said he was going to send an email invite to them. We have been praying this would go well, we know he has really thought and prayed about this. This morning we got a text saying BOTH accepted his invitation to meet with us.

Praying for a Missionary Minded Sacrament
A lot of our ward is wonderful, but also very comfortable. They don't talk much about missionary work or simple doctrine and testimony in sacrament. We have been a little frustrated with the quality of our church meetings, and when we went to Mission Leadership Council this week, both Sister Olsen and I had the thought that we would love it if President Meredith could come fire up our ward. Turns out, yesterday was the second Sunday in a row we had a general authority come randomly! This week was Elder Packer, from the area 70, who is INCREDIBLE with missionary work and extremely motivating and inspiring. He takes his priesthood duty seriously and is on board with President Monson on hastening the work. He gave the last testimony. It was incredible. He had all the deacons/those who helped passed the sacrament, he called them out by name and said thank you to them in front of everyone, he said "No one else will bless and sanctify my soul this week. Thank you for changing my life this week." He was so full of fire and recognized my companion and I's testimony as well as the brother who bore his testimony on taking us to dinner with that referral. He talked about how the only problem this ward should have is that the building is too small to fit everyone!!! And said amen and sat down. A lot of the ward and the youth were inspired. No one knew why he was there, my companion and I almost couldn't believe how obviously answered we were.
Praying for East Bay
I have been thinking about the singles ward since I left. I ran into the missionaries from my old district and zone and asked how it was doing. They said they all are really praying to find for East Bay. I was so touched of the team effort, and decided I would really keep praying even harder for that ward to keep doing well. I got an incredible email from Sister Evans (who is tearing it up there! so proud) and she told me of numerous people we had taught and helped who are now passing sacrament, going through the temple, going out with the missionaries, becoming fully active, and receiving callings! There was even a story of a lady who I STILL REMEMBER contacting at night once in a trailer park. We invited her to church and she said not right now and just looked so sad. After really trying, we finally had to leave. In the car I remember Sister Evans and I both saying how odd that was, we felt really good about her. Even though she told us no, we felt she really wanted to say yes. We tried inviting her to an activity a month later, but no response. Then Sister Evans called me recently and said you will never guess. This lady (named Laura) CALLED THEM and said "does church still start at 1?" MIRACLES!
I know this church is true. We have revelation today. We have the priesthood which allows us to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. I know God answers our prayers. He loves us, and I love Him.
Sister Martin