Monday, December 30, 2013

Felez Navidad!!:) and Prospero Ano

 I love being a missionary. It literally is the dream life, and especially at this time of year when hearts are lighter and more open to hear about our Savior Jesus Christ. One of my favorite parts about this Christmas was that I got to see you guys! I was so happy and felt like I was in a dream, your smiling faces lit up this girl's face. I love you, and I hope you know that. I also realized that I love this time of the year and the gospel of Jesus Christ because it centers around Love. A love for God, Jesus Christ, others and ourselves. All that we do in the gospel is based off of love. And as a missionary (I don't know if this is creepy or not...totally not) but I LOVE everything, everyone and every time. I can't stop smiling and talking to complete strangers and sharing the best part about my life and my family's life. God really is a being of Love and wants us to love Him and each other. We can be filled with it everyday, and man--it makes life SO much better.
 
Miracles have been happening right and left and it has been a CRAZY busy week. We taught over 40 lessons this past week and the amazing part about this ward is that almost all the lessons were with a member or in their home. The work of the Lord is truly hastening and to see it first hand is the one of the coolest things that I have ever experienced in my whole life.
 
Juan, the man that we met in the street the other day is preparing to be baptized at the end of January. AMAZING. On Christmas Eve, we met with him and a member and he said that he is out of the house because all of his friends where drinking and he didn't want to be apart of it. He said, "I just feel like it is time to change. I need God." Half in shock, we taught the restoration. He comes to church, he reads, and he wants to be baptized. Afterwards, the ward members invited him over to spend Christmas Eve with them. It was truly a Christmas MIRACLE.
 
Christmas eve and Christmas as a missionary was something so unreal and indescribable. Christmas eve we actually taught a lot of lessons to investigators. We also went caroling as a district. This was like pretty hard-core caroling though. We went to an apartment complex and we knocked all the doors on a floor and then starting singing Christmas Hymns in Spanish. All the Hispanics would come out and listen. It was amazing. We had a lot of people after ask of if we could come back and teach their families! Miracles. One family is really interested, and apparently was familiar with the church in Bolivia, but wants to know more!! So much singing! I love it! After, we went to some of our investigators, and then Javier, Emma and Vanessa's (who is the coolest family I have ever had the chance to meet and teach on my mission). Since Hispanics celebrate Christmas on Noche Buena, which is the night before, we had a huge dinner with them and share the Christmas story with them. We exchanged some gifts and they were in tears. We gave them a pin of the temple and Javier said to us---"It is my biggest goal and biggest dream to enter into these doors." WOW! Javier and Vanessa are set to get married soon so they can finally be baptized! They are so ready and we are so excited for all the changes they are making. Christmas day was so much fun! We did a lot of service and part of that was singing at an old folks home! I will never forget this Christmas because it was honestly one of the most fun, and most fulfilling. Seeing all these people I love so much and serving them, and serving our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ---there is NOTHING like it.
 
Shout-out: THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO SENT OUT CHRISTMAS CARDS AND GIFTS! It made my Christmas and meant the world to me! I loved it! Thank you!
 
Ana is a miracle. We were out walking to a lesson, and then we heard "Hermanas!" There was Ana, a investigator the missionaries taught a long time ago. She invited us to come and teach her and help her come closer to Christ. We were so excited, and even more excited to see that she had read in the Book of Mormon when we got there! She is going to be baptized sooooo soon too! I can't wait for her. She is so sincere and really wants to know what will help her to be a good person and mother. The cool thing is, is that the Gospel really is the answer to that. There is no "how to be a good parent" book out there. That is why God gave us the Gospel and the scriptures.
 
Amazing things are happening in this ward I can't even describe it all! But one thing I do know for sure is that member missionary work is the best way to do this great work. Members here are catching the vision of inviting friends over and sharing the gospel with us there! The other night we taught a lesson with 5 investigators of a some friends of Hermana Miranda (a lady in the ward)! She is amazing! At that lesson, we had a pretty cool experience there that caused me to do a LOT of reflection on my life--who am I? Who do I want to be? what goals do I have for my life? As the Spirit guided the lesson we talked about faith and setting goals. I realized that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance and living the Gospel principles we can do and become all things God wants us to be! God wants us to succeed and be happy. If we set high goals, I know we can achieve them---and He will help us every step of the way!
 
Thank you so much for being you, I love you. Also I hope you take this time of year and do a LOT of reflection on who you are, who you want to be and how you can more fully make Jesus Christ the CENTER of your life and everything that you are. I know that as I have put His will first and done the best I can to give all to Him, I have been happier and have seen miracles happen everyday. HAPPY NEW YEAR! The beauty of the Gospel, I am seeing it more and more everyday is that we have a Savior, Jesus Christ. That through Him, and only through Him, can we reach our full potential, change from our "fallen" state, and become glorified. That is all I want. I hope this new year finds you making some awesome goals. Don't be afraid to reach for the stars! If you rely on Christ and have faith in Him, He will help you achieve them. I love you and pray for you always! Have a wonderful week and BE SAFE!!
 
STAND STRONG.

Hermana Weenig
Christmas dinner with Javier, Vanessa and Emma and Family!

Christmas day!! Sang at the Old Folk's home! This lady was from France! We became best friends and she said she will take me to France after my mission! :)

Best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

Our Christmas tree and p-jays on Christmas eve! CLASSIC!



We had the amazing opportunity to tour George Washington's home! What an incredible leader and man.


 

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Best Christmas Present Ever

 I love being a missionary. This past week was a week of change, miracles and MORE MIRACLES. Christmas time=everyone wants to come unto Christ, and it has been 70 degrees or higher and so we have had a BLAST caroling and teaching and serving EVERY single person we see. But before I tell you anything else, can I just tell you about the best Christmas present I have received so far?...
 
SANDRA GOMEZ got baptized yesterday!!!! I am so happy that I can't even type on this keyboard right now. The people in the library that we are at probably think I am totally creepy because I can't stop smiling. That is OK, because I am so happy!! The story of Sandra is really something quite amazing. Back in September, my companion and I were out knocking doors trying to find someone to teach. We weren't having any luck, in fact all of the doors that we were knocking on were just slamming the door in our face. Instead of getting down, we decided to pray. We asked Heavenly Father, "Where do you want us to go?" After praying I told my companion I think we need to go over to the corner of that street and just stand and wait. My companion probably thought I was a crazy person, but she just smiled and agreed. So we went and we stood--Not a Hispanic in sight. We sat there for about five minutes and then we started to get a little anxious. "Why would the Lord send us here?" I thought to myself. And then it happened. Across the way, there stood Vivi--a member from our ward that we had been working with a lot. Next to her, was her roommate and best friend, which was Sandra. We ran up to start talking to Vivi. Vivi introduced us to Sandra, her roommate. We all walked back to the house together and we invited Sandra to listen to a spiritual message. From that point on, Sandra chose to take the discussions, has been coming to church, reading the Book of Mormon and feasting upon the truth. She has come a long way. She had a lot of hard things happen to her in her life, but she kept going---and was finally made free from all of her guilt YESTERDAY!!! WAHOOO!! Her roommate said, "I never would've thought to share the Gospel with Sandra, but look at her now...a new woman!" WHAT A MIRACLE! Sandra was so happy yesterday and was glowing. Seeing her go down into the water and becoming totally clean and deciding to follow Christ and give Him her all was the most beautiful, inspiring and best Christmas present I could have ever received. But she didn't do it for us....she did it for God. She has taught me so much especially that it really doesn't matter what other people think---sometimes we obsess about how we are viewed in the eyes of others--Sandra truly has it ingrained in her that the only opinion and thoughts that matter are the ones that God has of us. And she understood in order to be in the right path, she needed to be baptized. Half of the ward turned out to the baptism and are helping her grow! I was asked to sing "Yo se que vive mi senor" at her baptism and every time I sing that song now...it seems to become more real. I really do know that my Redeemer lives and that because of Him I can change and become more like God. I want to be like Sandra---only worrying about what HE thinks.
 
TRANSFERS! I am no longer in Alexandria! I am in Annadale, VA...which is right next to my old area. I HAVE DREAMED OF COMING TO THIS AREA, and I can't believe I am here! And what is even better is that my companions are my DREAM companions! Hermana Dopp and I are still serving as sister training leaders and we are loving it! I love her SO MUCH! She is a wonderful example and influence on me. We served side by side in Alexandria for 4 months, but were never companions, just in the same district. We both said that we couldn't ask for anything better for Christmas! And I get the honor and pleasure to work with another wonderful sister missionary this transfer! We are in a trio--Hermana Sorenson! I LOVE HER SO MUCH! She really is a ray of light and I can't wait to get to know her more! They are both from Utah and they are the hardest working missionaries EVER. We have set some SUPER high goals for this transfer and are being ambitious enough to BREAK mission records. It is the time. This ward is AMAZING. I was actually roped into singing a solo my first Sunday in the ward! They had me sing "I heard the bells on Christmas day," in Spanish. It was a blast, my companions even came up and sing a part of it with me! I love them (they are troopers)! The ward LOVES the missionaries here and they are SO ready to work...it is amazing! We can't wait to work with them and involve them. It is truly amazing. We have some incredible investigators that are reading the Book of Mormon and that are coming to church and preparing to be baptized in January. I can't wait to work here and to work side by side some of the greatest missionaries to walk the earth.
 
I love and will dearly miss Old Town. I feel like they are now my family and I cried a lot when I had to leave. But I was so happy as well..To see all of the changes and all the people coming to Christ and to know that I will be seeing them again soon. They all made me promise to come back after my mission. It was so special and such an honor to work with the members, investigators, less actives and families in that area. It will ALWAYS hold a special place in my heart. I love those people so much, and it wasn't the easiest thing to leave them, but I know it is what the Lord needs and wants so I will do it.
 
Amazing miracle! Just this past Friday we were out street contacting and teaching and singing to everyone we passed, we were having a blast and were guided by the Spirit to this older man named Juan. We started to talk to Juan. He was a bit cold to us at first and then we sang "Joy to the World" and explained to him that because our Savior has come, that we have the chance to change and become like God. His face lit up. He told us that he wants to change and repent and come closer to Christ but doesn't know how. We invited him to come to church, he ACCEPTED!!!! WOW! He said he really wants to start following Jesus Christ. We had the faith that he would come, but it was just a street contact so we weren't sure. But then! We called him Sunday morning to invite him and he was so excited to come! AMAZING! He was in church and stayed for all 3 hours! HE LOVED IT! He will get baptized soon I know it!
 
For the first time on my mission we are teaching an ENTIRE family who is all interested and are all progressing. They are amazing! Their names are Javier, Emma and Vanessa! They are from Honduras, and every time we teach them, they have studied the book of Mormon, the pamphlets and the bible, and so they already know what we are going to teach. They are going to be getting baptized soon, after Javier and Emma get married! :) We are so excited for them and teaching them has been so cool because we have honestly been able to see how Heavenly Father has carefully prepared them to hear the Gospel and accept it. It has been AMAZING.
 
I could sit here and tell you about miracles for hours, but I don't have enough time to do that. Just know that the work is HASTENING. Miracles happen every day multiple times a day. IT IS AMAZING. I love this great work. I love Spanish. I love these people. I love my companions. I love this area. and I love this Gospel. I love my Savior. I love change.
 
It has been quite the week, we are SO busy and I love it. We are working really hard to get this area on FIRE and I know it will be soon. It is really nice because it is about 70 degrees outside right now. It is raining, but it is WARM. No coat, no tights and I am loving life!!! Christmas time as a missionary is amazing. So much cheer, joy and so many people home! Also, it is amazing to be here, helping other change their lives and come closer to Christ. I am so happy and I can't even stop smiling.
 
I love you all so much and I hope that you have the BEST Christmas season and best Christmas EVER. This year I have learned a whole new meaning of Christmas. Divided up, Christmas is---"Christ" "mas". "mas" in Spanish means "more". Which would mean that Christmas means "more Christ." I thought to myself, "shouldn't we CONSTANTLY be trying to put MORE CHRIST in our lives, things work out better that way." I realized that Christmas is about giving, not getting. But more importantly it is giving our WHOLE heart, mind, desires, wishes and time, and might to Christ. Those really are the only things that we can GIVE to Christ....and in return He gives us SO much more. He is the master of the masterpiece of our lives...and if we just give Him the "paint brush" and quit trying to do it ourselves He will make us and build us into who we are meant to become. When we give ourselves as gifts to Christ, it means to dedicate our life to Him and serving Him. That is what I want to do for now and for the rest of my life. I am so happy and so honored to be serving our King this Christmas and for all the Christmases from here on out. :) I hope this Christmas is the BEST!
 
Merry Christmas!
 
STAND STRONG.

Hermana Weenig
Vivi, me, Sandra, Hermana Simpson and her new companion Hermana Ward.
Hermana Simpson, Sandra and I at her baptism!! SO HAPPY FOR HER!
My family away from my family...the Castaneda family
The Rojas family and our investigator Ruben from Old Town! I love and will miss them!

Jaqueline and Ricardo. Love them. Ricardo WILL be baptized one day.

Reyna and I. Hard Goodbye.

Jill, love her.

 Larry and Krista. Musical genius. With their doggy "Mozart". 
In the recording studio with Larry Clowes! 

Hermana Simpson and I consider it to have been the "best p-day ever."








Monday, December 16, 2013

The MOST Wonderful Time of the Year

I LOVE being a missionary. I am SO happy, can't stop smiling, working hard and I am so tired! But I love it! We have been running a MARATHON for the past week...we have just worked, worked and worked and this week flew by! Anyways miracles and miracles have been happening and if I wasn't seeing all them for myself I probably wouldn't believe it. God really has not ceased to be a God of miracles, and when we show Him that we totally and completely trust in Him, He causes HUGE miracles to happen in our lives...miracles within ourselves and miracles in the lives of others. I love this time of year...people seem to be more cheery and open to hear the Gospel.
 
ADLA BETANCOUR was BAPTIZED on Saturday!!! WAHOOO!! :)  The choirs of angels sing!!! We were so happy and so excited for her. She is literally the strongest 14 year old girl I have ever seen! Seeing Adla from when we first found her and started teaching her a little bit with her mom, Jill (who was baptized a few weeks ago) to now....it is like she is a completely different person and it truly is quite amazing to see how much she has grown and has allowed the atonement to work in her life. Adla is from Columbia, and is the most mature and most sincere human I think I know. She has a heart of gold. Once she understood that baptism is literally like a rebirth and a changing of heart, she told us that she wanted to be baptized on December 14, which was her actual birthday! It was so cool!! She was re-born on her birthday!! :) The bishop was there and told Adla, "You can now celebrate December 14 as the day that you were physically born and spiritually born!" How cool is that! Lucky gal. I will never forget the Spirit that I felt as Adla went down into the waters. A less active member baptized her, and that was yet another miracle!! Another miracle was that one of our other investigators gave the closing prayer!!! WOW! Hno. Tapia called us early that morning and asked if we could perfeorm "Yo se que vive mi senor." We did. Something incredible happened. EVERYONE that was there was weeping after the baptism and that song. It was either a miracle or I have totally lost all ability to sing on pitch. But the Spirit was so strong, and Jill was so proud of Adla. It really has been amazing to see the ward taking her in. Adla said, "I feel so happy, peaceful and free." I will never forget that. Those truly are the blessings of true repentance and following our Savior Jesus Christ. I realized while watching Adla get baptized that we have the opportunity to feel free, happy and peaceful in every moment of our lives...through repentance and faith. MIRACLES HAPPEN. I will never forget Adla. She is like a best friend and sister. And she told us that she will always be grateful "for the angels God sent to her to show her Christ's way." Amazing.
 
Side story: Anyways, the night before her baptism as we were just talking to her and resolving her doubts and fears about being baptized...we realized that they didn't have the means to make her a cake or get her anything for her birthday. They are still looking for somewhere to live...so that was the last thing on Jill's mind. Adla asked her mom, "Mom, can I PLEASE have a tres leches cake for my birthday." Jill said, "Adla, I don't know." That is when we chimed in. "We will make the cake!" I realized that we had the reciepe from Hermana Aiquipa, an orginal Peruvian reciepe, and said that we would be happy to make it. After the day was done, we were happily making the MOST delicious tres leches cake ever!! It turned out! And Adla was so surprised!! Half the ward turned out for her baptism and they were so loving and supportive! CHRISTMAS MIRACLE! Hna. Teeter, who is from Guatamela, said that we can get married now because we are professional bakers. I laughed so hard.
 
Music. Before my mission many told me that music would be a huge part of my mission, but I never realized just how much until now. We are being asked to perform all over the place and HUGE miracles are happening! So a famous conductor, Larry Clowes, who plays 21 instruments and has travelled all over the world writing music and directing Handel's Messiah, has been working with us missionaries. He hasn't been super active in the church, but the stake president asked that 4 zones of the missionaries (about 50 of us) perform a song at the Stake Christmas Concert. Some of the missionaries had been working with Larry and invited him to come work with us. He is an amazing musician. Only 5 people in the world got to play the organ at the Cathedral in D.C. and he is one of them. I was super intimidated by him, but then realized he is such a powerful, inspirational leader. He gave me sheet music from the Hymn book and then told me, "You are a musician. Do not play the notes on the page...make this hymn sing. I believe in you." A miracle happened. I was able to add in and completely change the arrangement. It was so exhilarating to work under and play under such a director. My companion got to play the keyboard and we set up pretty much like a WHOLE orchestra. It was INCREDIBLE. After a lot of hard work and practicing with the missionaries, Larry transformed us into something incredible. I have never heard such a powerful song with so much passion and Spirit. Well, yesterday we presented the piece in front of like 700 hundred people. All the missionaries entered humming "Called to Serve" and then we sang. I have never felt so filled with passion, happiness and power as I did when I played that piece and the missionaries sang. It was INCREIDLBE!! We received a standing ovation, and people where amazed. WOW. After, a lady ran up to Larry and I and said, "True musicians take you on a journey, and you are changed when you are done. You two did that to me tonight, thank you!" That is what happens when angels are singing and the Spirit touches the hearts of the people. A HUGE miracle happened while we were performing. Apparently an investigator in the audience was sitting by the Mount Vernon stake president. After we finished performing, he leaned over to him and said, "President, I just felt something I have never felt before in my entire life---and I want to be baptized. But I want THOSE missionaries to baptize me. Here is my number, address and date I want to be baptized." WOAH!!! The power of music and the spirit is real!!! Amazing! It was seriously so beautiful and I feel so honored I got to accompany such an incredible choir. Miracles happen.
 
Speaking of music, we were also asked to perform "What Child is this?" for the entire mission at the Christmas mission conference we had this week. It was so amazing! The Spirit was so strong, and I don't know what happened but everyone loved it. There were tears. "This, this is Christ the king." I love that song and the message it brings. Because of Jesus Christ our Savior we are able to be healed, to change and to go through this crazy journey of life with hope for the future and all that He has in store for us.
 
Speaking of practicing for that song...one day we were practicing in the chapel for the mission conference before we were going to have missionary choir practice and Larry stepped in. I was scared out of my mind to sing in front of him, but something told me to keep going. He slowly walked up to the stage and asked..."what are you doing next p-day?" and I said "preparing for the week." He said, "I would like to invite you to come record a song in my studio!!" WOW!!!!! My companion and I are so excited! So after this, I will be heading over to record a spiritual song at Larry's studio!! What a miracle!
 
It has been a week of EXCHANGES! We did 2 exchanges back to back and it was exhausting! But, oh, how I love seeing all the hermanas and working with them. They truly are beacons of virtue, truth and light! I got to exchange with Hermana Allen, who was my companion back in July. I love that girl! It has been really fun, tiring and amazing to be able to spend time with them, help them conquer their battles and cry with them and rejoice with them. The missionaries in this mission are made of gold. I love them so much, and feel so lucky to work with them. I also got to go on exchanges with Hermana Memmont! She said we "taught up a storm!" We did! It was so fun, and it has been really cool to travel the mission and see all the different areas and meet all the investigators of the missionaries. THIS WORK TRULY IS HASTENING!!! I love it SOOOOO MUCH! Being a sister trainer leader is a lot of work, but I am so grateful to be in the service of these wonderful ladies.
 
Danilio Molina CAME TO CHURCH and all of our recent converts came to church!! IT WAS A MIRACLE!!! Danilio, is a inactive member that we met back in July and we had lost contact completely with him. We got a call Saturday night from an unknown number. We picked it up....IT WAS DANILIO! He said he wanted to come to church and to let him how to get a ride! AMAZING! And when he walked into the chapel with his kids I JUMPED and RAN out of my seat because I was SO HAPPY and so EXCITED! WHAT A MIRACLE! That was his first time in church for 3 years. Amazing things are happening, and it is so great to see all these recent converts...Juana, Reyna, Jill and Adla all preparing to enter the temple. Wow. I couldn't ask for anything more.
 
Joel Giron is also a miracle in the making. He is preparing to be baptized in January, and is drinking up the Gospel. He is changing more and more everyday and was so happy to find out where his mom is now that she has passed on. Ramon Castro gave up coffee. AMAZING....so many changes. That is what the Gospel is all about. Using the Atonement of Christ and confiding in Him and letting His grace change us and mold us into something much better than we could be on our own.
 
We also had mission leadership conference this week. They highlighted our area, because apparently we broke a whole bunch of records or something in the mission. They said that our companionship has started a fire and put the fire under a LOT of missionaries to work harder and find the Lord's lost sheep. Numbers really mean nothing to me, but it is the PEOPLE behind those numbers and the changes and the miracles that are happening in their lives. I am so grateful that the Lord is working with them through us so that they can change and come closer to God. They said "Success breeds success." and I also KNOW that faith in Jesus Christ and letting HIM TAKE CONTROL ALSO brings SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS! :)
 
Thank you SO much for all of your love, support, prayers and EVERYTHING. I hope you are enjoying the Christmas spirit as much as I am. I love this great work, and I love YOU. You are always in my heart and in my prayers. I count my lucky stars that you are my friends and family and that we have been given our Savior Jesus Christ to lead the way and heal us and make us better than we are on our own. Give your life over to our Savior. Rely on Him. He has already been through everything that you are going through and experiencing and he can make your heart feel light. Let Him.
 
STAND STRONG.
 
Hermana Weenig
 Me, Adla, Hna. Simpson and Jill on the day of Adla's baptism! AMAZING!

Adla and I! She is so incredible.

Tres leches cake we made for Adla!

 The ward family at Adla's baptism! I love these people so much!

Danilio's little boy, Leo! He is so cute! I got to entertain him during church so that Danilio could actually listen! haha

 Larry Clowes, Hna. Simpson and I after performing at the Christmas concert! What a BLAST!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Let it Snow! (The Field is Now Literally White)

I love being a missionary. I can't even being to tell you how much I love it and how much I just wish there was more time in the day. I never want to stop doing this!!! I love this place, the people, the language and EVERYTHING....even the snow....I may or may not be joking about the snow part! But it is starting to look like December! It was 70 degrees on Thursday and now it is an icebox. Apparently it hasn't snowed here like this in 3 years! The "snow" is what in Utah we call frost. But, they literally cancelled church yesterday! And unfortunately our baptism got moved to this week, because they cancelled EVERYTHING.  We were so excited for everything that was happening yesterday, we had 5 people coming to church and a baptism that night, and then--our ward mission leader called us, "Hermanas, the stake president said everything is to be cancelled, including the baptism." "Everything??!" We said with our dreams crushed. "Yes. Everything." It is okay though, because Sandra is getting baptized this week still and hopefully everyone that was planning on church will come again next week! School, church, some jobs, EVERYTHING=cancelled today. It is a HUGE tender mercy though, because now it means that everyone is going to be home and we can teach them as families today! YES!
 
Miracles are happening right and left and I wish I had all the time in the world to tell you about every single one. I truly do know that the Lord is preparing so many people and is not only "Hastening" the work via His missionary force, but He is "Hastening" the preparedness of the people here and all over the world. It is amazing to see.
 
Joel. We met him and his family back in August, through street contacting. They were the miracle family that wanted to get baptized and gave us tres leches for my birthday, and then suddenly they disappeared. We were really confused because we KNEW they were golden, but every single time that we would go over there, no one would answer the door and we finally stopped. We called and called and called and tried and tried and tried to see them again, but nothing ever happened. Our hearts were broken, because we had felt like we had been led and guided there to teach, love and serve them. Well, I am going to tell you the moral of the miracle before I tell you the miracle. Moral: GOD HAS HIS TIMING FOR EVERYTHING. IT IS NOT ALWAYS OUR TIMING, but if we are patient and listen to the Holy Ghost, God will lead us to be exactly where we need to be when we need to be there. He also prepares everyone to receive the Gospel in their own time and in their own way. Miracle: So, we were driving down the street and I was looking outside the window, when suddenly something caught my eye. Hanging outside of his truck window was Joel--WAVING at us trying to get our attention! I hadn't seen him since August!!! And there he was. I did a double take to make sure it wasn't a mirage. It was him!! Quickly, I rolled down the window of the car and started talking with him, and set up an appointment with him before the light turned green---and then we were off! On Saturday we went to see him. Turns out, some pretty horrible trials have been happening in his life. His family left him, his mom died and he couldn't live in his house for a time. That explained why we could never find him or his family. He said that his life isn't anything like he had hoped or wished. He feels like trial after trial is hitting him, and doesn't know what to do or what his purpose in life is. The Spirit was so strong in that lesson. I honestly knew that we had been sent to him in a moment of desperation. He told us how he wants to turn his life around, come to church and come closer to Christ because now he has NO ONE. Its sad, but true, that sometimes the Lord has to give us hard times so that we can learn, grow and progress in this life. After we shared parts of the incredible plan of salvation, Joel told us that he knows that we are angels sent here from God to help him find his way back. I got the chills up and down my spine. He is now preparing to be baptized. What is even more amazing is that his apartment is a floor below where 2 members of our ward live. PERFECT. WHAT A MIRACLE. God is preparing people, and everyone will hear the Gospel when they are ready.
 
I can't tell you what is like to see people using the atonement of Jesus Christ to change their lives. Adla and Sandra, the two that are getting baptized, haven't had easy lives. But, despite all opposition and trials, have decided to follow Christ and live His Gospel. Christ is changing them and carrying through every day. I AM SO HAPPY FOR THEM. I can't stop smiling...it hurts. Anyways, Sandra (age 26) will be getting baptized in the next couple of days and Adla's (Age 13) baptism will be this Saturday (her birthday). She said that she wanted to get baptized on her birthday, because it will be her "born again" birthday as well. Oh, the joy! Sandra passed her interview!!!! She is so excited and she told us the other night, "I feel like I am finally where God needs and wants me to be." MIRACLES!!! But what has truly been amazing is to see the member involvement with all of our investigators. We have members at almost EVERY single one of our lessons! They are starting to catch the vision of missionary work and how amazing it is to help and see someone changing and accepting the Gospel in their lives. But the amazing thing is, is that you don't have to be a missionary to see that. There are so many people around you that could use the good news of Christ. I hope you take every single moment that you can to share it. And family---WAHOO! Keep up the amazing work with working with the missionaries! I am so inspired and proud of you!
 
Anyways, we had zone conferences this week and it was all about Repentance and faith. I learned something very important. We get to DECIDE who we are going to become. Heavenly Father has given us the power to choose.  We are free to act and choose. We can choose to be captive or choose to be free (2 Nephi 2:26). We can also choose to repent and change. "Repent" used to be a scary word. But it is not. It is a beautiful opportunity to chance that we each get to change. Be a little bit better every single day. We have all been redeemed by Jesus Christ. It is like a gift card. We have all been given the gift card of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, because He ALREADY paid for the punishment and hurt of our sins, so we don't have to go through it. All we have to do is USE the gift! Get on our knees, be humble, and rely on Christ to make our weaknesses become strong (Ether 12:27). It has been a miracle to see this happen over and over again to people out here and to me. WE DON'T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE! Even if we feel like we do---remember you are NEVER alone! You have access to the greatest gift! And the Savior will carry your load for you, if you rely on Him and use the incredible gift He has given to you. :) He will shape you into a masterpiece, if you let him.
 
Ramon is getting baptized on the 28 of the December!!! So is Marta Lida!!! We are SOOOOO excited for them and all the changes that they are making! Marta Lida has been reading the Book of Mormon everyday, and even though her life is crazy, she says that it makes her life easier and more able to do all the many things throughout her day! MIRACLE!
 
Sister Training leader-ing is really fun! It is keeping us REALLY busy, but I love it so much. My companion is wonderful and we are working really hard to love and serve the sisters here and just give all of ourselves to this great work. I love it.
 
The miracle of the choir director--a true leader. Larry Clowes is an incredible leader. Originally, I was leading and directing a choir of 4 different missionary zones in preparation for a Christmas concert here, and then we contacted Clowes, a professional conductor, to help out (I needed the help, I have never directed a choir before). He changed the missionary choir from a closet full of mice to an angelic choir of angels! It was a miracle! I told Larry to "take it away" and now I am playing the piano! It has been really cool to see how the Spirit has enhanced the talents and efforts of all of us as missionaries. I think the song is going to be a powerful influence on all who will hear it this coming weekend! I saw first hand how passion, enthusiasm and vision in a leader and make little things into GRAND, AMAZING and INCREDIBLE things. I want to be a leader like that....seeing the greater vision and expanding the visions in others. Definition of a true leader: Helping other people to see that there is so much more potential with in them than they think and helping them get there.
 
Speaking of singing and music! My companion and I have been asked to do 4 different musical numbers around the ward, mission, and zone this next week! She plays so beautifully, and I try to sing some notes. It is A LOT of fun and I am now realizing that music plays a HUGE part in inviting the Spirit and teaching investigators, ward members and EVERYONE. I LOVE MUSIC!
 
I hope that you are all enjoying and loving this AMAZING Christmas Spirit that has infiltrated the universe as much as I am. I also hope you know how much I love you and care about you. I pray for your always and I hope more than anything that you are centering your lives on Jesus Christ and are smiling all the day through--even if it is rough. If it is, pray.
 
I found a cool quote this morning during studies and I wanted to share it with you all! "Heavenly Father doesn't want to hear only 'nice' prayers. He wants to hear real prayers, honest prayers...How many times are our evening prayers just one more chore?...But who are we trying to kid?...He doesn't want polite platitudes. He WANTS YOU! All of you! He wants to be the center of your total life--the worried you, the mad you, and the sad you, as well as the inspired, happy, obedient, loving you." When we are truly open and respectfully honest with the Lord, our hearts are changed. Too often we seethe about a neighbor, dutifully kneel to bless the world, then return to seething about the neighbor. We remain unchanged. But if we open up to Him and share real concerns, praying for the desire to love, for the ability to see from His perspective, we begin to see THINGS SPIRITUAL. I challenge all of you to pray, but sincerely. And let yourself change through Jesus Christ. He sees amazing potential, and you can reach it--but only through Him.
 
I hope you have an amazing week! I love you all so much and am so happy for all you are accomplishing and doing! Keep up the good work and PLEASE be safe out there! :) Go change the world, champs!
 
STAND STRONG
 
Hermana Weenig
xoxoxox
 
The "snow"....that cancelled EVERYTHING :)

Snow day. Everyone is home=missionary's DREAM.

Love thy neighbor graffiti. :) This is over by where we teach a lot. Man, this is INSPIRING graffiti. We need more of this! :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thankful

I love being a missionary. And I am so thankful for the opportunity I get to serve the Lord with all that I have got, even if it is just for a short 18 months. I am grateful for all of you have supported me through my whole life and especially here on my mission, I can't thank you enough. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving as a missionary is probably one of the most fun things that I have ever experienced! This ward is literally like a family to me, I love them and care for them so much. We were invited to attend 5 different Thanksgivings. WOW. Talk about a LOT of food. It was so funny....I have never had RICE at a Thanksgiving meal...with lots of hot sauce to make the turkey spicy. Nonetheless, I experienced 5 different country's Thanksgiving meals: Columbia, Mexico, Honduras, Peru and El Salvador. Mashed potatoes with cilantro in it! yum...... :) what a dream. It was a BLAST! We weren't allowed to go out and tract, but we were allowed to teach the ward members and investigators that had invited us over. I love these people so much and I am so grateful for them. It was really fun to see all of these families (Cardosos, Panteleons, Reyes, Casteneda and Gomez) and see them so cheerful and happy! The food was amazing, but it definitely wasn't a typical American Thanksgiving. I have never seen so many turkey's in my life! I truly enjoyed sharing the spirit of Gratitude with them. It caused me to reflect on how many things we actually do have to be thankful for! There are endless things! Air, roof, a body, life, smiles and EVERYTHING--The pure joy of laughing and spending time together. I really am thankful for this ward family. But I am even more thankful for my wonderful family back home, I love you guys so much. I learned a very valuable lesson that Thanksgiving day...Love really is spelled T-I-M-E. Miracles are happening right and left, THIS LIFE IS FULL OF MIRACLES...big or small...every single one is proof that God loves us.

I am thankful for change. Sandra Gomez is a completely changed woman. I have always heard and known that the Gospel is a Gospel of change. Sandra, I think, is the most powerful example of that. That, and how member can truly change a person's life. You've heard me talk a lot about Vivana before, she is essentially my sister. She is a member of the church that we have been helping to get her totally active. Anyway, Sandra lives in the same apartment as Vivi and one day we saw her and asked if she would want to learn. She looked depressed and lost. Sandra accepted, and has been coming to church and taking the lessons ever since. THERE IS A LITERAL LIGHT growing in her face and in her eyes from doing the right things and coming unto Christ. I am SO excited for her because she is GETTING BAPTIZED THIS WEEKEND! It really is a miracle. She has had many spiritual experiences where she knew that this was exactly what God wants her to do, and she is willing to make the changes to do it. Just like Sandra is changing, all of us can change and mold into something better---IF we trust and give the control to our Savior Jesus Christ. I am realizing that repentance doesn't just make the sinner a good man, it also makes the good man a better man, and the better man a greater man and the greater man the best man....hopefully that cycle continues until we are perfect one day.

Sidenote: Jorge Casteneda, who was less active a month ago, is now coming to lessons with us and will be baptizing Sandra this weekend!!! IT IS A MIRACLE! 

Being a sister training leader is a lot of work, but it is a LOT of fun. I love going on exchanges every week and meeting all the sisters and seeing the way that they do missionary work. These girls truly are so talented and I know that God has hastened the work by calling some incredible ladies to go forth with faith. This week I had the wonderful opportunity to go on exchanges with Hermana Stanford. She is from Canada! It is the coolest thing on exchanges, because we are asked to help them and motivate and inspire them, and there is no way that I could do it with out the Holy Ghost and Heavenly Father doing the work. I have never felt the Spirit so strong as I have when I am doing an exchange with a Hermana and getting to know her and trying to serve her and help her reach her full potential. I really do love all the sisters in this mission. And I am so extremely grateful for the opportunity that I have had to work with them.

The Old Town ward is on fire with missionary work! The work is HASTENING in this area and in this ward. We are striving to have a member with us at EVERY single lesson, and it is making a huge difference. The members are loving it. And the more lessons they come to us with, the more that they want to participate. I am learning as a missionary that the members are what truly make this work fly! And it is so much fun working side-by-side with the ward. I love them so much. It is amazing the Spirit they bring into the lessons, and they are truly helping our investigators enter into the waters of baptism. We had 15 lessons with a member present this week (which apparently broke the record) but we are starting to truly see the amazing benefits of member missionary work. We can't do this work without the members of the Church helping us out! :) So, call up the missionaries today--they will love you. It has been really fun to have all of our recent converts come out with us to teach. Reyna Reyes especially, because she has such a burning testimony and such a firm belief.

MIRACLE! I don't know if you remember how back in August we were teaching Vanessa Huerta, daughter of our recent convert Juana Huerta? Well, she moved to New York back in August back with her husband the day before she was supposed to get interviewed for her baptism. We had contacted the Elders up in New York, and they said that they had tried to meet with her, but that the husband wasn't letting them in. And then a miracle happened. One morning, during companionship study, the phone rang. I almost fell to the floor when I heard Vanessa's voice on the other line! She said, "Hermanas! I moved back to Alexandria and I am living with Jaqueline Jimmenez (who was a recent convert of ours that was baptized in August.)! I have been waiting to come back to church and want to keep learning. Can you come by?" No way. We were so excited. We headed up there to find out that she had tried and tried to come to church, but wasn't allowed to, so she left and brought her kids back down here so she could come to church. She wants to be baptized within the next month! MIRACLE! I truly do know that the Lord's timing is the timing that is meant to be. She wasn't supposed to be baptized right when we thought she was supposed to be, but now, by a miracle, she is back here and ready to change! AMAZING.

Spanish Forum was a hit! We were super nervous, because it was a conference totally in Spanish and we had to give a 30 minute presentation. After lots of planning and prep I think it was a hit! It was a lot of fun, and I love all the Spanish missionaries so much! I found out that one of the Hermanas knows Tanner Camp! Apparently she was best friends with Tanner's wife back in the day! She is wonderful! small world. Anyway, Spanish forum was really guided and direct by the spirit to make it into a spiritual masterpiece. I hope that all the missionaries got a lot out of it, I know that I did.

We have started to a do a little bit of online proselyting through Facebook. Yes, I know. I am not a facebooker.....and I am still trying to get a testimony of it! But I am starting to see incredible miracles coming from it. For example, I am teaching some of my non-member friends that I met in Mexico! I am teaching Monse Hilgerdra, my "sister" when I lived in Mexico, and she is currently living in France! So I am teaching her the Gospel online! And she is loving it! It is amazing to see how the technology of the world is changing the work of the Lord. It is literally expediting it!! AMAZING.

This past Saturday we had a ward activity where there was 3 of our investigators and their families there! It was a HUGE MIRACLE. They are all getting to know the ward really well and it is so fun to see those relationships growing. Anyways, we did a few fun skits to the ward--explaining how fun and easy missionary work is. They are really all fired up to work with us! I am so excited to see all these changes! And they had a little musical portion and some of the people didn't show so like half the ward asked if I would sing. Hahaha, so my companion did an amazing improve piece on the piano and I sang "O, esta todo bien" which is "Come, come ye Saints" in Spanish. It was so much fun. I seriously love sharing the Gospel through music.
Adla will be baptized not this week, but the next. Her family is experiencing some extreme difficulties and so we are working with Jill, her mom and recent convert, to help them get through. I have never realized how lucky we truly are. We have food to eat, somewhere to sleep and clothes to wear. By definition, we are the luckiest people ALIVE! Adla is so strong and such an incredible young lady. I am excited that she, despite her trials, is also changing. I love this work.

The Christmas Spirit is in the air. It is so fun to see all of the lights coming on (the Hispanics usually keep their Christmas lights up all year, the only difference now is that they are plugged in... :) ). We are challenging all the ward members to find just 1 person before Christmas...whether it is a non-member, a less active or ANYONE who needs inspiration, and help them come unto Christ. I want to extend the challenge to you! How incredible would that be? If each of us just reached out to one person this month...lives will change and you will be filled with joy as well!

My heart is so full and so happy. I am so thankful for all of you and for all of your support, love and prayers. You are always in my prayers and I hope you never forget how much I love you. Just remember, that sometimes when there is a mountain placed in front of us---it is our first impulse to want to sprint to the top and conquer it. But God doesn't work like that. God works "line upon line" and "precept upon precept" and so we become and overcome little by little...which in hiking terms would mean that God helps us up the mountain by helping us up switchbacks. We may not think we are progressing, but little by little, we end up getting to the top and looking down wondering how we did it! God promises us that by the small and simple things, great things WILL come to pass. And I know that is true. Little by little God can change us, but we need to be patient and walk with faith up each mountain He puts in front of us.

STAND STRONG.
Hermana Weenig
Cardoso family!! Happy Thanksgiving!
El Salvador Pumpkin Pie....at the Reyes! What a treat!
The Mexican storage closet. :)
 Hno. Casteneda eating GIANT grasshoppers! Mexican popcorn! YUM!


Monday, November 25, 2013

This Week Was Epic

 I LOVE being a missionary. Every second. I love it. It is amazing. I keep thinking that I will wake up one of these days and this dream will be over. I am SO SO SO GRATEFUL that I have the opportunity to serve a mission. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ my Savior, that through His atonement I can be cleansed and made a little bit better each day. I am thankful for Heavenly Father who loves me and hears my prayers. I am thankful for the "handbook of life" aka the scriptures that guide me along each day. I am grateful for miracles we see EVERYDAY. I am grateful for the gospel and the restoration through the prophet Joseph Smith. I am grateful for my family and loved ones who have supported me and been examples to me throughout my life. I am grateful for trials and stress, because that is what makes me want to do and be better. I could probably go on for hours. But I really am so grateful for life and the ability that all of us have to be here on earth--to prepare and to learn to become more like God. What an opportunity! It has been a CRAZY ride and we have been jammed-packed busy with exchanges, trainings, planning meetings, and my favorite--WORK. I love it. did I say that already? one more time--I love it. I am especially grateful for epic miracles.

EPIC MIRACLE #1:  GIRLS IN SKIRTS TO THE RESCUE. We had just taught Jill one of her last lessons before getting baptized and we were driving home to grab the sheet music to a song we had been asked to perform for Elder Teh (General authority that was touring our mission). We were exhausted, and had been running to lessons, service and the like (the best problem to have) and were in the left turning lane down the street from our house. "Arlington Dr." and the Route 1 intersection is the signifier that we are almost home, and it is one of the BIGGEST intersections in our area. We were racing to get home so we could practice the song a little before presenting it to Elder Teh. That is when I learned a great lesson. All the sudden we saw a man who was turning left from the other side get out of his car in the middle of the intersection and started pushing his car....by himself. His car had broken down. I was in the passenger seat, and without even thinking twice I got out of the car. Cars RACED around me. I yelled "Can we help you?!" Cars where honking and speeding past...but no one was helping this poor man. The light turned green for us and we speedily pulled off to the side of the road and threw our emergency lights on. Then, us two girls, IN OUR SKIRTS--SPRINTED head-way into the middle of the busiest intersection in our area. People probably thought that we were crazy. It was really exhilarating. My heart was pounding. Cars whizzed past us and we started to push. By some miracle we were given extra strength. In the back of my mind I was thinking, "Alright, Heavenly Father, lead us to the Hispanic that we need to teach through helping this African man." Two seconds later this Hispanic lady jumped out of her car and we THREE GIRLS pushed this man to safety! WAHOO. We are now going to teach this Hispanic lady! Miracle! We ran to get our car to help him jump-start his car and while we were there, ANOTHER Hispanic man came and asked what he could do to help. He is interested in the Gospel. It was Epic. 2 girls in skirts under the hood of the car, exchanging Book of Mormons and preaching the Gospel. We even prayed off to the side of the road! One of the busiest roads in Virginia and there we stood in prayer--That the car would work. Call me crazy, but it was by FAR one of the coolest experiences that I have EVER had on my mission. God literally led us to those people. And the man whose car was broken said that he will read the entire book of Mormon and couldn't stop thanking us for taking the time to help him out. He epically ran, Book of Mormon in hand, across the street to find a mechanic. Woah. I AM GRATEFUL FOR MIRACLES. And they will happen if we just let them. Epic.

EPIC MIRACLE #2: JILL BETANCOUR GOT BAPTIZED ON FRIDAY!!!!!MIRACLE!!! She is from Columbia and the ward IS SO excited to have another Columbian in the ward. I love Columbians and will probably live there someday.  So, how we found Jill is a pretty amazing story and a witness that EVERYONE is ready for the gospel...sometimes they just don't know it yet. It is also a testifier that as missionaries---we should talk to EVERYONE!! Back in July, we were in the lobby of an apartment complex speaking to our ward mission leader and he said, "Hermana Weenig I dare you to go talk to that lady sitting down." So, I took the challenge. That was Jill. She has come a LONG way since then. She started taking the lessons and decided that it wasn't for her. But, I knew that she would get baptized. We were constant and served her and loved her. She lost her home, her everything. We, with the help of the Lord and the ward, loved her, served her and helped her get back on her feet. We taught her outside of her homeless shelter. She changed. She repented. She is free. and this past Friday, she was baptized! She was reborn! I can't explain the absolute JOY that I felt. I remember the first time I talked to her that she said, "I promise you Hermana, I will never be a Mormon." Well, that didn't last too long :). I love Jill so much and I will never forget the look and glow in her eyes as she went down into the water and back up. She was glowing. I got to sing "I know my Redeemer lives" in Spanish at her baptism (apparently the whole ward refers to me as the "singing angel." hahaa I will pay them later.)  I have never felt so happy as I was able to share my testimony to Jill, her daughter Adla, and the ward about my Savior Jesus Christ. I love Him. And because of Him we can change and be better. Adla, her daughter of 13 years of age, was sitting by me for the baptism. She has been raised STRONG Catholic, and has been going to catholic school for years. Right after the baptism she ran up to me and gave me a HUGE hug and asked, "Hermana Weenig!!! I feel something so strong. It is telling me to get baptized! Can I get baptized next week? Please! I don't know why but it is what I need to do!" Amazing. She is getting baptized December 6. I can't even wait for her. She is reading the Book of Mormon like crazy and loves it. It was amazing to see the support of the ward as various members have helped shelter Jill and allow her to get back on her feet. AMAZING. She is an amazing woman and now Adla, her daughter is walking in her footsteps. Jill called us last night and says that she WANTS TO GO TO THE TEMPLE! I started to cry! We are going to have her there by the end of the year! :) Jill has also been searching for a job for months now, and just after getting interviewed for baptism, SHE FOUND A JOB!!! MIRACLE. Miracles happen. All over the place!!

EPIC MIRACLE #3: ALL of our recent converts are preparing to COME TO THE TEMPLE and do work for their ancestors! Jill, Reyna and Juana! It is absolutely amazing. They all are preparing and have such a burning desire to enter into the house of the Lord. I am so excited for each one of them. And I know that that they will be amazing members of this church forever more. It has been really fun to see all these people that I have had the chance to help them learn about the gospel now sharing the gospel with friends. Yesterday, Jill's confirmation, I was sitting there with Adla and I looked around and saw that all of these recent converts were sitting by friends in the ward. I almost started to cry I was so happy. But what made me even more happy was to see them happy. 

EPIC MIRACLE #4: Jorge, the less active--now active member, BLESSED THE SACRAMENT this week! Amazing.

EPIC MIRACLE #5: Sandra got anti-mormoned like a month ago. She stopped talking to us and then something happened. A miracle. She was in church this week. YESTERDAY SHE TOLD US SHE WANTS TO BE BAPTIZED!!! WOWOWOWOWOWO!!! WAHOOOOO! She is getting baptized on the 7 of December! Wow.

Elder Teh, of the quorum of the Seventy, came to tour our mission. I was asked to sing for the musical number. Was I a little bit scared? yes. But my wonderful companion plays the piano like an angel and we did the EFY arrangement of "I know that my Redeemer lives" (reminded me a lot of you, mom and dad!). I love music. I love to sing. I love sharing my testimony thorough music. As I sang and I looked at Elder Teh, I felt my Spirit soar. "I know that my Redeemer lives", I really do. He lives, and that means that I can do the impossible. That means that I can conquer hard things. One missionary approached me after and told me that the song changed her mission, she said "I just need to preach the Gospel with passion like you sang that song." I was so nervous to sing, it probably didn't sound the prettiest, but I did give it all my heart. And that is ALL God expects of us. To give Him all of our hearts, sometimes we are just a little hesitant to do so. Elder Teh, really liked the song and I had the opportunity to chat with him for awhile after the meeting. It was an incredible conference and I learned a lot from him. The biggest being that we must continually strive to come more and more into the presence of God so that we can stay FAR away from the line of sin. Satan is really tricky and even too much of a good thing can be bad.

SIDENOTE: I love Spanish. I speak it all day everyday. Eat, drink and sleep it.  I love it. I love it. I love it. I just wish I was Hispanic. Jorge Casteneda says that I am slowly becoming a Mexican. YES!

Being a sister trainer leader is a BLAST. I am learning so much from these incredible hermanas! They are so amazing and they teach me so much day in and day out. Exchanges are a so much fun, even though they are exhausting, and it has been really fun to work with all different types of missionaries. I have such a love for each sister in this mission and I feel so blessed and GRATEFUL to have the opportunity to work with them. Anyways, it has been really fun. We work a lot with the APs and we are planning some trainings for all the Spanish missionaries this week. I am really excited, but really nervous. We have been working hard to make it a spiritual experience for all the missionaries so hopefully they will enjoy it! :) A little stressful...but I love it.

Our ward got a new bishopric this week! Bishop Matos was a legend....he served as Bishop for 10 years! Amazing! But I know that the new Bishopric will be just as amazing. We are working with them really closely to make missionary work a HUGE focus and helping get the ward involved in every single way possible.

My companion is amazing and we work REALLY hard together. I couldn't have asked for anyone better: talented, beautiful, spiritual giant and practically perfect. She really is such a hero and we love this great work. I am so GRATEFUL for her.

Thanks so much for all of your love, support and prayers. I love you all so much and I can't thank you enough for all you do for me. This is the greatest work EVER.. I just can't tell you how thankful I am for miracles, for you and for this incredible gospel and the amazing opportunity to be a missionary.  I hope you have a fantastic, safe and thankful week! HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! I count you a million times when I count my blessings! :)
Stand Strong,
Hermana Weenig :)
Adla, me, Jill Betancour, Ur Saldana (the ward member who baptized her) and Hermana Simpson. 
Hno. Tapia, Jill, Adla, me, Hna. Simpson and Hna. Wilcox. I love ALL these people SO much. This was right after she was baptized.

Hna. Simpson and I. We realized we have taken no pictures together, and said it was time. :) I love her.

Epic sunset.


Monday, November 18, 2013

The Field is White

I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! Wow. What an incredible week, and I can't even express to you how happy and how grateful I am right now. So many miracles are happening right and left I don't even know where to start! We have been so busy and absolutely exhausted at the end of everyday, but it is truly the most amazing work. And the Lord carries us and give us the strength and leads us to the people that are ready. Amazing things are happening in this area and there is still so much to be done!

I am serving in the amazing Alexandria Old Town ward still, which I am so happy about! President told me that he wanted the sisters to go on an exchange where the area is a "model area" of how missionary work should be done! So now it is the area where all the sisters will come to hopefully learn amazing things from these people! I have the most wonderful new companion! Her name is Hermana Simpson! She is 22 and has been out for 12 months. It has been so much fun to get to know her. She is an absolute gem and we have set some HUGE, hairy, audacious goals for this transfer. We will start doing our exchanges this week with the other Hermanas. I am so excited to get to know them all. I am so grateful to be here in old town and to work with such a wonderful companion. I love this place. There are so many miracles happening in this place and I can't wait for all the ones that will happen this week. The people are incredible, and I love them SO much. What makes me the happiest is seeing CHANGE. These people are changing and it brings me a joy that I can't describe! They are on fire! Its so amazing to see the Lord in the details of their lives and to see them making changes to become better.

Miracle. REINA REYES GOT BAPTIZED EARLY FRIDAY MORNING!!!! WOW!!! I AM SO HAPPY!!!!  Seriously. I can testify to the fact that the Lord prepares people and allows them to be ready to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their time. Reina Reyes is the most humble person I have ever met. She sleeps on the floor of her apartment complex and is ALWAYS serving others. I love her so much. Her daughter, Karen, was baptized back in August. We began teaching Reina and even though she prayed, came to church and read the entire Book of Mormon...she still had doubts about getting baptized. One day I felt prompted to get up and run into the door and explain to her that not getting baptized is like running into a door...and keeps us from progressing. She was silent. The Spirit bore testimony of the truth. Then she said that she wanted to get baptized...right then! We said we could set it up for 2 days LATER!!! AMAZING! A little stressful because it was Wed. night when she told us and she said that she wanted to get baptized ASAP. We had transfers wed, so it was so fun getting everything together! Thank you to miracles and willing ward members the baptism happened! Reina didn't want to tell anyone that it happened, but the amazing ward came to support her! She was so nervous! But she kept staring at the photos of Christ and saying that "I know that this is what God wants me to do, and so I am doing it for Him." She kept hugging us, and I just couldn't stop smiling because she was so happy!! We sang "Yo se que vive mi Senor" (I know that my Redeemer lives) and the baptism was perfect for Reina--short, simple and sweet.  After she was baptized there was such a light in her. She looks so happy! She is my sister and hero. I know that Reina will stay a strong convert forever! She is already wanting to get sealed to her family in the temple. She was confirmed yesterday in the church and the ward has grabbed her in and is fellowshipping her--amazing. I sat by her at church and she told me after she got confirmed that she feels so at peace, something that hasn't happened in years. Her life has literally turned upside down and I couldn't be happier for her. She is a hero for me. And she will be someone that I look up to and remember forever. I can't wait to see her be sealed with her family in a year. MIRACLE!

JORGE CASTENEDA BAPTIZED HIS LITTLE NEPHEW AND IS PREPPING FOR THE TEMPLE!! Jorge is AMAZING! When we first met him he was completely inactive. But slowly, and surely, he has come back to church. This week he got his temple recommend!! and yesterday he baptized his nephew Misael!!! Amazing! We taught Misael about the importance of baptism and worked with Jorge to teach him. Jorge and Misael were SO happy. I was so happy I couldn't even stand it. So see both of them in the font.....after so much that they have been through and changed so that they can be baptized...it truly is a miracle. Repentance and the Atonement are so real...and they work. It changes people. I really consider the Casteneda family to be like a second family to me. I love them so much, and have seen endless miracles in their lives! All of their family was at church this week! AMAZING.

JILL BETANCOURT IS GETTING BAPTIZED THIS FRIDAY!!! I am SO happy for her! We have been working with Jill for a while! She is proof that as missionaries we should talk to EVERYONE. Back in July, I saw Jill sitting in her apartment lobby. I went up and started talking to her and taught her the restoration. At first, she didn't except it. But, through time and through trials that the Lord put in her life, her heart was softened and NOW SHE IS SO STRONG AND GETTING BAPTIZED!!! She reads the Book of Mormon everyday and comes to church every week. The ward is taking care of her. She is changing. She is relying on Jesus Christ. She is changing her life. She is inviting EVERYONE to come to her baptism! So it is going to be HUGE. But we are so excited. She gave up her tea and coffee and is ready for baptism! I can't wait to see her all in white this Friday. She has done a TOTAL turnaround. And out of all the investigators I have ever taught, I have seen the powerful influence and ability of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to work within her life. It is truly amazing! I love her so much and consider her to be a best friend.

Juana Huerta is going to the temple! Remember back in August how we baptized Juana!?! She is my most favorite person in the ENTIRE world, and now she is getting her interview to enter the temple to do baptisms for her mom this Sunday! Apparently she has had a LOT of dreams this past week of her brother and mom appearing to her and asking her to get baptized for them. They talked about it in church and Juana is SO excited and SO ready. WOW! She is amazing. She loves coming out to preach the Gospel with us! She has made such a difference in the lives of Jill and other investigators to be there support team and she, too, is learning as they learn. It is AMAZING to watch. I am learning now that it really is true--that when the fruit is good it makes the people have the desire to share it with all they come in contact with.

The drunk men miracle. We had 15 minutes left, and we wanted to teach another lesson :). So we went to the house of some potentials that we have named Miguel and Jesus. We knocked the door. Out step the two of them and same with the rancid smell of alcohol. They were drunk....completely drunk. We started teaching them a little bit, and we realized that they were so out of it that they weren't taking anything in. They kept saying, "You have the most beautiful eyes. You are from Spain, aren't you?" Kinda creepy. But then something amazing happened. Miguel could hardly say a word to us because of all of the booze. But then we asked if we could pray with them. They agreed. We prayed, and blessed them with their night...then we said "Amen." Right when we did, Miguel started praying the most perfect, heartfelt prayer I have ever heard. It was from his heart. But what was even more amazing is that he didn't slur at all. He spoke fluently and without any glitches of any kind. Amazing. He talked to Heavenly Father like He was right there with us. It was incredible. I learned, from a drunk man, that prayer is for everyone. It is also communication with our Father in Heaven. It should be from the heart. It was incredible. It doesn't need to be fancy. I learned so much from him. The Spirit flooded that trailer-park doorstep as Miguel said, "You are the only one that can help me, protect my family, because I can't and you can." His sincerity almost brought me to tears. We are teaching him. We have an appointment tonight. I can't wait to see what happens!

Sunday MIRACLES. AMAZING. The Lord is working amazing miracles in the lives of our investigators! We had 5 investigators at church!!!! Jill came. Marta Lida came! Hna. Cardona's husband came! But the most incredible miracles were that Viviana brought her roommate that we started teaching a while ago, SANDRA, to CHURCH!!! It was amazing!! Sandra found anti-Mormon stuff and didn't want to talk to us anymore, but something changed. And now, she is talking to us and wants to be baptized! She also came to see the baptism yesterday!!! AMAZING! When she saw the baptism she asked me, "Is that how you do it?" and I said, "Yeah, do you want to be baptized." She said, "Yes, I really do." AMAZING!!!!!!! WOW!!! The other miracle at church was that RAMON CASTRO CAME! WOW!!!! He loved church because it was the primary program and loved seeing all of the children! How amazing! Jorge Casteneda took him under his wing. Ramon told us he wants to be baptized, but is held back by his family. I know miracles will happen and he will be baptized soon! WOW. AMAZING MIRACLES.

ALSO Ruben, a friend to the Rojas family, will be baptized on the 7th of DECEMBER!!!! I can't even wait! yesterday, He accepted the day full heartily and said that he had been thinking about it a lot and knows that this is what he is supposed to do in his life right now! AMAZING. He is so knowledgeable and I can't wait for a couple more weeks when he too has entered the waters of baptism!

Let Jesus Christ carry you, and let the Atonement CHANGE you. That seems to be the theme of the mission and of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a Gospel of change and we have been sent here to earth to be tried---it is supposed to challenge us and be hard--otherwise we wouldn't grow. But the cool part is that God gave us our Savior Jesus Christ to come an go through all that we would have to go through so that we can repent and we can change---EVERYDAY. To become a little better and better everyday. Use it. :)

I love you all so much and can't thank you enough for all your love, support and prayers. I love and pray for you always. I really do and hope that you know that YOU are the biggest blessings that I have in my life. I hope you never forget how much I love you and that your Savior Jesus Christ is ALWAYS there for you.
Stand Strong,

Hermana Weenig
 Reyna Reyes in front of the baptismal font, I am SO HAPPY for her.


Hermana Wilcox, Elder Olivo (our district leader) Reyna and me just before the baptism! SO HAPPY FOR HER!

Hna. Simpson, Jorge Casteneda, Misael, and me yesterday at his baptism! This is truly a double miracle! I am SO happy for them!!

The scary fog outside our house.
Every house we go to we get water bottles. So we have decided to collect them. This is just from 2 weeks. AMAZING.