Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Onward, Ever Onward as We Glory in His Name

Querido Familia tan bonita!! Ay! Como estan!? Te quiero muchisisisisisimo!! To the ones I love THE MOST :) Yes, YOU.

I LOVE being a missionary. I love it. And I think I have discovered why they call it missionary WORK. Want to know why? Well, it is EXHAUSTING. But the best kind. The kind that you forget about everything else except for the people that you are serving, loving and teaching. The kind that it feels like you are searching for the lost sheep and know they are there but sometimes it feels like they are a needle in a haystack. The kind where you get the COOLEST scars/tan lines on your feet from walking all day. I love it. It is the kind of work where everyday you are reminded of all your weaknesses and the kind that pushes you WAY out of your comfort zone and forces you to THINK outside the box and to change who you are into someone a little better. Even though it is hard, it is the greatest thing in the world. I never imagined that a mission is so much more than what everyone says. It truly is the greatest gift and opportunity, I just hope I can take advantage of every second of it. This past week I have had an overwhelming desire to yearning for the people here to come unto to Christ and to change their lives forever--but I am realizing that all I can do is love, serve and teach them...then they get to choose the rest. But Change. That really is what happens when we let Christ take control---through the power of the Atonement He changes us, molds us and makes us into the people we need to be. I have seen this power of Christ's atoning sacrifice in my own life over and over again, and my joy is even bigger when I get the chance to see others using that same power to change their lives. 

I HATE Satan. Yep, you heard me. He seems to have chosen this week to declare all-out war on our investigators. David, our "golden" investigator says that he KNOWS he is supposed to be baptized and he KNOWS it is all true. But he says that something inside of him tells him that he "shouldn't do it" and that he doesn't "feel worthy to change." Who is that giving him those feelings?!? UGGGGH!! So we have been working to resolve his doubts and help him realize his potential as a Son of God and the power that baptism brings. Also, Remember how I was so stoked for the two ladies that were set for baptism this Saturday???  Well, it fell through. My companion and I were devastated. The father of the family is a devote Catholic, and the mom is a less active member. The two don't want their girls to get baptized until they can show "consistency" in going to church. But the girls have been attending church for the past month.....so we are PRAYING that the parents hearts soften. The girls want to be baptized so bad, because they know that it is true and that it is what our Savior Jesus Christ would do.  I am striving to do and to be the best I possibly can, and even though I know I won't ever be the "perfect missionary" I sure am trying with all that I am to be the best I can for the Lord. This week was full of ups and downs. I am learning that it is so important to remember that after all we can do, the Spirit is there to do the rest--and ultimately these people that we are teaching are free to choose for themselves whether they will follow Jesus Christ. And honestly, I think that that is the trickiest part of missionary work....we can't force them...but we can love them and pray for them and show them the way. But it is ultimately up to them to change. We are continuing to teach Jenny and Ana Ramirez, and they are progressing--but want to push the baptism back till July. Although it was a little disappointing for my companion and I, we know that the Lord has prepared others here and we can't wait to find them.  

We have been focusing on leaving "no stone un-turned". We have met with almost every bishop and ward mission leader in our area and have received maps of where people lived. In doing so, we have been able to pinpoint where the Hispanic people live. We have received an contacted various referrals that have led to potential investigators and current investigators! I am learning so much about how to work with stake presidents and bishops, and am starting to learn the incredible value of member missionaries. We are very excited about the people that we are finding and we know that there is even more out there that the Lord has prepared. We also have been focused on building member trust and building member missionaries. We have been holding training sessions for members and will start doing role plays with them so that they can feel more comfortable in knowing how to share the Gospel with their friends. We have already seen the success of this tactic as one family in our ward brought a non-member to their house for us to teach! His name is Leonardo! It was seriously a miracle! This family that we trained are recent converts and still have struggles with addictive substances, but they want to member missionaries because they have seen how the gospel has blessed their lives! it was wonderful! This man is now investigating the church and we are starting to teach him the lessons. I have learned the power of utilizing the members and the power that they have to testify during lessons. We are working extra hard to make sure we have members at all our lessons and have been focused on involving our 4 progressing investigators in other church activities. It has been amazing to see the change in branch members as well as investigators as we reach out to them and involve them. My companion and I want to baptize people who will stay converted to the Gospel, and we are following Preach My Gospel verbatim by making sure that we are involving all the members of our branch possible so that they can truly become converted to the Gospel, and not just us. 

I AM SO EXCITED FOR CINTIA DELACRUZ AND DAVID CRUZ!!! Cintia and David are two investigators that are progressing rapidly in the Gospel. The Lord has blessed us to be the instruments in his hands for these two wonderful people. The Spirit truly has been teaching them, and both have the goal to be baptized, but both are a little scared about the commitment--as they realize the seriousness of the commitment. They have been coming to church for the past 3 weeks, reading the book of Mormon and are getting involved with members in the ward. It is truly wonderful! They both have their own personal struggles and addictions that we are helping them overcome, but we know that they will be prepared for baptism by the end of this month! We are very excited for them and the changes that they are making in their lives. Cintia gave up coffee....which is probably the biggest miracle ever. She gave it up because she knows she will be healthier if she does. David is working on giving up smoking and the booze---this is a little more difficult. He started smoking when he was 4 years old and was physically abused all his life by a drunker-ed father. But the cool part is...is that through the ATONEMENT of Jesus Christ we can be FREED of addiction and of past haunting memories. He is slowly coming to this realization and I am so excited for him to continue making these huge changes in his life.  

Someone should write a book about how to teach the restored Gospel to Catholics. That is the biggest difficultly we are facing, and helping them understand that need to be baptized by someone holding the proper authority of the Priesthood  I love Catholics SO much---they have amazing traditions and beliefs. All of the people here that are Hispanic at one point in their lives or another were Catholic. Doesn't mean that they go to church, but it means that they are rooted in that tradition. We are trying to focus on the family and just how much the Gospel blesses and unites families forever through the temple and priesthood authority. Any advice?

Mom and Dad--I will always be safe here because guess what? The gangs have got our back. Yes, my companion and I had our first run-in with an Hispanic Gang---tattoos, cigars, the swag and the works! They were the nicest people I have ever met! We struck up conversation about the NBA and about how the Heat is the greatest team ever...and then one of the gang members was like--"are you going to talk basketball or about the word of God?" When I answered both, they couldn't believe how Koby Bryant and the Gospel connected. They started talking about how they will never be Mormon, but that they respect missionaries and will protect them with their lives. As my companion and I talked about the restored Gospel, these gang members ensured us that they "will hunt anyone down that even tries to lay they hands on you, because yeah, we ain't Mormon, but we respect the missionaries." Brigham City isn't necessarily downtown Detroit, but it is awesome that we have got the gangs on our team. I thought that was hilarious! They were such amazingly nice people, and now I feel a little safer walking home at night. :) 

There is a lot of work to be done here in Brigham City and I, with my wonderful companion, are learning and working hard so that we can try to be influential instruments in the hands of the Lord. Transfers are next week, and I am a little nervous. There is so much work to be done here, and I just want to keep laboring in this area as I finally feel that I am getting into the "groove" of missionary work here. One thing that we have been striving to develop and to work hard in has been being able to teach simple and to teach according to what the spirit directs. Yesterday, we were out finding and visiting some referrals that we had received and all of the sudden I got this picture in my head. I saw this house with a lady sitting on the doorstep. I didn't know quite where it was, but I just listened. Although it was rainy and it meant we had to get drenched, we went. The Holy Ghost literally drug us to where we needed to knock. Then opened the door to a woman who was ready to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. AMAZING. I can't explain the gratitude that I have for the Holy Ghost. He is honestly the one who does the converting---we are just here to be the instruments through which He speaks. 

I have been learning a lot. Through the ups and the downs I am learning about how to be a better servant of the Lord. I love missionary work and am striving to do everything I know how to do to serve, love and teach these people. Hopefully, in doing so, I can become more like my best friend and Savior--Jesus Christ. I just want to be able to help my investigators realize the great blessing of the Gospel, and I can't wait to keep working. Our gospel is centered on Jesus Christ, but it is also centered on families. And how God has given us families to learn and to progress. That really is life eternal--Family and the principles of the gospel. Isn't it amazing? One thing that I have really learned from my family and here on the mission is the power of Love. But not just any love, but Charity....the pure Love of Christ. I am striving with all that I have to learn how to have charity for all those that I meet. This week strive to love someone. But love them through the way that you treat them and serve them. Actions ALWAYS speak louder than words--that I know. 

Thank you for the support and love you send to me each week!  Keep working hard and SERVE someone today!!! And never forget to share your testimony of the gospel through your example and word! I love you!

Your biggest fan,

Hermana Weenig :) 

P.S. No word on the VISA yet, there is about 200 VISA waiters for Argentina in Utah right now....so we will see! It looks like I may be here for a while. But that is okay! I love it! And I am learning SO  MUCH! I am so grateful to be here! :) 
This is my new backpack that I take tracting......hahaha :) 
We hiked the "B" last p-day!

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