Monday, July 1, 2013

Sweet Land of Liberty!

I love being a missionary. I am living the dream life.

I seriously feel like the luckiest girl on the face of the earth to be able to be in the nation's capital for the 4th of July, and it is amazing how the patriotism here is blazing like the sun. It has been really cool to use the connections to religious freedom and the founding fathers to the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because this nation was established by inspired men and because they declared religious freedom from England, it created an atmosphere for God to restore His church upon the earth once again. Had it come any sooner than it did, it wouldn't have survived because of the heated contention on the subject of religion at the time. THE FOURTH OF JULY IS BY FAR MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY....for the mere fact that because our country has freedom...we have the freedom of religion. What an amazing right we have as Americans. I love being here in D.C. during this time....yesterday in church we had a combined lesson with everyone and our bishop (an amazing lawyer) handed out copies of the declaration of independence and the constitution of the U.S.A to every member and we went through it all together. We discussed the truly amazing rights that we have as American citizens and why America made it possible for us to have the restored Gospel. My mind was blown and it was by far my most favorite lesson ever. I LOVE AMERICA. We are seriously so lucky. I hope all of you take the opportunity to celebrate freedom this week, but more so to realize and contemplate the fact that because of that freedom, we are able to have the restored Gospel here on the earth. WHAT AN INCREDIBLE BLESSING! I'm so excited because on the 4th of July I will be watching fireworks at the nation's capital! It is LITERALLY MY DREAM COME TRUE! And what is even cooler is that we get to watch them with investigators, so we can talk about the Gospel as we celebrate the very reason that we are able to have the restored Gospel in this country.

We are going to be having a baptism!!! WA HOOOOOOO! Hugo Hernandez will be getting baptized this month on the 21st! I can't even wait! He is probably one of the most incredible people that I have ever had the opportunity to teach. We were teaching him the plan of salvation and how one of the steps that we take to get back to Heavenly Father is baptism. We were having the lesson outside (I have no idea why because we were sweating like crazy) and all the sudden the Spirit filled our hearts in a way I have never felt before. Hugo stopped and stared at us for like a minute in silence. He told us that he knows that he is supposed to be baptized, because he is 100% sure that the Book of Mormon is true and that God wants Him to be baptized. My first reaction was initially shock and the Spirit was so thick (thicker than the crazy humidity) I could barely talk. He then told us that he is searching for a new job so he can quit his other one to be more frequent in coming to church. Hugo said that because of the Book of Mormon he has found purpose and direction in his life. Amen to that! Hugo is such a great example to me. He loves the Book of Mormon and reads it like it is a literal guide for his life. That is the way that I know I should always read the Book of Mormon, because that is what it is intended to be! A guide for our lives!

We had a baptism last night for Arlando! He is an investigator that was just counting down the days to be baptized when I got here. I am so proud of him and his decision to change his life and follow Christ. It is
amazing because now He, his sister and his mom are all members and have plans to go to the temple as soon as they can! But funny story about the baptism....our ward mission leader is a total stud and has complete faith in us as missionaries. We showed up a few minutes early to the baptism and he asked if I could do a special musical number in Spanish. Awesome! two minutes of prep time. Then he wanted another elder to join me for a duet! AWESOME! hahaha we were laughing so hard because literally like 30 seconds before we were supposed to sing we decided the hymn. We sang "Joseph Smith's first prayer" and little did I know but the Elder I was singing with is like some famous opera singer from Norway! I was blown away! So that was a surprise!! haha but hopefully they were able to feel the Spirit. But I love seeing these children of God changing their lives and dedicating themselves to follow Christ. I am so proud of Arlando! What an amazing night and feeling that was present at his baptism! A lot of his family are still not members, so we were able to make a lot of contacts and share the message of the restoration with all those present!

I love this area. I love Arlington. In fact, I want to live here someday. But more than anything I LOVE THE WARD and the PEOPLE. I never realized how much you could truly love people without hardly knowing them. I consider us all to be family...because we are. I am also having to learn how to drive in this crazy city. So FUN! my parallel parking skills need work, but hopefully I will learn!!

I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Washington D.C. temple this week! WHAT AN AMAZING, AMAZING place. The temple never fails to amaze me and I always learn so much. But this time I went, I have never felt so much at home. It truly amazes me that no matter where we are in the world the GOSPEL
and the joy that comes from the Gospel is exactly the same. I felt an overwhelming sense of being home when I walked through the doors of the temple. What an incredible temple. It is FOR SURE one of my favorites. If you haven't been to the temple in a while.....GO. People need you and you need the peace and the happiness that comes from serving in the house of the Lord. As a missionary, the temple seriously is like a reset button, and a chance to feel God's love in such a strong manner. It is also a chance for us to make sure that we are on the right track to fulfill our divine potential as children of God. Wait a second....the temple is there for everyone to do that! Take advantage of it :) . As I was in the temple, one of the paintings caught my attention. It was a picture of the founding fathers. Apparently one of the prophets had a vision of them coming to him wanting to have their temple work done! How incredible is that! The temple work for all the founding fathers has been done! I love the temple.

The most incredible thing about the Gospel, and the thing that most people don't realize and internalize is that WE ARE LITERALLY CHILDREN OF GOD. You are literally a CHILD of GOD. He is literally our father. This fact has never impacted me as much as it has this past week. I have been praying like crazy to be able to see myself and all those with whom I serve through the eyes of God, and guess what? Its working. The gospel message and sharing it with everyone is truly so much more urgent when you realize that ALL OF US HAVE ENDLESS DIVINE POTENTIAL. We literally are here on the earth today to learn and prepare for Heaven...essentially to become like God. Because He loves us, He wants us to become like Him and even more---so thus we have trials and affliction to stretch us and shape us into the people we need to become. But because He loves us He has given us access to the ULTIMATE power and gift to make us better EVERYDAY. If we use this gift everyday we will indeed become better, overcome challenges and weaknesses and fulfill our DIVINE destiny. This power is the power of the ATONEMENT. Use it. Not just for sins, but to constantly be getting better. Because I am learning more and more that the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the power that we have because He knows us and knows what we go through......allows us to change on a daily basis for the better. It helps us accomplish all of our goals and makes us be happier and MORE LIKE GOD! I challenge you to use it...and to ALWAYS REMEMBER who you are. YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD who has been sent here to prepare to become LIKE HIM. How awesome is that?

Fabricio was just recently baptized and is 13 years old. He is severely depressed and suicidal at times. He has been abused from a young age by his mother, and told us that he feels like an ant, and a "bug waiting to be squished on a windshield." He told us that he isn't worth anything because he isn't popular and is an outcast from people at his school. This is something that a lot of people have and will struggle with. I know that I have at times felt insignificant and worthless. Fabricio kept comparing himself to Bill Gates and told us that he will never measure up. That is when the Spirit flooded the room and my companion and I opened our mouths and let the Spirit do the rest. We were able to teach him that God doesn't care about which career we have, how much money we have or power, but He DOES care that we are learning and progressing and remembering who we are and what we are truly becoming. We shared Moses' experience with God and how God kept referring to Him as His son and kept encouraging him to never forget the potential that he has as His son. I will never forget the expression on Fabricio's face. There was silence for a while and he stopped and thought for a second. Then he asked, "You mean God doesn't care about popularity, things, power or anything?" We responded yes. "You mean I am kinda like a King in training?" The Spirit was so strong and Fabricio's eyes where glowing. We responded yes. His whole attitude changed and said that he is going to start focusing on becoming a King instead of becoming popular. What an incredible thing! Maybe we should all do that.....REFOCUS. Who are we and who can we fulfill that divine potential! If you are reading this, please never forget that the whole purpose of this life is to be a GOD IN TRAINING.

Thank you so much for all of your support, love, letters, packages and EVERYTHING. I pray and think about you everyday and just want you to be happy. I am so glad I have an ETERNITY to spend with the most amazing people in the universe. I love you. Never forget who you are and the POWER you have. Don't let Satan make you think otherwise.

Stand Strong.
Hermana Weenig


Sister Riley. She WALKED to Virginia from El Salvador!!  Amazing!
My favorite little girl in the ward! She always follows us around and wants to be a missionary.
"I love to see the Temple"

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