Monday, October 7, 2013
See with Your Heart and Not Your Mind
I love being a missionary. I love it. Every second of it. The good, the bad, the hard, the harder, the people, the place, the EVERYTHING. We had transfers this week, and BY SOME MIRACLE Hermana Wilcox and I did not get transferred. We were so excited. When our district leader called us to tell us we were staying (our third transfer together now) we were SCREAMING in his ear. Hope that ear of his is okay. But we will be serving in Old Town for another six weeks together! We are so excited. Apparently we are "on fire" according to our mission president....and something to do with high numbers. Nonetheless, we are honestly just working as hard as we can and living up every moment helping all the people that we can come unto Jesus Christ. We are working on mapping out our entire ward, getting to know each family individually, and strategically using the members in our less active and proselyting activities! A new leaf has been turned! We are also working on a flyer initiative of leaving behind something every time we knock a door that invites all people to come meet us at a members home. We will see how this initiative takes off. We have been working really hard with the Bishop and are hoping it brings FIRE to this area.There is also a huge activity that we are doing this weekend "Noche de Hispanidad" which is for all the members to invite their friends to. There will be food from every country in south America and dances representing each country! We have decided to push ourselves more this transfer and have set some really high goals! I am SO SO SO excited to see what happens in these next few weeks. I also just love my companion Hermana Wilcox, because we have the same vision of missionary work and we love to WORK HARD. It is a total blast. We come home exhausted, but so happy we can't stop smiling.
I have decided to throw myself into the Hispanic culture, and have a dying and burning desired to be a Hispanic. I love their culture, food, language, smiles and EVERYTHING. I LOVE THESE PEOPLE! I can't even describe it to you. They are among the happiest and simplest people I have ever met. Most of them have no money, and are struggling to put food on the table, but they are by far the happiest people I have ever met. They also just have this ability to LOVE unconditionally and not judge. I want to be like that. They are so passionate about Jesus Christ and love learning. The Lord really has prepared the Hispanic people here in Virginia to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. They KNOW what is most important in life....it isn't money, education, nice houses and cars (most none of them have those things) but it is FAMILY and the GOSPEL. And you know something? They really do look on the heart of a person. They love spending time with people. They are the happiest people and I love them. I just wish I could do more for them. But they have my heart. They stole it, and I am totally okay with that. (p.s. I have a HUGE collection of water bottles! Almost EVERY house we enter, we get a water bottle! Classy!)
My perspective on life is changing, rapidly. There are miracles happening ALL around EVERY day. I seriously can't believe it. At night when I get home I try to keep track of all the miracles that happen in one day's time and it is near impossible to keep track of. I am learning on my mission that the PEOPLE teach me more than I could ever teach them. One night we were walking to a lesson and we passed a man on the side of the road. We had the impression to stop and talk to him. Instantly he looked up and we could tell he was blind. We had the INCREDIBLE opportunity to sit down and talk with this amazing man. He is from El Salvador, and has slowly lost his sight throughout the years. He told us of the times that he could see his children's faces and see the leaves changing outside, but then he said it is all different now. We asked him why he was so happy still and how he was able to press on, despite his hardship. He responded, "God is truly amazing. He gives us hard times so that we can learn a different perspective in life, so that we can grow. Right now I am learning to see with my heart and NOT my eyes." That statement struck me like lightening. How often am I so focused on what my eyes see? How much differently would I see my life and everything in it if I just had my heart to judge off of? As we taught this man of the restoration and about how the gospel blesses families, he lit up. He is a strong catholic, but wants to know more. He then was silent for a while after we told him about prophets that lead us through spiritual darkness. The spirit was thick it the air and I was pensive--hanging on the words that he would say. His daughter came outside in the cool night air and put her arms around her father. She was coming out to make sure he was okay. Then he started to talk to us. He said, "You know, I had a cousin that would always complain about not having money, a job, and an education, but one night I told him to stop complaining because he has everything. He has health. He is alive. He has eyes. He has everything. You have everything. You have eyes to see and legs to walk, what more do you need? God has given you those things to help others. Use them." I will never forget that man. And how true that statement is. We have everything. This man too believed that he has everything, despite the fact he cant see. He said, "I have my family and a roof over my head. That is all I need. I am the happiest and luckiest man in the world." Woah. I will never ever forget that man. I want to be exactly like him someday. An inspiration of what truly makes us happiest. What an attitude of gratitude. I need to be a LOT more like that.
Marta Lida is getting baptized at the end of this month!! I can't even wait for her! I am so excited for her! She was a member referral, and is from Peru. She lives alone and is constant running from job to job to make ends meet. It is so hard to catch her home, but the other night we sat down with her. She explained that she has been praying and reading the Book of Mormon!!! AMAZING! She said that in all of the 18 years that she has lived here in the USA that she hasn't felt more at peace and happy than when she reads the Book of Mormon and prays. She said she wants to follow Jesus Christ and wants to prepare to be baptized. She is a miracle! And I love her so much. I am so happy she is making that decision to follow Jesus Christ. We hadn't planned to extend a date to her, but when we got in the Spirit whispered to us that it is her time! We are so excited for her.
Members are amazing. If you don't think you aren't a missionary because you don't have a black tag you are wrong! This week one of our members, Hna. Perez (from Mexico), invited us to lunch (amazing Mexican Pasole) with a non-member friend of hers! The lunch was amazing, but what was even more amazing was to see her friend's openness and willingness to hear the Gospel. Now, she is taking the missionary lessons! MIRACLE! When the members testify, the Spirit fills the room and the investigators listen so much more! MEMBERS, WE NEED YOU! You are truly what will make this work roll forward, and I am seeing it first hand! It's amazing.
Remember how I ate 3 grasshoppers to get Hno. Casteneda to come to church? well, the good news is that he has come every week since! Hna. Casteneda can't thank us enough (it wasn't us) but says that her entire family has done a 360 turn. That woman has faith to move mountains...not just mountains but entire MOUNTAIN RANGES! She gave like a 10 minute prayer at the end of a lesson, it was great. Speaking of long prayers... our mission president has us praying everyday for every progressing investigator for the ENTIRE mission. Our prayers have increased in length by a long shot! It is so wonderful though! I love it!
Anti. In effort to rediscover some of the inactive in our ward, I started calling names on the ward list I had never met. I called a man, Hermano Solis. He answered the phone and asked me what church I was from. I told him that I represent Jesus Christ and that we are of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day Saints. For the next 30 minutes he yelled at me for believing what I believe. He told me that we are a cult and that we are the church of the devil. He told me that I was wasting time on my mission. He even told me that he would pray for my "damned soul". He used to be a counselor in the bishopric of this ward. As I sat and listened to his voice, it was plagued with contention and hatred, the Spirit guided and directed my thoughts. Every time he would pause I would bear testimony of Jesus Christ. Although he was saying things that weren't true and that the scriptures could have proved wrong, I just kept bearing my testimony of the Savior. I have no idea how it happened but there was a feeling of power that came out when I spoke the words "Jesus Christ loves you and me. He wants us to be happy. That is why He has shown us the way." There was silence on the phone. I didn't know what to say either. I just kept bearing testimony of what I know. If ever you are confronted with someone who bashes you and hates you for what you believe....STAND. Be a testifier and DISCIPLE of Christ. Don't try to fight, just stand.
Side note: Street contacting and tracting are my FAVORITE THING! you get to meet so many amazing people. People that sing praises to the Lord, people that stalk you, people who hate you, and people who wonder who you are. I LOVE PEOPLE and I LOVE talking to them and getting to know them. There are so many incredible people on the face of the earth. One man got ahold of our phone number (Jose Louis) and won't stop calling us--- "Mi hija!" he says.
For the past few weeks our missionary president has had us go through the addiction recovery program (the 12 step program put out by the church) to help us with our investigators and also our personal battles. and WOW! That program is amazing. We are focusing on pleasing the Lord instead of the world. A lot of addictions and negative thoughts and behaviors come from trying to please the world and not the Lord. Do the 12 step program! :)
Conference was amazing! I hope you all enjoyed it! What a wonderful opportunity we got to hear from a prophet of God. We watched it at the homes of less actives, members and investigators. I learned so much, and didn't want it to end! It was my first time watching it all in Spanish! WOW! It was incredible. Reina Reyes watched conference and said she loved it! Miracle! She says she wants to set her baptism up for December because that is when her birthday is! WONDERFUL! We watched one session with a Peruvian family (the Cardosos) in our ward and Juana came with us (recent convert). This was her first general conference! She sat there mesmerized over the talks. After each talk she would say "Ay, que bonito." I LOVE JUANA! She said that she loved the talks so much she wanted to sleep....hahaha
We have a charge from our mission president to memorize all the scriptures in Preach my Gospel! WHEW! I have my work cut out for me. But it is amazing what is happening. It looks impossible, but slowly and surely I am chipping away at it. And the promise of having "all things come to your remembrance" is coming to full fruition! We will be teaching someone and all the sudden 3 or 4 references will jump into my head. And it turns out to be exactly what that person needed. The Lord lets us be His instruments, if we are prepared. I just wish that there was more I could do. I am giving Him my all, I just wish I could give more.
Anyways! I love it here so much. And I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord here in Virginia! I am also so grateful it hasn't got cold yet. It is still in the 90s! WAHOO! That is my kind of weather. We are working hard.
I can't thank you all enough for you love, support, letters, emails and prayers. It means the world to me. Please know that you are always in my thoughts and my prayers. I love you all so very much. Thank you so much for this opportunity to serve. I hope you have an AMAZING week. Remember who you are and WHOSE you are.
Posted by Brooke Weenig at 11:07 AM