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 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 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.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Truth is Marching On

love being a missionary. So much. I have decided that you all should move out here and we can just preach the Gospel here together for the rest of our lives. Yeah? Perfect. NEWS! I have been called to serve as a Sister Trainer Leader here in the Washington D.C. South mission. Can you believe it? I am so nervous, but I am so humbled and excited to be able to serve and help all the sisters in this mission. What I am really excited about is that 2 times every week I get to go on exchanges with different missionaries and learn their areas and help them get "fired up" about missionary work. I LOVE THIS WORK SO MUCH and I can't wait to learn from all the hermanas here in Washington D.C. My companion told me that it is a curse because "Hermana Weenig--you love the people too much...having to travel is going to kill you." I do love the people so much, and part of me just wants to stay and knock doors and focus on the people in one area, but I am also so excited to be able to learn all different types of missionary work and be able to take what President Riggs wants us to take and train them on so that we can learn together how to be better missionaries. I am definitely learning that the Lord DOES NOT call the qualified, but He does (hopefully) qualify those who He calls.  I am really crossing my fingers for that, because I am going to need it. I am just SO SO SO excited to serve more and learn more from these incredible people and missionaries!!!! :) 

Transfers are this Thursday...:( Hermana Wilcox and I have dreaded this week since the beginning of this transfer. President has warned us every week that we will no longer be together. We love working together! Partners in preaching the gospel! We are attached at the hip and have been companions since the beginning of July. I wish I could keep her as my companion for the rest of my mission, but I know that she has a LOT more lives to change. I love her. I don't EVER want to leave Hna. Wilcox! She is ON FIRE! And she is going to change this mission and make a HUGE difference here....she already has. She truly has become one of my best friends, and I am going to miss her like crazy. But we have already decided that we are going to companions again right before I go home. So it is a done deal. The time serving with her has been absolutely incredible, and I don't want it to end. I have learned so much from her and am so grateful for her shimmering example. Also, I have no idea if I will stay in this area or be transferred to a different area. This ward and this area is now my home. I sincerely know and love all the ward members...they are literally my home away from home. I don't want to say goodbye ever to them either! I think it is going to be a bit of a hard week! Lots of tears! I have already cried a lot of losing Hna. Wilcox and even the thought of leaving this ward and area. But I trust that the Lord will let whatever is supposed to happen, happen. I trust His will, although His will is sometimes hard to accept....but it is ALWAYS better. 

As usual, THIS WEEK WAS A WEEK OF MIRACLES! First things first. Jill didn't get baptized this past Saturday because a HUGE miracle happened! Her daughter Adla (she is 12 years old), who never ever wanted to really listen to us when we taught, suddenly took a great interest in the lessons. She came to church last week, and said that she too--wants to be baptized! They are now preparing to be baptized TOGETHER! AMAZING!!!!! She is so smart and she knows so much about the Gospel already and it is so fun to see how fast she is progressing. She reads the Book of Mormon so much and studies the pamphlets we give her. I AM SO SO SO SO HAPPY FOR THEM! They told us that they are praying together as a family and that they are reading the scriptures together....AMAZING. They will be baptized on the 23rd of November! I can't wait for that day. They have been through a LOT and I can't wait to see what happens with them. It has also been amazing to see the ward reach out to them and help them. We have moved from teaching them outside of the homeless shelter of where they live, to inside member's homes. It truly is something see all of these ward members stepping in and helping her pay for what she cannot. It reminds me so much of the story of the good samaritan... Jill is a mere stranger to these people yet they are willing to take her in, feed her, clothe her and care for any need she needs. I hope someday I will be able to be TOTALLY unselfish and TOTALLY giving like the members of this ward. 

Restaurant Miracle. Probably one of the BIGGEST miracles that I have seen on my mission yet. So, it was dinner time, and usually we go home and make something..but we weren't really hungry, and we have a really strong impression to go buy a papusa from this little Hispanic restaurant. We had no idea why, but we went anyways. We walked in. Miracle #1: a less active member saw us, and told us she wants to come back to church. Apparently missionaries had saved her and her mom's life prior and has wanted to come back to church but just moved here from Africa. So we were able to help her find where to go. Miracle #2: There was a woman sitting by us, looking very down and alone, and we were able to teach her the Restoration and now she is investigating the church! Amazing! MIRACLE #3: Our waitress. Her name is Araceli. We hadn't talked to her much when she asked us if we are representatives of Christ and if we go to church. We said "yes!" Her eyes began to tear up as she told us that her husband has been trying to cross the border, but she hadn't heard from him in 18 days. Everyone told her that he was dead, and that he died crossing the river. She said, "But, I have faith and I know that you will help me. Can you please pray for him?" We said we would be more than happy to. We set up a time to go see her the next day. We prayed a lot for her husband to be safe and arrive here in safety. When we went to visit the next day, she came RUNNING outside. She gave us HUGE hugs and said. "It is a miracle, a miracle! My husband just called me from Texas 10 minutes ago! He IS ALIVE!!!!" Amazing. I know that prayer works, and if we have faith, miracles really can and will happen. We entered her home and she intently listened as we taught her that Heavenly Father loves her and sent us to her so that she could learn the Gospel. She said, "Well, I knew that you represented Jesus Christ right when I saw you." We thought she meant she had read our tags. But no. "No, it wasn't your tags there was a huge card on the table where I was serving you that said 'Jesus Christ'. That is how I knew to talk to you." There was no card. I got the chills. But WHAT A MIRACLE! Her and her husband are starting to take the missionary lessons and she says she wants to join our church! WHAT A MIRACLE! I had the goosebumps for like 30 minutes after. I know that Heavenly Father heard and responded to those prayers, and I know that they will be baptized soon! 

We had a couple of exchanges this week! (one due to the fact that I had to attend a Mission Leadership Conference--which I learned a TON!). I learned A LOT! It was super weird not having my buddy--Hna. Wilcox--right there! I am going to miss her! But on the upswing of things, I learned a lot and a TON of miracles happened on the exchanges. I went on an exchange with Hna. Shelton, who is currently a Sister Trainer leader, and we saw miracle after miracle! Juana, the most amazing recent convert ever, called us and told us that she wanted to come out all day and night with us to preach the Gospel. She is such a GEM! So she went to EVERY Lesson with us! It was wonderful! Reina Reyes, who has been praying and praying for her baptismal date, FINALLY received an answer!! She was SO happy and so excited to tell us! She studies the Book of Mormon and Bible everyday, comes to church, reads the Ensign, and knows more about the Gospel than anyone I have ever known. She will be baptized on the 23 of December! I believe that is her birthday, and that is why she wants to do it then. We have tried to get it sooner, but she is dead set on that day. BUT I AM SO SO HAPPY for her. When we heard the news I started jumping up and down! This is something that we have been praying and fasting for for months now. Miracles happen! Also Ruben has been praying and thinking about the Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized this month too!! AMAZING!! Apparently, the Hispanics of surrounding areas have heard my companion and I sing! One of them wants us to come down to Fairfax, VA to sing at her wedding! I don't think that is going to be possible, but I got a good laugh about that! 

Yesterday, SACRAMENT MEETING WAS INCREDIBLE!!!! We had 5 investigators at sacrament meeting!! MIRACLE!!!! We have been trying to get Marta Lida to come to church for like 2 months now and she always tells us that she has work....we were almost about to give up on her...but then! A MIRACLE! We have been praying for her and have tried every avenue to get her to come to church. But I have such a strong testimony of prayer ...We walked into church, and there on the back row was Marta! Sitting there, ready to go! We had called her earlier that morning to see if she was coming, and she didn't answer. But there she was in church! She said she wanted to make it a surprise...and boy were we surprised! We were smiling so big! She said that she has been working really hard to get Sundays off so that she can come to church every week! AMAZING! And if that wasn't enough, Sunday morning, Louderes, one of our other investigators that never comes to church, call us and told us that she wants to come and bring her little girl! She did! She got a ride with someone in the ward and told us that she only wanted to stay for the first hour, but after the first hour she wanted to stay for more. She fell in love with church and said that she wants to come back! MIRACLE! I know that she will be baptized soon. Also Ricardo and Jaqueline came! With their WHOLE family! What joy! Also, Jill came and sat next to Juana! THIS WARD IS ON FIRE! The Chapel was FILLED with investigators. I couldn't even stop smiling. The ward welcomed every single investigator with open arms and they commented on how "at home" they felt. AMAZING. 

Thank you so much for all of your love, support and prayers. I love you all so much and pray for you always. I hope you know how and realize what an opportunity it is to live here on the earth as such a time as this! We have such hope and such destiny to live!!! I can't thank you all enough for your examples and for all you do for me. I hope you take every advantage you possible have to serve other people and use this time that we have been given to become the absolute best we can be. That doesn't mean perfect. Also, I am starting to realize something. The more and more I study the life of our Savior Jesus Christ, the more I want to be like Him. He is my best friend, hero and never leaves our side. Rely on Him. Learn of Him. Become like Him. He is our number one fan. I love Him, and am so grateful for His atoning sacrifice so that I could have the opportunity to change. Rely on Him. Change. Smile. Serve.   Tear it up this week, champs! STAND UP for who you are and what you believe. This world makes you want to think that you are nothing, and not good enough! But, much on the contrary, YOU ARE NOBLE AND GREAT. Don't you ever forget that. 


Hermana Weenig

We went to Washington D.C. today with Hna. Escobar! What a blast! We saw Obama's 304983098 cars that passed by with 20 helicopters and the FBI escorting him! Here is the white house!

 I finally got to go to the famous Holocaust museum! It about ripped my heart out! It was so powerful, but sad. 

 Still looks like the Washington mounment is being re-done. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

God Speaks

 I love being a missionary. As missionaries we get the incredible opportunity to study like crazy for the people we teach. And it is so much fun. All I eat, sleep, drink, think, dream about is these incredible people. I love them SO much, and they have truly become like family. This is literally the dream life. I get to wake up every morning, each day totally dedicated to my Maker, and work to bring others to the truth that has changed my life forever. There is so much work to be done, and so little time to do it! Every single person that I see I have a sense of urgency to become their friend and help them and teach them something that will change their perspective and life forever. But what never ceases to amaze me is that the people that we have the chance to teach always seem to teach us a life lesson about how to be more like Christ. I am learning so much from these people---everyday. I love them. They took my heart and ran away with it, and I am totally okay with that.
The message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ can be simply put into two words: God speaks. He speaks because we are His children. He spoke in the days of Moses, Adam and Abraham, and He speaks today. To lead us and to guide us and to walk beside us--to help us find the way. He speaks through living prophets. He is a loving Heavenly Father and doesn't want us to be confused, so He speaks. I know that. This week, more than ever, I was so excited to tell everyone that I saw that Heavenly Father is our loving Father and that He speaks--Now. A lot of people don't know that--they don't even understand what it means to be a child of God. We are ALL children of God and He loves us more than we can imagine, but sometimes we forget to listen--He is always there for us--but the world drowns out His still, small voice.
I have never had someone be so angry at me and hate me for the things that I stand for and believe--that being that God speaks, and the Gospel has been restored through living prophets. We were doing some tracting and decided to knock a potential named Alfa. We knocked and her door and her brother Louis answered. He said we could come in for 5 minutes. Well, that five minutes turned into 2 hours. He FIRED us with questions. He was genuinely interested, and then his sister, who is a die-hard protestant, came in and started yelling at us. Right in our face. She was waving her hands around and making fun of us and laughing at us. She told us we are dumb for believing in Joseph Smith and that the Book of Mormon is a lie and that we are wasting our lives and that we should just go home. She made fun of the temple, of everything I hold sacred. We sat there. I was grounded by peace...nothing she could say would shake me. I was praying like crazy the entire time that we could say something that would soften her heart. Usually I would have been really upset. But there was a peace and a calmness. I bore testimony of what I know. She asked a billion questions about "where in the bible" does it say that. We showed her....and slowly she calmed down. Her brother was in shock. Then something came out of my mouth that I have never though about before. I said, "Our message can be simplified into 2 words--God speaks." They were in shock. Louis said everything we explained about the temple and the restoration makes sense.  We went in with the intentions of teaching how the Gospel blesses families, but then ended up teaching the restoration and plan of salvation. He had SO many questions! After we were both about to fall over because we were so spiritually exhausted! The Spirit literally guided ever step of that lesson, and gave us the power to stand and stand with dignity and calmness amid the bashing. I will NEVER abandon what I know. The restored Gospel of Jesus Christ makes sense. It is logical. It is true and it fills me with peace and comfort. I am so grateful for it. What I know ALWAYS trumps what I don't.
JILL IS GETTING BAPTIZED THIS SATURDAY!!!!! Amazing turn around! We met Jill back in July, just as a happen-stance. She was sitting in the lobby of a building we were tracting in and felt prompted to talk to her. At first her heart was really hard and didn't really want to listen to us. But with time she went through a couple of HUGE trials. Her husband abused her and left her with nothing. She now is living in a shelter. The ward members are taking such amazing care of her, and Jill now has a burning desire to learn everything she can about the Gospel. She wants us coming everyday! We teach her and her 14 year-old daughter outside in front of the homeless shelter.  The other day we were teaching her the plan of Salvation--and I will never forget the look on her face when we taught her about her purpose in life. Our purpose in life is really so simple. It isn't to make money, have a sweet job, have the nicest house etc. It is about proving ourselves to the Lord that we will do whatsoever He commands us to do. And here was Jill. She has nothing. No roof, no food, no nothing---yet she is happy. Why is she happy? Because she has been reading the Book of Mormon like it is cake and has been praying, and learning and becoming the wonderful daughter of God that she was always meant to be. There is such a light in her eyes. I am so excited to see her and her daughter changing their lives. Jill is now living the word of wisdom and is DRINKING in the Gospel. She is such a walking testimony to me that we can be happy if we live the Gospel. We really don't need anything else.
We took Reina Reyes to the temple visitor's center this week!!! What an amazing miracle!! :) We have been trying to set up a "cita" (appointment) with Reina to go visit the temple and learn about how family can be together forever, and it finally happened! It was incredible. Reina absolutely loved it. We called in advanced to the missionaries that work there are we had them set up and teach a powerful lesson on how families can be together forever and how we can feel the love of the Savior in a stronger sense when we are following the example of Jesus Christ. Reina is like my best friend, I love her a lot. There is no doubt in my mind that she will be baptized. I know she will be. The tour was amazing. And at the end, we looked out over the beautiful temple. I got the chills, and the Spirit was so strong as we testified that we KNOW that Reina can enter the temple and be sealed with her family forever. The coolest thing happened. I saw Reina in white and surrounded with her family. I know she will enter the temple someday, and I hope to come back after my mission to see her be sealed to her family. At the end of the tour...Reina cried. FOR THE FIRST TIME! She is such a strong woman. Right now she is being tested and tried in EVERY essence of the word---she is broke, can't pay rent or buy food, her car broke down and she lost her job. But she said something as we sat there staring at the beautiful temple. "I need to be baptized. I know it. And I will be. It has been such evidence that God loves me, because every time I am alone or feel like I can't go on, He has sent you to guide me. And I don't know much, but I know that you have the message that will guide me to happiness, and I trust you." WOW. I was in shock. She is searching the Book of Mormon and coming to church and making all the necessary sacrifice to learn more about Jesus Christ. She is amazing, and it really is incredible to see the changes that are happening in her life. She also taught us how to make amazing El Salvador bread! I just can wait for the day when she enters the waters of baptism--her first step to an eternal family. This gospel is incredible. We are so lucky to have what we have. I was reminded of my beautiful family. Of how much I love them and how lucky I feel that I will get to spend eternity with them. Family is the most important thing, and is what our Gospel message centers around. As we stood in front of the Christos with Reina, I couldn't help but tear up. This work is LITERALLY about bringing other people unto Jesus Christ....whose arms are always WIDE open for us.  
Marta Lida. She is a gem! I love her so much. She is growing and progressing so much in the Gospel. It is truly amazing to see. She is reading the Book of Mormon a lot, and truly coming unto Christ. She tells us that the Gospel is changing her way of life and her perspective. The other day we taught her the word of wisdom...and she drinks alcohol everyday (Ah, man) we have a lot of work to do. But she says she is willing to do it, if its what God wants her to do.
Companionship unity. 5 months together and Sister Wilcox and I are SO connected it is crazy! During district meeting we did a role play that we had to switch off every single word with our companions and teach an entire lesson! It was a role play the zone leaders called "impossible." Apparently most companionships only teach one point of the restoration. Well, when it came our turn we taught the entire restoration, first vision, invited to baptism and shared 2 scriptures in 10 minutes switching off every other word in Spanish! It wasn't even us! It was the Spirit. I really can bear testimony that the Spirit is the one that, if we let it, will guide our thoughts and our words to say exactly what needs to be said. It was SO cool. After it was over, Sister Wilcox and I looked at each other in shock. The Zone Leaders didn't know what to say other than, "That isn't supposed to happen." I love my companion. We work together like peanut butter and jelly. We had president interviews this week, and unfortunately it looks like we will be split up next transfer. The first thing president said to me was, "You guys are on FIRE--and that is why I need to split you up. Are you ready to share the fire?" We have been a little bit sad since then, but we are working hard to give everything we have got together for these next 2 1/2 weeks before transfers. Sister Wilcox had bronchitis this week. She is such a trooper. I took her to an Instacare (more like I had to force her) because she was throwing up like crazy and coughing up blood. I was so worried about her! But she got an antibiotic and I think it is helping her. While she was sleeping because of her sickness, I chatted with a lot of our investigators and ward members via phone. I literally called 50 different people! They are all my dearest friends. I taught lessons via phone, helped them with their lives and got to know them more. It was a fun day, but I missed my companion. I hope that she gets totally better!! :)
Halloween as missionary--we weren't allowed to work, because of all of the trick or treaters and all of the drinking, and sketchy stuff that goes on. So President had all of the missionaries watch a Disney movie. We watched "Monster's University". Apparently it is like the new Monster's Inc? It was so weird watching a movie. I fell asleep in it because I was so tired. But I realized that EVERYTHING is funny as a missionary. Things I would have never thought were funny before are hilarious now. It was fun, but I just wanted to be out working. We wanted to go trick-or-treating, but we weren't allowed. We thought about handing Book of Mormons out to all the trick or treaters, but to no avail. Last Monday, for P-day we had a Halloween activity with the zone! We carved pumpkins, played volleyball and had a pie eating contest! It was a blast! Sister Wilcox represented our companionship like a champ! There was NO WAY I was eating the pies....because the Elders prepared them. But Sister Wilcox took 2nd place in the pie eating contest. I was so proud of her! Also we carved the 2 little pumpkins mom sent us! "CTR" on one and "HLJ" on the other! (Choose the Right in Spanish and English) We took 3rd place in the pumpkin carving contest! What a blast.
Side note: Remember a couple weeks ago, that man that stopped us in the street from Ghana? (his name is Prince) and told us that we knew the way God wants for him? He is getting baptized in a week! We are so excited for him!!! Miracles happen.
Fall is BEAUTIFUL here. The leaves are GORGEOUS. Everyday is a sweet reminder that God created this beautiful earth so that we could come here and have joy. But also so that we could pass through the hard things so that we could learn and grow and BECOME who we need to become. As a missionary, sometimes I am stressed out of my mind because there is so much to do and so many people to find and teach! But the other day I stopped. I saw some kids jumping in the leaves. There were running, laughing and playing. I joined them. I ran with the little children into the leaves and just enjoyed the beautiful creations that are Heavenly Father has given us. My companion probably thought I was crazy. But sometimes it is good to enjoy. In fact, we need to. God has given us our bodies to take care of them, but also to enjoy. I love all the fall leaves and all the beautiful colors! I hope you stop to enjoy.
HUGE MIRACLE!!!! We had 5 investigators in church this Sunday! What an incredible miracle! Juana, our amazing recent convert, met someone on the bus on her way to church and brought her to sacrament meeting! The woman, Maria, has been having a terribly hard life and is looking for truth. She said that she has never felt the way she did when she walked into the church. She said that she has "never felt this way before" and can't wait to learn more! Juana apparently thinks I am the "problem-solver" of the universe. She grabbed my hand during sacrament meeting and took me to her friend. She said, "Here is a woman, she needs your help. She is having problems, and I know you have the answers. She needs to be baptized." Wow. AMAZING! It isn't me that has the answers, but I know Who does! Ruben also came! And also Hermana Alcorn brought a friend to church and introduce us to her, and Maria and Jill came! Sacrament meeting was packed! There was also 20 less-active members in church! WHAT A MIRACLE!!! It was so amazing to see all of the people there! This ward is on fire with missionary work. Everyone is inviting their friends, family and everything! Truly, it is a miracle!
I love this great work. I am happy, working hard and TOTALLY exhausted. But I am so happy. and so in love with these people. I hope all of you are happy and truly know that you are children of God. I can't thank you enough for your support, love, prayers and everything. I think of you and pray for you always. I just hope the best for you and hope you are happy. Please never forget who you are. And remember that God Speaks. He is just waiting for us to listen. I love you all so SO much. I can't believe it is November. Time is literally FLYING faster and faster. It is slipping through my fingers. Never take one single moment for granted. If you are down, go find someone else that is having it worse than you are. You are incredible.
Hermana Weenig
Reina, Hermana Wilcox and I at the temple visitor's center. She is truly coming unto Christ.

Champion pie-eater Hermana Wilcox! I was her cheerleader!

CTR pumpkin!

 The beautiful fall leaves! So incredible! :)