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! :)

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