Monday, December 16, 2013

The MOST Wonderful Time of the Year

I LOVE being a missionary. I am SO happy, can't stop smiling, working hard and I am so tired! But I love it! We have been running a MARATHON for the past week...we have just worked, worked and worked and this week flew by! Anyways miracles and miracles have been happening and if I wasn't seeing all them for myself I probably wouldn't believe it. God really has not ceased to be a God of miracles, and when we show Him that we totally and completely trust in Him, He causes HUGE miracles to happen in our lives...miracles within ourselves and miracles in the lives of others. I love this time of year...people seem to be more cheery and open to hear the Gospel.
ADLA BETANCOUR was BAPTIZED on Saturday!!! WAHOOO!! :)  The choirs of angels sing!!! We were so happy and so excited for her. She is literally the strongest 14 year old girl I have ever seen! Seeing Adla from when we first found her and started teaching her a little bit with her mom, Jill (who was baptized a few weeks ago) to is like she is a completely different person and it truly is quite amazing to see how much she has grown and has allowed the atonement to work in her life. Adla is from Columbia, and is the most mature and most sincere human I think I know. She has a heart of gold. Once she understood that baptism is literally like a rebirth and a changing of heart, she told us that she wanted to be baptized on December 14, which was her actual birthday! It was so cool!! She was re-born on her birthday!! :) The bishop was there and told Adla, "You can now celebrate December 14 as the day that you were physically born and spiritually born!" How cool is that! Lucky gal. I will never forget the Spirit that I felt as Adla went down into the waters. A less active member baptized her, and that was yet another miracle!! Another miracle was that one of our other investigators gave the closing prayer!!! WOW! Hno. Tapia called us early that morning and asked if we could perfeorm "Yo se que vive mi senor." We did. Something incredible happened. EVERYONE that was there was weeping after the baptism and that song. It was either a miracle or I have totally lost all ability to sing on pitch. But the Spirit was so strong, and Jill was so proud of Adla. It really has been amazing to see the ward taking her in. Adla said, "I feel so happy, peaceful and free." I will never forget that. Those truly are the blessings of true repentance and following our Savior Jesus Christ. I realized while watching Adla get baptized that we have the opportunity to feel free, happy and peaceful in every moment of our lives...through repentance and faith. MIRACLES HAPPEN. I will never forget Adla. She is like a best friend and sister. And she told us that she will always be grateful "for the angels God sent to her to show her Christ's way." Amazing.
Side story: Anyways, the night before her baptism as we were just talking to her and resolving her doubts and fears about being baptized...we realized that they didn't have the means to make her a cake or get her anything for her birthday. They are still looking for somewhere to that was the last thing on Jill's mind. Adla asked her mom, "Mom, can I PLEASE have a tres leches cake for my birthday." Jill said, "Adla, I don't know." That is when we chimed in. "We will make the cake!" I realized that we had the reciepe from Hermana Aiquipa, an orginal Peruvian reciepe, and said that we would be happy to make it. After the day was done, we were happily making the MOST delicious tres leches cake ever!! It turned out! And Adla was so surprised!! Half the ward turned out for her baptism and they were so loving and supportive! CHRISTMAS MIRACLE! Hna. Teeter, who is from Guatamela, said that we can get married now because we are professional bakers. I laughed so hard.
Music. Before my mission many told me that music would be a huge part of my mission, but I never realized just how much until now. We are being asked to perform all over the place and HUGE miracles are happening! So a famous conductor, Larry Clowes, who plays 21 instruments and has travelled all over the world writing music and directing Handel's Messiah, has been working with us missionaries. He hasn't been super active in the church, but the stake president asked that 4 zones of the missionaries (about 50 of us) perform a song at the Stake Christmas Concert. Some of the missionaries had been working with Larry and invited him to come work with us. He is an amazing musician. Only 5 people in the world got to play the organ at the Cathedral in D.C. and he is one of them. I was super intimidated by him, but then realized he is such a powerful, inspirational leader. He gave me sheet music from the Hymn book and then told me, "You are a musician. Do not play the notes on the page...make this hymn sing. I believe in you." A miracle happened. I was able to add in and completely change the arrangement. It was so exhilarating to work under and play under such a director. My companion got to play the keyboard and we set up pretty much like a WHOLE orchestra. It was INCREDIBLE. After a lot of hard work and practicing with the missionaries, Larry transformed us into something incredible. I have never heard such a powerful song with so much passion and Spirit. Well, yesterday we presented the piece in front of like 700 hundred people. All the missionaries entered humming "Called to Serve" and then we sang. I have never felt so filled with passion, happiness and power as I did when I played that piece and the missionaries sang. It was INCREIDLBE!! We received a standing ovation, and people where amazed. WOW. After, a lady ran up to Larry and I and said, "True musicians take you on a journey, and you are changed when you are done. You two did that to me tonight, thank you!" That is what happens when angels are singing and the Spirit touches the hearts of the people. A HUGE miracle happened while we were performing. Apparently an investigator in the audience was sitting by the Mount Vernon stake president. After we finished performing, he leaned over to him and said, "President, I just felt something I have never felt before in my entire life---and I want to be baptized. But I want THOSE missionaries to baptize me. Here is my number, address and date I want to be baptized." WOAH!!! The power of music and the spirit is real!!! Amazing! It was seriously so beautiful and I feel so honored I got to accompany such an incredible choir. Miracles happen.
Speaking of music, we were also asked to perform "What Child is this?" for the entire mission at the Christmas mission conference we had this week. It was so amazing! The Spirit was so strong, and I don't know what happened but everyone loved it. There were tears. "This, this is Christ the king." I love that song and the message it brings. Because of Jesus Christ our Savior we are able to be healed, to change and to go through this crazy journey of life with hope for the future and all that He has in store for us.
Speaking of practicing for that day we were practicing in the chapel for the mission conference before we were going to have missionary choir practice and Larry stepped in. I was scared out of my mind to sing in front of him, but something told me to keep going. He slowly walked up to the stage and asked..."what are you doing next p-day?" and I said "preparing for the week." He said, "I would like to invite you to come record a song in my studio!!" WOW!!!!! My companion and I are so excited! So after this, I will be heading over to record a spiritual song at Larry's studio!! What a miracle!
It has been a week of EXCHANGES! We did 2 exchanges back to back and it was exhausting! But, oh, how I love seeing all the hermanas and working with them. They truly are beacons of virtue, truth and light! I got to exchange with Hermana Allen, who was my companion back in July. I love that girl! It has been really fun, tiring and amazing to be able to spend time with them, help them conquer their battles and cry with them and rejoice with them. The missionaries in this mission are made of gold. I love them so much, and feel so lucky to work with them. I also got to go on exchanges with Hermana Memmont! She said we "taught up a storm!" We did! It was so fun, and it has been really cool to travel the mission and see all the different areas and meet all the investigators of the missionaries. THIS WORK TRULY IS HASTENING!!! I love it SOOOOO MUCH! Being a sister trainer leader is a lot of work, but I am so grateful to be in the service of these wonderful ladies.
Danilio Molina CAME TO CHURCH and all of our recent converts came to church!! IT WAS A MIRACLE!!! Danilio, is a inactive member that we met back in July and we had lost contact completely with him. We got a call Saturday night from an unknown number. We picked it up....IT WAS DANILIO! He said he wanted to come to church and to let him how to get a ride! AMAZING! And when he walked into the chapel with his kids I JUMPED and RAN out of my seat because I was SO HAPPY and so EXCITED! WHAT A MIRACLE! That was his first time in church for 3 years. Amazing things are happening, and it is so great to see all these recent converts...Juana, Reyna, Jill and Adla all preparing to enter the temple. Wow. I couldn't ask for anything more.
Joel Giron is also a miracle in the making. He is preparing to be baptized in January, and is drinking up the Gospel. He is changing more and more everyday and was so happy to find out where his mom is now that she has passed on. Ramon Castro gave up coffee. many changes. That is what the Gospel is all about. Using the Atonement of Christ and confiding in Him and letting His grace change us and mold us into something much better than we could be on our own.
We also had mission leadership conference this week. They highlighted our area, because apparently we broke a whole bunch of records or something in the mission. They said that our companionship has started a fire and put the fire under a LOT of missionaries to work harder and find the Lord's lost sheep. Numbers really mean nothing to me, but it is the PEOPLE behind those numbers and the changes and the miracles that are happening in their lives. I am so grateful that the Lord is working with them through us so that they can change and come closer to God. They said "Success breeds success." and I also KNOW that faith in Jesus Christ and letting HIM TAKE CONTROL ALSO brings SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS! :)
Thank you SO much for all of your love, support, prayers and EVERYTHING. I hope you are enjoying the Christmas spirit as much as I am. I love this great work, and I love YOU. You are always in my heart and in my prayers. I count my lucky stars that you are my friends and family and that we have been given our Savior Jesus Christ to lead the way and heal us and make us better than we are on our own. Give your life over to our Savior. Rely on Him. He has already been through everything that you are going through and experiencing and he can make your heart feel light. Let Him.
Hermana Weenig
 Me, Adla, Hna. Simpson and Jill on the day of Adla's baptism! AMAZING!

Adla and I! She is so incredible.

Tres leches cake we made for Adla!

 The ward family at Adla's baptism! I love these people so much!

Danilio's little boy, Leo! He is so cute! I got to entertain him during church so that Danilio could actually listen! haha

 Larry Clowes, Hna. Simpson and I after performing at the Christmas concert! What a BLAST!

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