|Baptism! Amazing day! Bruno, a young man in the ward baptized him! What a special day!|
Monday, January 27, 2014
I LOVE being a missionary. If you were to ask me on a scale of 1 to 10 how happy and how much I love this great work I wouldn't be able to answer because there is no scale high enough. Inviting and helping others so BUILD upon Jesus Christ, and seeing them change and follow His path is something that seems like a dream come true. But it is honestly marvelous to see how the Lord's hand is quickly hastening His work here. I am seeing a pattern that is never ceasing throughout my own life as a missionary and in the process of helping others to come unto to Jesus Christ, and that is how to be SPIRITUALLY RELIANT on the Lord. Not worrying about friends, not worrying about family, or other opinions, but truly turning to the Lord in "every thought" and so we honestly can "doubt not, fear not." (D&C 6:36). We have been focusing on finding the elect and truly having people be converted to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by building on the "rock" of Jesus Christ and His atonement, so that "when all hail and mighty storms shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo" because BUILDING your life around Christ and His atonement, is "a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:12) This week went by SO fast and seriously so many miracles have been happening, that I don't even know where to start.
JUAN GONZALEZ ALEGRIA GOT BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!!!!! WHAT A MIRACLE!!! :) :) :) :) :) :) We are literally bouncing off the walls because we are so happy! He is one of the MOST prepared and most converted people that I have taught on my mission. He is absolutely wonderful, and I feel so blessed that I have had the opportunity to learn with him, the ward members fellowshipping him, and to invite him to come unto Christ. Juan is a WALKING MIRACLE. We learn a lot about being led and guided by the Spirit to find those who are ready to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and Juan is definitely one that was carefully prepared by the Lord and placed in our paths. It seems like yesterday we were walking down the street when Juan walked by with his friends. We said "Hola" and sang a hymn about Christ and began teaching about Change and repentance and how we can be happy through following Jesus Christ. I now understand the POWER of talking to EVERYONE as a missionary, and opening our mouths at every chance. Literally. I have full confidence that every single person that crosses our path in some way has been prepared by the Lord for us to talk to, and teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Having that faith and confidence that these people have been prepared by the Lord, makes it so easy to talk to them about what has changed my life forever. Juan was prepared. He listened. He made HUGE changes. He reads the scriptures, came to church, prayed, stopped drinking beer and coffee, he found a NEW apartment place to live in a better environment, he bought a white shirt....HE CHANGED....all within FOUR WEEKS. He is now baptized, and one of the strongest members I have ever seen. He is literally building his life around Christ, and coming unto him. He literally will do anything to be closer to Christ. He has taught me a lot. He is always smiling, always wanting to serve and yesterday we asked him if he was going to go to the third hour of church, and he responded, "I have made a commitment to my God. Of course I am going." That rang throughout my ears all yesterday. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL PHRASE! Juan Gonzalez is one that is truly BUILDING his life upon the rock of Jesus Christ. He has allowed the ATONEMENT of Christ to change Him and make him into something much better. Seeing Juan all in white was one of the coolest moments for me on my mission yet. He really has changed. When he went down into the font and was baptized---I will never forget the look on his face---it was PURE JOY. In fact, the man was smiling so big, I couldn't believe it! He was GLOWING! He is now Hermano Alegria (which means Brother Happiness, if you translate his name to English). I was smiling so big, my companion was smiling so big...and it was a JOY that can't be bought, learned or traded. It was amazing. Juan is clean and is starting totally over. And he is so happy. We are so happy. I am STILL smiling. He asked me to sing, "I know my Redeemer lives" at his baptism, because he had heard me sing it at another one, and said that was when he felt the Spirit so strongly that he needed to be baptized. Oh, the power of music! He received the Holy Ghost yesterday and it was the most beautiful blessing I have ever heard. He was promised to share the Gospel with many and be an instrument for good in the Lord's hands. Lets just say there was a LOT of tears shed. Tears of Joy are the best kind there are.
Nancy is another person who is building her life on the rock of Jesus Christ. SHE GETS BAPTIZED TOMORROW!!! She is so excited, we are so excited and the ward is so excited!!! Nancy is incredible. Seriously. I hate satan. He has been throwing like 1000000 darts of the adversary at her this week, one of them being that her best friend told her that she was totally doing the wrong thing by getting baptized. Nancy was so sad, but as she told us the story, she said in her mind that, "this is just a test, this is just a test." She told her best friend that real friends would love her and support her in her decisions to do what she knows and has felt is right. Nancy is the strongest person I have ever seen. She says, "I can't deny this is EXACTLY what the Lord wants me to be doing right now---and nothing anyone else says or does will break me." She truly has started founding her life upon the rock of Jesus Christ. Tomorrow she'll be laying that foundation!
This week we had an ENTIRE mission conference! Elder Gifford S. Nelson of the quorum of the 70 came and spoke to us! It was absolutely fantastic! We learned a lot about getting to know our Savior Jesus Christ and ACTUALLY knowing who He is, and what He does for us, so that we can help other people come unto Him. One thing that really stood out to me was that as a missionary I am teaching people the Process of Becoming LIKE GOD. Isn't that incredible? The gospel of Jesus Christ, the reason we go to church, read the scriptures, pray and everything we do in the church is all part of the process to mold us into BECOMING LIKE GOD. We are God's in training...never forget that. Keep that perspective and nothing can break you. After, the leadership of the mission learned about how we can be better leaders and help serve the missionaries better. He talked about being SPIRITUALLY SELF RELIANT. That when we don't know what to do, where to go, what to say...ect.. the FIRST source we should turn to is the Lord. Often we don't do that. We turn to other outlets for counsel and advice. But the Lord knows us better than anyone else, so He will guide us to do the right things if we allow Him too. It is all part of BUILDING our lives on a foundation that WILL NOT fall. A foundation of turning to the Lord and being continually engaged in becoming like Gods. Elder Nelson said, "In every place you go, it isn't by chance. Ask them and ask yourself, 'God brought me here, so why am I here?' Then just listen and learn." WOW. POWERFUL. Nothing that God puts us through or people we meet is by chance.
We had president interviews this week, and President Riggs is one of the greatest people I have ever known! I know that God calls and inspires men to lead us and guide us so that we can reach our full potential as children of God.
SIDENOTE: I love my companion Hermana Dopp. She is teaching me so much to be a loving leader and she is so kind! We are working really hard and this week is a BIG week for us as we are putting forth our faith to the Lord and have set some really Big, hairy, audacious, goals for this next week. We are ready to find more of the Lord's elect and to work as hard as we can. A few of the Elders have challenged us again..... I love working hard and being motivated to give ALL that I am to the Lord. I think I am a bit of a competitive tyke. Hermana Dopp says, "I wish we had a ladder to all the rooftops, where we could just shout this all the day through." I would have to completely endorse that idea.
School here was canceled all week because of snow. Crazy, right? But it was perfect because everyone was inside and home! We did a ton of teaching and finding new people to teach and they are wonderful! We are so busy, and so grateful that the Lord is providing us with so much work! MIRACLES are happening and this ward IS ON FIRE! They are working around the clock to come to lessons with us, find friends to teach and miracles are happening!
Thank you so much for all your love, support, letters and prayers. I carry you in my heart and prayers and love you so much. I hope you never let other things get in the way of BECOMING LIKE A GOD. I am learning to be spiritually self-reliant so I don't have to rely on things, the internet, people, or whatever else to make me happy. LASTING JOY comes through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but a lot of times the world tells us to be TEMPORARY SATISFIED through other "joys." Don't let that trick you. You've got SO MUCH MORE JOY AND HAPPINESS THAT THE WORLD COULD NEVER OFFER. Don't loose sight of WHO you are and WHAT you are becoming. I love you. Don't build your life on the shifting sands of the world, choose to build your life on the ROCK of our Savior Jesus Christ...who never moves and is always there. We a wise one, and build your house and your life on a rock.
(on the STRONG foundation of our Savior Jesus Christ)
Posted by Brooke Weenig at 11:57 AM
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I love being a missionary. Literally everything is shut down here this week because of the "huge" snow storm that hit...I LOVE Virginia. This week was absolutely incredible and BUSY. I can't even describe it in words. I seriously feel as if I have been walking on sacred ground and I have been learning so much. I love these people, this work, this gospel, my Savior and EVERYTHING so much. One thing that I am learning from being a missionary is that every heart needs to be touched. It doesn't matter if they are a gangster on the street, a rich lawyer, or just your common joe. EVERYONE needs this message. I love the exhilaration and the peace that comes from sharing the gospel with these amazing people. The Hispanic people really do live constantly in the presence of God; their hearts are so open to change (some more than others) and they want to change and "experiment on the word." This week my socks were blown off by just how much the Lord is HASTENING this work. Miracles---right and left everyday. I am just so grateful my Heavenly Father and my family has given me this incredible opportunity to serve my brothers and sisters here on earth. I feel pretty lucky to help all these people come unto Christ through changing their lives for the better. It is the greatest work, because it isn't about us, it is about Him and THEM.
Nancy. is. on. FIRRRRRE!! Nancy Salizar-pineda is from El Salvador. She is absolutely incredible. Nancy is one of the strongest youth that I have ever met in my entire life. She has always been a fighter both spiritually and physically. She used to get really mad and get in fights with other girls at school. but she is changing. NANCY READ THE ENTIRE BOOK OF MORMON. She said whenever she would get upset and wanted to punch someone she would read because it would calm her down...so she read it A LOT. Nancy is SO prepped and ready to be baptized! We are so excited for her! But let me tell you an amazing story. A girl was bullying her at school and she had about had it. Her friends told her that she should just go beat her up and teach her a lesson, but Nancy said that she would just got "talk it out face to face." Well, apparently, there in the high school lunch-room, Nancy faced her childhood bully. She approached, as the crowds started to gather---you don't mess with Nancy. The bully turned and started to taunt her. Nancy said as she listened she was calm. She has been praying not to get in fights because she doesn't want to get in trouble or expelled. So she listened. And then, she said she was done with her....she got up. Everyone thought she was about to throw a punch. But instead she got up and said in front of her bully and everyone, "Girl, you is lucky Imma be gettin' baptized!!!!!" and then walked away. She said she felt empowered and a peace that she has never felt before. Later, on the ride home on the bus, the bully appeared again. Nancy said she almost couldn't take it---she said she wanted to hit her in the face---but then she said she felt like she needed to pray. So instead of throwing a punch, she prayed. Her friend that was sitting next to her told the bully, "girl, you be lucky she is gettin' baptized. You are lucky, because if she wasn't you wouldn't be alive." Nancy is amazing! She will be getting baptized next Tuesday and she is probably the strongest and most converted person I have ever seen. Her goal is to share the Gospel with all of her family!! I want to be like Nancy!! Nancy has the most real, sincere prayers I have ever heard. She has been in and out of gangs and hasn't had the easiest life. But she is CHANGED. And she is allowing Jesus Christ to change her everyday and to overcome ALL of her weaknesses through turning to Him everyday through prayer.
JUAN GETS BAPTIZED THIS SATURDAY!!! Juan is on FIRE! He has been reading the Book of Mormon, coming to church activities and the ward loves him! We saw him the other day and he had what looked like a coffee cup in hand. We got really scared, and he could see the fear on our face and he smiled and said, "HERMANAS!!! Solo es chocolate caliente!" (Which means "sisters, its only hot chocolate!) He has completely given up coffee, which was hard because he has drank it since he was born practically. Juan is the biggest example to me of just being totally willing to follow the will of the Lord. He doesn't care what he himself wants to do, he just has a HUGE desire to do what the Lord wants Him to do. HE IS INCREDIBLE and we are so excited for his baptism this weekend!! :) Change is SO real. It seems like just the other day we found him when he was going to get drunk with his friends....and now he claims that "God has sent angels to save him" from the path he was on. It wasn't us that changed him. It was a miracle from God.
Miracle: Byron is a Mariachi band singer and is becoming a expert on the Book of Mormon. Byron is from Ecuador and used to sing in a Mariachi band. Yes. He and his band have already committed to singing at our weddings. But besides serenading us and the entire ward with his skills, he has been reading the Book of Mormon like it is chocolate. But it is much better than any type of chocolate. We gave him the Book of Mormon and I remember him taking the Book in his hands and handling it with such care and appreciation. As we bore testimony his eyes lit up. We came back two days later and HE HAD READ ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE BOOK OF JACOB!!! Incredible. He says that he knows it is a Book from God and wants to be baptized on February 15!! We are SOOOOOO excited for him. He has so many insights and questions. He has taught me that the Book of Mormon really is the most true, the most sincere and most powerful book on the face of the earth. Byron loves to read, and has read a TON of religious books, but he says the Book of Mormon is from God and is changing his perspective on life. I love the Book of Mormon, and if I could I would just sit in a hammock all day and read it. But I can't even describe the joy that I feel when I have the chance to share that book with someone else. That Book is and will forever make we want to better, it gives me hope and brings me to know my Savior Jesus Christ better. It is just as Byron says, "a perspective changer." I hope you let it change yours as well.
Another girl, Kelly is from Peru, wanted to learn how to sing. She is investigating the church and the other day we had a powerful lesson. She wanted a singing lesson, (which we did via singing Hymns) but then it turned into "you are a BEAUTIFUL daughter of God with SO much purpose lesson". And then she told us she wants to be baptized NEXT WEEK!! MIRACLES MIRACLES MIRACLES! We are so excited for all these people and how many people have been carefully placed and prepared by the Lord.
This ward and area is ON FIRE. The members here are working overtime and almost all of our lessons are with a member! If the lessons fall through, they come out tracting with us....searching for someone to teach and it is incredible how many people we are finding!
Some of elders are "declaring war on us" because they say they want to set fire to their prospective areas as well. From the APs to the district leaders in other areas, it is amazing to see other missionaries catching the vision of the hastening. Setting high goals and working like CRAZY to accomplish them with the Lord is not only fun, but the people and the areas LITE FIRE. THIS PLACE IS ON FIRE. It is really funny though, because to us, the numbers don't matter at ALL....it is all about the people!! It is SO amazing and so motivating to see all these missionaries working like crazy and having the desire to work hard. I LOVE THIS PLACE! We are working and teaching like crazy. It is seriously all the Lord. The hastening is happening before our eyes.
We had transfers! There was an emergency and all the Hermanas had to have transfers mid-transfers! So I am still with the Woderful Hermana Dopp, and Hermana Sorensen left to a different area. She will be missed! It has been a little stressful as we are trying to re-do exchanges and getting all the hermanas situated and happy....but I LOVE IT. Change is always good! So we are back down to just Hermana Dopp and I. I know that Hermana Sorensen is going on to do some incredible things, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity I got to serve with her for a short while.
I love being able to do exchanges with all the Hermanas as a sister trainer leader. I learn SO much from them. This week was particularly amazing as I was able to go on an exchange with a Hermana that has had a lot of the same difficulties and challenges that I have had throughout my life. These hermanas are AMAZING and I feel so grateful to be able to learn from them and see how the Lord is literally in the details in their lives!! I am learning and seeing how much we all have to rely on the Lord because we are all weak. We have been focusing on the Atonement with the Hermanas and we have been loving it. The healing power of relying on Christ and trusting Him to help us to become better and happy servants is REAL. And I see it more and more everyday. It is truly incredible.
Just so you know, I love you. Thank you so much for you support, letters, prayers, service to me and others, and most importantly for being WHO YOU ARE. We are not here in this life to be the richest, the smartest, famous, the most hipster or whatever. We are here to CHANGE. Change our own lives to be more in line with the will of God, and then to turn outward and help OTHER change and come unto God. I have never ever been more happy in my life as I see these people truly changing and coming unto Christ. I TOTALLY agree with what Moroni said when he said, "My beloved brethren have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men." (Moroni 7:29) I would have to say the GREATEST miracle is the miracle of CHANGE. And the way that we do that is through relying on our Savior and His atonement. So, try it.
|Juan with his HOT CHOCOLATE!!! Ah le lu ia! What a miracle! No more coffee! GO JUAN!|
|Hermana Sorensen and I, she will be missed!|
|We did some service for a Honduraian family! They are incredible! It was their little girls birthday and needed help decorating! I love these people!|
|SNOWWWWWW!!!! We just got the biggest snow storm Virginia has seen in many years! We will be Bundling up! But it is perfect for finding people home!|
|The elders who "declared war" on our companionship. So funny.|
Posted by Brooke Weenig at 12:20 PM
Monday, January 13, 2014
I LOVE being a missionary. This literally is the dream life and I seriously don't think I ever EVER want to leave. This week was literally sacred. Miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle. THESE PEOPLE ARE INCREDIBLE. I love this place, my companions, and this great work. So many incredible things happened, and most of it I can't even talk about because it was so incredible. I have LITERALLY seen first hand how the work of the Lord is HASTENING---like a bullet. People are ready. There is SO SO SO MUCH work to be done and I love it so much. The field is white and READY to harvest. Don't believe me? Listen to this...
Nancy Salzarpineda, from El Salvador---an 17 year old girl that we have been teaching. She IS A ROCK---literally the strongest woman that I know. Probably one of the funniest, but also the strongest. NOTHING shakes this girl. She is getting baptized on January 28!!!! We can't even WAIT!!! AHHH! Well, MIRACLE. We taught her the Word of Wisdom the other day, and that weekend she went to a party. At that party all of her friends were smoking marijuana. They were passing it around the circle and it came her turn. She took it in her hands and thought to herself something we had taught her before, "What would Jesus do?" Without hesitation she said she INSTANTLY crushed it out. Her friends were, in the words of Nancy, "Extremely ticked." What was even cooler about this moment was that after Nancy crushed it out, She began to give her friends a 30 minute lecture on how smoking and drinking are not healthy for your body. In her own words, Nancy said, "I dunno what came over me! But I just started teaching them the word of wisdom and they all looked at me like I was a crazy person. I told them to plan on me never being apart of this stuff AGAIN! It wasn't even that hard for me, because I know who I am and I know what God wants me to do, so that is all that matters! And you know what? They haven't invited me to any of their parties since." WOW. Talk about one of the NOBLE and GREAT youth of the Church. She is amazing! What's more is that she is getting no support from her family in this process of getting baptized. But she KNOWS it is true and can therefore not deny it. "My greatest hope is that after I get baptized, my whole family will just follow suite," She says. I don't know of too many teens that are learning about the Gospel who would have had the guts, the testimony and the enthusiasm to do what she does. I WANT TO BE LIKE NANCY. Fear no one, and live your life because you Love God.
And...If that wasn't enough, she has had really cold feet about being baptized, but she is MORE than ready. But, another miracle happened. The other day, she HAD A DREAM. Her dream was that she got baptized, and then she was in some foreign place telling other people her story of being converted. CHILLS ran up my spine when she said that. We said, "Nancy, I think you are going on a mission." She just responded, "I know." WOW. This girl is UNREAL and is literally one that will change this ward, the church and the world. I am so grateful I have been able to be apart of watching her change her life and come unto Christ. Despite the fact that her friends don't like what we believe, her parents aren't super supportive, SHE STANDS STRONG to WHO she is and WHAT she knows. She doesn't care what the world thinks of her, she only cares about what God thinks! She has already been inviting her family to come to her baptism. She is going to be the fire that sets her family on fire. I LOVE IT.
Side note: This week we went on exchanges! I LOVE THE HERMANAS SO MUCH!! Seriously. I consider it one of the biggest blessing and opportunities to serve them as a sister training leader. I am learning how to listen to people and how to discern their needs. I know now more than ever HOW MUCH God cares about His children and wants to help them. We are all brothers and sisters in this life and we should all be looking out for each other and listening and helping each other out. This week I got to do an exchange with Hermana Wilcox, one of my old companions! I LOVE that girl! It is so amazing to see how she is growing and progressing here on the mission. I love seeing all the different areas, hermanas and ways to do missionary work. I literally am learning so much from all of them! It has pushed me to find ways to help kick-start their areas and help with whatever their concerns and needs are. I truly do love these girls. So much that my companions and I are EXHAUSTEDLY lost in the needs and life of them and our investigators. I know it sounds crazy----BUT I LOVE IT.
The gospel is a gospel of CHANGE. Juan Gonzalez has been someone that has LITERALLY changed because of the Gospel. As you know, Juan was the one we met in the street, and he said that he is ready to change. Well, he is. AND HE IS GETTING BAPTIZED ON THE 25 of JANUARY!! AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING!! He is on fire as well!!! His first Sunday in church is one that I will never forget. Juan is a 60 year old garbage man and the GREATEST person I know. He is so humble, a hard worker and has a sincere desire to follow God. Well, he walked into church 3 weeks ago with his torn up jeans, truckers hat and bright yellow garbage man coat---his face PLASTERED with a smile. CLASSIC. No one cared what he was wearing, because his attitude and joy about being in church distracted from all else. The ward loved him. He came to family home evening at the Bishop's house. We continued to teach him the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Juan started keeping the word of wisdom, started reading the Book of Mormon, started to repent. HE CHANGED. This past Sunday he looked like a totally different person. I had to do a double take just to make sure that it was him. He showed up in a nicely-ironed button up shirt with slacks! He did his hair and looked like a member! It was amazing! THE ATONEMENT AND GOSPEL OF CHRIST HAS LITERALLY CHANGED HIM. He is going to be baptized and it is truly a miracle! I am so excited for him!!! I asked him yesterday if he is inviting his friends to come see him get baptized, and he said, "well, no," he said with a smile, "They'll all be drunk." I am so happy for Juan and that he has given up the world and come unto the lighter, more happy way of life and that is through following our Savior Jesus Christ. We had a baptism in the ward this past week (they asked me to sing, so I had my companions join and we sang "I know my Redeemer lives"---the Spirit was SO strong. Lots of weeping.) and Juan came!! He told us that he is ready to follow Christ and be baptized! The entire ward has been involved in his conversion process and it is SO exciting for him and to see all of the changes that have happened. GO JUAN!! I love that man.
Funny side note: One of our investigators Liz is determined to take me back with her to Peru. So if you don't see me in August, I am in Peru. Love you!
Byron and Hna. Portillo are FINALLY thinking about getting married and so now BYRON CAN GET BAPTIZED! YAY!!! So, we taught Byron all about the Book of Mormon this week and I will forever remember this lesson because of the way he treated the Book of Mormon. After explaining how much the Book means to me and how it has changed my life and after testifying with all my heart that I know that it is true and that my Savior Jesus Christ lives....I handed him the Book. I said, "Byron in your hands you hold the greatest gift that I have ever given. Let it change you, and read it, study it. In here God has shown you the plan and how to make it through this crazy journey called life and still come out on top." He took the book, half of him shaking and he cradled it in his hands and stared at it for the rest of the lesson. He said, "I will read this book, because I know it is of God." AMAZING. Do we really TREASURE the Book of Mormon? I hope so, because it is the GREATEST thing ever given to man. It is my right-hand man. I love it.
We gave the Book of Mormon to another one of our investigators Juan Carlos, and right after we said "Amen" to the closing prayer of the lesson he took the Book and ran upstairs saying, "I am going to start reading this book now! I have waited a while for this!" MIRACLES.
Amazing miracles are happening all of over the place and I just wish that there was MORE time. So many people have been prepared for this amazing message and God really is PUTTING them in our paths....
It was DOWN POURING rain outside and we were following up with some investigators, that is when we saw two ladies trying to carry a TON of groceries across the street. We were already SOAKING wet, but with a smile we asked, "Can we help you carry your groceries, we represent the Savior Jesus Christ and we have been sent here to serve you." They looked at us in awe and we walked all the way to their house. They are from Guatemala! They invited us in and now we are teaching them! Amazing how the Lord works.
On Thursday some huge miracles happened. All of our plans, back up plans and back up plans to the back up plans fell through. So we prayed. We were led and guided to a specific door in a apartment complex. Reina answered. She had been taking the missionary discussions before in her country, but couldn't find the missionaries here. And, THERE WE WERE!!! We came in and started teaching the first lesson, as we related the story of Joseph Smith she began to cry. She said, "I feel something inside of my heart that I have never felt before in my life." I got the chills again. She is an amazing lady, and I know that God sent us to that door, so that we could find her and her family! We are so excited to teach them!
I am so grateful to all of you. Seriously. Thank you for your support, love and prayers. I hope you never forget how much I love you. I pray for you always and wish you the best. The work is hastening. And I am so excited to hear that you guys are getting involved in the work of the Lord. It is truly the most happy, most exhausting, best, exhilarating, thing that I have EVER done. I hope you share your light with someone this week and never forget who you are and WHOSE you are and WHAT you represent. The world needs people to STAND. So...
|I gave my bag to this cute girl from Honduras that I met on an exchange! She said that she will carry her scriptures in it and wants to be a worthy and strong young woman that is a light to the world! You go girl!|
|Emma came to church for the first time! She is an 18 year old from Bolivia! And she told us after church that she TOO wants to be baptized! She is on fire! :)|
Posted by Brooke Weenig at 1:36 PM
Monday, January 6, 2014
I LOVE being a missionary. It is 2014 and I can't even believe it! I love this mission, these people, the Spanish language and EVERYTHING. Time is slipping through my fingers and I can't slow it down. 2013 was an amazing ride, and I learned so much and am determined to learn even more in this next year.
Part of being a sister trainer leader for the mission, I have the opportunity to attend mission leadership councils. This past week, we discussed the importance of setting high goals and one idea really stuck out to me. Our wonderful mission president talked a lot about how, "It doesn't matter WHO you WERE because God only cares about WHO you are BECOMING." That, to me, sums up the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. More than ever, Jesus Christ and His atonement is more real to me. Because of what He did for me, I can change and become better. I can reach my divine potential and so can all of us! I know that as we prayerfully set goals for this upcoming year, 2014, Heavenly Father will help us accomplish all we want and more. And the parts of the year where we are too weak to stand on our own, we can turn to our Savior Jesus Christ and He will do the rest. By far, my favorite part about being a missionary, is seeing people change through accessing the power of the atonement and learning to give all their lives and rely totally upon our Heavenly Father.
It has been another week FULL of miracles I don't even know how to start. I really do feel so grateful and blessed to work with the Hispanic people, they are continually living in the presence of God and have open hearts, and are willing to change and come unto Him.
One of those people is Juan Gonzalez. He incredible. Remember how I told you about how we met him on the street the other day? Well, since then, he has been reading the book of Mormon, coming to church and praying. Since his roommates are anti-Mormon, we have been teaching him in the McDonalds near his home when a member-home isn't available. I never knew how strongly you could feel the Spirit in a McDonalds (yes, I know, McDonalds--sometimes if we are lucky it is in the Laundromat). I think this week we had one of my favorite lessons with Juan. He walked in and it was REALLY cold outside and so he said, "after the lesson, I am buying all of us coffee." We smiled. We had a less-active member with us and my companions and I just all smiled at each other. We said a prayer to start the lesson and jumped into teaching the word of wisdom. The amazing part about the lesson was the Juan was like, "Well, if that what God wants me to do--I will do it, even though it will be a fight." Juan has drank coffee since he was a lad, but is giving it up for God. He is changing. In fact, the other day, HE called us, and wanted us to teach him more. I am so excited for him to get baptized!!!
We had a massive miracle this week. SO BIG that it BROKE THE MISSION RECORD. We taught 28 member-present lessons in one week!!!!!! WOWOWOWOW!! Thanks to this ward and lots of hard work! Apparently, it has never been done in the Washington D.C. mission. We are having a total blast going out with members, teaching them how to be member missionaries and we have truly caught the vision of getting the members involved in EVERY step of the work. THIS PLACE IS ON FIRE AND THIS IS THE BEST WARD I HAVE EVER SEEN!!! They are such heroes and examples of sharing the Gospel with everyone. Not only that, but it has been amazing to take out our recent converts and less actives out with us and seeing them grow and change into fully converted members of the church. I have learned an important lesson: If you want your testimony to grow, SHARE it with someone---TEACH someone you know and MORE light will come into your life and your eyes. Want to hear a miracle about some "lights" in my life?
Diana is a recent convert from about 2 months ago. We called an asked if she would be willing to work with us for a couple hours, and she was more than willing. Well, we had some amazing lessons set up but ALL of them fell through. So, we prayed. This amazing member said, "I've got a friend you can teach." So we followed. What followed suite was some of the most incredible lessons I have ever had the opportunity to be apart of on my mission. We taught her friend---tears of joy happened, we are teaching them now. Then, we were really tired and a little down that all of our solid lessons fell through...so we prayed again. The Lord LITERALLY carried us through the use of Diana. Diana lead and guided us from door to door as we tracted. She was soooo guided by the Spirit and it was a miracle---we found 3 NEW FAMILIES we are going to start teaching. What a miracle. Members ARE THE KEY TO THIS WORK. We need each other. Her faith and her willingness to do the work of the Lord with NO fear of denial will be permanently ingrained in my brain. She is an amazing lady. Hna. Castillo is another amazing woman. She came out with us and share how she has changed through the Gospel....people are SO touched by the stories and the experiences that members share through living the principles of the Gospel. THAT IS WHY THIS PLACE IS ON FIRE and SO many people are wanting to hear the Gospel. I LOVE IT!!! :) I LOVE THIS WARD AND THESE PEOPLE!
Another amazing miracle happened this week! JAVIER AND VANESSA MADE THE GOAL TO GET MARRIED!!!! WAHOOOO!! That means their baptism is the Saturday after that! Thanks to the Spirit, ward members that have come with us, and their willingness to "experiment on the word" Javier and Vanessa are becoming true converts of the church! They are on fire! They have a goal of going to the temple to get sealed in a year and I can't wait to be there for it. They have made so many changes in their lives, but have never seen the need to get married. Javier told us the other day, "You guys, I read this chapter in the Book of Mormon, and realized that I have been living in sin." WOW! Amazing. Things are changing, and THEY are changing because they are deciding that it is time to follow their Savior Jesus Christ. We can all have those moments when we realize "uh-oh, I gotta change" but the beauty of it all is that we GET to change for the better EVERYDAY. Jesus Christ already paid the price for all the crazy things we have ever done. We just have to promise to change and He will help us carry the heavy load.
I can promise you that the Lord puts His missionaries in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time. But you know what? He can do that with ALL of us, if we let the Spirit guide us to the place we need to be. Here are some amazing experiences we had with that this week:
#1: We had knocked, and knocked and knocked one day this week and NO one was answering. It was earlier in the day on New Years...and people were not very excited to see us. So we prayed. We asked Heavenly Father what we should do, because we had worked so hard and tried so hard and didn't know where to go. Immediately after the prayer ended, "Amen." And then we looked up. There came Doris. A woman that wanted to get baptized, but then we could never find her. God sent her to us. She was SO excited to see us and invited us in and wanted us to teach her. She said she has really had the desire to change, and her new goals for the year include getting closer to God. WHAT A MIRACLE.
#2: Hna. Maldonado (from Guatemala) was out with us. We had tried to get a hold of Marina. Marina, this past week had read and studied the pamphlets and prayed about them. She told us that she KNOWS that everything we are teaching and she wants to get baptized. Well, we had a lesson scheduled for her, but when we went to knock, she wasn't home--we were devastated. But we had faith that we would still somehow see her. So we decided to go teach and do some street contacting. We had just got done with a lesson, and we had 20 minutes left. That is when we said a prayer. We felt like we needed to walk past Marina's house one more time before leaving the area. And! There she was! On her porch! She said she felt terrible that she missed us and wanted her to come teach her now! AMAZING MIRACLE. The lesson was incredible and the Spirit was so strong. During the lesson she told us that she has been trying to find a church and has tried other churches, but none of them felt like they were the right ones. She said that she has never read more powerful and true doctrine as she has in ours. She is PREPARING TO BE BAPTIZED ON THE 28th! Amazing! But the most amazing part of it all was to hear that woman pray. It was so sincere and real. It was almost as if God was literally in the room with us. I realized that prayer really is a time for us to talk with God. I hope all of us take the opportunity to talk out loud to our Father and ask for help, tell Him thanks and allow Him to help us work out the things in our minds that our stressing us out.
There are SO many miracles that are happening. And I know that SO many more are just waiting to happen. I am so happy, and I hope you are too. This truly is the greatest work and I feel like it isn't even work. It is what I eat, sleep and drink---and I wouldn't have it any other way right now. Every day I see more and more of how Heavenly Father is in the DETAILS of our lives and that He provides MIRACLES if we let Him, and if we trust in Him. I can tell my faith is growing, and I know that God is real and that He loves me and all of us. I KNOW that Jesus Christ is my best friend and right-hand man that I could do and be NOTHING without. He CARRIES me everyday. Let Him carry you too. Because as a missionary and as ANYBODY, there are days that you are tired, stressed, beat, hated, and just want to give up. But HE is the light at the end of the tunnel, and HE makes it all worth it and HE makes us strong when we can't do it by ourselves. Trust Him. Put Him first and ALL else will fall into place...it always does.
I love you all so much and I can't thank you enough for your support, love, and prayers! I love being a missionary. It is the BEST decision I ever made. I love you all so much and I hope you know that you are always in my prayers! This is the year to keep reaching your divine potential---remember: "It doesn't matter who you were, because God ONLY cares about who you are becoming."
|HAPPY NEW YEAR!|
|Ocampos Family. We have been teaching their friends the Gospel.|
|Nauvoo stone was the centerpiece of one of the exhibits in the US history museum.|
|Yes, that is a piece of the Berlin wall. :)|
|Harry Potter's ACTUAL costume!!|
Posted by Brooke Weenig at 8:44 PM