Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"You is Lucky Imma Be Gettin' Baptized!!!!!"

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 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 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.
Hermana Weenig
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.

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