Sunday, 8 June 2014

News from Kirstin for the month of May:
We were teaching a couple that is investigating the church, they are Melissa and Raymond. We were going to teach them about the Restoration but the Spirit directed us to teach the Plan of Salvation instead. It was just what they needed because they both had questions about relatives who had passed on and if they would ever see them again. They really liked the lesson and Melissa had tears in her eyes and she has seen a few different depictions of the ‘life-heaven cycle’ but she said that she liked our best, but she didn’t know if it was true yet. We taught them about prayer and how they could receive an answer. They have definitely been prepared for this and it is so incredible to see the Lord working on others and how He works through us to bless their lives.
We went over the baptism questions with the VanDeventer family and then Barbara and Shay I gone so well, we had dinner with them and other family members in celebration of their baby’s first birthday and we have everything ready to go for the baptism. They are so great and they will be confirmed on Mother’s Day. What a blessing to be part of! They are like a second family; I am definitely going to have to come back when they go to the temple to be sealed in a year.
Barbara’s and Shay’s baptism was incredible; the Spirit was so strong and we had to use the chapel because there were so many people that came. It was great to see everyone that came out for them; a lot of their family was there and many less-active members. We were able to talk to many of them to see if we could work with them – we’ll just have to see how it all turns out.
We had a zone conference and our mission president introduced a new way of teaching using the pamphlets more and it has been quite effective. We have seen many miracles from teaching this way; people are opening up to us more and we are learning what their concerns are what they are struggling with sooner so that we can address their concerns and help them move forward.
We had transfers and I have been transferred to the Santa Clarita YSA ward so I am still in the same valley and I cover the entire valley; I cover my previous areas – Canyon Country, Newhall and Stevenson Ranch. My first full day in YSA work, I got to see Kelsey who lives with a member, Barbara Myler, in Stevenson Ranch. It was awesome to see them again. Kelsey goes to Canyon College and plays on their soccer team. My companion is Sister Forbush, she has only been out 3 months, but she is really fun and nice. It’s different being in a YSA ward because the work is different here; I trying to get used to it. We get to go to the Institute Family Home Evenings which is really cool. For one of our home evenings we went to the bishop’s storehouse and helped out there; our ward was assigned to sort and package potatoes. Lately we have been working in different areas with the missionaries to find people we can teach. We make them brownies so that when they find YSA age people they will hand them off to us so that we can teach them. It is really working well and I am getting really good at making brownies fast. We also began teaching Kelsey, but we are taking it slow because she wants to learn about other religions too. We have a lot of finding planned (which means a lot more brownies) so hopefully we can get more people to teach. People are being prepared, it’s just a matter of time now to see if they are ready to learn which is determined by the Spirit.
Love you all! Sister Reese

Sunday, 13 April 2014

This year my birthday was quite different – first, my companion went home on the Saturday before and so I spent the weekend joining other companionships as I was guided by the Spirit. On Tuesday (March 11) I was given a new companion. Her name is Sister Lewis and she is from Oklahoma. She is amazing and we really clicked. She also just came from a difficult companionship; we spent the first couple of days getting organized and adjusting to each other. We did a lesson with the VanDeventer family and it went really well and the Spirit could really be felt. Anyway, I’ve learned a lot from this last experience and I know that it has made me stronger. I know that I wouldn’t be going through these trials if the Lord didn’t trust me to be able to get through them. I know that I am in good hands and that everything happens for a reason; we may not know always know until later. I know that I am where I am supposed to be at this time and that the rest is up to Heavenly Father; He is always on my side and will always be.
We are teaching a lady named Chedi (from Nigeria) and her daughter, Cheoma. We taught them about the Restoration and then taught about the Book of Mormon. The daughter commented, “So the Book of Mormon is just an extension to the Bible” which was really interesting and they both agreed that if the Book of Mormon talks about Christ then it must be from God. Chedi also said that she feels comfortable around us that she has been to many churches and often gets feelings about whether they are right or wrong. We need to get her our church so that she hopefully can feel the Spirit and progress further. We are still running into people that want nothing to do with us; we have even been called ‘Satan’. It just proves that our message is true and that Satan is trying to stop this work any way that he can.
The first week of April was busy and great. We moved our preparation day to Tuesday so that we could go to the LA temple on Monday – I really love this temple. We had a wonderful time. We picked up a new investigator, Rachelle. She has two kids (3yrs. and 1 ½ yrs.) and really wants to figure out her relationship with Father, and she is very open-minded. Then we met with the VanDeventer family and they have set May 10 as the date for the mom and son to be baptized. They are so amazing! They have already started inviting people to their baptism and they know who they want to speak and sing. The Lord is really helping them to be prepared for this life-long commitment; it’s just so great to see and be part of. We also have a new investigator named Yohatey, from the Dominican Republic, and she was really receptive to the message we shared. We also got a referral and we went to meet with him but he was just a Bible basher; as soon as the lesson started I knew that we were not going to get anywhere with him so we left. This just goes to show that the gospel is true otherwise Satan wouldn’t be trying so hard; but in the end they won’t be supported. Just like the account of Korihor in Alma 30:60; but you can’t do anything for them if they aren’t willing to listen or try it. On Sunday we got permission to go to the VanDeventer’s for dinner and we were able to meet their extended family; it was really fun getting to know their family. By the way I got to go golfing for one of our p-days; it was fun and I found that I am not too bad at it.
A week later, we taught Chedi and Cheoma again and then invited them to come to a baptism that we were going too. Chedi was able to come and she really liked it. We then gave her a tour of the church and she loved the chapel and she could feel the Spirit. It will take a while before she joins the church since she works on Sundays. She is trying to get some Sundays off and she believes and understands what we are teaching her. Her daughter was told by a nonmember that Mormons practice polygamy and we were able to set her straight – she said that from now on, if she has questions, she will come to us instead.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Dear Family,
For Sister Young’s birthday we went to the temple and had a wonderful time. I decided to fast the day before and it was a great trip. I learned a lot and we went with the Judds. It was a perfect day, the sky was clear and it was just great!
After the temple we had two lessons planned and one of them was Fred. For his lesson we mostly just reviewed since it has been 2 weeks since we saw him. Then we met with Jessica, a very, very less active. She’s been doing well with reading the Book of Mormon. She really likes getting to read it all the way through. The Judds, invited their friends to their home to take the lessons. We had a lesson with Debbie and her daughter, Erica and it went really great, the Spirit was really strong. These members are really great at being missionary-minded all the time. (The dad looks like Thor and his wife is the world champion for pole dancing – as a professional sport; it is really cool.) They have helped bring many people to the gospel over their lifetime.
We had a pinewood derby and us and the elders made a car that took second place. The best part though was that the VanDeventer boys came (part member, less active family we are working with) and they really enjoyed it which was great.
We have had some typical missionary weeks, we had lots of appointments fall through but we still did have some. We taught Jessica and Angelo the Plan of Salvation and they were really involved and ready to hear more. We also met with Crysta and taught her the Restoration (she is a new investigator) and she asked a lot of questions. She also came to a baptism and she got to meet the Stake President and he told her about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon. We gave her a tour of the church and she really liked it and said that she would come to church on Sunday. It has been great working with her; she has a genuine interest in learning and putting herself into the Church. We found a really great potential; her name is Chedi from Nigeria. She is really nice and we gave her a Book of Mormon and are planning on meeting with her later to teach her.
Just a side note – I am now the zone’s seamstress; elders are bringing their pants to me to sew up holes that they get in them. It actually is quite funny considering that I have not done much sewing in my life; but, I am doing okay with this. We have also had some good rain storms in this area. We even had a few flash flood warnings and they really mean it; these are real! We were out two day while it was really raining and we got soaked. It was super fun though; I decided that I really like knocking in the rain – it makes me feel like I am actually accomplishing things.
We have had transfers and I am staying in Canyon Country but Sister Young is going. My new companion is Sister Alleman from Springville, Utah and she has been out for almost 5 months. I have another companion that is also struggling with depression. The first one went home and I sure hope she doesn’t go home too (especially with not with me.) This transfer will likely be a trial of my faith. The Lord has been preparing me and blessing me, but now is the time of the battle. A quote that I have on my wall here says, “The fight with sin is real. You have been called to lead thousands in the fight. You are on the front lines. Prepare yourself, and fight the good fight of faith.” Going to ‘battle’ can be scary sometimes, but I know that it is worth it in the end. I want everything to work out; so we’ll see what happens. Thank you so much for your support and all that you do for me. I have such a wonderful family!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Dear Family,
February 3
This week we had zone conference and it was really great and there were a lot of things to learn. It mostly focused on improving teaching, which is a big focus for me right now. The next day we met with Fred, a referral, he is a Philippine and we had a good lesson with him. He promised that he would come to church the next week. He is Catholic and goes on his church on Sunday, has us teaching him on Wednesdays and he has the Jehovah’s Witnesses on Fridays. (He likes learning about religions.) We will keep meeting with him to see how he progresses. We also had exchanges and we met a lot of cool people. One person that we met was Mario, a mailman. He is ready for the gospel and is being prepared; he lives down in the valley so we hope the missionaries find him down there. He was telling us that the next big earthquake is coming because there are some signs happening like weird weather (80’s one day, rain and 60’s next, then 65 which dropped to 42 and 50 the next day), birds acting unusual (one day there were a lot of crows and then the next day nothing). He said that these signs were also present in the last bad earthquake in 1994 which he experienced; we’ll see if he is onto something.
We picked up two new investigators – the VanDeventer family and a couple named Cory and Karla. They are amazing and they seem so prepared for the gospel. So in all, we got four new investigators right now which is great. It’s nice to have people to teach.
We also went back to see Zaher this week (knife situation last week) but we had a member with us so we weren’t alone with him and the grandkids. His situation just keeps getting more confusing; I have no idea what to think so we’ll just see what happens.

February 10

This week wasn’t super busy, but we still had some good things happen. First we got to meet with Jessica, a less active since she was a teenager, and she has really wanted to read the Book of Mormon all the way through and in 2 weeks she has made good progress. She and her husband, a nonmember, even came to church, partly because we were singing in church. We sang ‘This is the Christ’ and it went really well. Then we went to the VanDeventer family with their home teachers and it went well. They want to get back into the church so badly, but a lot keeps happening in their life that holds them back sometimes.
We had more less active lessons this week, either with members or nonmembers in the family. One couple that we taught was Cory and Karla. Cory set a baptism date for March 15th, but he didn’t make it to church so we will have to push it back a bit. This was a little disappointing because he is so ready to be baptized; they have even been to the temple’s visitor center at least twice. He just needs to come to church.
Last fast Sunday our mission president asked all missionaries to include the California drought in their fast. This was a state-wide fast; the drought is much worse than expected. Later we did get some rain that brought some much needed moisture.

Kirstin Reese

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Kirstin’s letters from January:
January 14
I tried ribs two nights in a row and they are not my favorite and they are really annoying to try and eat; but at least I tried it. Last Monday we played sand volleyball which is my favorite and of course I had to dive – just a small bruise on my shin. The next day about 3 hours of plans and back-up plans fell through in about 20 minutes so we decided to walk a bike path to see if we could meet people. We then went to an appointment and got 2 new investigators: Maria and James. James goes to his own church, but Maria is looking for a church and she told us that she loves learning about our religion. Right now we have about 7 investigators but some of them are not progressing and I want to drop them (at least short term); the problem is they have been taught by missionaries for about 2 years so maybe they need a break and when they are ready to learn again missionaries can pick them up again.
We have found some really good potential investigators going to a member’s home and asking them for neighbors that we can visit and then have them pray for us to see success while we work in their area for an hour. Then we go back to the member and tell them everything that happened during that hour. We have found a lot of potentials from this, it’s been really cool.
Well the weather is beginning to warm up a little during the day but it is still cold at night. This week we had a language study for all the visa waiters in our zone which also included my companion. Our zone leader speaks Portuguese so he could help the missionaries waiting for their visas practice their language. I and another elder just sat there because we couldn’t participate so I just read my scriptures. Yesterday we went bowling and signed transfer journals and we also took a lot of pictures since next week. I and my companion are staying put for now.

January 20

This past week was pretty slow and it was a rough week because we had a ton of rejections and all but 1 or 2 of our plans for the whole week fell through. That’s missionary work for you! It was kind of ironic because at our district meeting on Tuesday the topic was rejection and dropping people, so that is what we saw this whole week. (It really wasn’t ironic, the Lord was just preparing us for this hard week that we had.) There were a few good things that happened: Salena has been an investigator forever and we met with her and we figured out what she needs. She told us of her son’s conversion (is now less active), as well as her religious background – she is not getting baptized anytime soon since she feels a need to respect her mother’s choice of religion – Catholicism. She did tells that she knows that the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith are true. Her family is stopping her for now.
The other good thing that happened is we were able to finally meet with a referral – Jessica and Angelo. Jessica is a long-term less active (many years) and she has taken a whole new path and her husband, Angelo, was raised Catholic but doesn’t really practice. Jessica has decided that she is looking for the truth and has decided to read the Book of Mormon and Angelo is supporting her and reading it too. It is going to be a slow process in bringing her back to gospel. Angelo is open-minded and seems ready to receive the gospel. We shall see.
We had stake conference this week and it was all about missionary work. It was broadcast from Salt Lake City to Southern California. Speakers were Elder Arnold (of the 70), Sister Linda Burton (RS pres), Elder Anderson (of the 12), and President Eyring. It was great the talks were mostly on missionary work and it was amazing and definitely needed after this difficult week and it helped get us more motivated.

January 27

This week has been a little different and I’ll start out with the bigger news/lesson. Missionaries are thrown into countless different situations and you have to learn fast. I thought about the experience and thought about how fast you learn things when you are on a mission. I know that the Lord protects His missionaries, and I also know that Satan is doing all he can to stop this work and win the fight that is still raging. So my experience came from a visit to a member who has been in the area 4 months and didn’t know where the church was and he is a recent convert of 2 years. His name is Zaher and he is Egyptian (in his 60s/70s) but has been in America for 15 years. While we were visiting with him, his grandkids came out and started playing around, Rolffe (4 yrs) and Roselle (3yrs). Roselle was just drawing pictures for us and Rolffe was playing with a toy car. Rolffe has a temper and got mad at something Zaher said so he pulled his walker away from him and went back to play. Rolffe then want to have a ring from my finger so that he could toss it around, but I didn’t want to lose it and then he tried to pull it off but he couldn’t. So he said that he was going to cut it off. I and my companion thought he meant a butter knife since he was only 4 but he went into the kitchen and came back with a chopping knife. At that point all conversation was dropped and we carefully watched Rolffe. Zaher told him to put it away and was ignored. Rolffe forgot that he was trying to cut off my ring and began swinging the knife around and came close to everyone with the blade which was really scary. Then he put that knife away and got a butcher knife; I could feel my heart drop as well as everyone else’s. Conversation was over and it felt like it was survival of the fittest match. He was waving that around and everyone was watching every move. It literally felt like we were being threatened with knives, just by a 4-year old and I feel like that is the scariest part because a 4-year old doesn’t understand the dangers and consequences. So as Rolffe was going back to the kitchen we told Zaher we had to get going to our ‘next appointment.’ We shook hands and headed for the door and Rolffe came out (without a knife) and tried to stop us from leaving by leaning on the door. I then saw something in his eyes that wasn’t there before – Rolffe has followed the example of his parents (non-members) so he still has his innocence but you can see the effect of unrighteous habits that he has developed. So we finally got the door opened and slipped out so nothing else would happen. I hope I never have to go back there when the grandkids are there or at least send the elders. This all happened between 1-2pm on Saturday. Anyways, that’s the experience that I had this week that I learned a lot from, now we can move on to happier and/or more focused things for the week!
We did have another lesson with Maria and Jamie and that went really well; we taught the Restoration and we had a member there and it was amazing to see how well she and Maria got along – they literally seem like best friends. The Spirit was definitely there and we are really making progress (with Maria mostly, Jamie is still set on going to his church for now). In other news we had a Jehovah’s Witness knock on our door while we were doing studies in the morning and that was really interesting. He was older and nice and he recognized who we were right away so he just talked with us a bit and didn’t even say that he was a Jehovah’s Witness (I just saw the pamphlets in his suit pocket that he was passing out). He shared a scripture with us and then left. At least he was like one I met in my first zone who threatened to kill you.
As of January 24 I have reached my half-way point of my mission. It’s crazy how fast time goes; I really enjoy being here.

Sister Reese

Sunday, 12 January 2014

December 30
It has been a very unique week with Christmas and everything else. First off, there was a fire on Christmas Eve during the day and it was in our area. It was just above the empty Santa Clarita River bed and just down the hill from where some houses were. The fire didn’t spread too much or get any houses and we weren’t asked to evacuate, so that was good.
Christmas Eve dinner was really good; I tried clam chowder and it wasn’t bad at all. The mother sent us and the elders, home with a huge stocking of candy and a gift. It was really sweet. Christmas Day we opened our gifts in the morning and then spent the day visiting with members and decorating the door of a less active member. Then we had an early dinner at our ward mission leader’s home with the elders in our ward and it was really great! We watched the video “Joy to the World” and then we went home for the night.
The day after Christmas we got a call from a member who moved into the ward, from American Fork, Utah, in August saying that they needed help moving out because they had to be out by that day. So we spent a few hours helping them move. The rest of the week was really slow.

January 6
Happy New Year! I hope you all welcomed the New Year with a bright new hope for this year. It was kind of a weird new year’s eve this year – we had to be in by 7pm and it was really quiet, like it was just a new day, nothing special; it was kind of odd.
This week wasn’t really busy; but, we had to drop one of our investigators. It was Savitri, the Indian from Figi because she really doesn’t understand that well and she can’t/won’t be baptized (she lives with her son and he won’t let her). Maybe later when there is someone who can teach her better in her own language she will be able to learn and perhaps get baptized. We got a really solid referral this week and we went by their house New Year’s Day and they were amazing! It’s Maria and Jamie and they have had missionaries before and are finally ready to learn again. We have a return appointment to teach them and we can’t wait. Maria has been reading the Book of Mormon and marking it so we are hoping all goes well with that. We also met Hector this week in our apartment complex and he just moved in. We met him as we were going to our apartment and he has many friends that are members and he just asked us on the street if we had a message for him. We set a time to go visit him again.
I child in the ward had just turned 8 and was being baptized and we were invited because the family had invited a lot of nonmembers so we got to meet some of them. Although we did not get anyone to teach, we got a chance to talk with them and perhaps some seeds were planted.

Love Sister Reese

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Kirstin’s letters:

December 11
This week is transfers – both I and my companion are going to new areas. It was really hard to say goodbye to the members of the Stevenson Ranch ward; they are so amazing. I am in Canyon Country and my new companion is Sister Young; she is waiting for her visa for Brazil. The area and apartment remind me of Chatsworth even though it is different. The people here seem pretty great; the ward is more on the missionary minded side which is great! We also have a lot of older people in the ward and there are more less actives, so we have a lot of work that we can do. So far we have already met a few potentials as well as a new investigator. Our new investigator is Freda – she is from the south and has a thick accent but she is really cool and is absorbing the lessons and enjoys them.
One thing that happened at transfers was Sister Myler and her neice, Kelsey Sherry (soccer player for the local college), came and the spirit was really strong. Hopefully she will be ready to take the lessons soon! She is so sweet and it would be wonderful if she could be baptized.
My new area is in the mountains more so there is a bit more wind and it is freezing! It rarely gets above 60° and the low so far has been 34°! California isn’t supposed to get this cold. I am already wearing jacket/coat layers because it is just way too cold for me! We had our ward Christmas party this week and it was really great. We got to meet a lot of people in the ward. My companion, I and the elders led the ward in singing some songs and I realized that I was singing the loudest because many weren’t singing much – what a way to introduce myself to the ward.

December 18
There was a lot of variety that happened this week. Monday we got to play soccer with our zone and that was super fun, but it was really cold. My team won though. On Tuesday we had zone conference and it was so amazing – I took about 13 pages of notes because of how cool and energizing it was. Our motto for 2014 is: “A culture of high expectations.” A lot has been changing in the way we do missionary work in our mission, but it has really been emphasized that our purpose is to baptize and because of that strong focus, we have been changing the way we work so that we can baptize more.
Later in the week we went on exchanges. I joined Sister Naylor and we found a new investigator. Her name is Rosemary and it was such an amazing door contact – we just knocked and we started telling her who we were and we shared with her how much our Heavenly Father loves her and she started crying. She told us that she was just barely sitting at her table praying and then we showed up. She felt that it was a sign from God and she let us in and we talked with her and prayed with her; it was so incredible! I know that the Lord is preparing His children and that he works through us, His weak and simple servants to find His children and bring them back to His family. It is just amazing to feel the Holy Ghost testifying through you to the hearts of our brothers and sisters. I know it’s not because of me that people choose to follow Christ, it is because of the Spirit that has the power to seal the testimony of Christ upon the hearts of His wandering sheep. I was definitely a huge miracle to find Rosemary!
We also met with a sister that has met with several missionaries but has not made any progress. She sees us as friends more than teachers of the gospel and is not really receiving what the Spirit has to teach. We may have to drop her which is really sad. We found two more investigators through a referral. They are a Fijian couple and we ended up teaching them the entire first lesson. It was kind of hard to know if they understood it all or not because there might be a bit of a language barrier. Hopefully when we meet with them next we can get a better feel for what we need to do with them so that they can progress towards baptism. I also have to work hard at pronouncing their names.

December 24
This week has been absolutely crazy! First we met an Egyptian Christian orthodox couple when we knocked on their door. They let us in (which is rare) and we thought that we would be able to share the Restoration with them; but we were wrong. They ended up just being Bible bashers saying that Mormon wasn’t a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is evil. We were just as polite as possible and by the end of the visit they were nicer and they said that maybe they would come to our church to see what it is like. We’ll see what happens. It was really a great experience for me (my companion had a harder time with it) because while they were talking I just had the impression that they are Father’s children and He still loves them regardless of how they are now. He still loves and cares for them and they are my brother and sister, so you just have to be happy around them and let them find their way on their own. These kind of experiences also really strengthens my testimony that this church is true because the only reason why people fight against the church is because it must be true; it either is or it isn’t there is no gray area. Think about other religions, others don’t fight against them nearly as much as they do the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The reason why people fight so hard is because it’s true, whether they understand the reasons for them fighting it or not; this church is true! I’ve had my share of Bible bashers, but this one definitely stands out more for what I felt while we were talking with them.
On a lighter and happier note, we got to go to the temple this week. It was so incredible to be there around Christmas time and the Spirit was so strong! At one point while we were going through I had a line from a hymn pop into my head and the song was #131, ‘More Holiness Give Me’. The phrase was “More longing for home” meaning our heavenly home with our Heavenly Father and how wonderful that will be when the day comes! I got to see most of the other missionaries and few members from my previous areas and wards. We took some pictures at the temple and then the member that brought us took us to In-N-Out for a meal and then afterwards we worked the rest of the day – it was great!
This week we met with Savitri Devi (Fijian wife), her husband was not there this time. We gave the lesson with some very basic words to help her understand. We also got her a Hindi Book of Mormon so that she can understand it more. We are going to try to go back again soon and we might have someone in our ward that speaks Hindi which should help.
We visited our ‘eternigator’ (forever investigator) and she surprised us by feeding us and then an hour and a half later we went to our regular scheduled dinner with an English lady and listened to fun stories from England. I was beyond full! We also found another investigator, Rosia, and she seems interested but is very soft spoken and very quiet. She has two boys ages 3 and 5 months. We will meet with her more after the holidays.
Later that night we went with our district to do caroling – the street had a lot of houses really decorated with lights and then there was one house that was not lit so we sang carols at the house for a while. We also handed out a ton of pass-along cards and everyone was so happy. It’s crazy how busy this season is as a missionary; we knock on tons of doors and a lot of people don’t answer and yet we still find a way to talk with people and be busy.
The members here are really spoiling us – they give us so much food. We have been given chocolate, a pie, and groceries to last us until February. It’s nice and we love the members, it’s just a little too much for just two girls to eat on their own. It’s fun though, we just laugh at how much weight we are going to gain this season and how our New Year’s resolution will be to get it all off!
On Monday we had a zone activity – a white elephant gift exchange and it was so much fun! I ended up with a giant candy cane (I have no idea what I am going to do with it) and mistletoe – that’s really not useful on the mission, but it was still super funny!

May you all have a great and wonderful Christmas.

Love Sister Reese