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.
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.
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