Sunday, March 23, 2014

Just Keep Swimming


My EspaƱol is coming along quite nicely. I've been reading the Spanish pamphlets during personal studies and I think I'm catching on. Sister Larsen wants to kill me because I repeat things in Spanish every 5 seconds and generally make up my own words. But WHO CARES because it's the spirit that will speak to Eliseo, not me!

Anyway…Sadly nothing has really happened this week. I don't have much to entertain you with except that a man named Jep now lives in our apartment with us. Mind you Jep is nice and quite friendly. Jep began one night as I was in the shower and yelled to Sister Larsen "why don't you leave the night light on anymore?" She yelled back "I don't know, I just forGET." Well...I thought she said "I don't know, I just leave it for JEP." I thought for a moment, then asked..."uhhh who is Jep and why does he need a night light?" That is how Jep began. Whenever something goes wrong we blame it on Jep. The people who live above us now know about him and leave us notes that are from Jep. He frequently attends church (although rarely seen) and usually likes to lurk around. I envision him being similar to Boo Radley. I know what you are thinking, and no I haven't gone insane yet. Just smile and appreciate our creativity.

This week I was blessed (yes literally, the guy put his hands on my shoulders) by a Seventh -Day Adventist as we were knocking doors. We were chased off a house on the reserve by some angry lady who is very likely a crackhead. As she screamed at us and told us to never come back I gave her a quick salute and thought "God bless you too." We've done lots of yard work and both came to the conclusion that we will be having teeny gardens (you're welcome, future husband).

Now for the incredibly heart wrenching news. Sister Larsen and I are breaking up. She is being transferred to Mapleridge and will be companions with Sister Stewart (side note: Sis Stewart is black and I am jealous of Sis L.). There are three black people here in Osoyoos. I will be staying in Osoyoos and be companions with Sister Bowman. She is currently serving on the [editor: not sure which, but we think Vancouver ] Island and I'm excited to give her a tour of the now-sunny Okanagan. Not gonna lie...I cried for hours last night after we got the transfer call. It's hard leaving your trainer. But I know that I need to spread my wings and fly. It finally hit me that I'm actually on a mission and that whether I like it or is going to be changing. I bought a bracelet last week what says "Just Keep Swimming." (shout out to Jason, Evan, and Hot Carl) That's what I gotta do. Only 13-1/2 more months left to serve the Lord to the best of my ability.  Keep on keepin’ on.

These last few months have been amazing. I owe Sister Larsen everything! Tribute to SIS L – Holla Holla Dolla Bill Yo.

Update: Jim is doing great. Got the priesthood this past Sunday and is going on the branch temple trip this coming Saturday. He will be caring for our love fern (zucchini plant) while we are in the lower mainland.

“Peace and blessins” (can you name the youtube video? – gold star for you!)

xoxo A

PS: new mission motto "YOMO"…you-only-mission-once

Doing a little yard work.

A view of our down.
Read carefully.
A note from Jep.
I'm going to miss this girl.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Island of Misfit Toys

Hey :)

This past week has been rough, but completely worth it! Sister Larsen and I have been working our butts off to make sure we talk to every single person we see. We tracted in rain, mud, and on the “first nations” reservation (sketchy). Heavenly Father put us through the ringer. He tried my patience and faith over and over again. We were yelled at, insulted, and rejected…but that is nothing compared to what the Savior went through. When people reject us…they are rejecting Him. Those sad moments when people choose to ignore this beautiful message just make the little miracles that much sweeter.

One incredible miracle that happened this week was finding Rob and his wife. The prophet has promised us that if we have 20 quality gospel conversations (QGCs) a day the Lord will bless us. So Sister Larsen and I were driving up in the boonies trying to find this potential investigator's house. We hadn't completed our goal of 20 QGC's yet so we started going through our contacts trying to find a non-member that we could talk to. I look through everyone and no one felt right. So Sister L told me to just type in a random 250 number. I closed my eyes and let the spirit direct my finger. The phone started ringing and a women picked up on the other end. I started tell her who we were and asked if there was anything we could do for her, service-wise. She said no and handed the phone to her husband. He asked how we had gotten this number…so I told him. I went on to tell him a little about the church and how we love to help people with anything that they need. He told me they had just moved from Port Hardy to Courtney (nowhere near Osoyoos). I asked if we could walk his dog (everyone has a dog in BC). Then it was silent for a couple seconds. He took a deep breath and said…"How did you know? My wife has cancer and we really need some help." I was speechless. I somehow got out that we have sister missionaries in Courtney and that they would love to help him and his wife with anything that they need. I told him how Heavenly Father loved him and wanted him to know that there were people who cared. Rob is now in contact with the sister missionaries out there and I hope they keep us updated. Isn't that a miracle? God is incredible.

Another miracle I want to share is about our darling new investigator from Mexico! While out on Main Street in Oliver Sister L and I were talking to different people and handing out cards. I walked up to this man and started a conversation. Well...kind of a conversation. He clearly didn't speak any English and I bombed Spanish in Jr High, so no bueno. I showed him my tag and said something about Jesus Christ. He got that part. Somehow through our broken conversation he understood that I wanted to share something about God with him. He wrote down his name and phone number for me and we parted ways. So...later that night we texted Eliseo to set up an appointment. He texted back something like "lskjgslajfkaljsreiwaljg." At least that is what is looked like to me. All I could get was "godblessu." Then he called us...God didn't bless us with the gift of tongues…but we figured out he worked at Covert Farms and they we would try to see him the next day. So... off we went to covert farms…up in the middle of nowhere. It was raining and we brought our favorite Hungarian member with us. As we stomped through the mud, going from tiny shack to tiny shack asking "Donde Esta Eliseo Sebastion?" I wouldn't give up. After what felt like 5 gazillion doors...we finally found where all the Mexicans were living and found Eliseo! We gave him El Libro De Mormon and asked him to read 2 Nephi 31. The next evening he called us and said he was on "lesson 10 in nefi" and that it was "bueno." We can't even communicate and he is progressing! He calls us every night and updates us on what he is reading. He always says "God bless you mi hermanas, Adios!" He is DARLING! We are so excited to teach him and help him work towards baptism! Heavenly Father keeps us on our toes and I love it!

I love my mission. I love being in the Lord’s vineyard with all His misfit toys here in Osoyoos. What a blessing it is to meet all of God-s ever-so-unique children :)  Thank you for all your support and love! I hope you have a great week! "Godblessu!" – Eliseo

xoxo, A

Text from Eliseo
At the border.  The USA is behind us.
The border, as you enter BC.
We figured out homemade sushi!
Mmm, mmm, good!

Growing our own zucchini plant.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

For behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

Hello  :-)

It's been a miraculous week!  Yes, Jim was baptized!!  His story is amazing and with his permission, I get to share it with you! 

Jim is so sweet and soft spoken.  He was a high school band teacher for most of his life and also owned a flower shop.  He was in an abusive marriage for 51 years, which truly hurt his confidence and ability to trust.  Without saying more, it's safe to say Jim has had a trying life.  Through it all though, he remained unconditional and kept his faith in the Savior.  Jim was taught starting in May 2013, almost a year.  He's had baptismal dates in the past, been taught everything at least twice, and has come to church for the last 8 months straight.  He was an eternal investigator.  After my first time meeting and having a lesson with him I literally cried because I was so frustrated.  How could we ever get through to this lonely, sad man?  After a couple weeks of reflection (not teaching him) we prayed and felt that we should try again.  So, a few lessons later we felt a strong impression to set a date with him.  He had told us his concerns before and just wasn't ready.  But the impression was so strong that Sister Larsen and I knew that we had to follow it.  So...we straight-up asked him.  He was a little shocked at first and said "how about a maybe."  We went back and forth for a while and finally he just said "I know that I need to be baptized.  Okay.  Feb 22 it is." and then signed Sister Larsen’s planner.  We walked out of that lesson with tears of joy! 

After setting a baptism date, there was a mighty change in Jim.  He was glowing!  I can honestly say I've never seen Jim smile and laugh so much!  He was a different man.  He told us during one lesson "well girls, the night that I set my baptism date, I had a feeling come over me of just peace and love.  I slept so well!  I can tell that He is happy with me!" What a doll.  There were a few bumps in the road but Jim was baptized this past Saturday!  Sister Larsen and I, dressed in all white, held his precious little dog Annie on the steps of the font per President Tilleman’s request.  Magical is the only word I can literally think of to describe it.  It was the happiest day of my mission thus far.

Watching Jim go from a pained and bitter life to one full of joy and love was incredible.  Jim truly went through the refiner's fire.  We cannot go through that fire with pride in our hearts.  Heavenly Father can only mold us when we become humble enough to accept His will.  Just as it says in Matthew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth."  Jim is an example to me of how making Christ our focus and making Him our rock will get us through anything.  We will all have trials, big and small, but it's through faith in the Fathers plan and humility in accepting His will, not our own, that we will be able to overcome those obstacles and make it through the refiner's fire. 

Remember that Christ never forgets us.  He is our only Shepherd.  1 Nephi 21:15-15 "...Yea, they may forget yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel...  Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands." Although we might not always remember Christ during our trials and afflictions, He will ALWAYS remember us.  He knows every pain and every joy you've ever felt.  The nail prints in His perfect hands are the constant reminder of the sacrifice He made for us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross.  I know that baptism is the only way we can truly repent of our sins and show our loving Father in Heaven that we are willing to follow His commandments.  What a blessing that Jim, who is 74 yrs old, now has been cleansed of his sins, has the gift of the Holy Ghost, and can live with God again.  It is never to late to change.

I am humbled for the opportunity and privilege to be out here serving His children.  I am especially grateful to teach those here in Canada who are descendants of the Lamanites.  Many times in the gospel it teaches that it is through the mouth of the gentiles the House of Israel will be nourished by the good word of God.  What a blessing and a miracle it was to be called Vancouver, Canada, and specifically Osoyoos.  Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the world.  He ministered not only to His sheep in Jerusalem, but to His other sheep here in the Americas.  The Lord's work is growing and the lyrics "I believe in Christ, so come what may" give great comfort during this hastening.  Thank you for all your love and support! 

xoxo, A

Us, Jim, and his dog "Annie"
Getting ready...
We got to hold "Annie' near the water.