Hey mom and dad,
This has been a very exciting week!
We had an exorcism of sorts with this woman that has been having weird things happening in her house.
I finally just created a ward mission plan because it has been in the works ....well, all year. In coordination I proposed that we have a ward mission plan that consists of every family having nightly family prayer, scripture study, and weekly family home evening. It was pretty cool a few days later in General Conference when Elder Richard G. Scott gave a talk about the ward mission plan I'd proposed. All the members in my district were looking at each other and giving each other spiritual fist pumps on the inside. This is going to work. It is going to protect this ward. I'm in the process of typing it up and figuring out the presentation, but I'll send you a copy when I get it all done. The strength of the church isn't based on how many members there are, but rather on the individual conversion of each member. I told you that I love El Camino Real and that I will never let this ship sink, and that will forever be true.
I know I tell you all the time about my testimony of Family Home Evening and I am proud of you guys for faithfully making sure that happens. We need to do it like it is a matter of breaking the commandments or keeping the commandments. Family Home Evening has to be a non-negotiable priority. I love our family too much to have us not doing this. I promise it will keep bringing blessings.
Wow. Mauricio. BEST STREET CONTACT EVER. We taught him on the spot (probably 30 min). The lesson was so good. I learned things about what I was teaching. I loved feeling the clarity of God starting every dispensation by calling a profet. The first time Mauricio broke the trend is when he commented "I did't know that happened" after we explained that the church of Jesus Christ was lost. That showed that he was intelligent and with it and comprehending and comparing what he was hearing to what he knew. We had a phone lesson with him the next day. He'd read about Joseph Smith online, but thank goodness nothing too bad and he accepted our explanations for everything else, but not because he was ignorant, but because he was humble. When we were on the phone, we had a movie moment. He told us he had a question. We asked him what he wanted to know. Clearly he asked, "Donde puedo consequirme un Libro De Mormon?" (Where can I get a book of mormon). This is not a question you have to ask missionaries twice.
I have had 2 of the most fun nights of my mission this last week. I have started calling the things that we do adventures. They are unexpected and you gotta just roll with the waves. We took the DAvila couple out with us on a missionary adventure. None of the lessons worked, but there was such a spirit of camaraderie as we laughed and walked down Saticoy at night headed to find our investigators. Hna. DAvila and Hno. DAvila are the cutest! She is so innocent and spunky and honest. Everything that comes to her mind she just says. You would never have to worry about her because she is too instant to forgive and quick to love. Her husband is so cute and a little more quiet. They are such faithful people. We committed them to live the ward mission plan and be examples for the other members in the ward. I told them that they were so faithful and people looked to them. It is going to be hard for them because all of their kids are a little older, but none of them are interested in the church. Ella dijo, "como fieles (entonces), tenemos que hacerlo" (in a self realizing way, realizing what was required of her) We are the faithful, so, we must do it.
I went on my first exchange this week with Hna. Vega! That was such an adventure being back on bike in my first area. That area is still magic for me. It is so crazy and hectic and people touch you and you just...you are really living it all. It is a completely different mission being on bike versus being in a car. For me bike was the real deal. I got to ride sherman way home in the dark to my old oso apartment. We saw miracles on our exchange. We didn't have a member for a lesson and then after we had tried all our options, we were walking to the appointment and we found Francisca Chavez, just returned from work. We invited her to come with us. She was sick, but told us if we could wait a minute, she could change and come with us. We were trying to show the restoration video to Adriana (do you remember me mentioning her to you about a year ago? I found her with Hermana pulver the day we were fasting...? It was about the most spiritual lesson ever. Well, she is getting baptized now and we taught her). It appeared that there was no way for us to watch the video in Spanish, only English--which was not going to work. It was a little chaotic there with the kids and neighbors and everything, but Hna. Vega and I prayed that somehow we would be able to get it to work even though Adrianna had assured us again and again that it wasn't possible. I thought a prayer would somehow make the remote work. 10 minutes later Adrianna found the remote that could work the tv to change the language. She didn't understand how she had found the remote because it was in the same place she'd been looking for it for a week but somehow it was just there this time. Prayer works.
During the exchange during the day I ran into.........can you guess who? Angel Lizano! The husband of Judith that works at the car dealership! He was so happy to see me and I was so happy to see him! He is our investigator right now. He is so in tune to the spirit. He just has an addiction to his work and so we literally can not ever teach him. And trust me, we've tried being creative. We are going to try surprise phone lessons. Anyway, I saw him when we was about 20 feet away and we had a joyous reunion, might have gotten kinda a hug and then he jumped on my bike I'd just jumped off of. *see picture*
We saw Angel Lizano a little later too. Let's just say his fatherly instincts are there and he was ready to protect us if need be. He may or may not have seen us running down Independence and then been ready to jump out of his car to protect us. We were trying to find a menos that was going to meet us at the corner and the elders had already gotten to the Chavez's so we were running, but that is just what we do! God protects us! But Angel was such a sweetheart!
Jessica Perez came out contacting with us and again, one of the most fun nights of my mission. Her enthusiasm and excitement to be a missionary with us was utterly contagious. We talked to everyone. She spotted a man she wanted to talk to and we taught him right there and she bore her testimony so hard. It was the sweetest thing. Jessica and her recent convert husband committed to live the ward mission plan.
The Delgado family committed to live the ward mission plan. We called him and (he doesn't read or study and feels really unworthy, but is the dangdest most generous man. He is always worried that all the missionaries are starving and he would go to the ends of the world and back to do anything for any one of us) THEY HAD A FAMILY HOME EVENING!!!!!!!!!!! He read us two verses over the phone that he really liked!! It is cool because there are a lot of families here where it doesn't feel like the dads really have a presiding position, and this plan is going to help him be the patriarch of the home and the head of the house.
We never heard from Ali again. But that is how most of the things tend to happen. But, I know his life was changed and I know he will meet with missionaries soon and he will know so much about our church. He will be able to tell them that is was because he met some spanish hermanas that introduced him to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Yesterday (Monday) was a miracle day. First we got to eat dinner with the angelic Hna. Escobar. There is no one more humble. She served us a little sopita in her small humble trailer. Hna. Escobar is probably one of the most well versed, gospel knowledgeable people in the whole spanish stake. She reads every liahona and every manual from front to back. She knows the bible and the book of mormon. She is faithful embodied. Her humility is overwhelming and touching. She is brave. She does what is right. She is the standard of integrity. I love her so much and she tells me she loves me too. I tell her she is my grandma here. Don't worry ;) You'll get to meet her when you come. She agreed to live the ward mission plan even though she doesn't have a family. Thinking about how she could make the biggest impact, she agreed to spend about a month with one family and then switch to another family so she can train all the families in the ward how to have family home evenings. Ella va a capacitar cada familia en cuanto a como llevar a cabo sus noches de hogar. I imagine she took this call like many of the great missionaries of old took their calls: with determination and the knowledge that this is a great work. She wants us to make her some little notes and outlines for the noches de hogar so she will be able to help families. She is incredible.
Ok, one last miracle. After Hna. Escobar last night, we had some plans, but I felt we needed to go somewhere else. We ended up going to the Higuera familia. We had their address because they were going to be one of the menos families we were going to rescue. In the dark, we tracked down where we thought their house should've been. ..not there. Well, it was just hiding. In the main house we found a little boy, Jimmy, that led us to the back and, when pushing on a certain part of the wood fence, the boards gave way to reveal where we needed to walk. We approached the open door, trying not to alarm anyone. The boy that comes and stands in the doorway is holding a little blue book. YES WAY. He was reading with his little sister from very tattered Books of Mormon. They have been inactive for 8 years. Something happened and the Lord communicated to the dad that it was time to come back to church. The dad had learned about the church when he was active before, but he told us he never really understood the plan of salvation or the atonement. The little boy is named Rameses (pharaoh status anyone?) and he is 13. He offered me his chair and tried to make me feel at home. He got me water and Hna. Rodriguez just in case she changed her mind. I couldn't sit while he stood so we rearranged everything and moved the table so we were all sitting. The mom was on the couch doing homework patrol with the youngest son (mom, does that sound familiar?) while the dad was with Rameses (13) and Yeremiah (9) at the kitchen table with us. It's all just one small room. Rameses told us that he wanted to be baptized. We asked him why. He told us that he'd been thinking about it a lot and that he felt like it would benefit him and that it would be a benefit for his family too. He wants to follow God and do what is right. Talk about a child beyond his years. Yeremiah also said that she wanted to be baptized. She had participated in the primary program just the day before. I think this family has a few weeks coming back to church, and it is the neatest thing. We shared verses in Alma 34: 9, 15; 33:29? because it was what I felt the dad needed to hear. Rameses really is smart and understood what we were talking about. He asked if when it talked about Jesus giving us rest in the bible if we had really felt that. We told him that that was true and that is what baptism would bring him. Then Rameses got up and cried and went over to his dad and hugged him and said, "I have to do this, I have to do this". Little Yeremiah had tears in her eyes too.
We had to hurry from their house because we were almost going to be late for our cita with Romonita (my favorite!). It was about 8:30 so we called her and had a wonderful lesson over the phone. We read the book of Jarom. We talked about likening the scriptures to us. She liked the part where it says that the men that were chosen to be their leaders were always men of the faith of God. We had more discussion about how these men are the profetas and when we do what they say, the lamanites won't be able to get us.
I am so happy. You have no idea. I love being a missionary and I've decided that I'm actually not coming home. This place feels like my home and the members are like my friends and family. Sherman way is just as familiar to me as 26000 S. Driving to the church on Farralone is more familiar than driving to Riverton High School. 2 years ago, who would've thought that a small place on the map where I'd never set foot before would come to feel more like my home than the places I've lived my whole life.
Well, so many people to call and so many things to do! I love you so much! I'll talk to you soon! Sorry about all the spelling and grammatical errors! I know they are there! ;)
Love, Hermana Christensen