Little Miracles. And a BIG one.

July 29, 2013

Starting out a new week is so refreshing. New investigators, new goals, new resolve to work as hard as we absolutely can.

This week, like all weeks, was full of miracles. I mentioned last week that we’re on a scavenger hunt to find future priesthood holders. Well. We found em. But they’re a little more of a challenge than we thought.

I’m talking about the Juarez Family.

We fasted for them last Sunday. And then our lesson last FHE…was…the scariest, most amazing, most powerful lesson I’ve ever had on my mission. And I don’t know if I’ll have another lesson like it.

I’ve talked about the Juarez fam before. 6 kids, none married members, inactive dad, 3 nonmember in-laws, 5 inactive families, all with the stubbornness of a bull. Ofelia and Liz are the only ones in the family that go to church. Some haven’t gone in 10 years. So yeah. It’s a tad intimidating and extremely discouraging to go into their home each and every week, share a lesson, and then BEG them all…To pray. To come to church. To read their scriptures. To do anything. Well after getting some advice from President Cusick, we went in to this house last Monday, ready to tell them all that the Lord needs strong members. So who of your friends can be that cause obviously you can’t.  …. I love President Cusick.

So we went into the house, ate dinner and talked a little, and then felt sick about what we were about to do. We were about to just leave without any message at all when Raul [the inactive father who all the kids followed out of the church] came up to us and asked us to please share something. We shared a little scripture [3 Nephi 9:14] and did an analogy with Raul about prayer and how if one of his kids did something wrong, he would still love them and want to talk to them. It was great. We brought the Spirit. We were about to close up and leave. But the Spirit took over.

Before we knew it we were explaining why we’re here. Our purpose is to invite people to come to Christ by helping them…etc. etc. We pointed out that missionaries have come into their home for a long time. 20 years in fact. And nobody is making changes. And we feel like we’re not fulfilling our purpose.

Well. That got em. The immediately started defending FHE nights and assured us that we’re making a difference. That we keep the family together.

We were silent.

Til the Spirit told one of us to say something.

The lesson continued on in that manner and quickly turned to temples. We told them we want to see them ALL in the temple. Because there is nothing better. We said “If you don’t want this, tell us. We can handle it. We deal with rejection every single day. But if you do, we’re going to come into each of your homes and set goals and work with you to get you to the temple.” Ofelia bore her testimony on the temple [she just went last week] and the Spirit was so strong. I’ve never experience anything quite like what happened.

We, 3 tiny white girl missionaries, were sitting in front of this stubborn, intimidating family and calling them to repentance. And this was no lovey-dovey feel-good lesson. I look back at what we said and I think, wow that was a little harsh. But when the Spirit tells you to say something, you say it. And we did. And they felt it. They each agreed to let us come in their homes and help them. Even the part-member couples. It was amazing.

That night we called and reported it to President Clover [stake president], who told us, “You fasted. You saw your miracle. Now it’s all downhill from here.”

We know that it’s going to be a long process. But we’re building up this branch. Building up the kingdom of God in Florida. And we couldn’t do it without the Spirit.

It’s amazing when the little miracles we see each week roll together snowball-style and form these huge miracles. But if we don’t appreciate the small miracles, we won’t recognize the big one. And we saw a lot of little miracles:

–We taught a boy named Lucious and his friend Carl this week. They’re two black boys who are so great. Carl is our neighbor. It’s Carl Jr. actually. His dad Carl is our friend who sits on his porch and smokes cigarettes and talks on the phone all day. We feel safe in our house because we know Carl won’t let anyone mess with us. anyways. We met Lucious around 2 months ago. He loved the Book of Mormon right off the bat and has been reading it on his own. So he introduced it to Carl Jr. Who also loves it. We finally got the chance to teach them about the Restoration this Wednesday. They LOVED it. Right after the First Vision, Lucious said with such certainty, “I know it’s true. I know it happened. And I know I was meant to meet ya’ll from the second I walked through that gate over there.” [we met him in the street outside his house.] Carl said, “It’s like my eyes are being opened. I just never knew all this. It’s all new to me and I guess I’ll have to read and find out for myself.” Well. We committed to them to baptism. They’re awesome.

–We saw a record number of people at the activity Wednesday night! We took a picture we were so excited.

–We met a family that is so adorable and so perfect and speak only Spanish. The mother, Patricia, told us she felt something different from the first time we visited them. She felt more peace than she’d ever felt in her life. And that she wants to move closer to God and knows we can help her.

–We ran into an old investigator at the library. Perfect timing.

–Nancy told us about a miracle that happened with their family in their car because she prayed. They passed over this giant puddle hole in the road like it was nothing because they said a prayer. Her husband, Abel, has not been supportive of her baptism up to this point. He agreed to reconsider after that incident.

–Jorge and his mom Susana were in church. They told us they appreciate everything the church has done for them thus far and are looking for a church near their new home in Tampa.

–We’ve been able to meet with the individual families in the Juarez family, some of whom we’ve never been able to have a real conversation with.

–We finally set up a real appointment with Noe’s neighbors. Ralph and Amy. [for tonight!!!] The family that we’ve been trying to teach for months. And we had a perfect lesson with Amy on her front porch. It’s baby steps with that family but they’re coming around.

–We met almost all our goals. It’s never about the numbers but it always feels so good to accomplish a goal.

Missionary work is difficult. It’s never not difficult. Sometimes I’m more excited about the difficulty of it than other times. Sometimes I want to sleep for 24 hours straight to recover. But I can’t. [Another life parallel in missionary work: the work of a missionary never stops, the work of a parent never stops. I should write all these life parallels down. There’s a million.] This is 18 months that I’ve handed over to the Lord. I’m His. And with all these little miracles, it’s never too difficult. I can’t ever thank Him enough for the life He’s given me. The opportunity to be a missionary. The family I was born into. The friends I have. The place I live. The fact that I have the Gospel in my life and I don’t have to ever wonder. There’s too much and my gratitude for it all overwhelms me on the daily.

I may not ever see the difference I make here.

But I know that no testimony born of the Savior is wasted.

And little miracles are cumulative.

That big miracles come.

And that this 18 months is so worth it.

Love y’all.

xoxo

Hermana Lewis

Siusana, Me and Jorge (He's like my little brother and she is amazing!)

Susana, Me and Jorge (He’s like my little brother and she is amazing!)

Jorge and Pres. Martinez (our branch president)

Jorge and Pres. Martinez (our branch president)

Sister Foster and me

Sister Foster and me

Sooooo sweet!

Sooooo sweet!

 

 

Advertisements

CATCHING THE WAVE

July 21, 2013

Being a missionary is fun because you get to be a little annoying. Like the other day. It was me and Hermana Ashby and a girl from the branch contacting a house. Knocked on the door. No answer. Knocked again. No answer. Is that kids I hear in the backyard? You better believe I went back there and started talking to them. And asked them if their mom was home. She finally came out [I knew she was home…] and we shared the Book of Mormon and everything was great. But, I just look at my life as a missionary and have these little out-of-body experiences like “What the heck am I doing breaking all kinds of social norms trying to see this person?” But Heavenly Father gives us the courage to be a little weird. To not feel awkward in those clearly extremely awkward moments. To do what we have to do to get people to listen to us. It’s so fun. The Lord is in charge, we’re just the tools.

I laugh on the daily though. Nobody really understands how funny some of our stories are because we have way too many “you had to be there” moments. Only my companions can truly understand. We can look at a house or see a person we met once and say Hey remember that one time? And we’ll all know exactly what we’re talking about and start laughing all over again. It’s so fun! Go on a mission, you’ll understand.

But, I’ll try to explain a couple anyways. At Relief Society this Wednesday we had an activity about eating healthy and exercising. One of the women is really good at green smoothies. So, she taught us how to make a few with just raw fruits and veggies and water. Me and the hermanas were loving them! So delish! Then we look over at the women of the branch…they were looking at the juices like it was straight sewage. “It’s like baby food!” “Donde esta el azucar?” “You want me to drink that??” I was dyyyyyying. Our little Mexican mammas in the branch were HILARIOUS, pulling faces as they drank this little swallow of raw fruit juice. They looked at us incredulously as we gulped ours down with big smiles. One of them looked around and said, “Las flacas es gustan los jugos pero las gordas nooooo les gustan!!” and cracked up. Our branch. Love em.

And then there’s our morning workouts. President challenged us to do 10 50-yd wind sprints in the mornings. And to go outside everyday for our workouts. Well.. our apartment is right on one of the main roads in town. And there’s no sign of a football field for miles. SO. We run those wind sprints up and down that main road. Cars passing by, slowing down to look at these crazy girls at 6:15 am….running as fast as they can, stopping at a random point, turning around and walking back, and doing it all over again. Then doing our pushups and ab workouts on the cement in the parking lot of a Chiropractor’s office which just happens to also be on that main road. Good thing missionaries don’t get embarrassed right?

But those workouts are a model of the way we’ve decided to serve our mission. All out, no regrets. [And no embarrassment….] We’re working as hard as we can on our little island. We’re finding. We’re teaching. We’re begging people to “PLEASE just come to church!!!”. It’s exhausting. But it’s amazing. And the Lord has his way of giving us little miracles each and every day to keep us going. Yes, this area needs a miracle. But Heavenly Father is a god of miracles and guess what….He’s on our side. #winningteam. It’s taken awhile and it’s going to take awhile but we’re seeing changes. Little by little. And we’re not going to give up on our people, because one day they’re going to thank us for being so persistent. [slash annoying.]

It’s becoming more and more real to me the longer I’m out here…Missionary work is changing. And changing fast. The stone cut out of the mountain is reaching full speed and there’s no stopping it. That missionary broadcast from a couple weeks ago? Elder Nelson said that we don’t know it yet, but that event was as important and as impactful as the restoration of the priesthood on the earth. I don’t know what the feelings are back home, but out here in the mission world, there’s an excitement that can’t be contained. [Maybe it has a little something to do with the technology method of missionary work. Which will be coming sooner than you think…] President Cusick told us, “This wave is happening with or without us. We can catch it and be part of it and help it along, or we can watch it pass by passively. But we make the choice.” We, as missionaries, are on board. We’re on the edge of something great. And now we’re trying to help the members feel it. The Lord is asking more of the members than he ever has before. We’re preparing. We’re building the kingdom. And there’s no going back now.

We’ve gotten the message loud and clear from the prophets and apostles, President Cusick, President Clover (the stake president), and the Lord: we need strong members. Members who will be leaders, who will step up and be responsible, who are dedicated to the Lord, who will serve, and who will help build the kingdom, rather than be a burden. It’s a little harsh maybe, but it’s true. So we’re on a scavenger hunt to find those people…the leaders, the mothers, the future priesthood holders that the Lord is calling for. And it’s a blast. I love every second.

It’s time to catch the wave.

Love you all.

Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxo

 

 

We love our new companion and my cute friend from Colorado Springs, Hermana Ashby!

We love our new companion and my cute friend from Colorado Springs, Hermana Ashby!

IMG_1293-1

We love our sweet Anahi!

We love our sweet Anahi!

IMG_1226

Double Rainbowwww!!

Double Rainbowwww!!

It Happened Again

July 15, 2013

Hey guys. Remember that one time when my best friend ever came to the MTC just 3 weeks after me and ended up in my exact same zone so I saw her all the time and I was freaking out with joy?

It happened again!

Or something similar.

Transfers were on Tuesday, aka the very day after we email home. So, Hermana Larsen and I knew we were staying together, and we knew we were training a new missionary. But, we had no clue until the very moment President called us up to the front of the chapel exactly who that missionary would be. And believe me, we tried to find out. And, we got shut down real quick. But, I guess President himself doesn’t know until after he interviews the missionaries that night and prays about it. So really, only Heavenly Father knew. He likes to give me surprises.

So, after our training on being trainers–which was slightly stressful…even though we’re not supposed to refer to them as our babies [disregard last email haha] it’s like they are. We’re raising the next “generation” of missionaries and we cannot breed disobedient or lazy missionaries!–we filed into the chapel. Trainees on the left, trainers on the right. Obviously, we were all looking at each other on the way in. Who are we going to get? I hope she’s a good missionary. I wonder what she’s thinking right now. Is she as nervous as we are? In the middle of my train of thought, in walks a familiar face…

HERMANA LEWIS! HI!

I did a triple take just to make sure.

OHMYGOODNESS HI HERMANA ASHBY!!!!!

…..what are you doing here?!

After a huge hug and some slight reminiscing, I found out that she’s here on visa-wait for Argentina. Whatarethechances. So we sit down and get all reverent, and President gets right to it. He starts saying a name, hesitates, and announces, “I’m going to start at the bottom this time.” What? Ok? Butterflies up the wazoo in me and Hermana Larsen’s tummies.

“Hermanas Larsen and Lewis come up and explain your area.”

We did.

“You two will be training………[insert deep breath]……Hermana Ashby!”

[CUE SHOCKED FACES]

I reached out my arms to her. Hermana Ashby hesitated for a second. Hermana Larsen is shocked. President and the rest of the missionaries/”supporters” in the chapel are just confused.

Hermana Ashby says, “uhhh…I know her. She’s my friend!”

President is just looking at us like oh no what did I do…. Keep in mind that this is right after he explained to us that as he was praying last night all the names matched up perfectly. So yes. It was in fact divine intervention that after 5 years of not seeing each other, Hermana Ashby and I are now companions and with each other 24/7. In the words of Hermana Daines (she’s training too) “Are you kidding me?! Again?!?!” Not complaining.

It is so fun. She is an amazing missionary, and our companionship is great. We have a blast together and we just ‘clicked’ right from the very beginning. We love her, and we think she loves us. She says she does anyways! And we’re praying that her visa doesn’t come so quick…oops?

This week turned out to have more meetings than most, including MLC. Which turned out to be rather exciting because we got to go to……SIESTA KEY BEACH!!!!   YES! President Cusick took all the zone leaders and sister training leaders to do our last session on the beach. Not just any beach, the #1 beach in the world. Or so it’s called. I believe it. Florida beaches have my heart. [Take note: Family trip out here pronto ok?] It was heaven to walk through that white, squeaky sand and look at the clear blue water from 100 yards away because we didn’t dare get too close. [#lifeofasistermish] But seriously. Go President Cusick! Not to mention I always walk away from his trainings with 150% more motivation to get out there and baptize the world! Invite invite invite! Work hard! Pray harder! And all that. [Plus he basically told us more obedience=iPads for the mission. Not that that’s my new motivation or anything….]

We struggled with work this week though because we had 3 full days in which we couldn’t do any work. That weighs on us as missionaries. We are happiest when we work the hardest. There’s no better feeling than collapsing into bed, no strength left, having given all we can give that day. Even when we have no control over if we can work or not [sickness, meetings, transfers, weekly planning] it does not feel good to not be out and preaching the gospel!

But the Lord knows we’re trying to be obedient and wants to bless us. We see that over and over again. We saw it hugely last night. Sunday night after studies, we hurried out of the house. We had a family who we wanted to contact. But they weren’t our first priority. It was the family of these 2 adorable girls that we met in the Walmart bathroom this week. Hermana Larsen had felt prompted to go back into the bathroom and ask for their address so we could come visit them. So, we were on our way to visit another family, but we saw the street that the girls lived on and immediately turned. CUE BLESSINGS. In this house we found 11 people all living together. Their mom is a total sweetheart and was so interested in the Book of Mormon. The littlest girl, Anahi [the one we met in Walmart] ran up to the door as soon as she saw us and shouted, “I knew it was you guys!! I knew you would come!” I guess after we met her she had been telling her mom all week that somebody was going to visit them. Her mom, of course, was skeptical, but the Lord led us right there!

The mom, Sandy, then brings out her daughter Victoria who had talked with missionaries before but had never taken lessons. But she knew a lot about how we got here and what we can/can’t do as missionaries. It makes me so grateful for those missionaries who plant those seeds….they’ll never know exactly what they did. But they really did make an impact on her. She not only came and verified that we were, in fact, the same kind of missionaries [I love these little black tags], but she stayed and listened. We prayed with their family–not an easy task as Sandy alone has 7 kids, plus a son in law, grandson, cousin, and mother living with them–and went out to the car to grab more Book of Mormons for them. In the car, we had just enough. 6 to be exact, plus 1 Libro. The kids were all fighting over who had to share them and who had already gotten a picture of Jesus for a bookmark. I guess if they’re going to fight over anything…hahaha it was adorable. That family is all stoked on the Book and beyond stoked for us to come back. Little Anahi wanted to come out with us and teach more people. cuuuuutie. Sandy said, “No..but maybe when you’re older you can save up and go on a mission just like them!” DO IT ANAHI. Kids are the best. We just sat in our car for minute after that lesson in total shock. And then said a companionship prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father.

What better confirmation that our work is sufficient and acceptable before Him than when Heavenly Father literally POURS miracles on our heads? I love this work. I love sharing the Book of Mormon with people because there is so much power in it. That book changes lives. And I know with all my heart that it’s true!

Starting a new transfer with a new zeal for being a missionary. A soldier in the Lord’s Army. It’s amazing.

I love it.

Love you all so much!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxoxoxo

Saying goodbye to sweet Hermana Carson who is going home. . . we will miss her so much!

Saying goodbye to sweet Hermana Carson who is going home. . . we will miss her so much!

Hermanas Ashby, Larsen, and Lewis. ... just after President Cusick gave them mission leader training... on the beach!!

Hermanas Ashby, Larsen, and Lewis. … just after President Cusick had mission leader training… on the beach!!

Siesta Key Beach... just the #1 beach in the world!  nbd.

Siesta Key Beach… just the #1 beach in the world! nbd.

We loved putting our toes in that soft, white, squeaky sand!

We loved putting our toes in that soft, white, squeaky sand!

We’re Expecting. . .

July 8, 2013

So, as you all know, transfer calls were this week. Saturday morning was the longest morning of my life. Transfer calls can be as early as 7:30 or (as we found out) as late as noon! The night before I had serious butterflies. Would I have to leave? Would Hermana Larsen have to leave? Would I have to train? Would I have to be here by myself training ALONE?! We had been making guesses all week as to what would happen. I honestly had no idea!! So, we get a text early Saturday saying that transfer calls would be made during companionship study. Okay, so 9-10 am, that’s not too long to wait… During studies my mind kept wandering and that phone kept drawing my attention. We made it through personal study and companionship study and…nothing. At around 11 we get a text from the Zone Leaders saying they wouldn’t announce anything til noon. Are you kidding? PLEASE….ELDER MACK!!! We go about our lunch, trying to stay as calm as possible when 11:30 the phone rings. It’s not Elder Mack…it’s President Cusick.

oh.

We run upstairs to the only place in the apartment where we get service and answer. “Hi President…” After making sure we’re both there and ready, he tells us, “Sisters. You’re both staying together.  [insert huge sigh of relief] But, you’re going to be TRAINING a new sister.”

So there it is. We’re having a baby! A new little baby girl. We’re gonna be mammas! And we can already feel her kicking! [Freaky? Sorry. But it’s real life. We felt her spirit with us that whole day and we love her already.]

But, what a blessing that we’re both staying in this area because neither of us felt like we were ready to go. We’re glad Heavenly Father felt the same way. We’re going to need some extra blessings though because training is a lot of responsibility, but we know we can do it! We’ve got one amazing transfer ahead of us. We can’t wait.

Back to President Cusick. We met him and his family on Thursday! They are just the cutest. And wow this mission is in for a shock…but in an amazing way. President Cusick is a very different personality than President Summerhays was, but I know that he is called of God and his method of running the mission is just what the mission needs to handle all the change that is soon to occur!

He shared a prophecy from Spencer W. Kimball about missionary work in the South [you talked about this one all the time Mamma] and about how the South will baptize hundreds of thousands because the people here already have such a strong faith in God and will begin to realize that their church is going astray so they will search for the truth. Hi. We have that truth. That meeting just gave us the motivation to “restart” our missions with this new transfer and work even harder than before.

It’s never ceases to amaze me at how much the Lord blesses us, especially at those times when we feel like we can’t go another step…but keep walking anyways. We saw that this week. This transfer is different because we’ve been finding and teaching families. Solid families that are so ready to hear this gospel. And that’s what this gospel is really focused on: FAMILIES. We have a couple families that we feel so attached to already.

April and her family is one of them. April is Agustine’s mother. She has been through a lot in her life, but has been a faithful mother through it all. She has 5 children between a few different husbands but those children are all cared for and loved. She is currently living in a tiny trailer with all 5 of those kids. She is one of our favorite people to teach. She loves to think out loud and make her own connections. She relates the struggles she faces as a mother to the way Heavenly Father feels about us. And those kids [Javi, Augi, Juaquin, Jose, and Adriana] all LOVE us. We go inside that little trailer with a lesson prepared and candy on hand and, without fail, it’s pandemonium every time. We get tackled with hugs from Adriana and Jose, the kids are poking and teasing each other, April is trying to learn and discipline all at the same time…But the Spirit is there. And nobody leaves. Because they all feel it. They feel the difference that we bring into the house. And it’s amazing to feel that with them!

Santos and Ilodia are another amazing, beautiful family! Andddd they’re Noe’s aunt and uncle! They are very Catholic, but we’ve had several lessons with them and they love it all. Because, as Santos said, “I’m learning so much and I never knew these things before.” One of my favorite lessons with them happened after our long day at our Meet the President meeting. We always feel so exhausted after long drives and we didn’t get the chance to do our language study that morning. We went in feeling like we should just reschedule the lesson for another day so we could do our language study and get some rest. [That was Satan.] When we got in there, Santos’ son, Santos Jr… invited us right in and got us waters. [Instead of Coke, thank goodness] We talked to him for a little bit before Santos Sr. and Ilodia came out and learned more about his story. He said he wanted to go into the Marines after high school because he didn’t like where his life had been going and wanted something that would shape his life up and get him on the right direction. Oh Santos. We have just the thing for you. [MISSIONMISSIONMISSION] We ended up teaching the Plan of Salvation to the entire family that night…in full-on Spanish…drawing on this little whiteboard they had so perfectly placed in their living room. It couldn’t have gone better. The Spirit was absolutely tangible, and they all agreed to keep reading the Book of Mormon and learning more. They are such a strong family and they should probably be Mormon.

Sunday was a testament to me that no effort is wasted. Although Nancy was the only real investigator that we had at church, we had a surprise that was just as good as any baptism. 30 seconds before the meeting was about to start, we see Brother Smith…a man who has been inactive for 10 years…walking through the doorway. And, here’s the kicker: without his wife. Sister Smith comes as much as she can, but I have never seen Brother Smith in sacrament before. We have been working with that couple especially to start reading the Book of Mormon together over the last couple weeks. And, it’s paid off. He walked in looking happier, more energetic, more “light” than I have ever seen him before. When I asked where Sister Smith was, he replied, “Oh she was feeling a little sick this morning and felt like she couldn’t go. But I still wanted to come!” WOW. Nancy was able to come too, with her 3 little angels. We spent all 3 hours trying to keep them busy (being a mom is exhausting during church) and we were afraid it was too hectic for Nancy to get anything out of it. But, at the end when we hesitantly asked, “So what did you think?” She said, “It was really amazing. I can’t wait for next week.” We can’t wait for you either Nancy darling. I LOVE that family!!!

Tomorrow we’re heading up to Tampa to get our trainee. And we’re so excited. New transfer, new companion, new mission president, new families, new energy to keep working hard!!

Love you all so much!!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxoxoxoxo

IMG_1187-1

IMG_1185

The 4th of July and our Title of Liberty banner from Hermana Larsen's dad!

4th of July and our Title of Liberty banner from Hermana Larsen’s dad!

Ahhhh!!! I LOVE those Florida skies!

Ahhhh!!! I LOVE those Florida skies!

Missionary Work Has Seasons

July 2, 2013

Missionary Work Has Seasons. . .

And this week was Fall. [I half laughed, half cried when Hermana Larsen came up with that one. Story of my life out here.]

This week feels like a dream. So much happened, so much changed, and transfer calls are Saturday. Where did this 6 weeks go?!

We said goodbye to Noe Monday night. It was so hard to see him go but I know he will be strong in North Carolina, and I know that he will be in my life forever. Noe is really special and I feel blessed to be one of the missionaries that had the opportunity to teach him.

Tuesday we had a mini mission with one of my favorite future missionaries in the world, Stephanie. We picked her up at 6 am and she spent the entire day with us: studies, teaching, meals…all of it. She is hilarious. Somehow, she managed to take 3 full-on naps before noon and a mini snooze during the first vision in one of our lessons. Don’t worry, we have pictures of them all. But, it just reminded me of how much I struggled with the missionary schedule for the first little bit of my mission and how far I’ve come!

In District Meeting on Wednesday, we played “I love you because…” and yes, Mamma, it’s the same thing we do on everyone’s birthday. Someone sits in the hot seat and everyone goes around telling that person one thing they love about them and why. Pure butterflies about how fun that was.

Well. on the way back we had a bit of an adventure. It was raining on and off all day but was letting up on the way home from the meeting so we decided to stop and fill up on gas. Well, as soon as Hermana Larsen got out of the car…BOOM. Downpouring of rain. If that wasn’t enough, the gas handle wouldn’t click into place. So she was more or less taking a shower while filling up the car. I sat in the safety of the car laughing so hard because what else was there to do?? I paid for her diet coke though so it’s fine. But here’s a picture of how hard it was raining. In the 3 seconds it took for us to get from the car to the inside of the gas station, WE WERE SOAKED. Head to toe. The things we do for diet coke. It was worth it.

We set a date this week with Nancy! Her family is so golden, we just need to help them get to church! She is so ready to be baptized and wants this so much for her family. YES! A FAMILY! WE’RE FINALLY FINDING FAMILIES! Not only that, but her husband Abel, who has been Atheist and completely unsupportive of Nancy, agreed to come to church with her and help her as she is preparing for her baptism! It’s such a miracle because that’s the exact thing we’ve been praying for this week: that Abel would have the desire to go to church. Specific prayers said in faith are truly answered.

Saturday was perhaps one of the most awkward, most stark realizations that “Oh my goodness… I’m a missionary.” We contacted Noe’s aunt and uncle Santos and Ilodia earlier this week. They accepted a Libro de Mormon and said they want to read more and find out if it’s true. It was such an amazing spiritual lesson! They were talking about a birthday party for their daughter and invited us to come. Now, normally we don’t like to go crash family parties, but we love meeting new people. So we asked what time and if we should bring anything. They told us “Just come!” So we stopped by Saturday night. Nobody answered when we knocked so we left a little treat for their daughter and went on with our work. We stopped by again later because we saw some of the kids playing outside. We played with them for a few minutes when Ilodia came to the door and saw us. “Pasen, Pasen!” she yelled out as she beckoned us to come inside. So we follow her in to the back room and see…everybody. Maria’s family, Rosie’s family, other aunts and uncles that we haven’t met yet…all looking at us like we’re aliens. Or, like we’re 2 white church girls at a full on Mexican family party. Maria starts laughing hysterically as she asks, “Are you two following me?!” Clearly, they all didn’t know we were invited to this little shindig.

Well, we were feeling incredibly out of place and tried to leave but before we could, Ilodia comes back with two plates of tamales. Well of course we had to eat because Mexican culture says so. So with our tummies already full of McDonalds chicken nuggets and fries [because we hadn’t gone food shopping in a month] we ate and laughed as hard as we could to keep from crying. We tried our best to not stick out like the white girl missionaries we were and meet as much of the family as we could in our broken Spanish…..but….we were white girl missionaries crashing a Mexican family party. We could not have gotten out of there soon enough. We went home and laughed til we cried about what just happened

So, for Hermana Larsen’s birthday we took our P Day to play a little. And by play, we mean getting talked into a manicure AND a pedicure by an extremely good Asian saleslady, running around the mall like kids in a candyshop, going out with the zone to Olive Garden, and eating cake at the church….and pushing Hermana Larsen’s face into the cake Mexican-style. It was so good to get away from the stresses we face each day. I am so grateful for Hermana Larsen and how we are able to be each other’s “rock” during the turbulent times in our mission. I learn so much from her every single day, and she truly is one of the biggest blessings I’ve received on the mission.

The last few days of this week really hit us hard as a companionship. We’ve been feeling like we’re just really alone in all of our work. And obviously Heavenly Father has been helping us, but it’s like we’re alone on this island in the middle of an ocean during a hurricane. After Noe left we were just thinking, “OK what’s next??” And with half the members gone to work for summer it’s like we’re starting completely from square one. I know there is more work here because there are still so many people we haven’t met! But, we’ve just been feeling disappointment after disappointment lately and it’s hard to stay positive amid all that.

Sometimes as a missionary you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. In these times I am so grateful for prayer. I know my Heavenly Father hears me when I come to Him. He is so willing to perform the miracles needed for those who do His work. And, we do see those miracles all the time. Whether it’s changing someone’s heart, guiding us to the right places at the right times, or just comforting us when we feel like we can’t do any more. The Lord is there. He listens and he cares.

I am so grateful to have been raised in a home where prayer and scripture study, going to church, service, obedience, etc, were always a priority.  You always led by examples and I couldn’t have asked for better.  Thank you for teaching me that the little things matter.

I love something that President Summerhays would always say, “Go with the PROS:  Pray, Read, Obey, and Serve, and then Tee it up in the Temple at least once a month.”  It’s the perfect quote coming from a golf pro! I’m sure going to miss that man.

I love you all so much!!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxoxo

It's Hermana Larsen's birthday!

It’s Hermana Larsen’s birthday!

On our way to celebrate Hermana Larsen's birthday... it's P Day!

On our way to celebrate Hermana Larsen’s birthday… it’s P Day!

Celebrating Hermana Larsen's birthday at Olive Garden!

Celebrating Hermana Larsen’s birthday at Olive Garden!

Celebrating Hermana Larsen's birthday!

Celebrating Hermana Larsen’s birthday!

 

NOE’S A MORMON!

June 24, 2013

Yes it’s true!

Noe Alvarez was baptized and confirmed into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints yesterday!!!

NOE’S A MORMON.

We probably said that 600 times yesterday evening…NOE’S A MORMON. And the baptism could not have gone better. Even with no support at all from any of his family (except Rosalinda, who tried to leave 3 times during the service), the Relief Society room was filled with people from his new “ward family”.

Everyone was so excited to see Noe become the newest member of our church. Noe even wore a white button-up shirt. Even though he thinks “white doesn’t look good on him”…I’ve never been more proud! President Martinez baptized him, and he had to say it twice because Noe would NOT go in that water til President got his name right…consequentially, we found out his full last name is Alvarez-Vargas. Who knew? We did the confirmation the same day because Noe recently got a job offer working in the fields in North Carolina til October. So he got baptized just in time to leave us. But, it’s absolutely okay because we know that Noe is so strong and is going to keep going to church and sharing the gospel and doing the best he can. He came to the world wide missionary fireside with us last night as well, and after we could tell he was thinking really hard. We asked him, “so did you learn anything?” He replied, “I learned a lot of things…I’m just trying to figure out how I can share my beliefs with my cousins in North Carolina when I go up there.” WOW. Noe’s a missionary. Noe’s a Mormon. We couldn’t be more giddy! Missionary high…

Speaking of that missionary fireside last night…….CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! The entire 2 hours Hermana Larsen and I were just on a cloud. There was a pure ARMY of missionaries in that Marriot Center. Every seat was filled. I am so overwhelmed with gratitude to be part of this Missionary Wave. This truly is the Lord’s work and we’re doing it His way. Also, how cool was it that the Florida Tampa Mission starred in Elder Anderson’s talk? And yes, I know those missionaries. They’re all amazing.  And YES: L. Tom Perry did say Facebook (twice), blogging, and social networking would start playing a huge role in missionary work. *cue huge gasp from Hermanas Larsen and Lewis* “I thought we just got away from that stuff!” Meanwhile, Stephanie (our favorite future missionary) is cracking up at us from the row behind. But, honestly it’s inspired. Tracting is becoming obsolete and the members make all the difference in missionary work. We’re seeing it more and more every day.

Sweet Ofelia was in tears after the fireside, and she committed to spend one whole day a week with us going to see families we teach. She thanked us for thinking to invite her (it was the Spirit really) and bore her testimony about the difference missionaries have made in her life [she’s a convert] and how much she’s always wanted to be a missionary but didn’t know how. Our branch has really stepped up lately and we’re going to see huge changes coming up really soon. Maybe even next transfer. [Praying hard that I can stay to see it all!] We’re so excited to work with these members and strengthen them through missionary work.

We’ve already seen the difference it can make. We went out with Liz DeLeon this week to go visit her best friend Marianne, who missionaries have visited for a long time but have never taught her. It could not have gone better! After talking for awhile and getting to know her better, we introduced the Book of Mormon. Liz even helped explain it and shared her testimony of it. She was so interested and as we left, she told us, “I love y’all already! I don’t know why, but I do!” [It’s the Spirit you love Marianne but we’ll explain that later]. The next night, Liz shared her experience with the Relief Society at the activity and said she’s never been brave enough before to share the gospel with her friends but with us and with the Lord, she received the strength and knew the words she should say. Amazing. Then, we went back on Friday night to teach the Restoration. Marianne told us she’s already started reading the Book! We asked her if Joey would join us for a lesson, and she joked, “He’ll probably listen to be nice but he’ll probably laugh at it.” We decided to take that chance. We shared the entire message of the Restoration that night and the whole time, Marianne and Joey were both hooked. Just staring at us and taking in all the information we were sharing. They committed to read the Book of Mormon together! It’s especially incredible because if we hadn’t had Liz with us, they probably wouldn’t have given us the time of day. But, because they know, love, and trust Liz, they are willing to open their hearts to our message. Members make all the difference.

I don’t know how it happened but we got 9 member present lessons this week. That’s better than we could have imagined. AND, we finally got our 30-lesson week! It was so hard and so exhausting but at the same time it was completely exhilarating! I know Heavenly Father helped us in that goal because with all our meetings this week, we weren’t able to have as much time for lessons. But on Saturday we got 10 lessons in one day …that’s unheard of around here. We not only beat our record of 7/day, we shattered it. And, it was purely with the Lord’s help. Last night we were at 29 lessons with 15 minutes left in the day. We were running around on foot trying to figure out someone we could teach quickly and pray with. I’m sure we looked hilarious. But we’re missionaries and looking silly is really our last concern. We ended up at our across-the-street neighbor’s house trying to contact someone we’ve been trying to see for 3 weeks. She was asleep, but her mom came out and was glad to pray with us and talk about prayer. What a blessing. I love reaching goals!

We said our goodbyes to President and Sister Summerhays this week. That was an emotional day. The training was really inspiring and probably changed my life. They explained to us that the self-critical side of us is Satan. He is so sneaky because he tries to tell us that we need to be better people and do more work…but, we end up feeling discouraged because we can never do enough. He hides in all these good things (like missionary work) and tells us that we’re not doing enough of them. President was adamant as he told us, “That is not the Lord. That is Satan. The voice of the Lord is uplifting, encouraging, loving, and gives you energy. The voice of Satan is condescending, critical, doubtful, and tiresome.”

President Summerhays told an old Native American tale that there are 2 wolves in every person. A black one [darkness, fear, doubt] and a white one [light, happiness, positivity] fighting to take over. The one that wins? Is the one you feed. It’s changed our week here because whenever we say something negative, we’ll immediately recognize it and point out, “That’s the critic!!!” Get thee hence Satan. We’ve got work to do!

As we walked out of testimony meeting, wiping our eyes, we said our final goodbyes to President and Sister Summerhays. As I hugged Sister Summerhays, she whispered, “You did it. You really stepped up to the plate.” I then moved on to President and as he shook my hand he looked me in the eyes and said, “Sister Lewis, you are amazing.” Well, I lost it right then and there. I stepped out of the chapel, took one look at Hermana Larsen, and we ran, laughing, to the bathroom to try to compose ourselves. My eyes have never been so bloodshot. I’m going to miss President and Sister Summerhays so much. They are absolutely incredible. But, we are extremely excited to welcome President and Sister Cusick to the Florida Tampa Mission! They arrive July 1! [Hermana Larsen’s Birthday]

Here is a link where Pres. Bruce Summerhays is highlighted as a mission president and former golf pro on “I’m a Mormon” on Mormonchannel.org….check it out!

http://www.mormonchannel.org/Im-a-mormon?v=911189093001

It’s been an absolutely blessed week. I’ve found a new love of freaky rainstorms and lightning shows at night. They happen on the daily now that it’s summer. I’m not complaining. We don’t see storms like that in Utah, that’s for sure! There’s ups and downs with every single day but I am so happy. People here are golden. I feel like we know so many people now but there’s still so many more we need to meet! We’ve got 2 weeks left of this transfer (but that’s like a month in missionary time) and we’re going to make every day count!

Les quiero muchissimo!

amor,

Hermana Lewis

xoxoxo

143

Hermana Larsen, Noe, Pres. Martinez, Hermana Lewis

Hermana Larsen, Noe, Pres. Martinez, Hermana Lewis

Noe and Pres. Martinez

Noe and Pres. Martinez

 

Pres. Bruce Summerhays - best mission president ever!

Pres. Bruce Summerhays – best mission president ever!

President and Sister Summerhays pulled up next to us at a traffic light, rolled down their window, revved their engine, and asked us if we want to race! I love their cute expressions in this photo as we pulled ahead when the light turned green!  Love them!!

President and Sister Summerhays pulled up next to us at a traffic light, rolled down their window, revved their engine, and asked us if we want to race! I love their cute expressions in this photo as we pulled ahead when the light turned green! Love them!!