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!
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!