It’s Raining, It’s Pouring!

September 24, 2013

It’s been raining for 3 days straight here. Luckily we have the car. But we’re giving it up tomorrow so…..pray for us.

So… stories this week. The missionaries hold a free English class at the church every week. There’s like 2 people who come. But it’s a good service. Anyways. Last week, one of the regular students [Ana] came with her stepson, Jairo. He talked to the other Hermanas and gave them his address and requested to meet with the missionaries because….here’s the kicker….he’s a member. He’s been inactive for like 30 years, but he was baptized when he was 16 in Colombia and ACTUALLYSERVEDAMISSION. He was a missionary. Yep. Better believe we called him right up. We got to meet him on Tuesday night this week, as well as his mom Dianeth, who is not a member herself but most of her children were baptized LDS. Jairo kept telling us, “ustedes son angelitas.” And Dianeth was so sweet and just loves us already. We went over the very next day to talk with her and Jairo happened to be there as well! We explained the LdM and she firmly said, “si, voy a leerlo.” It was so good to see Jairo remembering his testimony and missionary teaching skills as he helped us teach his mother and testify of the truth in that Book. She was absolutely entranced by the book and I can’t wait to see what happens!

On Thursday night we got a call from an investigator. I’ve learned to dread those, as they tend to mean a cancelled appointment or worse…a breakup. We picked up the phone and I answered. Our sweet investigator Sonya [a single mom whose husband died 8 years ago but has so much faith and is trying so hard to follow Christ so she can raise her sons well] told us she was in church on Sunday and felt guilty about what her pastor was saying. She told us that she no longer wanted to meet with us or study from the Book of Mormon. Oh man. Worst. But I was not going to let her go that easily. “Well is it okay if we still come visit you tonight?” I tried. “Well…..I’m leaving on a walk right now I don’t know if I’ll be home.” “It won’t be til a little later. We’ll just try to stop by.” [Hey. Sometimes being a missionary means being a little pushy.] “Well okay…but I’m not going to read the booooook.” She said, almost tauntingly. “Okayyyyy, We’ll seeeee….” I said back. Two can play that game.

As we drove to her house, a massive rainstorm hit. Like literally buckets falling from the sky. Well perfect, she won’t be on her walk. So we booked it up to her house, splashing in puddles and going from completely dry to completely soaked in about 7 seconds. Welcome to Florida.

Luckily, she let us right in. It didn’t take long for us to start talking about what she had told us earlier. “I just feel like I need to be more active in my church.” she told us. “Just like what you two are doing.” I was praying so hard. I had no clue what to say to her, how to convince her to give the Book of Mormon a second chance. “You know Sonya, our purpose is to help people strengthen their faith in Christ. And nothing has done that more for me than the Book of Mormon. I was thinking about you and a story that’s in this Book came to mind.” And I, for some reason, turned to the story of Alma the Younger. What. Why…

I had no clue what I was doing. But I started to read. And then it hit me. I needed to focus on Alma the Elder….and his efforts as a father. I explained that Alma the Younger was making bad decisions, but because of the prayers, example, teachings, and faith of his father, he knew how to change his ways and turn to Christ. “You are setting that example for both of your sons. Even if they are not making good decisions right now, they see your example and they will remember that when they have trials in their lives.

We can learn lessons like these in the Book of Mormon. Different stories that apply to us different ways than what we find in the Bible. But the doctrine is the same. I hope you will continue to let us come over and teach you more because this Book has brought so much happiness and peace in our lives.” She paused. And thought for a minute. “…..Yes. I will.” We gave her Alma 32 to read on her cruise that she’s leaving on this week and she said about the Book of Mormon, “I have the seed, but now I just need to water it!” I’m so grateful that we have the Spirit to teach for us!

I am so grateful to be in this area with these amazing people. I honestly couldn’t ask for better. The work is beginning to pick up and we’re really seeing so many blessings and miracles. Missionary work is the best work in the world. In no other job do you get to see so many miracles or work so closely with Heavenly Father. It’s absolutely amazing.

Love you all so much!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxoxo

Amazing Tampa sunset!

Amazing Tampa sunset!

Advertisements

Miracles Every Day

So, as most of you have been able to perceive from my less-than-animated emails, I’ve been struggling a little bit this past month. The culture change of Tampa, the pressure of training a new companion, and the confusion of opening an area all combined to turn me into this stressed out mess of an hermana. Luckily, I’ve got the most amazing family, friends, and fellow sisters out here. You all really showed up when I needed you. Basically I got letters on days when I most needed them saying the exact words I needed to hear. And then I have inspired sister training leaders who gave me words of encouragement that I’m pretty sure were straight from Heavenly Father.

Basically, I’ve come to realize that all I can do is all I can do. The area is different. The work changes from day-to-day. But, just cause we’re not spending every second teaching doesn’t mean the Lord doesn’t guide us, that He isn’t proud of us, or that He can’t give us miracles. He does guide us, He is proud of us, and we’ve seen miracles every day. President Cusick recently encouraged us to write down all the miracles we see in a separate journal. [I now have 6 journals, all for different purposes. It’s fine.] As I’ve started to write down these miracles, I’ve noticed more. I don’t know if He’s giving us more or if I’m just more aware. But either way, this week has been full of those little miracles that give us just enough “missionary energy” to keep on going.

We were in Walmart one day and a man came up to us and acted like he knew us. “It’s been awhile!” he said and asked his young daughter with him, “Remember when the sisters came and prayed for you when you were sick and then you felt better?” This precious little girl nodded her head.

“Um, I don’t think we’ve met?” I told him. He explained the the sisters used to go over and teach his family. And then it clicked. This was a family that another hermana had told me about, but that we hadn’t been able to find anywhere in the area book. He gave us his card and invited us to come over to see their family soon. WOW. We literally just stood there in shock for about 5 minutes. Did someone just contact us? And in Walmart of all places. We’ll take it. It was amazing. I don’t know how we ever would have found that family otherwise.

It’s been bike week this week so we’ve been tired out of our minds but those endorphins sure do make up for it. We were riding on this trail in a neighborhood close to ours and we saw an investigator walking with her sister. “Hey Sonya!” we greeted her as we sped by [the sky was looking treacherous]. We ended up stopping by her house later that night and she told us that her sister asked her after, “Who in the world are those happy ladies?!” To which she replied, “Oh they’re the missionaries!” That’s us. The Lord’s servants. Happiest girls in Tampa.

There’s this family that has basically become my second family out here. Jose and Nancy Fracica. He has known about the Mormon church for awhile, has a few LDS friends, and is the sweetest guy I have ever met. His wife Nancy is just as kind, and we recently have been able to meet with them more often. Nancy is usually taking care of their youngest daughter and doesn’t come into lessons but this Friday she sat right down with us and participated in our lesson. We even had a member there. We couldn’t have asked for better!

Although I do have some bad news. I utterly fail at being Cuban. A member gave us some platanos after teaching us how to make tostones. So I tried making it yesterday. And ended up with a reeeeeeally unfortunate oil burn on my forearm. Shoot. Well, it’s a mission scar right? The cool thing is it came from the oil that we bought after meeting that miracle family in the oil aisle at Walmart. So maybe something amazing will come of this burn as well?

I’ll keep you updated.

So challenge for you all: Keep a miracle journal. Separate from your normal journal [if you even have one of those.] And write specifically the little miracles that the Lord puts in your life. There are no coincidences. As soon as you start writing them down, you’ll see more.

Thanks again for being the best support group in the entire world. I’m the luckiest hermana ever.

Love you all so much!

Til next week,

Hermana Lewis

xoxo

Another Week

Monday, September 9, 2013

Hello dearest familia.

I’m so lost for words to say right now. I got nothing.

…………….but I’ll try. This week was weird. And not our best. It seems like we’ve been here forever but I have to keep reminding myself. It’s only been 3 weeks. The area will turn around. It just needs some time. And some obedient missionaries.

I learned this week that I’ll never have a dog. I’ve been scarred for life. We had this lesson with Hector and Candida [an older couple who is super sweet and soooo funny] and they were dog sitting for their daughter. I kid you not…this dog was el diablo in the flesh. As soon as we got to the door this little dog comes to greet us. Tiny white pekanise [spelling?] thing. And she starts barking. And barking. And barking. They let us in the house. She keeps barking. And barking. And barking. None of the 4 of us could get a word in edgewise. And then we find out….this dog’s name is Princess. I wish I was kidding. This dog barked for a solid 30 minutes as we tried to have a conversation with Hector and Candida. She started to breathe really raspy in between barks like she was about to lose her voice or possibly die of barking [not that I was hoping for that…..] but that wouldn’t stop her. She kept barking. And barking. And barking. “She does this to everyone,” Candida explained, “just not the family cause she’s used to us. But all the guests that come in the house she barks at.” Hector grabbed the dog and commanded, “Callete la boca!!” But Princess was persistent. She continued to bark and bark and bark and bark until he took her into the back room. Where she barked for another hour. But it was a lot softer so we were able to at least express ourselves. We walked out of that lesson and I had a headache. No dogs for this girl. nope. end of story.

On the bright side, Hector is totally on board with the whole LDS doctrine, he just wants more time to find out for himself and to get Candida on board. She’s really hesitant because her whole family is Catholic. It’s understandable. It seems like everyone here is Catholic. But it’s more of a “traditions of their fathers” thing than a truly converted to the Lord thing for most of them. It’s hard. But the Alma and Amulek and the Sons of Mosiah did it, so we can too!

We also got in contact [finally] with a less-active. Who basically told us that after lots of research and looking into the history of the church and the apocrypha and all sorts of good stuff, he thinks he’s ready to give the church another shot. Which is AWESOME because we’ve been working with his wife, Sarah, because she’s had no religious background and helping her to improve her relationship with Christ and learn the basics. SO we met with her again Friday and asked if we could meet with the two of them as a family. And she’s so on board! This family is so awesome. I can’t wait to see them take these steps together.

It’s funny how often I feel like one of those annoying salespeople out here. Like for heavens sakes I don’t want your money I just want to help you be happy!! But if I’ve learned anything [in my vast 6 months of knowledge] it’s that I’m not going to drag anyone to the gospel. It won’t work. The Lord requires true conversion, and that can only come through voluntary effort, not obligation. So we’ll keep searching out those people who are looking. Who are willing. Who the Lord has prepared. We know it won’t come easy. But they’re out there.

I passed my official 6-month mark this week. And we were on exchanges. So me and Sister Davis celebrated with Chipotle burritos and some Krispy Kremes. [calories don’t count on holidays or birthdays…including mission birthdays.] It was a blast. The sisters out here are so great. After a rather discouraging weekend, we walked out of our door to find it plastered with motivational thoughts of love from our dear Sister Training Leaders, Sisters Kenagy and Davis. They are amazing.

Heavenly Father is sending support from all sides. He’s always there to lift us up and help us bear our burdens. But He usually works through other people. It’s amazing to be a recipient of Heavenly Father’s angelic actions, but it’s even better to be the angel He sends. And that’s the opportunity I have right now. To be a representative of Jesus Christ and remind people that He is there for us always. That He love us each individually and unconditionally. That He is waiting for us with open arms to come back to Him. We’re just the messengers. The “inviters”. But it’s not just missionaries that can invite. Be bold enough to make that invitation to the person that’s on your mind. Any invitation made out of love will not be taken as offensive. Don’t wait for an assignment to do it. Take those 20 seconds of insane courage and invite invite invite! Even if the answer is “no”, you’ll be so happy you did.

The church is true.

Love you all,

Hermana Lewis

xoxoxo

Motivational thoughts plastered on our door by our sweet and wonderful sister training leaders!

Motivational thoughts plastered on our door by our sweet and wonderful sister training leaders!

I LOVE Florida skies!

I LOVE Florida skies!

Awww....GORGEOUS!

Awww….GORGEOUS!

Laboring on Labor Day

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

As you all probably knew, yesterday was Labor Day. Instead of having a P Day like everyone else in the world. The missionaries in the FTM labored. All Day. Today is P Day hence the late letter. It might throw off my sense of whole week but like….it’s fine.

I don’t know if I mentioned this last week but. We’re on car share. AKA this week was bike week. AKA I have never been more hot or sweaty or tired in my entire life. Riding a bike in the middle of August in Florida is no walk in the park. Luckily I’ve got my Heavenly Father and my handy dandy Crystal Light energy on my side. [The Lord expects us to use our resources.]

I did get a letter off to Garrett a little late, I don’t know when it’ll arrive but I swear. It’s coming bud. And I got the package and letters from you all! The bran muffins were PERF. I still have one left. I’m savoring them. YUM. Nothing like mamma’s bran muffins 🙂

Anyways back to Garrett. I have to admit the other day in church I had a little “moment” during sacrament. I was up on the stand because I was leading the music that day in sacrament meeting. I looked out at the deacons that were passing the sacrament and I saw Garrett out there with them. Garrett: I cannot believe you are 12 already! I got a little emotional [that seems to be happening a lot lately] and just thought about how proud I am of you and how amazing our family is. I don’t know how I got so blessed. But I am the most blessed hermana in the world pretty sure. You’re gonna be a  pro at that sacrament-passing business when I get back. And I cannot wait to go do baptisms with you!

Hey you all remember Jorge? Welllllllll, they ended up moving to Tampa. And when I was sitting up on the stand, guess who I saw in the very back row? JORGITO HIMSELF. I got butterflies and went right up to say hi to him after sacrament meeting. Elder Casey, Ator, and Hawkes are teaching him and his family right now. It could not have been more perfect! Ahhhhhhhh #missionaryhigh!!!

This week was really great. I’m getting used to tracting. Kind of. And we’ve been really blessed with the people we’ve met. I really feel like the Lord leads us in these days when we don’t have our set appointments or plans and we’re just out tracting. I mean, He has to. We’re just two 19/20-year-old girls. We have no clue what we’re doing.

There’s sometimes an advantage to bikes. We were out Saturday night by Candida and Hector’s house, and got on our bikes to head home. We drove by a guy sitting on one of those little powerline box things just staring at the ground. I rode past, and then found myself turning my bike back around to go talk to him. “You waiting for someone?” I asked. “No…just sitting.” he replied. We started talking to him and introduced ourselves. His name was Jordan, and he is a 14-year-old kid [I thought he was at least 18. He’s super tall like Blind Side status.] and the biggest sweetheart I’ve ever met. Within a couple minutes of talking we started into the Plan of Salvation. “Jordan. God has a plan for you. He knows you and loves you so much.”

“I know that. I believe Jesus died for our sins.” He then opened up to us about some things that he went through when he was younger. It was so sad. He is only 14 years old…Makayla’s age…and has already been through so many trials in his life. I felt the love of Heavenly Father for Jordan specifically and I just wanted to give him everything. We prayed with him and as we started to leave, he said, “Thank you…for stopping…” I knew we had been led to him. But I wasn’t sure if we’d ever see him again.

The next day [Sunday] we found ourselves in the same area. As we were talking to a couple people on that street, we see Jordan walking his dog on the other side of the road. We walked over to him and started talking again, and the first thing that comes out of his mouth is, “I just found out today I have a brain tumor. It’s been growing since I was a baby. The doctors don’t know if it’s cancerous or not yet.” I was in total shock. I had no clue what to say to him. So we walked a little ways with him and sat on the side of the road again. He told us he had read part of the Plan of Salvation pamphlet we gave him. So we gave him a Book of Mormon as well, and I read my best Alma 7:11-12. He had so much sadness in his eyes and seemed to almost just accept that he wasn’t going to be living much longer. I told him I knew that we were supposed to see him again. He said, “Yeah…I felt that about last night too.” We asked if we could come pray with his family but they weren’t home so we set up an appointment for the following night. As we rode off that night, I kept thinking, “What if we hadn’t talked to him? What if we hadn’t given him the Plan of Salvation pamphlet? What if we hadn’t even been in the area at that time?” I knew we had been led to him. And then I had a total breakdown. Me and Hermana Newbill both. It’s so sad to see things like this happen to people. But I am so grateful to have the opportunity to give them the hope and peace that comes with the knowledge of the gospel.

The sad part of this whole story is……Jordan is English. So we called up the English sisters in our area and told them about our appointment with Jordan and his family. 8pm last night, we were there. The sisters were running a little late so we sat outside and planned what we wanted to talk about a little bit. Then Jordan’s stepdad walks out. We introduce ourselves and he calls out Jordan and his wife, Linda. We began talking to them all about the things we taught Jordan, and they understood the concept of the Book of Mormon really well. Then Jordan piped in, “They taught me that we lived with God before this life. And we chose to come here. So that we could get bodies because we only had spirits.” Wow. He is amazing. Linda and Darling were both super open to what we had to say and we told them how we knew that we were supposed to meet them. “The timing of it all is amazing.” Linda told me. Well….you can’t beat the Lord’s timing. He rocks. Then the English sisters, Sisters Kenagy and Davis got there. Perfect timing again. And Sister Kenagy said one of the most inspired prayers I’ve ever heard. And then they shared that they had been feeling prompted to go tract on that same street for the last couple days but hadn’t had the opportunity. Heavenly Father is so aware of this family! And I just knew that these sisters are supposed to teach Jordan and his family. We were absolutely guided to them. I can’t wait to see what happens 🙂

Heavenly Father is so involved in this work it blows my mind sometimes. But in District Meeting we learned how Missionary Work is NOT 3 things:

1) Missionary work is not a routine. It’s different every day.

2) Missionary work is never not recognized.

3) Missionary work is never wasted.

We often don’t see the fruits of our labors. But something good comes of every contact, every slammed door, every testimony borne, every Book of Mormon given out, every invitation to come closer to Christ. If we’re inviting, we’re being successful. And we are doing the Lord’s will.

I love all of you so much!

amor,

Hermana Lewis

Hermana Lewis and Newbill biking around Tampa

Hermana Lewis and Newbill biking around Tampa

Sup Tampa...

Sup Tampa…