Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

Okay, this email is going to be another short one cause I basically just saw you all on Skype a few days ago [did that really happen??] and nothing really has changed since then. Mostly because me and Hermana Finlayson started feeling sick the day after Christmas and were stranded in the house cause bike week. Sick + bike week…doesn’t work. And being sick as a missionary is not fun!!!

BUT, I don’t remember if I’ve told you about Rosie and Gledin. Because they’re a pretty recent miracle, and well I didn’t want to jynx anything. Rosie and Gledin came to church with a recent convert from the other area 3 weeks ago. They seemed very quiet and frankly their body language read: “over it.” But, Hermana Payero told us they want to “take the classes to be baptized” so we got their information and that same week on exchanges, Hermana Judd and I went to contact them. They let us right into their house and Gledin explained that he was a youth pastor for the Catholic church in El Salvador and had already read up on our church. Oh dear. But he took the Book of Mormon and explained that Rosie never liked going to church but she loved¬†our church. So they were interested. In this short 3 weeks we’ve seen them probably 10 times. They are absolutely incredible. They are reading the Book of Mormon together. He says he reads slowly because he checks all the references that are listed at the bottom in the Bible. He is literally reading the two together and seeing how much they connect. The changes we’ve seen in them are incredible. They just look so happy all the time. They have come to church every week since that first week. They come to all the church activities. They participate in the classes and are so excited for their baptism on…..the 9th of January! It’s such a blessing to have these people just fall into our laps. Members seriously make all the difference. Because Rosie and Gledin are GOLDEN. We were at their house the other day and had just finished a lesson on the Gospel of Christ. “So what questions do you have about what we’ve taught?” “mm…none. It’s all pretty clear.” “Okay good! Do you have any questions about previous lessons or about the Book of Mormon?” “Well I did…but I looked it up and found the answer in the Bible.” “Wow! Okay well…how do you feel about your baptism on the 9th?” “Good.” “Have you been praying to know if this is true?” “Yes of course.” “And do you feel you’ve gotten your answer?” “Yes..me and my wife have been looking for this. Something to bring our family closer together. something to bring us closer to God.”

Lessons are literally that easy with them. We teach the doctrine. Extend the invitations. They commit. And follow through. We might even move up their date because they are so ready!

It’s like it’s too easy.

And then I remember…..oh yeah. I’m still on bike ūüôā

Rosie and Gledin were 2 of the 5 investigators we had at church yesterday. And all 5 of those investigators have baptismal dates. Do you know how rare that is?! it’s rare. And the best part……

all 5 of those investigators stayed for the baptism after church. Plus Enrique’s son, who’s sat in on a couple lessons but hasn’t been counted as a new investigator yet.

It was a miracle of a Sunday, to say the least.

Especially since Sonia and Alberto just got called as…. OUR NEW WARD MISSIONARIES!!!! Not to mention they’re going to the temple this weekend with the ward.

We are stoked.

And here comes a new year. Where in the world did 2013 go?

Such a cliche thing for me to say. But seriously. The time disappears way to quick. I come home this year. 

what.

Other highlights of the week included:

rolling tortillas with Enrique. [he said it takes him 2 hours usually. with 3 of us it took 10 minutes.]

meeting Sonia and Alberto’s “nieces” [we decided to work on Christmas, despite President’s permission to take a day off. It was so worth it. These girls are amazing.]

shopping on Christmas Adam [aka the 23rd. I don’t recommend it. But it was our P Day]

a slumber party. [shhhhhh it’s a secret. but we got permission don’t worry]

a BBQ on Christmas [only in Florida]

making contact with old investigators via Facebook. [and I found out one is getting baptized. I LOVE THIS WORK]

I never want to stop this work. It’s so fun! I am so grateful for all the people we’ve met and all the miracles we’ve seen and are seeing now. It’s so constant. The Lord is with us.

And we have BIG plans for these upcoming weeks. How are we already halfway through the transfer?! Where does the time go?

Anyways.

Happy New Year to you all. I hope your resolutions include something besides “lose weight” ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† like maybe….”share the gospel”?

Just a suggestion. haha.

Love. You. All.

Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxo

Plates of cookies we made to deliver on Christmas Eve!

Plates of cookies we made to deliver on Christmas Eve!

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Christmas Eve jammies!

Christmas Eve jammies!

Enjoying my Christmas jammies and all my family photos and love notes on our wrapping paper Christmas tree!

Enjoying my Christmas jammies and all my family photos and love notes on our wrapping paper Christmas tree!

Christmas Eve slumber party! (We got permission!)

Christmas Eve slumber party! (We got permission!)

Skyping with my family on Christmas Day!

Skyping with my family on Christmas Day!

I love my family!  It was SO fun to visit with them again!

I love my family! It was SO fun to visit with them again!

My family! xoxo

My family! xox

Saying goodbye... we said a family prayer together, and showed each other our family  "I love you" sign and blew kisses... I love my family so much!

Saying goodbye… we said a family prayer together, and showed each other our family “I love you” sign and blew kisses… I love my family so much!

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Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful. . . .

December 23, 2013

Oh the Weather outside is Frightful….

Because it’s so delightful!

It was 88 degrees¬†yesterday. Hahahahaha how’s that snow treating you all??

This week was so great! It was weird because we didn’t get as many lessons or proselyting hours as normal. But we’ve been working hard. And where it shows…is in our baptism dates set!! We have 5 right now. It’s unreal. Our weekly planning sesh was a tad overwhelming and we ended up spending 2 hours on just our 5. But we are so grateful and so excited for the plans we have ahead of us!

One of our neighbors gave us a tree. A real life tree. Because she was just getting rid of it. Well….we got it a couple days ago and we already have such a nicely decorated wrapping paper Christmas tree, so it’s really just a giant air freshener in our house. But it’s super festive and fun so we’ll keep it! Nothing like the smell of fresh pine leaves right?

It was also a week full of parties. One of them being the Mission Party!¬†¬†President took us to Siesta Key Beach up in Sarasota and we got to spend a day to ourselves. It was only half the mission so I didn’t get to see Sister Larsen or Newbill but I did get to catch up on everything that’s been happening in Wauchula and have a blast with missionaries that I haven’t seen in months! It was the best ūüôā The beach was beautiful. And it was my “8 months left” mark. What a perfect way to celebrate!

We had our ward Christmas party on Saturday night too. That turned out incredibly fun! At ward council yesterday, Bishop told us that we had over 20 nonmembers there. Keep in mind that this is a pretty small ward. It was such a miracle! The members here really are catching the vision and doing their missionary work! Santa was there and the youth pulled off a darling nativity scene and everyone had so much fun.

We did do some work though. Like I said, we set our 4th and 5th dates this week. The families we’re working with are super amazing and solid, and I can’t wait to see where they will go! We are seeing so many changes in our investigators as well. I’ve never seen such a night and day difference as I have with these people as we continue to work with them. They are searching and truly trying to get closer to God. And we are so blessed to be the instruments that Heavenly Father uses to help them accomplish that!

We were at Manuel and Veronica’s house¬†last night¬†[we ate fried tilapia. like the whole fish. fins, eyeballs, and all. It was just chillin there on my plate. I’ll send some pics] and after our lesson Manuel says, “oh look, Santa left 2 presents for 2 babies right here under the tree!” and he goes over and hands us two of the gifts that were wrapped under the tree. We were shocked. He looked at us and said, “Gracias por regresarnos a la vida.” or…”Thank you for returning us to life.” Maybe there were tears in my eyes? He went on to thank us for reminding us of what he knew all along and helping him get back on the path. Veronica joined in and told us how she never wants to miss another¬†Sunday¬†of church. And if she does to call her. Hahaha she’s the cutest. That family is so sweet….all of our investigators are. I feel so blessed to be able to work with them and see these changes in their lives. As missionaries we have a front row seat to the Miracle Show. It’s the best.

And that was our week.

It was a great one. And we have another incredible one ahead of us because I GET TO TALK TO MY PRECIOUS FAMILY IN 2 DAYS!!!!!! AHHHH I CAN HARDLY BREATH FOR EXCITEMENT!

Has it really been 7 months already?

Have a beautiful Christmas. And remember the reason why we celebrate. Remember our Savior. And remember to give a gift to Him this Christmas.

I love you all!!!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxo

Jumping for joy on Siesta Key Beach!

Jumping for joy on Siesta Key Beach!

Me with Sister Cusick at our mission Christmas party!

Me with Sister Cusick at our mission Christmas party!

... and with Pres. Cusick.

… and with Pres. Cusick.

Hermana Finlayson & Lewis at Siesta Key Beach!

Hermana Finlayson & Lewis at Siesta Key Beach!

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Our giant pine tree air freshener!

Our giant pine tree air freshener!

Eating the whole fish... fried talipa!

Eating the whole fish… fried talipa!

 

Fried talipa!

Fried talipa!

Alberto, Sonia, Hma Lewis

Alberto, Sonia, Hma Lewis

Christmas party!

Sister missionaries!

Couldn’t Be Happier!

Monday, December 16, 2013

This week has been one of those “I never want to stop being a missionary” weeks. My prayers lately have been funny because I can’t even think of anything to ask Heavenly Father for. I just kneel down and start thanking him, and next thing I know it’s been 10 minutes and I have nothing to ask for. He is blessing us so much for our hard work… it’s incredible! We couldn’t be happier! Thank goodness. [Yeah I just quoted Wicked]

But here goes. Sonia was baptized this Tuesday! And the ward completely pulled together for her. We were worried that the attendance wouldn’t be great or that they wouldn’t welcome her, but OH MY GOODNESS, our ward is amazing and I should have had more trust in them. They not only came to the baptism, but bought her a birthday cake and pizza, and we had a little birthday party for her after the baptism. Never try to do a Hispanic party without food. Hispanics love their comida. But, she was so happy and just felt like a total princess the entire night, just smiling and talking away. It was so beautiful. She received the Holy Ghost yesterday as well. So she’s officially a member. Baptisms are the best. We could not be happier!!

We have so many progressing investigators right now it’s almost hard to keep up with it all! Not that we’re complaining. We’re not.¬†We have a few date sets on the horizon and a few more we’re hoping to set this week. The changes we’re seeing in our investigators are incredible. And new investigators seem to come with no effort at all from us. I guess nothing really happens because of us…it’s all the Lord. We just try to be as obedient as we can and Heavenly Father works out the rest!

Follow up on last week’s email about the Restoration with Manuel and Veronica. I texted them yesterday morning to remind them about church. He texted back a smiley face. ūüôā <—that’s it. What does that mean??¬†Well we found out what it meant because right as Sacrament Meeting was starting, in walk Manuel and Veronica and little Jefferson. I had the biggest grin on my face from behind that piano. It was amazing! We stopped by their house last night too and taught the Plan of Salvation. Veronica told us, “Before I would go to church every now and then with Manuel and it was so boring. It just made me so tired. Even after working all day, I’ve never felt so tired as I did in church. But this time it was different. I felt alive and energized and I enjoyed every minute.” Manuel followed up with, “She has changed so much since you started doing the discussions with her. She’s a different person.” It was so darn cute. She wants to be baptized so bad and they’re doing everything they can to work things out so that she is able to do that.

We met another family this week too, Rosi and Gledin. A member brought them to church last week and they loved it. He was a youth pastor in El Salvador and has studied about our religion when he lived there. She is pregnant, due in February. She didn’t like to go to church before and that’s why they stopped going, but when they came with the member family it was different. She not only liked church, she loved it. She was so eager to go back. “It feels like a family. You all just support each other and help each other out. It feels so loving there,” she explained to us. And because she loved it so much, Gledin is stoked to learn more. They are the cutest little family and we are so excited to work with them!

WE ARE SO HAPPY.

Seriously, Hermana Finlayson and I have just hit this point in our mission where we don’t want to stop. Ever.

Because missionary work is the best. Pure joy. That’s what I feel every single day.

And every night I sit in our little Christmas corner and just count my many blessings.

I couldn’t be happier.

Love you all!

Hermana Lewis

xoxo

Sonia and Alberto on Sonia's baptism day!

Sonia and Alberto on Sonia’s baptism day!

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Hermana Lewis, Sonia, and Hermana Finlayson

Hermana Lewis, Sonia, and Hermana Finlayson

Sonia's baptism day!

Sonia’s baptism day!

Alberto and Sonia.... so happy!

Alberto and Sonia…. so happy!

 

Decorating our apartment for Christmas!

Decorating our apartment for Christmas!

Why Lesson 1 is My Favorite!

December 9, 2013

Hump week miracles. Or something like that.

Seriously these last couple weeks we have absolutely seen the results of our hard work. And the Lord is blessing us so much!

Okay so first of all. Sonia. There’s some people out on a mission that you meet and you just think. I was supposed to meet you. And we’re gonna be friends forever. That was Sonia for me. I just loved the heck out of her from our first lesson. Her husband, Alberto, used to be less-active but has recently come back. She’s been consistently working with the missionaries since February. She is amazing. We’ve known she’s been ready for baptism for awhile, and a couple weeks ago we set a date. But she was feeling nervous and unsure so we backed off for awhile. But then we had a lesson last week and we taught the Restoration again.

I have such a testimony of the First Vision and it’s amazing how much my faith is strengthened when I tell it. But it’s even more amazing to see how much people feel¬†it. As Hermana Finlayson was recounting, “Vi una columna de luz…” I could see the Spirit working within Sonia. Her eyes were fixed on the little picture we had. There was silence. “Es bonito, eso historia.” she said with tears forming in her eyes. We testified that it was the Holy Ghost telling her that Joseph Smith really was a prophet and that this is the truth she’s been searching for.

But we decided we would back off about the date. So we had another lesson on Wednesday with her and Alberto. We were about to leave when Alberto said, “Wait…aren’t you going to talk about baptism??” Well….we were trying to not pressure her but….we’ll go with it? “How do you feel about baptism, Sonia?” “Good…” “What date are you feeling?” She kind of shrugged her shoulders, but Alberto jumped in. “I KNOW WHAT DATE! DECEMBER 10TH…HER BIRTHDAY!” Which just happened to be 6 days from that time. But we were too stoked to be worried about that. We’ve got a baptism on our hands!

Sonia and Alberto came with us to the Stake Christmas party, which was a blast by the way. The majority was from the Spanish wards which was really unexpected, but we weren’t complaining! When they played Latin songs the dance floor was flooded with Hispanics. And then they’d play Michael Buble or something and they all peaced out to the chairs til the next Latin song came on. Have I mentioned how much I love these people?? Hahaha. Sonia and Alberto also stayed longer than just Sacrament Meeting yesterday, and Sonia loved Sunday School. She’s solid. We’re so excited!

Then we had another miracle lesson last night. Another part-member family. We got into their house last Sunday night which was such a miracle because he is always working. [Literally like 6am to 1am…and I think my schedule is hard.] But we got in. And found out his girlfriend really wants to learn. So we went back again last night and decided to teach the Restoration. The beginning of the lesson was a little rough, and I was beginning to doubt if we would even have time to teach the whole thing. But we decided to go with it and teach through the distractions. It was perfect because before long they were hooked. Both of them. And this time the First Vision fell on me. I looked straight into her eyes and said with every bit of conviction I had, “Vi una columna de luz…..” I saw her eyes begin to well up with tears as well. My mind was going crazy: Is this really happening? Is she feeling this as strongly as I am right now? The Spirit in the room was so thick. I asked, “Como se siente?” and she struggled for words. She said the same thing as Sonia. “Es bonito, todo.” “Do you believe that this could happen?” She looked at the ground and wiped her eyes. And then looked right back at me. “Si. Lo siento.” Or in other words…YES. I FEEL IT. Manuel looked up and said, “The elders said it before…but not like that.” His mom was sitting on the outskirts of the lesson the whole time, listening. After the lesson, we were talking and laughing where before she was cold toward us. She told us, “I’m a member too. But I’ve been inactive for years.” Missionary Translation: “Come visit me. I want to come back to church.” Awesome. I love seeing the power that the Restoration has. It strengthens my testimony every single time.

Joseph Smith was a prophet. He saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. He translated the Book of Mormon. Through him, Heavenly Father restored his true church with not a single piece missing. We have the whole truth. All of it. We don’t doubt where we came from, why we’re here, where we’re going… we know.¬†

We have the peace and assurance of knowing who we are and what our purpose is. We have the guidance of the Holy Ghost. We have the complete Gospel of Christ.

And for this knowledge, I am so grateful.

And I’m grateful for the opportunity to share what I know. Hermana Finlayson and I figured out our job isn’t really like other kinds of work. We’re more like full-time friends. Everything we do is out of love for those that surround us. We basically visit people and show them love all day every day. We have the best job in the world. Basically.

We’re staying another 6 weeks here. Me and Hermana Fin. I can’t wait to see the miracles this next transfer has in store for us!

Love you all!

Have fun in the snow!!!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxo

So blessed to live in Florida!

I LOVE our Florida sunsets!

Christmas cookie Bluebell icecream!  Why don't we have this back home?!

Christmas cookie Bluebell icecream! Why don’t we have this back home?!

Hermanas with a self-timer!

This is what happens with 4 Hermanas and a good self-timer!

Hma Perez and Lewis

Hma Perez and Lewis … 9 more months!

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Hermana Lewis, Sonia, and Hermana Finlayson

Hermana Lewis, Sonia, and Hermana Finlayson at our stake Christmas party!

Now it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

December 2, 2013

This week. THIS WEEK.

Okay, so it was bike week for most of it. Still is bike week. But that doesn’t really matter cause we just had 5 investigators fall straight into our lap this week. Not just any investigators, SOLID investigators! Every single one of them.

It’s amazing to see how the work is picking up. Our numbers have definitely dropped with the ban on tracting. It’s harder to find new investigators. The cool thing is it’s not about numbers anymore. I mean, it never was. But, 7 always looks better than 0 when you’ve worked your heart out. No tracting forces us to work through the members. Members, you are everything. And it’s simple things too.

Hermana Finlayson was talking to a new member in our ward. She told us about how she posted a status on Facebook that said ‘Rest in Peace Mormon Boy’ [about Paul Walker, I believe] and it completely blew up and she was able to share her beliefs. It ended in 2 people asking her for a Book of Mormon. It’s that simple.¬†

 

But anyways, back to the week. It was amazing mostly because Thanksgiving was also this week. And well…..we were anticipating a dud of a week. Nobody wants strangers in their house on Thanksgiving, right? But don’t worry we were completely taken care of! Thanksgiving Day included! We ate Thanksgiving lunch with Sonia and Alberto [complete with a game of Spanish Sorry! ….that’s the best way I can describe it.] and then got to go to another family’s house for dinner. And don’t worry. There was arroz and frijoles, just like every meal. Best. Ever.

 

Mamma your package was a little bit of heaven. It came the day after Thanksgiving and you better believe we put that paper Christmas tree and stockings right up! Listening to Piano Guys Christmas CD as we got ready for bed. I now write in my journal every night in our “Christmas Corner”….I’ll send pictures. We’ll be adding lights soon. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…..

And I have to explain about last night. We’ve been trying to see this less-active/part-member family for 5 weeks now. At least once a week we stop by their house. We’ve talked to the husband on the phone a couple times, and basically he works a lot. But last night. we were tired, on bike, and by the time we got home and had our dinner it was already past 7. We had the Mejicano family in our plans but I kept thinking “is it even worth it? I do not want to ride 30 minutes there just to turn around and ride 30 minutes back. That’s a waste of time. Maybe we should change our plans and see someone closer.” but then I thought back to other times when I felt like I didn’t want to work hard. And then when I did work hard anyways there was usually a miracle that happened.

Well. Milagro.

Both the husband and his nonmember wife were there! We were able to have a lesson with both of them, and she expressed to us that she feels far from God and wants to know how she can be closer to him. He told us he has a testimony and knows he needs to be doing things that he hasn’t been doing lately. So there you have it. At 8:15 Sunday night, new investigator #5.

I love Sunday miracles. This work never ceases to amaze me. I am so grateful for this time I have to give to the Lord. The church is true!

And I love all of you!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxo

Opening a Christmas package from home!

Opening a Christmas package from home!

Writing in my journal in our new Christmas corner!

Writing in my journal in our new Christmas corner!

 

Our Christmas corner... we just bought lights, so there is more to come!

Our Christmas corner… we just bought lights, so there is more to come!

Learning how to eat sugar cane.

Learning how to eat sugar cane.

Sugar cane.

Sugar cane.