NO MORE MUSIC

I wonder how many missionaries are reporting home on this subject. I guess it’s kind of old news now. But Monday night we got a shocker.

 

So music is like my crutch. Always has been. Before the mission I was always listening to music. I woke up to music, went to sleep to music, studied to music, worked out to music, blasted music in the car, spent my free time looking up more music……you get the picture. I had a soundtrack to my life. Coming on the mission I knew that my music would be a challenge to give up. Luckily, I’ve got an uncle with loads of mission-worthy tunes. He hooked me up.

The MTC was hard. 6 weeks music -free [besides devotionals] and I had just come from Babylon. Better believe I kept on humming those worldly songs. It was a challenge to not let my mind go there…I didn’t have anything to replace them and well. Hymns weren’t cutting it.

But then I made it out to the field. Music was what defined each of my areas. Jenny Phillips and Jesus Adrean Romero bring me back to the backcountry roads of Wauchula with Hermanas Larsen, Carson, and Ashby. Music was what helped me through my lowest of lows in Tampa. Hearing “Jesus, Precious Jesus” or “I Will Rest in You” took me back to driving through rainstorms at night and feeling comforted when the work seemed nothing short of hopeless.

Music was how I felt the Spirit. I’ve had more than one occasion where “Abide with Me, tis Eventide” has brought me to tears or a song by Marshall McDonald helped me remember my gratitude for my Savior and what He has done for me.

 

A couple months ago, another Hermana told me she gave up writing her boy back at home for the last 9 months of her mission as a sacrifice to the Lord. I wanted to do that too. Give up something that was truly difficult for me. I have been praying and pondering for a couple months now, but no ideas were coming. Well Monday night we got a text from Elder Williams announcing that ALL music is banned in our mission. All of it. No more listening to music in the car, in the morning getting ready, at night before bed, nothing. Minus church meetings obviously. Pure silence. My heart sunk. “I cannot do this,” I thought, “it’s too drastic. Too much.” I was upset and confused. President are you serious? This cannot be real life.

 

But it was.

 

No more finding peace and comfort in Mindy Gledhill. No more getting pumped up to “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission”. No more dispelling the awkward silences when companionship times are rough. I couldn’t handle it. I broke down. 7 months with no music? This is literally going to kill me. The Spirit tried to comfort me: You can sing more. Maybe your voice will get better. You can memorize Spanish hymns now. It was no use. I was not having it. The STLs called us and explained it was because someone was sent home this weekend and his disobedience started with music. That didn’t help. I was not happy.

 

I couldn’t sleep that night for a solid three hours. My mind was having this battle: Am I going to just take this? How can I possibly do this? Why is President doing this to us?

But then I got this thought, “You asked for this.” And I remembered my prayer to find a sacrifice. Well here it is. And then I thought, “My attitude about this is completely in my control. Hermana Finlayson is fine. Why can’t I be fine, too? Disobedience is not an option. It’s just not. So that leaves me with two choices: Obey happily or obey grudgingly. The scripture came to mind about Alma’s people, “they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” Am I really going to let this affect me? Ruin the end of my mission? Or am I going to learn and grow from it?

The battle was still raging as I finally started drifting off to sleep. The idea of completely taking out something that had been so much part of my life for 7 months was daunting. And then another thought right before I was out: “Are you really going to rely on music more than you rely on me?” I woke up 3 times that night…it was not a peaceful time for me. But the next morning, woke up with one clear thought in my mind: Lovest thou me more than these? 

 

That’s really what it came down to. Do I love the Lord more than I love music? I wanted to say yes.

 

Getting ready that morning was the most silence I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt the absence of my music. So I sang hymns. In Spanish. I didn’t know all the words, my voice was cracking, but it dispelled the negative feelings. It was even worse on the drive up. So. Silent.

In Zone meeting President had a couple missionaries go up and talk, unannounced. One of them talked about his experiences in high school wrestling and how his coach asked him “What do you want?” “To win the state championship.” “Okay, at what cost?” At what cost am I willing to be the missionary Heavenly Father wants? What am I willing to sacrifice for Him?

And then came the firm resolution: Whatever it takes, for the next 7 months, I am His. Wholly and completely. If this is my sacrifice, it’s an easy one to make. A constant reminder of what I’m doing out here and why I’m doing it. My heart is completely surrendered. I cannot do this without the Lord’s help. I need Him on my side. Or rather, I need to be on His side.

 

So no more music. I can handle that. I can do it happily. For my Lord and Savior, there’s no other way. I am a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ. And for the next 7 months…and the rest of my life… I am His.

 

 

 

I promise the no music thing isn’t as bad as it sounds. I’m still alive. Hermana Fin and I talk more than ever. We’ve seen miracles from our willing obedience.

I still love being a missionary.

But good luck getting the headphones out of my ears when I get home.

Just kidding.    … kinda.

 

Love you all!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

XOXO

Lunch to celebrate 3 months with Hermana Finlayson

Lunch to celebrate 3 months with Hermana Finlayson

IMG_0364-2

Advertisements

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!

IMG_1304 - Version 2

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.

 

 

 

 

End of Transfer Miracles and SO Many Changes!

October 28, 2013

Transfer calls were Saturday. Hermana Newbill and I are both getting transferred and shutting down our apartment. Basically the mission is getting turned upside down. More than 170 missionaries will be at the transfer meeting tomorrow…that’s over 2/3 of the mission. So yeahh…it’s gonna be loco. Just so you all have kind of an idea of what’s happening [that’s all anyone has here…just ideas and guesses]… basically all the Spanish areas are getting shut down while the English areas are going “Zebra”–teaching both Spanish and English. The mission has too many missionaries for the work that is happening so the majority of the mission will be in trios until it all equals out. So the Spanish missionaries are being distributed among the English companionships. That’s the trend. We’ll see what actually happens tomorrow. The Lord doesn’t tend to work logically.

This week was great though. I felt a lot less stress than I have in past weeks. I’ve laughed a lot more. I’m just trying to enjoy every second I have because time really is starting to fly.

This week we had a full-on miracle. They always seem to happen in those last weeks of the transfer. We were driving, and I had this strong impression we needed to go see an old investigator. I was thinking about it when something pulled me across 3 lanes over to the left-hand turning lane to go see him. I decided to go with it. When we pulled up to his house, nobody was home. “okay…..” I thought. We had put in our backup plans to go contact another referral in that area. We had tried to contact her a couple times before but with no success. We pulled up and saw a car outside. Yes. We knocked and waited awhile. and knocked again. We were about to turn back when she answered the door. We introduced ourselves and explained what we were doing..we had met her son in her driveway a couple weeks back and he referred us to her. She told us her name was Awilda and stated clearly, “I’m Baptist. I’m old and pretty set in my views and [looking down at the Book of Mormon in my hand] I’m good.” We thought she was about to close the door but the next thing we know, she’s inviting us in and insisting that we take a seat in her living room. Ooookayyyy…

She then pulled out her well-worn, well-loved, annotated, highlighted, gorgeous Bible. And her huge stack of study journals. She went on for a bit about how she didn’t ever want to miss something she’d learned from God because she had missed some promptings she’d gotten when she was younger so she writes down every day her study of the Bible. We mentioned we like to do the same thing and Hermana Newbill pulled out her English quad and opened up to a page in her Book of Mormon. Willy [short for Awilda] grabbed it right out of her hands and began to flip through. And read verses. She looked up at the top of the page and saw Alma. “What does this mean?” “that’s one of the prophets that wrote in this book.” And we began to explain a little about what the Book of Mormon is. “It looks strange because of ‘Alma’ but this…this sounds right.” she said, pointing to the verse she just read aloud. She flipped to Ether and started reading aloud about the Brother of Jared. “You know…I’ve never actually taken the time to read the Book of Mormon. I thought Romney was a great guy, not just because of his values but because of the spirit he carried with him when he spoke.”

We took that as our opportunity to testify. Hermana Newbill said, “This book has changed my life….and we invite you to let it change yours.” Willy basically snatched the fresh copy of the Book of Mormon we held out to her. “Thank you so much. I’ll be reading this.”  Well, somehow we got to the topic of her preacher and she showed us his website. “Willy. We have a website too!” We showed her mormonchannel.org, mormon.org, and lds.org and watched a couple videos, including Elder Uchtdorf’s talk from this General Conference.

She looooooooved it.

“When I hear this…it’s like hearing my pastor speak. We’re not too far from each other in our beliefs are we? You know, I’ve had other churches come to my door. I’m polite to them and listen to what they have to say, but after 5 or so minutes I tell them ‘thank you but I’m already Christian and I’m good. But with you girls it’s different. You have a different Spirit with you..you brought Christ with you into my house…I don’t believe in coincidences. I know everything happens for a reason. You came to my door for a reason. I’ll probably write about you two in my journal tonight!!”

We later found out that that day was her only day off that week. Wow.

I felt like I was on a cloud. I thought about her all week. I had butterflies. I prayed for her with everything I had. It was love at first sight…..missionary-style.

We set an appointment to go see Willy on Saturday but when we got there she was in bed with the flu. “I thought about you all morning but I lost your number!” We gave her our number and stopped by later that day with some treats. She proudly showed us the Book of Mormon she had sitting right next to her on the couch and said, “You girls are so special…God couldn’t have sent anyone else.”

I hope I stay in this area. I can’t leave her.

But all is according to God’s will.

After the experiences I’ve had in this area, I feel like I could take on the world. I have grown so much and I am so grateful for everything I have learned. This mission has truly changed the person I will become.

I know this church is true. I love being able to testify of the Book of Mormon every single day. I love seeing lives change. I love having confidence knowing that I’m called of the Lord. I love my Savior.

And I love you all!!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

xoxo

Chalking!

Chalking!

Birthday celebration... Cuban-style!

Birthday celebration… Cuban-style!

Our cute, district hermanas... love them SO much!

Our cute, district hermanas… love them SO much!

IMG_0986

Halloween fun!

Halloween fun!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

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

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!