Friday, September 9, 2016

I Really am So Happy!

I CAN'T BELIEVE my baby brother is 18!!!!! What is this?????
One of the biggest things of this week really was the orientation and everything about the Saints Unified Voices concert/fireside! SUV is a Grammy-award winning gospel choir directed by Gladys Knight, and they're coming here to do a concert/fireside for free!!! They'll sing all different kinds of songs, Gladys Knight will sing, and she'll also bear her testimony of the restored gospel and talk about her conversion. It's really an amazing opportunity, we've been going around and telling people about it, and gotten a lot of positive responses. She's not as well-known in the Hispanic community, but people are still interested in going. Missionaries aren't invited, but there's not translation available in Spanish, so we're hoping we'll be allowed to go with any of our investigators who go and translate for them :P Otherwise, we're hoping we'll be asked to help out with ushering and things so we can at least listen to the music and testimony in the lobby. They've been doing this for years, and hearing the stories about how the missionary work has exploded after these concerts is so inspiring!! We're expecting a lot of self-referrals and really can't wait! So, family that lives in the Gilbert area - ask your missionaries about the concert!!!!! Invite your friends and neighbors!!!! It's really an amazing opportunity, and when else will you EVER be able to hear a Grammy-award winning choir for free????
We had a LOT of miracles this week, as we always do. The first one was seeing Luis start to make a turn in his progression. On Thursday, we extended the baptismal invite again. He said that if he's going to commit to something - even to preparing for baptism and not the baptism itself - he wants to be completely positive that it's the right thing and what the Lord wants him to do. But then he said that as soon as he gets that answer from the Lord -as soon as he knows it's true and right - he'll be the one running to us and saying, "Baptize me as soon as possible!" We felt the spirit so strongly, and Hna Cedeño testified to him that he would receive that answer she thinks she'll probably be transferred the first week of October, and we both feel that if Luis continues to search for the truth, he'll be baptized before then. But even if it takes him longer, we know that eventually he will be, because he really is searching for the truth! He's so humble and willing to learn, and we're just continuing to pray and fast with him! Another amazing thing that happened with Luis this week was a personal witness and answer to prayer that I received. They tell you over and over in the mission that you individually were sent to this place at this time for a specific reason as we were teaching Luis on Tuesday, he shared a really personal story with us, and I felt the spirit testify to me during that story that I was sent here - me, specifically - for him. That I promised him in the preexistence that I would find him and teach him the gospel. It was a humbling experience! 
I wrote in my journal on Monday, "I really am so happy. Pretty much consistently and permanently exhausted, but happy." That is probably the perfect description of my missionary experience :P I've been writing in my journal almost completely in Spanish this week. Honestly, the gift of tongues is so amazing. If you would have told me that I'd be this comfortable with Spanish three months into my mission, I never would have believed you. But right now, I'm reading El Milagro del Perdon - The Miracle of Forgiveness - in Spanish! And even though I don't understand every single word, I understand every paragraph! It's nothing short of a miracle, and just another testament to me that the work we're doing is ordained of God and He's helping and supporting me.
Funny story of the week - we met a man who believes in the Norse gods. Can't remember what he said the religion is called. It was an interesting conversation ... Hna Cedeño didn't understand what he was saying, so I explained that he believed in Thor and Loki. She was like, "Like, in the Avengers?" and he immediately said, "Yeah, it's pretty disturbing to see your gods disrespected and represented in comic series and movies." ... We really didn't know what to say to that.
Yesterday we received an AMAZING referral! I was sick after dinner (like horrible chest pains and able to throw up) so we were at home. Hna Cedeño and I have decided that every time one of us is sick we have a miracle. This one was a text that we got from a member, who got our number from some other missionaries. She said that she has a friend she's been trying to share the gospel with, but there's a language barrier because she doesn't speak Spanish very well. But her friend has a lot of questions and is really interested in learning more about the church. So she asked us if we had any nights open for dinner this week, and it just so happens that we forgot to bring the dinner calendar to church that morning. The one day she could do was Thursday, and that was the one day we had available!! She told us that her friend is really excited to meet us, and we can't wait!
Saturday was really​, really cool - we got to meet the man who baptized Hna Cedeño's dad!!! He lives in New Mexico, and he and his wife came up here for the soul purpose of meeting with us. They took us out to lunch at Red Robin, and he brought his missionary journal and shared with us a bit more about the story of her family's conversion - he also baptized two of her aunts and her grandmother. It's amazing to think of how many lives have been changed because of the decisions that he made! There have been four missionaries come out of those baptisms, and think about how many lives they've touched, and their future families!! It was a humbling experience, and so fun! Also, they bought us both stationary to keep in touch with our families, which was super sweet!

.I'm sure you're all sick of me sending novels every week, but my testimony is just growing soooo much!! I know the church is true and I'm so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to focus on the gospel completely for this time of my life!!
Hna Garner

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