Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Happy, Positive and Enjoying the Work!

First of all, ya'll should know that next week we won't have P-day on Monday, it'll be on Wednesday instead - we have a member of the Seventy visiting us and have zone conference on Monday as a result. So it'll be a long week, but the next one will be short! :P

Hna Hanson and I had quite a lot of funny moments this week. We just enjoyed each others company and found joy in the work each day. We're both improving with the language, but still make funny mistakes. We were practicing teaching the Plan of Salvation, and Hna Hanson was explaining how there were two parts of the spirit world - Paradise, and Prison. In Spanish, the word for prison is 'Carcel.' But she made a mistake and said that we either go to "Paraiso" or "Cartel." We both had to stop practicing because we were laughing so hard. So apparently, if we don't go to spirit paradise, we're all in the cartel together.

There are a few people that we dropped this week, but we also saw miracles with current and potential investigators. I don't know if I've told you anything about Juan and Sandra Lopez, but they're amazing. They've been coming to church for months and are living with Juan's brother's family, who are all members. They're so close to being baptized, and they both know it - they just need some encouragement. Hna Hanson and I both felt really impressed to challenge them to make the decision to be baptized. They went to the New Member Fireside last night and I thought I saw Juan crying, and they both said they were touched by the spirit. Pray for them!

We're teaching a few part-member families, which I definitely like more than families where no one is a member to a certain extent, because they understand our purpose and that this is a big decision, and they have support right there in their home. But we also have amazing investigators who individually understand the purpose of these things and are taking it seriously, so we have high hopes! Namely, they're Enrique and Maria. Pray that they'll keep their commitments and feel the Spirit witness to them of truth! 

My IC had a few bad days this week, but I powered through. I think I told you last week that I got a blessing that said that if I pushed forward with faith that things would work out. Well, on Saturday I was in pain all day, but I didn't excuse myself from the work and I pushed through it all. We didn't see a lot of success throughout the day, and it was discouraging, but the last person we went to let us in and we had an AMAZING lesson! She truly wants to investigate the church, come next Sunday, and committed to read the introduction and testimonies of the Book of Mormon before our next lesson with her!

Overall, I'm happy and positive, and enjoying the work. There are days (like when it's 110 degrees and we're walking on dirt roads through a gated neighborhood) when I wish I could just be home, but even in those moments I'm content. It's truly such a blessing to be a missionary!

Scriptural thoughts this week -1 Corinthians 14:1-9 - I was reading this and thinking about how blessed I am to have the Gift of Tongues, but how it really doesn't mean anything if I don't focus first on having the Spirit and teaching the Doctrine of Christ. It's something I knew, but it put things a bit more into perspective for what I should focus on praying for!

D&C 76:50-60 - The blessings that we're promised if we live worthy for the Celestial Kingdom are INCREDIBLE! I especially like how it ends with "And they shall overcome all things."

I've also become obsessed with sharing Moroni 7:33 this week,  "And Christ hath said: aIf ye will have bfaith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is cexpedient in me. " it's such a comforting scripture!

Hermana Garner

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

GPS is Great!

Let me start off by saying that this was a week of miracles, not the least of which was being surprised by that GPS being delivered to my door!!!!!!! I was NOT expecting that, and was incredibly excited! But not only is it more up to date, holds a charge, and doesn't glitch out on us all the time, it has a feature where you can program in as many favorites as you want, and it will even show you what favorites and nearby and how far they are away from each other. So we programmed in all of our investigators, recent converts, and all the members of the ward and can see at the tap of a screen EXACTLY where everyone lives! It has been INCREDIBLE for planning and helped us be incredibly more proficient! Sister Hanson and I have named him Ian. We're so, so, SOOO grateful for Ian!!

Also, thank you for sending me the earrings! I'm wearing them right now :)

 We were able to meet a lot more people this week and got more referrals and potentials that we're working to stop by. It's truly been a blessing, and I am seeing more and more how the Lord rewards our efforts. 

On Wednesday, we spent the entire morning knocking doors and didn't find a single person who was interested, nor anyone who spoke Spanish. But because of that effort we put in, and our willingness to work, the Lord blessed us with a miracle that afternoon - we were driving through a mostly unexplored part of our area and saw a man sitting outside in front of his house, and immediately pulled over because he looked Mexican. He was, in fact, Mexican, and we taught him the first lesson right there. He accepted the invitation to read and pray, and when we talked about baptism he was very open, saying, "We'll see as I learn." So just like that, we had a new investigator!! His name is Alfredo. He has a HUGE family that lives with him as well, so we're hopeful we'll see more miracles with them!

We also had more than one lesson this week where it was incredibly clear that it was the Spirit teaching, not us. Lessons that we knew the Lord had planned, and merely guided us to share what He knew His children needed to hear. It's been a humbling experience.  

I've had a few more problems with my IC (this is the health condition that sent her home for a little while) this week, and we don't know why. It's frustrating, but I'm powering through it. I received a blessing, and it talked about how I would be healed as I continued to work. So that's what I'm doing. 

I've been continuing to study patience this week, and Luke 21:19 kind of summarizes everything I've been learning: "In your patience possess ye your souls." One thing that I've been doing to help me develop more patience is every time I feel myself becoming impatient, I say a silent prayer to the Lord thanking Him for the many blessings He has given me. It helps put everything into perspective.

I've also learned just how connected patience is to hope. And hope is the next attribute I'll be studying from Preach My Gospel.

Hermana Garner

Monday, May 15, 2017

Hola Otra Vez!

I loved being able to talk to all of you yesterday!! I feel so blessed to live in this day and age and be able to do a FOUR WAY Skype and see each and every member of my family while out here on my mission!  

So I know I already told you some of this yesterday, but I'm going to write a bit about the transfer and my new area anyway (for the blog, too). I'm now serving in the Queen Creek Ward! Hna Hanson and I are still together. It's been a little weird it just being the two of us without Sister Anderson, but we're also enjoying ourselves and looking forward to the rest of the transfer together!  We're both COMPLETELY new to this area - I've only ever served in the branch, and so has she since this is just her second transfer in the field. So we've had some fun and adventures trying to get to know people and trying to find our way around. 

We've already seen a lot of miracles, too, which is amazing. But there's been a LOT of getting lost in the process! I have some funny videos to send you in a bit :)

We've had to build our own area book from information from the other missionaries, since we're opening a new area, and it's been interesting. We were given a ward list, but it was old, so not everything was right. On Friday, we drove thirty minutes to the family's house where we were supposed to have dinner only to discover that it was their OLD address, and that their NEW address was literally right by where we had been before. The Relief Society president is awesome. She's the one who had us over last night to Skype and she also gave us dinner afterwards. She's super sweet and has already been really helpful in helping us get started in this new area.
The RS President is Sister Allred, Br Allred is Hermana Garner's 6th cousin
Generally, the ward has been very welcoming, and I look forward to getting to know them!  Not much else to say, really - it's been a crazy week just trying to settle in and figure out how to get around, but also a great week to set up for a great transfer!

We're living with Hna Showalter and Hna Shaffer in a BIG house in Queen Creek, it's super nice. They're both awesome people, and Hna Shaffer is a talented singer, she's actually on one of the For the Strength of Youth albums produced by the church.

Lost with Hermana Hanson

One funny story that I almost forgot about - we were knocking doors on Thursday and ran into a family that goes to the English ward in the area. I looked inside and saw a 3D model of Hogwarts on their piano and commented on it (of course). The sister invited us inside and was super excited to show us the rest of her Harry Potter things (they'd just gone to Harry Potter World for the 3rd time and she had a Harry Potter themed party a few days before). She even had "The Chamber of Secrets has been opened - Enemies of the heir, beware," written on her bathroom mirror and letters hanging from the ceiling as if they were flying around the room. It was awesome. She's also a teacher, and she's married to a Spaniard, and they have these cute little kids all running around. I was standing there thinking, "This is literally me in five years." hahaha

Just a few things from my studies!  Hosea 13:14, footnote f - in this footnote, the word "Repentance" is translated from Hebrew into "Compassion." I've been thinking a lot about what a gift and blessing repentance is from a merciful, compassionate, loving God!  

I've been studying the Old Testament a lot as I focus on trying to finish reading all the standard works before I get home from my mission. As I've been studying it, I wrote down this thought: "The Old Testament teaches us the law of Justice and the desperate need for a Redeemer." I've had this thought from many of the stories in the Old Testament, but particularly from the story of the children of Israel who were worshiping the golden calf. They were given one chance to choose to repent, and then anyone who didn't was immediately slain. One mistake, that was all they were allowed. We know now that we always have the chance to repent, and though the Lord has always been merciful, it wasn't until Christ's atoning sacrifice that we truly had the ability and opportunity to be forgiven and given time to prepare ourselves and turn back to him, because Christ paid for our sins. 

Along with all these thoughts goes Helaman 14:17-18, which talks about the beautiful gift of repentance that we have.

Love you all!

Monday, May 8, 2017

 Hermana Garner Had a Birthday!

Transfer news - I'm leaving Gilbert! For the first time, I'm leaving the branch. It's bitter-sweet, really, but I feel a lot of peace about it and feel like the Spirit's been preparing me for this change. Sister Hanson is also getting transferred, but we still don't really know what's going on - the two of us could be together in a new area while Sister Anderson stays here with Sister Fuimaono, or Sister Hanson could go with Sister Showalter and I could train the new sister coming in in a new area, or .... who knows? Haha. It's a bit daunting not really knowing what's up ahead, but it's a good thing. Besides, a change of pace and scenery will probably be really helpful for me at this point!  

Not going to lie - this week was really hard.  It was a slow week without success (in fact, really only the opposite) despite our best efforts, and incredibly discouraging. And yet, here I am, pressing forward with the strength of my Savior. It hasn't been easy, but I'm striving to have patience and diligence.  One of the things that was so hard about this week was that Luis dropped us. I felt like such a failure at that moment. I've worked so much with him, devoted so much energy to helping him understand what we're teaching and recognize the spirit, and he's simply deciding to ignore what he's experienced. It was all friendly - no hurt feelings on either side - just a broken heart on my side as a missionary who wants to see salvation come to him and his family. 

Another hard thing this week was an incident that happened in the neighborhood near the church. Sandra and Sayra live around a bunch of other kids/teenagers, and one of their neighbors was shot with a BB gun by another kid in the neighborhood. He's also a former investigator, and we happened to drive up just after it had happened and right before the police arrived. Thank goodness it was only a BB gun, because he had a bad welt on his chest exactly where his heart is. They were metal BBs, so it hurt a lot and his hand was bleeding where he was hit there, but it didn't break the skin on the chest. If it had been a real gun ... it's scary to think about what would have happened. So we're praying a lot for them, their safety, peace, and comfort, and we're going to buy him some of his favorite snacks at the store today and bring them over since that's really all we can do in this situation.

With one of the sisters from the branch who made them dinner
But, of course, there were also upsides to the week, as there always are when you look for them. My birthday was really awesome, we had a wonderful, fun time and I felt loved and enjoyed myself. I received some great spiritual guidance from my Father in Heaven and feel I am growing closer to Him and becoming more of the woman that He wants me to be. Yesterday, we received about eight referrals (that I won't be here to contact, but oh well!). And all of our dinners this week were amazing, I am seriously going to miss the branch!

Another really hard moment this week - being given back a Book of Mormon that I gave to a potential a few months ago. As soon as she saw us, she rushed to get it, and I felt excited to share something from it with her since she seemed willing to talk to us, but she handed it to me and wouldn't take it back, and when I tried to testify of how it's brought me closer to Christ, she just said, "Pero no creo en el," and more or less shut the door on us. I broke down and cried as I carried that book back to the car. So as I mentioned in my other email, it was a difficult week for me. But in the midst of the trial, I was able to grow closer to my Father in Heaven, and he provided me with so much guidance and spiritual insight for me to understand the gospel more and also learn and grow individually. 

The last picture with Hermana Cedeño before she went home
One thing that I've started to focus on really studying is patience. I've realized this past week that that's a Christlike attribute in which I am seriously lacking. I need to be more patient with myself, with others, and with the Lord in the going forth of His work. I've found more peace and serenity as I've studied this attribute, but know I still have a long way to go. Yesterday morning I prayed for patience, and in my prayer I said, "I'm a little scared to pray for this, because I know that it usually means that you have to wait even longer for the things you're already waiting for and be tried a bit more, but I know it's something I need, so ... help me." And then, throughout the entire day, literally NO ONE was home at ANY door that we tried to knock and go to. I just started laughing at one point, and when Sister Hanson asked why I said, "God has a sense of humor."But in all seriousness, I have learned a lot about patience. 

Hermana Garner

The Spanish zone in their zone shirts

Friday, May 5, 2017

Lots of Miracles, and Lots to Pray for!

This week was a humbling week for me. I've been able to see more and more the Lord's hand in my life and how He is lifting and supporting me. I've also been able to experience an incredible amount of peace and comfort from Him, and I'm so grateful for the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the love of our Father in Heaven!

We were privileged enough to go to the temple twice this week - once on Thursday to do initiatories and once on Friday to do a session. It was really, really wonderful. I feel like I learned SO much, and reinforced the spiritual armor that I have to help me face trials, doubts, and discouragement in the mission. Go to the temple often!!

All week, we were cramming in practices for a musical number this past Sunday (the whole theme of Sunday was missionary work, and they had all the other sisters speak and we all did a musical number together - I didn't speak simply because of time and because I've spoken in the branch before). It was a bit overwhelming for me - I'm the only one of us who plays the piano, so I of course was the accompanist. We chose this song at the beginning of the month and I've been practicing it when I could throughout the transfer, but as missionaries we don't have very much time for it and the piece was a bit more complicated than I initially expected when I glanced over it.  As the week went on and we really didn't have time for me to practice, I started to get more and more stressed about performing it on Sunday. Saturday night I spent an hour practicing while my companions studied their Spanish, and I just felt discouraged afterwards. But I decided to rely on the Lord and the Spirit to fill the congregation regardless of my abilities. Sunday morning, I prayed for the Lord to guide my hands as well, and when it came time to perform, He really did. I still made some mistakes (and simplified a few things in the left hand), but they were hardly noticeable and the focus was able to be on the Spirit and the words of the song. 

That was just one of many humbling experiences this week! On Wednesday I was in Queen Creek again, with Hna Hanson and Hna Showalter. I was kind of a third wheel - they were MTC companions - but still enjoyed my time. It was a good day, and we got to teach lessons to a couple of investigators who are SO well prepared - one of them is just waiting for her 'esposo' to agree to legally marry her so she can get baptized, and the other has a baptism date for this Saturday (the 6th) that she's still on track for as far as I know. They're both so sweet, and it was wonderful to see how the gospel is working in their lives and their true desire to learn and grow!  

Hna Fuimaono was really sick this week, so there were a couple times when we did impromptu exchanges with them so that Hna Weyand could go out and work (she leaves a week from tomorrow ... yikes!). One of those was Thursday night, and we had an INCREDIBLE miracle! I think I told you briefly about the family that we helped move into their house, when we just happened to be there at the right time? Well, we'd only met the husband and the daughter, and earlier in this week we bumped into the mom, Susana, as she was coming out of the house and heading to work. We introduced ourselves, and almost immediately she invited us to come back another time. So, we went by Thursday night, and she was home, and turned off the TV to listen to our message. We taught the first lesson, and she had SO many questions, and expressed a sincere desire to know for herself if what we were teaching was true. We promised her that she could know, and she said that if and when she does, she will most definitely be baptized!! So it was one of those lessons that missionaries dream of, and we have another lesson scheduled with her for later in this week. Pray for her!

We had a lesson with a former on Friday, Mayra, that was interesting. She was talking about how she was already baptized in the name of Jesus Christ by someone having authority, believing that the Catholic priests had the authority, but acknowledged that we couldn't both be right. We challenged her to pray, and I shared the story of Apollos from the bible, as well as Acts 19:13-16, which talks about men who - without authority - were trying to banish devils in the name of Christ, and that the devils did not obey them because they didn't have the priesthood. She found the stories interesting, but we don't know if anything will happen there. But we testified of truth and gave her something to ponder!!

And then yesterday, we had the opportunity to go to the Mesa Temple Visitors Center with Luis - AND his WHOLE family!!!!! It was SUCH a miracle - his wife hasn't really liked us but we talked to her and she agreed to come to the visitors center with us, and they brought the kids! It was wonderful. We talked about eternal families and how we can be together forever, and Hno Cuello - the brother who brought us there, with his wife - talked to them a lot about the temple, using some of the screens in the Visitors Center to answer their questions, without us even prompting him to. Rosa (Luis's wife) was very, very interested in learning more about temples, and we see so much hope for them moving forward! They took a family picture in front of the statue of Christ and all I could think was how much I want to go to their sealing one day haha. Hna Cuello invited Rosa and Jocelyn, their 10-year-old daughter, to come to her granddaughter's baptism next week, and it sounds like they just might! Also, Rosa AGREED to have a FHE with us! It was seriously SO amazing to see her opening up to at least being friendly with the church, even if she's not ready to quite investigate it herself, and we think that that will help Luis feel more comfortable with the witness he's received and moving forward.So, lots of people, lots of miracles, and lots to pray for!

I have a goal to finish reading all of the standard works before the end of my mission. I'm learning so much and coming so much closer to my Savior!

Hermana Garner

Sister Young (now ASHLEY) surprised us by dropping by the house for a visit! It was fun to see her again. She's been home since December.

I Love Being a Missionary!!!!

There's a song we've been listening to all week - the Before and After Mission Rap. It's sooo good, and pumps me up to go out and work! Look it up!

( Here's Link to the rap)

Anyway, on to what happened this week! It was a busy week, with two exchanges and a lot of miracles (naturally). On Wednesday, I went to Queen Creek with Hna Cedeño, and had a blast being her companion again!
I got to meet some of the amazing investigators down in the south part of the mission (the only other Spanish-speaking area for sisters at the moment) and we had an amazing experience with one of them. Her name is Gloria, and she's the cousin of a recent convert. Her cousin invited her to learn about the church, and she was kind of hesitant, and then one day she happened to visit her cousin at the same time as the missionaries and said she was ready for them to come over and start teaching her. Now, she's really investigating the church, and understands the importance of it. She's almost to 2nd Nephi already and is praying every day to know if it's true, and understands that that knowledge will only come as she puts the things that she's being taught into practice. When we were there, we extended a baptismal date to her - May 6th - and she said, "No me gusta el numero 6 ... tal vez el 5 de Mayo." I almost laughed out loud - I've never heard of an investigator asking for an earlier date before they actually knew it was true. But she's truly searching for the truth, and since Hna Cedeño leaves on May 8th she's hoping to get her answer before then, as are we.

Then we had exchanges again on Saturday, and Hna Anderson and I went to Queen Creek with Hna Showalter while Hna Cedeño came here to Gilbert with Hna Hanson. It was a pretty fun day, Hna Showalter's hilarious, and the three of us actually worked together rather well. It's funny because Hna Showalter was Hna Hanson's companion in the MTC, so we swapped stories about her as well :P.  There was one intense moment, though - I saw my first scorpion in Arizona! It was dead, but we didn't know that at the time. We were all freaking out a little bit, and Hna Showalter went into the kitchen and found some duct tape and taped a bunch of ladles together with a cup on the end to trap it so she wouldn't have to get close haha. It was pretty hilarious in the end, especially the way that Hna Showalter literally threw the cup away from her outside and then just ran back into the house, even after we already figured out that it was dead. I just hope I don't see a live one!

We found a lot of potential investigators and are excited about the work possibly picking up here - I really hope I get to stay in the same area next transfer, but it's all so up in the air! There are a million ways it could go!  

One of the most exciting moments of my mission happened this week - Luis called me a White Mexican!!!! We were outside and his neighbor was there. I was talking to him in Spanish, and the neighbor (who only speaks English) says, "Do you all speak Spanish, or just her?" I quickly reply that we all speak Spanish, then Luis says, "Yes, they all speak, but she's like a White Mexican," pointing to me. I was sooooo proud of myself haha, it was a big compliment! And Hna Cedeño said that I practically don't have an accent at all as far as the 'gringo' accent goes. I'm so grateful for the gift of tongues, and it's SO real! It's funny because so many people think of it as something different - we were stopped by a man as we walked into the library today who told us that we shouldn't stop seeking the Holy Spirit until we can speak with the Gift of Tongues in the 'Heavenly Language,' and he talked to us with his experience about speaking in the 'Heavenly Language.' I wanted to say, "I experience the gift of tongues literally every day of my life." I feel so humbled to have been given the opportunity to see the Lord's hand so clearly in my mission despite whether or not I have progressing investigators!

First off, one thing I've been really trying to study and improve on is recognizing the promptings of the Spirit. If anyone has something they'd like to share with me it would be more than welcome :) I'm reading Chapter 4 of PMG right now and studying each section to the best of my ability, but I still feel like it's my weakest area as a missionary.

Anyway, on to what I learned this week!

In relation to the spirit, I really liked D&C 84:45-48, which talks about both the Light of Christ and the presence of the Spirit, and how all can receive it. It also says in verse 48, "which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world." That stood out to me in my studies as I thought about the huge importance of being in tune with the Spirit as a missionary in order to reach others.

I ended up reading all the scriptures under the heading, "Salvation," and found that it kept referring to the "Helmet of Salvation." Pondering that and the other scriptures that I read, I felt that I was very clearly being taught that salvation is free, but to those who seek it. It's not enough to be a good person and refrain from sin - we must progress, and seek knowledge and wisdom, earnestly strive to understand and study the scriptures. It is only through this quest for knowledge and learning that we will be able to be saved in the kingdom of God, because it is the only way we can perfect ourselves and come to be more like Him.

Love you,
Hermana Garner

The zone had some fun lemon bashing with bats one morning.