Monday, June 26, 2017

Hello, my name is Arizona, and I'm really, REALLY hot!

(video about the heat)

So this week the temperature has just been ridiculous. There were multiple times the gage in our car said it was 127 degrees. When it gets over 120 degrees we're supposed to be inside unless we have a set appointment that we're going to and studying or calling people, finding other things to do. We're not allowed to tract or proselyte for our safety.

Problem is, even being inside became a problem for us this week, because our AC broke AGAIN! Yep, that's right, hottest week ever and our AC decides to stop working. It was just upstairs in the bedrooms, the downstairs was fine. We ended up moving our mattresses into the upstairs landing because the air was coming there from downstairs and it was cool enough to actually sleep. So it's been sleep overs with the four spanish sisters all weekend haha. They're coming over today to fix it, we've been living like this for four days now.

We tried to fry an egg on the street. It didn't quite work.

This week was another roller-coaster week, with some days harder than others, but as always miracles sprinkled in between it all.  

Anyway, on to our investigators - Juan and Sandra are officially back in Mexico, it was hard to say goodbye to them but we're going to keep in contact. We love them so much! We had a few miracles lessons, and I've definitely felt myself starting to actually figure out how to do this whole teaching the gospel thing haha. 

We had an AMAZING lesson with Angelina, a new investigator, on Friday, she's so golden! She's a former who never got baptized, but is now really seeking for the truth, she said that she's 'avila,' which means hungry for knowledge. Pray for her, we think it's really likely she could be baptized this transfer!

thoughts this week ...

Ether 3:1 - when the Brother of Jared is trying to figure out how to get light into the barges, it says that he took stones that he had "molten out of a rock." He didn't expect the Lord to do all the work, and didn't just pick up random stones - he fashioned the stones and put effort into making them acceptable before the Lord, doing all he could until the point where there was nothing left but to rely on God's power. It's a great example.

Hermana Garner

Monday, June 19, 2017

I Love Being A Missionary!

I'm staying here, and Hna Hanson's staying with me! We're excited to get to have another transfer together and particularly in this area. Great things are ahead, that much we're sure of!

It was a bit of a roller-coaster week, but overall great! Monday night was hard, though - we came home and were getting things out of our car and we hear the opening song of Beauty and the Beast. Now, I know that musical well enough that I IMMEDIATELY knew it was the new version. It was playing on a big screen in the park across the street from our house. Hna Hanson and I had to literally run inside to stop ourselves from being tempted to just watch it. 

On Wednesday we had a funny moment where Hna Hanson got back into the car after backing me (it's a rule, anytime I back the car she has to be outside of it directing me) and acted like she was a hitch-hiker who knew nothing about the gospel. We ended up role-playing lesson one, and just as we neared the investigator's house we were going to I started laughing and was like, "What gets me is we're doing this for fun." Hna Hanson lost it laughing.

I've started focusing more on exercising in the morning, because in a recent blessing that I received I was promised that I would be protected spiritually and physically by the Lord as I do the things He asks me to do, and exercising was one of them. I've been a bit lax about it, because I've been so worried about hurting my IC, but now I'm trusting in that promise and trying to be more active. So far so good - we're doing T25 videos together as a house, its' intense, I do what I can hahaFriday night we were at dinner with Juan and Sandra (they move back to Mexico this Saturday 😥) and they called Hna Cedeno, so we were able to FaceTime with her!! It was awesome. She's doing well, she's lost a lot of weight and things are crazy there, but she finally got accepted to school here! Hopefully she'll get her Visa soon and can be back in the states in a couple months!

We didn't get in with very many of our investigators this week, but we did have a few miracles! I wrote in my journal on Friday night, "I think the thing I love most about being a missionary is that you get to feel the Spirit testify of the truthfulness of the gospel several times a day - almost constantly, really. And I'm feeling it more and more as time goes on." I've seen myself change more and more as I've sanctified myself on my mission and feel more the constant companionship of the Spirit. It's a wonderful thing.

Anyway, Saturday we knocked on a potential's door (we've never met them, the neighbor just told us they speak Spanish) and she immediately let us inside. Her name is Angelina, and it turns out that she's a former investigator from who knows how many years ago. Her son actually goes to mutual with some of his friends, and as soon as we told her what time the Spanish ward was, she said, "Oh, I'll go tomorrow!" ... Unfortunately she didn't, but she was really interested in going to the Tucson open house and was interested in us coming back and teaching her again, so we have a new investigator! She seems prepared, we'll see if she'll take the step to get baptized this time around.

Hna Hanson and I are growing so much closer together, and it's just fun to be her companion! She's a writer as well so we toss ideas around at times, and it's a good creative exercise to keep my mind from wondering too much when we're driving in the car. But we're also both very focused on the work and our investigators and dedicated to helping them in any way we can.I love being a

Hermana Garner

Monday, June 12, 2017

I'm So Grateful for the Gospel!

Our ward had a party for "Dia de los Pap​ 
 ás" on Saturday, but they made a play on words and made it "Dia de Papas" which means "potatoes," so they had all these Mr. Potato Head decorations, played Hot Potato, had a Baked Potato bar, it was really fun :)
So even though this was a short week for emailing, I feel like there's SO much to share! We've received so many referrals and seen so many amazing miracles in the past few days, and I feel incredibly blessed! Transfers are coming up next week and I'm really hoping I don't leave the ward, I want to stay here because I feel like the work is just starting to pick up!

Wednesday and Thursday were rough, though, because our AC broke. Wednesday night we came home and it was 85 degrees in the house, so we tried turning it down and nothing happened. We called the housing coordinators the next day, but they couldn't get anyone in to fix it until Friday morning. So we blasted fans throughout the whole house as it slowly got hotter and hotter. I barely slept at all on Thursday night, no AC in Arizona is no fun! Haha we're spoiled, but were very, very grateful when things were fixed!

Friday night, we had a lesson with Juan and Sandra. We'd been planning to watch the Restoration video with them, but we showed up and The Testaments was on the TV cued up and ready to go. They explained that they couldn't find the one we'd been planning on (the members they're living with had the case, but the DVD wasn't in it). I felt strongly that that wasn't a coincidence, and that this was the movie we were supposed to watch. I felt the spirit witness to me yet again the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as we watched it, and when we reached the end of the video Sandra was crying for about five minutes. She's still holding herself back from accepting that all of this is true to a certain extent, but we know the Spirit is working with her and witnessing to her, so we're just trying to be patient. But they go back to Mexico next week, so we're just trying to strengthen them so they'll continue investigating when they get there. I'm pretty confident they will, we're going to write them letters as well.

Yesterday we saw HUGE miracles in sacrament! One of our investigators, who's wife and kids are members, came to church for the first time this transfer! He didn't stay all three hours, but it's a start! He's also keeping his commitments to read, we need to follow up a bit more on his prayers. But he supports his kids and helps teach them about how to gain a testimony ... he just needs to apply it in his own life!

Anyway, we also had a number of less actives who've never come show up, which was super exciting! Then, Hnas Showalter and Shaffer came up to us and were like, "Are you teaching someone named Ana?" and we were like, "Well, we have a referral for an Ana, haven't actually had a lesson with her yet ..." They pointed out a woman sitting towards the front of the chapel and said that she said she was meeting with the missionaries. We hurried over, and it wasn't the Ana that was a referral, but it was a former investigator that Hna Hanson and I didn't even know about who just showed up of her own accord with her two little girls and told us she wants to meet with us again! We were incredibly surprised, but are excited to get in with her!

I've also just had my testimony grow so much this week. I've felt the Lord closer to me than ever before and His love and support in every moment, especially the hard moments. I'm so grateful for the gospel!!

I've learned so much during my scripture study this week! I'm so grateful for the scriptures!!

D&C 84:109-110 is about how every member has a role and a calling and none is more important than another, I was touched by the way it is stated: "Therefore, let every man stand in his own office, and labor in his own calling." Sometimes we try to labor in others' callings (something I've seen a LOT on the mission) but as we trust in revelation and the organization of the Lord's church we'll be confident in the ability of our leaders and those who hold other positions to fulfill their callings, and that if they don't the Lord will make up for it.

I was also struck by D&C 18:5 - "Wherefore, if you shall build up my church, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you." Contrast that with Mormon 2:4, where Mormon talks about how the Nephites used all of their strength to try to fortify their city but the Lamanites still overcame them. Where are we drawing our strength from? Where are we building our foundation? If the answer is not in the gospel and in Christ, we will inevitably fall.

I also started reading the Book of Mormon again from the beginning. This week I was so incredibly struck by Nephi's experience with leaving Jerusalem. He mentions that when he prayed to the Lord, that the Lord softened his heart, which communicates that he felt resistance to follow his father. And it makes sense - imagine what a hard, hard thing that must have been! But rather than complaining and trying to logically explain it all, he looked to the found of all knowledge and received his own testimony of the Lord's will for their family and was ever faithful from that day forward. I love the scriptures! What are you all learning in your scripture study?

Hermana Garner

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

This was a long week, but it felt like it really flew by! 

We were incredibly blessed by the visit from Elder Pearson of the Seventy this week, but I'll get to that later.

It's really strange that it's been over a year now since I entered the MTC! Time flies by. I'm a little relieved that I have a bit more than six months left to enjoy my mission, it already seems like it's going so fast and there's so much more I want to do and learn while I'm out here!

We've had SO MANY members give us food this week, which was really a blessing since we were running low, and it's been GOOD food. So I've been eating a lot of leftovers haha.

Last Tuesday, we decided to explore the southern part of our area ... and discovered why the elders had labeled it "The Boonies." I'll send pictures and a video. 

It's out in the middle of nowhere in the mountains, but there are random houses scattered throughout it  so we definitely have some work to do down there! But it was quite the adventure driving around, we felt like we'd left the mission and gone somewhere entirely different.

We've had some amazing lessons this week. Juan and Sandra are both progressing, and it's such an incredibly example how humble they are and how much they want to learn. Sandra still has questions about Joseph Smith, but she's seeking for spiritual guidance and we have no doubt she'll gain a testimony soon! Friday we're watching the Restoration movie with them, so pray for them to be close to the spirit and allow Him to testify to them!

We saw our first live scorpion in the house last Wednesday and it was TERRIFYING. Somehow I ended up holding the jar while we were standing outside trying to figure out what to do, and Sister Hanson called the zone leaders and they told us to microwave it to kill it if we were too chicken to squish it... Yeah, I don't really want to use our
microwave again.

Sister Sorenson and I went on exchanges this week, which was fun! We saw SO MANY miracles - doors that have never opened, opened, we met people who have never been home, and we made an appointment with a referral from Salt Lake and her husband and they seem REALLY interested! We're going by them tonight to teach them and are super excited!

I had a very personal and amazing experience on Sunday during the Sacrament. I was really focusing on the ordinance and very consciously partaking in it, and as I took the water I literally felt like I'd been baptized again. I just felt this sense of peace and complete cleanliness wash over me and was surrounded by love. I'm so grateful for the priesthood and for the covenants I have made!

Monday was weird since it wasn't P-day, but it was also a really successful day! In the afternoon my IC got the best of me a bit, but we were still productive and I powered through and got a blessing that night from the bishop. But the real miracle of the day was the FHE that we had with Karla and her family at the bishop's house. She was really excited to come, and the Bluths just immediately accepted her and her three kids. They have a HUGE playground in their backyard, so the boys were immediately running out onto that, and then Shantel (the 12-year-old) and her mother stayed inside and talked to Sister Bluth. It was all really social, but very quickly Sister Bluth got them interested in cub scouts for Michael (who's 8) and Young Womens and girls camp for Shantel. Karla seemed SO comfortable with all of them, which is a miracle, and the kids are excited to start the activities this Wednesday. We'd had a lesson with her earlier in this week about how if she wants things in her life to improve she's going to have to make changes to be more in harmony with the Lord's will, and she was completely on board. Little by little, she's on her way, and she has great faith to begin to step into the dark! Pray for her!

And then yesterday was when the Southern half of the mission had our zone conference with Elder Pearson. It was really an amazing experience. I learned so much, and really felt the Lord's love and support. I felt more assuredly that I am a daughter of God and that He loves me and I have divine nature and potential. And I felt more and more of a desire to press forward and work with all my might. As part of the conference he randomly called on four missionaries to give talks that we had prepared, and I was one of the ones who was called up. It was an interesting experience because that morning I'd woken up really early with the plans for my talk going over and over in my head, and felt very spiritually guided, so I had a strong suspicion he was going to call on me. The talk was based on "Seek Learning by Faith" by Elder Bednar (which is AMAZING) and I called it, in my notes, "Inspired Questions = Inspired Learning." I drew upon my education as a teacher as well as the talk and examples from the scriptures to talk about how we should be teaching by questions to allow investigators to actively engage and learn for themselves instead of talking at them. Sometimes as a missionary, I forget this principle even though it's what I was the most passionate about when studying pedagogy at NYU. I'm trying to be better about that, and preparing the talk definitely helped keep my mind on how I can improve.  

At the end of the Zone Conference, we were given a promise - that if we went out and asked EVERYONE we talked to, "Who do you know who can benefit from our message?" that we would find someone new to teach THAT NIGHT. And so, Sister Hanson and I went out and did that, and we actually found two potentials as a result, which was a huge blessing!

I know that the Lord directs this work, and am striving to be a worthy instrument in His hands!

One of the main focuses of the conference was, "What kind of missionary do you want to be?" and focusing on what you needed to do in order to get there. At the beginning, I felt a little inadequate, and like I wasn't anywhere near where I wanted to be. But the more we talked about it, the more I realized that I was underselling myself. Yes, there's plenty that I need to improve on, but there's also a lot that I'm already doing well or really striving to do. The Spirit taught me how my effort is accepted, which pushed me to put in even more effort!

Elder Pearson also talked about how the Doctrine of Christ is, in essence, Alignment - being perfectly aligned with Christ so we can be perfectly aligned with the Father, and doing what is necessary to realign ourselves when we get a bit off course. I liked the visual of it!

One quote that he said that stood out to me was, "Are you going to be a young man or a young woman masquerading as a missionary for two years or 18 months, or are you going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ who used to be someone else?" It was such a powerful question and reminded me that I need to forget myself! But at the same time, he focused so much on our potential, what we've already achieved in this life and in the premortal existence, and the love that our Father has for us, which was all so incredibly uplifting. He said that what you determine about your identity ultimately determines your reality and destiny, so never forget your divine identity!

One more thing that stuck out to me - he was talking about how some people are waiting for angels to come down and answer their prayers or a prophet to speak to them directly or something. Then he said, "You've got a member of the Godhead - that should suffice." It hit me right in my heart! We literally ALL receive a witness of the truth from a member of the GODHEAD - why do we look for something more when nothing could be more miraculous than that?

Hermana Garner