Monday, July 24, 2017

It's weird to think that we're almost done with the transfer, 

and with July altogether! 

This is us with Erica, the sister that was sealed to her parents, husband, and children on Saturday!  We didn't have a lot of time to go to their luncheon to celebrate, but we were biking by the church and stopped by (hence why my face is so red).
This week we had the immense privilege of going to the temple with a family as they received their own endowments, and then to attend their sealing this weekend. It was humbling and so, so beautiful! A little bit of backstory - Alejandra joined the church first, and has since worked with the rest of her family, and now three of her sisters and their whole families are members and her parents and her own husband and children are all members as well. She's also brought a lot of friends into the church. Well, on Tuesday, Alejandra's father, her sister Erica, and her brother-in-law Miguel all received their endowments. Friday, we witnessed a set of four sealings in the same room - first, Alejandra and Erica's parents were sealed, then Alejandra and Erica were sealed to them, then Erica and Miguel were sealed, then their two kids were brought in and sealed to them. The room was so, sooo full of love and happiness, and incredible emotion! We were so humbled to be asked to come by the family. Alejandra was crying so many tears of happiness, it warmed my heart. That is the joy of sharing the gospel!!

But because of all of our trips to the temple this past week and a half, we're running out of miles that we're allowed to use on our car. So we've been biking a lot more - on Saturday we biked 11.3 miles in the afternoon heat and I thought I might die. And then yesterday, as we were biking to try to visit a less active, there was a MONSOON! We were absolutely SOAKED through, every time I peddled my foot went into water, the street was so flooded! Luckily most of my things only received little to no water damage, but my bag was definitely not made for rainy climates! And we didn't get the phone out of the side pocket and inside of Sister Hanson's bag fast enough, so now the touch screen isn't working ... which means it's impossible for us to do anything but answer if someone calls. It's a problem ... but hopefully we'll get it worked out soon! Anyway, as wet as we got and as crazy as it was, it was actually kind of fun and definitely makes for a good story. We were all excited that this less active was DEFINITELY going to let us in (we've never met them) but they still didn't answer the door ... oh well!

Sad news from this week, though - remember the member who told us she wanted to get her two kids baptized? She cancelled four lessons we had set up with her this week and we have since not been able to get a hold of her and she did not come to church, nor did the kids. So ... they're not going to be able to get baptized this weekend most likely :/ 

But we got in touch with Luis again! He's not quite as prepared as we thought, he was talking about how busy he was and that he didn't have much time in his life right now. We talked about putting the things of the Lord first, and as we were talking with him I felt one of the strongest promptings of my mission. He's working on building a house in Mexico for his mom, and I said, "If you read one verse in the Book of Mormon every day this week, you will receive a call from Mexico, and something that is not working out with your project will be resolved." We were both a little shocked by it, but I felt the Spirit confirm, as did Sister Hanson, that it was an inspired promise that would come to pass if he did his part. So we're praying for him and hope he'll accept the blessings our Father in Heaven is trying to give him!

Thursday night we held English classes for the first time! Only one person came, but we all still felt like it was successful (we're just starting so not everyone knows about it yet). Also, it was SO nice and refreshing to be teaching like that again! It wasn't exactly how I usually teach, but it definitely had theatrical elements of role playing and I felt much more comfortable in that setting than teaching as a missionary haha - just because I feel more confident that I know what I'm doing.

I've been reading a lot in 1 and 2 Samuel and getting a LOT out of the stories! 1 Samuel 28 - Saul goes to a witch to have her conjure up the spirit of the prophet Samuel since God won't answer his prayers. Verse 14's footnote talks about how the vision of 'Samuel' was not of God. Therefore, it must have been of the devil. But everything prophesied comes to pass. Why? Because, as the footnote says, the effect of the vision was to destroy all hope. Saul wasn't fated to die in the way that he did - if he'd truly turned to the Lord, he could have received forgiveness. But the evil spirit masquerading as Samuel lied and convinced him it was impossible and he should just give up (vs. 16). It was a spirit of despair, and Saul made its words a reality by fatalistically believing them. He's the one who gave up on the Lord, not the other way around. We need to be careful not to let the devil deceive us into thinking the Lord has given up on us, because He never will - His arms are always stretched out to us!

Love,
Hermana Garner

Thursday, July 20, 2017

So Much Going On 

There is SO MUCH going on I feel like I can barely wrap my head around it! Each day has felt like a year this past week, and we've hardly had any time to catch a breath or two.

One of the biggest things that happened this week was going to the temple with Claudia. She was baptized about a year ago, but when we got to this area Hna Hanson and I discovered that somehow she'd been forgotten about and no one had talked to her about going to the temple.  The Spirit was INCREDIBLY strong. After she'd changed and we were heading out of the temple, she expressed, "I feel - weird. I feel this joy and happiness that I didn't even know was possible. It's almost bursting out of me." She expressed how she could feel gratitude from those she did the work for, and I told her I felt the same. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience that strengthened my testimony incredibly, and hers as well. 

Tuesday afternoon was a bit rough - we got in a car accident. I tried to pass someone who looked like they were pulled over to the side, but it turned out they were turning left and just hadn't turned their turn signal on. They drove off, and neither us nor the sheriff's department could find them - they probably didn't have insurance. It wasn't a bad accident, the car was still drivable and neither Hna Hanson and I got hurt, but it was definitely a little scary! We felt protected by the Lord and were grateful for that!

That night we had a great lesson with a part-member family, and the father committed to come to church. Of course, then they went out of town for two weeks ... but we feel confident that he'll start progressing when they get back!

Wednesday we stopped by Luis (the new investigator we put on date last week) only to find that he

was rushing out the door to get to work - he got a new job at a restaurant opening up here, Pita Jungle. Well, they were having a friends and family day last Friday as a promotional (they open today) and he invited us to come for free. We decided to go, and the food was AMAZING!!! It was a $45 meal that we got for free, appetizer, entrees, dessert, drinks - we felt so spoiled!
Luis had committed to come to church, but he didn't show up, so he's unfortunately not on date for the 29th anymore, but we have an appointment tomorrow, so we'll see how it goes!​

  Thursday morning we met two new potentials who told us they'd really like to learn more, that they're looking for a church to go to, so we're excited about that! And then Thursday night we had an interesting lesson with our new investigator Ana - her husband came downstairs and basically anti-ed us while we were sitting there, but she was tuning him out and reading the restoration pamphlet, and when he started talking about how we worshiped Joseph Smith she interrupted him and said, "Dejame hablar," (Let me talk) before rebuking him and saying, "Reading this, they don't worship him, they just see him as a disciple." Sister Hanson and I were like, "EXACTLY," and her husband quieted down a bit and we were able to commit Ana and her mother to both read and pray about the Book of Mormon, and they seem to have a sincere desire to learn

  Friday we had an incredible experience with Angelina - she's progressing slowly, but still progressing. She understands what she needs to do, and what she's not doing, in order to receive her answer. She was another investigator who went out of town for the weekend, but she committed yet again to come to church next week. We feel so strongly that if she comes to church she'll receive her answer about if the church is true! She wants to know, and keeps asking us about how she can develop more faith, and how she can help her family members do the same.

Sunday was our busiest day this week, but it was also a day when I saw one of the biggest miracles of my entire mission! None of the people we invited came to church, and we were pretty disappointed, but were moving forward in the faith that we would, somehow, have four baptisms this transfer. Well, just after sacrament we hurried up to introduce ourselves to a less active who's never answered her door for us, and she says, "Hey, thanks for coming over - I have two kids that I want to get baptized." We were floored, and met the kids - they want to get baptized too, we just need to make sure they understand everything and aren't just doing it as a 'cultural' thing but understand that it's a promise with God - and that their parents understand that part of their kids keeping that promise will be coming to church, so they have to recommit to their own covenants and bring them. But as of now, they're scheduled to be baptized on the 29th!

And then there were two new people in the Gospel Principles class, relatives of recent converts who are getting sealed this week in the temple, who are having us over for an FHE tonight, so there's a lot of potential there as well!

This morning we enjoyed a hike as a zone, and it was fun! I was also rather pensive, I recorded some of my thoughts and will send them to you in a video.​

https://drive.google.com/a/myldsmail.net/file/d/0B_8FkIqMG6oPb2FBSmgwUDctQUE/view?usp=sharing

There was SO much I learned in my studies this week, I feel like I could write a novel. I'll do my best not to. 

1 Samuel 1:18 - I was incredibly struck by the faith that Hannah had. The moment she'd received her promise from Eli the priest, she went away rejoicing with no doubt in her heart that she would be given the promised child and blessing. 

1 Samuel 2:10 (footnote b) - "anointed" is translated from the Greek "christos." So "Christ" is a variant of "anointed," meaning his name and title signifies His calling of the Lord.

2 Nephi 16:6-7 - The Seraphim put a LIVE coal on Isaiah's mouth to cleanse him. Repentance is not a painless process, though it is worth it - as a result, Isaiah could see and converse with the Lord.

1 Samuel 4 - The Children of Israel brought out the Ark of the Covenant to war thinking it would protect them, but they were unworthy, so instead they were smitten and it was taken. The Lord cannot protect us if we are not keeping our covenants.

1 Samuel 15 - Saul justified sinning against the Lord by not destroying all of the Amalekite's flocks by saying he did it to sacrifice to the Lord. But our wisdom is not greater than the Lord's - we must obey in all things and not yield to our own desires and judgements, even if they seem righteous (vs. 22)
(Last one, I promise!) 1 Samuel 17:40, 49 - Even though David only needed 1 stone to kill Goliath, he prepared himself with 5.

Love,
Hermana Garner

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Happy 4th of July

This was such a great week, I've been so excited to write to you about it!

Monday and Tuesday were pretty slow and we unfortunately didn't get to see many people, but we still had some great experiences! And then, Tuesday night, all the missionaries got together at one of the churches to spend the 4th of July there (we weren't allowed to be out proselyting for safety). It was SO much fun, I took a few videos - we had a short little devotional, where Elder Janda, who's from France, thanked us for all being there to celebrate the independence of his country, America, even though we were all immigrants. It was pretty hilarious. I was spontaneously asked to play the National Anthem on the piano and botched it, but it didn't matter. I used the decorations you sent to decorate the gym and we played a bunch of games in there and just enjoyed our time together. Driving home, we got to see some of the fireworks which was a tender mercy!

And then, we got to go to the temple Wednesday morning!
It was a surprise, we were told just the day before, but it was definitely a welcome surprise. I felt so much peace and love from the Lord as I was there, and was again incredibly grateful that I was sent to a mission where I have the opportunity to go to the House of the Lord often!

Wednesday was FULL of miracles, but I'll just talk about one to save time - we had an extra hour of time because some of our plans fell through, so we prayed before leaving the house to know where to go. As we got in the car, Hna Hanson says, "Let's go try the potential we have in the apartments." The story behind this apartment is literally just that someone told us they thought they heard someone speaking Spanish inside. So it was a sketchy referral, we didn't know anything about them, and the few times that we'd knocked no one had answered. But we followed the prompting and headed over, and heard a vacuum on inside, so we at least knew someone was home and we were going to figure out if they spoke Spanish or not, or were even interested.  Well, this man comes out, introduces himself as Luis, and yes, he does speak Spanish. He says, "Yeah, I know quite a bit about Mormons, but I've never tried it out." I felt the Spirit super strongly and just said, "Well, we're going to invite you to try it out." He smiled and said, "Okay, sure."He didn't have a lot of time, and we had to travel to another appointment on the other end of our area, so we only were able to talk to him for fifteen minutes. But at the end of those fifteen minutes he agreed to read and pray, and committed to be baptized on JULY 29TH if he knows it's true!!!!!!!  It was seriously SUCH a miracle!!!! Pray that he'll get his answer and follow through!!!

There were a couple of less exciting things - we were really excited for Sunday, because we had 17 investigators and potentials who had agreed to come to church ... and literally not a single one of them showed up. Which was really disheartening, but I'm deciding to grow my faith instead of start to doubt! I still believe we'll have four baptisms this transfer!

The other frustrating thing (that was also a miracle, really) was that we tracted into this member, and he got super excited when we told him we were Spanish missionaries. He told us that his neighbor has been investigating the church. Here's the thing - she's been meeting with the English missionaries and going to the English ward, but she doesn't speak English!!!!!!! She has an interpreter who's coming to her lessons and going to church with her, but she doesn't catch quite everything and wants to participate in Gospel Principles but can't. We texted her and she was SO excited, she had no idea that there was a Spanish ward let alone Spanish missionaries.

  In other news, our AC broke AGAIN, Hna Hanson and I have been unintentionally matching our outfits every day which is just ridiculous, and this morning in the shower I looked down and THERE WAS A SCORPION CRAWLING ON MY FOOT!!!!!!!!!!! One of the most TERRIFYING moments of my life!!!!!

I've been learning SO MUCH from the Old Testament! I love it! ​In Joshua 10, there's a story about one of the battles that Israel had with the kings of the Canaanites. They were vastly outnumbered, but the Lord told Joshua not to fear, that He had delivered them into their hands. Well, in verse 11, the Canaanites are running away and "great stones from heaven" fall on them, and the scripture says that more people died from those than from the men of Israel battling them. It truly shows who won that battle, and it wasn't the children of Israel!​

​2 Nephi 9:52 - "Let your hearts rejoice." This phrase stood out to me so much. Joy is a choice, though at times a hard one to make, and the Lord will help us as we seek it!​

Joshua 23:6 - this verse relates being courageous to keeping the commandments of God, and I'd never associated that word with obedience before. It was really interesting, and gave me a new perspective!

Anyway, just some of what I learned this week! Hope you're all enjoying your scripture study as well!!

Love,
Hermana Garner

Here are a couple of videos from this week




Wednesday, July 5, 2017

It was a really incredible, eventful week! 


I've seen the Lord's hand so much in my life as this week has gone on, and Hna Hanson and I are really excited for the rest of the transfer!

On Wednesday we had zone conference, which was an amazing experience for a number of reasons. Hna Shaffer and I sang in a small group for the musical number, "I Need Thee Every Hour," which is my favorite hymn in the hymn book. It was a great experience, I was glad to be able to use my talents! And the training that we received in zone conference was really amazing - we talked a lot about the power of bearing testimony and received a promise that if we had 10 quality gospel discussions a day (even if people aren't interested) and always, always ask for referrals, that baptisms in the mission would double. Hna Hanson and I have committed to do that, and we've met so many people and seen them put directly into our path by the Lord as we've striven to do so! As a zone, we also made a very prayerful goal of having 18 baptisms this transfer. When Hna Hanson and I were praying in our companionship about what our goal should be, we felt very strongly that we should settle on the number 4. It's a bit daunting at moments for me, since I haven't had any baptisms my whole mission, but we've talked a lot this week about how the Lord loves impossible odds. I feel no doubt that as we continue to work diligently, the Lord will bring those 4 people to us one way or another who are prepared to receive Him and make covenants! Our whole zone has seen so many miracles as we've continued to pray and fast for this goal.

We got two new investigators this week, which I know was a huge answer to prayer and a fulfillment of the promises we received at zone conference! One of them was Luisa. We met her a week or so ago, and gave her a Book of Mormon. She said she was never home, but we stopped by to see if we could catch her or one of the other people who live there, and she happened to be preparing to leave for Mexico for the weekend, so had some time to talk. She let us in, and we taught her the first lesson. The spirit was so strong! She's already been reading the Book of Mormon, she wants to know how we can know if what's written in any of the scriptures is true and which church is really God's church, and when we shared the story of the first vision her jaw dropped and she was obviously touched by the spirit. At the end of the lesson we invited her to be baptized when she knew these things were true, and though she didn't commit to a date or anything she said that she does want to know if it's true and will read and pray, and she's coming to church with us this coming week! Pray for her and the rest of our investigators!

 Juan and Sandra are back in Guadalajara, but they're continuing to go to church and meet with the missionaries! We just got an email from Juan that they went to church yesterday and that their daughters came with them and loved it, that they felt the spirit very strongly. Juan's wanted to be baptized for a while now, he's praying for the Lord to open the hearts and minds of his family members so he can be baptized with them soon :)

 Angelina's one of our investigators :) We invited her to be baptized this past week, and she said she doesn't agree with organized religion and doesn't want to be baptized in any church. We talked about how it's not about joining a church but about making a covenant with God under the proper authority in his established way. She softened after that, and is praying to know if baptism is something the Lord wants her to do (she even prayed for it right there in front of us at the close of the lesson, which was awesome!)

I've been reading a lot in the Old Testament, I'm really behind on my schedule to finish reading all of the standard works before I finish my mission and am trying to catch up. There's been a lot that I've learned, I just love the Old Testament so much!

Deuteronomy 7:7-18 - I related this scripture to John 14:21.Deuteronomy 8:2-6 - Verse 2 especially stood out to me personally, about how the Lord tries us to see what's in our heart and if we will follow Him. I want to show Him that I will, regardless of my trials.

Deuteronomy 10:2 (footnote) - This verse confused me when I first read the Old Testament - why would the Lord have Moses break the tablets just to write the same things on the second ones that he made? But with the JST we learn that the Lord said "And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, save the words of the everlasting covenant of the holy priesthood..." They didn't qualify themselves for the higher law, so it was taken from them.

2 Nephi 2:1-3 - I'm going to retype this scripture in the way that it stood out to me personally as I read it this past week, and the way I likened the scriptures to myself: "...in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow ... Nevertheless, ... thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain. Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed ... and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God." 

Love,
Hermana Garner