Wednesday, January 6, 2016

When we listen to the spirit we will find miracles

January 4, 2016
Dear family,
Well Happy New Year I cannot believe that it is already 2016. That is incredibly crazy but Hermana Peters and I are so excited for the New Year and all the adventures that lie ahead.

Alright I am going to tell you about two less active members we are teaching. Their names are T and S. They are both in wheelchairs and are probably the silliest people you ever have met. I honestly am without words to try and describe them to you. But we go over there on Mondays and help around the house and teach. Well the moral of this story is that they finally fulfilled the commitment we gave them and read the story that we left them! Hermana Peters and I were so excited. And we had an amazing talk about Enos. 

Tuesday morning we had district meeting. Elder Mitchell gave an awesome talk about charity. I have realized that I really need to work on charity. He asked us to compare the fruits of a missionary who works with charity and one who just goes through the motions. I realized that charity is really one of the things I need to work on developing so that I can really give my all to this work. 

Tuesday night we really had no success, but that doesn't mean we stopped looking. We had one member lesson planned, her name is M and she has one cute daughter A. Just walking into her home gave me so much energy. The spirit was so prevalent. We got to sit down and share a quick message about God always being there to support her in her trials. It was such a blessing to hear her sweet testimony. As missionaries we try to go and give strength to the members, but I often feel as if we don't give them half of what they give us. To see their families and hear their testimonies gives us the strength to keep going. It's incredible how those 30 min. carry us through for the rest of the night. 

I don't know if any of you remember in New Jersey, there was an Elder who our family was pretty close with. Granted I don't remember much but from what I do remember he seemed like a stellar Elder. The first time they came over it was because they had just knocked on Stephanie's door, and they were passing by and came to tell us about it. We invited them in and the Elder just stopped in the doorway. We all kinda stopped and watched him. And he looked up and with tears in his eyes told us how he was the only member in his family, and in our home he felt the spirit so strongly, stronger than he had in a home. I remember being puzzled by that. Our home was just a house. What was he talking about? But now I understand. As missionaries we go through so many doors. We sit in so many living rooms and talk to so many people. When we enter a members home there is a marked difference. I honestly am so grateful for the short time we get to spend with members. 

Wednesday we went over to M's house. I am not sure what I have told you about M. But she is 17 and is so ready to get baptized. She just hasn't told her parents yet. When we got there Mi (her mom) was there and invited us in. M really wants her mother to get baptized with her. Mi is honestly so cute, and we got to have an awesome lesson with her before her daughter came home. Then Maria came home and we got to teach her as well. So hopefully we will be having a nice family baptism soon :) 

That afternoon we met C who is from Nigeria, he was an old investigator and I love love love teaching people from Nigeria. I was thinking about Ma from Malaga the whole way there. Well one thing that his registro did not include was that he is actually a preacher. It was super interesting, because he started teaching us, and we were chuckling because we knew he wasn't going to change our minds, and we tried to teach him and he chuckled because he knew we weren't going to change his mind. But we talked about the Book of Mormon and he invited us over to eat later in the week. 

We also contacted a reference from the Elders. His name is F and he is from Cuba. I kinda flipped because I love Cubans so so much. Okay truth of the matter is I love everyone ;) but there will always be a special part of my heart for Cubans. But funny story. Because of kings day there are big stars up around the cities. And we were in a part of San Fernando that we had never been, and I kid you not we followed a star to his Pizo. It led us right there. It was a Christmas miracle. 

We taught a lot of old investigators this week and one of them was Ib she invited us over to try some bread from Morocco. It was awesome, but she told us right up front she wasn't going to convert. But we will see ;) it has been a little interesting this week because all of these investigators just seemed to think the missionaries were there to be their friends but it's all good we are their friends... But more importantly we need to be teaching. 

Anyway normally New Year’s Eve we are allowed to pass the New Year in the home of a member, but President sent out an email and told us he felt very strongly we needed to be in our pizos at the normal hour. He asked us to work that night until we didn't feel effective or we started bothering people.  So we canceled our plans and tried to do as much as we could. At 8 we had finished our plans for the night. We were at the door of our Pizo, but both of us felt like there was something more we needed to do. I had the thought to visit one more investigator so off we went. He wasn't home. Confused we turned back for home. Hermana Peters said, "We are not going inside until we talk to one more person!" There was a lady on a bench and we contacted her. She invited us to sit down and teach a lesson. We gave her a Book of Mormon and got her information and taught the first lesson. It was the perfect way to finish 2015. God is so aware of us and where we need to be. And when we listen to the spirit we will find miracles. 

New Year’s night we did a reflection on our work of the year, I feel so blessed that God has allowed me to just hit the ground running and work from the start. My goal is to hold onto that and develop it more. I don't want to fizzle out, but keep going strong. 

Then we made cinnamon rolls, no they weren't as good as moms and we almost burned down our house. But they were yummy :) then at midnight we ate 12 grapes for the new year and fell asleep to the fireworks of all the parties ;) I couldn't believe it but our ward had a party that started at 1 am and went till 6 am. And that was normal. So cool :) obviously we were sleeping ;)  

Friday morning we did weekly planning with a special area planning where we set goals for the area for the year. Then we went and ate with Gema and her cute family. And we played the game "cara splash" you can see the video. But basically I lost really badly ;) 

Saturday we got to take one of our investigators to the chapel and do a tour and teach a lesson. When we do the tours we really want them to have a spiritual experience in the font, and in the sacrament room. And with Ma it worked so well. The spirit was so strong and we invited her to be baptized and she laughed and said “really I can?” It was such a perfect moment. We had a 10 min correlation with David and then ran to get our investigator Ir. Ir is 20 and incredible. Her mother has cancer, and she has been basically been taking care of her alone. But she is the cutest person, we taught her in Chani’s home. Chani is basically like everyone's grandmother and the sweetest old lady. We taught Ir the plan of salvation. She loved it and told us how she can see how much her life has been changing since she found the church. It was perfect. 

We finished the night with an investigator that we have been struggling to get to come to church. We went and shared 1 Nephi 3:7 and to put it in Hermana Peters words, "if Nephi can build a boat, you can come to church" it was the funniest moment. 

Sunday was a little rough. We were later because we were supposed to walk with an investigator who didn't show up. But we made the sacrament. Yay! When we came rushing it the first counselor busted up laughing. Because there are only 10 people there at the beginning of church. Anyway none of our investigators came. That was rough. But it's okay next week. Sunday night the ward had an activity where all the primary kids put on a nativity and it was adorable. They did a knock off of inside out but with faith as one of the emotions. Loved it.

On Monday I had the opportunity to finish the Book of Mormon for the first time in Spanish. I am so grateful for the opportunity we had to complete this "challenge" as a mission. When I first started I was very impressed by the testimonies of the 3 and the 8 witnesses. Right from the beginning I wanted to add my own witness right next to theirs of the divinity and the veracity of this book. I determined that once I finished the book I would put in the space under the testimony of the 8 witnesses a heading, "el testimonio de un testigo" and while I was reading the book I was determined to build a testimony worth writing. Upon finishing I went to write my testimony and I realized that I don't have an experience that completely changed my life, or a testimony very eloquent of the Book of Mormon. I honestly cannot say any more than has already been said, and it has been said in much better words than mine, but what I do have is a simple testimony that I know and feel with my whole heart.
I never really doubted that the men like Nephi and the brother of Jared were real people, who wrote their experiences for our benefit. It was something I always believed. And logically for those men to be real, the book has to be a real record, translated by the power of God. But my testimony goes deeper than just that logical understanding. When I read the Book of Mormon, I feel a peace and a love in my heart and I know such feelings come from God. When I read the Book of Mormon I learn more about the Savior, it is like my mind is filled with clarity and I understand things more every time, and I know that such learning comes from God. When I read the Book of Mormon I find my own experiences of prayer and repentance reflected back at me in the experiences of others. I know that such experiences come from God. And with that knowledge I know that a book that causes these things, must also come from God. So now in my Book of Mormon, there is a small testimony of the one witness written, and I guess for my life and the life of my family, that is the most important one.  
I was quite sad to hear about the passing of great grandfather Erb. I won't lie and tell you that we ever had an amazing relationship, but he is the 2nd of my grandparents that have passed away while I have been serving, and I can't help but smile when I think of my stubborn and sometimes very cranky great grandfather in the spirit world coming face to face with my spunky and equally stubborn grandmother Smalley and the following missionary discussions. I know that this plan is a perfect one, and that Heavenly Father will never give up on anyone. I cannot imagine going through this life without the peace that comes from understanding the plan of salvation. And I am eternally grateful that I have been raised in a family that taught me from a small age what it was. I so desperately want to give that to others.
I love you all so much and hope that you have the best week! 

Love Hermana Smalley

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