Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas in Santa Maria


This has been another wonderful week! We had such a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas day! We had a great meal with a family in the ward for Christmas Eve, and they even got each of us a couple of Christmas presents to open. They spoil us!

Christmas Eve! We decided to wear our "thrift store"sweaters
to our dinner on Christmas Eve. We actually have been
taking every opportunity to break them out :)

On Christmas we opened presents early with the family we live with. The wife came and knocked on our door at 6:30am to tell us that we could come up and open a little stocking she prepared for us, and open presents!

Cookies! I also bought this super cute apron. It made my heart
hurt it was so cute and so inexpensive! Merry Christmas!

Later that day we baked tons of cookies and went around to less-active members and investigators to wish them a very Merry Christmas! It was one of the craziest days because we didn't have as much time as usual and we were trying to squeeze everyone in. 

We had an all out Christmas feast with another family from our ward on Christmas day. The wife reminds me SO much of Granny, so I felt like I was spending Christmas with my sweet Grandma. They also got us each a mini Christus statue to put in our apartment. They are maybe 3 inches tall. That was just so sweet and thoughtful of them! Even though it didn't really feel like a normal Christmas to us here, the members really tried to make us feel at home and enjoy this Christmas. The ward here really is incredible!
It was also so great to talk to everyone at home!! I was so happy that everyone was there! [By "everyone" she means Dad, Mom, Grandma, Brock & Liz & baby Chloe, Blair & Britt, Chase & Michelle]

Calling home for the first time!

This week was kind of an odd week as far as missionary work goes, but it was a great week nonetheless! We were finally able to have a real lesson with M. Before, we would only be able to share a quick thought because she was busy, or we would just do service for her. Last night we finally had a great Restoration lesson with her!

She had been taught by missionaries before but we decided to go ahead and start the lessons over with her. It was just a great lesson because I felt like Sister Blanchard and I were really able to listen to the spirit to adapt the lessons to her needs. It was just a very natural lesson and it was completely tailored to what she needed to hear. It ended up being a completely different lesson than what we had planned but the spirit helped guide us to teach her in the way that she really needed at that time.

It was incredible and she opened up so much! She said that she is now finally open to reading The Book of Mormon and praying to know if it is true! That is a huge step for her. She also said that she has been wanting to come to church and go to ward activities. She has some amazing potential and it is just so great to see that she is finally at the point where she is open to the gospel!

Sister Blanchard and me

We also met a man this week who was originally a referral from the Spanish sisters in our district. We met him Saturday afternoon and we found out that he had read and researched the pamphlet that the sisters left with him. He really wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon and was excited to learn more. We invited him to come to church and he came yesterday! We were able to find a ride for him and he stayed all 3 hours! He said that he really enjoyed it so we are excited to see what happens with him.

He is a little difficult because he is down syndrome but lives on his own and is very high-functioning. He was able to understand everything that was going on at church but I am just interested to see how this works out for him. He is very open to learning so we are excited to meet with him again this week!


We also were able to pick up a wonderful former investigator this week! She is the sweetest lady. Sister Higgins and I had met her about two months ago. This week we stopped by and she invited us to come and have lunch with her. We were able to have lunch and get to know her more and teach her the Restoration again.

We also came back on Saturday and helped her make tamales. This is the second opportunity I've had this month to learn how to make them. Get ready to have some amazing tamales next Christmas because I am now a tamale-making pro!

She is such a great woman and she already has a few really good friends that are LDS. She was really busy when the missionaries were teaching her before, but now she has a little bit more time and she seems very open. She said we could come by again in a few days for a lesson and we are hoping to be able to bring one of her best friends from the ward.


It has overall been a great week! We had many great referrals from people on the street and from ward members. We got one referral from a member in Arizona to visit her friend. We contacted the friend and she was very welcoming and asked when we were available to come back. We are very excited about her and hope to meet with her soon.

We also met such great people this week! There were a few people that "just happened" to be along our path this week that were very open and invited us to come back and teach them!

Also we are teaching some less-actives that are now coming to church! A few haven't been to church in such a long time and they were there on Sunday! Some times I feel like we aren't making tons of progress with them. We just love them and try our best, but it is great to finally see a little progress!

Sister Blanchard's mom sent us some footie pajamas for Christmas!
We are obsessed with them. This was us bright and early
on Christmas morning.

Okay so I just love Sister Blanchard! Every day I am just really impressed with how she teaches. Her testimony is so powerful and everyone we talk to can feel her love for them. She is incredible and is the one that really brings the spirit into our lessons. She is such a great person to be around and I am really lucky to be her companion!

Just an update... M's baptism is scheduled for next Saturday! (She's the 14 year old that loves coming to church and mutual). We are going to talk to her mother tonight to figure out when we can finish her last few little lessons before she is baptized so we can get her prepared in the next week and a half. We are so excited for her and we hope that she and her family will work with us so she can make it on the 11th! She is just going to be such a great example to her siblings and hopefully later some of them will want to be baptized as well!

-Sister Mason

P.S. After my comment about singing a duet at the Christmas devotional (and being out of my comfort zone), mom asked me if I ever volunteer to lead the music. Yes, I do lead music in meetings. That's not so bad, but I definitely do things every day that I never thought I would be doing! It's for a great cause though.  I am out of my comfort zone every singe day! After all, people's salvation depends on it!  Love you love you love you!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Text & Picture from Members in Santa Maria

We received this sweet text and picture from the Beasley family in Santa Maria:

"The Beasleys wanted to let you know we enjoyed having your sweet daughter in our home for Christmas Eve"

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Almost Christmas!

Dear Family,
This week we drove to Santa Barbara to have a zone Christmas devotional. It was just over an hour drive and we carpooled with Hermana Brown and Hermana Eastman for the trip. It was an incredible meeting! President and Sister Castro gave talks as usual but the rest of the program was a mix of musical numbers and parts of the bible videos that had to do with Christ's birth. There are truly some talented missionaries in our mission!
One funny thing is that each zone sang a song together. Our zone only has 4 sisters and a million elders where the other zones have many many sisters. For one verse of our song they decided to have only the sisters sing. One of the hermanas was playing the piano so she wasn't singing and Sister Blanchard doesn't really like to sing, so for that part it ended up being a duet with me and the other sister. Haha I never thought I would be doing that...
It was overall such a great meeting and afterwards we had lunch and did a few Christmasy activities. We mostly did little games among the 3 zones that were there. It was a great way to celebrate Christmas a little early and hear from some of the amazing talent from the mission. 

I LOVE THIS HERMANA (Hermana Linford).
I also love that lately I have been able to see her all the time!

We were also able to have a wonderful lesson with one of our investigators S. We we able to meet in the Terrazas' home with Sister Terrazas and S's daughter. It was a very basic lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but what made it the best was having his daughter there. She is a convert so she was able to share her story about how she decided to be baptized. It was just really powerful to have her there because she knows exactly what he is going through right now. She was also able to encourage him to read the Book of Mormon. She has been very helpful in his conversion process and always asks us what she can do to help her dad.
One of the best parts of the whole lessons was his closing prayer. He said that what we had talked about really stirred up things that he had thought about before and it had touched him. He later said he is excited to read the Book of Mormon to find out answers for himself. We really like teaching him because he knows the Bible really well and has researched many gospel topics. He is such a genuine person so we always love the time we get to meet with him.
I really couldn't help but think about the armor of God when I saw this

This week we also met a wonderful investigator. We first met him and spoke with his fiance and she told us that he would probably be interested. We were able to go back and meet with him twice this week and teach him the Restoration. He seems very curious to know more about what we have taught and he committed to start reading The Book of Mormon! He is just someone we met out of nowhere and we are excited to continue to meet with him. We were also able to find other new investigators this week that we are really hopeful about!

Us making Tamales :) They were the best tamales I have ever had!

We were also excited to meet with one of our investigators. She is a little difficult because it is really hard for her to trust new people, and she doesn't like being told what to do. We have been working really hard with her and have mostly only been able to do service for her. This week we helped her make tamales! It was a great opportunity to spend time with her and now I know how to make real tamales!
She talked to us when we were over about how she is not a fan of organized religion and we talked to her a little bit about how it is necessary for us to be organized, and the things that we can do because we are an organized church. We are still making progress a little bit at a time but we have hopes that she will start being more receptive and progress.

Yesterday was also so much fun because it was our ward Christmas program! It was a wonderful meeting. Then we had the usual Sunday (meeting with a few people and stopping by to try to catch other people home). The best was that after dinner we went caroling with a family from the ward. We visited their friends and they introduced us to them. We definitely planted some seeds there. It was almost impossible to deny the spirit felt there when we sang different Christmas hymns. It was just a great way to end the night!

Merry Christmas everybody! Haha okay so I just had to show off the Christmas
decorations while I enjoyed some Mexican hot chocolate. Mmmmm

Santa Maria is still amazing as ever. Honestly, I am shocked every day how open the people are here. We are able to see little miracles every day! I am doing really well and I feel much more comfortable than when I started here. I love the people here and I am so thankful for the help of the ward. Sister Blanchard has made tons of progress lately. She is much more persistent and I am just really impressed with her. I know that this Christmas season has been hard for her but she is a really tough missionary. I have really enjoyed working with her so far!

Sister Mason

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's Getting Christmasy Here

Mom and Dad,

It has been another eventful week here in Santa Maria! First of all, we had a great exchange with Sister Hegstrom and Sister Randall, 2 of the Sister Training Leaders. Remember, Sister Randall was one of my first companions. It was great to spend a little extra time with her again! And I was with Sister Hegstrom in the MTC. She was in my MTC district and we shared a room together, so I got to know her very well. I absolutely love her with all my heart. Honestly, she is an incredible person and a wonderful missionary! So I worked with Sister Hegstrom and Sister Blanchard worked with Sister Randall.
Sister Hegstrom and Me. She is just the greatest!

I wanted to work on inviting people to be baptized and it has helped me so much. I wanted to work on inviting people people on the streets, or on their doorstep, to be baptized. It is something that I am still pretty hesitant of, but Sister Hegstrom showed me how to do it effectively and help me feel more comfortable. It was also great to see the way Sister Hegstrom teaches and I learned so much from her example. She is very hardworking and it was a breeze teaching together! I was able to talk to her throughout the day about things I can do to help Sister Blanchard, and help me be a better trainer. She was very helpful on that and gave me great suggestions!
Lately I have really been working on relaxing and not being a stresser. The problem with that is I am trying really hard to find how to be relaxed without being lazy. I really want to work as hard as I can without being uptight. I'll keep you updated on that one :) Haha I know, I bet you aren't shocked for me to admit that I can be uptight.
A view from a little town in my area called Sisquoc.
I love it here and I love California!

On their exchange, Sister Blanchard and Sister Randall were able to meet with one of our investigators M. It was a great lesson and they set her with a date! She is planning on getting baptized on January 11th! We are more than excited to meet with her and her family later this week! 

Sister Hegstrom and I were able to meet with S. His daughter who is a member met with us also, and it was a great lesson on The Plan of Salvation. We discussed his baptism and he had a few questions. He said that he really wanted to read the Book of Mormon as much as possible so he can know for sure that this is what he wants. He is doing really well though and wants to learn more about baptism. We were really sad when he wasn't at church yesterday though :(

Also, one of our former investigators J came to sacrament meeting yesterday to see a returned missionary from our ward speak. She says that she is not interested right now but we will always reach out to her and her daughter and grandchildren who are members.
A banner that was just too great not to share :) Merry Christmas!!

This Friday was our ward Adult Progressive Dinner. It was so great. Our ward went all out and it was great night! We had dinner with a couple that a member brought with them. The hilarious thing was that Sister Higgins and I had talked to these people recently and were rejected by the husband! It wasn't a bad rejection and I honestly think the husband forgot, but it was just too funny. We got to talk to them and get to know them more, so that was great. We also had so much food and treats that I think we almost exploded!

A little view of some of the Nativities

We also had a stake nativity this weekend (Saturday and Sunday nights) with a music program. They had tons of wonderful vocal performances, and a display of many different kinds of nativities. It was a great experience, plus many people came up to us to introduce us to someone or give us referrals! One member was a featured singer with our stake choir. We hadn't ever met him but went up to him afterwards to congratulate him and he ended up telling about a family we should visit in our area. That was not expected, but that was a blessing! Another member brought his mother (who is a former investigator) and introduced us. He told us a little bit about what is going on in her life and he tried to set up a time that we could come and have dinner with them.

This week Sister Blanchard and I have been trying to really understand our investigators' expectations and help them understand our role. We have also been working on adapting our lessons more and more to our investigators' needs. This week I feel like I have learned so much and Sister Blanchard and I have been working together to be better teachers and guides for our investigators!
I am still figuring out this whole training thing but I feel so blessed to be with Sister Blanchard! We had many great lessons and service opportunities this week! She reminds me a lot of myself but she helps me and blesses our investigators in so many ways!

Much much love,
Sister Mason

Monday, December 9, 2013

Transfers and a Sick Week

Mom and Dad,

It was so great to have transfers and to meet my new companion Sister Blanchard! She honestly is amazing! She is 20 and from Roosevelt, Utah. I love her already and I think that she is the companion that is most similar to me so far. She is very shy at times, but she is sure a powerful teacher! She just has a way of looking straight into people's eyes and bearing her testimony about anything, and it is so sincere and powerful. I am really impressed with her and we have been getting along wonderfully together. 

My new companion Sister Blanchard and me

This week we had one of the best lessons with one of our investigators A. We met with him on Sister Blanchard's very first night here and it was incredibly powerful. We taught him The Restoration at the home of a family in our ward. It was great because the members helped us teach really well and the spirit was so strong. It was also great because the family we met with is really compatible with A and the husband works on base like he does. The husband was just really helpful and knowledgeable so it was great because A usually comes up with many really deep questions for us.
By far my favorite part was the closing prayer. We asked A to say it and it was his first time that he prayed with us. I actually started tearing up during it because it was one of the most sincere prayers I have ever heard. I am just really excited that he is just soaking up everything we teach him and he is at the point in his life where he is open to making the changes needed to come closer to Christ. He is an incredible person.
The only problem is that he has things going on in his life so he is not sure if he will be here or not starting Tuesday. We just hope everything works out for him so we can keep teaching him! He said that if he has to go away he still looks forward to reading The Book of Mormon so that is very promising.

Our strange family picture
It is crazy that all 4 of us have been companions with each other now!
Sister Higgins got transferred to Agoura Hills and is now
companions with Sister Mapa! How crazy is that?

We also had a great lesson with M this week! We usually meet with all the family but the kids were very busy this week so we just met with Morgan and her less-active mother. It was wonderful because the great Sister Terrazas came with us to the lesson and was very helpful! We taught M about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invited her to be baptized. She said that she is still waiting to know if it is true for sure. She came to mutual and church this week so I have no doubt that if she keeps reading the Book of Mormon she will know and want to be baptized here shortly. She is such a wonderful young woman and I am so impressed how loving and welcoming the ward has been to her.

It is freezing here. 39 degrees is cold for an Arizona girl!

This week was a little bit of a bummer because I got sick. We had to stay in for two days while I recovered. It was actually a great bonding experience with Sister Blanchard. I slept most of the time but then we started decorating our apartment for Christmas. THANK YOU FOR MY CHRISTMAS PACKAGE!! I loved it! It was so convenient that it came this week. While we were at home we decorated our cute little Christmas tree and put together the foam nativity you sent me.
It was fun, but by the end of it we were starting to go crazy from being inside. We ended up going up and helping Sister Terrazas put up their Christmas tree and get out their Christmas decorations. We also raided their kitchen to find hot chocolate and decided to make cookies. So overall, I survived the torture of being sick and staying inside, and it turned out to be a neat little bonding and relaxation time.

Everyone is getting all Christmasy here! Some people have
definitely gone all out with their Christmas decoration.

This weekend was also our ward Christmas Party. Sister Blanchard and I have been looking forward to it all week because we had been passing out flyers and inviting everyone to come. We were surprised when one of our investigators texted us earlier this week and asked if there was anything going on in the ward. We told her that there was the ward Christmas party, the usual Sunday services, and the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. She came to the ward Christmas party with her little grandson.
She is not progressing but lately we have been doing service for her and she has really been warming up to us. She has been taught by missionaries in the past and had a lot of fellowshipping from the ward. I was really surprised that she already knew many of the ward members that came up and talked to her at the Christmas Party. It was a wonderful evening and during the program the spirit was so strong. I was impressed because at one point her grandson was throwing a big fit and wanted to leave but she told him that she wasn't going to take him home because she really wanted to stay. We are hoping that this has opened up the door so she will start progressing more and come to church again!

We met so many great people this week! We met so many random people on the streets that were wonderful. Even if they weren't completely interested, we planted some great seeds. I love Santa Maria, like I always tell you, because the people are so open and they surprise me every day. I love it when we talk to people and they don't seem interested at all, but then when we ask them if we could come back and teach them more they say "sure!" It is a new surprise every day and great things are happening here!

A former investigator gave us a whole Costco
pumpkin pie so we had that to celebrate. Mmm!

This week was also my 6 month mark! I made it! I survived the first 6 months so now I think I can handle the next year ahead. It's crazy to think that I am a third of the way through my mission.

I still love it here in Santa Maria and I feel blessed every day to be here!

Much Much Love,
Sister Mason

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sweet Text & Picture from Bishop in Santa Maria

We received this sweet text and picture from the bishop Melia is working with:

"Sister Mason, I'm Bishop Sais in Santa Maria, CA. We had your missionary over for dinner this evening. What a powerful missionary she is. We are so privileged to have her serving in our ward. You should be very proud. :-)"

Sister Mason with her new companion Sister Blanchard.
This was Sister Blanchard's first day in the field.

In an email to us she said "He is such a great bishop and very missionary-work-minded. He and his wife are just the sweetest!".

Monday, December 2, 2013

Training Again!


So the news you have all been waiting for... I am staying in Santa Maria and training another brand new missionary!!! I can say that I have completely fallen in love with this area! The people here are just really open to the gospel and the ward is incredible. I am so happy that I will be staying here for another transfer and I am excited to train another new missionary.I really felt like I still had work to do here in Santa Maria so I am really excited to stay.This has been an incredible week in Santa Maria!

This week was basically a week of miracles. Many of our investigators were out of town or unavailable, which was a little bit of a downer, but we found many wonderful people! One day we just decided to park the car and walk to the different houses in this small neighborhood. The people that we were trying to visit didn't end up being home but we talked to some of the greatest people along the way!
We met this one man on the street that was telling us that he really just wanted a church that was as close to the church Christ set up when he was alive. We talked to him for a little bit and told him that we have Christ's original church back on the earth! He was very interested to hear that so we talked to him about the restoration and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. He is the perfect example of how important it is to talk to EVERYONE.
We also met this young less-active woman when we were randomly knocking on a few doors. She told us that she was baptized a few years ago in Las Vegas and that she just barely moved here with her son. She also said that she had been wanting to find the church here so she could raise her son up in the church. I know that this was not a coincidence at all it just was prefect timing for her. This week has really been a week of perfect timing!

Our apartment! Behind me are the steps up to the main house.

The biggest miracle of all was this 26 year old named A that we met last week! We were looking for a former investigator last Friday, but then when A answered the door we just started talking to him about his religious views. He told us that he really wants to know why Heavenly Father's tests for him are so hard and he wonders all the time what is going to happen after we die. We ended up sharing with him a short version of the Plan of Salvation and it was honestly one of the best doorstep discussions I have ever been a part of. We asked him when we could come back to teach him and he said that he was available the next day (Saturday)!

It turns out that the person we went looking for doesn't even live there anymore but A and his roommates live there now. We had left him with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet to read before we met with him again and when we came back he had basically memorized the whole pamphlet. We had a pretty in-depth discussion of the Plan of Salvation and it was such a wonderful lesson. He just had really deep questions about life and he told us that he really wants a good relationship with Heavenly Father and to know that He is there.

We had planned on inviting him to church on Sunday but then he ended up asking us in the middle of the lesson when our church services were. We invited him to come the next day (Sunday) to church and he said that he had plans but he realized that his relationship with God is much more important than the plans he had with his friends that day. The great thing is that he works at Vanderburg Air force Base with a few solid members of our ward.

He ended up coming to church yesterday and absolutely loving it! He stayed for all 3 hours. The testimonies in sacrament meeting were all incredible and included elements of the Plan of Salvation that we had talked about, and parts from The Restoration. Our Sunday School lesson was about baptism so it was just perfect for him, and he absolutely loved Priesthood.

He works for a member of our ward, Brother T, at the base and so Brother T stayed right by his side during all the meetings and was showing him around to everyone. The ward was incredible at welcoming him! He was a little overwhelmed at first because it seemed like everyone in the ward came up to talk to him, but it helped him feel a lot more comfortable. He was soaking up everything he learned in the classes and was asking us great questions.

After church was over we talked to him for a little bit and he was disappointed to hear that our next services weren't until the next Sunday. We told him about Institute and that is something he would love! He is just an absolute miracle that came out of nowhere just 3 days ago. He has this upcoming week off work so we are excited to meet with him a few more times this week! HE IS AMAZING!

The big Terrazas Family
This week was also Thanksgiving! We had such a wonderful dinner with the family we live with, the Terrazas, and their family! Five of their eight kids were there and it was such a blast. Oh my goodness, the food was absolutely delicious! We didn't have a million dinner appointments on Thanksgiving like some missionaries did, but we did go somewhere else for more dessert. We have been eating pie like nobody's business the past few days! I think I have eaten a whole pie all by myself.
Happy Thanksgiving! Nothing better than a big turkey leg!

We also had a funny experience this week. A missionary from our ward came home on Thanksgiving  and so we were able to talk to him a little bit. He told us that he had a referral for us and that it was the grandparents of a missionary he served with in Guatemala. We met him at the house a few days later and it turns out that it was an investigator J that we dropped about a month ago! Yes, she was the one that told us that won't become a Mormon and that she is hoping her daughter (who is a member) will do her work for her so she can get "roped into the Celestial Kingdom" while she waits in the spirit world. Hahah, but we decided we would go with him to talk to her anyways! It was a great time but it was hilarious the coincidence that it ended up being her.

[Dad here: At a Mason family party we took pictures and had
people record a short message for Melia. We made a CD of
the messages and sent it to her, along with the pictures.]

Dad, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE CD YOU SENT ME! I absolutely loved hearing from you, Mom, my brothers, and other family members! That was one of the sweetest things ever! It was so great to hear your voices. I think my favorite part of it was when little Libby yelled "come home right nowww!" Hahah, I was dying laughing. It was all just too precious!

One of the last pictures with Sister Higgins.
We had a matchy matchy day.

This transfer I have learned so much. Some things I learned from Sister Higgins are to have patience and relax. I tend to stress out about things and get uptight about certain things, but she has definitely taught me how to work hard but still relax a little bit. I have also learned much patience. I have learned how to have patience with myself as I tried to get used to this new area and how to have patience with the people we are teaching. I have honestly learned to love the people we are teaching as I learned to be patient with them. Sister Higgins has been an absolute blessing to me this transfer so I am incredibly thankful for the time I was able to spend with her

Much, Much Love,
Sister Mason

Monday, November 25, 2013

Zone Conference Week!!

Maaam and Dad,                    

We were able to meet with K again this week. We taught her The Plan of Salvation and she was asking us all the random questions she has thought about from reading the pamphlets we left her. She told us that she has been reading the pamphlets to her little niece that she lives with and has been making up stories to the pictures for her. We gave her a children’s Book of Mormon so she could read the stories to her niece and understand the scriptures better as she reads. We hit two birds with one stone there!

We invited her to come to church this week and she was excited and told us “thank you so much, that is so nice of you to invite me!" Haha, that’s our job but I love that she appreciated it! She didn't come to church this Sunday because she said that she isn't ready yet but hopefully she will be there next Sunday! 

This week we were able to meet with SP for the first time! It was such a great meeting. We mostly went over his expectations but we were able to start on The Plan of Salvation. He is just such a great man and has gone through a lot to come closer to Christ throughout his life. We asked him to pray about what we were telling him and he said that throughout all his research, it just makes sense!

He also told us that he wanted to investigate the church for a year and then get baptized after that. He said that he would keep coming to church, meeting with us, reading and praying until then so he could get his answer. We told him that he would absolutely get his answer before then.

He ended up calling us on Sunday morning to tell us her was really sick and could not come to church or make our appointment that day. Before he hung up though he said "you ladies are right.. I think I will get my answer before a year. Maybe I could know and get baptized in 3 or 6 months." That is exactly what we were thinking but we knew he had to come to that conclusion on his own! He is really solid and interested so we are more than excited to see how things go with him!

It's fall!

We also had our usual Saturday morning meetings with one of our investigators D. We were only able to meet with him for a few minutes because he was really busy but he told us about his experience with the Book of Mormon! He said that he has still been reading it! He told us that it is just crazy because it has really been bringing him peace. He said that he likes to read it right before he goes to sleep at night because it just calms him down and gets him ready to sleep for the night.

He also has a wonderful memory of the things that he is reading and shares great insights with us. It was funny because when we were talking to him he was telling us that he really liked how in the beginning of the Book of Mormon it talked about when people start to go astray they just need to remember to hold onto the iron rod. It just made us so happy because we haven't heard terminology like that from an investigator and he has been showing us that he is really taking what the Book of Mormon says to heart! 

Also, M came to church again and she still loves it! The young women in this ward are just so welcoming so she has fit right in! She has been soaking up the gospel lately! We have been having a hard time meeting with all of her family but we can't wait to meet with all of them in about a week! Sadly no one else was at church this week but hopefully we will have a crowd with us next week!

This week Sister Higgins wasn't feeling very well so we stayed in a few hours on Tuesday. I just sat in bed and read my scriptures while she was resting and I had one of the most incredible experiences ever! I just kept reading and couldn't stop. The things I was learning were amazing. I was learning much more about Christ and what His atonement really means. It was a wonderful experience and I know that it really spiritually prepared me for our Zone Conference we had on Wednesday! 

Santa Maria Zone

Zone Conference was an absolutely amazing experience! The theme of most of it was President Hinckley's father's advice to him on his mission "Forget yourself and go to work." It was really great for me because I have been trying to do all I can to forget myself but I realized that I really need to be thinking about our investigators more throughout the day.

We also introduced the new Christ-like attribute OBEDIENCE for the mission! So far we have worked on hope and diligence, which was an incredible experience, but I am so excited to now work on obedience! I never thought I would ever say that but I am really looking forward to see what I can do to be more obedient because I know that obedience is key to seeing miracles!

The sisters in the district!
Me, Sister Higgins, Hermana Brown, and Hermana Eastman

I also loved the Sisters meeting we had on persistence. They talked about how we have a responsibility to bring every person we see throughout the day closer to Christ. Sister Higgins and I have really been trying to talk to every person we see and it has been wonderful! We talk to delivery people and anyone on the streets, and we have talked to some really amazing people. We were able to find a couple of new investigators this week just by talking to everyone!

Sister Higgins and I have also decided that to be more persistent we want to share our testimony with every person we see or meet with. It has been a great experience so far. It has reminded us every time we share a little of our testimony how much we truly love this gospel!

Mission Leadership Council
2 Assistants to the President
8 Sister Training Leaders (English & Spanish)
18 Zone Leaders

I also got to spend tons of time with Hermana Linford and Sister Randall (two of the 8 Sister Training Leaders) at our Zone Conference! We had a few different meetings and some practicing of teaching skills. It was great to finally spend lots of time with them throughout the day!

I have decided that one of the best times with Sister Higgins is our 8pm lessons. We honestly are deliriously exhausted and end up saying the most random things throughout the lesson. We definitely get more cheesy and nerdy by the end of the night. Most of the time I just have to smile and act like nothing is happening while I am dying laughing inside! I wish you were there to experience it. It is just tooo much!

The ASU sisters.
Fear the fork!

This Thursday is Thanksgiving!!! It may be tough for us this week because many of our investigators will be out of town. If worse comes to worst we will just knock on doors and testify! (Which truly isn't bad at all). We are having Thanksgiving dinner with the family we live with and all their family! It is going to be so fun and it will feel like I’m back at home with the loud, crazy Mason family!

Much Love,
Sister Mason

Monday, November 18, 2013

Another Great Week in Santa Maria!


This has been another great week! We had a few frustrating days where it seemed like the world fell apart and everyone canceled on us, but those days happen. One day was really bad though. It was about 8pm and everyone cancelled on us and we had run through every single person we could think of with no success.
We had the great idea to go to the Family History Library at our stake center to go on (we are able to go on two times a month for an hour each time). The library is open till 9pm on weeknights so we thought it was the perfect plan. It turned out that we drove all the way there and it was closed! It was supposed to be open but somehow that even cancelled on us! We just laughed it off and ended up going to the ward building to help the YW clean us after their Evening in Excellence.
One of my favorite ghetto parts of our area!
I can't resist ice cream from the sketchy ice cream vans and
the ice cream people that push carts around the neighborhood

Yesterday M and another investigator S came to church! Steve has a daughter who is LDS and she introduced him to the church. The daughter is in the Santa Maria 3rd ward but she and her husband brought her dad to his ward this week. He stayed for all 3 hours of church and we are meeting with him this week! He is such a humble man and I have heard that he has already started reading the Book of Mormon. We are more than excited to teach him for the first time this week!
M stayed for all of the meetings as well and even said that she wants to come to mutual this week! Her sister R and her other siblings weren't able to come this week but hopefully next Sunday more of the family will be there too! It was just another wonderful Sunday!

This week we were able to meet with one of our investigators K. She is just the best. Last time we met with her we invited her to start reading The Book of Mormon and to read one of the pamphlets we left with her. When we came back the next time, she had been reading The Book of Mormon and had fallen in love with it! She also was really excited to tell us that she read both of the pamphlets instead of just one. She is just incredible. It is so hard for many investigators to read The Book of Mormon so it is a great sign that she is reading it and that she loves it already.
She told us that when she started reading it she felt so embarrassed because she was so narrow-minded growing up and didn't know anything like this. She has so many things going on in her life right now but I know that the gospel can help her with all of those problems! She also told us, "No offense or anything, but I didn't think that it would be the Mormons that would touch me like this." Haha no offense taken, at least she is feeling something! She told us that she is able to feel the spirit so strongly when we come over and she just loves meeting with us.
We found a dog in the back of a truck with sun glasses on.
Who in the world does that?

We also were able to meet with one of our investigators a couple times this week. He is 18 years old, he is in high school, and he has been through a lot. Sometimes we are not sure if he is really listening or interested in what we say because he is so reserved. Most of the time he only gives a one word response to the questions we ask but he keeps letting us come over.
We gave him a chapter to read in The Book of Mormon and he said that he would read it and pray about it so I am so excited to see how that went for him! Although he is pretty shy, we brought a ward member his age to our last meeting. He wasn't warming up to him very much but we will still try! He has great potential so I can't wait to see what the future has in store for him.

We also have been kept really busy with visiting less-active members and Focus 15 families. We have been working with the ward council really well to set up those appointments and have members come with us to those meetings. It has been really great to see some of the people opening up to other members of the ward. The ward members have also been really helpful lately with going to appointments with us and fellowshipping our investigators, so it has been really great to see! It is a relief that this ward is very missionary work minded!

 A ginormous tree we found here

On Halloween a sweet old sister in the ward gave Sister Higgins and me a two-pack pair of tights and a little bag of candy. That made my day. It's really the littlest things here that make all the difference! I am still freezing my buns off here. It is usually in the 50's or 60's and being an AZ girl I have been freezing! Haha woe is me!

Sister Higgins and I are both doing well here! We have been looking for many service opportunities so I am excited to start doing more service next week! We are still getting along really well and working hard together. Life is wonderful here in Santa Maria :)

Santa Maria!

I was able to finish reading The Book of Mormon for the first time since I've been out on my mission! It has taken me so long to read because I only read a few pages every morning during personal study, but I have seriously gotten so much out of it this time! I honestly feel like my eyes have been opened to the scriptures and to the gospel in general since I have been on my mission!
This gospel is incredible and I love it more and more every day! I feel like I am just soaking everything up and I can't get enough of it! I started reading The New Testament and I am already so excited. I literally cannot put it down! Okay, so I've become somewhat of a gospel nerd lately... So what?
I cannot even express how thankful I am to be here right now and for the experiences Heavenly Father has blessed me with so far! I hope that I am teaching our investigators at least a tiny bit of how much they have taught me already.
Sister Mason

Monday, November 11, 2013

Teenagers and Temples

Mom and Dad,
This week has just been crazy and great at the same time. Yesterday we were literally running to our car after every appointment to make it to our next appointment in time. It was so crazy yesterday, but it was a good type of crazy! I was laying in bed last night thinking that my body is more exhausted than it's ever been, but I am the most happy I have even been! It is just crazy how that works. When you are doing the Lord's work you just have the most joy! 

Great things are happening all over Santa Maria. We were able to find many new investigators this week, we had some powerful meetings with our investigators, and some of our “Focus on 15” families are making great progress!

Here's a little taste of the "Farmville"
we live in here in Santa Maria

This week we met a wonderful teenage girl I’ll call “G”. We met her while tracting one day and she was very open to learning about the gospel. We went back and taught her and her younger siblings. This family was so cute and G was just so sincere in looking for the truth.

One of her younger sisters, “J”, is 9 years old, and was so excited when we gave her a children's Book of Mormon. She ran across the street to show her friends the book, and all of her friends wanted one too! Because of that, the mom of one of J's friends was interested in hearing about the church, and we were also able to refer the other neighbor across the street to the Spanish speaking sisters (aka “Hermanas”). And the best news is that G and J accepted the challenge to be baptized on December 14th! 

We also found that their neighborhood is THE BEST! It is basically a completely Latino neighborhood where all the people are humble and searching. We have met many wonderful people there and have also been able to give many referrals to the Hermanas in our district! It is basically my favorite place to be because the people are so open. Santa Maria has been such a blessing because the people here are so friendly to the missionaries and actually want to listen!

You know there are lots of Latinos here when there
is the Telemundo broadcasting station in town

We also were able to see our investigator “K” again this week! Previously, we had gone to a house looking for someone else, but she answered and we talked to her for a little bit. She was sick at the time but she was so happy that we stopped by to talk to her. We went back again this Saturday and she let us in to talk to her. She is one of my new favorite investigators! 

She was raised Catholic and went to Christian schools, so she knows the Bible very well. She actually lives with a less-active member and she has gotten a Book of Mormon before, but she has been too intimidated by it to start reading it yet. 

She had so many questions about how someone becomes a prophet and we told her that we had something to show her to explain it! Of course, we went right into The Restoration and explained that that is how we have a living prophet today. 

We also talked to her about The Book of Mormon and she loved it! She is part Native American so when we were telling her that it is a record of the ancient American people she just kept saying "Really?!" She is just so full of energy and loves our message and loves it when we come over. She is honestly such a great person with amazing potential.

The District
Elder Bernards, Sister Higgins, Hermana Brown, Elder Longoria,
Elder Jenkins, Me, Hermana Eastman, and Elder Banks
(Thought you would enjoy the awkward sitting District picture)

We had another lesson with a part member family that I told you about a couple of weeks ago, We taught them The Plan of Salvation and they had great questions. None of the 5 children have been baptized and they are really interested in learning about the gospel. They just had really great questions throughout the lesson and they loved it because it helped answer some questions that they've always had.

Two of the daughters came to church yesterday! One is 11 years old and she absolutely loved church! She told me that she wanted to come every single week and that she loved sacrament meeting the best out of all 3 hours. She also told me that when she grows up she wants to get baptized. I told her that she is already old enough to be baptized and she just said, "okay then I want to get baptized today!" Haha, we told her that it wasn't possible, but she could soon!

These two sisters had such a great experience at church and the ward was so welcoming to them. They committed to come again next Sunday and hopefully the rest of their siblings will be able to come too. I love this family because they all are deep thinkers for being so young and they are starting to realize that this gospel answers all the questions that they've been wondering about.

Church building in Santa Maria

So living with members is THE BEST! We have our own entrance to our little downstairs apartment.  It’s nice because we have everything we need (stove, fridge, washer, dryer, etc) downstairs and have our own privacy, but we can always walk upstairs if we need help! 

Honestly, I can't tell you how many times we have had to borrow little things like bug spray, a little bit of cinnamon, or duct tape. It is so convenient because we just walk up the little stairs for help. Like if something is wrong or we don't know how to cook something, we just walk up and ask. It is so great! 

Also, the husband of the family we live with is our ward mission leader. It is so convenient because all we have to do is walk up a few steps every Saturday night to have our correlation meeting. We see them every couple days for something or another and it just so happens that the parents are basically the best ward missionaries ever. They come out with us often to appointments and are just so generous! I love them so much already. 

I still absolutely love it here and love working with Sister Higgins. I almost die laughing every night before we go to sleep. We have started coming up with at least one really cheesy missionary rhyme right before we go to sleep and every night I just die laughing! Sister Higgins is seriously the best and she is a great missionary.

The BIRTHDAY GIRL and me at the beautiful LA temple!

The trip we were able to make to the temple this week was also incredible. Lately I have been thinking a lot about the endowment and I just think about how much I am blessed to have the knowledge I now have after being endowed. Honestly, the temple just makes everything make more sense, and the spirit there is like nothing else! 

Our temple trip took about 11 hours. It was an all day affair. We drove in the morning, had a quick lunch in the cafeteria, did a session, and then drove all the way back home. It makes me think of how we take the Mesa temple for granted! It only takes about 15 minutes from home to get to the Mesa temple, but here it is such a huge sacrifice because it takes all day plus all the gas money to get to LA. 

I am so blessed for the opportunity to go to the LA temple again.  (I lucked out to have another companion who could go to the temple for her birthday.) This was Sister Higgins' first time at the LA temple and I was just so happy for her to experience it!

It has just been a fantastic week!


Sister Mason