Monday, August 26, 2013

A Week of Perfect Timing

Dear Family,
It has been a week of perfect timing. We have had many times where we wanted to stop by to see someone and they just pulled up to their house at the exact time we showed up. For instance we had wanted to visit one of our investigators throughout the week but it had never worked out. We had a weird day and ended up switching up our schedule that was planned and decided to go see her. She, her husband, and their son came home from the grocery store and running other errands right as we pulled up to her house. We were excited because this was one of the few times we have caught all three of them at home at the same time! She is pregnant and on bed rest which had been very sad but we were able to come over, share a message, and help fold some laundry for her before they had to make dinner and get on with their night. Another instance of perfect timing happened when we pulled up to our apartment complex one day for lunch. 
In another example of perfect timing, we came home for lunch a few minutes earlier than we planned but one of our neighbor upstairs pulled up in her parking spot right when we did. We were able to talk to her for a few minutes. She is just a wonderful woman! We asked her for referrals and she actually ended up calling her friend while we were talking to her to see if it would be okay if we stopped by to see her. She had to leave a message for her friend but she said really nice things about us and then she told us that she would let us know when she heard back from her friend. We will see what happens with that! We gave her our phone number and she asked if it was okay to give out if she ever ran into anyone that might want us to stop by. We told her "of course!" We were so happy to cross paths with her because she is so friendly and who knows, we might find someone to teach because of her.

Isn't that the tiniest watermelon you have ever seen?
One of the members are growing pumpkins and watermelons and
this tiny watermelon was just so cute I just couldn't help but share!
 This week we were also able to meet with one of our investigators! We have tried for about the past 2 months to meet with her. We have tried stopping by at different times or on different days but she was always busy. We also tried to text her in the morning when we would be in her area to set up a time to come by. This Sunday was wonderful because we were finally able to set up a time to meet with her after church! It is interesting because she has come to church almost every Sunday I have been in Agoura but we have only been able to meet with her outside of church for maybe 15 minutes total out of all the times we've seen her. It was so great to meet with her and we found out a lot about her background and how interested she is in investigating the church. It looks like we will be able to meet with her regularly now! She is such an incredible person and I always felt an immediate connection with her. I definitely feel like I was meant to meet her and that she is one of the reasons that I am in this area at this time. I am so thankful to have little experiences like that almost every day to understand exactly why I am here.

The beautiful LA temple!
This week we were able to go to the Los Angeles temple! We were disappointed because none of our investigators were able to come with us. We would have had the opportunity to take a little time after our session to go on a tour with them around the temple grounds and through the visitors center. That is a very big deal because since the temple is outside our mission boundaries, we are usually only able to do an endowment session at the temple and then hurry back to our area. We were sad that we weren't able to have that extra time with an investigator on the sacred temple grounds. 
We had an all around amazing experience at the temple! I feel so blessed to be able to go and I am always in awe of how beautiful and magnificent that temple is! 
Yep, Sister Casper is amazing. She is an all-around wonderful missionary and
a great trainer! We have been though awesome, awkward, and hilarious times
already and it is sad to think that we may only have two more weeks together
Today we were able to visit the recently activated and recently endowed member that took us to the temple this week. She shared with us that when she was in the temple she kept thinking about how she was worried about her finances. When she came home after dropping us back off at our apartment, she felt that she needed to ask her niece if she wanted to move in with her and pay her a small amount of rent every month in return. Her niece was so grateful that she had called and offered a place for her to stay because she was in a tough situation and was having a hard time looking for a new apartment. Anyways, she was able to bless the life of her nice by providing her and her daughter a place to live and this sweet member was able to find a way to get a little extra money. We told her that those are blessings from going to the temple and serving us by driving us there!
The beach! We were able to see a little bit of the beach as we were driving home!
I know this isn't the most exciting picture ever but we get so excited when we
are able to just get a peek of the beach
It was an overall wonderful week! It was great because we seemed to be able to get in contact with a lot of our investigators that had been out of town throughout the summer. I never knew I could be so happy for school to start, but during the summer I just have been wanting everyone to come back from vacation so we could teach them. Haha, I think my wish came true! A girl can always wish, and hey, its a righteous desire anyways :) 
Oh, and also let me just tell you that we cover two wards, so we go to 6 hours of church each Sunday. I love it! It is definitely one of the best days of the week because I learn so much in those 6 hours! Usually I could barely handle 3 hours of church at home but I live for 6 hours now! Honestly I feel like the meetings are always meant for me because every lesson or every talk has somehow been able to answer any of the questions or problems I have had throughout the week. Sunday is like a spiritually exhausting day of personal revelation! It has been exactly what I need. 
I love Agoura, I love Sister Casper, and I love the great California Ventura Mission!!
Oh, and I love you!!!

-Sister Mason

Monday, August 19, 2013

Becoming a More Christlike Missionary


This week we had a wonderful meeting with one of our investigators. We taught her the law of chastity and it was such a great experience. It wasn't the material or us that made the lesson so great but it was because of the testimonies of the members at the lesson and the spirit that was so strong. She had asked previously about a priesthood blessing and so afterwards Brother Adams was able to give her a blessing. It was honestly just one spiritual experience and was just a precious meeting. Honestly, the members are what make the lessons here. They bring something to the meetings that we cannot and they can turn a lesson into an amazing meeting. She also came to a Relief Society BBQ last week! She loved it and had a lot of fun with all the great sisters from the ward. She has still been having a hard time coming to church because she isn't very social. We have tried almost everything we can possibly think of to get her to come to church and it has not been working so far. We will keep trying because we know how much she can learn, grow, and find peace in her life if she comes.

We were also able to meet with another one of our investigators. We thought we couldn't teach because she was out of our area, then we had the okay to teach her at our ward building, and then we were told we couldn't. Anyways, after that long confusion, our stake president allowed us to teach her if she came and met with us in our area and we were so excited for that great news! She is seriously such a wonderful person and so we are happy to be able to still meet with her. This week we were able to meet with her and her boyfriend (who is a member) and talk about prophets, the 10 commandments, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and the Word of Wisdom. Her boyfriend was able to help out and explain during the lesson and it was just another great experience. We are so happy to she how willing she is to give up things in her life to come closer to Christ.

I have started to make a quote wall thanks to you Mom!
This week we decided to try to make as many appointments as we could, but then focus on things that we could control (like talking to as many people as we could, meeting with less-actives and former investigators). We tried to visit many less-active members this week because there were many less-active people that we had not met yet. We wanted to get in contact with them and hopefully be able to meet with them again another time. One great experience we had with that was when we went to visit this man. He told us that he was baptized when he was 8 but then had not come to church much after that. That means he probably had not been to church for about 40 years. He said that he has a neighbor that is a member of our ward and has been consistently giving him (the investigator) the latest church news or publications. We asked him if he would like us to come over and teach him again to remind him why he decided to be baptized when he was young. He said that he would like to come to church again and that he would like us to come and go over the lessons again. We really found this man out of nowhere and we are so excited that he might be willing for us visit and teach him again! We also visited a few former investigators this week and some were very nice and told us we can come back. We are excited to see if anything happens with that and we are very optimistic!

I also feel like I learned so much over the past week. This week I have felt much more comfortable talking to complete strangers. I have been working a lot on being more friendly and genuine with people we meet and somehow it seemed to click this week.  I have somehow learned how to be more friendly and persistent. I also have been all about inviting everyone to do something so I have become the commitment queen.  I feel like I have come a long way in such a short amount of time. I know I still have a long way to go but I feel like I am making little baby steps towards becoming a more Christlike missionary.

A sister in our ward made this Nauvoo temple out of Legos.
She is amazing and does this as a hobby!
We get to go to the LA temple tomorrow and we are really excited. We have invited one of our investigators to come and meet us at the visitor's center when we are done. We are hoping that she will come and feel the spirit there! It is going to be a wonderful experience and we just want to share that with her!
About the fleas.. we got everything taken care of! Sister Caper and I have little feet that look gross still but we got the apartment bug sprayed and no more fleas for us! We are so thankful for whoever the apartment complex hired to spray our apartment because he worked miracles over here! We almost don't know what to do with all the time we used to spend itching our legs and feet! Hahaha

We have been making smores lately because we have a gas stovetop. Mmmm :)
 This week has also made me step back and realize the big picture of why we are doing this. After meeting with one of our investigators I was just in awe of our special meeting and was reminded that we are sharing this gospel with people because it truly changes their lives. It was amazing to see the joy that just a couple from the ward and a set of missionaries could bring her. Of course it wasn't about us, but we as a team are helping people see their potential and have complete happiness in their lives. I love the moments like that. They remind me why I am here and the joy that simple truths can bring to people's lives!

So much love,
Sister Mason

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Picture from a member

Last night Amy received this text from a member in Melia's mission. It included this picture of Melia and Sister Casper.

"Hello!  I had the opportunity to have dinner with your sweet
missionary tonight. Your daughter is wonderful."
We agree. She is wonderful. And we're so grateful that people like this good sister are taking such good care of her and the other missionaries.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Birthday Girl!


Sad news. Our apartment had fleas. Yes, like the little bugs that dogs get. Sister Casper and I got bitten like crazy by those little stinkers and have been almost going insane from being so itchy. Hahah oh well we have tried to just laugh it off! Our mission apartment coordinator told us that we win an award because our apartment is the first to get fleas! So major bonus on that. We have been trying to have great attitudes anyways even though we have been going crazy a little bit.

Wanna see our flea bites?
This week has been a very exciting week. First of all, we had exchanges this week and I was so blessed to be back with Sister Bennett and to go to Ventura. I absolutely love Sister Bennett and she is a great example of a missionary. 
I love Sister Bennett. She is one of my favorite people out here!
While on exchanges I wanted to work on extending commitments to everyone we talk to or meet with. I learned so much more about how important it is to leave anyone we come in contact with with something to read or do. After all, our job is to cry repentance to everyone we meet! I learned how to become more comfortable extending commitments, how to create immediate connections with people, and how to  teach children. Sister Bennett is wonderful at striking up conversations with strangers and making them feel comfortable talking to her. She showed me how to be more friendly with complete strangers. We also were able to visit a less-active family with many young children so it was a great opportunity to learn how to teach younger children and how to capture their attention. 
Sister Bennett bet me a meal at Habit Burger that I would be training this transfer.
I won so she bought me lunch on our exchange.
Also, we went to Habit Burger for lunch in Ventura and we were able to meet up with Sister Randall and her companion for an early birthday lunch! It was so tasty and so good to see Sister Randall again!

The sweet reunion with Sister Randall
 Also I had a wonderful birthday! Sister Casper and I decked out our apartment with all the things Mom sent me. Sister Casper also made me a cute birthday card and treated me to Panda Express for lunch! 

Your favorite birthday girl! hahaha

Afterwards we went to Sweet XO (this really delicious frozen yogurt/ice cream/desserts/candy shop and boutique) for some birthday treats. It was so good and such a great lunch trip. After that, it was a pretty typical day but it was a great birthday anyways!

Yummy birthday treats from Sweet XO
This week we were able to meet with one of our investigators. She is absolutely wonderful. She has the best answers to our questions and she is willing to do anything we invite her to do. I was surprised because when we started talking to her, we asked if she would be able to come to church on Sunday and she said she would and that she is going to start requesting all Sundays off of work. Wow. She is so great! We haven't even taught her about keeping the sabbath day holy but she already is willing to give up many things in order for her to come closer to Christ. The sad news about her is that she lives outside our area but attends our ward with her boyfriend. We at first were told that we could still teach her but now it turns out we won't be able to. It was a major bummer because we absolutely love her and are always so excited to meet with her. She is planning on being baptized August 31st so Sister Casper and I are a little sad that we won't even be able to attend her baptism. Oh well, that's life. There are a million other wonderful people in Agoura so we just have to go out and find them!

My beautiful area, Agoura Hills
We also met with another one of our investigators. We came over to her house and taught her about prophets, keeping the sabbath day holy, and the 10 commandments. She is great because she is such a spiritual person so she seems to know almost everything about every religion. She knew a lot about prophets already and was willing to find out for herself if there is a prophet on the earth today. We finally were able to set her with a baptismal date of September 14th so that was very exciting! She has some issues though because she has schizophrenia and is uncomfortable in social situations. It has been a struggle to get her to come to church. She has come once before but we will keep trying all we can because we know how much attending church and receiving personal revelation there can bless her life!

I have been trying to learn how to show my personality while also being a dignified missionary. That was surprisingly hard for me because when I came out of the MTC, I tried to be very plain in fear that I may do something or say something not completely missionary appropriate. I have learned more how to be a missionary version of myself. I think I have been able to find a balance where I am starting to feel my personality coming back!

Ventura Beach!
Sister Casper and I have been a great team out here in Agoura. She is so laid back so we really get along well together. This week has been a lot better because we are better at teaching in unity and we both know the area a lot better. She is a great missionary and very hardworking so it has been wonderful to work together.

I have been loving every second of my mission. The work here is so special to me and I am so lucky to share with people everyday the things that I know and the things I hold dear! It is amazing how much I have been blessed as a missionary. I am surprised how Heavenly Father trusts me with His work but I guess he really does call the weak and simple to do his work. I have learned so much in the past 2 months that I could not have learned otherwise. It is already going by so fast so I can't wait to see what else is in store for me here!

So so much love,
Sister Mason

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tough Situations and Hard Questions


This week has been great! It has definitely been an interesting week to get used to the area and for Sister Casper and me to get used to teaching together. It has been funny or awkward at times but it has been great over all! I really like working with Sister Casper. We got along right away and it is interesting to see how she is strong in the areas I lack and vice versa.  It has been great because whenever I don't know what to say she usually has something to say and when one of us is frustrated the other will just keep talking or keep going. It is pretty amazing to see! It has already been a great experience to learn from her and work with her and it has only been less than a week! Sister Casper is 21 years old and from West Jordan, Utah. She is such a mellow person and a great missionary! She loves to bake so it looks like we will have to have a baking day on some pday!

Sister Casper and Me!!
This week I learned how to handle tough situations and hard questions. We had people ask us some tough questions and we had situations that were pretty difficult but it helped me learn how to respond/react to objections. I know it will take me a while to fully learn how to react in those situations but this week helped me a lot!

Sister Randall's last day in Agoura. Those are some of the
people we had dinner with that night in our ward!
This week we were able to meet with one of our new investigators. We taught her The Plan of Salvation and she is just one of those people that says throughout the lesson "yep, that makes sense." She is really easy to teach and is willing to keep commitments. She is so nice and so we love her already! She also came to church and I was nervous because our Gospel Principles lesson was on The Word of Wisdom and we hadn't talked to her about it yet. She responded great in the lesson and seemed to not have a problem!

The reunion of Sister Snow and Sister Mason at transfer meeting!
We were both so excited to see each other!

We also started teaching two new investigators this week (a mother and her son). Sister Randall and I had contacted the mom tracting last week and she invited us back. Sister Casper and I had a great lesson with them this week and set them both with baptismal dates! It was a really awkward lesson because it was the first time Sister Casper and I taught The Restoration together but it ended up great! Hahah, I really wish you guys could have seen that because it would have been really funny to watch!

Look who I saw at our transfer meeting! I love Hermana Linford!
Hopefully one day I will be blessed to be in the same district as her.
We also had a miracle this week when had tried to call one of our investigators earlier in the week and she had not responded so we decided to drop by her house. We were frustrated because as we were driving, we missed the road that leads to her street so we had to take a longer route to get there. Right when we pulled up, she pulled up in her car and invited us in. We taught her The Plan of Salvation and she surprisingly told us that she was starting to feel that this gospel was something that she was starting to really want. We talked to her last about two weeks ago and when we invited her to be baptized she was very reluctant. It was a surprise that she seemed to change her mind since the last time we saw her and it was a miracle that we were able to catch her home! It was a miracle too because she also told us that she was going out of town the next morning so if we had tried to see her just a day later we would have missed her.
I still love it here, in case you are wondering :)
Sister Mason