Monday, September 30, 2013

No More Walking!!

Mom and Dad,

This week was another great week. We were able to meet with two new investigators. We met a very nice older man one day while tracting. He is Baptist but he is open to any kind of gospel discussions. He has had some hard things happen in his family lately, and he just recently went through a divorce. When we met him the first time we invited him to church and he said that he wanted to check it out.  We were able to come back and teach him the restoration lesson and it went great! He was having a hard time wanting to read the Book of Mormon because he is apprehensive about anything other than what he is used to. He is such a great man and we have so much faith in him. We can't wait to go back and see him this week!

The other new investigator is a miracle. We met her while tracting, and out of nowhere we started talking to her about The Plan of Salvation. She said that she was very interested in hearing about God's plan for us but she was busy. This week we were able to go over and teach her The Plan of Salvation and she is just wonderful. She is a young mother with two boys (8 and 4 years old). She is a very sweet woman and just wants to do all she can to raise her children right. When we met with her she had tons of questions but was really interested to see what we had to share with her. We also briefly went over the restoration and she said of course that she would read The Book of Mormon and pray about it. Seriously, she is wonderful!
We also got a car this weekend! Our mission got a shipment of new cars so we were able to pick up our very own car on Saturday. We were happy, but a little sad at the same time. We were sad that we won't be able to see Sister Casper and Sister Proctor as much anymore.

Our new car after being freshly washed at our little district hand car wash!
There are now 10 missionaries in our district, and 6 are sisters!

I am so grateful for the time that we shared a car. It was great to spend a little extra time with Sister Proctor and Sister Casper when we would drop each other off or pick each other up to switch the car. Of course it was difficult and exhausting to walk sometimes, but I know that we were able to find people to teach that we wouldn't have otherwise. One of our new investigators is a perfect example of that. We were able to meet her at the perfect time all because the other Agoura sisters needed the car and dropped us of to tract for a while. We also have talked to other wonderful people and hopefully we can meet with some of them this week!

Sister Casper and I had a little matchy matchy day on Sunday.
We both got twinner skirts at Costco last week.

I have done so much more tracting than I have ever done before, but it is really satisfying. Of course there is not a high percentage of success when we go door to door but it makes it so much more worth it when we find out that most people we have talked to have not seen missionaries for about 5 years. Now that is sad.
It is almost weird to have a car to ourselves again, but  I now understand what a blessing it is to have one. Sharing the car was definitely hard, but I know that it was something that I needed. It tested us to see what all four of us sisters are made of. I think we passed the test because even though it was rough, we had great attitudes and we were able to interact with members from the ward more when they would give us rides.
Hitching a ride with some members
This week we also had interviews with President Castro. He is truly an incredible man. I am so blessed to have him and Sister Castro. It was an amazing experience to meet with him and also talk about goals and things I've been wanting to improve lately. He makes every missionary feel so good about themselves and is very sincere. Yep, I have the best mission and the best mission president! 
While everyone else was in their interviews we had training from the Sister Training Leaders about planning and such. It was an incredible meeting. It's crazy that after every mission meeting we have I feel chastised but also completely motivated at the same time! For example, during that meeting I realized what things I have been doing completely wrong, but afterwards Sister Mapa and I were saying "okay lets go out there and make miracles happen!"
Sisters Mason & Mapa
THIS WEEKEND IS GENERAL CONFERENCE! I have never been so excited for General Conference in my life. I can't wait to hear all the wonderful things that President Monson, the apostles and other speakers will say! Mom, wasn't the General Relief Society broadcast just awesome? Looks like covenant keeping is on everybody's mind! I loved how the speakers talked about how doing simple things, like helping others, is a form of keeping your covenants. Love it! Also, President Monson's talk about prayer is just what I needed to hear. It was so great that he said that we were not sent to this earth to walk alone, and that God promises to be there right beside us if we just ask!
I feel so blessed in every way to be here right now!

-Sister Mason

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Kanan Shuttle

Mom and Dad,

This week was another wonderful week. It has been very interesting sharing the car with Sister Casper and Sister Proctor. It has meant that we have been walking tons. We are really excited because many Relief Society sisters volunteered to give us rides, so that will make this week a lot easier.

This week we have met some of the rudest people I have met so far, but I am so glad that Sister Mapa and I have great attitudes! It would have been a long and depressing week, but it wasn't that bad because Sister Mapa and I get along really well and actually like being around each other.

I love my new companion Sister Mapa!

I truly love Sister Mapa. She is a gem. She has been teaching me how to mellow out some times and just enjoy the moment. We have already had wonderful experiences together and I know that we were meant to be companions right now. Most of the week involved tracting. We were able to find and talk to some wonderful people! We are so excited to go back and visit some of these people. We will let you know how that goes!

So, funny story. This week we were so excited to take this little bus that is free here called the Kanan Shuttle. Sister Mapa and I went to one of the stop across the street from our apartment and were so excited for it to take us all the way to our area. (The saddest thing about walking is that we live in the other ward’s boundaries so we are really far away from our area.) We waited there about 20 minutes for it to arrive. We got on the bus and asked the driver what stop was the closest to where we wanted to get off. To our horror, the closest stop was less than a mile from where we got on. We rode on the bus for about a half of a mile and then got off and walked about an hour and a half to get to where we wanted to be. Hahaha, FAIL. We have really been working it out with the other sisters so we can drop each other off in our areas, and we have been getting rides from members, so it isn’t that pathetic. Good thing after the shuttle failure we just died laughing the rest of the walk!

The coolest huge suit of armor at a member's house!

This week we were able to meet with some of our investigators. We brought a wonderful member, Brother Hart, with us and he was a huge help. The meeting with this family was great because the husband shared some deeply spiritual experiences he has had. He was even starting to tear up when he was talking to us. We were only able to get through a small portion of the restoration lesson. I believe they are still a little confused as to why they need what we are telling them. Right know they think that we believe similar things so there is no need to make changes in their lives. Their young adult son came to church this week!! I was seriously so excited to see him that I couldn't keep from smiling. He came by himself but he stayed for Sacrament meeting and Sunday School! Hopefully he will keep coming, but also hopefully he will start getting involved with the YSA (Young Single Adult) ward. It seems like he and his mother are completely prepared, but it may take a little work to get the father on board. I love this family so much already. I can just tell that they are great people and have amazing potential. Hopefully we will be able to meet with them again next week!

Happy birthday to this beautiful sister!!

This week was also Sister Mapa’s birthday!!! She turned 20 on Wednesday. Thanks Mom for sending me all the decorations for my birthday last month because we totally decked out our apartment for her birthday and even blew up balloons to cover the floor of our living room. In the morning on Sister Mapa's birthday, Sister Proctor made funfetti cake pancakes out of a cake mix! They were so yummy. We melted frosting to put of them because we didn’t have any syrup. Mmm, there’s nothing like birthday cake for breakfast! Sister Proctor is amazing because she has already graduated from culinary school before her mission. She loves to cook so it has been great to have her around. She has already volunteered to make us super tasty breakfasts this week.

Sad news is that President Castro said that we can't to go to the temple for her birthday. The temple is out of our mission boundaries. He said that the opportunity for our missionaries to attend the temple for their birthday is for those who haven't had the chance to go to the temple in a long time. Since Sister Mapa was able to go to the temple just a few weeks ago in the MTC, and I went last month for my birthday, we weren't allowed to go. So sad.

I was able to get ice cream from the ice cream man this week!
I was so happy! I have been craving a twoball screwball
so bad and it reminded me of my childhood!

Sister Casper and Sister Procter had their exchanges this weekend! Instead of having one companionship going to Ventura and one staying in Agoura, both sets stayed in Agoura this weekend. That meant that there were a total of 6 sisters staying in our apartment this weekend! It was crazy but awesome! One other surprise was that only one of the Sister Training Leaders came, and she brought Sister Randall with her! I guess the Sister Training Leaders had to split up and bring other sisters with them this time because they just have so many exchanges to do, and so little time.  It was so great to see Sister Randall, and I know that she was so happy to be able to go visit people in Agoura again! Our exchanges aren’t until October, and I am excited to see what happens then!

My four generation chart. One of my first trainers Sister Randall,
my follow-up trainer Sister Casper, me and my trainee Sister Mapa.
3 out of 5 of my companions are in this picture. So crazy!

Mom, thanks for that experience you shared. I’m having similar experiences. I have learned on my mission to accept anything that people offer. Sister Casper used to laugh at me all the time because whenever people offered us water bottles or snacks I always said yes. I have learned that people love the opportunity to help us and get great satisfaction just from being able to give us things.

I have been absolutely loving being a trainer. I know that it is a huge responsibility, but it definitely hasn't been as bad as I thought! I have been learning so much already and I just hope that I am living up to the role that God needs me to fulfill.  It has already been a wonderful experience to go through the training program again and learn new things every day!

Sister Mason

Monday, September 16, 2013

I Honestly Love Being a Trainer!

Mom and Dad,

It was another great week here in Agoura Hills! First of all, I love my new companion Sister Mapa. She is 19 years old and from San Jose, California. She got her mission call to Brazil but she has been temporarily reassigned to our mission until her visa comes. She is Tongan and she is so loud and hilarious! She is such a fun person to be around but most of all she is willing to do hard or uncomfortable things. I can just tell that she wants to share her testimony with everyone who will listen. She has already taught me so much in the past week. I have been trying to push her out of her comfort zone this week and I have been really impressed with her!
Me and the wonderful Sister Mapa!

One night when visiting a less-active woman, it was time to share a message with her so I simply opened up her scriptures, gave them to her and silently nodded "go for it" to see what she would do. She did a great job and she ended up saying just what this woman needed to hear. It was a wonderful experience. She is basically trained already. All I do is ask her to try things. Sister Mapa is the greatest and we are very similar. I really felt strongly from the minute we were in the car on the way home from the transfer meeting that we needed to be companions. I haven't exactly found out why, but for right now I can say that we work so well together already and I am so excited for the great things and miracles we will see this transfer!

These are the missionaries that arrived this week with Sister Mapa.
There are 35 new missionaries and only 3 went home.

I honestly love being a trainer! I know it is a huge responsibility but it has been wonderful already. I feel like I have been able to feel the spirit so much stronger in my life when I am training and I have been able to learn so much already. I have survived my first week as a trainer and it really wasn't as hard as I was fearing!
The 4 Agoura sisters! Sister Proctor, Sister Casper, me, and Sister Mapa

It has been interesting already sharing the car with the other Agoura sisters. We have been walking tons but we have also been able to meet wonderful people already! I am so glad that our area has split because it makes the area much more manageable to cover. We have basically decided to split the car each day so we would have the car in the morning and then we would usually get dropped off close to our dinner appointment and tract for a few hours. I have never walked and tracted so much in my life! Normally it would be a little depressing to walk and tract nonstop but Sister Mapa and I have had great attitudes and we have been working as hard as we can. Sister Mapa and I decided that this transfer we are going to try to knock every door in our area! We will see!
Cherry, one of the best people I have met in Agoura!
Sadly, she is not in my area anymore so I won't be able to teach her.

This week we met with one of our investigators. She was someone who was referred to us from Elder Watts and Elder Atkin in the Westlake area. We had a wonderful meeting where we taught her about The Book of Mormon and prayer. When we had met with her before, her kids were home and it was very loud and distracting. This week when we met with her, her kids were at school already so it was much more peaceful and the spirit was so strong. We invited her to start reading The Book of Mormon so we will she what happens with her. She is a great woman and we could already see a huge change in her from the last time we met with her!

The Palmers! An amazing family in my ward.

Sad news about one of our investigators, the amazing one that was planning on getting baptized this Saturday. We met with her this week and it was so sad because she told us that she had lots of doubts about getting baptized. She also told us that her ex-boyfriend (a member) has been telling her to check out different churches. Plus, on top of that her grandma is very sick and everything seems to be crashing down on her. She was crying when we were talking to her and I was so close to crying too. We tried to tell her that it is natural for Satan to try anything he can to attack her before her baptism. So for now she is not on track to get baptized but we will hopefully be able to still meet with her and see how things are going. I was so sad to hear about that but I know that she has her own choice :(

A lake in our area, Lake Lindero. It is so beautiful!

I still am in love with Agoura Hills! It honestly feels like home to me now. I love the people and the members are incredible. I feel so lucky every day to be here. I hope I stay here for a while but who knows how long I will be needed here.

Just know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU TWO!!
-Sister Mason

Monday, September 9, 2013

Let the Adventures Begin!!

Faja and Momma,

First of all I am staying in Agoura Hills! The crazy thing is that I will no longer be coverering 2 wards. I am staying in one ward and TRAINING A BRAND NEW MISSIONARY while Sister Casper is over the other ward and also training a new missionary. (Dad you are prophetic! You guessed exactly what was going to happen this transfer! YOU ARE AMAZING!)

[FYI, Jeff included a prediction in his e-mail to Melia the night before we received this one from her. He said, "My prediction: Now that you have a 2 bedroom apartment you will get 2 more sisters. Either they will be companions, or you and Sis. Casper will each get one. If my prediction comes true then let it be known that I have marvelous powers." His prediction came true. Way to call it Dad!]

It is going to be an adventure for sure! All four of us will be staying in the same apartment so it will be one big training party. I am so relieved that I am not off on my own though! Sister Casper and I will still be able to see each other every day, so we will be able to help out each other with training and also with our investigators in both wards. Also we will be sharing a car. As of now we have no idea how that is going to happen since sisters are not allowed on bikes in this mission. We will have to figure it out but it looks like we will be doing tons more walking this transfer!

I am a little nervous to be training but I know without a doubt that this calling comes from God and this is what He needs me to do at this time. It is going to be interesting but I know it is possible! Next week I will be sending pictures of some of the people I will miss in the other ward and pictures of my new companion! I am seriously so excited! I am even more excited that Sister Casper will be there for me the whole time! The only thing I am bummed about it that we won't be attending 6 hours of church each Sunday. I never thought I would say that, but it is true!

Welcome to beautiful Agoura Hills!
All day I just say "oh my gosh it is so beautiful here!"
I bet Sister Casper has gotten tired of it by now.

This week was another week of perfect timing. Seriously though, we met some of the best people this week! We met this one man and he is one of the nicest people I have ever met. He was outside working on his motorcycle when we walked by and he talked to us about his love for skateboarding, surfing, and riding motorcycles. He is such a great man and he is simply trying to figure out everything in his life after going through a rough divorce.

We also met with another man this week. He is really good friends with one of the members in the Agoura 2nd ward. He has played on the men's church basketball team and has come to church a few times. I had met him with my previous companions but Sister Casper and I came by his house to contact someone without knowing it was him. Anyways, he invited us in and we were able to teach him the restoration lesson and answer some of his many questions about the church he had. I am excited because he has amazing potential and we could tell that he is  truly searching for the truth. Sister Casper and I also met many incredible people this week so we are excited to see what happens with them.

We also were able to have a family home evening with a less active family and it was great! The father is not a member and the mother has been working on the weekends so the oldest kids have been trying by themselves to bring the younger kids to church every week. This family invited us over for dinner this week so we are very excited for that! Sister Casper and her companion will be the ones going to their house for dinner but I am excited to hear how it goes. 

[A member texted this picture to Jeff shortly after we
received Melia's e-mail. She included this message]
"Hi-  I have your adorable daughter here! 
You have marvelous powers!
Your prediction came true. 
Both she and Sis Casper are staying
and will each get a new missionary to train.

And she wanted to tell you that she loves you!"

We also went to visit a woman that we had contacted a few weeks back. We met her while she was working outside on her yard. We were walking by to visit someone else and we ended up talking to her really quick and we gave her a copy of The Book of Mormon! We had met with her, taught her the about the restoration of the gospel, and found out that she would rather be taught in Spanish. A set of Spanish sisters had met with her and her family but we found out that the hermanas haven't been meeting with them anymore. We decided to stop by again this week and we able to set up an appointment to meet with her and her family! We had a wonderful lesson last night with them and honestly it was the member that came with us that made the biggest difference! The whole lesson had to be completely by the spirit because we weren't sure what they had been taught already. The member has been on a mission in Guatemala so she was able to completely relate to this family and speak Spanish at times. It was absolutely a great meeting and the spirit was so strong it was simply undeniable.
Today I am a proud graduate of the missionary 12 week training program!
We just finished my training last night so it looks like I am in the big leagues now!

This transfer I have learned many things. I have definitely leaned how to control times when I feel scared. I feel inadequate and scared at times but this transfer I have learned to be happy and push through those times. I have also made myself do hard things. On a mission I have realized that we are asked to do things that I normally wouldn't want to do. We are asked to talk to everyone (even people that might not like us or are simply rude). We also have to bring up awkward things.  I have realized that when I feel like I really don't want to say or do something, it means that I should probably do it. I have made myself do or say many things that I don't want to. I have truly learned that I am so much stronger than I ever thought. I feel like I am pushing myself every day, then I look back and see how much I have learned so far! I have also learned that I need to focus on my strengths and not be overwhelmed with my shortcomings. I realized I just need to keep working on the things that I am good at and that over time my weaknesses with improve along the way.

It has been a hard 6 weeks, but it has been so worth it! I have grown more than I can express and Sister Casper and I have seen miracles happen every week. I love and respect Sister Casper so much. She is so calm and relaxed. She is a wonderful missionary. Plus, I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life than I do when I am with her! Times have been hard over the past few weeks, but we have kept smiles on our faces and have worked very well together. I am so blessed to have her as my trainer and I am so excited that we can still work close with each other this transfer!

I love my mission more than anything, and I know there is no place I would rather be!  Honestly, amazing things are happening out here!

Much Much Love,
Sister Mason

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sushi, Israel and AMAZING People


This week we were able to meet with one of our investigators. She is doing really great and has loved everything we have taught her but she has been really hard to get a hold of. One of her daughters is LDS and has been a great influence on her. She has been very curious about why her daughter is so happy and why she believes the the things that she does. This week we stopped by many times to see her and she was never home. Fortunately, one night we pulled up to her house and spotted her walking her dog in her neighborhood. She let us in and let us teach her. We taught her about how we have a prophet on the earth today and mentioned that General Conference was coming up. She committed herself to watch General Conference because she is really excited to see what it is all about. She also said that she will be coming to church this Sunday so we are very excited about that! She is one of the nicest ladies and she has such great potential! She really wants to know if what we tell her is true and she has done her homework as well. After only being able to meet with her a few times she is almost all the way through The Book of Mormon. What an inspiration! I will keep you posted on how she is doing.

We were also able to meet with a member's girlfriend again this week. She is just wonderful! We taught her about the law of tithing, fasting, and obeying and honoring the law. We also were able to go over the baptismal interview questions so she is prepared for her baptism in two weeks! We love meeting with her and every morning we plan to meet with her I just get so excited to see her! She is the ideal investigator because she is willing to do anything we ask her to do and she takes the time to find answers for herself. She is wonderful and every week we (Sister Casper and I) always get so excited to see her!

One miracle this week is that we were able to meet with a lady that the Westlake elders (Elder Watts and Elder Atkin) met a while ago. They gave us her information and told us to stop by. We had come by many many times but either no one answered or she simply wasn't home. This week we drove up to her house and she pulled up coming home from the grocery store.  Sister Casper and I seem to keep having this impeccable timing! Anyways, she let us in and we started to teach her the restoration lesson. We will meet with her again this week and we were just so happy that we were finally able to come in contact with her!

Also, basically the best news of the week is that one of the members had talked to one of our investigators and said that she is still wanting to come to church. She hasn't come because she didn't want to cause any trouble at home. I almost cried when I heard that! I am not sure if I told you already but she has been having a big family crisis and our bishop asked us not to talk to or visit her or her husband for the time being. We have been wanting to see them so bad over the past month or so to see how they are doing so I was so happy to hear that she was still interested in the gospel even after she has gone through such hard times! Hopefully everything will settle down soon and we will be able to visit her and continue teaching her! She is such a wonderful, strong woman who has been though so much, so I am hopeful that she can do it! She has had a really hard time quitting smoking but I think she has the determination that she can finally do it. We will see!
The District! Sister Unga, Sister Appel, me, Sister Casper,
Elder Atkin, Elder Watts,  Elder Reese and Elder Jarnagin

We also had a special training meeting about apartments, vehicles, and health. I was secretly hoping that they would sneak in how our mission is going to implement the new social media in the work. Sadly that didn't happen but I am looking forward to that day! In our meeting they told us all about how we need to have our temporal things in order before we can be effective instruments in the Lord's hands. President Castro, Sister Castro, and the office staff gave us suggestions on how to be healthy and reminded us of things we need to do to take care of ourselves, our cars, and our apartments. There were only a few zones from the mission in that meeting but it was full of missionaries from my MTC zone! I was able to see Elder Harper, Elder Spencer, Sister Snow, Sister Dixon, and Sister Appel and it seemed like one big MTC reunion. 

Sister Dixon, Sister Snow, me & Sister Casper at our training meeting

This week some members took us out to get sushi for dinner. I have only had sushi a few times and let me tell you this sushi was so tasty! I knew that by being in California I would have sushi one of these days but it was seriously so good. I am going to start craving sushi! 

One of my favorite families in the ward The Aguero's!
We have FHE with them almost every Monday night.
Hopefully I will have a cute little family like them one day!
They are some of the strongest people I know.

We also met some of the coolest people this week! Since Agoura has a very high population of Jewish people, we run into people that moved here from Israel all the time. We met a man this week that is from Israel and was born in Bethlehem! How amazing is that? He grew up in the same place where Christ was born. We also ran into other Jewish people that we asked about Judaism, and it was very fascinating. I really wish I would have gone with you to the Hasidic Jewish community when we were in New York! I know, this is a total "I told you so moment". I have to learn little things here and there about Judaism, but you guys were able to see it and experience it yourselves!

Sometimes when we are tracting I feel like we are trick or treating. Haha, because people often give us water bottles or snacks. This week when we were tracting we talked to this young mom and she gave us cupcakes! That completely made my day! She was the nicest lady! She told us that she and her little daughter were making them for her husband but they wanted to give some to us. SCORE!

The lovely Agoura sisters!!

Seriously, everything in Agoura has been going great! Sister Casper and I have been having a great time and have been working as hard as we can to keep teaching our investigators to help them progress and come towards Christ, while also searching for new people to teach. 
It has been another wonderful week! We have had experiences of a lifetime and there is no place I would rather be! I would not have imagined in a million years that I would be here right now telling everyone that will listen about Christ and His gospel. I love it and feel so blessed every day because of it!
Much love,
Sister Mason