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

Monday, November 4, 2013

Another Great and Eventful Week!


It's been another wonderful week in Santa Maria! It has just been a great experience this week to keep finding amazing people. It seemed like so many people we met told us that they had been thinking about great questions lately, like if they will see their deceased family member again, or why there are so many churches if there is only one truth. We just met some of the greatest people and all I kept thinking was that this gospel can answer all these questions they have! It has been so great to meet people here that are excited to talk to us.

I have also been really impressed with one of our investigators. Sister Snow and Sister Higgins met him a few weeks ago, taught him the Restoration, and gave him a copy of The Book of Mormon. We met with him again last week and he told us that he is reading The Book of Mormon and has just been fascinated by it! It seriously is a struggle for most investigators to read The Book of Mormon but this man is just soaking it up!

It is freezing in Santa Maria. Plus the sun now starts
to set around 4:30pm. LOVE IT!

This week has been a little bit of a bummer because a few of our investigators dropped us and really just weren't willing to accept what we were teaching them. One of them told us that she wouldn't want to pray or read The Book of Mormon to find out the truth and that she also only needs her relationship with Heavenly Father. That relationship is one of the most important things but she is against going to our church (or any church) and refuses to read The Book of Mormon or the Bible.

We taught another woman about The Plan of Salvation. She has a daughter who is LDS and throughout the lesson she basically said that this isn't what she needs, and that she is counting on her daughter to do all her ordinances for her after she passes away so she can be "roped into" the Celestial kingdom. We tried to explain that it won't work that way because she has had the chance to accept the gospel now and she isn't taking the opportunity. Plus we tried to explain the unending blessings she could have now just by living the gospel.

It was just a little frustrating because I just wanted to yell to them "THIS is where you can find your all your answers! Complete, utter happiness is RIGHT HERE!" We try and try and try with some people and at the end of the day they do not understand what we are trying to tell them. Anyways, that's all for my little frustrations. It is mostly just heartbreaking to see that people do not want to sacrifice for their own happiness, but then again, everyone is given their own agency.
Exchanges! I lucked out to be with Sister Bennett 3 out of the 4
exchanges I've had! I love love love her!

I had such a great exchange with Sister Bennett this week! I wanted to work on using more personal experiences in teaching, and also use that to bear more sincere testimony. I decided that I really wanted to work on that because I feel that many times I bear testimony, but it doesn't have as much conviction behind it. I know that this church is true and it has richly blessed my life but I just want everyone else to feel how much this gospel means to me too!

I learned so much this exchange by Sister Bennett's great example. She taught me how to use the Book of Mormon in declarations and how to feel comfortable again in the area. Remember how last week I said that I wanted to feel back to normal? Well I definitely do now! I just felt shy being in a new area but now I feel completely adjusted so I can bring Santa Maria my all!

We also have had great lessons with some less-active members this week! Some of these families we meet with have great potential. We also have been meeting with this woman who just had back surgery. She has been in and out of activity over many years but has been very open to the gospel lately. We have been teaching her the missionary lessons and reading The Book of Mormon with her. It has been a great experience to work with her because at first when we would read with her, she would nit pick what we read, but now she is really trying to apply The Book of Mormon to her life and use it to give her peace through all the pain she is in.
The Jennings at the ward party!

For Halloween we had to be in our apartment at 7pm. Our ward had an awesome combined trunk or treat but sadly we had to leave early! We moved one hour of morning studies to 7pm and then we had an extra hour of studies at 8. We watched The District training videos then I carved a little pumpkin. See the glorious picture below! 
I carved a tiny "CTR" pumpkin at our apartment Halloween night.
Also, take note of the awesome "Bone to be Wild" shirt. Hahaha

This Saturday was Sister Higgins's birthday! It was seriously such a great day, and the members we ate dinner with went ALL OUT for her!
Sister Higgins' birthday fest!

Since it's her birthday month we get to go to the LA temple tomorrow. Sis Jennings (seen in the ward party picture above) will take us to the temple. It takes about 3 hours to drive there, so it's 6 hours round-trip. It will be almost an all-day event but we are excited and so blessed to be able to go! I love that temple and I love the joy and peace that the temple brings! Mostly I just feel like I am too blessed here!

I honestly love it here, and I love Sister Higgins. She is just incredible. She is such a hard worker. She's dependable and knows how to push herself. I admire her and it has been a breeze working with her. We get along very well. I am so happy with where I am and who I am serving with!
Our own Halloween dress-up. Um, I think we had a little bit too much fun
back at our apartment with our ugly sweaters we got from Goodwill

Much much love,
Sister Mason