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