Monday, January 6, 2014

A Brand New Year

Maam and Dad,

This week we had many wonderful and interesting lessons. One was with the girl who was planning to get baptized this coming weekend. We went over and met with her and her mom to arrange everything so she could be ready to be baptized this week. It was really sad because she ended up telling us that she wasn't ready and that she "didn't have a good enough reason to get baptized." That was really sad but she just wants to keep learning more and maybe in a few months she will want to get baptized.
We ended up having a great lesson with her about the Holy Ghost and how to get answers to prayers. The best part was that her mother is less-active and usually refuses to contribute to the lessons. This week she uncharacteristically explained how the Holy Ghost works and basically bore her testimony of it. Afterwards, her mother, of course, tried to play it off like she doesn't believe any of this anymore. It was incredible because we know that the mo always listens and feels the spirit when we are there, but she still tries to pretend like she doesn't believe. I think it is finally getting to her because this time she was so much more open to sharing spiritual experiences. So although it was kind of a sad meeting, we were able to make major progress with the mom.
A cool painting at a Lutheran church near our apartment.
It is just so colorful and I love staring at it whenever we drive by.

One amazing thing was that we had 3 investigators come to church this week. This is the first time that one of them has been to church in about 6 months, so we were so happy that she came! She came by herself and ended up coming late to sacrament meeting, but she made it! She has been pretty stubborn and hard to read in the past but now she is warming back up to the church. This week she told us that she had really been thinking about coming to church but other things have gotten in the way.
We had such a great lesson with her last night too! We brought a member who is a convert and has a powerful testimony. This member was able to share so many experiences about how she felt the exact same way about going to church and the culture of the church. Plus, our investigator finally told us that she had really been praying about what we taught her and she has been getting answers! Just the night before she had stayed awake all night because she was a little caught off guard about the answers she got. She wasn't able to sleep because she had just been thinking about it all night. She said that Heavenly Father had told her that she is moving in the right direction and that this is what she needs to do.
She also slipped and admitted that she knows that what we have been teaching her is true! The only problem is that she admits that she is stubborn and is having a really hard time wanting to do what God wants her to do. She has made SO much progress in just the past month. It is incredible to see! She is just a testimony to me that some people just need a lot of love and perseverance to finally accept the gospel. I absolutely love her and I am just so happy about the changes she is seeing in her life!
Sister Whiting. She is absolutely one of the most hilarious people
I have met here! She is absolutely the best to bring with us to
lessons because we never know what she is going to say!

This week we were also able to meet with one of our new investigators. The great thing was that one of her best friends that is a member was able to be there for our lesson. She was such a great help because she is a convert from Catholicism as well. This member helped explain so much in a way that she could understand, and it was just another great meeting! She had been taught by missionaries before but I think this is the perfect time in her life that she is open to hear the gospel. It has just been so great to see all these people that Heavenly Father has completely prepared so that we could teach them.
We have been meeting with a less-active member. We visit her a few times a week to read the Book of Mormon and have lessons with her. She is reading the Book of Mormon cover to cover for the first time in her life and she is making major progress! She has also been coming to sacrament meeting for the past couple weeks in a row!

This week was sad for two reasons. One is that the father of a Focus 15 family passed away and this week the family held his funeral services. We had our district meeting during much of the services but we were able to go over and show the family support for a few minutes after our meeting. It was just a really sad situation because he is only 40 and his death was very unexpected. We have been trying really hard to show all our love and support for that family especially right now in their great time of need.
Also, the other sad thing is that another less-active member we are working with is have a really had time in her life and is in the middle of a family crisis. Her family is basically falling apart and she is just devastated. We are really proud of her though because she is a recent convert and even though she is going through the hardest time of her life, she holds on to why she got baptized in the first place and she realizes that the gospel of Jesus Christ is really what she needs to bring her peace. We were able to meet with her a couple times and we are really proud of her.
The last time we visited her, we shared a really powerful scripture about the Lord easing our burdens so we will no longer feel them upon our backs. We also explained the story about the pioneers and all the trials they faced. After that, Sister Blanchard [remember, she doesn't like to sing] and I sang "Come, Come Ye Saints" for her and the spirit was just so strong. It was just a very powerful experience and we are so glad that we were able to be there to help her.
Cheers to a new year!

This week was also NEW YEARS! We had to be back at our apartment at 7pm so we had about 2 hours of almost free time. The first thing I did was come back and take my sweet time in the shower! Who would've thought that would be something that I miss? After that, we had a craft night working on little lesson ideas. We had a great girls night/craft night to party up New Years Eve. It is honestly so weird that Christmas and New Years have already flown by. PLUS the fact that I have been out 7 months already is a major shocker! Oh how fast time has flown by!

Oh and also, we meet with lots of Hispanics that only speak Spanish, and I have always been a wimp and have been too shy to try my limited Spanish on them. This week I have decided to just do it. I have definitely made a fool of myself speaking Spanish out here but I am really trying! It is actually really cool and it's totally okay because I am really used to making a fool of myself all day every day.

We started off the new year right by chasing down the ice cream
man in the ghetto to get some super tasty ice cream bars

I am so excited that you all will be going to the Gilbert Temple open house. Hopefully you can take some non-member friends with you. Maybe miracles will happen when they enter the temple! You never know. That's what happened to a man in my ward whose wife was a member and he was opposed to it. They attended the open house of the Hawaii temple. When he was in the celestial room he suddenly knew it was all true!
I still love it here in Santa Maria and I am just more and more impressed with the Santa Maria 2nd ward every day. They are very helpful in this work and I don't know what we would do without them. Sister Blanchard and I are still getting along really well and have been getting some great work done together. She has made AMAZING progress over the past couple weeks and I am just really proud of how tough she is. I have been absolutely loving my mission so far and I just feel SO blessed to see so many miracles every day!

I love you soooo much!
Sister Mason

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