Monday, January 27, 2014

Reactivating The Whole World (well mostly just our ward)

Dearest Wonderfulest Mason Family,

This has mostly been a week of talking with really frustrating people and working with many less-active members. Mostly if we don't have any appointments at night, we end up going around to visit less-actives in the area. This week, many of them let us talk to them for a few moments before they wanted us to leave. 

We met some of the nicest members, but they had such sad stories. Many of them had served missions, worked at the temple, or were just life-long members, but for some reason have fallen away from the church. It has been so sad to talk to them and for them to say that for whatever reason they do not "believe" anymore. It was heartbreaking. Some of them even said that they know they will come back eventually, but for now they try to stay away.

Anyways, we seem to have been having a lot of success with the less-actives and the Focus 15 families. We have been seeing some great improvements in those people we are teaching and we were so happy to see that at least 3 less-actives came to church yesterday, and 3 of our investigators came as well! Sometimes it doesn't seem like we are doing a lot here, but then we just have to look back and see the little successes we have here every day and every week! 

These are the things that get me through our weekly planning sessions
(usually about 4 hours of going through what we are going to teach
everyone, how we are going to get investigators to come to church,
and setting up appointments) on Friday mornings. My choice is
ginormous suckers and "Belly Flops." Belly Flops are all the
defective Jelly Bellys that they sell in bags here.

One family that we saw this week are recent converts. They are the most adorable family ever. They have 3 little children that are really bright. Two of the children basically taught the whole Restoration lesson when we went over there. One of them is 9 years old, has only been a member for less that a year, and still knows more about the gospel than I do. They are such a wonderful family and the children have just been a blessing to the family. 

This family has been through periods of activity and inactivity in the church, and the last time they decided to come back to church was because of the two oldest daughters. These daughters also told us that every morning they have scripture study together out of the Book of Mormon while everyone else is getting ready for work or school. The mother said that they just started doing that one day and they actually understand what they are reading. I was just really impressed with this family and I am so excited that they openly welcome us back to teach them! 

We actually are going to teach all the lessons to the 7 year old who is getting ready to be baptized. The rest of her family got the lessons, so she wants us to come over and teach her too! She is the cutest, and she is one of the ones who reads scriptures every single morning. You should have seen the absolute excitement on her face when we gave her a Restoration pamphlet to read before we come back, and when we told all of them that they will get to go to the temple soon and be sealed as a family! The two girls were more than excited for that because I told them that I had to wait till I was almost 21 to go all the way inside the temple, and they get to go when they are only 8 and 9! They are just too adorable!
There are many old people here that have started to go ALL OUT for
Valentines day. There are many senior mobile home parks in our area
and those are the places that people seem to go all out decorating.

Also, we were able to meet with M again this week! We taught her the Word of Wisdom and really went over why the Lord has asked us to live that. She has been trying to quit smoking for years now and actually hates smoking. For some reason or another, she still hasn't been able to quit. We were able to give her a game plan of how to help her quit, which involved at first decreasing her smoking to only 5 cigarettes a day and then whenever she had a craving she was supposed to listen to the Book of Mormon, pray and ask for help, or call us.
It has been really frustrating though because this week she said that she hasn't been able to cut down at all. We are still trying to do everything we can to help her quit, but with all the stress that is going on in her life, it has been really hard for her quit. One great thing she told us in her lesson though was that she said, "You know what is weird? I was listening to the Book of Mormon on CD on my way home from work yesterday and I only smoked 2 cigarettes on the way home when I usually smoke 4 or 5." We told her that wasn't weird at all but that was Heavenly Father taking away her desire to smoke.
M has such wonderful potential, but stopping smoking has just been such a trial for her. (Do you have any suggestions of how to help people quit smoking? We will take any advice!) Also, she stayed for all 3 hours of church for the first time! We have been trying so hard to get her to Relief Society because we know that she would just LOVE it! She came and she did love it! Sometimes it's just baby steps with her but she has made such GREAT Progress!

This week we got a brand new car! That also meant that we had to borrow
the Zone Leaders' car while they drove down to Ventura to pick up our car.
Of course for the few days we had their car we just had to listen to all
their CD's and wear their sunglasses as much as possible!

Our old district! Hermana Eastman, Hermana Brown, me, Sister Blanchard,
Elder Jenkins, Elder Clough, Elder Santos, and Elder Passey.
The crazy thing is that the only person who was transferred was Elder Jenkins,
and that was only because he became a new AP. Our district is all
sticking around this transfer, so that is crazy but so exciting!

So for the frustrating people. There were many people that would talk for us for so long just to prove everything we believe is wrong. Although this is not new to me whatsoever, I feel like this week was full of this type of people. I was really proud of Sister Blanchard and me though because no matter what they told us, we were very persistent and wanted to explain to them what we actually do believe. It was a great experience. I am not one that likes to argue. In fact, in many cases if people begin to argue with me like this, I would rather just say okay and walk away instead of trying to help them understand our point of view.

Couldn't help but send this one.

We had our fair share of people who wanted to argue with us but we were able to remain calm and help them understand that everything that we believe (no matter how crazy the belief might seem) comes down to the question of if Joseph Smith was in fact a prophet of God, called to restore His true church, and if the Book of Mormon was true. Although those people were downers of the week, they were moments that proved how much I have truly learned out here on my mission, and they proved to me how much I love and believe in this gospel.

Sister Mason

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