Monday, April 28, 2014

Temple Trip and Service Projects

My Wonderful Family,

I absolutely love Simi Valley and the members are incredible. We went to ward council this week and they are so focused on missionary work. Basically the whole time, they talked about who they could prepare for us to teach and referrals we should visit.

It has overall been such a great week with wonderful lessons and great service opportunities! This week many wonderful things happened! We were able to meet with a many of our wonderful investigators and a few less-active members.
We went on a hike to the cross last p-day with our district.
It was such a fun district activity!

We were able to meet with one of our investigators M this week and bring another member with us! We brought a returned missionary sister from Chile with us and she did such a great job. During our lesson about the Gospel of Jesus Christ she felt inspired to show the new "Because of Him" video from It was very powerful to illustrate what Christ really means to her, and that video really brought the spirit into our lesson. If you haven't seen that video, CHECK IT OUT. The church posted that on and for Easter and it is incredible! 

M also came to church for the first time yesterday! He actually came an hour and a half before our sacrament meeting started, but the elders in the other ward were able to find him and bring him to their gospel principles class and priesthood meeting, and then bring him to our sacrament meeting. He really enjoyed our ward. So many people were friendly and came up and talked to him! He really liked how members of our congregation give talks every Sunday.

The district: Elder Davisdson, Elder Eggleston,
Elder Crapo, Elder Elkington, Elder Jones, Elder Nalder,
Me, Sister Proctor, Hermana Cannon and Hermana Romero

We also had an incredible meeting with one of our investigators L! We had her lesson again at our Relief Society president's house. It was a good meeting about following the prophet, scripture study, and prayer. We were able to show her how to get the scriptures on her phone and she absolutely loved that! We talked to her about how she could just search a key word every day and read a few scriptures on her phone as part of her daily scripture study. She was really excited to be able to try searching the Book of Mormon by topic so she could get much more out of it.

She also came to church for the first time this Sunday! She absolutely loved sacrament meeting. She is Jewish and is used to going to church services in Hebrew. She was so excited that it was in a language that she could actually understand, and she said that parts of the meeting reminded her of Jewish services too!

She also came to our Gospel Principles class and the lesson was on covenants! They talked about baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and temple covenants. When they talked a little bit about the temple and eternal marriage she completely lit up! She started whispering to me how great of an idea that was because she has been married for over 30 years now and it would be wonderful to be married forever! She had such a great experience at church yesterday and she told us that she wants to keep coming back!

During our lesson this week we talked to her about baptism and she basically told us that she would be willing to be baptized but she has a fear of water. We were so excited to hear that she is making so much progress and is thinking about baptism! We are going to bring her to the next available baptismal service so she can see what it is really like and that there is nothing for her to be afraid of.

The Los Angeles Temple with birthday girl Sister Proctor

We had such a wonderful experience at the LA temple this week! It was so peaceful and a much needed experience. We went with Sister N, who I talked to you a little about last week. In the car we were able to talk to her more about experiences from her mission, why she decided to leave the church for a little bit, and how she is doing since she's come back. It was such a great opportunity to spend a little more time with her and try to strengthen her at least a little bit. It was so cute because when we got back to our apartment she told us that she really didn't want us to leave because she had been feeling so good throughout the whole day we were together! She is so wonderful and always tells us encouraging things about remembering how important this mission will be to us for the rest of our lives.

The famous "Lion King" tree at the LA Temple

We also had a great lesson with G this week! We watched "The Restoration" video with her and talked to her more about prayer and scripture study. She is still adorable and she just knows that the Book of Mormon is true! Her mother is so awesome and is trying to get a FHE together this weekend with all her less-active family. We are so excited for that! Hopefully that will work out so we can try to bring all her family back to church. She and her mother came to sacrament meeting and our Gospel Principles class this week. They loved it, and we found out that G might also want to go to girls camp with the ward this summer! G is really doing great, and she is so excited for her baptism that's coming up!

For service we steamed tablecloths for a wedding! A woman we are teaching
has a son who is getting married this weekend. We got to spend lots of
time talking to her and steaming together. Here's our action shot!

We had some great service projects this week! We spent HOURS with a woman we're teaching, steaming tablecloths for her son's wedding. It was really some great bonding time and it was really fun!

We also had a Mormon Helping Hands project. There were a few projects all over Simi and for ours we were able to paint! We also chatted up one of the non-members there and I also tried to convince this 19-year-old member to go on a mission! I now basically try to convince everyone to go on a mission! Seriously, the mission is so great and so the blessings are incredible! I now try to tell that to everyone because this mission is life changing!

A picture from our Mormon Helping Hands day on Saturday!
Elder Jones, Elder Davidson, Me, Sister Proctor, Elder Crapo, Elder Elkington,
and a few members behind us. We painted the outside of a YMCA and it was a blast!

Today we are going to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library here in Simi Valley and I've been so excited all week! A member in our ward is able to get us in for free! I will make sure to send you some great pictures next week!

Sister Proctor and me at the temple doors!

I honestly love this ward and working with Sister Proctor! She and I are so different but we work really well together! It helps so much that we already know each other really well and understand each other! The work here in Simi is going great as usual!

Much Much Love,
Sister Mason

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Happy Easters!

Dearest Darlingest Family,

I still absolutely love Simi Valley! The members here are beyond incredible! They are so supportive and are more than eager to help us. They have provided us with many part-member families to teach and even a few new investigators! That has definitely been such a blessing. It is even better how excited the members are to finally have sisters in this ward! This week was really just one jam-packed wonderful week! 

Sister Linford and Me! (on exchange)

 I had one of the best exchanges in the world this week! I was able to go on exchange with Sister Linford. (She was recently changed from a Spanish Sister Training Leader to an English Sister Training Leader). It was great to spend one whole day with her! It wasn't fun just because we are best friends from back home, but it was wonderful to be able to spend the whole day together, being led by the Spirit doing the Lord's work.

That was one of the greatest days of my mission! Sister Linford has changed so much since she has been on her mission, and it was great being able to see what an incredible missionary she has become! She is a lot more soft-spoken, but she is so powerful! She is so much more relaxed, but I love it. She truly is one of those people who is really persistent, but in a way that it does not come off at all too pushy. She is such a great missionary and it was really a dream come true! I have been praying nonstop since she was changed from Spanish to English that I would be able to spend some time with her!

On our exchange were able to talk to some incredible people, do some service pulling weeds for our investigator Cheryl, and teach a few lessons. It was an absolutely great day, and it was even better to be able to spend that day with one of my very best friends! I know that it was probably the only day in my life when we were both set apart as servants of the Lord and were able to do incredible things together. I am more than thankful for that opportunity to be on exchange with that wonderful sister!

Our district

We were able to have a couple of lessons with 11-year-old G this week, and that was great. Her mother (Sister J) is wonderful because she is really trying to bring her inactive family back to church along with her. She invited her inactive son and niece to come over the first night, when we taught G the Plan of Salvation. 

Also, during another lesson where we read 2 Nephi 31 and taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, G  invited her friend D over to meet with us too. D had so many great questions throughout our lesson, so we were able to teach her also, and we even invited her to pray at the end of our lesson. D asked us so many questions about baptism and she started to become worried that she has not been baptized yet. We invited her to come and join us when we teach G every Friday and she said that she would really like to come.

Sister J brought G, D, her inactive brother and his daughter to sacrament meeting this week! We were so happy to see them there! D also told us that she asked her parents if she could meet with us every week and they said yes. She also leaned over and told us that she would like to get baptized on the same day in June as G. That was a miracle and it is really wonderful that Sister J is not only worrying about her and her daughter coming to church, but she is bringing a few inactive members and investigators with her!

Our district's awkward family photo

We were also able to have a couple of lessons with our investigator M this week. Sometimes he is a little all over the place but he is so excited for his baptism in June! He absolutely loves reading the Book of Mormon and sometimes we cannot get him to stop reading it. It is sweet because when we ask him to read certain verses from it to go along with the lesson, he will keep reading on for even a few more verses because he sometimes just can't stop reading it. He is doing really well and now we are just really working on getting him better fellowshipping from the ward and getting him to church.

We are teaching a new investigator C. She is in her 20’s and is such a happy person. We met her on exchange this week and she absolutely loved what we shared with her about the Book of Mormon. She is Catholic but very open to different religious beliefs, and we are so excited to be able to teach her!

We had a combined ward Easter party with the Simi Valley 4th Ward!
Here's us and the Elders at our party.

This week we called all of the less-actives and former investigators in our ward and tried to set up appointments with them. We got some great responses and we have some appointments coming up this week.

One family that responded was the W's and we met with them this weekend. It was such a sad meeting because they are the picture-perfect LDS young couple, but their doubts have taken them so far away from the church. He served a mission and they were sealed in the temple just a few years ago, but now they refuse to come back to church. It is really sad because the husband now doesn't even believe in God or in Jesus Christ. They have let some doubts they've had lead them far far away from the Spirit and from the right path. Seeing such strong members fall completely away from the church has definitely been the hardest thing for me on my mission.

Yes, it is sad when investigators refuse to keep commitments or decide to no longer meet with us, but it is even more sad to see people completely turn against everything they always knew. All the anti-Mormon material and "doctrinal problems" the members have here in California is just heartbreaking sometimes. We just hope that we can help some people, even in the smallest degree, overcome these things and come back to the happiness they are missing out on!

Last night at dinner the members hid Easter baskets for us in
their back yard so we could go find them! It was too fun :)

Our mission was blessed to have the opportunity to hear from Elder Russell M. Nelson and his wife, and Elder Bowen (of the First Quorum of the Seventy) and his wife. I am so thankful for the opportunity we had to hear from them. Having Elder Nelson at our mission conference with was absolutely wonderful! We had so many wonderful talks that day, and Elder Nelson also had a question and answer session with us. I really learned so much! Elder Bowen talked about raising our expectations, and the rest of the speakers talked about how important the Book of Mormon is in this work! They told us that "Because I know the Book of Mormon is true" is the best answer for any question someone has about the church.

That was one incredible day and I am so thankful for the things that I learned there. Sister Proctor and I quickly decided to make plans on how we can use what we learned to work harder in this area. I am really excited for the miracles we will see with our increased enthusiasm and harder work!

We had such a great Easter! The members definitely loved having
 us over for dinner so we could be their adopted children.

We are really looking forward to going to the Los Angeles temple this Wednesday for Sister Proctor’s birthday! We are going with a member who served a mission but quickly became inactive after her mission. She has just recently become reactivated and is able to go to the temple again, so this is going to be a wonderful experience to share with her!

Simi Valley!

Things are really going well here in Simi! There are great things happening here every day!
So much love,
Sister Mason

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Love Simi Valley!


I absolutely love it here in Simi Valley! Our area has so many things going on right now. It's wonderful to be a part of it! I really love the ward here as well. They are so focused and more than willing to help us in the work. It is going to be such a blessing to be in a ward that is really dying to help us and our investigators.
We are the only set of English sisters in all of Simi. It is a little crazy because this stake just barely got sisters a little over 3 months ago. Sister Proctor has only been here 3 weeks, so neither of us know the area and the ward very well. It has been going so well besides that!
The sisters! Sister Proctor, me, Hermana Romero, and Hermana Cannon

I love Sister Proctor! We have been able to work well together and get along very well since day one. It is too fun to be with her since we already know each other very well. We are very different, but I already love it here and I love being able to work with her! She is from Renton, Washington and she is turning 21 TOMORROW! We already decorated the apartment and we have a few little birthday plans for this week! We will be going to the temple at the end of this month with a wonderful recently reactived member :) We really just have too many exciting things to look forward to! This week Elder Russel M. Nelsen is coming to our mission too!

Our birthday house! Let me just tell you that this couch
is the best thing that has ever happened to us!

We had so many great lessons this week. We have really been inviting every one to be baptized out here! It has been great to just be thrown into the work here. There are so many great people we are working with.
We were able to meet with an investigator this week with her son (who just got back from his mission a month ago) and it was a really powerful lesson! We taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the spirit was so strong when her son would bear his testimony about the gift of the Holy Ghost or why she really needs to develop faith. It was incredible!
She also came to church this week, so we are excited about her! She has been taught for a while by missionaries, but we are hoping to be able to really get her progressing towards baptism! We are now starting to do yard work with her, so hopefully we will be able to spend more time doing service for her and be able to get to know her better and gain more of her trust. She is such a wonderful woman but it is a little frustrating because right now she isn't really sure why she even needs God in her life.
Her oldest and her youngest children are members of the church. The daughter went to BYU and got married in the temple, and her son just returned from his mission. We are excited what the future has for her because her children are such great examples to her.

Another celebration of Sister Proctor's birthday.
Me, Sister Jorden, Sister Proctor and the adorable Gianna.

We also started teaching this man named M this week. He has a baptismal date of June 14th, and he is such a faithful man! We were able to have two lessons with him this week and it was so great! He told us that he already knows what we are telling him is true, so we are so excited for him.
We also met with two of our other investigators, J and B, and had lesson with them about the Plan of Salvation. It was a great lesson and they always have great things to say. They talked to us a lot about the purpose of life and the resurrection. It was just great because throughout their lives they have already known these things, but they have been really searching for answers! They both came to sacrament meeting yesterday and they loved it! J said that he loved it because of the family atmosphere, and that he already feels like the ward is his family. This was their first time coming to church so I am so glad that they felt welcome and could really feel the spirit.
We came out this week to find plastic on our car while
they are working on our apartment parking lot.

This week we also started teaching an 11 year old girl G. Her mother is an inactive member and her dad is not a member, but her mom invited us over for dinner and a lesson with G. We taught her the Restoration and she really enjoyed it. We also committed her to be baptized June 7th, so that is so exciting.
The best part of it all was to see the sweet look on her mother's face! You could tell that the mom was so happy to see us teaching the gospel to her daughter. I think that this has always been a dream of hers. The mom talked to us many times about how she wished she would have gone on a mission, and how she hopes G will want to go someday! G is really the sweetest girl and this is something that might completely change her whole family!

Me & Sister Proctor

This week Sister Proctor has been a little sick, but we have had some great quality time together while she was trying to get better! We also were able to get a lot done this week even though she was sick. She is such a trooper and even went to a few lessons while trying the whole time not to throw up. She is so strong and we are having too much fun together!
We have equestrian communities in our area where everyone has a horse,
and there are even dirt horse paths instead of sidewalks on half of the roads

Things are really going great here! Tons of the neighborhoods are gated communities or places where we aren't allowed to knock doors, so that has been a little tricky, but we are seeing great success with the investigators we have now! 
Love Love Love Youu,
Sister Mason

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Farewell Ventura!

Though I was only in Ventura for 6 weeks, I got to know and love many members and investigators. Here are some of them that I will miss.
(Click on any picture to enlarge)
This is Danni. I'm sad I'll miss her baptism in a few weeks.

Me and Sister James with Tony.
We've loved teaching him. He hopes to be baptized soon.

We've enjoyed visiting Barbara and her cat Sir Fluff Fluff

Sister Burridge. We've enjoyed doing service for her each week.
The Belisles. They're members here in Ventura.

The Woods. An incredible member family!

The Overtons. Brother Overton is our ward mission leader.

Monday, April 7, 2014

I'm Off to Simi Valley!

First of all, I'm being transferred to Simi Valley! It's just north of Agoura Hills. I am really excited to reunite with Sister Proctor. We shared an apartment (and a car) about 6 months ago in Agoura Hills. She was being trained by Sister Casper and I was training Sister Mapa. She and Sister Casper served in the other Agoura ward. I am so excited for her to be my companion because I knew her very well, and I am really excited to see how both of us have changed! She is still waiting for her visa to Brazil. It will be sad to see her leave this mission! Simi Valley will also be so exciting because they just opened that city for sisters a few months ago! In the past it has been an all elders zone!

The 4 Agoura sisters! Sister Proctor, Sister Casper, me, and Sister Mapa

This week has been basically a week of service. We had the opportunity to help a member with her tree, help out another woman who had had a bad accident lately, and plant flowers with one of our investigators. I have really come to appreciate service opportunities here because it is hard not to feel happier and accomplished after helping someone with something they desperately need.

We had a lesson with an investigator couple this week and it was very interesting, to say the least. It was basically a whole meeting of the husband showing us examples of why Joseph Smith was a false prophet, and how he taught differently about the nature of God than what it says in the Bible. That was a treat! But later in the week it was great to spend time planting flowers with the wife. We were able to get to know her better and talk to her more about of our beliefs and how they relate to our everyday life.

There are SO many avocado trees here. I love it!
It seems like almost everyone has an avocado tree in their yard.

We had a wonderful lesson with T this week at a member's house. The husband was able to give him a blessing to quit smoking, and that has really brought him extra strength this past week as he is trying to quit smoking and give up coffee.

We were able to meet with him again with a wonderful ward missionary and it was INCREDIBLE to have her there! She has had a really rough past, but she is such a great example to him. She was able to give him tons of advice about how to quit any addiction and the things that helped her get to where she is right now. She was a huge help and it was so great for him to see that there are other people in the ward that have been through some of the same things that he has been through. He is still trying to quit smoking and hopefully this week will be the week!

Sister James, Me, Sister Hegstrom, and Sister Bartschi at the baptism!
It has honestly been TOO fun sharing a ward with them in Ventura!

T also really enjoyed the baptism this week! He was telling everyone there how excited he is for his baptism and that his baptism is coming up next! Plus, the baptism was SO powerful. It was incredible to just be able to be a part of that! Sister James and I did end up singing at the baptism and it went well!

Sister James and me with a couple of great elders from our district!
(Elder McKinley & Elder Leavitt)

D is still doing great, and she is so excited for her baptism in less than a month! We had a wonderful meeting with her this week as we read the Book of Mormon with her. We also read chapters of the illustrated "Book of Mormon Stories" book that corresponded with what we were reading, and then continued to read in the Book of Mormon. The pictures really helped her visualize what was going on when we were reading out of the Book of Mormon, and she really enjoyed it! It was so great because that will be such a great help to her as she continues to read and can now understand a little more of what is going on!

We were also able to meet with another investigator, and we had a great experience with her! She has been having a really hard time healing from a recent surgery, but she is really doing great! We talked to her more about Conference this week, and how it can bring her so much peace through this hard time, and she was so excited for it! We invited everyone we could think of to watch Conference, so I am excited to hear about all of their experiences!

Sister James and me with our California shirts!

General Conference this weekend was absolutely wonderful! I feel like it ended way too soon! (I did love all the references to the Gilbert Temple dedication and celebration!) I really liked W. Craig Zwick's talk about communication, and all the talks about showing more love towards people! I feel like I love others easily, and I realized that it's easy for me to be affectionate, but it's been harder to show my love in other ways, like giving others my time or really deeply caring about others' progress.

There were just so many talks that really touched me! I basically wished that every less-active and investigator was watching Lawrence E. Corbridge's talk about Joseph Smith and Marcos A. Aidukatis's talk about finding truth. Those two talks alone could answer so many people's questions and concerns about this gospel! It was an incredible weekend and I am so glad for the strength that Conference gave me!

Happy Birthday Daddy, from Sisters James & Mason
(This picture came in Dad's birthday card)

My time in Ventura has been a little insane. Honestly, I have never heard so much "anti" material until we got here, or talked to so many people who've tried to tear down Joseph Smith. That was very interesting, but I am glad that I was at least able to experience that.

This transfer we have been really focusing on temples, and helping people get to the temple. That has also been such a great experience for me! Having the temple as the focus for everyone has made such a difference. We have had such great experiences teaching about the temple, and the blessings of going to the temple.

Some of the beautiful views here in Ventura!
Can you see the ocean in the background? Too gorgeous!

I am absolutely so lucky for the short amount of time I was able to spend here in Ventura with Sister James! We really worked perfectly together. I am going to miss it so much! She is really an incredible missionary and so easy to get along with. It was a little crazy because we really would read each others' minds. I have never had it where I was really fully "one" with a companion until her. We were really hoping to stay together here another transfer, but I am still excited to go to Simi Valley! It will be sad leaving paradise but I am so excited to see what Simi has in store for me!

Tons and Tons of LOVE,
Sister Mason