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

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