Monday, June 30, 2014

Let The Adventures Begin!!


This has been another great week here in Simi Valley!! It has been great especially because my companion Sister Snow and I were MTC companions, so it is wonderful to be back together! 

Sister Snow and me at the MTC
(click to enlarge)

We have both grown so much. It is great to see how different we are but how well we work together. She is so great in so many ways and I really have to try hard not to compare myself to her. She works at a very fast pace. I have to consciously realize that we have different talents and that is why we were put together here! We have really been learning a lot from each other this week. We have been working really hard and have seen such great things!

Thank you President and Sister Castro!
Welcome President and Sister Felix!

We had a meeting this week to plan our exchanges. It is honestly really strange being a Sister Training Leader and seeing what all goes on behind the scenes! Tomorrow we have Mission Leadership Council with President and Sister Felix! This will be an all-day event and we'll be able to spend time with them and get to know them in a small group setting. 

President and Sister Felix just arrived in the mission last Friday and I am really excited to meet them! We will even be able to have breakfast with them before our jam packed day of training meetings. (I forgot to tell you last week that I sang another a cappella duet in a zone meeting that was a farewell to President and Sister Castro. What has become of me?)
The Sister Training Leaders
(in companionships, from left to right, back to front)
Sister Hegstrom, Sister Cox, Sister Randall, Sister Hiatt,
Sister Mason, Sister Snow, Hermana Siddoway, Hermana Schmidt,
Hermana Cannon, Hermana Brown, Hermana Higgs, Hermana Faletau

We also will be going on exchange with Sister Hiatt and Sister Randall (the Sister Training Leaders in Ventura) this week to give us a little more advice about exchanges. It is pretty interesting being with Sister Snow because both of us are brand new to this assignment so we will be figuring out everything together! I am up for the adventure though! 

During this transfer we will be going on exchanges with 16 sisters around our area, so starting next week we will be going on 2 exchanges a week! I am really excited for the exchanges to start so I can work one on one with the sisters and see all the miracles that exchanges bring! Our mission now has 93 sisters and we are getting more and more each transfer! The past several transfers there have been more sisters than elders coming into the mission from the MTC. Crazy huh?

Sister Snow and me with Hermana Linford on her last day here in
the great California Ventura Mission. I couldn't imagine my
mission without her! She was one incredible missionary!
(Luckily I'll be able to see her again back in Mesa)

We had a lesson with recent convert Gianna this week. The lesson was on priesthood, missionary work, teaching and learning in the church, and enduring to the end. At first she had many questions, and she was a little sad that she will not be able to have the priesthood. Haha, she is so cute. We explained to her how women and men have different roles, and one of the men's roles is priesthood responsibilities.

She was so sweet when we talked to her about missionary work and how she can start being a missionary now. She told us that she has been inviting her friends to different activities, but hasn't had much success yet. She also told us that she is still really excited to serve a mission when she is old enough! Gianna's father is not a member, but now he keeps talking about Gianna going on a mission and that he has adjusted his long-term plans so that she can serve a mission when she is older! It has been incredible how this family has changed in just the last few months!

We had a missionary sacrament meeting yesterday. Sister Snow and I both spoke, and Gianna's mother spoke about Gianna's baptism. I was having a really hard time trying not to cry the whole time that she was speaking! I was trying really hard not to be a complete cry baby sitting up there on the stand. She even mentioned in her talk that Gianna wants to go on a mission and she wants "to be like Sister Mason." That's when I almost lost it.

The mother was completely inactive about 4 months ago and is now very active and on fire about the church! Gianna is now a great addition to our ward's beehive class and her father comes to all the ward activities. It is just incredible to see this change in these people's lives in such a short amount of time. I just feel so blessed to have been a part of it! The mother also told us that her husband is now asking when the next ward activity is so that he can come. He is such a great man and maybe when the time is right he will join the church as well!

The District!
Elder Eagan, Elder Eggleston, Elder Jones, Elder Davis,
Elder Cheade;, Elder Crapo, Sister Snow, Me, Hermana Shepherd,
Hermana Player, Hermana Faletau, and Hermana Higgs

 We had a couple of great lessons on fasting this week. One was with an investigator L and the other was another investigator S. In our lesson with L she wasn't very excited about the idea of fasting. She was worried that she wouldn't be able to do it, but we invited her to start studying about fasting and prepare for fast Sunday next week. She said that she will be there next week and fast with a purpose! She is still not sure what she thinks about baptism, but we are not going to give up on her. 

When we met with S it was wonderful because her older daughter (a member) was in town and was able to sit in on the lesson with us. We taught her about fasting and tithing. I feel like she still likes to learn about the gospel, and how her kids live their lives, but she still doesn't understand how the gospel applies to her. 

It was so great to have her daughter there with us. She said something like "Mom, you should try to fast to see if you should keep learning about this gospel. We want you to keep learning but you need to find out for yourself." It was perfect, and is exactly what she needs! S would be such a great addition to our ward, but she really needs to get to the point where she absolutely wants this for herself.

Mike, a member we're meeting with. He is a crack up!

Another wonderful lesson we had was with J and B. We began to ask J about how his reading of the Book of Mormon has been going and he told us that he has really been studying the Word of Wisdom pamphlet that we left him. He told us about a month ago that he wanted to quit smoking, but we haven't been able to have much contact with him while he was going through so many problems. He told us that the night before, he drank his last alcoholic drink and smoked his very last cigarette! He told us that he has been taking it very seriously and has been cutting back over the past few weeks! He also told us that he is also cutting down on coffee so he can completely quit that too!

Throughout the lesson he kept mentioning how he is going to be a member of this church very soon. He is such a great man! He will be going in for surgery this week and has at least a month-long recovery, so he is putting off scheduling another baptismal date until he is better. We really hope and pray that everything goes well with his surgery, but he is actually really looking forward to having more time to read the Book of Mormon as he recovers. Pray for him!!

Happy 4th of July! Some people really go all out for holidays!

We have met so many incredible people this week too! We met some Hindus and they were such great people. We even got to experience a 19-year-old girl pray for the first time in her life! Some days are tough, but it really doesn't get any better than being out here doing the Lord's work! 
Me and Sister Snow!

Great things are going on here in Simi! I love this ward and all the people we have met here. I am really excited for this assignment to be a Sister Training Leader with my wonderful companion Sister Snow!

Much Much Love,
Sister Mason

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mission Leadership Council & Sister Training Leaders

These pictures are from the latest California Ventura Mission Newsletter.
The Mission Leadership Council consists of Sister Training Leaders,
Assistants to the President and Zone Leaders.

Melia's excited for her new opportunity to serve as a Sister Training Leader. She's also excited because she gets to serve with her MTC companion! There are currently 12 Sister Training Leaders, 6 English speaking and 6 Spanish speaking.

Melia's in the bottom picture, taken last week. (She's in the back row, third from the left.) The top picture was taken a few weeks ago, before she was called.

Here's some official info (from Mormon Newsroom) about the changes in mission leadership and the position of Sister Training Leader.
News Release —  5 April 201
Church Adjusts Mission Organization to Implement
"Mission Leadership Council"

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is making adjustments to the way its 405 missions are organized, to better utilize the skills and abilities of all missionaries in training and leadership. The change is due in part to the influx of thousands of young missionaries who are responding to the lowering of age requirements for mission service, announced by Church President Thomas S. Monson last October.

Each mission in the Church will organize a mission leadership council that will include both elder (male) and sister (female) as missionary leaders. The new mission leadership council will consist of the mission president and his wife, assistants to the president, zone leaders and sister training leaders — a newly created role.

"We are very excited about the new mission leadership council and this role for sister missionaries,” said Elder David F. Evans, executive director of the Missionary Department. “It will be a blessing to both missions and missionaries throughout the world, and better employ the remarkable faith, talents and abilities of all missionaries."

The role of sister training leader has been created as more female missionaries serve in missions around the world. Sister training leaders will be responsible for the training and welfare of female missionaries assigned to them and will be members of and participate in, the new mission leadership council. Assistants to the president and zone leaders will also participate in the council, and those roles will remain unchanged. Missions will continue to be organized by zones and districts, with district leaders being responsible for baptismal interviews, but the mission leadership council will replace the zone leader council.

Sister training leaders will continue to proselytise and will also spend time each week training and evaluating the needs of female missionaries. They will report directly to the mission president on the needs of sister missionaries. Additionally, the wives of mission presidents are now being asked to play an enhanced role in training and caring for sister missionaries, subject to their individual and family circumstances.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sister Training Leader


Today I found out that I will be staying here in my ward in Simi, but SISTER SNOW will now be my companion and we will both be Sister Training Leaders! I really can't believe that I will be serving again with Sister Snow! I am really excited to start this adventure with my MTC companion. She is an incredible missionary. I am excited for the time that I will be able to spend with her again!
Sister Snow and I were companions in the MTC
and a year later we get to be companions again!
To be honest, I was a little nervous when I found out that I would be a Sister Training Leader. I initially was worried about how I am going to be able to deal with my migraines and all the new things that will be expected of me. I was assigned to read the leadership section in our missionary white handbook and I really enjoyed it this time around. One verse (1 Cor. 12:22) explained how I felt at first. It says "those members of the body which seem to be more feeble, are necessary". That is how I feel with my physical trials, but reading through the rest of the section really gave me strength. I know that I will have to deal with my headaches, but I can love others, I can support others, I can be happy, and I can work hard! At least I know how to do those things, and I know that everything else will fall in place.

Me and Sister De Vries on our district hike

I know that my time with Sister DeVries has really prepared me for this assignment. She has a learning disability, so she reads, writes, and understands things really slowly. It was a struggle at first, but I learned how to revolve everything I do around her. It has been a blessing to me to be able to work with her.  I have had to learn incredible patience this transfer, but it has really shaped who I am.

Sister Devreis and me at the Reagan Library

Besides that, it has been another great week here in Simi! I am so sorry that this will be a very short letter, and that I am really scatterbrained today, but I will give you a little summary of the week. 

One wonderful person we met was named V. We had a really strong prompting to go talk to her. At first she answered the door and she had some questions about polygamy. We were able to explain how we don't even practice that, and tell her more about the Book of Mormon. She was shocked and she ended up inviting us in! She was really sweet and she just kept telling us "you two are so nice, so wholesome!" She told us that she was really excited to read the Book of Mormon for herself. 

This time I got to see Sister Ray from Agoura Hills
at the Reagan Presidential Library!
(Last time we got to see her husband.)

We also had a great lesson with a less-active T. We taught her the Plan of Salvation. It has been really long since she has been at church, so many of these concepts seemed new to her. She is letting us continue to come over to teach her, and she also signed up to take us out to dinner tomorrow night! 

Our district went on a brutal hike last P-day.
From front to back: Elder Cheadle, Elder Crapo, Hermana Cannon,
Hermana Faletau, Elder Jones, Elder Trujillo, Hermana Player,
Hermana Shepherd, Elder Eagan, Me, Sister De Vries, and Elder Eggleston

We also had a great lesson with a young less-active couple. Last time Sister Proctor and I went over there it was just really sad. They have fallen so far, and they are now just really confused. We brought a member with us to that meeting and he was such a huge help. He is really smart and understanding about so many things that they have questions about. 

One of the best things that happened is that we started to teach J and B again! They have had so much to deal with lately, since J's ex-wife's death. They have been able to overcome that and are now back to meeting with us. Sadly, J will be getting surgery soon, so we aren't sure when his baptism will be. He is really excited to be baptized but we will have to wait till he is recovering for us to be able to determine a baptismal date. 

Sister De Vries, Me, Hermana Shepherd, and Hermana Player

And to finish off a great week, we had such a great day Sunday. We had 5 investigators come to church! We're glad to see that they're progressing and look forward to working with all of them.

I am really excited to stay here in Simi. I love this area with all my heart!

Much Much Love,
Sister Mason

Monday, June 16, 2014

Restoration Restoration Restoration

Mom and Dad,

This has been great week! We met so many wonderful people, as usual :). Things are getting back to normal. The hermana that had anxiety problems went home and Hermana Shepherd got a new companion! There has been so much more peace in this house now that the problem is resolved!

So for some reason many people have naked mermaid statues in
their front yard here. It still blows my mind.
(Just helping a sista' out)

One of the greatest things that happened this week was that we met these two wonderful women C and N. We were in their neighborhood trying to find a house. We must have had the wrong house number because it seemed to not exist. So instead, we decided to knock on all the doors that were close to that house number. We talked to this really nice man and he said we should stop by the house where C and N live. 

At first C, the mother, didn't want to talk to us. Then she started telling us about how her daughter's boyfriend just left the day before to go to Utah, and he will report to the MTC in just a few days. The daughter N had also met with missionaries when she was away to college. 

They ended up being really friendly and we talked to them for a while. They both thought it was very interesting that we "just happened" to randomly show up at their house right after the boyfriend left for his mission. They also told us that C had been asking her daughter if she could borrow her Book of Mormon.

We were able to answer many questions they had about the church, and ended up teaching them a short Restoration and Plan of Salvation lesson! We also were able to give C the Book of Mormon she had been looking for. It was such a great experience, and it is one of those where it is obvious that Heavenly Father's hand is guiding us in this work!

The Beautiful Simi Valley!

We also had another lesson with S this week. We talked to her about eternal families and family history work. She already is really interested in family history work, and has started doing that with her son, so she was really interested to hear more about it. We asked her if an eternal family is something that she wants, and she said that of course she does, but she still doesn't understand why your family has to be "all Mormon" to be able to live together forever.

We tried to explain to her that it was more about the sealing done by priesthood authority, and being true to promises you made, that will allow her family to be together, instead of all her family being labeled "Mormon." She is doing great, but she still has many questions and things that at holding her back from being fully involved in the church.

Sister De Vries and me at a beautiful scenic view of Simi!

This week we also met with D again. She is really soaking up everything we are teaching her now. Something has happened and she is now ready to hear about the gospel and learn things for herself. She told us that she read the introduction of the Book of Mormon and the testimonies of the 3 witnesses, 8 witnesses, and Joseph Smith. She told us that by reading that, everything made so much more sense. She was so cute and she he asked us, "How do you get everyone to read this part of the Book of Mormon? I feel like if anyone wants to understand this church, they need to read it!" 

We tried to explain that we try to invite everyone we meet to read the Book of Mormon, and especially the beginning pages, because it really makes all the difference. She is finally making major progress and is having a great experience studying what we teach her and reading the Book of Mormon!

Someone sent us an anti-Mormon DVD this week, and it made me laugh a little.
Too bad we aren't allowed to watch anything besides proselyting videos!

We also had such a great week teaching the Restoration to everyone that would listen! We were able to have a great Restoration lesson with a less-active woman who hasn't been to church in many years. She had honestly forgotten much about the Restoration and she was really happy to learn about it again. We talked to her more about the Book of Mormon and she asked us if she could have two copies (one to keep in her house and one to keep out in her barn for when she has free time out there). That was a great experience! 

We also started teaching a daughter of a less-active member and had a great Restoration lesson with her as well. Her mother also hasn't been to church in a long time. She loved it when we talked to them about the Book of Mormon because she hadn't thought about it in many years. They invited us back to keep teaching them, so we are really excited to see what happens with this family! 

Just hanging out!

I've found that I can really teach the restoration all day every day!  I think it's because I realized that so many things I love from this gospel come because of this event in history! For example: temples, priesthood blessings, eternal families, and to know where we were before, why we are here, and where we are going after we die! I lately can't get enough of it! 

We went out to dinner at a Hawaiian grill this week and we got shaved ice for
dessert. Sister De Vries decided to order a blue raspberry one and it turned
her whole mouth blue! It was so blue it was almost black! We had to go
back to the apartment to fix that before we could go back out to work.

Life is still great here in Simi Valley! Sister De Vries has really made such an improvement in the past week. She is doing great and learning more and more every day! I love it here and I love these people we are meeting and teaching.

Much Love,
Sister Mason