Monday, August 18, 2014

We Have Been So Blessed!


One of the greatest things of this week is that we were able to set one of our investigators J with a baptismal date for September 20th!! That should be the Saturday before our next transfer. 

He is the one that came to the last baptism and said that he would like to be baptized while I am still here. He is struggling to heal from his surgery, but we are hoping and praying that he will recover enough to be baptized that day!

He has really been wanting to be baptized, but his health has really been holding him back. He got a priesthood blessing this week. The day after his blessing he was able to go to the doctor and be put on another medication, and he says that it is really helping. Keep him in your prayers that he will continue to heal for his baptism!

Brother Linford, Angela, me and Sister Linford!
Angela and her parents came to our Transfer Meeting this week!
I was so happy and so surprised to see them. I love this family!
Oh and sorry family, Sister Linford decided to legally adopt me.

We also have had two incredible lessons with one of our investigators M. Recently we brought a member with us to her meetings and they are now just best friends. The member was less-active for a long time, but now is so strong. She has been through a lot that M has been through. This member is so sweet and so bold! They have really connected and it has been such a blessing for M! She still has problems with different church doctrines, but she is really coming a long way!

Angela Linford and me
It is really weird being on this side of things because I
remember being at home while she was on her mission,
and now she is the one home while I finish my mission.

We met with C this week and we were anticipating it to be a "drop" lesson because she hasn't really been reading the Book of Mormon lately. This lesson would finish all the missionary lessons with her. At the end of the lesson we simply asked her where she wanted to go from here. She surprised us and told us that she still wants us to come over and read the Book of Mormon with her. She is one who is really hard to get answers out of.  She mostly keeps commitments only because we ask her to. She still wants to read and go more in depth with the Book of Mormon so she can find out if it is true. We were so happy so see that her desire really is there!

Our Zone t-shirts!
Sister Snow, me, Hermana Shepherd,
Hermana Player, Hermana Higgs, Hermand Faletau,
Elder Eggleston, Elder Egan, Elder Cheadle,
Elder Crapo, Elder Jones, and Elder Davis

We have been so blessed these days. We have had so many great lessons with our investigators and some of them are making great progress! We are teaching 12-year-old L and she is so sweet! Her mom is less-active and hasn't been to church in over 30 years. L is a little quiet and hard to read sometimes, but her mom says that she really loves when we come over. It is also great to see her mom get involved and learn all these things again for herself! 

I just love Sister Hegstrom!

We had another lesson with our 17-year-old investigator J. She just had shoulder surgery and she is doing well. It seems like so many of our investigators are going through health issues. We are being patient with them and trying to help them along. She has been in so much pain, but she is so tough! She has truly been through so many hard things for being so young, but she is also spiritually tough. She tells us that she prays every morning for about 15 minutes to tell Heavenly Father how she is doing. She is amazing! She also is just loving the Book of Mormon and loves it when we come over to teach her! 

Helping Gianna with Personal Progress and family history work

We are still working with Gianna and teaching her the "new member lessons." We had a lesson on the Plan of Salvation this week and she did so well trying to explain all the different parts of the plan. She is the sweetest and the ward has really soaked her up! She and her mother are doing really well! Gianna has so many friends at church now and she even went with the Young Women to do baptisms for the dead this week! She absolutely loved it!

Gianna at the temple! Her first time to do baptisms!

Life is just great here in Simi! We have been blessed with many wonderful investigators, so we have really been keeping busy. I love being able to see the changes in these people's lives. Since I have been here about 5 months now, I have been able to see huge progress in those we are teaching. I know that sometimes the investigators don't notice it like we do, but I feel blessed to be able to sit front row and see the Atonement working in others' lives. 

It's true, my mission has been the craziest, hardest, but most rewarding thing I have ever done! I have already been able to see how much I have learned and how these people have changed ME. I really couldn't ask for anything better, and there is no place I would rather be!

I am really excited to start exchanges again this week and to see all the miracles in the areas of these great sisters! We have 7 exchanges this transfer. The next 4 weeks are going to be full of meetings, exchanges, and miracles!

So Much Love,
Sister Mason

Monday, August 11, 2014

Temple, Birthday and Amazing Investigators!


First of all, I AM STAYING HERE IN SIMI WITH SISTER SNOW! All my dreams have come true! I love this area more than everything.Yesterday I couldn't even think about leaving this place and these wonderful people! 

This has definitely been one of the craziest but most incredible transfers of my mission. It's been such a whirlwind with everything going on, but I feel so blessed to be in this assignment as a Sister Training Leader. I just know that Heavenly Father has kept reaching out to me to show me how much he loves me and is there to help me in this assignment.
The English-speaking Sister Training Leaders
Sisters Mason, Snow, Hiatt, Randall, Cox, and Hegstrom
The Spanish-speaking Sister Training Leaders
Hermanas Brown, Halliday, Schmidt, Taylor, Faletau, and  Higgs

The blessings have been incredible to say the least. I feel like I have almost been forced to progress at a faster speed because of this assignment, but I am so blessed for that. I absolutely love working with the great sisters of this mission! I have truly learned so much from every sister I have gone on exchange with. I am excited and honored to continue to be a Sister Training Leader, and I am more than excited to stay here in Simi Valley! I can't wait to see what miracles this next transfer has in store for us!

Sister Snow, me and Christina at the Los Angeles temple!

We had such a great day at the temple last Wednesday. It was honestly one of my best experiences at the temple! The Spirit was so strong there, and I feel like I learned so much this time. Sister Snow and I came back from the temple fully spiritually exhausted. I love the temple more and more every time I go. I am so blessed!

I think I may hold the sisters record in the mission for the number of
times getting to go to the temple. I've been able to go 5 times so far.
We get to go when we or our companion has a birthday. I've had 2
birthdays while here, and 3 companions with birthdays. Lucky me!
(Here are pictures from my 4 earlier temple trips)

We had a great first lesson with one of our new investigators J. She is incredible! She is best friends with a young woman in our ward. She told us that she was telling her mom this week why she started reading the Book of Mormon. She told her mom that if it was more of God's word, she would want to read it. She also said that she gets the chills and feels at peace when she reads the Book of Mormon. 

She is doing so well! She just had shoulder surgery so she is basically bedridden for a few weeks, but she is so strong. She is 17 and is one of the most prepared investigators I have ever met. Her friend was there with us for the Restoration lesson and it was incredible! Her friend has been such a great missionary to her and is really supportive.

Matching hair and red skirts!

This week we also met with J and B. We were able to have dinner with them at a member's house, and have a lesson afterwards. It went really well. The members were so excited to have them over. It was a great lesson on fasting and obeying and honoring the law. All the members here are really supportive and ask us how they can help us in the work.

A few days later we had one of the best lessons we have ever had with them! We read Alma chapter 32 and compared faith growing like a seed to how they can get a testimony of the Book of Mormon. They soaked up that chapter. 

Until recently, B has been at the lessons, and has just been listening, but mostly she hasn't been too interested. Now she is reading the Book of Mormon and she even came by herself to our Relief Society activity last week! She is getting more and more into the gospel and she has really come a long way in just the last few weeks! 

One of our investigators took us out for a
birthday sushi feast this week! Mmmm

We started teaching a new investigator C. He moved into a house with a less-active member we are teaching. The member was there for the lesson. We had such a great lesson on the Restoration! He is willing to read the Book of Mormon to find out if it is true. He is excited to start going to church to get his faith back. 

Left - My birthday lunch! Cake #1 of the day!
Right - My 3rd birthday cake of the day! All thanks to Michelle

I honestly had the best birthday of my life. What made it so great was having a less-active sister come to church for the first time in years, and having one of our investigators with us also. The less-active sister has been in the ward for a few years now, but this was the first time she has come to church! Everyone in the ward was so sweet to her and welcomed her! The investigator said she came to sacrament meeting because she knew it was my birthday. 

Michelle at church! I honestly never thought I would see her in
a dress AT CHURCH. That was the best birthday surprise!

I was trying really hard not to cry sitting in between these two wonderful women in sacrament meeting! I really do not know if I have ever cried out of pure joy before, but I was trying really hard to keep the tears back. That was such a special experience and one that I will ever be grateful for! 

Left -  sweet pork for my birthday dinner! (I miss Costa Vida)
Right - my delicious peanut butter chocolate birthday cake

The members were also so cute. Everyone sang happy birthday to me and people in the halls at church made sure to say happy birthday to me! We even went into Primary for all the little kids to sing happy birthday and it was the cutest thing ever. All the members spoiled me and I just feel so blessed!

So Much Love,
Sister Mason

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Wonderful Baptism!

Mom and Dad, 

First of all, Marebeth and Leo's baptism was just incredible!! That was such a special experience and it was great to see two wards coming together to welcome them! It was an interesting experience because we taught them in our ward, with the help of Marebeth's cousin who is in our ward, but they live in the boundaries of another ward in Simi. Marebeth and Leo are such a strong couple and will be great members of the other ward!

Leo, Marebeth, me, and Sister Snow at the baptism!

At the baptism there were many people from our ward and from their new ward. We had both bishops there and many people from both wards supporting them and showing their love for them. There were so many people there that we had to meet in the chapel instead of the Relief Society room. 

Sister Morrison, Sister De Vries, Leo, Marebeth, me, and Sister Snow
(Sister Morrison and Sister De Vries are the missionaries in their new ward)

It was an all-around wonderful and spiritual service! The very best part was their baptisms. Leo was baptized first, and right when he came up out of the water he just stood in the font and cried. That was so sweet to be able to watch. I know that most of the people packed into the room were tearing up too. Marebeth also felt the same way, and came up crying too. 

Brother Chickering (who performed the baptisms), Leo, Marebeth,
me, and Sister Snow!

They are such wonderful people and they have just been so excited for this day to come. It was such a special experience and had a huge impact on everyone there. There were so many non-member family members there, and a few investigators also. It was so great that they were all able to come and feel the spirit so strongly there! 

It was great to be able to walk around and talk to all the family members after the baptism. Sister Snow even gave one family the Restoration video and they were so excited that they could watch it in Tagalog! One of our other investigators J came and told us that he loved being able to be there. He said that he is getting really close to being able to make a decision on baptism.

Mmm.. some of the family made tons of delicious Filipino
noodles for the baptism!

This week we had many great lessons with our investigators and several service opportunities. One great service opportunity was when we had just left helping someone paint a room and we went to see a part-member family. When we got there we saw that they were working in their garage. We brought our service clothes with us and and asked if we could join in and help them. 

It was great because the wife had said that she had just been exhausted and was losing momentum to finish all the cleaning. We came exactly when she needed it, and we were able to help her move things and also help her fold clothes. It was great because we were able to talk to her more while we helped her! She is less-active and said that she will be at church next week too! Sister Snow and I have really been using the excuse that it is my birthday next Sunday to invite everyone to come to church. We well let you know how that works!

Me, Sister Thompson, and Sister Dixon on exchange

We had our last exchange for this transfer. It has truly been a wonderful and exciting transfer with all the exchanges we were able to go on. It's crazy to think that it's all over, but then after transfers next week it starts all over again!

I had a great exchange with Sister Thompson AND Sister Dixon in Thousand Oaks. I was really excited to be in a trio again for a day because I was trained in a trio! I love Sister Thompson and Sister Dixon and we had such a great day together. It was neat because we ended up each having a goal to work on that day. It was really great to see in our everyday interactions all of us working on our goals, and working together to achieve them. 

We had to spend some of the exchange in their apartment, but we were able to use that time wisely! We worked on their records and organized and color coded everything. We also went through and found any people that may have fallen through the cracks. We made a list of all of those so they can try to go see them in the next few weeks. It was a great and productive day, but definitely not the usual exchange day. It was great to spend time with them and to see how great they are doing. 

I really feel blessed to be working with the sisters in our mission. These sisters are so strong and have incredible testimonies! I am blessed to learn so much from them on every exchange!

Sister Snow and I got to help work on a headboard made
from pallets. We helped arrange and sand all the pieces.

We were able to have a great lesson with L. She came to dinner at a member's house and we had a lesson on temples and eternal families. It was so sweet because we could tell that she was tearing up the whole time but she was trying to cover it up. She is one who is very sensitive to the spirit and that is really a blessing to her. She now keeps talking about how she is really excited to be baptized! 

We really had so many experiences this week where it was the perfect timing for different people, and it made such a difference. It is wonderful in those moments to realize that Heavenly Father knows exactly what we need, and what the rest of His children need. It is great to be a missionary and to be able to be a part of so many little miracles happening every day. I wish I had all the time in the world to tell you all the things happening here!

The finished headboard!

Alright, here's an embarrassing story of the week.  I threw up on someone's porch! It had been a pretty hot day, and the heat was starting to get to me from being outside all day. We were having a wonderful conversation with this woman about how she had met with missionaries a while ago and was investigating the church, but she has now decided she is agnostic. In the middle of all this I felt completely sick to my stomach and threw up all over her bushes. I felt really bad, especially because it made a huge scene, not to mention the mess I made of her bushes! It was funny because after that I just got a drink of water and we headed off to our dinner appointment! 

This next week should be another exciting week, especially because we get to go to the Los Angeles temple for my birthday!

Much Much Much Love,
Sister Mason