Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"The Lord is raining Blessings down"

This was a pretty slow week. We did a church tour with Anthony which was really good and at the end his mom said they would be at church on Sunday. But they still didn't end up coming. We had dinner with a part member family. The sister (who is a member) had heard that we were practice teaching with members and her husband (the non-member) said that we could practice teach with him. So that will be great because as soon as we teach the truth and he gets hit with the spirit there will be no turning back. :) We got to go to the temple today which was awesome. We went to the 5:30 session so I wasn't too thrilled that we had to get up at 3. But it was totally worth it of course. We sat in the Celestial room until everyone left and the next group was getting ready to come in. Our district had a district brunch the other day. We made waffles and omelets. It was fun. We have just been trying to find new people to teach. We haven't found any new investigators for a while so hopefully we will soon. The women's conference was really good. It made me think about how important it is to remember the covenants we have made and to prepare for future covenants. I also loved President Uchtdorf's talk of course. I really liked the analogy he gave about keeping the commandments. Sometimes we think that keeping the commandments is like there is a cloud of blessings locked up in the sky and we have to meet a certain standard to get a blessing to come down to us. But really it is like the Lord is raining blessings down all the time but sometimes we put up an umbrella to block them out. But as we start doing the right things it is like we are putting down our umbrella in order to receive what the Lord is so willing to give. Well its a short one this week. Hope you all have a good Conference! Love you!

-Sister Washburn

Monday, September 22, 2014

                                                               Coincidence, I think not!

The good, The bad and Rex

This week  . . . was kind rough, but also so so good. Well it started off with me getting the flu (I know mom I know. No need to freak out I am fine now. Me and the mission nurse are like bffs so we figured I just really need to do things to strengthen my immune system because that is the main reason why I keep getting sick). So ya laying in bed all day reading New Eras was not how I planned on spending the first part of the week but hey Sister Culala got some good practice leading out and teaching with members. Then on Wednesday a miracle happened. I finally ran into to people I know. We went to Claim Jumpers with a member and Dan and Jen and their kids were there! They just happened to be in town going to Dinseyland and stuff and just happened to be staying at a hotel in Buena Park so they just happened to go out to eat at Claim Jumper at the same time we did and we just happened to not sit in our normal spot somewhere else in the restaurant but right next to them! It was crazy. One of those coincidences that is such a coincidence that it proves coincidences don't exist. It was so good to see family and get to talk to them. Then the next day we had dinner at the McCay's house. They knew that I had been sick so they made pizza for dinner because they knew it is my favorite food. It was the best. Then the kids came over again (even a few more than last week when we taught them). We taught them about service and how they can help others. Then we taught them how to sing Love One Another and taught them the sign language. They really liked that part. Then on Saturday we had a lesson with our investigator Rex that is seriously one of the highlights of my mission. We had 2 members there who used to be Catholic but converted. We taugh him the gospel of Jesus Christ. I always find it kind of ironic that here we are two 22 year old girls teaching simply the basics of Christ's doctrine to a man in his 50s who as studied religion and theology for years and can read the scriptures in Hebrew and Greek. And yet as we teach the Holy Ghost is there as we simply testify of truth. Really though as we talked about faith an repentance and his ideas and experiences, it was just so good. Then we asked him if he has any questions which he always does. He asked again about the apostasy, also about what happens to all those people that lived in spiritual darkness, what does the sacrament mean in comparison to the holy communion. (the funny thing is, is that he usually already knows the answers to these questions he just wants to hear how we explain it "I like seeing you all get so passionate about things" he told us). Our member shared his conversion story and how much the gospel has blessed his life and his families life which was so powerful. Then when we asked Rex how his book of mormon reading was going he shared this experience with us. He said "When it comes to the Book of Mormon, I know its true. And of course Joseph Smith was a prophet." So I'm thinking "yes! he prayed and got an answer." But then he kept going. He said "I've had some spiritual experinces lately and there is one that I want to share. When I was in Las Vegas waiting at the airport, I was looking out at the mountains and I realized how happy I was. There was just this joy that I have felt from studying the Mormon church that I haven't felt about religion since I was a teenager taking these same lessons from he missionaries. Then I was reading in Alma and found a verse that describes exactly how I feel. (Alma 19:6) "Now, this was what Ammon desired, for he knew that king Lamoni was under the power of God; he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the glory of God, which was the marvelous light of his goodness-yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness had been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul." He went on to say "So I know I ask a lot of questions and research things but you don't have to worry, I'm converted. And I have decided to send in my resignation for my priesthood ordination so I can join the church." I had been smiling through this whole thing because it just made me so happy to see how much joy and light the truth has given him. But when he said he wanted to join I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped to the floor. This one was all Heavenly Father. It shouldn't be that easy to convert a catholic priest! But really it just all comes down to the spirit and that the message we share is so true. I know it is. If I know anything it is that Christ's church is again on the earth and we are truly blessed each and every day of our lives to be a part of it. Rex asked us to pray for him because he will face a lot of opposition these next few weeks as he resigns from his Catholic seminary, something he has been working towards for the past 7 years. So he can definitely use as many prayers has he can get. There was just such a sweet spirit in that lesson. The sister we had with us said that she felt priveledged to be a part of the lesson and that she felt like she was going to go home and cry after becuase she had been so touched. Sheesh I practically felt the same way. So he can't resign until October and then there might be a few things he has to work through until the end of November. But still he wants to get baptized people! God is so good. Then on Sunday night we went and visited a member that night. We have been visiting members around 8:00 because that is hard time of night to proselyte most of the time. We practice teach lessons on them which is really good for Sister Culala to practice teaching and work on her English. Anyways, we taught Sister Ikihahifo who is from Tonga. She has such a beautiful testimony that as we asked questions about the Restoration you could just tell how much she believes and lives it. When we were talking about Christ she said "I am always humbled and absolutely amazed by Christ's sacrifice. We can't even comprehend what he did for us and I am just so so grateful. My favorite way to think of Christ is to think of the picture where his arms are outstretched. He truly beckons all unto him and wants to wrap us in the arms of his love." It was another good lesson (even though it was a member). Then we didn't have time to eat cake she had made so she was like "I'll just give you some to go." I was just expecting a few slices on a plate, but no. She gives us half the cake, a whole carton of ice cream, 2 bottles of apple juice. Then she throws in some oranges, apples, a rotisserie chicken, salad, and potato salad. Then on our way out the door she tells her son to take a case of water out to our car. I love Polynesians. So getting sick was totally worth all of the tender mercies we had this week. God really does watch over us and bless us. Lately I have been working on praying more to Him throughout the day. In a recent training they committed us to change the way we pray. I think in the past a lot I would think of things throughout the day and say "Oh I need to remember to pray about that tonight." But know I just send up a short prayer right there. Talking to Heavenly Father more makes me feel more connected to him throughout the day and like He is close by when ever I need Him. Have a good week!

-Sister Washburn

Monday, September 15, 2014

what your life could be like if you knew who you are and obeyed the commandments

This week flew by. It's always weird when at the end of the week you look back at things that happened earlier in the week and it seems like that was forever ago. On Monday we had our last zone activity before transfers. We all went to the insitute building in our zone where they have pool, pin pong, air hockey and other games. Then our zone leaders made us all waffles. And then before we left we all sat in a big circle and told one of our favorite stories of something that happened to us that transfer. I told about finding and teaching Rex. Some people told funny stories about their companions. There were some pretty good ones and I don't think I have laughed so hard in a long time. Then later that day we were out tracting and we ran into one of our less actives who is getting re-activated. His name is brother Collings and he is a para palegic so he rides around in a wheel chair. We have been teaching him the lessons and it is crazy to see how much he is changed and how his faith is growing. He told us that he talked to the bishop about getting the priesthood. We were so excited! It is going to be great to help him prepare for that.
Then on Tuesday we went out with one of the relief society counselors and visited some less active women in the ward. Later that day we taught Anthony the 10 commandments. There are hand signs that go with each one to help you remember them and so he liked that a lot. One of his brothers was in the kitchen while we were teaching and he joined in too at one point so that was awesome! (the brothers usually aren't too interested)
Then on Wednesday we got to teach some more kids who live in this trailer park that a lady in our ward lives in. The kids don't come from very good homes and they love missionaries. Two girls ended up showing up to the lesson and we taught them about Jesus and how to pray. We told them that they could pray anytime when they need help, to feel comforted, to say what they are grateful for, or just to talk to heavenly father. One of the girls said "I think that it will help if I pray when the evil spirits try to come into our house." That was so sad to hear. I know that a lot of people in that trailer park are involved in drugs and stuff so who knows what kind of environment they are growing up in. Everytime I see kids getting raised in broken homes or being surrounded by bad influences at such a young age it is just so sad! I just wish I could gather all of these children and take them to primary and help them to see how much God loves them and what their lives could be like, how they can make good choices and see their true potential. Anyways somestimes when Sister George and I would go tract in this trailer park and we would see the kids we would sing "A Child's Prayer" to them. They LOVE that song so the girls were begging us to teach it to them. We taught them the words and then we were all singing together. The spirit was so strong in that moment singing with those 2 little girls. I hope that these moments are things they remember especially later in their life. Their parents aren't interested in learning from us so their is only so much we can do to teach them and stuff but simply knowin ghow to pray an dunderstanding that God really loves them is a good start.
Then on thurday we had our district meeting just like every week. The training was on humility. It was about how humility is recognizing your dependence on the Lord. It deosn't mean putting yourself down or minimizing your talents but just realizing that you can accomplish great things with the Lord's help. After we went to lunch with 2 other sisters in our zone. One of them is a sister that came out with me. It was fun to catch up with her because I haven't served around anyone I was with in the MTC since I was in training. We went to the Pizza Studio which is this really awesome restaurant that is kinda like subway cause you pick what kind of crust that you want and then they have tons of sauce and other toppings that you can put on and then they cook it for you. Basically it would be so great if they could build one of these in Provo.
Then Thursday night to Friday I went on exchanges. I got to go to another area which was so nice to just have a short break from my area for a change. We taught Aly and AJ's uncle again. He comes to church every week and I think that there are a lot of things he likes about our church. He was just raised in a Lutheran church for so long he has a hard times switching from what he has been taught all of his life to what we believe. He is genuinely intereted though and always have some aspect of the church he has been studying that he asks questions about. This week it was about authority and why his baptism as a child was "invalid." We explained about preisthood authority and used the bible to explain how even Jesus walked miles and miles to be baptized by John becuase He knew that he had the preisthood authority. Then the next day we biked over to a former investigator they had named Jeff. Jeff has definately had a rough life, has been in and out of jail and dealt and did drugs for a long time but he is really trying to change his life. He read the whole Book of Mormon while he was in jail and he told us this story about the book of Enos. He said that he had been running away from his parole officer and he knew that he just needed to turn himself in so that he could do his month of jail time and then move on. But he just couldn't turn himself in. He was at a park hiding and he started just praying to god to help him to do what he needed to do. Suddenly he felt peacful and was able to turn himself in. Later on when he was reading in the Book of Enos he saw that it was the exact same situation he was in. He had also cried mightily to God and had been given the strength he needed to change. Later that day we taught another investigator they had named Chin Yu. She is a foreign exchange student from Taiwan who wanted to learn more about the church after some one invited her to church on Sunday, Our lesson with her was so interesting. She doesn't speak english super well so a lady from the ward that speak Chinese came with us. We basically started from the most basic of the basic because she doesn't know anything about Christianity. We asked her what she thought God was and she said "the sky?" So we taught her about how God is our Father and we can pray to him. Then we taught about Jesus. It was crazy to me because I had never taught anyone before who literally had no idea who Jesus Christ was and had never heard his name before. Most people in the U.S. have a least heard of him. We explained how he was the Son of God and he was perfect. That he did lots of good things here on earth and that he died for our mistakes. When we tried to explain the Atonement she was just so surprised. "Why would this powerful perfect man die for the mistakes for everyone on earth?" It was hard for her to grasp that someone would do that for her and everyone else. So the sister will next time teach more about Christ's life and how his teachings apply to us personally. It was a really interesting lesson and made me think more about how blessed I am to recieve the hope and strength that comes from knowing who Chrst is and how He can help me in my life.
The weekend was so hot it was ridiculous. September is the hottest month here and it was high in the 100s the past few days. The heat has really been getting to me just cause it tires you out so easily. On Saturday we did a blitz where we all went and worked in one of the areas of some of the Elders in our district. The area Sister Culala and I were going to was right next to the church so we just started walking there. About an hour in tracting, we were sweating a ton and I had forgotten my water bottle so we decided to back to our car and just drive around. I can't wait until it cools off!! I am definately so so so ready for fall and colder weather.
Overall it was a pretty good week. We had a training a few weeks ago about the power of prayer and having "our hearts drawn out continually in prayer unto him." This week I have been trying to be more sincere in my prayers and to really say the things that the spirit wants me to as I pray. I also try to talk to Heavenly Father throughout the day. Sometimes I will just say a short prayer in my head or ask him for help in moments when I just feel really tired or need His strength. It definately helps a lot and helps me to feel more connected to Him. Thanks for all of your prayers and support. I feel like the hardest thing at this point on my mission is I now how to do things and what I should do but I am kinding running out of energy to do everything. But I keep trying to work as hard as I can every day and I know the Lord will bless us as we put forth a greater effort.
Have a good week!

-Sister Washburn
We went over to this lady in our ward's house to practice teach the plan of salvation with her. Well, you know you have visited the stake relief society president when you come home with a basket of goodies. Sister Culala was like "It's like Thanksgiving early!" haha I told her "If you think this is cool just wait until actual Thanksgiving." 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Still in Buena Park

So, no surprise I am staying with Sister Culala for another transfer here in Buena Park and finishing her training. I can't believe I am starting my second to last transfer!! The amount of time it takes to train a missionary is the amount of time I have left on my mission. 
So this week was pretty good. We found, we taught, we had no one at church (but we are working on it! you can only influence people's agency so much) And our favorite 93 year old got baptized!!! Sister Eves had a really nice baptism. Two of her non-member grand-daughters came. The talks on baptism and the holy ghost were really good and not too long. The one on baptism was about burying the old man of sin in the water and rising out of the water being a new man alive in Christ. And Sister Redding who is a great speaker talked about the holy ghost how she felt it when we was holding her son for the first time and how she felt that she would one day have a daughter and then ended up adopting 3. It was just cool to hear her personal stories about following the spirit. Elder Henry baptized her and did a great job (she only had to be baptized once) A lot of her friends from the ward and even some from back when she used to be a member were there. Overall it was just good and the spirit was definitely there. On Sunday she bore her testimony about how for the past 30 years she has been searching for the right church and now she is finally back were she belongs. And Robert blessed the sacrament for the first time!! He did such a good job. He also got a calling to be the gospel principles class president. And he just finished reading 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon (he takes his time so he can understand). We're just so proud of our recent converts!
This week we went out to lunch with Juana. She the non-member neighbor of a member in our ward and she loves having the missionaries over but says she isn't ready to take the lessons. We always end up talking about the gospel though so hopefully she will open up to it. It has been so hot and humid this week. It 's been horrible. September is the hottest month here so 90 degree weather mixed with humidity is not my friend but we're missionaries and we work no matter what so I  put up with it. But I can't wait until cooler weather. I want to wear cardigans and scarves so bad. (also that would switch up what I can wear because I am really tired of my clothes) 
So ya, other than that just a typical missionary week. Sorry if my letters are sometimes boring. I think that I am just so used to missionary work at this point that it doesn't seem like anything too exciting happens even though there is probably some thing you all would be interested in hearing about. I'm just so used to it now that it just seems normal. Also by the time Monday rolls around i have forgotten some things.
But we did have a good lesson with Anthony we talked about the Book of Mormon and explained what the story of Lehi's family is about. After the lesson Sister Hernandez pulls out her quad and starts reading the articles of faith with him, and we didn't even suggest it. So that was cool. There just seems to be something that comes up every week on Sunday to prevent them from coming  but for some reason I feel like we just need to keep working with them and teaching them and it will happen eventually. Also that day had been hard for me, I was just kinda frustrated because members kept dropping from coming out to lessons with us. But as soon as we got into the lesson and we were teaching I felt way better. I felt like I was right where I needed to be, helping this family and bringing the spirit into their home. Missionary work is not easy but those moments where you can feel that you are truely helping people and changing their lives in any small way, make it all worth it.
We're ready for another great transfer! Love you all!!

-Sister Washburn
                                                                          At the park
Eve's baptism

and it rained today and it rains like once every 6 months here so it was a big deal (also we are in a drought so it was really needed) 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Service and Teaching

This week was super busy. I was sick earlier this week but am way better now. But that meant we had to squish all of our lessons into Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We got to teach Rex this week and his lesson was priceless. So he shows up to our lesson and pulls out a brand new quad. He said "Well I went to Deseret book the other day to look at some books about Joseph Smith and I bought a few and bought myself some scriptures. I'm up to Alma in the book of Mormon." So that was an awesome plot twist we were definitely not expecting. He was so excited to tell us what he had learned about Joseph Smith. Then we taught him about the plan of salvation and were able to answer some more of his questions. At the end of his lesson he was asking what opportunities there are to serve in the church. He said that he has been praying and thinking about our church a lot. It would be a hard decision for him to make because he has been in catholic school for the past 7 years and is nearing his new priesthood ordination and he would be leaving his profession, family, and friends to come to a new religion. But he's seriously thinking about it which is crazy! For now though he is living in another city to finish up his training so we won't be able to see him for a while. We had a good lesson with Anthony and his mom. She said she really wants to go to church just things keep coming up. We asked her and Anthony to pray that they would be able to come. We also asked if there was anything we could to to help make sure they are there. She said she needed a black slip to wear with her skirt so we found a member who gave us one. We did a lot to try to get them there but sadly on Sunday they weren't there again. So we are going to keep trying and hopefully they will start coming soon. Also we have been getting things ready for Sister Eve's baptism. She is so excited its great. Other than that we have just been working hard and trying to schedule appointments and have members come out with us and all of that other stuff we gotta do. Sorry to keep it so short but next week is the last week of the transfer so hopefully we have some good things happen to end the 6 weeks. I know that God's grace really can give us the strength we need when our efforts seem to fall a little short. He is always there to listen to our concerns and to help us along the way. Love you all!

-Sister Washburn 

                                                                      our zone picture

from a few weeks ago) doing some service for some members in our ward who were re-siding their house

then I had to throw another pair of shoes away because they were just too worn out