Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We are Instruments in God's Hands
January 27, 2014

THIS WEEK TOPS ALL!  I DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT HAPPENED EXCEPT FOR YESTERDAY.  Okay I guess there is some news, I am being transferred and I'm training again. but we don't have time to think about that, or the fact that I haven't started packing... BRAD WAS BAPTIZED YESTERDAY! I wish I just had a video of everything that happened because it couldn't have been more perfect. We couldn't relax all day because we were so excited.

We showed up, and Brad was super early, haha, and as you can see in these pictures, his 93 year old dad came! The one that I think I talked about before. He really dressed up for the occasion quite nicely. Anyway the program was awesome, and even his dad started singing the hymns! After the song Brad clapped even though he knew he really wasn't supposed to and he'd be the only one. haha.  Then he stood up to go to the baptismal font and waved to everyone as he went in the door. You literally could feel his excitement radiating off of him. When he came up out of the water, his smile was so big and he turned towards everyone and put both hands in the air like he was cheering! Then he turned to Brother Barton and at first they just shook hands and then they just hugged each other. God's love was SO strong in the room, it was almost tangible.

When he came out, he immediately went to the front and bore his testimony. I am so bad at explaining this and giving it justice!!! but what he said was so powerful. He said that he was so happy that everyone came. He had never been cared about before in his life, his life was like a birthday party that you invited all your friends to and no one showed up, but this was different. He said that these people at his baptism didn't even know him and they came to see this happen for him. He wanted to meet every single person individually. Then he talked about how he really hadn't felt a lot of happiness in his life, and how he felt like he was in a deep hole and he was just seeing the sunshine for the first time. He brought up the Joseph Smith video and how he felt a lot like him- searching for so much of his life, and he knew that this was right because all of the people at church had such a light in their eyes. THAT WAS THE BEST PART OF THE WHOLE NIGHT. You could literally see a change in Brad's countenance. There was a light and happiness in his eyes that was so new and unbelievable.

As he was standing up there bearing his testimony, I was just in awe. He literally grew so much right before our eyes. This has increased my testimony SO MUCH that Heavenly Father truly knows each one of us and KNOWS what is going on in our lives and most importantly, knows what he is going to do in our lives to help us. Brad talks about how towards the end of the summer is when he really wanted to change his life around, and that is when we started coming around to see him. I KNOW that God is preparing His children to hear the gospel so they can experience this happiness that Brad has seen in his life. God knew that He was ready, and he sent us to his house. It amazes me that we found him by tracting. it really taught me the importance of listening to the guidance that we receive from God every single day. I know that God is real and His love is real. His love is for everyone and I know this because I saw the change in Brad. He sounded like he had been bearing his testimony in front of crowds for all his life. The greatest part is, no- he doesn't know everything. and we don't either. We are definitely not perfect teachers, but he does recognize the feelings he had when he went to church and prayed and read the book of Mormon. That's all that really matters. He has a lot of time to learn, and we do too. That's why it's so important to remember that God knows our pace, and knows how to time things. He timed this for Brad perfectly. When he was ready, we appeared. I couldn't ask for a better ending. I am so happy and I know that this is God's work. At the end of the baptism Brad came up to me and shook my hand and looked into my eyes and said, "you were very instrumental." and that's the truth. That's all I was, was instrumental. I can really say that Heavenly Father did it all, and that's why he needs us. He needs us to be instrumental in His hands because He has a grand plan. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

When the student is ready, the teacher appears
January 20, 2014

This week one of the members in the ward shared with us this quote. "when the student is ready, the teacher appears." That definitely became the theme of the week! we had one of the best weeks we've had so far!

There are a few people that we've been trying to see since sister Hilton and I started serving together. One of them told us she would love to talk to us like....4 months ago...haha and ever since then whenever we're in the neighborhood we stop by but we could never catch her at home or at a good time! But one day this week we didn't have a dinner appointment and her name kept coming to our minds over and over so strongly. So we went to her house, and what do ya know she opens the door, pauses, looks at us, pauses again, and says.. "come in." haha she kept saying over and over how amazing it was that we caught her at literally the perfect time! It was a really cool lesson. She really just had a lot of questions for us, and because the Book of Mormon play keeps coming to Denver, it is the topic of a lot of conversations around here and among neighborhoods. She really just wanted to know what we believed because she had heard things that weren't right like that the Book of Mormon was our Bible, etc. It was an amazing lesson because the questions she asked just led us through the Restoration and even along the way asked our testimonies! At one point she held out the Book of Mormon and said, "Sister Hilton, WHAT does this book mean to you?" at the end we really had enjoyed our time with her and she was excited because now when people talked about it in the community, she would know the truth because so many people were confused and couldn't ever answer her questions. I thought it was so cool! She was very grounded in her church and absolutely loves Jesus Christ, and although she really wasn't interested in learning more, she now knows that missionaries aren't scary and we will both always remember that meeting we had together. I think missionary work often scares a lot of people because they think that by sharing with their friends what they believe might offend them. or scare them. But the truth is, it is something that matters to YOU. Its something that has helped you in your life and you should want to share that! not hold it in! we have a member in our ward who is getting her Patriarchal blessing. Its the first recommend that she's ever held, and she was so excited she was telling everyone because she literally could not hold it in. None of her friends knew what this was because they didn't go to our church, but they all were very happy for her and shared her excitement. There was a talk on Sunday by our ward mission leader and he said something that really stuck with me. He said, if you KNOW the truth, you are happy and that is a great step! but its even more to LOVE the truth, which makes you even happier.  What makes you even happier than knowing and loving it is LIVING it. The last part of it all is that if you do all three of those things and SHARE the truth, you will experience more happiness than you can even imagine. A lot of the world is searching. A lot of the world is struggling because the fact of the matter is, hard things happen in life. A lot of the world is still seeking to KNOW the truth.

We had the opportunity this week to witness one of the greatest miracles- someone getting to know the truth. The man that is getting baptized is doing so awesome. A family invited him over to their house last night so they could get to know him better and have us share a scripture. He expressed his excitement for baptism because he feels like he has searched for so much of his life. His upbringing was pretty tough and he hasn't seen much happiness. He said that since this past summer, just as we started coming around his house, he is actually happy when he wakes up in the morning. He feels more patient with his dad. He is experiencing getting to know and love the truth, and when he is baptized this Sunday, he will be fully living it. He expressed that he hopes that his friends see this change in him and that he will be an example to them. An example of someone who after a long time of depression and sadness, has found the sweetest joy there is. Getting to know his Savior Jesus Christ.

We also had an opportunity to teach a family at someones house. We taught the plan of salvation, and I decided that its my favorite thing to teach a family. They have two kids around 4 and 7 I think. The 7 year old was really into hearing about the plan! She thought it was so cool that we lived with our Heavenly Father before this, and the Spirit World made so much sense to her. My favorite part is when the other kids chimed in and explained a lot of the parts of the plan like Resurrection and the three degrees of glory. At the end we asked if we could have a kneeling prayer, and we explained that one of the biggest parts of prayer is thanking Heavenly Father for all that we have. We all knelt down, both families and us, and went around and said what we were thankful for. One of the little girls said that she was thankful for her family then wrapped herself around her dad's leg. We asked the dad to say the closing prayer for us, and it was such a powerful prayer- to hear this father pray for his little girls as they are learning the truth of the plan of happiness and how they can live together FOREVER. This goes along with how our Heavenly Father feels about us. He is up there rooting for us every step of the way. He does things for us that we don't even understand, just like we as kids don't understand all that our earthly parents to for us behind the scenes. I am so thankful for our knowledge of our Father in Heaven! We asked this little girl if she knew she was a daughter of God. her face lit up and she said YES!

THAT is how we should all feel. We should be able to stand up and say YES we are children of our Heavenly Father who loves us more than we can imagine.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Our Investigator is Getting Baptized!
January 13, 2014

I was looking back in my planner to see what I should write this week and I realized that the beginning of the week had absolutely nothing interesting but I forgot because the past two days have been probably the best two days of my mission.

So we have an investigator. and he is getting baptized.
I want to write this whole email in caps because im so excited about it, but ill refrain. SO on Saturday we had a lesson with him, and a member from our ward came with us and brought his son. the lesson was on the book of Mormon, and it was so powerful! his understanding of it grew a billion times and we were just sitting there in awe. we read the first chapter of it with him and he thought it was the coolest thing that he's ever heard of, and he loved everyone in it instantly. we asked him if the introduction made sense (if you haven't read the intro, do. its good) and he was like yeah its telling me that you are just inviting everyone everywhere to read the book of Mormon and then to pray to know if it is true and I would love to do that! he didn't say it in those words but that's basically what happened. haha so by the end, there was such a power in the room. I felt so much love for everyone there and I knew that we had to ask him to be baptized. when we did, he was like, you know I was already thinking about that. yes I will! we asked him if he'd prepare to be baptized on the 25th of January and he agreed and just asked what he would need to do to prepare! the best part comes next.

After church on Sunday, we were planning on teaching him the Word of Wisdom. For anyone who isn't familiar with what that is, it is a commandment that Heavenly Father has asked us to follow to keep ourselves clean and able to feel His love and Spirit all the time, and to protect us. It asks us to stay away from tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and other harmful/illegal drugs. So we explained that to him and he was like... well I drink coffee but I've always thought I should stop! So ill give that up! what's the next commandment? WHAT?!  Then we went through the other commandments like keeping the Sabbath day holy and the law of chastity and he was so on board with all of them. It literally could not have been done without Heavenly Father. It was the most amazing thing. At the end of the lesson, he started tearing up. He thanked us for everything we had done for him. He said we were like family and that we would never know how much we've helped him. Then he was like shoot my eyes are leaking! hahaha. It was one of the most spiritually uplifting days ever. The rest of the day was the same. That night, EVERYONE we talked to made a return appointment with us. We caught people at exactly the right times, and we made appointments with people we were trying to see forever, and it just didn't end! We didn't understand why we were being so blessed! We talked to as many people as we could because we didn't want the night to end!  We were so excited, but apparently too excited because sister Hilton was skipping around and she slipped on ice and fell on the ground. It was funny though and it just added to the excitement and adrenaline.

I really have learned that there are always problems everywhere around us. Whether it's in relationships, or sickness, really anything, but what I have also realized is that Heavenly Father always pulls through in the end. It's always more worth it to take the step that you don't want to take; the step that seems hard, or that seems scary. I know that my pride gets in the way a lot. I really am learning to turn outside myself and remember that it's NOT about me. It was never about Christ, ever. He was always serving those that were hardest to serve and its those friendships that are often the most worth it. I love you all and I hope you know how much I love this gospel and what it does for people. It changes lives and it couldn't be better. 


Monday, January 6, 2014

The Plan of Salvation
January 6, 2014

This week was really awesome. One day as we were planning we really felt like we should go see this lady at 10:00am, that we have been trying to see for a long time but she was never home. The feeling that we should go at 10:00 was a very strong one. Her neighbor had told us that we should go ask her if we could pray with her because she had cancer. We had met her in the past and she said we could come back. She always had a special place in my heart because her name was Laura. So we went that day at 10:00 and SHE WAS HOME! We asked her what she would like us to pray for, and she asked us to pray for her friend who had just passed away from breast cancer, and her kids were pretty young. She asked us to pray for their family. She told us how close of a friend she was and how they had helped each other through their cancer. Laura was happy that she got to have such a bright spot in her life like her. I feel the same way about Laura Stofko.

I knew that I had to say the prayer, but I didn't know what to say. All I knew is that this situation was something so close to me and I wanted Laura to feel the love that I felt for her and her friend. Before I said the prayer, the words came to my mind, "remember that you are SPEAKING to your Heavenly Father. He really is there and its like talking to your Father." I paused for a second. During the whole prayer I felt the love of my Heavenly Father SO strongly. I prayed like I never have before. To be honest, I don't really even remember what I said, but I do know that tears started coming and I knew that I meant every word that I said. I honestly felt like I felt Heavenly Father's love for each and ever member of that family that was grieving. It was one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had. After the prayer I bore my testimony about the plan of salvation, about the premortal life and how we used to live with our Heavenly Father as Spirit sons and daughters. Being here on earth has not changed that one bit. We are still His sons and daughters and we have so much eternal potential and so much ahead of us in the eternities with our family. We each have a divine nature and He wants so badly for us to know how important we are as individuals. There was a talk this past Sunday that talked a little bit about that. They said that every time Heavenly Father needs something specific done on earth, He sends a baby. An individual that can do what others cannot. That is also why He sent His son.  Prayer is the most powerful thing that Heavenly Father has given us. It's how we can know that we are known by name. It's something that we can always rely on and I KNOW from my daily experience that prayers are answered. No matter what.

I guess this week has just been a lot about the plan of salvation. We met this girl that is 16 years old and she is so awesome! We asked her a little bit about her religious background and stuff, and we got talking about questions that she has. She expressed that she really has always wondered where she came from and why she's here. She doubted that she has a purpose here on earth and has not been able to find answers to those questions. We had an awesome conversation about the Restoration of Christ's Gospel and how soooo many of those answers are in the Book of Mormon. We told her that we'd talk about the plan God has for her next time, and she was so excited. The most excited I have ever seen anyone! The pure joy that was on her face that she can find out for herself the answers to these questions. We told her that we know that God loves her SO much and if she wants to know that Christ's Gospel has been restored and that the full plan of happiness is here on earth with us, she can pray. She was so confident that God would answer her. It was such a happy night.

I just want to leave you with my testimony this week of Christ's restored gospel. If I've realized anything on my mission its that there is so much pain and suffering in the world and in everyone's lives. But I've also realized that God takes care of His children. He wouldn't leave us alone to raise families and live in this crazy world without guidance. I am so thankful that we have a prophet that lives and guides Christ's church today. I am so thankful that we have the Book of Mormon to help us answer the questions of our soul and give us the power to do anything and feel a peace that cannot be found anywhere else. I am so thankful for the knowledge of eternal families and that death is not the end. It's the beginning of a wonderful life full of peace and joy and a love that we cannot even imagine here on earth as human beings. I hope you have a wonderful week and a great start to the New Year!  
Pray For Those Around You
December 30, 2013

I cannot believe that it was Christmas last week! it seems like a month ago so its weird to write about it now. I got all of the letters from the stake! Tell everyone thank you so much and it was really fun to hear from everyone.

This week has been really awesome! On Christmas eve we volunteered at the rehab place that we go to and handed out the gifts and they all had the biggest smiles on their faces. Now when we go walk around we see all of them wearing their new clothes and using their new blankets and it always makes me happy. On Christmas day we helped out with their Christmas meal! It was so hilarious because the activities director wasn't there so we were basically in charge of everything like bingo and exercises in the morning.  They were all in wheelchairs and were doing different leg exercises and I thought it was the funniest thing to say, okay now both feet! and watch us jump in the air trying to do the exercise because we weren't in wheelchairs. This happened multiple times. At least we provided entertainment! Other missionaries in our zone came too and it was just so funny because the residents all wanted to be moved around but its hard to coordinate moving 7 wheelchairs at a time because everything gets in the way and we are just inexperienced and it was so funny. We had no idea what we were doing, but the whole day turned out really fun! Then we ate some dinner and went caroling! It really was an awesome Christmas.

CHURCH WAS AWESOME YESTERDAY. I always love Sundays. The family that we teach family home evening to came as a whole family again for the third time! and a few other people that we weren't expecting came also. The relief society lesson was on doing good for other people and it just made me realize how important service really is for other people. It means so much to them!

Let me preface this next story with something about our district. Every district meeting we find out about each others investigators and pray for them by name every night before we go to bed. It's really cool because we get to know how others are doing and we pray for their success.  SO. 8pm is a really hard time to find things to do, people go to bed at like 7 here! Not really but everyone goes to bed really early and its hard to find people to teach at that time. So the other day we felt like we should go see this one couple that we hadn't seen in a really long time.  They didn't seem very interested but we decided to go say hi. Someone I didn't recognize answered the door, and so we introduced ourselves and found out his name. He said they were house sitting for someone else. His wife came to the door and introduced herself, and I put their names together and realized it was someone that the elders in the ward next to us were teaching! We had been praying for them for a month! We asked to come in and share a Christmas message with them and we ended up getting to talk to them for a little bit. They shared with us how the elders always come over and do service for them, and I realized then how important it is to take care of others and to always keep them in your prayers. It really came full circle for me because if we hadn't been praying for them, we wouldn't have known who they were! and the elders had done so much for them and their family. We really are here to take care of each other and I know that God is a part of every detail of it. Pray for those around you!