Sunday, August 6, 2017

"Know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good" (July 31, 2017)

The new Lakeville Spanish dream team, Hanson and Meredith
A week full of training miracles!

My new companion is Hermana Hanson. She is from Sandy, Utah, and she is so excited to be a missionary, I love working with her! She is already such a good missionary, I feel like our first two days were kind of orientation, but other than that she is ready to go and I feel so blessed to be her trainer, I have already learned a lot from her and I hope over the course of our time together I teach her something. 

We have been doing so much finding, and we found 7 new investigators!! It has been so much fun, and we feel so blessed to have met all the amazing people we have. I really have been struck this week by the amazing opportunity we have to be the first people to share a Book of Mormon with someone. Something that has become so precious to me over my life and over my mission, and I feel so blessed to get to share it with so many people every day and testify of it's truthfulness. Being a missionary is amazing. It was interesting, the first few days Hna Hanson was here, I felt really bad and like a really bad missionary, because all of our appointments kept falling through, and on Saturday she still hadn't taught a lesson to an investigator. But we kept going with faith, and did the things we could, and we found so many amazing people to teach. And I've learned that I don't have to worry so much about depending on myself, because I cannot do it alone. But I'm not expected to do it alone, and that's what makes missionary work, and life so amazing. That we learn to do it here with our companions, and now and forever with our Savior Jesus Christ. 

We got to teach Orlando about Family History and Temples this week, and so I told him the story of one of my pioneer ancestors, John Toone. And he LOVED it!! He got so excited to learn more about his family history and go to the temple in 3 years. Being able to teach Orlando is such a blessing, because he is so excited to learn about the gospel and always lifts our spirits to be missionaries. 

This week we helped cut down a tree (well talked to our member while the elders cut down a tree), and I got in the eye by a soccer ball (because I'm still learning all the rules), and at peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made on a grill, and only got lost a few times, and it has been an amazing week. I LOVE being a missionary. 

This week I loved Helaman 5:6 "Behold I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good." As missionaries, we are so blessed to carry two names with us at all times. The name of Christ, and our family names. And they both serve as an important reminder that we should always live and act worthy of having both of those names and the message that we send to the world. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

"And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God" (July 24, 2017)

La Hermana Bryson <3
Finding miracles!! Last Monday night we were stopping by a potential, who wasn't home. And we got the feeling to try the trailer across the street from her, even though the trailer park we were in had been knocked dozens of times and that address wasn't in the area book. We were met at the door by Gabriella, a woman from Mexico, and her four little kids. She let us right in, and we shared a short message about our loving Heavenly Father with her, and set a return appointment, then we got to go back on Thursday night and teach her the entire restoration and she LOVED it. She thought the message was so beautiful, and she loved the first vision, and loves how we see God as a loving Heavenly Father, and she was so excited that the missionaries had come back to talk to her about God. We invited her to read from the Book of Mormon this week, and she seems really prepared and open for the gospel so we are very excited for her. 

Our little Lakeville Branch has been growing so much. We've had a lot of people move in, and a lot of priesthood holders become active or move in, and we are very excited. In a lot of our dinner appointments this week, we were able to talk to the relief society president about getting visiting teaching started and what we can do to help her, and a lot of priesthood holders are willing to come out to teach with us this week, and it's been fun to see people getting excited about missionary work. Also Orlando and his family were back at church yesterday and he is doing great, and whatever was wrong has resolved itself so thank you for your prayers!!

We had an AMAZING family night this week. We had a family who just moved in, the Lopez family. They are super cute, a mom and dad, and the four best behave little boys I have ever met. Holy cow they are so cute and so polite I love them. And they speak to us in Spanish, when most little kids speak to us only in English so it's really fun too. So we had a family night with them, and the Montecillo mayor family, (because there are two Montecillo families, the older and the younger) and they are so sweet and this really fancy hispanic couple who I love so much. And then Hno Armando and Hno Leo, two of the brothers from our ward who aren't married so they just are kind of adopted into everyone else's families which is really sweet. So we had a FHE with all of them because they invited us over for dinner. And Hno Montecillo gave a really good lesson about choices and it was amazing. Lots of reasons, I understood everything that was going on and I was super grateful that my comprehension has developed so much these past 6 months, and the spirit was there, and there was just so much love and I have so much love for these amazing members, and their love for the gospel, and desire to share the gospel and support the missionaries. I can't really explain it but it was an incredible evening. And it made me really excited to start more member work and helping members invite their friends to have spiritual experiences with them like that. 

Friends, I don't think I can properly explain how much I LOVE being a missionary. I have learned a lot this week, and realized that everything happens for the best of reasons even if we don't understand it. I have also learned a lot about repentance, as I learn to rely less on myself, and rely on the Lord, and it brings me so much joy to be able to know that even when I don't or can't always do my very best, and there are many things that I still lack and things I could always do better, Heavenly Father has called the weak of the world and he wants us to work and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, become better today than we were yesterday.  

Hermana Meredith
17781 Ikaria Ct
Lakeville, MN 55044

p.s. Also just got transfer news, and I'm staying in Lakeville to train! This is going to be an adventure, and any prayers to help me and my new companion speak Spanish will be very much appreciated. 

Alma 57:26 "And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe - that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power." 

Familia Saldana

Hno Leo

Our little pet dog 'Santiago' because cats are mean to us

Caricature from the Mall of America...not sure how we feel about it. 

"Thus they went out of the world rejoicing" (July 17, 2017

"I'm not throwing away my shot"

Happy Moon Launch Day yesterday!! 

I told Hermana Bryson my fun fact that 48 years ago yesterday Apollo 11 launched, and that on the 20 it will have been 48 years since they landed on the moon. (Well I'm like 80% sure about those dates. I can't double check on google so I'm just guessing) and then yesterday when things weren't all going as well as we hoped she said "I shouldn't be that stressed, at least I'm not going to the moon in four days" Missionary work can be hard, but we keep going and we keep pushing through. I also became the designated driver this week, and let me tell you after 5 months of not driving, that was a little scary for a few days there, but I think I'm getting back into the hang of it now. 

So we had a lot of cool miracles this week. We met George, the son of a member here. He just got out of prison a few weeks ago after 20 years. He had never seen a smartphone and there's a lot of new things he is still adjusting too. And it is truly inspiring how excited he is to be alive and how he appreciates everything little thing about the world. Being able to wake up and go to work, and even how green the trees are. We are so blessed to live in the beautiful world in which we live, and sometimes we need a little wake up call to do that. 

I also met an incredible less-active on exchanges this week, Andrew. He is in his early twenties, and his wife is just about to have a baby, and hearing him talk about being a father and the things he's learning and his fears, and all the things he has gone through to get to this point was incredible. His wife isn't a member, but he has a strong testimony of the church, and he has told her he knows that someday that will be sealed in the temple as an eternal family, and he has already began to see her heart soften and seen her feel the spirit as they get closer and closer to becoming parents. 

Orlando wasn't at church yesterday, and so we were a little concerned, and stopped by after church. It turns out he was in the hospital 4 months ago for a week for a health problem, some really bad swelling his cheek that was very painful that they never got to figure out, and it started happening again yesterday. He was in a lot of pain, and just crying. We asked if there was anything we could do for him and he asked "You could pray for me?" And my heart just melted. So please keep Orlando in your prayers and that he will be able to recover and the doctors will be able to figure out what is going on. 

This week in my studies I was impressed by Alma 46:39 "And it came to pass that there were many who died, firmly believing that their souls were redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ; thus they went out of the world rejoicing." Death is a pretty universal fear, and one of the greatest fears there is. But through Christ, we can overcome that. Through Christ we can overcome all fears. The knowledge of the gospel gives us an eternal understanding, and helps us understand those difficulties and challenges and fears that we face.

Have a lovely week!!

The Baptism of Ahmed last Monday -
Someone Hna Bryson taught in Minneapolis 
Exchanges with Sister Benson

FYI on July 11, if you dress like a cow and go to Chik-fil-a
you get free chicken. And where there is free food there are missionaries

When the other Hermanas are staying over at your house for
zone conference and low-key stalk us through the window

Chalking! The Plan of Salvation

 "Well, if it isn't Aaron Burr, sir"

Baptism Week! (July 10, 2017)

Orlando's baptism! I promise he was actually excited to get baptized, we're not sure why he refused to smile when we took pictures :)

This week was the best because Orlando got baptized yesterday right after church!!!! It was great. So many people were there to welcome him into the ward. He said he "felt really happy" when he was baptized, and it was everything he imagined it would be. And everything went smoothly and it was such a relief that everything got pulled off. I'm very much a person who wants to plan out every little detail and confirm every little detail beforehand, and Hispanic culture is very much the opposite, they get things done, but they just trust that they're going to get done when they need to get done, and don't worry about the details as much. So that was kind of freaking me out because I felt like we had nothing planned, but everything turned out ok. 

Also, President and Sister Barney showed up to our sacrament meeting and the baptism yesterday. Added just a bit of pressure, but it was cool because they're trying to come to as many of the baptisms in the mission as they can, and this was one of their first ones. We got to talk to them just for a little bit, and I'm still very excited to get to work with them. They're still figuring things out, but they are already filled with such love for the people, and the members, and the missionaries, and so they already have the most important part figured out. 

I learned a lot this week about how when we do our best, God makes it enough. I woke up last Tuesday morning not feeling very good, and by Wednesday we were home bound because can't leave when you have a fever. So for two days were out sick, and I'm still not up to par, but when you're not contagious, you get out as soon as you can to keep working. We went to have a lesson with Lucero, one of our investigators. We didn't have time to try to set up a member to come with us, so we went, and we started teaching her about the Book of Mormon. Then about ten minutes in, her husband came home, who is a less-active member, with Hno Armando, one of our really strong members, because they had been at work together that day. They sat down with us, and we continued to talk about the Book of Mormon, and we asked Hno to share his testimony about the Book of Mormon, and he shared the beautiful experience of how he read the whole thing in 3 days after the missionaries shared it with him and he immediately gained a witness that it was true. And we then invited Lucero and her husband to read the Book of Mormon together this week, and it ended up being an incredible lesson. Even though I still didn't feel completely mentally there, we went out, and did the best we could, and God made it enough. 

We had a really, really...interesting experience on Saturday night. That couple from El Salvador we have been meeting with a little bit, invited us to their church to do a musical number, and we figured that might give them a little more incentive to be open to coming to our church, and it is a good service, so we went to a Pentecostal church on Saturday night. I just played a hymn on the violin, then we sang I am a child of God. And that was definitely the calmest part of the whole program. I couldn't help but think of the scripture in 1 Kings 19:11-12 during the meeting
"And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." 
It was really cool, though, to get to see how other people worship, especially in the Hispanic culture.

This week, with more days of being sick, I had a lot of good time for really good personal study. Romans 8:38-39 really stuck out to me "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalites, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." For a couple of reasons. One, because it is almost reminiscent of the end of the poem Annabel Lee and the language is beautiful, but also because it really is true, and anyone, ANYONE who wants to come unto Christ is welcome. His love is outstretched to all. Most of the time, the only thing preventing us from feeling it is our own misconceptions of our unworthiness. None of us have lived lives perfect enough to repay for the completely never ending love that Christ has infinitely extended to us, but he does it anyway and his hand is stretched out still. Just believe Him.

Thank you all for your love and support! Have a great week! 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Feliz cumpleaños América!

Hola amigos! 

Sorry, I don't have a lot of time this week, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

Happy Independence Day! None of the patriotic hymns are in Spanish, so I hope you appreciate getting to sing them all for me. Have a lovely day celebrating this beautiful country in which we live. We talk to a lot of people who have given up everything to be here, and continue to have to give up everything to be here, so appreciate and love every single day. And for all the faults and all the things we need to improve, be grateful every day for the oppurtunities we have here. 

And the biggest news, Orlando passed his baptismal interview! We are so happy for him. He was really, really scared and didn't think he knew everything, but we said a prayer with him, and our District Leader was really sweet and patient with him, and afterwards he was grinning from ear to ear, still so so excited to be baptized :) And if all goes according to plan the baptism will be this Sunday. 

1. Chalking this week!

Last zone conference with the Forbes. 

It was so sad, and it's really hard to see them go. They have been such incredible examples to me, and I have learned so much from them in my short time here already. They made me feel so loved from the moment I arrived, and their love for each and every one of the missionaries is truly astounding. We got to be their very last zone conference on the day before they went home, and everyone was crying during the closing hymn, and it was a very sad day. 
But we are so excited to have the Barney's here now! Since we were the last zone to get a zone conference, we were the first zone to get to meet President and Sister Barney the next day. I don't have a picture of them yet, but we are so happy to have them here. They have a lot of good ideas about the mission, and they have the sweetest, strongest spirits, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better and learn more from them in the mission.

4. The members we live with have a cat, Oliver, and he is our only friend, and sometimes we just hang out with him on P-day when we can't find anything else to do. He also wakes us up every morning at 6 o'clock by meowing louder than I thought was physically possible asking for food. But he's pretty cute. 

5. Duolingo always trying to be funny

6. Scripture thought for this week! 

I have really been focusing lately on making my studies more meaningful and I have learned so much I wish I could share it all with you. Go look up Acts 24:25, also Acts 20:24. The New Testament, and the Book of Mormon, and all scriptures are just so amazing. And how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth these good tidings, that published and publisheth peace throughout the world. For truly how beautiful is this message of salvation that we get to share with the world. Christ lives!

Sorry this is kind of random and crazy, but that's how missionary work turns out sometimes. Have a great week! Keep sharing the gospel!

Hermana Meredith

Monday, June 26, 2017

"They ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ"

Another great week in Lakeville!

Orlando told us we both got 10/10 on our talks.
He's gonna get baptized in two weeks
and he is so so excited!!😄😄
Hermana Bryson was sick one day this week, and the mission doctor told us not to leave the house for 24 hours because she had a fever, so she slept most of the day, and I got like 8 hours of personal study in and read the entire Book of Mosiah and lot of other church books. But I did finally put it all together in my head how the three peoples in the book of Mosiah fit together. It also was striking how eager and willing the sons of Mosiah were to go share the gospel with the Lamanites when they had been personally persecuted by them just a few chapters earlier. I learned a lot of good things, but it was a really long day, and I was so excited on Friday to be able to leave the house again to go to missionary work.

We accidently crashed a bridal shower, haha, a member had signed up to have us over for lunch, and she called us and said "Actually can we meet at this other members house today?" And we were like sure! Then we got there and it was a bridal shower for one of the girls in our ward. So we're just the awkward missionaries crashing everyone's parties. But we did get to stay long enough to get some lunch.

What would be missionary work in a Spanish branch if you didn't get a text two hours before church from the branch president telling you the speakers cancelled for sacrament meeting and he needs us to speak. Because that definitely happened yesterday. But it's ok, the gift of tongues is real, and we both gave presentable talks about gratitude and the holy ghost. 

Bike Day
Since we are taking over the Elders area, we cover twice as much area, and the mission office hasn't told us if we get more miles the other day we did the whole day on bikes. Good news, Lakeville is a lot nicer than St. Paul and no near death experiences, and it's a lot less hilly. Bad news is it was the first time biking in this area for both of us, so we got a little lost, just a couple of times. But it was fun and we had good experiences contacting when we were biking around a trailer park. People have a lot of questions as to why we're wearing skirts and riding bikes when it's so hot outside. 

Playing the violin!!🎶
(sorry can't get a full video clip)
People from El Salvador are so nice and they make the most amazing food. We met this couple from El Salvador last week, and they were super nice and let us in and were talking to us about the holy ghost and what they believe about the trinity, because he's the pastor for their apostolic church, so he knows a lot about the bible. We didn't get a lot of opportunity to teach them anything, but we might have accidently left a Book of Mormon on one of their chairs before we of course we had to go get it back. We stopped by again yesterday, and they eagerly let us in, and fed us papoosas and agua de melon, and it was amazing. Then we were talking about music and I mentioned I play the violin, and they got really excited and went into the other room and brought back a violin that they randomly have because they love the violin but neither of them play. So I tuned it up the best I could, and played "Nearer My God to Thee" for them. It was incredible to be able to testify through music for them because nothing else we were trying to tell them was really sticking. And as we were leaving they gave us back our Book of Mormon, and he said he had started to read it and it was really interesting, and we told him he could keep it if he wanted and he wanted to, so now they're reading the Book of mormon, and they want us to  come back to talk to them about it with them, and it's really a miracle how it all turned out so well. 

It's a little frustating here right now as well, because we have 3 investigators who are prepared for baptism, and have come to church, one of them has been actively coming to church for 3 years, but they can't get baptized because they aren't married to the people they're living with. Ahhh it's driving me a little crazy, because that's just part of their culture and they don't want to get married and they don't want to move out and break out, or they can't get a marriage license because of legal problems.... But they are amazing people I love working with and I hope that we can help them progress and get to make those covenants at baptism.

A scripture I found during my personal study marathon this week that I really like is in Acts 5:41-42 "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Through all the persecution the apostles faced after the death of Christ, they took joy in it, and never ceased to continue to share the gospel. It helped me remember to love and appreciate every day I have to serve as a missionary, even when people get mad at us, or tell us not to come back, and it's difficult to remember what we're doing here all the time, even in those hard moments, we should always count ourselves blessed.

Thank you for all the love and support, have a great week everyeone!

Hermana Meredith

Adventures in Shakopee, that one part of our area that's 15 miles away from us...

"Swallowed up in the Will of the Father" - June 12

Buenos días friends and family! I hope you all have had a stupendous week!

So many crazy things this week I'm just gonna tell you about all of them so hopefully this makes sense.

Sandra, our awesome new investigator with a baptismal date, we found her a ride to church which is dang near impossible sometimes, but actually lined up a ride for her and her 3 kids, and then we went to confirm this week and make sure she was planning in coming still, and her work schedule just changed for the summer and now she has to work on Sundays. Nooooo, we are so upset. Right as she starts making progress, the adversary is trying to pull her away, but we're saying lots of prayers and trying to help her figure something out.

The weather in Minnesota is insane. On Saturday it got up to 109 degrees, plus humidity, so it was real hot. And biking in that weather is not very fun. Then yesterday we had a freak rainstorm and a tornado warning, at 9 in the morning it was still dark outside. And it's just really super hot and we're always sweaty and gross, but it's good because we're super happy and sweaty so everything balances out.

Shout out goes to Hermana Estella from our ward this week. Last week in Relief Society Hermana Vilorio gave a lesson on the importance of Visiting teaching because it doesn't happen in our ever. And so this week Hermana Estella called us and said "Hermanas! I want to go visit less actives with you! Let me know when you have appointments and I'll pick you up" And we were able to do it two days and member lessons are so much better than when it's just us because they understand why they aren't coming to church a little bit better than we can, and they also have the confidence to call people out a little more on why they aren't coming to church. And unlimited miles. All in all, member missionary work is really important. 

A not so fun moment is week keep running into Seventh Day Adventists who want to argue with us about whether the Sabbath Day is on Saturday or Sunday, and won't let us talk about anything else and it's kind of scary and really sad. We got into one lesson, and it was really hard, they had written a whole list of scriptures in the Bible that say that Saturday is the Sabbath day. And when they got to the end we tried to read a couple of scriptures with them, and they told us we just didn't understand the context of the scriptures. Then at the end, they asked us "So what are you going to do when you find out your religion isn't true" And that was a really interesting moment for me, because I just testified of the gospel and the Book of Mormon that was the most powerful testimony I feel I have ever given, because in spite of everything, and all the things they were throwing at us, I still knew and the Spirit could still be there. Being a missionary is incredible.

Jonathan and Gina's baby is sick and they've been in the hospital a lot this week so we haven't gotten the chance to meet with them yet. The baby is ok, he just needs a little time to recover. And we are able to stop by after church yesterday when they didn't come and talk to them for a little bit. And Jonathan said "So can you come back for a lesson tomorrow?" then at the end he said "Can you we say a prayer before you leave" So he's golden. It's amazing how much he's progressed in the gospel these past six weeks, and he is so so close to being ready to commit to baptism we are so excited for him.

Spiritual thought this week comes from Elder Neal A. Maxwell from October 1995. As missionaries we talk a lot about consecration and consecrating our time and our efforts, but I learned something this week I think applies to everyone. He said "In conclusion, the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give! Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory!" I promise this is true, and the more we give of ourselves to Heavenly Father, the more we receive, and the happier we are. He has eternity to sit and wait for us to align our will with His, and He will wait for that to happen before any other spiritual progression can occur in our lives. This is really hard, and I'm trying to do this, and I have to try a little harder every day, but I'm grateful I still have so much time to figure it out and I have this beautiful, dedicated, consecrated time to learn and grow.

Thank you for all the support! Have a great week!

Hermana Meredith 

1. West Side Pride 
2. Zoo adventures
3. 2 thumbs up for missionary work :)