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 :)

Finding Miracles - June 5

Let's go TWINS! They actually did really well the first 7 innings, we're just not gonna talk about how the Astros scored 11 runs in the top of the 8th. Other than that, best district p-day ever!!⚾☉
This has been the slowest, craziest, hardest, worst, and best week of missionary work. I wish I had time to share every little detail of everything that happened this week, so this might be a little long this week. 

We had the coolest finding miracle this week. The first part of this story actually happened last week, we were in the not so safe part of our area where we're only allowed to go during the day time, looking for this address that apparently does not exist. So we started knocking others doors in the area that kind of looked like there might be people who spoke Spanish living there either from the names on the mailboxes or other things we look for. We walked past this house, and Hermana Shepherd and I were both like "Yep, we need to knock on this door," even though we were 100% sure that there were not Hispanic people there. So we knocked, and this sweet lady named Cassandra came to the door, who definitely does not speak Spanish, but we share the gospel with everyone we can anyways. We talked to her for a few minutes, and shared a short video about Christ with her. She told us her mom was going in for surgery for cancer that next day and she was so grateful we had shared that message with her. we asked if we could come back in a week to see how her mom was doing. So fast forward to this week, we stopped by and she was so happy to see us again, and her mom's surgery went well. we shared the restoration with her and we asked her what she thought, and she told us it made perfect sense that God would continue to call prophets in our days, and wouldn't stop revealing his truth to his children. She also told us that she knows we are messengers from God because she had been praying the day before we knocked on her door the first time, asking for direction and asking how she could start making God a part of her life again. She was raised Catholic, but doesn't go to church anymore, but still prays a lot. she has a son who just turned 9, and she feels really bad that he wasn't baptized when he was a baby. And she was asking us what we believe about repentance and baptism, because she has a lot of burdens and guilt she has been carrying with her for years, and she told us she really hopes she can go to heaven, but she doesn't know if God will ever be able to forgive her. We were able to testify to her of the power of the Atonement, and how we have all fallen short of returning to God in our own efforts, but through Christ we can be made clean and have those feelings of guilt completely washed away and know with a surety that God has forgiven us and wants us home. And she was crying, and we were crying and it was an incredible lesson. She is so prepared for the gospel! The only sad part of this whole thing is that she doesn't live in our area, because we ran into her at her mom's house, and she doesn't speak Spanish, so we have to refer her. But she wanted the missionaries to come as soon as they could so she could learn more. It was a huge testimony builder to us this week that God is preparing people and that there is so much work to be done here in this area. 

This week was pretty slow and hard because we had a hard time getting any appointments. Even Jonathan wouldn't text us back or answer our calls, and no one was answering the door, and nothing was happening. Our ward is in transition between Bishops and Ward Mission Leaders right now and they're trying to figure out how everything works, so it's a lot of coordination meetings and it's been really slow going. But Sunday was awesome! Jonathan showed up at church, and was talking to people and seemed right at home. And he came up to us and apologized he hadn't gotten back to us, and asked if we can come over Wednesday night, so he made the appointment with us, which never EVER happens. And after church yesterday we stopped by to visit Sandra. She hadn't been able to come to church, but we had an incredible lesson with her, and read Mosiah 18 and talked about the doctrine of Christ, and she committed to be baptized on August 5! Wohoo!! That's the first date set for our area in months, and now our ward has 2 because the Elders in our district have one too. We are so excited, she was testifying of the importance of baptism herself after we read those scriptures and it seemed to make perfect sense in her mind and the next logical step would be to work towards baptism. 

We are trying to talk to all of the less-actives in our area and figure out their stories. We got one families address out of area book, and we got there, and it was a bagel factory. So, probably don't live there, but we said "well, we're here, might as well ask if they know who these people are" So we went in and talked to the shift supervisor, and he said "Oh yeah! I know Erik, he'll be in on the morning shift all next week, you can come see him then." So we are definitely stalking someone at a bagel factory now, but it smells really good there, and hopefully we might get free bagels by the end of this. 

We play soccer every Saturday night at the church, and invite all of our investigators and a bunch of members, and we usually get a lot of people there and it's really to help people have an easy thing to invite people too. This week one of our young women brought two of her cousins who aren't members. Were were playing the four missionaries vs the three of them, and they were talking to each other in Spanish trying to tell them who to pass it too, and then 5 minutes in after we kept blocking them they were like "Ah! I forgot they speak Spanish too!" 

I also finally have my dream calling fulfilled and I get to be the primary pianist for the next couple of weeks until they call a new one. The teacher, Hna Cisneros, only speaks Spanish, and the kids all speak Spanish and English, so it's bilingual chaos in there, but being in Primary seeing the powerful testimonies these little kids have of the most basic and beautiful gospel truths is really powerful.

These past couple of weeks I have gained a huge testimony of priesthood power. It's real friends, and I am so grateful that there are so many worthy priesthood holders we work with who will humbly step up to that duty whenever called upon. Even when things are really hard, I am so grateful to be a missionary, and I am so grateful for all the things I am learning. 

Thank you for all the love and support! Have an incredible week full of lots of miracles! 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

"And His Soul Rejoiced"

Chalking! We actually got to talk to a lot of people, and even
some Hispanic people who happened to be in the park 🎉

What a crazy week!

Bikes woes - We had three really long bike days this week because we're trying to conserve bike miles. The elders tell us they bike 15 miles all the time, but do that three days in a row and it kind of killed us. But hey we're not gonna go over on miles this month! We also found a really good way to contact is to break your bike. Hna Shepherds skirt got stuck in her bike  gears while we were biking and three different people pulled over and offered to help us, and we almost got to give a Book of Mormon to one of them. So you never know what little inconvienences can turn into contacting oppurtunities. 

Funnies -
We saw someone getting married in a Pollo Campero, a fast food Mexican Restaurant here.

We were trying to text a member to ask if she could come to a teaching appointment with us, in Spanish of course, and we got a text back two minutes later that said "Go back to your country..." so wrong number whoops. The running joke with all the Spanish missionaries is that we're all scared to talk to white people now because they're the only ones that ever yell at us. 

Benito! He was trying to wave at y'all

I keep saying everyone is leaving us, but it's true this week and really sad. The Andersons left this morning to go home. Our district made dinner for them last night after church. And Benito is moving to Texas because he's getting too old to live by himself and he has family there, and we went to go say goodbye to him yesterday and he started crying and I started crying and everyone was crying and it was a sad day. He is this really awesome member who feeds the sisters every sunday, and he is so sweet and when he found out I don't really like meat that much he made me vegetarian soup last week and he is the best. He also keeps giving us all his stuff and we had to bike home with a DVD player and ten pounds of books.

All of the stuff Benito gave us we had to bike home with...

There hasn't been a whole lot of progression this week. We weren't able to meet with Jonathan this week because his work gets really crazy at the end of the month and he takes more shifts. But hopefully we'll get to see him tonight. And no one came to ward conference yesterday, we had about 25% of even our really active member weren't there. But I got to translate in relief society from English into Spanish and it went surprisingly well. People mostly understood what was going on, and the gift tongues is real. 

In a meeting with our bishop this week, he gave us a really cool spiritual thought I wanted to share with you. In Moses 7, Enoch is having a vision and is seeing the wickedness of the world. In Moses 7:26 "And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth in darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced." And Enoch looks and sees the Lord weeping over his people. That should probably scare you just a little bit. The power that Satan is capable of having over us, and the fact that he mocks the Lord with it makes us a little angry as well. And Enoch continues to see the wickedness and the children of God falling into temptation, and says in verse 44 "And as Enoch saw this, he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren, and said unto the heavens; I will refuse to be comforted; but the Lord said unto Enoch: Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look." Then in verse 47 "And behold, Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh; and his soul REJOICED, saying: The Righteous is lifted up, and the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world; and through faith I am in the bosom of the Father, and behold, Zion is with me." As Enoch weeps, and his heart swells, and his bowels yearn, and he refuses to be comforted, there is yet one thing that gives him reason to rejoice: the coming of Jesus Christ. As a missionary, I have seen this power that Satan has over people's lives, and it is soul-wrenching, how so many have a desire for the truth, but don't know how to change to seek it. But that is why we're here, and that is what we're called to do as missionaries, to invite others to Christ, and help them repent and find joy through Him. He is our hope. And the power of Christ's Atonement can change people's lives. 

Trevino's took us to dinner at Famous Dave's. Mmm Barbecue 
Last district picture before the Anderson's left 😭

Mission Conference

For one night only, the entire Minneapolis Minnesota Mission in one place

Buenos dias! 

It's been another lovely week in St. Paul. The weather in Minnesota is just as crazy as everyone says it is. We have some days that are 80 degrees, then sometimes, like yesterday, it rains all. day. long. and it's 40 degrees. So we're just enjoying the variety :)

So I need to tell you all about this thing they have here, it's called 'tres leches,' not entirely sure what country it's from, but it's this cake and oh my it's the best cake. They use three different kinds of milk and cream to make it, hence the name, 'three milks,' and it's so incredible. It looks like regular cake then it is so moist and delicious, definitely because of all the milk it has in it, and it just melts in your mouth, and wow everyone needs to try it at least once in their lives. The young women also had a tamale fundraiser this week for camp, so we spent 4 hours on Friday making 500 tamales, but we're basically professionals now if anyone ever wants tamales in the future, just lemme know.

Mission conference was this week! What an incredible experience. President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve and President Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy were here. I learned so much this weekend, and it really has re-energized our mission and some of our goals. In his talk, President Nelson asked us to imagine our lives without the Book of Mormon and what truths we would miss. He asked missionaries to stand up and share and it was incredible how the list just keeps going on and on. Our understanding of the Atonement comes completely from the Book of Mormon. Priesthood authority. Sacrament prayers. Baptism by immersion. Plan of Salvation. The knowledge that Joseph Smith was a prophet. The understanding of the Godhead. The doctrine of the Fall and the Plan of Salvation. The Need for a Redeemer. Our purpose in life. Where we came from. Where we're going and the knowledge of celestial glory. And the list goes on and on and on. Fun fact, the word "Atonement" only appears one time in the New Testament in Romans 5:11. Without the Book of Mormon, we could never begin to understand the nature of the Atonement and why it is so fundamentally important. He also talked about heart surgery and acquiring knowledge and it was incredible. The love we could feel he had for us was amazing. He also stood at the door as we were walking in and shook every single missionaries hand, and looked at our name and said "Hello Sister ____," or "Nice to meet you Elder _____." It was a truly humbling experience. All of the Spanish missionaries got to do a special musical number in Spanish "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," and I got to play a violin part with the singers. Oh my goodness, I have never been so nervous in my life, performing in front of the President of the Quorum of the Twelve, the Mission President, and not to mention the entire mission. I was worried would drop my violin because my hands were sweating so much. But all went well, many prayers were answered to get that musical number through without any major problems. 

We have set some crazy high goals as a district this transfer, and we're still pretty far from meeting them, but as Elder Anderson always tells us "It's better to aim for the stars and miss then aim for a cowpie and hit it." We have seen so many miracles, and met so many people who are prepared to receive the gospel. Jonathan is getting closer to baptism every day, and he's reading in the Book of Mormon and coming to church and seeing how much the gospel is blessing his family and he opens up to the idea a little more every time we meet with him. And Alex is hopefully going to be able to get baptized either this Saturday or next because their papers finally came from Mexico, after 4 months of waiting.

I hope you all know the Book of Mormon is true, because I promise you that it is. There are a lot of things I'm still learning about the gospel, and a lot of things I'm still trying to better understand and gain a greater testimony of, but I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and was written for us so that we may know how to Come unto Christ and receive all the blessings in this life and the next that God is so eager to give to us if we only will follow Him. 

Thank you for all your love and support. Keep sharing your light with the world!

Hermana Meredith
993 S Robert St. #307
West St. Paul, MN 55118