July 25th, 2011
Family and Friends...
What a long week it has been! There were so many challenges and stressful times but some of the most spiritual moments of my mission!
Being back in BELLVILLE was a dream come true! I loved being in my old area and seeing old investigators, members, and converts. Monday night after we had switched we got to the apartment and Hermana Brown had forgotten to get the keys from Hermana Maters so we are in the freezing windy cold outside of our place locked out keyless, and I just got a package from my mom, so I was like wrapped in this bright pink fuzzy blanket and we were trying to flag down a cab...haha it was quite a sight to see. The other Hermanas had to travel all the way back to Bellville so we could get the keys and we all ended up sleeping there. Whoops! As we were waiting for them to travel it was like so late at night, and we had no where to go and so my comp said - do you want to go to Laura Cordobas....my convert family! So of course I said YESSSS please! We showed up at their door step - me like in all my poor winter clothes with my package and blanket all around me….haha how embarrassing! I have never seen anyone so happy in my life! First off......I was just beaming and got to hug Aida and Mariacielo and Nico all in my arms so tight and they were just so happy and surprised!!! We all bonded and played games and caught up on life and i gave them all fruit snacks from the states - they were a hit for the little kids…thanks mom! Finally the girls got there and we went home to bed.
The next few days were such a blast. I was so happy to be in Belleville with Hermana Brown - a different new one who is SO legit…..she knows Spanish so well and is like a super star cute missionary - AND met Dylan Higgenson in the MTC! We had bikes so it was way fun to cruise and teach together and learn a lot from each other. They have a good amount of progressing investigators and we got to talk to them and prep them for baptism. On Tuesday night was my favorite! We had a family home evening in the church with a way legit member Carolina, who is just way fierce, and the best teacher EVER……and Laura Cordoba and all of her family came to help and support with an investigator named Max. The whole time Laura and Nico were bearing their testimonies and sharing and talking so much and I was just so filled with joy and so happy to see how much they are progressing in the gospel. Laura is the best!
Also the next day we ate lunch with all their family and we taught the grandma – Aida, who is like my best friend ever, and we love each other - and she is still not a member so we decided since I was in town I needed to invite her to pray to know if the church is true and get baptized. Normally she is so stubborn and hard because she is so about traditions but she had no excuses and we all - me and my comp - and Laura - bore testimonies and promised her that if she would pray she would get an answer and get baptized! She committed to do it and I sad that maybe if she and her little girl Mikaella get baptized I can get permission to go! It was such a good spirit guided and inspired lesson. My trip was way short but so worth it, and I learned a lot from the Hermana Brown, and so it was way fun. It was a long 5 hour trip back to my area and it was really good to meet up with my cute comp and reunite - we really did miss each other...after being together 24-7 for 3 months straight we feel sad being split up for like 3 days haha.
After I got back it was a little stressful because we had a baptism to plan for Saturday. The elders came and interviewed Raquel and she was just glowing and so ready and excited for her baptism! We love her so much! The next day we had a lesson with Carmen and she is still progressing a ton, and we brought the bishop to get her stoked for her big day and answer and questions she had about the ward and such. She is so perfect - she gets along with everyone I swear! That night we also had an appointment with Mayra who still is kind of struggling and we took Marilyn our recent convert to help us and she was a STAR! She was so cute and on time in front of the church all ready to go with her Book of Mormon and Principles of the Gospel, and ready to teach. We got in and she gave such a sincere heart felt testimony of her conversion story and told about how she made the decision to get baptized. The spirit was so powerful and clear and I think it really impacted Mayra hearing Marilyn’s story. Love recent converts!
Then Saturday the baptism was a MESS. Raquel and her mom were the first ones there and only Juan Joe and Elle came to support. Our mission leader didn’t even come, and did nothing to help - we prayed for love and charity for him because it was a little frustrating! No one was there to be witnesses or give talks and it was just SO sad. Thanks to Juan Joe he literally saved the day and called a ton of people and members came and we started an hour and a half late, but it ended up being one of the most special baptisms EVER! Hermano Valera gave such a good talk and we watched a great video on Christ and Raquel’s really rebellious drug addicted son ended up coming and supporting and it was just so perfect in the end. She looked so beautiful all in white and was just glittering with happiness and light! She was so ready to get baptized and it was so powerful to just know and see her growth since I got here in this area. She has received all her own answers and made all the decisions on her own and for herself. She has truly converted herself. At the end Marilyn got up and the room was so still - she has only been baptized for a month but just gave such a perfect testimony, and the whole room was like weeping! She said she wants to go on a mission someday and help others find the truth and feel the things that she has felt since she met the missionaries and came into the ward. She said she has the faith her whole family will convert someday and go to the temple and she testified of eternal families, and it truly was just one of those moments that was so beautiful, and I just was thinking about all the problems and stress and things that went wrong, but in the end...in that exact specific moment...I would be no where else...it was all worth it……and so beautiful to share such a life changing moment with Raquel and her family! I feel so blessed to be the one to see their growth and help them strengthen their testimonies and learn more of the savior. What a blessing it is to be a missionary! How could anyone not feel HONORED and PRIVILEGED to have this sacred calling that we carry...to only give up a year or two to bring souls unto Christ……I couldn’t think of anything as worth while and rewarding as this.
After the baptism it was really hard because we had so much opposition and we know that whenever there is good there is always bad. All of our investigators we were teaching like all dropped us in one day....it was really discouraging and so heart-breaking. As many spiritual and happy moments in the mission we witness and have, there is also so much sadness and let down because so many people CHOOSE to not accept our message - not accept Christ, and live his way to be happy and its just so hard because we know that they will have to suffer the consequences of these decisions that they are making right now because they are not CHOOSING good. Whether it is anger, sadness, laziness, judgement, bitterness, unforgiveness, pride, or whatever the reason can be - people everyday are CHOOSING with their agency the wrong way and the things of the world - denying and rejecting the truths that we bring to their door steps, into their homes, and in their hearts. I have been studying ALOT this week - with this repetitive pattern I have been seeing especially this week - agency and choices and good and evil. As I have studied in the scriptures it is just so evident and clear to us when the Lord has invited us to always do good and that like it describes in Alma 32:27 & 28 that if we arise and have this interest and wonder and experiment the things we are taught and have that faith - desire to believe and let that desire work in us-we will begin to believe and we will FEEL that the things we are asked to do are good and it is compared to a seed -when we plant a good seed and it feels good and right and it grows in our souls - then it is good! It will enlighten our understanding and it will become delicious unto us. Can we not hearken unto these clear teachings in the scriptures and plant that good seed to continually do good and choose good and know that like it says in D & C chapt 8: 4 that this is our gift and we must APPLY UNTO IT. I love the counsel it give us in Deuteronomy chapt 30: 15-20 stating...
See I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil....in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God to walk in his ways and to keep his commandments...and the Lord God shall BLESS you!
Yes we understand and it is evident that this life is hard and we do have tons of trials and problems and temptations but something we do know of more clearly and truthfully is that THERE IS A WAY to overcome them and CHOOSE God and CHOOSE His way and CHOOSE happiness. Why are we making the decisions right now that are not making us happy....why is it so much easier to CHOOSE evil...
There is a quote I love in the last conference by Packer that states...
"Everyone is tested - one might think it is unfair to be singled out and subjected to a particular temptation, but this is the purpose of mortal life - to be tested - we must and we can resist temptation of any kind"
I love the example of Moses in Moses Chapter one when he was tempted by Satan but he boldly states in verse 18 saying..."I will not cease to call upon God, I have other things to inquire of him - for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee."
We must CHOOSE who to follow and know that when we CHOOSE God - we are eternally blessed. He has promised us in James chapt 1: 12 that "blessed is the man that endures temptation - for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him."
Let us open our eyes to the evidence and simple truths that we know - let us follow the promptings we are given to "Come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord - ye come for all ye have gone astray, every one to his wicked ways." 2 nephi 12:5
As we make the CHOICE to follow God and his way and keep his commandments and strive to become like him - we are not only going to receive the blessings he has promised us but we also will be the hope and promise to others so they can see our shining examples of living lives of righteousness and happiness and they will come to understand that we must CHOOSE this day to follow our Lord Jesus Christ. I love this gospel with all my heart and I feel so blessed to have the gift of agency to make decisions for myself of how I want to be and feel and live my life. I pray and hope that we all avoid the easiest most convenient ways of the world and that we CHOOSE to step up and be believers of God and live and follow his way always! I love you ALL!
Love, Hermana Pond