About Me

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I am studying Psychology and Sociology at Utah Valley University, and working at a treatment center for troubled teens. I love life, being with people from all cultures, speaking Spanish, and traveling all over the world. I will never stop laughing, dancing, singing, enjoying, appreciating, and just being.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 29th, 2011

Dearest family and friends,

Happy week! Just like always - another week has already gone by way fast, and so much has gone down. First of all my zone is really intense this transfer, and we are trying to work super hard and sacrifice more so we can have more success and see more baptisms, so we are working all day today for P-Day! So I don’t have much time to write, but I hope I can express my feelings of the week in a short time…. because we all know that’s hard for me…haha - but so much has happened!

So first off at the beginning of the week we passed for a reference that we got from a recent convert - Carmen! It was a lady that has a 2-year-old son and recently found out he has cancer, and he is going through chemotherapy and they are really poor and it’s very sad. We passed for her and she was way cute and open and let us in. We taught her about the Atonement and plan of salvation and why hard times and suffering happen in this life, and how we can overcome them. We sang her the hymn - Abide With Me Tis Even Tide - and we left her with a prayer and she was really teary in the end, and I think the spirit really touched her. She committed to read something we left her and we are definitely excited to pass and teach her again.

We also were walking in a neighborhood one day, and I felt really impressed that we needed to pass for a lady named Ignacia, because she was on the way to our next cita. As we got to her door she said she had no time at all to attend us and was in a hurry but the spirit kept telling me that we really needed to pass. I was so confused, because I just felt so strongly we needed get in and talk to her, but I had no idea why…..so I followed the impression and told her it would be really short and that we just really needed to pass. After about five minutes being in her house she stepped out because someone came to the door and as she came back in her eyes were filled with tears, and she told us she just found out that a family member had passed away. In this moment she would have been all alone if we hadn’t come, but we were able to hug and comfort her and sang her a song, and left her with a prayer. She was so thankful to us as we left for being there for her in that moment and helping her feel the comfort she needed.

We also were walking around an area close to where we live and as we were running to an appointment, I saw this bright pink house on a corner, and since my comp. is new in the field and in Argentina I felt it would be good to do some practices of contacting and knocking doors. We found ourselves talking to this cute older lady who lives alone and she let us in right away. We got talking to her and found out that just a few weeks ago her grandson who lived with her for eight years passed away in a motorcycling accident, and she was so upset about it and it has been so hard for her to overcome this. We talked to her about the plan of salvation and about the Atonement and through Christ she can overcome this trial and find peace as she becomes healed from her afflictions. My comp. earlier that morning had found a really good scripture in the bible - John 14:27 that says

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

She shared a story about how when she lost a loved one in her life and how hard it was, but how she was able to go to God and Christ in her times of trial and trouble, and they gave her peace and comforted her and helped her overcome her situation. She testified so clearly of the gospel, and it was just so powerful to see the spirit speaking through her with love and concern for this lady. It made me think about when I first got into the missión and how I couldn’t say anything in their language, and it was so frustrating, but every time I prayed for the gift of discernment and the spirit I was about to communícate so clearly with the people and they were able to understand me. I love being able to train because it truly is so neat to be able to witness those first few powerful moments and lessons in the field with someone and how much they grow in just a few days.

We also taught David again this week - the 18 year old - and I seriously love him - he is so precious! We talked about repentance and the importance of baptism, and how baptism is the only way he can be completely clean from all of his sins and repent and start a new life following and being a disciple of Christ! We invited him to the baptism Friday and he ended up coming!!!! It was so great….I really hope and pray he will be able to make the decision to change his life and become a member of the church.

Friday we had the BAPTISM of Mayra!!!! It was so spiritual and so perfect. One of the most chill baptisms I have ever had where it all went pretty smooth and a ton of people came. She had a lot of support from the youth. Her best friend who introduced her to the church spoke and was SO emotional because she has been waiting so long for her to get baptized and she always hoped and prayed that she would make the decision for herself and she finally did and just expressed how happy and grateful and proud of her she was. I love Mayra so much, and I truly know that miracles can happen if we truly just work so hard and have faith -I have been working with this girl forever and I seriously wanted to give up so many times but we just kept fasting and praying and sacrificing everything for her and she made it. There can be miracles!

Sunday morning we got to church and there was a guy outside that I had never seen before. He was alone and smoking and was crying L. We went out and talked to him, and ended up hearing about his story and how he is addicted to smoking and drinking and has had it, and is willing to do anything to change his life, so he came to the church. We taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ and out there in front of the church committed him to prepare for baptism. He knows its going to be hard, and we told him its going to require a lot of work and trials and sacrifice, but we promised him he could do it with the help and strength of God. He went to all 3 hours of church - and by the time it was all over, he looked so much better and happier and full of light and expressed to us how much he already felt the change beginning in his life. He was so happy!

Sunday during church one of my recent converts – Raquel - came up to me and fell into my arms, and began to bawl, because her son got in a knife fight the night before, and had been doing drugs and had all these problems, and she was just so sad about him. She pleaded for us to get the bishop and other leaders and friends of her son to come over to her house to talk to him and help him. We all showed up and we all went around talking about our love and concern for him and especially his family and how if he really wants to change his life he needs to have the desire and start to act. It was so intense! 2 of his friends who are now members, who used to go out and deal drugs and drink, and had all the same problems that he has, bore their testimonies of the gospel and how it has COMPLETELY healed and changed their lives and how it can do the same to his. The whole family was crying so much and everyone was just bearing all their heart and soul and love to this 17- year-old boy so he could feel the importance and desire to change, so he and his family can have true happiness. Just in this moment I honestly realized - after hearing all of these stories - that the GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST is the only way that any person in this life can change and truly be happy. These members expressed how they tried everything before - rehabs, friends, counselors, therapy, medicines, doctors and everything the world out there has to offer to fix their problems, but the only time in their young lives where they felt completely full of true, pure, and rich joy was when they personally made the step and decision to exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent of their past, entered into the waters of baptism and were baptized by someone holding the power and priesthood of God, and when they received the gift of the holy ghost by that same holy priesthood. They promised that it wasn’t until then - that moment - that they were given the happiness and blessings and protection and light and peace and joy and forgiveness that changed them forever.

There is a quote that I love that I found today in the Ensign by Elder Corbridge, speaking about this exact topic, and it states:

“No institution, plan, program, or system ever conceived by men has access to the redeeming and transforming power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the gift of the holy ghost. Therefore, while the Lord’s invitation to follow him is the highest of all, it is also achievable by everyone, not because we are able, but because he is, and because he can make us able too. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind – everyone living and dead - may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.”

We are so blessed to know the principles and ordinances of the gospel, and that only through following them, we can be saved. It is the only way that we will be happy. It is the only way to our salvation. And regardless of any type of situation we are in or going through - deaths of loved ones, illnesses, addictions, heartache, sadness, loneliness, depressión, worry, stress, or doubt - the gospel of Jesus Christ can fix them, and we - every single one of us - can be given peace - not from the world like it states in the scriptures - but true peace from God and Christ. I testify with all my heart and soul that I know that only through these steps we can be saved and return to our father in heaven and receive a place in the celestial kingdom to be with our families eternally and receive eternal life. This is the way and we need to follow it. There is no other. I hope that we are all making the decision every day to follow these steps that the gospel offers us and we are doing what we can so we can feel of Christ’s love and peace and overcome the hardships of our lives. I love you all with every bit of me and pray that we can all choose Christ and endure to the end so we can be with “Him…..who I will hold guiltless before my father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. 3 Nephi 27:16

Love Hermana Pond

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Downtown Cordoba!

I must find my way around this town!

The Youth bring Strength to the Church!

Jami with her new companion -
Sister Davis from SLC !

Argentina Cordoba Mission President Salas with Sister Salas, Hermana Pond and Hermana Davis

Jami with Branch President in Arroyito!

Sunsets of Arroyito

August 22, 2011

Family and friends

It has been such a crazy week! So first off I finally got ¨my kid¨. Wednesday we went to Cordoba and had this really intense training and we all got paired off with our new companions. My companions name is Hermana Davis, and she is from Salt Lake. She is so cute! She kind reminds me of Rachel Holmes – haha - just so tender you like always want to hug her. She is doing great. She speaks pretty well, just can’t really understand that much but that will come. As we were traveling on the bus from Cordoba to Arroyito I felt so bad - these 2 creepers guys were like trying to talk to us and were like getting all close up to her and touching her name tag and she was probably so over it - haha like what am I doing in creeper Argentina…it was funny - good thing she couldn’t understand them.

So this week has been amazing! We passed for Magali, who is the sister of Marilyn, who just recently just got baptized, and she is just so great - she has been reading and praying and she knows the church is true! The only problem is that she is living with someone, and so she can’t get baptized. She really wants to, and she even came to church this week for the first time because she pretty much bore her testimony to us and told us she knows the church is true…and said she is going to do anything to get baptized. We put a fecha with her and she is going to pray daily so she can talk to her boyfriend about getting married so she can get baptized. She is great! It was truly a miracle!

So one day we were suppose to have a cita with David - who is the brother of a member and he is 18 and the only one not baptized out of his siblings. Ever since I have met him I have strongly felt we need to teach him. All his siblings were at this house and said he probably forgot, and wasn’t going, but I had faith and we decided to wait until he came because I knew it would be important. He finally showed up! My comp and I and Lucas and Mariajose and Tommy were all there and we all bore testimonies about the gospel, and I taught about Christ and shared my personal experiences of getting to know him and how he has changed my life. David is really shy and doesn’t talk much but he was SO emotional and very moved by our cita with him. We were all so filled with the spirit, and it was truly such a lesson purely guided by the Holy Ghost - I had no idea what to teach him or say but it all just came out and worked out and everyone was just so emotional in the end. He still says he is not ready to get the lessons but we invited him to church - because he still has never been - and Sunday morning bright and early as 9 he came! My heart was just filled with immense joy for this guy because I know he is really passing through a hard time in his life and the góspel is slowly illuminating his heart and soul with peace, and he cannot deny the feelings! He seemed so happy and stayed all 3 hours with his siblings. I love them! We are praying hard for him and hope he will accept the lessons and get baptized this transfer!

Also we taught cute Little Mayra, who we have been teaching forever!!! We go there and for some reason I was SO nervous. As we sat down I had no idea what to teach or say to her, and as we sang the first song - Lead Kindly Light - the word testimonies popped into my head, and I felt prompted to ask her, and everyone that was present, how they came to know of the church and their feelings about it. It was so intense - everyone went around and gave their personal story on how they came into the góspel and how they know its true, and when it got to her, she said this - and I have never heard her say it before…”I KNOW this church is true.” I knew in that moment that THAT is what she had lacked. That is what she needed to hear herself say out loud. She knows! After her it was my turn and it was so emotional (always!) and I talked about her whole journey of change and growth, and how blessed I have been to see it, and I knew that she was personally ready to get baptized in this church….and she ACCEPTED a date! For this Friday!!!! The 26th of August! I almost screamed I was so happy! We all just like hugged and were SO happy, because we knew that this is her time. I am so excited for Mayra to get baptized and know that she can do it! Pray hard for her for strength!!!!

We had a ton of people in church on Sunday and today there was an activity for the youth in the church because it is a holiday. We decided to go last minute because the president of the branch called us and invited us to go. We went and it was fun-there were a ton of youth and they watched a video on Christ and then everyone got up one by one and bore their testimonies of the Savior. It was so intense! Everyone got to share their intense life stories and experiences they have overcome and gone through growing up and how the have received help and peace through Christ. I am completely amazed by every youth here. Every day my testimony is strengthened more because of theirs. Someone shared his intense story about how he was heavily addicted to drugs and selling them and was so lost and sad and so confused with life and that through the góspel he found true happiness. Everyone was so emotional because he truly has come such a long way. He promised that whatever youth are going through - any trial-can be fixed only with the góspel and living it completely. It was so powerful! I am so glad I went. I love the youth SO much and care so much for them. They are so important and have so much potential.

This week I have felt like I have seen so many different experiences with light. It made me really reflect on the talk by Elder Bednar about the two different ways we receive revelation - whether its in a dark room and we switch on a light quickly or we watch a sunrise and it slowly illuminates the sky with its brightness overtime. It made me ponder on the light of Christ and how this experience is happening in the lives of others. With Mayra and Magali who decided to prepare to get baptized it was like they had been sitting in a dark room for a long time and had been looking for the way to find their way around and finally have found the light switch and turned it on - filling their hearts souls and mind completely with light and everything becoming clear to them. Others-like David - are outside in the cold dark wondering when the morning will come and are waiting to see the sunrise come up and fill the whole sky. As it rises slowly but surely the sun feels good and they become warmer and warmer and time by time they are beginning to feel more hope and that comfort and happiness from the sun.

I love ALL the examples in the scriptures that speak of this light that we are given in our lives to guide and help us. In 1 Nephi 17:3 when the Lord promises Nephi that he will also be his LIGHT to him in the wilderness and direct his paths. We also have the experience of the brother of Jared in Ether 3:4 when the brother of Jared asks the Lord to touch these stones…prepare them that they might shine forth in darkness and that they might shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared that we may have LIGHT while we shall cross the sea.

And when Joseph Smith goes to the grove of trees seeking and desiring answers from god and he sees a pillar of LIGHT – exactly over his head - above the brightness of the sun…..

I am so grateful that my Savior Jesus Christ has shined his light upon me to show me the way. I have felt it and seen it and embraced it with every being in my soul. It is as the brightness of the sun - it has guided me in times when I feel like I will not be able to get somewhere safe and it has protected me from the darkness that is around me. It is the only way in this life to happiness and promise…..just like it states in Psalms 27:1 and 3…

The lord is my LIGHT and my salvation - whom shall I fear…the Lord is my strength of my life - of whom shall I be afraid…though an host shall encamp against me, my heart shall not fear - though war shall rise against me - in this will I be confident.

Tons of people today are making the decision to walk into the light in this dark world in which we live. I personally am realizing the blessings and happiness that we receive when we choose Christ and we understand the perfectness and BRIGHTNESS of his góspel. This light will never go out. It is burning daily and more powerfully and frequently in my heart and countenance. May we choose light over the darkness. May we choose to turn on the light in the dark room and enlighten our understandings of who Christ really is and what he has promised us. When we receive these feelings, promptings, revelations, and inspirations, lives are changed-souls are saved – hearts are healed - the children of God are blessed - and the love and LIGHT of Christ is abounding in each of us.

I love this góspel and love THE LIGHT it gives me. Choose Christ! Walk into the light! And like it says in the song…you can make the pathway bright fill the soul with heavens light if there is sunshine in your heart. I LOVE YOU ALL!

Love, Hermana Pond

August 15th, 2011

So I don’t have much time this week to write, and I will explain later, but we got transfers and it’s the true...I AM TRAINING!!!!! I cannot believe it - I am so excited and so ready! And big surprise - I am staying in Candyland Arroyito! I am nervous and hope my hija will like me – haha - but this is going to be such a good opportunity to grow, and I know it will be hard but I am stoked!

A little catch up from the week is that we did baptize on Saturday SABRINA and CARO!!!! It was SOOOOOO magical - there are no words to describe it. SOOOO many people were there to support, and the spirit was so strong. Also we had the church full of members, inactives, and investigators on Sunday! They said it hadn’t been that full in a really long time. I taught the principles of the gospel class and it was on sacrifice. It was good! I love testifying of the Savior and his sacrifice for us. It is so huge and such a crucial part in our lives to apply it and come to know him so we can be willing to sacrifice in our lives for him to show our love. When I taught this class, I just got so excited and was like pacing around talking all loud moving my hands everywhere and just beaming ear to ear smiling, because I love the gospel so much...haha you could all imagine! There was a quote I found in the Ensign that I love about sacrifice that says...

If we were not required to make sacrifices, we would never be able to develop the faith necessary for eternal salvation.

So for now I am in la falda with Hermana Tejada and we are waiting for our hijitas together! We will pick them up Wednesday so I am definitely way excited for next week to send pictures and tell you all about her!!!! I truly love this work SO MUCH…. and I am so content to be here. I never want to leave. I love being a missionary! The gospel is perfect. There is not much to it. I hope all is well and know it is warming up here and we are coming up to lovely spring!!!!

I love you all and thank you so much for all your love and support. I feel your prayers and love!!!!! Have a good week!

Love Hermana Pond

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Monday August 8th, 2011

HAPPY WEEK FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!!! Thanks for all the birthday wishes! I truly had such a fun and festive birthday week!

First off - ASADOS are way big here right...so pretty much I had an asado like everyday! haha it was so glam!!! On Tuesday we ate with my favorite family that is inactive the Britos because it was the hermanas birthday on the 2nd, so that was way fun. Muy rico! Wednesday about 6 elders came to our area to work and we had a meeting. We ate a ton of facturas for my bday and then we went to work and the zone leaders came with us. We went to our investigator Sabrinas house and she got her interview for her baptism done. First of all it was a miracle that she was home, because normally she has school during the week, but the night before we passed for her mom and she was home and we taught her and asked her about baptism, because for a while her and her mom were really unsure about it. So many miracles with this family! The mom and Sabrina had been praying to see if she needed to get baptized, and the mom said that night she had a dream where she was there with Christ and he was asking all the children to come unto him and follow him. She got all emotional and said that she knew Christ was confirming to her that her daughter needed to come unto him and be baptized because he loves her and knows she is ready and this is her time! It was so truly amazing and we were all SO happy and we all felt the same!

So the next day these elders came and did the interview and she passed and then after the elders gave the mom’s older daughter’s baby a blessing, because he has been really sick. The spirit was so strong! I LOVE the priesthood SO much, and I am so grateful for every single worthy male in the church that holds it, and is using its power daily to heal the sick and bless the people in their family and in their lives. It truly is such a powerful key we have in the church…….just like President Monson told us in this last conference......
The gift of the priesthood is priceless. There is nothing else to compare to it in all this world. Safeguard it, treasure it, live worthy of it.
I invite every male out there who has the priesthood to honor it! You do not know how much it means to your children and your wives and family and friends. It truly is and can bless the lives of us all. As President Uchtdorf has told us this last conference - it really is your potential and your privilege...
What a glorious thing it is to reach beyond our earthy limitations, to have the eyes of our understanding opened and receive light and knowledge from celestial sources!
...let us plead with the Lord to endow our mind and soul with the spark of faith that will enable us to receive and recognize the divine ministering of the holy spirit for our specific life situation and for our challenges and priesthood duties.
What an invitation! I love and appreciate so much every single one of you out there who is walking with that potential and privilege humbly, and is seeking for opportunities to bless the lives of others with that celestial power you carry. Stand tall and be grateful! You are all elect and very worthy men and we are very proud and grateful for the work you do for this gospel!

On Thursday my actual birthday was good - we ate lechon - which is little pigs - it was really intense - RE PESADO DIGAMOS - and it kind of made us sick all day – haha - but at night was fun. We went and passed for Carmen our recent convert, and she gave me gifts and like cried and doesn’t want us to ever leave- haha- I love her so much! Friday was the big ward dance, which was kind of lame – haha - we just had a ton of balloons and streamers everywhere and some members came – and a few in-actives! Also we had a few investigators come too! They all danced the traditional dances here and we ate pizza and cake for my birthday - it was a good time! I love this area and love the members they are like my family! Saturday we taught our recent convert’s familia again, and it was fun to be with them and bond - they are progressing so much! We also went and passed for a reference that we recently found – Mercedes - and talked about the plan of salvation and she was really receptive and liked it- I could definitely see her progressing.

Sunday morning came and I was so nervous Sabrina wouldn’t come to church but my comp and I were praying and fasting, and she made it for all 3 hours! So she can get baptized this Saturday! We were so happy and she was emotional in the church and telling everyone about her baptism and was way stoked! I love her so much! She told us she wants to be a missionary and start going out with us on the weekends to preach the gospel!

As I was studying through the scriptures this week in Heleman I came across a scripture that really impacted me in Chapter 12:2-7, which talks about the nothingness of man. It truly is so sad how hard it is for people to remember God and to follow his counsel and how easy it is to fall into temptations and pride and envy and hatred and care more of the things of the world. It really just made it so clear to me why we are given so many trials in our lives, because truly without these trials we would all be dragged down to our pride and rely on ourselves and our things of the world for happiness, and not have to become so humble to seek the help of the Lord, because we know he is the all powerful and we are nothing. I really have studied so much about pride and humility this week and it is just so important for us to recognize daily the power that God has and the significance of his role in our lives, and how we need his help in all things.

I am SO incredibly grateful for the mission, because it truly has brought me to the core of humility - for the first time in my life every single thing I do and everything I want to accomplish, I realize I have to rely completely on the Lord. Without him - I am nothing! I have no significance or role or purpose as a missionary without his help in this work. Every day I am trying to plead and pray and seek for that humility and charity in my heart. Even in times of trouble we must seek the Lord’s help and know that he is the only one who can deliver us. Sometimes our trials seem unfair or unnecessary and that is when that pride or anger begin to develop, but I love the quote by Orson F Whitney that states no pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted...all that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable...it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain education that we come her to acquire.

Let us remember that we are nothing without God. Let us remember that he is all powerful and it is through him and his way that we can overcome our selfish and prideful ways and find that humility and charity that we need to progress and learn in this earth life. We are each going to endure some kind of trial at different times in our lives, but know that these problems and hardships come to strengthen us and through them we come closer to God, and we become more humble and grateful. Sometimes it just amazes me how many weaknesses I truly have and how lucky I am to have a Father in Heaven that loves me and is patient with me and willing to accept me regardless of those imperfections I bear. We have our Father to guide us. We have him to change our hearts. But first we must be stripped of our pride and come unto him humbly and be willing and give him our heart and he will change it for us. I love this gospel and I can testify that it is indeed perfect. We as members are so imperfect and still have so much to learn, and that is why I challenge each of you to take advantage of this privilege we have to open the scriptures, go to church, seek advice from leaders and parents and friends, pray and fast, attend the temple, pay your tithing, and continue on the path to righteousness and happiness leading you to your loving Father in Heaven someday into his loving and accepting arms. I pray that each of you are always remembering how important this gospel is to your lives and you are doing everything you can daily to strengthen your personal testimony of the Father and his Son and let the Holy Ghost enter into your lives and influence you for the better. I hope you all have a good week and know I love you all with all my heart!

Love Hermana Pond!

August 1st, 2011

Family and friends! Happy week! I cannot believe it is already august! And I cannot believe it is my BIRTHDAY and I am turning 22 - CRAZY! Like always it’s been a really busy crazy fast fun week! It has been SO bloody cold and we have been dying walking around in the streets with all the wind - good thing this town is nice enough to let us in just because it is cold!

First of all, this morning my comp jumped on me at like 6 am and was so stoked and I was like ahhh – what! She said hurry come outside ITS SNOWING!!!! I didn’t believe her, but Christmas does indeed come but twice a year….it snowed in Arroyito I think for the first time in history! We were way stoked and took tons of pics and sang Christmas songs so that was way fun!!

At the beginning of the week we spent a lot of time teaching and interviewing Carmen for her baptism. She is so cute and so excited and ready to get baptized. Of course like every baptism that is coming up there is a trial, and hers was she couldn’t go to church this Sunday because of work, and they wouldn’t let her get it off. She had to go to get confirmed and without it, she wouldn’t be able to do it this weekend. Of course good old Carmen with her positive thinking and faith - she was like – I bet if you ask someone and get permission I can do both on Saturday night. We called our leaders and we called the missión president and the bishop of the ward and they all gave us approval! We all like jumped up and were dancing all over her house. We were all so excited! She is one of my favorite people ever.

I don’t know if you all remember her, but she is the aunt of the recent convert family of like 9 that just got baptized. The day we found her I shared a scripture and she was all emotional, because her husband just passed away and she is all alone and we got her info and started passing her and teaching her…..and now look at her! I love how the Lord works miracles in our lives daily as long as we are working hard and doing our part. I feel so blessed to be able to teach and prepare Carmen for baptism ….she is just SO great! Her baptism Saturday was a big success….. so many members came! (She is so popular!) We had it in the sacrament room and the talks were SO good and the family Domínguez bore their testimonies and it was just all so perfect. Carmen was just glowing, and looked like an angel and was so happy on her big day getting baptized and confirmed - she was so cute and emotional and grateful! I just love her!!!! I also heard that AIDA and her daughter - from Bellville - are finally getting baptized in 2 weeks and also Graciela from Rosedal that I taught forever finally got baptized! So many miracles!

Also this week we were still trying really hard and working with Mayra - she is so hard and hasn’t been really progressing, so its been a fight, but we took Marilyn our recent convert again and that really helped. We read – remember who you are by Elaine Dalton, a talk that I Love - and she was really emotional and I definitely think she needs more confidence and faith in herself. She never thinks she can accomplish or do anything in her life, and thinks she will always regret it - like her baptism. So we really all just helped her boost her confidence, but in the end its all on her part - I have just really realized in the missión how important it is for people to have desire and strong testimonies for them to keep commitments, and to progress because if they don’t, you just feel like nagging parents – haha - just trying to get tired children out to bed and to school - its really hard if they don’t put in their interest and do their part. I really am getting just drained from pushing and trying to help this girl. She didn’t come to church or the baptism this weekend like she said so we are going to be dropping her for now and hope she comes back on her own and desires to come back and has that interest to strengthen her testimony, because she KNOWS these are the things in her life that will make her happy and she KNOWS they are true - not because we do. We can help but we can change her or do it for her.

We also are still working with Sabrina Zapata, who is 14, and who I love! I hadn’t seen her for like 2 weeks, and when we came up to her house she like freaked out and ran out and hugged me so hard and threatened if I ever leave her again she would like die – hahaha - I am nervous for when transfers come! But she is so great-she has been reading and praying and as we were sitting there teaching her she was like - I prayed about it…I know I need to get baptized!!! It was quite a miracle but the hard thing is that she wants to do it while my comp and I are here and we are splitting up in 2 weeks, and she hadn’t even gone to church yet….so we told her we could try and do the 13th or 14th….we just need to talk to our president for permission. It was such a miracle too because Saturday night she didn’t come to the baptism, which was kind of a let down, because we were suppose to teach her in the church before, but early Sunday morning we called and called and she didn’t answer. We hopped on our bikes not giving up, and rode ALLl the way to her house in the cold, and got to her door and the mom said that they were all sleeping….but Sabrina’s little head popped around her mom and said she was ready and wanted to go! So we all walked like 45 minutes to the church together in the cold, and she loved it and the ward was so good to her and loving and nice and we talked to everyone and got them all stoked for her date. So we are hoping and praying for a miracle with her before the end of the transfer! Keep her in your prayers - she is a special girl.

We are continuing teaching Marialena, who is so great and has SO many good questions, but pretty much told us that she would never change from her church and just has interest in hearing about ours……but she is doing so much reading and before was never praying, but has opened up and started to say her prayers. Little by little, she is progressing! We taught her the restoration and she just understood it so well, and had SO many good questions and I literally was at the edge of the couch teaching her – haah - it was so funny - I get so excited teaching and answering peoples questions, and I just have So much energy - especially with the restoration. We got so far and felt like we had covered everything and at the end we got to the point were we wanted her to pray if the church was true and if Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, and the Book of Mormon was true and she still was hesitating and wouldn’t commit to do it.

The morning before this lesson I studied the Ensign and the talk – “Testimony “- from Elder Cecil O Samuelson in this last conference, and it talked about these 10 points that we need in order to obtain our own testimony. It talked about how if WE ARE WILLING TO PAY THE PRICE - meaning keep the commandments and do all that he asks - we will have a testimony of our own. Sometimes that is what we lack when we are looking for or trying to obtain our own testimony - the will! We also need sincerity of heart that will help us to understand the answers and feelings we receive from God, and then to act on them. In the talk it gives the example of the Book of Mormon invite from Moroni Chapter 10 when it clearly states:

“And when you shall receive these things” - meaning you have listened, read, studied, and pondered upon the question at hand….we then “ask God the eternal Father in the name of Jesus Christ, if these things are not true” - meaning we will pray thoughtfully, SPECIFICALLY, and reverently with a firm commitment to follow the answer to your prayer. Once we are given these special and specific feelings from God- we have then obtained the answers we have been looking for. We have been given our testimony and we cannot deny the feelings we have felt. We must act with them and share them with others so that we can always nourish and strengthen our own testimony.

I love all the examples in the scriptures that have such profound strong moving and heart felt testimonies. I love in Alma 5 verses 45-48 when Alma is just sharing all of his deepest feelings and testimony to the people of Christ and the gospel and Christ’s teaching and he states-

Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself…behold I TESTIFY unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true, and how do you suppose that I know of their surety…

Behold, I say unto you that they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true, for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit - and this is the spirit of revelation that is in me.

I love how willing Alma was to receive these things for himself and through his sacrifices and obedience, the Lord made manifest to him and he received such a strong and burning conviction of surety for himself for the truth of these things. Each one of us can experience this mighty change of heart he describes in Alma 5 verse 14 and we can each come to KNOW of the truth but we first must be willing and have the desire to continue with the power that we are given.

I ended this lesson for Marialena with reading out of Joseph Smith history verse 25…

So it was with me. I had actually seen a light and in the midst of that light I saw two personages and they did in reality speak to me - and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision yet it was true - and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart - why persecute me for telling the truth…I have actually seen a vision - and who am I that I can withstand God or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen…for I had seen a vision. I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and, I could not deny it, neither dared I do it- at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God and come under condemnation.

I looked Marilena in the eyes and with every bit of my spirit and heart and soul in that very moment I bore her testimony that I KNEW that this church was true. I KNEW that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and he did restore the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today. I TESTIFIED to her that if she did indeed pray to God and asked him with that sincere heart to know the truth, he would manifest his spirit so softly, yet so powerfully in her mind and heart, and she too would know and would be able to TESTIFY the truth of these things.

I am SO grateful for the opportunity that we have in the church as members to bear our TESTIMONIES of the truth of the things that we do indeed KNOW to be true and that other people can be influenced and strengthened by them. Testimonies are a blessing and it is truly something we do need to work for to obtain our own, but when we do and we sacrifice and study and pray and fast and do everything within our power to feel of that spirit of God and know for ourselves the truth - good things will come to pass…the world can be that much changed for the better - other peoples sad spirits can be lifted up that much higher, and the Kingdom of God will soon be constructed throughout the whole world. Let us open up our hearts and spirits and share our testimonies with others! Sometimes we fear we don’t’ know enough, or its not good enough or people will judge or we don’t know what to say but I challenge each of you this coming week - especially this coming fast and testimony Sunday - to pray intently for the spirit to give you the courage and strength to know what to say and have those exact words that will touch someone specific and strengthen their own TESTIMONY. I promise you with all the love and sincerity of my heart that you will see miracles and you will feel so much gladness and love and appreciation from your Father in Heaven……when you bear your testimonies to others. Have no fear! He is with you.

Always remember that….

D & C 62: 3………You are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the ANGELS to look upon - and the REJOICE over you and your sins are forgiven you.

I love you all and I can TESTIFY to each of you boldly and lovingly that this gospel is TRUE! I hope you all have a good week!

Love, Hermana Pond