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