Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Monday, December 30, 2013 - Ring Out, Wild Bells!

What a great week it's been! The Monday before Christmas we went to a family's FHE. This is a long standing tradition in their family and they were kind enough to invite us. Part of their tradition is Grandpa dressing up as Poncho Claus and lip syncing the song that goes with it. HILARIOUS! We're definitely right by the border!!! Christmas we were able to eat dinner with a family and we had Mexican food! I've decided to appropriately theme this Christmas, "My Christmas Across the Border." We then went caroling with some of the members in our zone. We had a blast and I loved watching every one's faces we caroled to (even though I'm sure it was slightly out of tune, but I'm sure the Spirit made up for the rest). I'm so glad I was able to talk/see my family through Skype on Christmas Day! It felt right and surreal at the same time. I haven't Skyped with them since Mother's Day and I've changed so much since then. We were well taken care of by the members of our ward. I'm so grateful for them! We were invited to two breakfasts, a lunch, and a dinner. When 6pm rolled around for our zone activity we were exhausted- in a good way! I'm glad we were able to stay busy because it made our Christmas. We got together as a zone and we watched Chronicles of Narnia. We picked out all of the motifs related to the gospel! It was a fun night and I'm glad we were able to get together as a zone. It was a great last Christmas on the mission!
The next day I had to leave Sister Beach and go to MLC, Missionary Leadership Counsel, from 9-5pm. It was a long day, but it was good for Sister Beach to see how another sister works. She went with the Spanish sister who lives with us since her companion is an STL as well. It was a wonderful experience to be taught by President and the Assistants in a more intimate manner. I learned a lot about Christlike leadership and the focus of the mission right now. President Nattress is a very inspired man. I am grateful he is our Mission President. I can tell he loves us a lot and he wants to do what's best for all of us collectively and individually. It's a big responsibility, but I know the Lord is helping me magnify my assignment. I know how much He loves each one of us and I can see the potential each sister I have stewardship over has. I'm excited because I made posters for each companionship that reads, "Got Miracles?" and we're going to record a miracle a day that we recognize from the Lord. I though since we're in cow country (literally there's a dairy in our area and we have a cow in the back yard) we must embrace it!  
Sierra is scheduled for baptism on January 25th at 11am. Her family hasn't come to church the past two Sundays and they canceled our lesson this past Monday. We had texted and called them, but no reply. We were getting a little frustrated because they had been doing so well! We went to their house every day and sat outside their gate for a good 15 minutes, praying we would be able to get in. We went there two days in a row and nothing. Their cars were there, but we couldn't get in. The Lord works in mysterious ways. I don't know what the difference was between Friday and Saturday when we went, but we got in Sunday afternoon. We pulled up and there were 3 of the children rollerblading outside! If we had been any earlier or any later, we probably would have missed them. We both felt strongly we should go to them at that specific time and the Lord blessed us! We were able to discuss Sierra's baptism, share a message, and set up an appointment for this evening. We've been praying for them and especially Sierra's mother because it all rests on her to have Sierra progress. She's the main holdup right now and we've been trying to address her concerns. I know there's something else we just need to touch on to make her more comfortable at church- she doesn't like how friendly the ward is! What a change from most people's concerns! We had to tell the ward to not swarm them! Yesterday we had several less active families come to church we've been working with! What a great day!
We had a miracle happen at our dinner yesterday! The members we ate with started talking about one of our recent convert's mom, Mercedes. She has been coming to church the past three Sundays. She prefers to speak Spanish, but she understands English and even knows a lot of English. We had thought the Spanish Elders had been teaching her. It turns out they haven't been able to get in. Yesterday Mercedes' son, Robert, decided to not come to church but she came by herself! We have quite a few Spanish speakers in our ward and the ward has really been rallying around them. We had painted their house a couple of weeks ago and her heart has been softened. She wants to be baptized and she just needs the lessons! We're going to start teaching her on Tuesday! I'm so thankful the Lord trusts us and has been blessing us. I know this would have not happened unless it was by the power of God. We have been praying and praying to find the seekers of truth. The ward really feels like she'll progress in our ward and stay active. Robert is an alcoholic unfortunately so we have to get him to rehab. We're planning on getting him there in two weeks. I hope he'll straighten up and become more active.
I am grateful for this time to serve the Lord and to be focus on Him which in turn helps me to become better. We have been studying the sanctifying effect of charity on people in the Book of Mormon. Charity encompasses so much- the Atonement, compassion, service, faith, repentance. As I've been studying this topic for the past couple of weeks I have in turn learned a lot about myself and how I want to become better. Charity is the pure love of Christ. When we have charity we do not have pride. Pride is the root of all sins. We can combat pride with having charity towards all men and seeing them as God sees them. When we truly see others as God does, we become happier. I have seen the effect of charity in my life. I notice the difference when I am charitable and when I'm not. We're all not perfect and we all have weaknesses, but we can strive each day to become better. Especially as we are reflecting on this past year and the year to come, we need to set goals to just become a little bit better. We just can't set goals and forget them. We much write them down and reflect on them daily. This is something I have noticed which has helped me throughout my mission. Once I make a goal I try to review it every day and then re-evaluate and then make a little bit of progress. Setting goals is the only way we become better! I know Christ will help us accomplish those righteous goals! He knows how we feel. HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2014 is going to be the best year yet!
Sister Collins
Christmas packages

Lauren's district

Poncho Claus