Monday, August 29, 2011

Membership Activation

Dear Family and Friends,

I am so tired. I don't know how I function some days. Before I talk about this last week, I want to share an experience. Today has been a rough day. I am feeling socially awkward and just down. Which is dumb, because then you just think of yourself and become more selfish. I have been praying that I would be the answer to someones prayers for the past couple of days.  Just now we went to Sally's to get some hair dye for Hna. Coughlen. I was just standing there looking at things and this lady named Hannah Smith came up to me. She asked "are you a missionary?" I love it every time when i get to say "yes, yes I am." She told me that she was an ex-communicated member and that she never sees missionaries. She has been looking for them a lot lately and also a church building. She can't invite missionaries over to her house because of her boyfriend....luckily there are lots of parks :) She said yesterday she was talking about this to her grandma and how much she misses the church, that she has been praying for it. I got her information and told her we would give her a call. She said we had made her day. I gave her a hug and was so happy that I could do that for something. Just being in the right place at the right time. Heavenly Father does answer prayers.

This last week was an interesting week. We are realizing more and more how to tell if people are really ready to accept the gospel. When they are not, it is so much harder to invite the Spirit. This last week we dropped one of our investigator families. It was so sad to see her with all of her knowledge reject these things. She wants to sleep in. It broke my heart a little for her children. They will not be able to have these blessings right now in their life. We are also going to have to stop going by with several more of our investigators. Sadly, this needs to happen. I talked to Pres. Maynes about this and he told me that God prepares people and so when they are ready, we can help them. I am really sad because we are going to have to drop Maricela Gonzalez. I love this lady. She is always wearing heels even if she is going to stay in the apartment. She has 3 of the cutest boys. She is a really good person, but hasn't opened her heart. We keep trying to think of what we could do to help her, but the answer isn't that sadly. I am really sad to go by this week and tell her that we can no longer come by.

Hilda is progressing a lot. I hope that I will be able to see her baptized. She has a lot of issues. She needs to be divorced ($600), get married, quit smoking and open a new case with immigration ($1500). She has already started seeing blessing. Last night we taught to keep the Sabbath Day holy. It was a great lesson for the kids and also the recent converts we had with us. The recent converts now really understand what they should and shouldn't do on the Sabbath. I love it when members also get taught along with investigators.

 Saturday night we got a call from the North mission elders. One of our old investigators that moved over there was going to be getting baptized on Sunday. Well they asked us to speak....
So that was interesting. Sundays are always so crazy. We leave the house before 7:45 and then run around like a crazy person....yep only one crazy person....not two. So I gave a talk in Spanish with 5 minutes of preparation. It went pretty good. It was an extremely weird baptism. The bishop was late, it was in a different mission (we go to church outside of the mission), one of the elders from our ward baptized him and we spoke. But it was a great day! We then had a meeting with the ward council and talked about less active work. It was fantastic because Hermana Rivera bore her testimony about how better is her life now shes active. We are really excited to see the results of this work in the ward. Then the elders in our ward had a baptism. I directed the music! It was great. I was glad we were able to help.

This last week I have studied Repentance, Baptism, the Atonement and the Way.....basically the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The scriptures have truly been teaching me this week. Christ is the only way. There are a couple of things we need to do to...have faith in him, repent, be baptized, etc. When we do this we are following His commandments and are repenting or constantly changing. When we do this we receive His mercy. If we keep doing this we can live with Him again. There is obviously more that I have learned. My heart has been touched to understand just a little bit more about this great opportunity I have in this life.  I love being a missionary! I really hope that we can find the prepared.

Josh (someone get this to him) - I love you so much and am so proud of should write me all about it!

Here is another story from Hna. Coughlen:

So ready for another episode of the "la vida loca de la hermana coughlen"? I woke up a little under the weather, but I usually blame that on the high grease diet and obscene amount of meat we eat (with questionable origin... for some reason the use of refrigerators is not well taught in the Hispanic culture...) but it just didn't seem to quit that day... I did not want to stay at home because there is so much to do, so many people to see, and who just wants to sit at home all day when you got nothing there but two desks and one CD... so we went to work. Hna. Spencer kept trying to get me to tell her how I felt because she knows when it comes to that I can be a dirty liar because I want to work. We were down by one of our favorite people's houses, Hilda Hernandez and since it is hard to get down to that part of town we just HAD to go. As we were sitting in the car preparing a little the urge to throw up got a little stronger, but it had been bugging me all day so I figured I would be fine. As we reached the door I looked at Hermana Spencer and said, "we gotta go home after this." "and we gotta make this visit FAST." She agreed and immediately Hilda opened the door. As we were at her table in the basement where she lives I started out good. But soon the only things I could do to comfort myself was a slight rocking motion and fidgeting of the knees. I tried to hide it the best I could but at the end of the lesson when Hna. Spencer asked Hilda is she had any questions she said, "about this (referring to what we had just taught) no, but what's wrong with her?!" (looking at me). I tried to explain and being a good Hispanic she tried to play Dr. and prescribe me something.... As she was explaining the pills she was going to give me hermana Spencer says my eyes turned black and without saying goodbye I started to book it up the stairs and out the doors (which was conveniently locked...) Right when I got out and stepped onto the grass.... HUUUUGH!!! there it went! I looked like a sick dog. After decorating her lawn 6 times with my vomit I looked up at her with sad eyes and said "lo siento". She said it wasn't a big deal and that she would just spray it down with the hose when we left... how embarrassing... at least she already wants to get baptized!! HAHA! I feel almost 100% better now. The hardest part of the day was staying inside that day because we had to follow our rule "If you are throwing up or if you have diarrhea... we don't work!"

Just so you this is a rule of the mission....Hna. Thomas and I decided this a LONG time ago... but as of yet it has only applied to Hna. Coughlen.

Love you all,

Hermana Spencer

Monday, August 22, 2011

English Class

Dear Everyone....

I have a couple of minutes to write to you!

We are doing really great here. We have two people now on date. Hilda Hernandez and Nancy Lujan. Hilda is doing incredible. She loves church and has great fellowshipppers. We had one of our recent convert families, the Palacios, give them a ride and sit by them in church. They are amazing. The other night we took them to the appointment with us and they brought pizza. We asked Hilda to be baptized and she said yes....and bro. Palacio then said do you know what that means? It was funny for some reason. They were baptized last October.

A funny story about them: One time we went over there (at this time they scared me) and they were telling me some story about rain. Hna. Coughlen was in the bathroom (which when you barely speak Spanish and don't know the people is really scary). I didn't understand part of their story and they turned to each other and the wife said....she doesn't understand. (And of course I understood that part!) Now she loves us and just wants to make us food.

So they are just doing wonders with Hilda. Along with them is the Fam. Rivera. They are also from El Salvador. Hilda sits inbetween Hna. Palacio and Hna. Rivera in Relief Society in the first row. It just makes me beam!

It was really nice to be with Hna. Thomas last week. It was great to see that we both had made so much progress. They also told her how much my Spanish had improved. I really heard that like 50 times last week...which I guess is a good thing. They always start off with ....when she got here she couldn't speak for nothing...but now look at her. LOL. Even the old lady we visit in the Nursing home said it lol. Hna. Thomas is of course a fantastic missionary.

We are really glad that our ward is progressing and that hopefully soon we will have a baptism. Transfers are in two weeks yet again....and I am really nervous. Hna. Coughlen and I have been companions for so long! I am scared to get another companion, but am also so excited at the same time.

Last night a huge black man named Big....asked to take us out for a burrito. It was probably one of the funniest contacts ever. We of course told him no. He then offered to take us to get coffee so I told him about the word of wisdom lol. I ended up saying....just take the pamphlet for your salvation....its more important than a burrito!

I am so full of gratitude to be a missionary. I love the gospel so much and am learning lessons I never thought I would learn and some that I didn't think I needed to. The Lord is slowly changing my heart. Here is a thing that I learned this morning in Personal Study. I studied Repentance. Preach My Gospel says something profound:
Bringing our lives in line with God’s will through
repentance is a central purpose of our lives. We can return to live with God the Father only
through Christ’s mercy, and we receive Christ’s mercy only on condition of repentance.
With out repentance we can not live with God. The Scriptures say over and over again....why? When we repent we can have the mercy of Jesus Christ. Because of His Atonement we can have mercy and live with God again.

I love you all very much.

Love Hna. Spencer

P.S. Thanks MeeKK

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Best Ward Activity Ever


So this week was super crazy. I don't have a lot to write about, but it was amazing.

It was a little different. We spent a lot of time preparing for our ward mission night.  We made invitations, programs, practiced and practiced. We wanted to make sure we could explain everything we needed to do in Spanish. We were given 20 minutes to present how members can invite their friends. The Elders also had 20 minutes to explain our role as missionaries and what the role of members is. President Maynes also came and spoke about retention. The activity was a huge success. The Spirit was there so strongly. We all felt that we were doing the right thing. President Maynes was fantastic. He spoke to as many people as he English lol. He shook their hand. He loved them. We got a great translator for him. He asked everyone who was a convert to raise their hand. Most of the people were converts. He then asked who loves the gospel. He then said who did I shake hands with. ... He had missed a couple and said "I'll get you later!" He then talked about how he was able to be friendly with the people even though he couldn't speak their language. He then said....we need to love people that come to church...less actives...recent converts...and investigators. The way he said everything touched so many hearts. The spirit was there so strong, I didn't worry about my Spanish. The ward was friendly yesterday and more willing to help us.

Also we had president interviews on Saturday. It was great to talk to President. He told Sis. Coughlen "You both are working to the bone and seeing no results (as in baptisms)." It is true, but he gave me a lot of hope. He told me to not measure my success as a missionary by baptisms, but by obedience. We also talked about hunting the prepared. When we find someone who is prepared, it is so much easier to teach them. We really worked on finding this week and now have 12 new investigators. I am really excited about all of these people. President just gave me some comfort and we also talked about teaching skills. I am really excited to see how my teaching skills change.

Ohhh....... Sis Coughlen just reminded me. Here is a story:
"This week we also went to go visit one of the people we were teaching, turned out they moved randomly (not uncommon with illegals) and the new tenets are a family of super ghetto-south black people! It was a blast to talk to them, especially since they had a few cock-tails in them... well, one of the guys was trying to call his lady friend over away from our group but she yelled back and said "Don't get in the way of my Jesus talk!" Eventually he sauntered over and tried to do a "hand-shake" with her. They failed about 3 times and on the last attempt a baggie dropped to the floor.... the man looked at her with big eyes, eyeing the ground where it fell and pulled her in to whisper something. I just laughed and pretended not to notice so that the situation didn't get any more awkward. We should have said, "That's what happens when you do a drug deal in front of "Jesus people" (as they called us). Never a dull moment."
That was when I trying to explain the Plan of Salvation....

I also got a blessing from President Maynes after the activity. I haven't had one since I was set apart. It was so wonderful to hear that Heavenly Father loves me and that He is pleased with me. So many of the same blessing were promised that were in my setting apart blessing. I am so grateful that these things will happen.

So I love my mission. Every time I realize how fast time is flying....I get scared because I don't want to leave. I have been studying the Book of Mormon alot. I will finish today marking every reference to Jesus Christ. It has changed the way I look at the BOM. I love it so much and am so grateful I can always study it.

I am going to go on exchanges with Hermana Thomas tonight and it should be fun!

I love you all so much,

Love Hermana Spencer

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Craziest...

Dear Family, Friends and Strangers,

This last week was so crazy. Literally crazy.

1. La Familia Mancera (our rock star investigator family) got kicked out of their house last week. So we helped them look for boxes, apartments and storage. We were having such a hard time finding an apartment because they don't have papers. I don't know how they all do it, but they get jobs and find apartments. Sadly, the family moved out of the mission. All five of them were on date for the 27th. They live less than a mile outside the mission. I won't lie we were devastated, but we feel much better about it now.
2. Our other investigator, Yeni, decided to go to Mexico randomly....hopefully she will get back soon. She still is great. We met with her on Tuesday and she is just so great. She is already half way through first Nephi with lots of questions. She even prayed that she could be ready for her baptismal date.
3. Church....As a missionary, church is so exhausting. We have a meeting at 7:45 with the bishop. Afterwards we made copies and confirmed rides for our investigators. We had a lady with 6 children come. I felt like a mom. Luckily we were prepared with crayons and coloring pictures of Jesus. Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting. President has asked us to have at least one missionary bear their testimony every month. I really wanted to share my testimony yesterday. I went up there and the people ahead of me took a while. A member of the bishopric got up and closed the meeting before I could share my testimony.....all the ward members were looking so confused. It was the weirdest I just sat up there and sung the hymn. Also we are having our huge activity about missionary work this next Saturday. We are doing so much work for this. Next week, we are also staring our English classes.....or we think so. We are having a hard time organizing it with the stake and the ward. So wish us luck. We had a less active, Yazmin, bear her testimony about las hermanas and the BOM. I was so filled with joy! She is reading every night and it is changing her. I then went to primary...with all of our investigator children. I love primary lol!
4. Rivera Family! They are totally changing. La hermana called us this week and told us about her reading from the scriptures. She really is increasing her testimony. She wants to start FHE now. Yesterday we went to visit another family in the ward and they were there. We visited the Fam. Palacio. They also love us. Hermana Rivera called me El Salvadorian lady :) Both of these families are growing the gospel.

I really love being a missionary. Its been 8 months now! Sorry this is a short one.

One more thing. This week I had a really hard time, personally, loosing investigators...etc. Heavenly Father really taught me a little about the Atonement. It is so real. He wants us to us it so much more than we do. Also there is power in going to the temple. I went on Wednesday and it was so amazing. Remembering our covenants really gives us power.

I love you all!

Hermana Spencer

P.S. Cathy - in Bro. Merrill's institute thing from last stuff from my mission president...Alan Maynes. Its about questions....could you find that for me and send it? I love you!

Will you marry me?

Dear Family and Friends....

This week was an interesting week. I felt exhausted...and so did Hna. Coughlen. This week we put Yeni on date for the 20th of August! We are super excited. She is doing well. Also Fam. Mancera are great! Maria "proposed" to Alfredo. . .She asked him to marry her and he said can I have a week to think about it. lol.  We are making plans for their wedding. She wants to go look for a dress to wear and Freddi said "I'm not marrying a dress...we've been together for 23 years." They are just really funny. I told them I would make them a cake for their party. So we called some English Elders and asked them if they knew anyone who would have the pans and it turns out that they have 3 people in their ward that make wedding cakes. . . so now we are getting a professional wedding cake done for free! Yay. Another member is also taking pictures. So things are going well.

Also the ward really trusts us here. We might be going shopping with some of the YW today and help with dress more modestly. The ward just loves to see us. We were also surprised attacked to teach sharing time in primary. It was really odd....she stopped me in the hall and asked if I could help a little in primary. We soon learned it was all the missionaries and we were not just helping we were teaching. Luckily we were just helping the kids talk about the temple. I really do love primary. We are trying to memorize more songs to teach to children.

We are worried that we might have to drop one of our favorite investigators, Maricela. She is a great person and I love her kids. She just is not progressing the way she should. She has been meeting with us for almost 6 months and still does not want to read the Book of Mormon as much as she should. Really that action of reading the Book of Mormon is so important. We fasted for her this last weekend because we really have no idea how to help her progress. I remember meeting with her one time and just feeling like she would get baptized. Hopefully something will change soon.

Also some great news! One of our almost active less actives blessed the sacrament for the first time yesterday. He was so cute. I was praying so hard that he would get the words right. Later on we went by with his family and read the Book of Mormon. I asked him how he felt. He said he was super nervous but was glad he got to do it. They were also asking about buying the FHE manual and also nice scriptures. The teenage daughter, Ana, said....they're buying church books? What more do you want from us? LOL. They always say that we could move in with them. They just love us so much. They can't see how much their home has changed, but we can. They are all more happy and their is so much more love in that house. The gospel really does change families.

Sorry this is a shorter letter...I don't have a lot of thoughts today. I am planning on taking my first nap today :) Hopefully I will be able to.

Hermana Spencer

The Big 55!

Dear Family and Friends!

This last week was insane and amazing. Sorry I am writing late....a lot of crazy things have happened. First, I did not get transferred and neither did Hermana Coughlen. By the end of this transfer we will have severed together 6 months...or a 1/3 of our missions...crazy! We were happy because we really want baptisms together. So I still live at the same address and everything.

So last week we did it! We broke the mission record and got 55 lessons in one week. It was so rough, but great. We knocked and had some time in between appointments. We are really working on having smaller more powerful lessons. It was great. All of the leaders got a shot out from President about we must not be doing that bad. Our district almost averaged 40 lessons! Also we have a family on date for next month, August 27! We are super excited. We will also be having a wedding before that so they can get married. All of the kids are excited. This is so much better than 55 lessons. They are a family of 6 - 5 of them will be getting baptized and the little one in November. They already want to go to the temple! Yay Fam. Mancera!

Also we have a rock star investigator. Her name is Yeni! We met her brother when we didn't have a car. The first time we met with them was two weeks ago. It was a super awkward lesson. The brother, Ramundo was cooking on the grill and the family was on the porch. So....they fed us (side was a great hamburger). It was just a difficult lesson because we didn't know what to expect and the brother was cooking. Yeni was the most interested. Last week when we went by with them she was home. She was so glad we had come back...and we just thought "I hope one of them is interested." Almost two weeks ago...her friend's mom died. She remembered what we had said about families being together forever. She wanted to know how and invite her friend to learn. She had already told her friend about us. We taught her a little of the plan and committed her to be baptized next month. She already uses the Book of Mormon....prays with her friends and she went to church this last Sunday. She was so cute. She was worried about what skirts she could wear and was super nervous all through church...but she loved it. She can't wait to go back. She just wants it so much.

None of the Spanish sisters moved this last transfer. So next one will be crazy.

We have seen so many miracles. Just small ones. I really am so grateful that they still do exist. One is Hannah...I think I wrote about her a little. We found her. She is a less active that is gay. Yesterday we went and helped her clean her moms house. Her mom is a hoarder and the house was very dirty. It was so great to help her. We both felt so great about what we had done. She was also so grateful. Afterwards, she prayed for the first time in a long time. It was so great to hear her prayer. I found a talk I really like that says..."Love them today so you can teach them tomorrow." I feel like I can do a lot of loving. It is so wonderful to know that you have answered a prayer or followed the Spirit. I am slowly learning that God really is never that far from us. He was us all back.

It is official...I will be coming home the 27th of June. I talked to President yesterday and its done! So yay!

I have been thinking a lot of about my mission lately. It feels like I just started and everything. I know I am learning so many lessons. Yesterday one of the Elders who was going home said "Sometimes your mission isn't the best two years of your life, but the best two years for your life." I feel this way. I have hard times so much. Sometimes a day is really up and down. I feel like I used to find it easier to be happy...BUT I know that this is where I need to be and am so glad I am here. The Lord is truly blessing me more than I realize. My Spanish is progressing. My ability to teach is also progressing. I feel more comfortable as a missionary and honestly wish I had more time. We have a challenge from our mission president to change our attitudes and I want to be more happy, just more excited. I want people to still know me as the girl who always smiles.

I hope you all are enjoying the long email today. It feels good to use this time for yall!

Funny story about a coupon. I went to the dermatologist last week. She gave me a coupon for a face cream that she said was kinda expensive. When we went to pick it was over $400 dollars. Seriously that much for a face it made of gold? Well with that coupon it was free! It was the best coupon ever!

Seriously - I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY! Everyone should do it! The Lord is so mindful of us and wants us to be happy. He wants to have everything....and one day we can have everything, but we have to learn first to follow Him first!

I love you,

Hermana Spencer

Shout outs!

Garrett - Happy Birthday! Enjoy Chile!
Hna. Ruiz - I loved your letter and expect a letter soon. You will love it!
Sam - Can you get Ally's address for me?
Cathy and Katie - I love you and was surprised....very surprised!

I'm 23!

Howdy Yall

So this last week was crazy. We were so busy! We taught 49 lessons! Sadly I do not have that much time to email because we had to help someone move.

My birthday was awesome! We taught 10 lessons. I made 2 cakes for other people and someone gave me cake....It was a lot of cake. I also got lots of texts from random missionaries. Thank you so much to everyone who sent mail. It was fantastic. It is a little weird to be 23. Also all of the packages and letters arrived perfectly! Thanks!

This last week I learned a little about miracles and how the Holy Ghost works on us.
1. We decided to go and knock this random apartment complex one night. The next day we were debating about what to do. We ended up going to it and the first door we knocked an old man answered and told us it was a horrible time to come because the whole first floor got flooded (it has been raining a lot). So we thought about leaving. Well luckily I have a brain and thought, maybe we could go to the second floor. So we did. We found this lady named Hannah. She is white/native American and is gay, but she also turns out to be a member of the church. We were able to be an answer to someones prayers. Her grandmother died recently and she has a horrible family. She has been praying a lot. We were able to testify to her that God loves her. She knew that we were sent by God.
2. Yesterday we had some down time...because no one was home. So we went knocking. We both thought of this purple house we had passed by when we didn't have a car. We usually go a way to get up there, but yesterday I had the thought to go up Willams....well we were on Willams and Hna. Coughlen sees a random less active that we haven't seen recently. And guess what it was her! We walked down the street and she was really happy to see us! We were able to teach her about priesthood blessings on the street :) Then we went to the purple house area....and we learned something. Some people opened when we knocked on the purple house and they said the lady only speaks Spanish and that they were leaving (perfect). Then they asked if she wanted to talk to us...she didn't. I noticed something inside - it was one of those ribbons for funerals. Then we saw lots of people come by and bring food. It was just a small thing, but we know we need to go back.

So in these circumstances we didn't feel the spirit really tell us anything, but we later learned we were doing the right thing. I have so much to learn.

The mission has a record for the most lessons taught in one week....54. We might be teaching 55. We have been focusing on shorter lessons more frequently (according to our mission president) and just have lots of new people.

Next week is transfers. I really hope we both stay here. I don't feel like I am moving, but we shall see! I think we will be having several baptisms this next transfer :)

I love you all,

Hermana Spencer