Hola hola mi familia!
Mom, your title for this emaill was perfect! I'll explain more later on, but this has definitely been a "week of gratitude" for us here in the Woodlands! To first answer some questions...our main focus right now is finding new people to teach. We do a lot of personal contacting lately, knocking and what not but this week we actually received a few referrals too! We try to work a lot with the recent converts here and the members as well, so as we do that hopefully we will continue to get more and more referrals. I'm really excited for this next week too, we have a lot of members coming out to lessons with us which has been something we're really trying to improve on. It's just so hard because we have to work with the investigator's schedule, the member's schedule, and our schedule, but it is so worth it and God is making it possible for us. I feel like we're teaching a lot of people right now which I am so grateful for, but at the same time it's hard to know who is really interested in what we have to share and are willing to do the things that we ask them to do. And I know it's not easy, but where there's a will there's a way! I really cannot tell you how much patience I have had to learn while on my mission. And I know it will continually be something for me to work on! I need to have patience with myself and with the people we teach. Even if we aren't placing baptismal dates left and right, we are making a big effort to show these people how much we love them and care for them. Hopefully when they recognize this they'll have an even greater desire to change because they'll know that we are sincere. It can be really frustrating to be giving it all that you have and not see immediate results, in fact that is something that has been hard for us this week. But we just have to endure it with patience and continue giving our best efforts and when we do see the results of our labors, in the Lord's timing and in His way, how much greater our joy will be. (Read the talk Continue in Patience by Pres. Uchtdorf)
So at the very beginning of the week we were a little discouraged because of what I just mentioned. We feel as if we are working so hard and a lot of the time not really seeing much come of it. On Tuesday I read an article in the Ensign about a woman who only gave gratitude prayers and how her testimony was strengthened from this. So I decided I wanted to try this. Hna. Driesel and I decided to only say gratitude prayers for the rest of that week, and wow was our perspective changed! At first I had no idea how I would be able to do this when as a missionary we need all the help from the Lord that we can get! But it was really interesting to see how rather than asking for things, we put our trust and faith in the Lord that He could make things possible. Instead of asking Him to help us find someone to teach it turned into "We know that with your help and guidance we can find the people who are ready to accept this message." We were putting all of our faith in Him, and then miracles were coming at us from every direction! Just on that Tuesday we saw the biggest difference in our work and we had so much excitement. Our desire to work hard was completely rejuevenated! Listen to all the things that happened to us on Tuesday, and see how the Lord was blessing us for our faith. We went to an appointment and it didn't go through. But then we found a new potential who seems sincerely interested! We have an appointment set up with him and his family this week! A family!!! Then we went to visit one of our menos activos. She also wasn't able to have the appointment because she was sick. But her daughter and her family live with her and let us come teach her. She is so sweet, loved what we had to share with her, and invited us back. So, we got a new investigator! Then we got to eat enchiladas with a member which is just a miracle in and of itself. Then, we went to have a member lesson with a family in our ward. Lo and behold, the mom of this family had her sister over for dinner. She knows a lot about the bible and is very interested in religion. We had a really incredible discussion with her and shared with her some of the things we believe, she pretty much agreed to all that we said. So, we got another new investigator and have a lesson with her this week as well! There were so many unexpected miracles that I am so grateful for. I know that not every person we have another lesson with will be converted, but the Lord was blessing us for our efforts and it is exactly what we needed.
In other news, I went on exchanges twice this week and with one of them we set a baptismal date! He is actually in the ward I go to right now (there are two sets of sisters in our ward and one companionship of elders) so I will be able to see it happen! It was such an awesome experience. He was so excited and I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face. Literally the muscles in my jaw were so exhausted! haha It's so exciting and...ah I don't even have words to describe it. So that was a really cool experience.
Yesterday I had the best food I've had since being on my mission. The same man in the picture I sent you that gives us coca cola every time we visit made food for us while we were teaching his wife. He had homemade tortillas, fajita, onions, jalapeno, avocado, and we had the best tacos in the entire world. Mmmmm. haha sorry that was so off of topic but I just had to share that with you.
Sorry my emails are all over the place, there really is just so much that happens that I don't even know what to tell you all. I wish I could tell you every detail but there are just too many. But I want to leave you with one last experience and my testimony of the restoration. This week we had our first lesson with Maria, who we miraculously knocked into last week. I have never felt the Spirit so strongly while teaching the restoration in my life. It came out of nowhere, but the Spirit testified to me that this miraculous, sacred story is true. We were telling her about Joseph Smith and his experience in the arboleda (sorry I can't think of the words in English. Ask Jake if you need help! haha) Hna. Driesel began to read Joseph Smith's account of the first vision..."Vi una columna de luz, mas brillante que el sol, directamente arriba de mi cabeza; y esta luz gradualmente descendio hasta descansar sobre mi...Al reposar sobre mi la luz, vi en el aire arribe de mi a dos personajes, cuyo fulgor y gloria no admiten descripcion. Uno de ellos me hablo, llamandome por mi nombre, y dijo, senalando al otro: Este es Mi Hijo Amado: Escuchalo!" As she read this tears filled my eyes, and the Spirit I felt in that moment was penetrating. I testified to Maria that I knew this to be true. I know that as I share these teachings, my knowledge and my testimony increases. I am learning so much, and I think that the Lord is really trying to teach me. I'm His investigator. I know that as I submit to His will and give everything I have to know Him, I will be changed into the person that He knows I can become. I must be willing to change, and I have realized that I should always let the Lord change me. I can always trust God and know that whatever changes He makes in me will always be for the better. I have a testimony of this and I know that if I give this mission everything that I have I will be blessed and begin to become the person God intended for me to be. I know that it is not an easy thing to do, pero bien vale la pena.
I love you all so much and love getting to hear from you every week. Thanks for letting me share the things that I learn with you, not all of it is probably right, I know I've still got a lot of learning to do. But the person that I am becoming as a result of these things will be something that I will forever be grateful for. Show your gratitude to God for what He has given you, not only in your prayers but through your actions as well. I know that you will be blessed!!
With so much love that you can't even handle it,