Greetings!! How is life treating ya'll this week? I hope it is as good for you as it has been for me this week! Wow this week has been FULL of miracles. So many that I don't think I can even come close to telling you all of them. All thanks to the help of the Lord and my awesome and amazing companion Hermana Miller. We have had such a good week!! I don't even know where to begin to try to tell you all of what has happened this week, so I think I'm going to have to take a different approach to this letter and go day by day. This one will be a long one, so don't get tired in the middle--read all the way to the end!
Monday--After our P-day was over and we got back to work, we had a referral to go visit and turns out that they are members! Their names are Rigoberto and Ricardo, 23 and 21 year olds that are from Mexico. They are stellar! Everyone in their family in Mexico is a member, and since coming here they lost contact with the church. They were preparing for missions and everything, so we are going to work with them and hopefully that's something we can help them still do! Rigoberto is like a little cowboy, the big belt and cowboy boots, and Ricardo the opposite--snap-back hat, and a playboy bunny tattoo on his neck...haha so they've been out of the church for a little while, but that's not stopping us from helping them come back! We read in the Book of Mormon with them and they really were so excited to start reading again. A funny story, we asked them for their names and birth dates so we could get their records into our ward and Ricardo starts saying "Oh no, I'm good with the church. I was really good friends with the bishops and everything..." hahaha like it was a legal record or something. We are already good friends with them and we are going to get them back to church!
Tuesday--Things with Vianca (we found out it's Vianca, not Bianca haha) are going so well! She accepted baptism!! Her family from Mexico wants to come, so we have to wait until August, but it's going to happen!! We had some awesome lessons with some other investigators too, when we talked to them about having the proper authority to baptize she said "Well, let's go! Warm up the water!" They were out of town this week, so we didn't get in with them again, but we're hoping they'll commit to baptism too! I also finished the Book of Mormon, so that's just the best ever too.
Wednesday--Drove into the country for an hour to go to the New Leadership Training and saw President and Sister Pingree! That's always a miracle, they are just the best! We also got in with a less active member that I have never taught before!
Thursday--Every person we tried to go see was home! That never happens! The Lord was putting us in the right places at the right times. We also set a baptismal date with our investigator Myra!
Friday--The temple. WOW. Mind blown. This is a day that I will treasure for the rest of my life. The temple President, President Crane, asked us to go through focused on the question "Who am I?" To plead with the Lord to help us understand who we are. I wish I could tell you everything that I learned, but that will have to be saved for a special occasion when we all go through the temple together again. There are just some things that are too sacred to be talked about so lightly. Let's just say that I received lots of personal revelation and the Lord is helping me more than I deserve. President Pingree also asked us to prepare by studying sacrifice and I have learned so much! As I was waiting to go to the Celestial room the words to the song "I Stand All Amazed" came running through my mind. I was overcome with emotion, gratitude, love and the Spirit. Words cannot come close to explain the feelings I had, and I can't even write it all here. I imagined the moment when I would once again enter into the presence of the Lord, and fall at His feet and thank Him for what He has done for me. He gave EVERYTHING. There is so much that I need to give to Him! The world views sacrifice with such a negative connotation. "I have to give something up." We cannot think like that! We know that sacrifice is good. We receive blessings from sacrificing something!! The Lord has everything but our will, and I was just thinking to myself, "Give it up Hermana Hoj, just give it up!!" It's not that easy, but it is so much better that way! Needless to say, the temple session with the discussion after has given me so many answers and has opened up my mind to so many new possibilities. I love the temple and I just want to go back again!
Then a miracle we had afterwards when we were finding. We prayed to have the Lord guide us to those who were prepared. We knocked on a trailer, and a young girl came out. We started talking to her about our message and what we do, and I honestly didn't think much would happen. She started to get more and more interested and said we could pass by another day. We asked to say a prayer with her before we left and taught her how. We asked her to say it, but she was very hesitant. She eventually began to pray and then just burst into tears. She began telling us about a dream she had and we know that it wasn't coincidence that we came by. The Lord truly did lead us there!
Saturday--We visited a part member family, where two of the kids are members and the parents are not. We are teaching the mom, she's been taught in the past too, but from what we have been told and what we have seen, the dad doesn't have any interest in learning. We began teaching the mom with her son, and then the dad came in and sat with us! He participated in the lesson!! The Spirit is truly softening his heart, and I hope that we can help the whole family choose to participate in the gospel!
Sunday--Wow. What a miraculous day!! We went to church early for Barbara and Samantha to have their baptismal interviews for the baptism this Friday. All went well, and then they told us they wanted to change it to Tuesday! So, there will be two baptisms tomorrow!! Yay!!! And, what's so great about it too is that Hermano (their dad) as of right now will be able to baptize his daughters! Ahhh!!! I am so so happy!!! I am praying so hard for them right now! Please keep them in your prayers!!! Then we had sacrament meeting and my goodness is the Lord good! We had 7 investigators come to church yesterday!!! Aahhh! That has never happened to me! We had 3 unexpected member present lessons as well. Then as we were adding up our numbers for the week, we realized that we reached almost all of the goals for our key indicators! SO MANY MIRACLES!!! The Lord truly is so mindful of us!!!
I mentioned how I finished the Book of Mormon this week, and it was the challenge that President Pingree gave us to read it with our focus on the Atonement. He asked us to write down what we learned after, and I want to share part of what I wrote down with you. What an amazing experience it was. I recognized that the Atonement gives us the power to change. I have often thought to myself that there are certain things I can't do because "that's just the way I am." How dare I say that!! By saying that, I am denying the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I CAN change, I CAN do it, because of my Savior. In reality, there is nothing that I cannot do! The Savior is helping me and encouraging me to change--to be like Him. Now, it is not always easy--in fact, I don't think it ever is, but it is possible and fulfilling with the help of Jesus Christ. What is so beautiful about the Atonement is that when we have hit rock bottom, when we are in the deepest pit and have no way out on our own--there is sill hope. The Savior isn't going to reach His hand down and pull us up, He is going to come down to the rocky bottom with us and then help us get back up. He will come down to our level of misery, despair, and imperfection--when He is pure, clean, and perfect--and lift us up to where He is. Because of the Atonement we can experience joy and the pure love of Christ overtake and cast out our feelings of sadness and despair. Because of Him we can change. We can be made perfect too. That is the greatest message of hope in the world! I also learned that the Atonement has no bounds, it is limitless. We can actually apply the Atonement to everything! It has far reaching effects. It not only gives us the ability to change, but also helps us learn how to love. The Atonement contains the greatest act of love known to man, the greatest sacrifice ever given. So, what does that mean for me? It means that as I strive to understand the Atonement and apply it every day, I will feel of that love and I will do all I can to help others recognize that love that is there for them. To do so, I must sacrifice all that I have for the Lord--align my will with His. I must do what He would do! I will be filled with His perfect love. I think one of the purposes of the Atonement is this: to understand it so well for ourselves that we can know how to help others understand it. He helps me, I help them, He helps them, and He helps me again. He is always giving--always giving us His perfect, infinite love. I can become like the Savior!! So then, who am I? I am Hermana Annie Hoj, a beloved daughter of God, a creation of God, with a sacred destiny to become like God. I am loved by God, I am striving to become like God, so that one day I can live with God. So with that said, all I've got left is this: GOD IS GOOD.