Monday, May 13, 2013

Washington, Week 3

Finally! Success! Our labors and prayers are starting to pay off and it is wonderful!
So, the first half of our week was pretty slow, and I was getting a little bit discouraged.
Although on Tuesday, we met with a lady who has been investigating the church for over a year. She and her husband didn't want any missionary lessons and they just wanted to investigate on their own. So we had lunch with her on Tuesday to get to know her, and afterwards we started talking about religion, etc. I ended up telling her that I think she'd get the most out of starting from the beginning of the missionary lessons and going all the way through them, so she said she was up for it. Then we met with her again on Friday. We went on a walk with her and her two little girls to feed the goats, then went back to her house and started to teach her lesson 1. Towards the end, her little girls came out of their room, so Sister Redford started painting with them while I finished up the lesson. During the lesson I had recited the first vision to her, and Sister Redford said that it was really good and powerful, so that made me happy. Then at the end, I just looked into her eyes and bore my testimony really powerfully, then closed in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Then I asked her, "Jen, will you commit to prepare to be baptized on May 26th?" And she said, "Yes." !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm SO happy, and SOOOO thankful! All day, I was just on a high and couldn't stop smiling! It was just the best thing ever! Anyway, she said that she's pretty sure that her husband will want to be baptized the same day as her, so I'm hoping we get a chance to meet with him this week!
On Thursday we met with Sue Kelly and Jerry again. (Sue is the one that was praying for us, and she's already a member). When we came in, Sue told us that she gave the Book of Mormon to Jerry just like I told her to and that he wants to hear what we have to say. ;) We watched The Testament with him, and afterwards he told us that he read a few pages of the Book of Mormon and that he would like to learn more. He just seemed so prepared, and I'm so thankful that we were led to him! We are meeting with him again tomorrow! :)
Also on Friday evening we met with Ellen again. (She's the 11-year-old from Ghana). We watched The Restoration dvd with her, and we asked her if her parents say it's ok if she would like to get baptized, and she said, "Can you get baptized when you're 11?" and we told her that you can. She said, "Yeah, I've always wanted to be." So, we are praying that her parents' hearts will be softened and that they will allow her to be baptized!
Then on Saturday night, we had just gotten home and were studying when the Spanish-speaking elders knocked on our door. They told us that they had just met some very prepared people and that they needed an English Book of Mormon and they told them that we would come meet them. So, we got our skirts back on and walked over there. It was a family with a mom and two daughters (13 and 19). They all speak English perfectly, plus they're all females, so they referred them to us. Anyway, they had taught them the first lesson right before they came to get us. The mom told us that she had already started to read the Book of Mormon! We gave English copies to each of the girls and they seemed happy about that. We also asked them if they wanted to come to church with us the next day and they said yes! The 13-year-old was very enthusiastic and said that she wants to talk to God just like Joseph Smith did ;) She asked her mom if she would take her to church or to the woods ;) haha Anyway, we walked into church the next morning and they were sitting there on the back row! It was really great and the mom was crying the entire time! (This is the only time when I'm happy to see someone crying)! But we asked her when we could meet with them and she told us that Thursday is her day off!  It was just amazing!
Also, something kinda crazy happened later Saturday night after we had gotten back home and were getting ready for bed. There was a knock on the door and we thought that maybe it was the elders again, but when Sister Redford opened the door, I heard a man with a heavy accent speaking, so I went over to the door too. He told us that he is from Russia, his name is Alexei, and he was asking us if we would pray with him. He saw the picture of Jesus on our door, so he knocked. He said his heart was broken and that his wife had told him something like that he wasn't good for her. So anyway, we prayed with him and he told us thank you so much and that he felt much better now. I guess he lives above us in our apartments. So anyway, that was pretty cool.
We had a lot of wonderful experiences this weekend, and I'm so thankful for Heavenly Father answering our prayers! Also, two different people came up to us at church and told us that they had brought someone with them who wasn't a member! So, they're starting to trust us and do their part, and it just makes us so happy! :)
Prayer and faith pays off! Heavenly Father is listening and knows what is best, and even if it takes a little longer than we want...we have to follow His will and have faith that it will always be better than what we can even imagine.
Thank you everyone for all your prayers and your support! They mean the world to me! I love you and miss you! 
Love, Sister Stanley
Washington Everett Mission

Washington, Week 2

So, fun bit of information...Sister Redford got her driving privilege taken away for the month of May, so I get to drive everywhere.
Anyway, this week I've had some cool experiences. Still not many people investigating, but still had some great things happen.
On Wednesday we followed up with a referral we got from the Spanish-speaking sisters. They had talked to a guy while he was taking out the trash outside of what they thought was his house. When we knocked, a guy answered the door and told us that it was an adult group home. So later we called the Spanish sisters and asked them if the guy was skinny and Filipino. They said yes, so we knew it had to be the guy we talked to. Later that night when we were planning Sister Redford asked me who I thought we should go see at 2:00. The only name I could think of was Jerry (the Filipino guy). I tried to think of other names, but I couldn't come up with a single one. My mind was blank except for Jerry. So I told Sister Redford, and she said "But that would be weird because we just saw him today." I said "I know, but I really feel like we should go see him again." So she said, "Okay." When we went over there the next day, he let us in, and there was a lady sitting on the couch. She looked at us and said "Are you missionaries?" We told her that we were. And she told us that she had been praying for someone from the Church to come see her because she really wanted home teachers. She also told us that she had talked to her brother and he didn't know what ward she was in. Anyway, it was really awesome and I felt like I finally did something good. I am so thankful that I listened to the Spirit. We are going to visit her again this week, and hopefully teach Jerry too. :)

Also, Monday night we went over to see a non active lady in the ward. The bishop's wife told us that they had been going over to visit and give her blessings, etc. She told us that she knew this lady had been offended in the past and that now she wasn't answering them, so she was worried that she had done or said something. Anyway, we went over there, and we had to reach over the gate and undo a tricky latch (Shhh, don't tell!). Then we knocked on her door and she actually let us in. She seemed happy to talk to us. I'm pretty sure she's alone there. But she paints, so she and I talked a lot about that. We also found out that she had been through a lot of trials in her life and we figured out that because of these things, she has developed negative views of the Church. She is offended very easily and her heart has been hardened. It's very sad. But, as I was listening to her, I realized that the things she went through in her life, my mom has experienced very similar circumstances. The difference in how these two women faced these trials is astounding. Where one hardened her heart, the other showed great humility and turned to the Lord. This experience made me realize even more what a wonderful woman my mom is! I thank Heavenly Father every night that I was blessed with such a wonderful example in my life. We all have trials, and there are always people who may not treat us with kindness. But these are opportunities to grow closer to our Father in Heaven. We choose whether or not we will be offended. This morning I was reading about Moroni's epistle to Pahoran, rebuking him for not sending aid to his armies. And the way Pahoran responds to Moroni is just amazing. He tells him that he has rebuked him, but that it's okay because he knows how faithful Moroni is and that he is a strong man in God. I just think that is so amazing! So, everyone try a little harder for humility and charity in your lives. It makes things so much easier! And thank you Mom, for being an amazing example to me. I love you!

One more experience we had this week was not quite as enjoyable... ;) We went over to see a couple in our ward. They are from Ghana. Their native language is Twi, so it's hard to communicate with the wife because she doesn't speak much English. The husband does, but there's still a barrier, for sure. Our purpose in going over there was to start teaching the wife some English. But I guess they didn't fully understand that. Because she was busily cooking in the kitchen when we arrived. Their niece lives with them and after a lot of confusion, she communicated to us that they were cooking for us. We felt really bad because they don't have much money, and the husband told us that he got rice from the bishop to feed us...yeah, that made me feel really bad. Anyway, they didn't end up making rice for us, but they made this native Ghanaian dish for us....I can't even describe it. It was kind of like if you had cream of wheat and made it into a ball form (they said this was corn meal?) So, they put this ball in a bowl, and then poured this soup stuff over it. The "soup" had fish and who knows what else in it. The worst part is that it was slimy and gross. And they wanted us to eat with our hands because they don't eat with utensils. So, we had to get a piece of the corn ball and dip it in the soup, and then slurp it... For those of you who know how sensitive I am to textures...this was so hard for me! I was praying the whole time that I wouldn't throw up. And the taste was not bad, but watching everyone eat it made me so sick. Anyway, they seemed satisfied after I tried one bite (thank Heaven!) But Sister Redford felt guilty, so she wanted to make a dent in it. Anyway, she was sick all night and the next morning. It was so awful ;) They kept getting giant bites and slurping it up really loudly. I feel sick just thinking about it ;) But they were so kind and we didn't want to make them feel bad at all.
And the positive thing was that we ended up teaching their niece, who seemed very receptive to our message. We gave her a Book of Mormon and said that she would read it and pray about it. We even had her pray, and it was so good! So...wonderful experience and a new investigator out of something that wasn't so positive ;)

And one other great experience we had this week: On Friday we went to see a less active sister and we talked to her for a long time. She said she felt like she could trust us and that she liked us a lot. She also said she hadn't born her testimony since 2003. So we asked her what she would say if she bore her testimony, and she told us some good things. :) 

Yesterday she came to church and we sat by her. Sister Redford told her that if she went up, then she would go up with her. After a few minutes, she said she wanted to go up. She bore her testimony and talked about how we came to see her and she really liked that, and how we talked about this and that we kept looking at her during sacrament meeting ;) She said she hadn't born her testimony in 10 years, and she got emotional too. It was so nice to hear that. When she came and sat down again, I gave her a big hug and she told me that she was so scared and that she was shaking, but I was SO proud of her! :) It was really awesome to experience that.

So, our bishop challenged our ward members to pray for missionary opportunities,and I would just like to challenge you all to do this as well. Don't be afraid to bear your testimony. Declare truth with boldness. Share the message of the Book of Mormon. Follow the promptings of the Spirit, and MIRACLES will happen. I love you all SO much! Thank you for your support and love!!
Love, Sister Stanley
Washington Everett Mission