California Fresno Mission May 2013 to November 2014

Monday, December 30, 2013

26th Semana en Ceres -- a wonderful Christmas week!

Querida familia y amigos,
        Espero que tenieran una Navidad maravillosa! (I hope you had a wonderful Christmas)
Este semana tuvimos la oportunidad para cantar himnos de Navidad a muchas personas. (This week we had the opportunity to sing Christmas Carols to many people.) I loved being able to carol with all of the missionaries.
        On Christmas Eve, we went contacting by singing Christmas hymns. It was such a wonderful opportunity to help people feel the Spirit within the first few seconds. What a wonderful opportunity it was to meet people and help them remember the real reason for Christmas.  After that we had dinner with the family of a recent convert. They were so thrilled that we were going to be spending Christmas Eve with them. On Thursday they all went to the temple. It was such a wonderful experience for them and for us to hear about. We are so thrilled at how much progress he and his family are making. His son is now going out with the elders and is now planning on serving a mission as well. After dinner we had a great lesson with the familia R. That was a miracle! They had texted us the day before and had asked us to come and teach the entire family on Christmas Eve. Almost the entire family was there. We did the activity of the white stocking with them and talked about Christ's birth and remembering that He truly is the reason for the season. As they made goals for this coming year and remembered all that Christ has done for them, I couldn't help but become excited because they are beginning to come back to church and many of them can have the goal of getting to the temple.
       Christmas was Wednesday. We had wonderful phone calls with our families.  Then, we had a Zone activity and got to watch a movie together.  Then we went caroling with the hermanas for the rest of the night. It was wonderful! This Christmas I am especially grateful for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I am also grateful for the opportunity that we have to communicate with our families. I love my family and I love my Savior! I am so grateful for the plan that He has for us that allows us to be with both Him and them for eternity.
       Thursday we met another less active member and are going to do service for her this next week. She has 4 avocado trees, a lemon tree and an orange tree. We are going to be doing a lot of work outside and helping clean out her house that is almost entirely made of tile--everything is tile, even the walls. We finally met another family named the familia O. They are former investigators and we are so excited to begin working with them. We made an appointment with them to do service first--more about that later(on Saturday).
        On Friday we had a wonderful conversation with our ward mission leader--he was just released from the hospital. He is so positive about life and even the hard times. He is an inspiration for all of us as missionaries and is always willing to help in this work of salvation. We also had a wonderful lesson with a less active talking about the Savior's help for each of us. As we did an activity to demonstrate how we need the Savior in our life.I think she understood. She was able to explain very simply to her children about the importance of the Savior. For this reason I love teaching in activities.
         Saturday we did service as a district for the familia O. We moved lots of brick and rocks and pieces of cement--it was a good thing we had some Elders there too. After serving them we were able to teach them and get to know them better. This family is wonderful! I am excited to see how they progress in the next few weeks.
          Yesterday was Sunday and the hermanas all matched--see picture below. J was confirmed a member of the church as well! She was so excited and she felt so good after wards. That was so exciting to see!
           I love you all so much! Thank you for all of your prayers and support. I know God lives and loves us! This is His work! Los quiero mucho!
Hermana VanWie
 All the Hermanas yesterday at church wearing our matching scarves from a member.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Semana 25 en Ceres -- Feliz Navidad!!!!

Querida Familia y amigos --
"I'm dreaming of a White Christmas..."   but more on that later......
           This week we taught quite a few lessons, but we also go to go caroling! On Monday, we had a great lesson with V and J. We talked about the importance of family unity and made a wreath out of their hands and we connected them all with a red ribbon that symbolized Christ. We also had a lesson with J and L and with their children! I love this family so much! They are so wonderful! I hope and pray that they can be sealed as a family.
          Tuesday, we had a language study with the other hermanas. We love studying with the other hermanas because we can help each other better understand the grammatical concepts of Spanish. I have been so thankful for the background that I have had with French. It has made learning the grammatical part of Spanish a lot easier. We also went caroling with the ward missionaries and the ward mission leader. The members and the investigators love it!
           Wednesday we had a wonderful lesson with a new investigator named Y. She is from Peru and she wants to be baptized and share this message with her family as well. Unfortunately, she is going to be out of town for the Christmas holidays. We are excited to see her again after Christmas! As we were doing harvest blessings we talked to a wonderful family that was kind of having a hard time. As we left a blessing upon their home the mother began to cry and told us that for the first time she felt at peace about what was going on. How wonderful the Holy Ghost is! I know that He can bring peace to our souls.
 Thursday, had a wonderful harvest blessing hour! We talked to a ton of people, sang some Christmas hymns while tracting. We also went and talked to a family that we met while in Walmart on Preparation Day. He has talked to missionaries before and his wife was so welcoming. She seems very prepared! I can't wait to see them after Christmas.
 Friday, we has a great lesson with V and J--we played scriptural Pictionary--the little girls loved it! Then, we got a miracle phone call--it was V! She said she and J wanted J to be baptized on Sunday! We were so excited!! We also had a wonderful lesson with S in a member's home--we watched the Restoration with her and she believes it to be true. Now, we just need her to come to church. We also received a new investigator--A. She is a friend of a member in our ward and we taught a lesson about Faith and got to know her. We have a lesson this week with her and are very excited to help her and her family feel more unity through the Gospel. We also went caroling again with the other missionaries.
 Saturday, was a great day! We had the branch activity and everyone came. We had tamales and atole and arroz con leche. Yum!  S, J and L, V and F and J all came. Hna W and I sang "O Holy Night" --it was a special request from the branch. We also got to go see El Salvador del Mundo (Savior of the World-- a musical production that church members put on) again because we had investigators that wanted to go see it. I love this production! We have seen many miracles because the Spirit that was there touched the hearts of many people.
 Sunday, was a miraculous day! Here is where the "dreaming of a White Christmas" comes in..... Christmas came early this year in Ceres! The white was not of snow, but of covenant and of purity. J was baptized yesterday. She was all dressed in white and was so happy and excited! Her uncle baptized her.  This was the highlight of the week! That, and almost all of her family (the familia R) came to church! We were so excited! Almost the entire capilla (chapel) was filled!
 I love this work! I love this gospel! How marvelous it is that we have a Savior that was born to be our Example and our Redeemer.  I love the words of Isaiah at this Christmas time, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (2 Nephi 19:6). I know that Jesus Christ, the Babe that was born in Bethlehem so many years ago is our Savior and Redeemer! I know that through Him we can return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father and our families forever. What a wonderful time of year to celebrate this gift that our loving Heavenly Father has given us!
                Love you all so much! I hope you have a very blessed Christmas! 
 Los quiero mucho! Feliz Navidad!
Hermana VanWie

Semana 24 en Ceres -- Staying in Ceres!

             We received transfer calls on Saturday and I am so grateful that I get to stay through Christmas with our branch and the missionaries here. This week was a crazy week!
Monday we had a two great lessons with a wonderful sister in the ward and with R. We used La Vela de Navidad  (The Christmas Candle with scripture reading) for both lessons. It has been so wonderful to see how excited the members are to do this activity with their families. With the lesson with R and his family it was a wonderful opportunity to see how the gospel has blessed and changed his life and his family's life. But more about that later....
Tuesday we had a wonderful zone meeting. After the meeting we went and tried to apply what we learned. We saw so many miracles! First we went and tried to contact a referral. Although we couldn't find the right house, we talked to everyone that was in our path and were genuine with everyone. We gave one Harvest Blessing and set up two appointments. It was a great contacting day! I know that as we talk to everyone and go out of our way we will find more prepared people.
             Wednesday we had a great lesson with a woman named Y. She is from Peru and she is so prepared! We had left her some reading to do from the last time we saw her and she had read it multiple times and even re-read it before we came. We also went and visited a lot of less active members and invited them to a production called Savior of the World (Salvador del Mundo) that the stake here is doing. Hopefully a lot of people will come.
Thursday we had Christmas Zone Conference! We watched a wonderful video called "Giving is the Best Form of Communication." It was so wonderful. As we discussed it we reflected on how wonderful it is that our Savior came to earth and already paid the debt for each one of us. How marvelous His gift is! I am so grateful for the gift that our Heavenly Father gave to us so many years ago--the gift of His Son--a Savior for all mankind. We also learned about the Historical Nativity. It is so interesting to know all the details about the Savior's life. The Conference helped us to remember the Reason for this Christmas Season. It made me wonder what gift I am giving to the Savior this year. What gift can I give Him? He has given me so much!
Friday we started using the stockings that we received-- La Media de Navidad (The White Stocking Tradition). It is helping the members think more about what gift they can give to Christ this Christmas. Today was also Hna M’s birthday, so we got to celebrate a little bit with the members.
 Saturday we received transfer calls! We are all staying here in Ceres another transfer. Yay! We also went caroling with the other missionaries, ward missionaries, and ward mission leader. It was a great way to serve the less actives. Then we had a missionary lesson with another family and talked to them about the importance of being missionaries and sharing the gospel with their friends and family.
Sunday, yesterday, was a church filled day--meaning we were in the church for a long time. But, F and J came to church and so did B and L! We also had the opportunity to do a musical number for Sacrament Meeting--we played a Christmas duet (Silent Night combined with Angels We Have Heard On High). We also went to Salvador del Mundo. What a wonderful production! It talked about the life of Jesus Christ and everything that happened before His birth. I am so grateful for Him and for His birth! The highlight of the day was Sacrament Meeting. R blessed the Sacrament and his son passed the Sacrament!  We were so thrilled to see him progressing and keeping his baptismal covenant. As we listened to the Sacramental prayer and watched his son pass the Sacrament I couldn't help but look over at his wife. The whole family was beaming! I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ truly does change lives! How grateful I am for Jesus Christ and especially at this time of year His birth! I know He truly is the Savior of the World. I love Him!
          Thank you for all that you do to support me and this missionary work! Have a wonderful week!

Hermana VanWie


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Semana 23 en ceres -- Busy Week!

 Querida Familia--
        This week we taught a lot of lessons using activities. On Monday we had a wonderful noche de hogar with L and J. We played a pictionary game with the children and this allowed the whole family to be involved in recognizing how the Lord works in their lives. Then we also had a lesson with S and her family about the importance of family time and creating memories and using the divine ability that our Heavenly Father has given us to be creative.
        Tuesday we had district meeting. How blessed I am to be in this district! I have learned so much from our district leader, Elder A, about Spanish! My ability to pronounce and use and understand all the grammar has increased so much!
        On Wednesday we had a lesson with a new investigator and had a wonderful experience giving a Harvest Blessing. The new investigator's name in S. We taught her in member home--she was a referral and she wants to be baptized. We can't wait to teach her again(we had an appointment with her scheduled on Friday but she wasn't feeling well). We also met a wonderful woman named A. We gave a Harvest Blessing to her and her family. She welcomed us with open arms into her home and as we bore testimony and left a blessing upon her home she felt something different. As we asked how she felt and she explained to us that she felt peaceful she began to cry. I know she felt the Holy Ghost testifying to her. Every time we have an experience like this, I marvel at how much our Heavenly Father loves us to have given us a gift like the Holy Ghost. How wonderful that is!
         On Thursday I went on an exchange (trading companions) with Hermana M. We went and had a wonderful lesson with J and her family.  She should be getting baptized this month. Her parents told us that they would look at her dad's work schedule and the Sunday he has off from work she will be getting baptized. They should let us know when that is tomorrow. She also came to church yesterday with her Aunt Belen and another aunt. It is so wonderful to see this family bringing other parts of their family back to church!
          On Friday we had another wonderful noche de hogar with L and J and their family. This time we made Christmas wreaths out of our hands and paper and crayons. As we did this we talked about 5 things that each of us can do to come closer to our Savior. At the end when we put all the hands together there was still a space--a space for a red bow representing the Savior. I know that our Savior truly fills up the space--He makes up for what we are lacking. When we are doing all we can do, His grace truly is sufficient for us all. I love my Savior.
           Saturday we had the wonderful opportunity to learn from Elder Bruce D. Porter (one of the church leaders who travels to train and assist the missionaries and their leaders.)  We had a Zone Conference with President and Sister Gelwix and Elder and Sister Porter. They each spoke and we learned so much from them. ransfer, and mission. When we have an "end game" we expect to W.I.N. We focus on What is Important Now. He also taught more about the Lazarus Principle.
             Elder Porter taught about how we need to view everything we do as teaching--because as missionaries we love to teach! We teach all day long by our examples so tracting is teaching! Street contact is teaching! And as we bear our testimonies we are teaching! He taught about the importance of being humble and how we can have more access to Heaven's power when we are humble. He also taught about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Chapter 3 Lesson 3 in PMG). I love this chapter! He taught that as we more fully understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ we will come closer to our Savior and our Heavenly Father and will more fully understand the plan that They have for us.
               Sister Gelwix and Sister Porter both spoke on being examples and being as effective as we can while we are here on the mission. They said, "You will never know when something you do or say will affect someone's life...You are a missionary through your example and your countenance moreso than your words."
             After the Conference and we were back in our area we felt like we should go see a woman named A that we haven't seen in a long time. We found her at home and she told us that she wants to come back to church again and learn more about this church. We are so excited to help her come closer to Christ and have an eternal family!
            Yesterday,Sunday, we were amazed to see several less actives at church and the chapel pretty full of people. How wonderful that was to see! I know that when we are doing all that we can do our Savior will always help us. That is the enabling power of His wonderful Atonement. How grateful I am for Him and for all that He has done for me! I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to share this Gospel--this good news with the people of Ceres, California. How blessed I am to have the knowledge that my Heavenly Father loves us and is watching over us! I am so grateful for this time of the season--where everyone's hearts are turned to Christ. I love this work! I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior! I know this church is true and that through living the principles that are taught in it we will be able to live with our Heavenly Father, our Savior, and our families for eternity.
 Los quiero mucho! Gracias por todo su amor! Que tengan una semana maravillosa!
                                           Con amor,    Hermana VanWie



Friday, December 6, 2013

Semana 22 en Ceres -- Much to be Thankful for

Querida Familia--
         This week has been a week full of service and miracles! On Tuesday we received a phone call from one of the members in our branch who had a friend with her right then that wanted to talk with us. We drove over to this member's home and taught a lesson to the friend. Her name is L. She told us she wants something stable for her children and as we shared scriptures with her she eagerly highlighted them in the copy of the Book of Mormon that we gave her. As we set a return appointment she continually thanked us for sharing this with her--she was so grateful for the opportunity she has to have a new religion in her life. We are so excited to keep teaching her! She is so prepared! I know our Heavenly Father puts prepared people in our path when we are doing are best to strengthen the branches and wards we are serving in.
         This week we also had splits with Hna S. We went on bikes and we saw many miracles! As we got ready to leave the apartment she found a thorn in her tire and then realized that she had a leak in her tire! So we got a later start than we had planned.  We got to our appointment a little late, but we had a wonderful lesson nonetheless. We taught the Restoration to a woman from Peru named Y. We invited her to be baptized as well and she accepted on the condition that she would if she knew all that we taught was true. I love working with Hna S! She is so wonderful! She knows how to truly connect with the people and how to teach with power! I was so blessed to be able to teach with her.
          Throughout the day, we were running a little behind until our last appointment before dinner--we were 15minutes early so we decided to do some harvest blessings. We were picking a street to tract when a girl we had passed a few minutes earlier stopped us and asked if we would pray with her. She then explained to us that we looked like "church people" and identified us as Mormons because of our bicycles and black skirts. What a wonderful experience. We gave a harvest blessing and then talked about the Book of Mormon. As we talked about the scriptures she lit up and asked if we had one which we did--the only English copy I had "randomly" put into my bag that morning. What an amazing experience!
          On Thursday we had dinner with a family in an English ward and had the opportunity to watch Forever Strong--the movie about President (Coach) Gelwix's (her mission president) rugby team. I was amazed at how much I learned from it! We also had time during our lunch hour to make cookies to say thank you to the Zone Leaders for all they do for us and our branch.
           We also had a wonderful opportunity to do service on Saturday morning with all of the missionaries in the branch and the ward mission leader. We went and raked leaves and cleaned a yard of one of the members. It took us nearly 2 hours and 7 huge bags of leaves! It was a great opportunity to serve and to be outside serving with the other missionaries.
            Yesterday, Sunday, was a special day! Both R and the mission leader's wife, L were confirmed members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. They now are official members of the Church and have begun on a new journey. Baptism is not the end--it is just the beginning. They now can go to the temple and be sealed with their families! We are so grateful for their hard work and dedication to get to this point in their lives! We are so excited for them to be sealed to their families next year! That is what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about--having Eternal Families and helping each other return to live with our Heavenly Father and our Savior.
             Yo se que Dios tiene un plan para cada uno de nosotros. El tiene este plan para que podamos regresar y vivir con El y nuestro Salvador. Se que por medio de este plan podemos vivir con nuestras familias para siempre. Yo se que mi Salvador vive y que El sufrio y murio para nosotros. (I know that God has a plan for each of us.  His plan is that we can return and live with him again and our Savior.  I know that this plan enables us to live with our families forever.  I know that my Savior lives and that he suffered and died for us.)
          I hope you have a wonderful week! Thank you for all that you do! Los quiero! 
                                                                                Hermana VanWie

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

21st Semana en Ceres - Happy Thanksgiving

Querida Familia y Amigos –
         We had a wonderful week this week that ended with a miracle--a baptism!
R was baptized yesterday by the Branch President. There was such a wonderful feeling there! He truly was ready and prepared to be baptized and he was converted. The branch was so supportive--almost all of the branch was there. He had wanted to keep his baptism a surprise for his children (they are all already members) and when he walked in all dressed in white they were all so surprised! His youngest son, L said, "Dad?!? It's you Dad?! You are the one getting baptized?!" The whole family was beaming. His oldest son was speechless and bore a beautiful testimony after his dad was baptized. R's wife was also beaming--I don't think I've ever seen her so happy! The Spirit there was truly something special.

          When R was baptized, he came up smiling and looking the happiest I have ever seen him. As I watched his baptism and glanced over at his family to watch their reactions, I felt the Spirit testify to me that he was ready to make this covenant with our Heavenly Father and that baptism is the first important step to having an eternal family. He has opened a door to having an eternal family. The closing hymn was "Families Can Be Together Forever" reminding me and them that their next step is to go to the temple and be sealed as a family for time and all eternity. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it and Heavenly Father will be helping them every step of the way. How grateful I am for the opportunity I had to experience this miracle!
           We also taught a lesson to J this week--she is planning on being baptized on the 30th--this week, but we are still waiting on permission from her mother. As we reviewed the baptismal interview questions with her, I marveled at how much she knows. As a 10 year-old she has much knowledge and has a simple testimony of the truths we have taught her. How powerful a child's testimony is. Hopefully she can be baptized this week.
            How grateful I am for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that He suffered and died for you and for me! I know that He lives and that He loves us. How grateful I am for the covenant of baptism and the opportunity that it gives us to live with God again and be sealed to our families for time and all eternity. I know this is the work of the Lord! I am so grateful for the opportunity to be serving in the California Fresno Mission.
             I am so grateful for you and for your support! In the spirit of Thanksgiving-- I love the scripture in D&C 78:19. Let us all be grateful for the many blessing our loving Heavenly Father has given us!
                         I hope you have a wonderful week!   Love, Hermana VanWie

Friday, November 22, 2013

20th Semana en Ceres y 7 Dirty Dogs!

Querida Familia--
     This week has been a wonderful week!  I had a great exchange with Hermana M. It was wonderful to stay in the same area and still have the opportunity to work with and learn from another missionary. Hermana M is a wonderful missionary! She really knows how to listen and ask inspired questions. She knows the importance of silence and allowing those we teach to feel of the Spirit and have time to think. I admire how she is always able to take her time and ask inspired questions. In our exchange we had the opportunity to do two service activities! It was wonderful to be able to serve the members. Our service project was to wash all seven of the member's dogs. It was definitely an adventure! Through doing service, we were able to help these members/less actives know that we care and really truly want to help them.The miracle we saw from this service was that the less active family came to church! It was wonderful to see this family working again at coming closer to our Heavenly Father and Savior.
      This Sunday we also had a great lesson with R. He is getting baptized this week! He is ready now and is very excited to make this step in his life. He understands the covenant he is about to make and knows that it will help both him and his family. What a wonderful opportunity it is to see this progression and this change.
     In the zone meeting we also talked about how we can help the members in our area use Preach My Gospel and become Preach My Gospel Member Missionaries. Since this zone meeting we have done the family mission plan using Preach My Gospel three times and the members are very excited about it.
     Last night we visited with a member in the branch presidency and discussed the importance of using Preach My Gospel. He then related a story that was a testimony builder for me--that when he first joined the church he began using Preach My Gospel to prepare to go on team-ups with the missionaries. However, as he was studying he began to see his testimony increase and his conversion to the gospel grow. I know that Preach My Gospel is a wonderful tool! It is for missionaries--ALL missionaries and that includes all the members. Every member is a missionary and as we are working more and more in this work together, missionaries and members need to know the doctrines that are taught in Preach My Gospel. How grateful I am for Preach My Gospel!
     I am also very grateful for inspired leaders. After a conversation with our district leader, I have reflected on what I have learned thus far in my mission. Here a few of the things I have learned: 1) Our Heavenly Father is always aware of us and works in mysterious ways in our lives. 2) As we look for the hand of the Lord in our lives (or tender mercies) we are happier. 3)The Atonement is an enabling power--it allows us to change and do hard things. 4) I cannot do things by myself--I need my Heavenly Father's help. 5) God has a plan for me--it is specifically designed for me--to help ME learn and grow. 6) We are all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and each of us has Divine Potential.
       How grateful I am for the gospel and our loving Heavenly Father!
Espero que tengan una semana maravillosa!  ( I hope you have a marvelous week!)

                                                   Los quiero! Con amor,
                                                                        Hermana VanWie

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

19th Semana en Ceres - Exploding Pumpkins!

Querida Familia y Amigos,
      This week has been a great week! Our week started off with an explosion--literally! On Tuesday morning we were making breakfast and it was cold so we were making some hot cereal and hot chocolate and all of it blew up all over the microwave. Then we had an explosion of revelation during our personal and companionship studies. Then we had an explosion of papers--Stake Correlation (missionary paper work to help us work with the large areas more effectively). Then we had an explosion of laughter as we laughed about the absurdity of our morning. Then we had an explosion of pumpkin--the pumpkin that we had in our apartment from Halloween exploded and we had quite a mess to clean up. We also had another explosion of laughter as we related our day at dinner to the other missionaries. Overall, we just had a fantastic exploding day as we also received 3 referrals  (recommendations of someone who might like to speak to the missionaries) from a member.  The rest of the week has been an equal adventure.
      We also were in the Primary (church children’s auxiliary) program in the branch. Hermana W and I were in charge of playing all of the songs and singing in one of them. We didn't find out any of this until about 5 minutes before church started. So, we have become very grateful for the ability to sight read and to play the piano. I also have become very very grateful for a companion that can also play the piano. It went very well and the sweet testimonies of the children touched the hearts of the congregation and the investigators that were there.
      We are continuing to work with the people in our branch and are seeing them gain a desire to come back to church. How wonderful! This past week a large family came to church for the third week in a row. This time one of the grand-daughters, J (our investigator) stayed for all 3 hours of church and loved it! We are seeing her mother also have a desire to come back to church and learn more and more. Little by little the chapel is filling up with people and I am beginning to see what the Lord's vision is for this area right now--to strengthen the members. We are accomplishing this by doing the family mission plan with the members. As we have been doing this family mission plan, we have been able to see a change in the members--they are now having a desire to help their families come closer to Christ and they are realizing the simple ways that they can help their friends have this desire as well. It is truly amazing!
      This week we set another baptismal date! Well actually, he set it for himself. One of our investigators--R, went and talked to the President of our branch and told him that he wants to be baptized this month. They set a date for the 24 of November! Now we just need to make sure that he is completely prepared for that day. It is amazing what miracles happen in missionary work!  F and J still have baptismal dates for the 30 of November and J is all ready to be baptized on that day--she is very excited!
      We went and did harvest blessings on the first street that came to our minds--one that did not logically make sense for where we were, but we soon found there was a reason that we went there. We met 2 men and a woman outside of their home who were very open and willing to talk to us. Years ago they knew some friends that were members of the church and had very many questions about our beliefs. That morning during companionship study we had practiced teaching a lesson  in 5 to 10 minutes in a street contact. As we talked with these men and this woman we were able to be prepared to answer all their questions in an orderly manner. We ended up teaching almost the entire first lesson just standing outside and talking to them. We can't wait to go back and see them again! I know the Lord puts prepared people in our path. He puts prepared people in the paths of prepared missionaries. I now understand more than ever the importance of companionship study every morning.
       I love you all so much! I am so grateful for all of your love and support.  One scripture that has really helped me this week is 2 Nephi 32:9 . I know that through our prayers we can access to heaven and heavenly help and guidance. How grateful I am for prayer!
Have a wonderful week!  Espero que todo esta bien con ustedes! Como estan? Ustedes siempre estan en mis oraciones! Tengan un buen dia y una maravillosa semana! (I hope you are well.  You are always in my prayers.  Have a good day and a marvelous week.)   Los quiero mucho!  
Hermana VanWie


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

18th Semana en Ceres

Querida Familia--
       Last week we (Anne, her companion and 2 other sister missionaries) had the opportunity to go to the Ramate (Flea market). We received a lot of funny looks because we were all speaking Spanish and could communicate well, but that just added to the fun! It immersed us even more in the culture here. Now we know what some of the members and investigators do here for work.
      I have learned this week of the blessings of searching for the Tender Mercies that the Lord has placed in our life. As we do so, we find more joy in the work of the Lord.
      We also got transfer calls this week. I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to be with Hermana W! for another transfer (missions usually are divided into 6 week segments called transfers – she is happy to be staying with her same companion.)
      This week we started working on teaching the Family Mission Plan with the branch. As we are teaching them of the importance of bringing people closer to Christ, they are coming up with ways that they can help in this Work of Salvation. It is so exciting to see their desire to help people to apply the teachings of Jesus Christ in their lives.
      This week we had a great session of harvest blessings. We met two men named R and C. They both have a faith in Christ. I bore my testimony that I know that He lived and died for us, that He loves us, and that He truly is our Savior and Redeemer. He felt the Spirit and began to cry. As I reflect on this experience, I only had to open my mouth and it was filled with the Spanish words I needed to say when I needed to say them. I know that the Spirit truly fills our mouths!
      F and J are also progressing! It is so exciting to see their progress and desire to learn! F shared with us a miracle this week. Two months ago he stopped drinking alcohol and began spending more time with his family. His family is much happier now and so is he. When we explained the Word of Wisdom (we also call it the Lord’s law for our health) to him, he was so willing to accept it. He told us that he would never drink coffee in the morning again, and since that lesson he hasn't! How prepared he truly is! We had a lesson with him and his family again during the week and talked about eternal marriage with them and the blessings of the temple. They are now discussing about getting married because they both want the blessings of an eternal family!
      How grateful I am to have the blessing of sharing the gospel and allowing others to experience the joy of an eternal family and the blessings that come by being obedient to the Commandments of our Heavenly Father.
      I love this work!  Los quiero mucho! (I love you lots.)  Tengan una buena semana!  (Have a great week!)

                                                             Hermana VanWie
Pictures:  1) Corn on the Cob from the market; 2)  Halloween is here! 3)  Hermana W and Anne in their apt.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Semana 17 en Ceres

Querida Familia y Amigos
      Este semana fue fantastico! Nosotras miramos muchos milagros y teniamos muchas personas en la iglesia este domingo!  (This week was fantastic!  We saw many miracles and many people came to church this Sunday!)
       First of all, I'm backtracking to last Sunday. Last Sunday we had dinner with a family in the ward and we ate Carnitas Mezcla (braised and fried pork parts). That was interesting, but actually tasted okay.
        But back to this week.... This week has been a week of miracles! Especially the past two days. These two days have taught me that the Lord truly is aware of what we are doing and He knows what we need to do in order to help ourselves and our areas progress.
        On Saturday we had almost all of our appointments fall through. Then, we decided we should go and share the Family Mission Plan (this is a plan that helps families work with the missionaries to introduce their friends to the church) with our branch president. We went and shared it with him and explained what it was and invited him to do it with his family. We then sang "Love at Home ( a church hymn)." We then testified that we know that this plan will bring families closer together and help the work progress in this area.  The Spirit was so strong! We then asked him what he thought about sharing it with the entire branch. He loved it! We asked him how he would like us to share this with the branch and he asked us to do a brief introduction with the entire branch Sunday after church. Sunday when we shared this plan with the branch we explained that we would be passing by their homes and explaining more about this Family Mission Plan. Everyone seemed very excited!
         Right after this meeting an investigator (and nonmember father in a part member family) named R came and told us and the branch president that he wants to be baptized. We had stopped passing by for about a month because he was not willing to keep his commitments, but now he is ready and willing to make and keep commitments. We are so excited! He and his family want to help others come unto Christ and he is starting with himself first. What a miracle!
         We also had a wonderful lesson with L and her husband, A. We are now teaching her husband. He wants to learn more and feel more prepared but he knows that this church is true and that blessings come from being a part of it.
         Going along with the miracles on Sunday.....Almost half of the Familia R were in church! That comes to about 5 less-active families! We were so surprised and so thrilled!! When they came they all sat together and they filled up almost an entire side of the chapel. I know that because we have been focusing on helping the less-actives feel of the Spirit and remember the covenants they have made that their hearts have been touched and that they are now willing and ready to come back to church. We also had J (the 10 year-old girl who is going to be baptized at the end of November) and R in Sacrament Meeting!
            We also had a wonderful lesson with A and K this week. We were able to resolve some doubts about the church. Through truly desiring her to understand we were able to teach to her needs, help her feel the Spirit and still teach what we had originally planned to teach. The Spirit was there in abundance. As we bore testimony about knowing that we will see our loved ones again and that we can live with them forever through our Heavenly Father's plan and Christ's Atonement, she was able to recognize the Spirit as it testified of the truths which we shared. How grateful I am for the Holy Ghost! It truly is only through Him that we can discern the needs of those we teach and know what we need to say in the moment we need to say it. I know the Spirit guided every part of that lesson. How grateful I am for our third companion in our companionship--the Holy Ghost.
          Thank you for all of your love and support! Love you so much!
                                                       Hermana VanWie


Monday, October 21, 2013

16th Semana en Ceres

Querida familia--
           This week my companion, Hermana W, and I have been working on a list of members in our area. We have been trying to contact them and invite them back to church. As we have been working on this list we have been able to see the hand of the Lord in the work in our area.
             We had a wonderful lesson with a member named E who has been less active for quite some time now. This lesson was truly directed by the Spirit. Going into the lesson we had no idea how to help her. Under the direction of the Spirit we ended up talking about covenants and we read the Sacrament prayers with her. We helped her remember that she has covenanted (made promises) with the Lord to always remember Jesus Christ, take His name upon her and keep His commandments. We discussed how living worthily and coming to church is a big part of this promise and through partaking of the Sacrament we renew these sacred covenants. I know that through following the Spirit we are able to help her learn. She now knows the importance of coming to church. As we continue visiting her with branch members, we know that she will come back to church.
            We also had a great lesson with the Familia A this week. We have been reminding them every night to read their scriptures and it has been working. They have been reading! When we had a lesson with them we continued to read with them and even their children wanted to be involved. They also came to church this Sunday--the first time in a long time! I am so grateful for their desire to attend church and come closer to our Heavenly Father and Savior. As we continue to work with their family and their extended family, we know that little by little their family will feel of the Spirit and have a desire have an eternal family.
             We also had a wonderful lesson with two investigators--A and K. We taught the first part of the Plan of Salvation (God’s plan of happiness) to them and they understood and believed everything. She said she would love to be baptized but that she wants to learn more. We are so excited to help her gain more knowledge. She reads the Book of Mormon almost every day and so does her son. They both agree with what we are teaching them and are so excited to learn more. Right now the only thing that is holding them back is that she works on Sundays. She is trying to get Sundays off so she and her children can come to church. We are so excited by their progress and are so thrilled to have the opportunity to teach them.
            I know that our Heavenly Father is aware of each and every one of our needs and that He is watching over us every day. I know that through the strength of the Lord we can do all things. How grateful I am for the power of the Atonement in my life! I am grateful for the power it gives me to do hard things. I know that my Savior lives! I know that families can be together forever. How grateful I am for that knowledge!

"Eternas pueden ser las familias, por el divino plan. Yo quiero heredar el celestial hogar con la mia por la eternidad, por toda la eternidad." (“Families can be together forever, through Heavenly Father’s Plan.  I always want to be with my own family, and the Lord has shown me how I can – the Lord has shown me how I can.”  This is the chorus of a song from our children’s songbook entitled, “Families can Be Together Forever”)

Thank you for all of your love and support! I hope you have a wonderful week! 
Los quiero mucho!  Love,  Hermana VanWie

Monday, October 14, 2013

15th Semana en Ceres

Querida Familia y amigos--
            Espero que todo esta bien con ustedes! Tuvimos una semana bien ocupada.  (I hope all is well with you.  We have been very busy this week.)
This week we have been working with less actives as well as part member families. (less actives are people who used to attend church regularly but are not presently doing so.  Part member families are families where one person is a member and the others are not.) We had two wonderful lessons with a less active named Sa this week. After our lessons with her she expressed a desire to come back to church and help her family come back as well. We look forward to more lessons with her in the coming weeks.
The part member family we worked with the most this week is the Familia R Martinez. We had a recorrido de la iglesia(church tour) with them this week that went wonderfully! This past Sunday they came to church even though someone in the family was very sick. They are showing their desire to come closer unto Christ. We are thrilled about their progress. They are on schedule to be baptized the 30th of November or sooner. I know that if we hadn't had the church tour, they would not have felt as comfortable in church. On this church tour we had two members with us and they were able to bear testimony of the things we explained as well. The Spirit was so strong! As we explained about the Sacrament and that we partake of it to remember our Savior and come closer to Him I could feel the Spirit bear testimony of the things which we shared. We then sang "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" in Spanish. My testimony of hymns bringing the Spirit has grown more this week than ever before. Sacred hymns touch people's hearts and help them receive the witness of the Holy Ghost that the things that the hymns teach are true. I love the hymns!
I also had an exchange with Hermana B this week. She is such a wonderful a fun missionary! She knows how to be bold and have fun and how to radiate the joy the gospel brings into her life as she teaches! I learned so much from her about always staying optimistic and how to be bold.
Hna W and I also taught two other investigators this week named Yolanda and Socorro. They are from Mitchoacan (an area of Mexico) Almost all the people in this area are from Mitchoacan. We taught them the Restoration and they had many questions and were very receptive. We invited them to be baptized and they said they just need to learn more but are not opposed to the idea! We are very excited to be teaching them.
We also are working with a woman named A and her son K from Nicaragua. They are very excited to learn and she loves everything she reads from the Book of Mormon. She is so humble and hard-working and wants to find some hope again in her life. We are excited to teach her again this week and help her to get to know the other members in our branch from Nicaragua.
We are trying to find more people and the most effective way to find is through the members. When we receive a referral from a member the investigator automatically has a friend to help answer questions and help them feel more comfortable in church.
I know that working through members will bless our area greatly. I know this is the work of Salvation! I know my Savior lives and loves each and every one of us!
Thank you for your prayers and for your support! Les quiero mucho!

Love,  Hermana VanWie


14th Semana en Ceres

Querida Familia—
            This week has been a wonderful week full of instruction. We set two baptismal dates this week with part of the Familia R. We are very excited to be working with this family! They are a part member family and part of a very large family. The lessons we had with them this week allowed Hermana W and I to work together and share our views on how lessons went and how we can better help our investigators. We have been able to come closer together as we have been working together and teaching together more.
            (This weekend the church held a Conference in Salt Lake City where the Prophet, Apostles and other leaders spoke.  It is called General Conference and is Broadcast throughout the World.) From General Conference I learned the importance of using the (church) members in this work of Salvation more than ever before. The members are the keys to bringing souls closer unto Christ
            We also had a wonderful lesson with two families this week. In both of these lessons we sang a hymn. This is something that I haven't done consistently since being out in the mission field. But as we sang and bore testimony of the truths these songs taught and related them to the members' lives, hearts were touched and they committed to come to church this next week. I know as we use our talents to further the work of the Lord the Spirit will testify through us and touch people's hearts.
We also received 2 new investigators--a mother and a son named A and K. They are so prepared! I am grateful for the Lord placing prepared people in our paths as we make sure to be exactly obedient and follow the promptings of the Spirit.  I know this work truly is the work of Salvation!  I am seeing more and more everyday how the Lord is truly hastening this work. It is so amazing to me that a year ago so many young missionaries were given the opportunity to serve now. How wonderful it is to think that so many--now 80,000 missionaries answered the call or were already serving. How grateful I am that the Lord has given me and so many of my friends the opportunity to serve Him at this point in our lives. I love General Conference! Please watch it if you haven't already. I know that President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God!  Thank you for all of your love and support!  Have a wonderful week!
Love,  Hermana VanWie

Sunday, October 6, 2013

13th Semana en Ceres

Querida Familia,
            This week was the first week of the new transfer. I am so excited about this transfer! Hermana W is so wonderful! She is already settling in to Ceres 3 and I know we will be able to work together really well. We are very similar in how we communicate and we are both learning the language. It is wonderful to be learning together and progressing in our communicating skills together. 
We have had quite a few adventures together this week. One of which was discovering how we can have hot water. Our thermostat controls the hot water, so when we want a warm shower we have to turn on the heat (that would have been nice to figure out a while ago. Oh well :) ) But, we figured that out by turning on the heater a chilly morning. Unfortunately, one of us was in the shower and ended up being slightly scalded. But now we know :) 
This week we also had the baptism of L! It was so exciting!  But, I think the most exciting thing was the change I have been able to see in our investigator over the past few weeks. She truly is changed. She is more willing to follow our Savior and is trying harder and harder to be that good example for her family. I am reminded of a quote by President Harold B. Lee that says, "The greatest miracles I see today are not necessarily the healing of sick bodies, but the greatest miracles I see are the healing of sick souls." What a wonderful experience this was--to see this healing taking place. I love this work! As they strive to change, we and  they are able to come closer to our Savior. I am so excited that L has made this step and now has the support and encouragement of the branch. She radiated happiness after her baptism. How wonderful it was to see her smile and be joyful again!   
I also have gained a greater appreciation for how the promptings of the Spirit work. A while back we met a man named V who has met many authorities of the church. However, for some reason his information was never passed on to the English speaking Elders in the area. This week we found his information again and sent the referral to the Elders. They too had found his information in their potential list but were unsure as to how they would be able to communicate with him. With our information they were able to teach a lesson with his son translating.  They were able to teach the Restoration to him and discovered that there is a member in their ward that speaks Russian. What a tender mercy! The Lord's hand truly is in this work! I know that He wants each of His children to return back to Him and He will always provide a way. In the words of a Primary children’s song, "I will go; I will do the things the Lord commands. I know the Lord provides a way! He wants me to obey."   
I am so grateful for the Plan that our Heavenly Father has for each and every one of His children. He loves us! And I love Him! I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve Him!  Thank you for all of your love and support!   Les quiero mucho!
                                                    Hermana VanWie

P.S. The 1st picture is of my new companion, Hna. W and me. The next pictures are of me and Hna. W at L's baptism