California Fresno Mission May 2013 to November 2014

Monday, August 26, 2013

8th Semana en Ceres

Here is Hermana VanWie's short note from Ceres today.  She is safe from the fires which are farther south near Yosemite.  See new pictures too!

Querida Familia y Amigos --
      This week has been wonderful and I went on an exchange with Hermana Van Wagoner. She is so wonderful! She is a great sister training leader! (a female missionary who helps train other missionaries) I learned so much from her about how I can help my area and progress in my potential as a missionary. She also helped me to learn how to improve my language skills and further my progress in Spanish. Hermana PO and I have already starting implementing some of the things we learned on our exchange and are seeing much progress.
       We had another 2 investigators at church yesterday--I and R! I loved Sacrament meeting (the main Sunday church meeting) and is planning on coming back with her husband next week. R loves church--especially Priesthood meeting (Sunday meeting for men). We also talked with him after church about the possibility of his son, R Jr. baptizing him. He loved that idea and said that he would like his son to do that when he get baptized. A(who came to church last week) is excited about church and baptism again and her husband has a desire to learn more. She is so prepared to be baptized! We have another appointment today with her. We also had a miracle lesson with her husband--we taught on his doorstep for 45 minutes with no lesson plan but we ended up teaching him the importance of forever families and the plan of salvation just by having a conversation--that is the most effective kind of teaching.
      I love the verse in Alma 37:44 (in the Book of Mormon). I love how it says that if we "give heed to the word of Christ....[it] will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss." I know that we can receive this eternal bliss by following the example of our Savior and listening to the Spirit. Let the Holy Spirit Guide, let Him teach us what is true. I know that we can learn so much from the Spirit if we will just listen.
       I love you all so much.  Thank you for being great examples to me.
                                                     Hermana VanWie

Picture 1 -- MTC companions reunited
Picture 2 -- With Hermana Parra-Ortega in their Apartment with Bikes
Picture 2 -- At Hermana Conference in Fresno

Monday, August 19, 2013

7th Semana en Ceres

Querida Familia--

    This week has been such a great start to a new transfer! We have been working in parts of the area that we are not familiar with and have been doing all that our branch president (a local small congregation leader) has asked us to do. We have truly seen miracles come to pass.
     On Tuesday we went and did some Harvest Blessings (They pray for the people of the home and a good harvest since many are involved in the agriculture industry). We drove into a part of the area we were not familiar with and prayed and asked Heavenly Father where we should go. We then continued driving until we came to a street we felt good about. We drove midway down the street and parked. After saying another prayer we went and talked to a man who was outside barbequing. He was not interested at all. So we went and knocked a few more doors. Door after door closed in our faces. But, we decided to knock one more house. This house was a miracle house. The door opened wide open and we were welcomed in. A man and a women who spoke Russian began to speak to us and the man asked us question after question about our religion and about the Bible. He is a book collector. He had thousands and thousands of books and had multiple copies of the Bible and even had a copy of The Book of Mormon and The Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price in Russian! (These are books of scripture we use with the Bible) Eventually, he got frustrated by his English and asked us to come back when his son was home. We did so began to answer his questions. We ended up teaching about the Plan of Salvation (God's plan of happiness) with his son translating.  They both were very excited to learn and it all made sense to them. After we finished teaching we began to learn more about him and his family. His name is V. He was an editor in Russia and when he moved to L.A. he met a member of the church who served his mission in Russia. Through him, he was asked to go to Salt Lake City and meet with the then prophet and president of the church--President Ezra Taft Benson. He and this member(a bishop - a congregation leader) went to Salt Lake and met with the prophet for over an hour and discussed how to begin missionary work in Russia. V spoke about some grammatical errors in the Russian translation of the Book of Mormon and how having all of the scriptures together would be more appealing to the Russian people(the quadruple combination). Then he went to Provo for another conference with BYU and discussed how they could change their Russian department. All of this story was told through his son and his scrapbook.

      He showed us pictures of General Conference, some of the temples, his trip, and Provo, UT. He also met President Monson (our current prophet) and Elder Russell M. Nelson (a current apostle to our prophet). He and Elder Nelson still keep in touch and Vladmir told us he can call him anytime he would like. What a miracle it was to meet him and to be able to hear his story and share about the gospel with him!

      I know Heavenly Father has placed prepared people in our path. I know Heavenly Father put Vin our path that day so we could hear his story and help answer his questions!

     A few days later we found 5 new investigators all in one day. One is a part member family and he, J, is ready to be baptized! We are so excited for him to continue to progress and enter the waters of baptism! We also met G and E. G has made so many changes in her life this past year and wants to continue to build her family relationships. She has asked us to stop by at least once a week and we are so excited for our appointment with her this week! E is also a new investigator along with 2 of her sons. We are excited to teach her again this week too!

     At MCM (Missionary Correlation Meeting) on Saturday we received a list of people to visit from our branch president. We went and found all the people on that list immediately after studies and because of that we met Cesar. He wants to change and the day before he had been praying to find someone that he could talk to and that could help him make changes and find hope again in his life. We left a Harvest Blessing with him and he felt the Spirit.  Later that day after we finished the list, we went through our former investigator records and prayerfully picked a few to visit that night. Through prayer we chose to visit Angelina and we invited her to come to church the next day.

     Yesterday, Acame to church and brought her husband and her 2 sons with her. She stayed for Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School and wants to come back next week! She also wants to go see the temple in Fresno, CA and we invited her to go on the branch's temple trip in a few weeks. In addition to coming to church, she wants her daughter to be involved with the Young Women's Program (a youth group for teenage girls). She is so ready to join the church and strengthen her and her family's faith in God and our Savior, Jesus Christ.
     I know that the Lord's hand is in this work. I know Heavenly Father puts prepared people in our path when we follow the promptings of the Spirit. What a blessing it is to be a missionary! What a fantastic week full of miracles!  May this week be full of miracles for you as well! I love you all so much!  Hermana VanWie

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

6th Semana en Ceres

Querida Familia y amigos --
      This week was great!  We had a wonderful zone meeting in which we talked about how to better plan according to our area and how to motivate ourselves when we are making goals. We also talked about the importance of being accountable.
     This week Hermana PO and I taught some wonderful lessons and found a new area within our area that has not been tracted (contacted) in for quite a few years. We are excited to start working in this area and finding more of the prepared people that Heavenly Father has prepared for us. We are so excited for this new area! We already found a few people that are very interested and a lot of dogs! Everyone there seems to have little dogs that like to be guard dogs and try to scare us off. It makes it an adventure.
     This week we also taught a lesson to C. She is progressing wonderfully and we had some bonding time with her--she taught us how to make Pupusas. They are delicious! We have a church tour with her tomorrow and we are so excited! She has a testimony of the gospel and wants that for her family.  
     We also had a wonderful lesson with S. We finally found him and he has been reading the Book of Mormon. He knows it is true! We are so excited that he is starting to turn his life around and is making good decisions again. We are starting to try to get members to get to know him and encourage him in this process of changing.
      We also met another new investigator yesterday. Her name is B. She too wants an eternal family and we are so excited to share with her.
      We also stopped by I and C.  I and her husband were there and we had the opportunity to talk to them. They are in the process of moving, but we were invited by her husband to come anytime we want to visit them. Today we ran into I again and we heard from her that her husband talked to all of his family about the missionaries and gave I official permission to talk with us. He said that he could tell that she was happier when she was around us and that we bring a special feeling into their home. What a miracle! We are so excited to share more with him!
     I also learned of the importance of working with the ward Priesthood leaders (leaders of congregations). We had the wonderful opportunity to visit with our branch president for an hour and work together to receive inspiration for the area. He told us more about the history of the area and what has worked well in the past. He was also able to give us much needed direction on places he feels there are people that are prepared to hear the gospel. How grateful I am for inspired Priesthood leaders!
     This week I was also studying in Jacob 5 (a book in the Book of Mormon) about the Allegory of the Olive Tree. I realized that we, as missionaries, are truly working in the Lord's vineyard. We are helping Him graft in parts of the branches of the tribes of Israel. He is the master of the vineyard and knows what is best for each part of His vineyard. We should be asking Him daily, "What could I have done for my [part of the] vineyard?" (Jacob 5:41). As we labor diligently, the Lord will help us. I love Jacob 5:72: "And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their might; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things." We are servants in the Lord's vineyard. When we follow His commandments and labor "with all our might" He will direct us and be there beside us working with us. How great is our calling as missionaries and as members of the church!

     I know this gospel is true. I know that Heavenly Father loves and watches over each one of His children. I know that missionary work is a divine and marvelous work.
Love you all so much! I hope you have a wonderful week! And Happy Birthday, Nathan!
--Hermana VanWie

Monday, August 5, 2013

5th Week in Ceres

Here is Anne's email from today.  She sounds busy and happy!  They had lots of meetings/trainings this week.

Querida Familia y amigos--
      Esta semana teniamos muchas reuniones. Entonces, estabamos en Fresno por dos dias. Ahi, teniamos trainer/trainee meeting y una reunion para los lideres(para Sister Training Leaders, lideres de distrito y lideres de zona). Este dia, you estaba con la Hermana Guzy en Kermin(cerca de Fresno). Estaba muy enthusiasmada por que yo no vi las otras hermanas de mi distrito de CCM en mucho tiempo.  Con ella, ense├▒abamos algunas lecciones y tocabamos muchas puertas. Y tambien, nosotros hablabamos sobre preguntas que tenemos y hablabamos sobre nuestras vidas.
       (Here is the translation:  This week we had many meetings. Then, we were in Fresno for two days. There, we had trainer/trainee meeting and a meeting for the leaders (for Sister Training Leaders, district leaders and leaders of area). This day, I was with Sister G in Kermin (near Fresno). I was very enthusiastic since I had not seen the other sisters from my district at the MTC for a long time. With her, we taught some lessons and we knocked many doors. And also, we were talking about questions that we have and we talked about our lives.)
       But going back to the start of the week....   On Monday we had a barbeque with all of the missionaries in our zone. (Our zone covers a stake -- a large church unit of many congregations). Then that night we had a noche de hogar(family home evening) in a member's home and C and I came. They want to come to the one we are having tonight as well. We are very excited because we think they might actually be starting to get to know some of the members of the branch (congregation).
       Then on Tuesday we had the trainer/trainee meeting in Fresno. We had multiple trainings from the Coordinating Sisters, the Assistants to the President and from President and Sister Gelwix (all mission leaders)
        On Wednesday, I had the exchange with Hna G. There truly is such a special bond between missionaries. We got to see almost all of our old district at the meeting on Tuesday.
        On Thursday, we taught Claudia. We taught the Restoration of the Gospel and invited her to be baptized. She accepted and said she just needs to learn more. She also said she is planning on coming to church this coming Sunday! We taught her the Plan of Salvation today. She is going to be baptized!
         On Saturday we mostly worked with recent Converts and less actives. While we were doing this I realized something rather important. This work is about much more than just baptizing. As missionaries, if we can not keep the converts we already have coming to church, there is little point in baptizing new converts. We also realized that as we work with members and less actives, and help them come back to church, they will bring their friends to the gospel as well. So, we are starting to work more with less active families and through them finding those that are ready to hear the gospel.
          Yesterday, Sunday, we went visiting teaching (where members of the congregation go visit one another to check on them and share a spiritual message) with a sister in our branch and in the process gained a new investigator. Her name is O. She is married to a less active English speaker who is the son of a less active sister in our branch. We taught O and her husband and taught in both English and Spanish and translated some of the time as well. The lesson, though slightly different than other lesson because of the use of both languages, was one I will never forget. O was so ready to hear the gospel and I am so excited to go back and teach her again and help her husband come back to church as well.
          One scripture that has helped me immensely this week is 1 Nephi 3:7 (from the Book of Mormon) . I love this scripture because it reminds us the Lord always provides a way. I know that the Lord asks us to do things for a reason and allows us to struggle at times because He loves us and wants us to grow. He has a plan for each of us. Of this I know without a doubt in my heart.
           I love the people here in the California Fresno Mission. I love the Lord! I love this work!   May the Lord watch over you and protect you this week and always! 
Love you all so much!  Los quiero mucho!

Hermana VanWie


Sunday, August 4, 2013

4th week in Ceres

Querida Familia--
           This week has been a little bit crazy but I love it!  I was on two exchanges this week! I was on an exchange with Sister Salt from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday afternoon. She has only a few months left on her mission. She is serving in an English area and so I had the opportunity to teach in English. Some thing I learned from her on our exchange was that being on a mission is about training. When we enter the MTC we are being trained to go out into the mission field. Once we get into the mission field we are taught all the things we need to know about the area and all the things we need to know to be a successful missionary. Then we have the opportunity to teach the things we have learned to a new missionary when we are trainers. Then at the end of the mission we are in the process of being trained again. I realized that this time, we are being trained by the Lord through the Spirit. This training is training for the rest of our lives. The Lord is helping us prepare for the rest of our lives by teaching us to trust in Him and helping us to come to know Him.
The next day, Wednesday, I went on another exchange. Hermana PO and I were together for about an hour and then we had an exchange with Sister M. She is amazing! She is almost done with her time so I am so glad I was able to go on an exchange with her. We did get lost a few times, but we found ways to laugh about it and find people to teach in the process. We found 3 new investigators--C, H, and J (Mother, daughter, and grand-daughter). Heidi seems really interested. We are going to stop by later this week. We also ran into some former investigators as we were looking for some other investigators. C and M are the couple we ran into. They are wonderful! We were originally searching for C parents. But, we taught C and M about the Plan of Salvation and part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We also sang a song at the beginning! It was wonderful to be using songs in our lessons again! It always invites the Spirit! The strength of the Spirit in that lesson was unbelievable!
The next day we went down to Fresno to get Hna PO. A less active member of our branch drove us down which was amazing! And we got to know her too! She then invited me and Hna Parra-Ortega to breakfast the next day. We went and had a short spiritual lesson and sang a song. Her heart was touched and so were her children's. Yesterday, their entire family (her husband too) came to church. It was the first time in a long time that they had been there. 
When Hermana Parra-Ortega and I were back together almost all of our lesson plans fell through but since we had a member with us, we decided to help this member have a missionary experience. So, we knocked on doors. The first door we knocked on we met C. We left a blessing on her home and she began to cry. Although she was at first skeptical, she then allowed us to teach her more. We have an appointment with her again today. She has such a sweet spirit and can recognize the Spirit. She is another new investigator.
On Sunday we also had a special fireside for new converts and investigators. It was called "Why I Believe." The Missionaries sang Called to Serve and The Sisters of Zion with the new words. 
One scripture that I have studied this week is Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-23.   It testifies of the power of the Spirit! The greatest witness that we can have is a manifestation of the Spirit. How grateful I am for the Spirit. I know that if we have a question we can receive a clear answer from the Spirit  if we ask with a sincere heart with pure intent. I know that this work is the work of God! I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is an eternal principle. I know that families are forever! I love this work!  I love you all so much!
Love,   Hermana VanWie

 Here is a picture Anne sent of her companion. 

3rd Week in Ceres

Dear Family,

         This week has been busy! We had quite a few lessons and we were on bikes for a few days! It was quite an adventure. One day we biked for over 20 miles! But we are back in the car for the next little while because it is more effective when we have appointments spread across our area. The highlights of this week were the training we received at a Specialized Training for the Northern Zones, an exchange, and 3 baptisms.   

         At the Specialized Training we had been asked to bring an inspired question about how we can help our area. We talked about "Do, Know, and Feel" and how to apply it in our teaching. As we focus on the needs of the investigators we will always teach them principles of the gospel. At the end of the summer there will be 80,000 missionaries in the field. As missionaries we need to help the members strengthen their families.

      We also sang a song as a zone (just the sisters sang). We sang "His Hands" by Kenneth Cope. It is such a powerful song!

After the conference we had a baptism of 3 children.(some of the elders' investigators) We helped with the program--I played the piano. There was such a special spirit there! I know that these children made the right decision to be baptized and are coming to recognize the importance of the role of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in our lives.

       In the exchange I was with Hermana V W. She is wonderful! She is training another missionary as well.  See picture below:      I know this work is the Lord's work. I know that God loves us and is watching over us. I know that as we learn more of Him we can become more like He is and come to live with Him again. I love Him!  I love you all!


Hermana Anne VanWie