California Fresno Mission May 2013 to November 2014

Monday, September 23, 2013

12th Semana en Ceres -- Transfers and ASL

Querida Familia--
     This week has been a very busy last week of this transfer. (Missions are divided up into 6 week segments called transfers. Anne has been in her current area for two transfers.)
     Hna PO (her companion) and I have been working with the Spirit and have been finding in new places in our area. We recently discovered another part of our area that has people that are so prepared to hear the gospel. We are so excited to start working in that part of the area and help bring those people to Christ.  I have loved working with Hna PO and have learned so much from her! She has helped me develop more patience, humility, and determination. Her dedication to the work of the Lord is inspiring and I am so grateful that I have had the opportunity to work with her.
      I am also very excited to begin working with my new companion, Hna W. (I start working with her on Wednesday) I am excited to get to stay in Ceres and continue to strengthen the relationship our companionship has with the branch leaders, members, and investigators. Our branch is also getting another companionship--so we will have 3 companionships--6 missionaries in our branch(2 elders and 4 sisters).
     This week we saw miracles as we made sure to do our two hours of finding. One day we did 2 hours straight of Harvest Blessings (tracting). In these two hours we met many prepared people. One of these people was a woman named D. She is deaf, but can sign and read lips pretty well. It was an amazing experience for me as I was able to remember enough ASL from when I was in Primary to tell her we were missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and testify to her that I know that our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ love her and they have a plan for her. How grateful I was for the Spirit that through Him I was able to recall the sign language I learned years ago.
      After these hours of Harvest Blessing, we taught a wonderful lesson with L--a mother of a recent convert. We invited her to be baptized and she agreed! The Spirit in that lesson was so powerful. She has been going through some hard times right now. But, as we listened, we were able to know what we needed to say. During that lesson we kept on testifying and testifying and testifying. After we invited her to be baptized and she agreed we sang "I Am a Child of God" which brought the Spirit even more and testified to her that what she has decided to do truly is the first step to following Jesus Christ. She is getting baptized this Sunday and her husband is so supportive and is now more interested in what we have to say. I know baptism will help her in her life and that the Gift of the Holy Ghost will help her have a constant comfort and guide in her life. 
     I know Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us. I am realizing more and more that sometimes we must be brought low and struggle in order to turn to Him and allow Him to bring us higher. I love this work! I love the Lord! I know the feelings we receive from the Holy Ghost when we are in church and read the Book of Mormon testify that this church is true! Thank you for your all of your love and your prayers! I love you all so much! Les quiero mucho!
Hermana VanWie
P.S. Pictures are of the Zone and then of all of the missionaries that are in our branch right now


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

11th Semana en Ceres

Querida Familia—
      Since I last wrote we have had a few wonderful lessons with I and S. We had two lessons with them in the same day! We found out that S is finally getting his birth certificate from Mexico so they can get married. Yay! We taught them about the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sergio believes and understands all that we have been teaching him. Hermana Parra-Ortega and I are so excited by how quickly they are progressing and that both of them have a sincere desire to come closer unto Christ. They read either the King James' Version of The Bible or The Book of Mormon together every night and they pray together constantly. The first time we taught Sergio how to pray we all knelt down to offer the prayer. Now, every prayer we say he is the first one to kneel and it has become a consistent action for him before every prayer he says.
       I also finished reading The Book of Mormon again this past week. In this study of the Book of Mormon I focused on studying all the acts of faith. I was able to increase in my faith and reaffirm my testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that Joseph Smith translated it and as we live the principles taught within the pages of The Book of Mormon we can draw closer to our Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ.

      We gained two new investigators on Saturday. They are brother and sister--J and L. We taught them the Plan of Salvation because their mom just had a baby. J understood everything we taught and told us he believes it to be true. He said that we helped him expand his mind a bit and look at things a new way. He wants to badly to know the truth. He has so many questions and wants answers. He wants an answer from God about what is truth. We were able to bear testimony to him about the things that we shared and about the feelings he felt from the Holy Ghost. We taught the importance of prayer and he said the closing prayer. It was one of the sweetest and most humble and heartfelt prayers I have ever heard! We are so thrilled to have the opportunity to help him learn more about his purpose here on earth and how he can gain answers from our Heavenly Father.  
     On Saturday we also had a Fiesta! It was with all of the Spanish branches/wards I(congregations)in the Modesto and Turlock area. Many investigators came and we were all able to learn more about the different countries and cultures that the people here are part of. (see pictures below.)
     This week I learned a lot about obedience. I learned that we do not need to understand the "why" for commandments or rules or things we are asked to do. We only need to obey. When we don't know the "why" it is a test of our faith. I love a quote from our former prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley that says, "Do not let pride stand in your way. The way of the gospel is a simple way. Some of the requirements may appear to you as elementary or unnecessary. Do not spurn them: Humble yourselves and walk in obedience. I promise that the results that follow will be marvelous to behold and satisfying to experience." We will be blessed even if we do not see the results right away. Sometimes we have to obey again and again to demonstrate our faith again and again. In the scriptures there are many examples of this. In 2 Kings 5 Naaman had to wash in the River Jordan 7 times to be cleansed. In 1 Nephi 3+4 Nephi and his brothers had to try 3 times before they received the brass plates. The Lord works in His own way and in His own time, but He always blesses those who faithfully obey Him. I know He is in control--this is His work. How grateful I am to learn from Him!
      I love you all so much! Thank you for all of your prayers and support! I hope you all have a wonderful week!  Les quiero mucho!  Hermana VanWie

Pictures from the Fiesta:


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

10 Semana en Ceres

Querida Familia--
We had the wonderful opportunity to go to the temple today, so that's why our Preparation Day is today. (Wednesday 9/11/13)             Last night we had a wonderful lesson with a part member family. Through asking inspired questions we were finally able to discern what was bothering this investigator and what was holding him back from being baptized. We have another appointment with them tonight and are excited to help him come closer to our Heavenly Father.
            This week has been a week of miracles. We had a wonderful lesson with an inactive family last Wednesday that was amazing! We taught the Restoration and used the video. We then bore testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God. We then sang a hymn--"Nearer My God to Thee" and invited them to continue to come closer to their Heavenly Father through coming back to church. They agreed and the head of the household told us that for 4 years he and his wife have not been going to church, but this Sunday they would be going. He said that he felt the Spirit testify to him that what we taught is true and he needs to come back to church and so does his family. He said he felt something different and special in the lesson.

          I know that because we went into that lesson intending to help rekindle their testimonies and not just to get them to come back to church, but to help them come closer to Christ, we were able to teach with and through the Spirit. We taught as Preach My Gospel teaches--we testified when we taught and taught as we testified. I know that Heavenly Father wants His children to come back to Him and will do anything He can to help them come back to Him.                                               
          They came to church on Sunday! We are hoping that this is just the first step to have the entire family become active in the church again.
          I am so grateful for the opportunity to go to the temple today! I love the temple and the inspiration we receive there and the love from our Heavenly Father we are able to feel in abundance there.  I love this work! I love the temple! I love all of you! 
 Love,  Hermana VanWie
Pictures from their trip to the Fresno Temple:  1) the zone or group of missionaries from their area in front of the temple


Thursday, September 5, 2013

9th Semana en Ceres

Querida Familia y amigos--
I'm so sorry that this letter is late. We decided to change our preparation day to today (Wednesday) so we could contact more people on Labor Day. We truly saw miracles!
            First we met the Familia R. They are related to two other less active families in our branch. We got to know them better and have an appointment with them today (Wednesday) to have family home evening with them. Then we went and did some harvest blessing. We met two families that are very prepared and excited to hear more about the gospel. One of the families has a daughter that is 10 years old and plays the piano. She and I were able to play a little bit together and we were able to gain some of this family's trust.
           We also had dinner with L and J (relatives of the Familia R). J came to the baptism in Turlock on Friday and talked with the branch president about marriage. He seems more open to the idea and his future mother-in-law is very supportive about everything. She wants her family to come back to church is  helping us as missionaries get to know her family.  During the dinner we were able to get to know them better and learn more about what we can do to help them progress. 
We also stopped by R--a new investigator that is a friend of a member. We have taught her several times now and have gained both her and her family's trust. On Saturday when we passed by, we met her youngest daughter and she actually took us and our bikes back to our apartment complex when it was starting to get dark. (We biked a few times this past week. I love biking when we have appointments nearby.) When we arrived for our appointment with her on Monday she had made tamales for us and all of her daughters, including her daughter-in-law and her grandson were there. Through R's desire to learn more and share the blessings of faith and the gospel with her family, we gained 3 new investigators in one lesson. Her daughter-in-law and her grandson both have a huge desire to learn more and come closer to Christ. 
            There was also a quote that I loved from President Harold B. Lee this week that says, " You must learn to walk a few steps ahead into the darkness, and then the light will turn on and go before you." It goes perfectly with Ether 12:6. It reminds me of the song by our friend, Sister Rogers, that says, "When I step into the darkness, will someone light the way? Do angels really guard me? Will my Savior really save?" Yes! He does! I know that when we have faith  and take a step into the unknown, our Savior will step in and help and guide us along our way--He is our light.
              I know that when we do our best, the Lord blesses us and makes up the difference. He honors our sacrifices and our extra effort. When we give our all, the Lord blesses us with many miracles and enlightens our minds so can learn more of and through Him. I love this work! I love the Lord! I am so grateful for the many miracles we have seen this week and the opportunity we had to work on Labor Day.
            I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers and support! I feel the support of your prayers every day. I hope you have a wonderful week!   Love,   Hermana VanWie