California Fresno Mission May 2013 to November 2014

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.