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