California Fresno Mission May 2013 to November 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Semana 30 en Ceres and Transfers

Querida Familia y amigos --
      So transfer calls were this past week. I have been in Ceres now for 5 transfers! I can't believe I have been able to be here this long. It truly was a blessing. But, sometimes we get surprises as missionaries. So for this next transfer I will be in......DRUM ROLL.................

CERES AGAIN! I get to stay with Hermana W in Ceres for another transfer! Yay! I love the Ceres Branch and the people that live here! The missionaries are all wonderful and we are working hard to strengthen the branch. What a blessing!
      This week has been a great week! Hermana W and I are so excited we get to stay here in Ceres together for another transfer! We have made goals for this  transfer  that  are really going to push us. It is going to be very hard, but I am very excited to help us both grow more and more.
      This week I went on an exchange with Hermana M. She is a wonderful missionary! Every time she opens her mouth I can feel the Spirit testify of what she says. I love teaching with her!  
      This week I have really increased my testimony about Preach My Gospel (a teaching guide missionaries use to teach about Christ). The lesson plan has us to bear testimony and bring in the Spirit. As we bear testimony of the basic truths that we know, the Spirit is able to teach the investigators, less actives, and members what they need to know. At times as missionaries we do not know what the people need, but the Lord does. When we are teaching by the Spirit and with Preach My Gospel, we are able to get out of the way of the Spirit and allow Him to be the teacher in the lesson. 
       Early this week we met a couple of less actives that nobody knew. They were so thrilled to be in contact with missionaries and with the church! It was so great to see their excitement. As we have been doing our daily finding time we have been learning from the people that we have been meeting. This week we got marriage advice and advice for life. It is so wonderful to talk to everyone!   
       We had a wonderful lesson with the Familia O this week. We decided after our last lesson with them that we needed to switch gears and teach in a way that was more interesting to them and in a way that made sense. We did an activity to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ--it was a pathway. We are really loving this activity. It is so simple, but it makes people really think. Hopefully they will come to church this next week.
      This week we met a woman named Silvia. She is so wonderful! She is truly a prepared person. The Elders talked with her outside her house a while back, but haven't been back since. So, they told us we should stop by. We went and knocked on her door and she immediately recognized us as representatives of Jesus Christ and quickly invited us in. We had a wonderful lesson with her. She told us all about her life. As we talked with her and testified of the basic truths of the gospel, the Spirit was present even before we said a prayer. She started to become emotional and asked us if we could say a prayer with her. We quickly agreed and shared a scripture how hard times are to help us in our lives after we had offered a prayer for her family. As we talked we learned more and more about her family and her life and the feeling inside her home was one that was very special. I know the Spirit is there when we teach, but as we completely rely on Him as we teach, it becomes His lesson. I love being able to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to allow others to feel of the love He has for them!
       We taught her again later this week--this time I was with Hermana McArthur. We taught her the Plan of Salvation (God’s Plan for our Happiness)--she had so many questions about life here on earth and why we are here. Silvia asked so many questions throughout the lesson and they often were about exactly what we were going to share with her next. She was so interested and what we shared made sense to her. What I love most about teaching is the opportunity to see everything "click" for the investigators, less actives, and members. I love helping them understand more about the Plan God has for us. 
     J came to church again yesterday! YAY!!!!!!! We were so excited! It is so great to see the chapel filling up with less actives and investigators. That is one of the most rewarding things about missionary work.  I love this work! It truly is the Lord's work.  I love being able to see the hand of the Lord in my life everyday and see the change in people as they come to recognize Him again.
      I know God truly has a plan for each one of us and as we strive to do our best, He will always bless us. I am so grateful His plan allows for us to see our families and loved ones again after death and that we can live with them for eternity if we keep the commandments and do what is right. How grateful I am for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for me so that I can have an opportunity to learn of these Truths and apply them in my life so I can return to live with Him, My Heavenly Father, and family someday.
        Thank you for all the love and support that you give me and all the other missionaries.  

Los quiero mucho! Con mucho amor,

Hermana VanWie


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Semana 29 en Ceres -- Time is Flying!

Querida Familia y amigos-
            This week has been shorter than the last week and we had a training day as well which really made the week feel short! Time is going by so fast!
This week we have been very focused on doing our 2 hours of finding time everyday. On Wednesday we had the fastest session of Harvest Blessing I have ever done! A little dog followed us around almost the entire hour and we met several people that we have return appointments with later this week because of this little dog. I know that the Lord works in mysterious ways, and perhaps this little dog was one of those ways--because of him we were more outgoing and showed more of our personalities. 
On Friday we were invited to a wedding and were invited to share a message about the blessings of the temple. There was a special spirit there as we taught about how our families can be together forever. As we focused on that their civil marriage could become an eternal one in a year, the faces of the people lit up and they could recognize the Spirit. We taught in both English and Spanish--there is something very special about hearing messages of truth in your native tongue.
We are continuing to teach using activities and object lessons--especially when we are teaching families. This week we taught lesson 3 (the Gospel of Jesus Christ) by making a path way and making the children figure out how they could use the five steps over and over again to get to their goal (the Sun or the Celestial Kingdom to live with Heavenly Father). It was wonderful to see how teaching them in a way that was simple and interactive also allowed their parents to understand and more fully understand these fundamental principles of the gospel. 
I also had the opportunity to see my former companion again! She was here for an exchange. It was so good to see her! 
Yesterday was Sunday and an investigator named J came! Yay!! He took off work just so he could come with his entire family. It was wonderful to see him there with his children and wife. Two of our recent converts  were also there and many less actives. The chapel was pretty full! What a wonderful sight to see! Hermana Wallentine and I were given the opportunity to do a musical number. We sang "Cuando Hay Amor" (Love at Home). What a special Spirit was there! I love hymns and the Spirit they bring! 
I know that we are all Sons and Daughters of our Heavenly Father. He loves us and is always watching over us! He wants us to return to live with Him again! I know His plan allows us to do that if we follow His commandments and endure to the end! How grateful I am for the Plan of Happiness that allows us to live with our families and our Heavenly Father and Savior forever. I know this is the Lord's work and I know that His Hand is in this work everyday! I love being a missionary! Los quiero mucho! Que tengan una semana maravillosa! (I hope you have a wonderful week!)                                                                                                                                          

Love, Hermana VanWie


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Semana 28 en Ceres -- Success and Service

Querida Famlia--
        We are having many people at sacrament meeting every week (worship service)--the less actives (members of the church who are not attending regularly) we are working with. That is one of the things I love best right now--watching the less actives come back to church and start to flourish and want the blessings of the gospel in their lives again. This past Sunday we had about half of the R's large family in church--they filled up almost an entire third of the chapel. As I have been working with the less actives, I have been recognizing that I am being a successful missionary as I am helping them come closer to Christ.
       What I have learned from the Holy Ghost this week is the power of teaching through activities. On Monday we had an amazing lesson with a less active family where we taught about the gifts our Heavenly Father has given us. We structured it as a Family Home Evening (a family activity and study night) and we even began by singing a hymn. We sang "I am a Child of God" ("Soy un hijo de Dios"). That set the tone to the entire evening! This family for the first time in a long time all sang together and taught each other about the gospel through a simple activity of using their talents--coloring and being creative. As they each taught of the importance of the thing they created we were able to teach them about our Divine Nature as Sons and Daughters of God. They were able to feel and recognize the Spirit and be happy together as a family.
          (Tuesday) I also went on an exchange with Hermana P this week. She is serving down in a place called Chowchilla. (Chowchilla is about 50 miles south of Ceres where Anne is serving and 40 miles north of Fresno.)She has gained so much of the members trust and love there!    
           El miercoles, (Wednesday) we had an amazing lesson with L and her family. We were able to teach the plan of salvation by having them walk through it step by step and making it more understandable for a 3, 4, and 7 year old. It truly is a blessing to be able to teach children--it allows us to focus on the basics and in this way teach more clearly to adults and to ourselves.
           El Jueves, (Thursday) we did service again! Yay! This time we went through an entire room packed with random things, cleaned everything, organized, and tore out all of the carpet. As we have been doing more service I have felt more love for the members and the people living in this area. I love the scripture in (The Book of Mormon) Mosiah 2:17 that talks about service. We also helped teach a Preach My Gospel class at church and helped them do a faith, Iron Rod activity (kind of like what we do at camp). The members truly understood how other people can feel without the gospel in their lives. Hopefully this helps encourage them to be member missionaries.
           El Viernes, (Friday) Hna W and Hna M went down to Fresno to go to a baptism so Hna S and I were on splits.    
          El Sabado, (Saturday )we had a wonderful street contact! Although she was not interested in learning more, she recognized us for who we are and testified to us that she knew that we were representatives of Jesus Christ. That was an interesting experience. I also had an hour during lunch to practice the piano for a musical number I am accompanying on Thursday--Sally DeFord's "Because He Lives." (I should have practiced the piano more before the mission!)
          El domingo, (Sunday) there were more less actives in church than there were actives I believe. Hopefully it will be all active soon! We had a great team-up with a sister from the branch--Hna M. We had a lesson with the family R in which we allowed them to catch up with Hna M and then teach according to their needs. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ and ended by singing "Senor, te necesito!" I was so thrilled when in the closing prayer they offered thanks for the Spirit that they felt in their home.
         This is what missionary work is about! Allowing others to feel of the Spirit and come closer to Christ. How grateful I am to be serving the Savior! I know He lives! I know He loves us! Los quiero mucho! Y los extrano bastante. Espero que todos tengan mucho felicidad esta semana. Y que recuerden sus bendiciones!! (I love you and miss you lots. I hope you all have a happy week and I remember all of you in my prayers!!)

Hermana VanWie

P.S. (They traveled 90 miles to the temple in Fresno, CA on Tuesday.) Today after we went to the temple, I left with a renewed sense of peace and happiness and more determination to help our members get to the temple. I am so grateful to be able to go to the temple! I love the temple!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Semana 27 en Ceres -- a GREAT New Year!

Querida familia y amigos--
           Como estan? Espero que todo este bien con ustedes. (How are you? I hope all is well with you.) Muchas gracias por todos sus cartas! (Thank you for your letters.) This week was a great week! We have continued to work with the less actives and are so excited when they progress and read the Book of Mormon, pray, and come to church.
        It was preparation day. After doing the normal preparation day things we had time to relax a little. Then we had a great lesson with an hermana that works in the Ramate (the flea market) on Sundays. She has such a great testimony and such a great faith! I am so glad I have been able to get to know her and to learn from her example of perseverance even if life is really hard.
        Tuesday was New Year's Eve. We had dinner with the familia A again. R said he loved the temple! How wonderful! I love seeing how he is progressing in the gospel and strengthening his testimony. We also had a great street contact with a man named R. He has a huge faith in Christ. I love street contacting! It was great to hear how his life has been changed because of Christ. That is definitely one of the best things about the mission--we have the opportunity to get to know people and their stories.
       At the end of this year I am very grateful for several things:
--I have the opportunity to serve a mission in the California Fresno Mission
--3 people were brought unto the waters of baptism
--I have an increased testimony of the Savior and His divine role
--I have the opportunity to serve in Spanish
      Wednesday was the first day of 2014! It started off with a bang. It is going to be an exciting new year! We had some of the most interesting lessons that I have ever had. These lessons dove into some deep doctrine that is quite frankly hard to explain in English let alone in Spanish. But as we bore testimony of the basic truths of the gospel and helped them understand the basics their doubts were resolved and we gained 3 new investigators. Yay! We also had a wonderful team-up today. We went out with one of the sisters in the branch and got to know the people she visiting teaches. This is going to be a great year of missionary work!
       Thursday we had a district meeting. We also talked about the importance of teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This third lesson in Preach My Gospel is so important! Without the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ the other lessons have very little meaning. It brings purpose into our lives because we know exactly how we can return to live with our Heavenly Father again. How grateful I am for the Gospel of Jesus Christ! We also did service with a less active member in our branch. We sorted through tons of clothes and swept and cleaned all of the tile outside of her home from all the leaves from her fruit trees.     
       Friday we had wonderful lessons with one of the members of the branch as well. We taught the gospel of Jesus Christ to our investigator Y from Peru. I know she felt the Spirit as the member bore powerful testimony of the role the Holy Ghost has played in her life. I know this is why it is so important to take members with us to lessons--so they can bear another witness of the truths that we are teaching. We also had a lesson with the Familia O--the ones we did service with last week. We got to know them, laughed, and had a pretty good lesson. We are excited to teach them again this week. We also had a great lesson with V. We are getting to know her more and more. As we are getting to know her we are finding out how we can better help her. It really is true, what Elder Holland says, that as we listen we will know what to teach because we will know their needs.
       Saturday we had a miracle! The saying of "if you ever need anything send me a smoke signal" came true. We were out doing harvest blessings when we saw a plume of black, black smoke coming from behind a house. Worried that there might be a huge fire, we walked over to the house and began knocking on the door. Soon someone came around from the back and we asked if everything was alright. They explained that they were just burning cardboard and we continued talking and explained who we were. He was interested in receiving a blessing for his family and went to ask his other children to come to listen as well.
       Shortly he returned, without his children, and said they were not interested. As we testified that we knew that God has a plan for him and his family his eyes brightened and told us that we could come back but that he would have to check with his wife (who was sleeping) for an exact time. He promised he would call us and we left shortly after. As we walked back across the street to try to go talk to a woman who was washing her car, he come out of his house again and called over to us to come back. He said that what we were doing is hard and that one day he hopes that his daughters do what we are doing. He told us that even though his children were not interested in receiving a blessing, he was. He wanted to hear what we had to say. We offered a prayer over him and his home and his friends and family and he was clearly touched. We can't wait to see him again this week to teach him and his family. What a testimony builder it was for me that God truly does work in mysterious ways!
        On Sunday, yesterday, V and J, B, and F all came to church and so did a less active we have been working with. We were so excited! We also had an interesting experience because two people that spoke sign language came to our ward as well. One knew Spanish as well. We had a wonderful time trying to communicate with them. I wish I had learned more sign language when I was in primary and when we had the Bergs (an elderly deaf couple that lived in our neighborhood) over. Hopefully they will come back next week and we can find an interpreter for them. Despite not being able to understand what exactly was going on, the woman was clearly touched and could feel something different. I love the Spirit and how it testifies of truth to each person in a way that each of us can understand.
        I know this gospel is true! I know the Spirit testifies of truth! I am grateful to be sharing the gospel at this time of year and that I get to be sharing the gospel during this next year as well! I know God lives and loves us! This is His work. Thank you for all that you do!
Los quiero mucho! (I love you lots!) Que tengan una semana maravillosa! (I hope you have a marvelous week.)

                                                                  Hermana VanWie