California Fresno Mission May 2013 to November 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

2nd Semana en Kerman -- Crazy Busy Week!

Querida Familia y Amigos --
     Thank you for all of your birthday wishes! I had a wonderful birthday serving the Lord! It is one I will never forget.
     This week has been crazy! This past session of weekly planning we felt inspired to set a goal of one baptism for this past week. That wasn't so hard to wrap our brains around, but we both felt like it was going to be a man that would be baptized. That was a problem--we didn't have a man in our teaching pool. So, this week we spent a lot of time diligently searching for this man. In the end, we did not find him, but we learned a very important lesson: We need to always have this urgency, drive, and vigor in every contact we have. We need to treat them as if they are the next person to be baptized. We did this and we saw miracles! We are excited to visit all the people we found while doing this and helping them receive the gospel. We are excited to continue applying this dedication in our work. 
      On Thursday, we had Specialized Training. I loved Specialized Training this week! I learned so much more about me, my potential, and what Heavenly Father expects from me. We were also trained on following the promptings of the Spirit.
      Sister Z and I are working on following every prompting from the Spirit as well. We loved that training! Last night (sunday), we were headed to an appointment when we passed a former investigator's home. At first we were both a little hesitant about stopping, but did in the end. Although we didn't have the opportunity to teach him, we learned about a family that has a lot of potential and is going through a hard time right now and needs to know about the plan God has for us. I love the Spirit!
      This week I went on an exchange with Sister H as well. It was my first time leading this area and we didn't get lost! Yay! Everything turned out wonderful and we had a miracle lesson. We had a lesson with a woman named M--she should be getting baptized anyday now. We are just finishing teaching her the commandments. She is keeping the Word of Wisdom now and accepted the law of tithing within the first 5 minutes of the lesson! She truly understands its importance and is excited to keep it--she even tried to give us her tithing right then. We are excited to help her enter into the covenant of baptism. 
     After that we went and picked up Sister C (one of the coordinating sisters -- leaders of sister missionaries)--she will be working with us for a few days, so we are super excited. We also doing something wonderful in the next couple weeks. We are teaching LANGUAGE CLASSES! We are going to be teaching Spanish to the English members so that they can communicate with the Spanish members and help us with team-ups. We are excited to help them learn how to pray and bear testimony.
     I am very happy to be serving here in Kerman! I know this is where I need to be right now. I love this gospel! I love this work! I know the Lord has a plan for us. We are truly children of our Heavenly Father and we have divine potential! Thank you for all the love and support you give me!
     Los extrano y los quiero!  Con amor,
Hermana VanWie 

Here are some pictures of Kerman and the vineyards

Friday, March 21, 2014

Semana 37 -- 1st en Kerman

Querida familia y amigos---
      This week has been a wonderful week! It was hard leaving Ceres. I love the people there so much! They truly have become my family and I love working with all of them. More than that, it was hard leaving our investigators and not knowing what was going to happen to them because we were being doubled-out. But, as Hermana W and I both prayed about it, we know that they will be okay. They are prepared and the Elders that are there now are there for a reason. I loved working in Ceres. 
      On Wednesday I had the wonderful opportunity to meet my new companion from Minnesota, Hermana Z. I am so excited to be working with her! She is energetic and very fun and has a huge desire to work hard and never quit. I am thrilled to work with her. That night she helped me get to know the important people in the ward. We are working in Kerman Ward which covers Kerman, Biola, Firebaugh, suburbs of Fresno, San Joaquin, and Tranquility. There are 3 companionships here and we split the area.  Kerman is a small community about 15 miles west of Fresno. Our ward is small, but growing quickly. The area of our ward (congregation) is HUGE, taking in over 8 communities. It is slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island!! We have a small Spanish Group that has about 50 members and we hope that it will grow to a Branch in the next year or so. We are in charge of Kerman, Biola, and Fresno outskirts. On Wednesday night I met the Bishop and just got to know the area. Our ward is an English ward with a Spanish group. It has been quite the adventure speaking in Spanish and in English and teaching in both--my head doesn't change quite as fast as it should sometimes, but it will come around.
      I'm excited to take what I learned in Ceres to help this area grow as well. I am excited to continue to learn more about missionary work and how I can become a better missionary from the members here as well.
       Thursday was a day of miracles!!!! We had 7 wonderful lessons, 4 member present lessons, and found 2 new investigators! It was a great day! We had a lesson with a woman named A and had an English speaking member with us. Although we were translating for both of them in order for them to communicate I know that the Spirit was there with us. A is very excited to be baptized and through the testimony of the member and listening to the Spirit we were able to find out what some of A's doubts were.  
        We also had a miracle lesson with the Familia Q. We taught the Plan of Salvation. Originally we were planning on doing the first half but only ended up teaching about the pre-existence. As we focused on the importance and the significance that we are children of God, the mother (for the first time my companion told me) opened up and was really listening. Later, I found out that it was because of prayers of missionaries and from members that had recently been out on a team-up with the sisters to visit this family. I know that as we pray for missionaries and investigators by name that we see more miracles and the Spirit guides us more in our work. Our ward has only been doing this for a few days and we are already seeing miracles. 
        On Friday we had a wonderful lesson with a part member family named the B. We taught about the Plan of Salvation. It was a powerful lesson. The Spirit was there and we invited him to be baptized on April 20. He agreed to if he feels like this is true by that date. We also taught him on Sunday. We had a fantastic lesson about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. Through his wife, we were able to help him resolve some of his doubts and help them both understand more about the importance and the blessing of the Priesthood. We were able to bear powerful testimony to them about the blessings of having the Restored Gospel on the Earth and having the Priesthood in your home. I am so excited to continue teaching them! 
         Saturday we taught a lesson to a less active family and used the Gospel of Jesus Christ activity. It really made sense and they promised to come to church because they know understand the importance of the Sacrament. My testimony of allowing people to teach themselves has been strengthened. I know when we are instruments in allowing others to teach themselves, we allow them to change more fully and they convert themselves to the gospel.
        On Sunday we had to do splits--I was in the Spanish group and had to play piano and then we taught the Spanish Gospel Principles class and went to the English Relief Society. In their lesson in Relief Society I learned something very interesting about the word Partook. God has one plan and that is that we can partake of everlasting life. Adam and Eve partook of the fruit; Lehi partook of the fruit in his dream; Christ partook of the bitter cup; and we partake of the Sacrament. In each of these examples we have a choice, but as we partake we are blessed and receive many blessings of the Lord. I am so excited to be serving in Kerman! I know this is where the Lord needs me right now. I know that this is His work. I know that He lives and loves us. I hope you have a wonderful week! Los quiero mucho!

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie


Semana 36 -- ultima --- en Ceres

Querida familia y amigos --

        This week was TRANSFER CALLS! Sister Wallentine and I are........drum roll please........going to be..........................transferred!
       She is going to Modesto to be with my previous companion and I am going down to Fresno to be in Kerman with a missionary who just finished being trained. It was a hard phone call to receive. We have really grown to love the people here and love working together! I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have had to serve here in Ceres. I have grown to love this branch and the people in this area! They have become my other family. It will be hard to leave them. They have watched me grow from when I could not communicate at all to be able to carry on conversations and testify of the things I know to be true. I have formed wonderful friendships with them and have learned so much from them.
         We had several less actives at church this Sunday and the branch is working on helping them all come back to church. A sweet elderly sister came to church yesterday and I almost cried by how sweetly the other sisters welcomed her back into the Relief Society. How grateful I am that these sweet sisters are learning and understanding the importance of visiting teaching and helping the less-actives come back to church. They have all grown so much!
          I know the Lord is in control and He knows what we need and what the people here need. I have grown so much in this area and we have helped the area grow--we have been strengthened and so have they.
While I have been here in Ceres I have learned many things:
-I have learned the importance of fulfilling your callings
-All that is necessary is simple faith.
-We know enough
-Family time is important, but family time at church is most important.
-Every soul is precious to God
I have been so blessed to be here and learning and growing in Ceres.
          I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to serve with Hermana Wallentine as well. From her I learned about the importance of communication and how to be a better communicator. I learned that the key to effective communication is talking and listening and applying what you talk about. I also learned that we do not need to be perfect. Even though we may feel like we are expected to be, if we are trying and doing our best, God will do the rest. We have had wonderful experiences together and have been able to find some really prepared people!
           This week we had wonderful lessons with the familia P again. They will get baptized! They know these things are true, we just need to get them to church. They are living all of the commandments are reading the Book of Mormon almost everyday. Their son, E reads the Book of Mormon (with the pictures) every night before he goes to bed. His parents as well are reading and more importantly studying together. On Tuesday we had a wonderful lesson with them and discovered that they have learned how to find their own answers in the Book of Mormon. They read and studied in 3 Nephi 11 about the authority to baptize and were able to explain to each other and then to us about the importance that the authority to baptize has been restored to this earth once more. It was a powerful lesson. We then watched the Restoration with them in the members' home. They are so prepared. We then committed them to really pray about if these things are true. We followed up with them the next day and they had prayed. They know these things are true--they testified to us. But, they still want to be sure that going to church is an environment they want for their family. I am so excited for them! Every time we have a lesson with them I can feel the Holy Ghost testify to me that they are prepared. I LOVE this family! 
             I love a quote that I found in personal study this morning in the March 2014 Ensign ( a church magazine): "Sometimes we face things for which there is no earthly explanation. In those moments we need to erect a sign that reads, 'Quiet: God at work.' Meanwhile, hold on, child of God. Keep believing. Don't quit. Don't give up. Let God do His work in you.  The greatest tragedy is to miss what God wants to teach us through our troubles...Remember, it's not what happens to us that matters; it's how we handle what happens that makes all the difference. 'When the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces,' the Savior's power and assurance can still make it possible for us to experience joy and peace." (from "Trials, Tribulations, and Trust in the Lord" by Elder Bradley D. Foster) I know that when we trust in the Lord, He will help and help us become the sons and daughters that He wants us to be. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He loves us and is always there to help us. He is our Savior.  He is our Friend. How grateful I am for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the opportunity I have to serve as a missionary and spread this Good News!  
              How grateful I am for the blessing of serving in Ceres for 9 months! How grateful I am for the opportunity I have to be a missionary! I am excited to work in the Fresno area and to get to know the people there!  Have a wonderful week!  
Love,  Hermana VanWie

Semana 35 en Ceres

Querida familia y amigos --
            Espero que tuvieran una semana maravillosa! This week has been a wonderful week! We have been really focused on getting our hour of harvest blessings in everyday and we are seeing miracles! We are having the opportunity to teach more as we try to teach at every moment in this hour as well. Through this we are finding more people that are prepared and want to learn more about the gospel. We have over 5 return appointments this week with people that we met and taught through harvest blessings and we are excited to teach them again and help them come closer to Christ.
          The week started off in a very interesting day--Preparation Day. We went to the Remate! The Remate is a lot of fun, but it can be rather awkward if you are a Spanish speaking white sister. After an hour of strange looks and awkward comments, we called it a day. At the end of trip, we were taking a picture near the front of the Remate and a man came up and asked us what church we were from. We told him and before we could even respond he asked us if we had a card or something we could give him. After talking with him for a little while we wrote down both phone numbers and told him that if he had any questions about religion or about how he could come closer to Christ to give us a call. The next day the other sisters called us and were super excited. He had called and wanted to learn more. They taught him once and invited him to the PMG class that we taught on Thursday. He came! He also came to church on Sunday. We had the opportunity to talk to him a little bit more and it turns out he speaks French and Spanish. He is from Canada! What a small world. My French Book of Mormon might be useful for him since he is more comfortable reading in French. The Lord truly puts people in certain places for a reason.      
          This week my testimony of teaching in member homes has really been strengthened. We have been teaching the familia P a lot this month and they have been progressing very well. We even had a church tour and they are excited to come to church this week. However, their excitement about the gospel and their willingness to open up and ask questions did not appear until this past week. We taught them in a member home twice this past week and it has made all the difference. The mother and father are both willing and wanting to ask questions and respond. The son also talked and asked questions for the first time ever! We are so excited. There is such a special spirit there in the members' home. They are developing a friendship with this family and are beginning to envision how this gospel can affect THEM as a family and how it can bless their lives. We have been able to help them to recognize the Spirit and learn how to pray effectively. In one of the lessons it really struck me how simple prayers can be and how vitally important it truly is to communicate with our Heavenly Father about all that is going on in our lives. How grateful I am that we have the opportunity to have this communication with Him every day.
         I love how the mission allows us to learn so much about ourselves and how we can improve every day. I am grateful for the learning experiences I am having here! I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to work in this branch and for the things I am learning from the members here. Yesterday in church a member bore a powerful testimony of tithing. He explained it in a way that I had never heard before: "Es mejor tener 90% de nuestro salario y 10% de ayuda de Dios que 100% de nuestro salario y estar solos." or "It's better to have 90% of our salary and 10% of the Lord's help than have 100% of our salary and be alone."
           I am so grateful for the strong testimony of these members and the faith they have! I know that God truly knows what we need in order to grow and improve. I know He is watching over us and protecting us. He will truly lead and guide us when we are doing our best to follow Him. 
          We had the wonderful opportunity to see this this week. For a while now we had been feeling like we needed to go and visit I___ (an investigator that Hna P and I had). But we had been kind of ignoring the thought-- she hadn't been progressing at all. But this week we put her in our plans and then we sent out a spiritual text to those in our phone book. She responded and asked us to come by and see her. We did and it was wonderful! Since we last saw her she has been reading the Book of Mormon and praying with her husband EVERY NIGHT! She has a true desire now to learn more about this church and come closer to her Heavenly Father. Although she is now working and it will be more difficult for her to come to church, I know that she is prepared now. 
          How grateful I am for the promptings of the Spirit. This is the Lord's work! We must do it His way and follow the promptings from Him if we want to see success in our areas and bring more of our brothers and sisters to Him. I know our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. As we strive to keep His commandments and come closer to Him, He will bless us and help us along our journey. Thank you for all of your love and support! Los quiero mucho! Que tenga una semana maravillosa y bendicida!

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie