California Fresno Mission May 2013 to November 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Semana 26 en Kerman -- another miraculous week

On September 8, 2014, Hermana VanWie wrote this email:

Querida Familia y amigos --

This week has been wonderful!! We saw miracles this week! We set a baptismal date with S this week! She is solid! We love her! We are grateful for the change we have seen in her and in grandfather over the past 5 weeks. She came church on Sunday again! She loves church! We taught her the word of wisdom this week which she readily accepted. She was so proud on Sunday when she told us, "I stopped drinking coffee!" We are so excited for her to be baptized on the 27th!

We also had A and J at church this week! They brought their whole family! They stayed for 2 of the 3 hours and loved it! We have seen A progress so much in the past week. We had a lesson with a member earlier this week and she told us that she has been reading the Book of Mormon with her children and making sure they are praying. We have only been teaching her for a week and a half. She is amazing! We are excited to continue to see them progress as a family!

I become more a more convinced that we serve in areas not only for investigators and companions, but because of the members that are there. I am grateful for the members here! I learn so much from them! 

I love being a missionary! I love seeing people change and becoming changed!  I am grateful for this gospel! I know it is true! I know my Savior lives! I know He loves me! I know His Atonement applies to me and allows me to change and become the person that He wants me to be! How grateful I am for that! Thank you for all that you do for me and for member missionary work!

Los quiero mucho!  Que tengan una semana maravillosa!

Hermana VanWie


Friday, September 5, 2014

Semana 25 en Kerman

On September 1, 2014 Hermana VanWie shared this:
Querida Familia y amigos --
Esta semana ha sido buenismo!! We saw wonderful miracles this week! One was through working with members.  We are getting really excited by all the progress that is going on in the ward. This past Sunday was had a meeting for a mentoring program that the ward is going to be doing with recent converts. It is amazing! As we went through the packet we all felt that this is what is going to help our recent converts stay active in the church. I am so excited to see how this program helps them progress!
We are trying to have more team-ups with the members and for the past few weeks we have been doing pretty well with getting sisters to come out with us. This past week, after having a really good experience on the previous time she came out with us and Sister F took us to go see two of her friends. The first one wasn't really interested, but Sister F had the opportunity to have more of a gospel centered discussion with her which was wonderful! And then we had an even larger miracle! We went and saw her friend named A. She immediately invited us in when we knocked on her door. We got to know her and she told us that she had actually been thinking about Sister F that morning even though she hadn't seen her in months. As we talked, we learned that her son had gone to Cub Scouts at church a few years back. Then Sister F explained who we were and that we talked about the church. A then surprised us all by saying, "I always wanted to go to church there!" When Sister F asked why she hadn't, she simply replied, "Because you never invited me." All that was needed was an invitation. I know that there are people that are prepared by the Lord for us--for missionaries and for members.  
Later in the week we had a lesson with A and her husband and her sister-in-law. At first we were a little worried because her husband and her sister-in-law kept on trying to take over the lesson, but as we began teaching we no longer felt worried and for the first time in my mission I think I finally understood what the scripture my bishop gave me when I left home meant: 1 Peter 3:14-15 "But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." This is what it meant to me: If you do this work, (and although what I am asking you to do it not easy), you will be happy and will not need to fear or be troubled. But sanctify yourself--be clean, pure, committed, obedient, worthy, and focused, and give your whole heart to the Lord and be ready to open your mouth to give an answer. When you have sanctified yourself, you will not need to fear what to say, it will be given to you as you are humble and willing and ready to answer the questions people have. 
This is what happened during the lesson, we were given exactly what we needed to say and A was touched and changed by the Spirit. As we said the First Vision, a sweet Spirit came into the room and she recognized it. As we asked her what she felt she said that she felt peace and that she felt good because she has found something different that she cannot find in her church. She is very prepared! We are so excited to keep working with her!
Hermana Jimenez gave a talk in the English Ward on Sunday! She did great! I am so proud of her! Her English is getting better every day. We also got to be in Primary on Sunday for singing and sharing time. (I was playing the piano) It was such a special experience! There is such a sweet spirit in Primary.  The basic truths that are taught there in songs and activities are true! We could feel of that as we listened to the children sing and as we taught a lesson the day before and used "I Feel My Savior's Love" to teach of the love that our Savior, Jesus Christ, has for us and what we can do to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father again.
I know that our Heavenly Father and our Savior love us! I know that They live! They want us to return to live with Them again. I know that we are the Lord's hands here on this earth and that as we open our mouths, they will be filled with what we need to say to touch the hearts of the people the Lord has prepared.
Gracias por todo lo que hacen para mi y los misioneros! Que disfruten su dia de Labor Day! Los quiero muchismo!
Con amor,
Hermana VanWie

Semana 24 en Kerman

On August 25, 2014, Hermana VanWie shared:
Querida Familia,

Transfer calls were on Saturday night, and I am staying in Kerman again with Hermana Jimenez! YAY! This week we had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Church’sVineyard in Madera. (They grow grapes for raisins that are then sent to areas with humanitarian needs throughout the world.  See video about the Vineyard project:

 It was amazing! It was hard work, but it truly was a revelatory experience! My testimony of the 25-25-50 matrix increases each time I receive revelation. Hermana Jimenez and I made a point to talk about the references in the scriptures that talk about the Lord's vineyard before we went to work in the vineyard. We read in John 15:1-16 specifically. As we were at the vineyard, we learned through analogies of how we can work more effectively and harvest more people: There are a lot of different types of grapes--those that are really easy to find and others that are harder; others that are ready to pick and others that have gone bad. It is like us and our investigators when we are working in the Lord's vineyard of our mission. At times it is really easy to find prepared people, but other times it is harder and we find a lot who are not ready. There are also times that we have to work really, really hard to find those who are prepared, but it is worth it. 

There are other grapes that in order to find them we have to get dirty a little bit and give all of our effort to find them and bring them in. Most of the time, other people may have passed over them or did not see them. Others may look small and insignificant, but we should seek them out and rescue them as well. Sometimes, in order to help, we need to be at a higher level to know how to grab the grapes. In other words, we need to have our own conversion first in order to help and elevate others to this level of conversion. But, there are also others that require us to be at a lower level in order to see and help them. We must have humility in order to touch their hearts.  I loved working in the vineyard. I love working in the Lord's vineyard, here in the California Fresno Mission!! I love being a missionary. 

One of my favorite things about being a missionary is helping others to learn about the Atonement of Jesus Christ so that they can use it and change. We had an amazing lesson this week with a woman who we have been helping reactivate in the church again. We helped her son get baptized and she comes to church every week now. When we came to teach, she was glowing! As we talked and discussed how she has been doing, she told us the most exciting news! She is preparing to go to the temple to receive her endowment!!! She is so excited and so grateful that she is able to do that now. Words cannot describe how happy I was! I love seeing people progress in the gospel! I love families helping each other get on the right path and progressing on it. How grateful I am to have been able to witness this change over the past 5 months.

We also had a miracle on Sunday! One of our investigators, S came to church! And she brought a friend! And her grandfather stayed for Sacrament meeting. Then she stayed for all 3 hours and absolutely loved Primary! Her grandfather later explained to us that he originally only came to church for his granddaughter, but as he stepped foot into the church, something came over him and he felt more peace and happiness than he ever had in his whole life. He didn't want to leave. In this moment, his attitude changed. He then told us that they will be here every Sunday and he is not just coming to church for his granddaughter, but for himself.

I know that the Spirit testifies of what is true. I know that the grandfather felt the Spirit testifying that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church here upon the face of the earth. I know that President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet and that he receives revelation from God on how to direct His work here on earth and in His church.
I know this is the work of Salvation! How grateful I am to be a part of it!

                Gracias por todo lo que hacen para apoyar la obra misional! Gracias por sus testimonios tambien! Los quiero mucho!  Que tengan una semana magnifica!

Con amor,
Hermana VanWie

Semana 23 en Kerman

On August 18, 2014, Hermana VanWie wrote this:
Querida Familia y amigos --

This week was a great week! We were busy busy busy! But a busy missionary is a happy missionary. We had exchanges this week. My companion is wonderful! She is such a natural missionary. She led the area for the first time and when I came back we had a baptismal date with L! We later had a lesson with L and she is so prepared! We talked about church attendance, the sacrament, and how we can receive revelation when we go to church as we feel the Spirit just like we do when we pray and read the scriptures. She then told us that she wants to be a missionary someday and we were able to help her set that goal. She then shared with us that ever since she met us and has started reading the Book of Mormon she has had experiences of God speaking to her through the Scriptures and she has been sharing the Book of Mormon with all of her friends. She is amazing! We can't wait to get her to church!

We also had specialized training this week. Out of all of the things we talked about, two things stood out--our mission statement and the role the Atonement has in missionary work. Our mission statement in the California Fresno Mission is 1. We serve because we love Jesus Christ. 2. We know that complete missionaries are worthy, obedient, committed, and focused and serve with no regrets.  I love my mission! I love my Savior! How grateful I am to be able to serve Him and do His work. 

One of the things that Hna Jimenez and I did this week was we did language study with a member. It worked wonderfully! It helped us to get to know the member, we became better missionaries because we got feed back from the member of how we can improve our teaching, and Hna Jimenez got to practice her English. It was a wonderful experience. We plan on doing that about twice a week.

Yesterday we had a wonderful lesson with a woman and her daughter who do not have a Chrisitian background. A member came with us and she connected really well with them. We talked about who God is and His relationship with us. As we focused on helping them understand this, we could see a light of understanding come into their lives and they then asked the question that is so important--why are there so many churches.  It was so amazing to me that eventhough we had explained this before, they could not understand it because they did not fully comprehend who God is and how much He loves them. It was a powerful lesson. It was the best lesson we have had with them.

I know that God is our Heavenly Father. We are His children. He loves us! I love Him! I know that He loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to come to the Earth to suffer and die for us. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ!I know they are always there for us, to listen to us, to comfort us, to guide us! How grateful I am to be able to communicate with them through prayer.

Thank you for all the love and support you give me!Que tengan una semana maravillosa y llena de milagros!

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie


Semana 22 en Kerman

On August 11, 2014, Hermana VanWie wrote:
Querida Familia y amigos,

This week was wonderful!  After going to the temple on Tuesday, we had a wonderful Trainer/Trainee Meeting on Wednesday. It was so good to see all the other missionaries there and to be instructed and edified by the Spirit. We had some wonderful trainings about Revelation through the Book of Mormon, Revelation through Prayer, the 12 week program, correction, and how the Atonement applies to missionary work. As we were there we were also asked to reflect on what we have learned so far in the experience of training/ being trained. I am so grateful to be with Hermana Jimenez! She is such a wonderful missionary and teaches me new things every day. It is such a humbling experience working with her. I have learned so much about humility and how God does not call the qualified, but qualifies the called in the past few weeks. Truly, our Heavenly Father knows us and knows what is best for us. 

We also have been teaching S a ton this week--almost everyday!! She has such a great desire to learn! We have also gone back to using object lessons to explain things more and more. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I received in Primary and for the simple testimony I received there! How grateful I am for inspired teachers there and wonderful parents at home that helped learn and understand and apply these gospel trues. I am grateful for the activities that helped me learn as well (we have used them a lot this week). It has been amazing to see how much S has grown spiritually in just this week as she has studied and participated in the lessons and felt of the Spirit. She now has a desire to be baptized and follow the example of Jesus Christ and continue her journey to return to her Heavenly Father. We are so excited to help her continue on her journey and take the next essential step.

We also have had quite a few members come out on team-ups with us. We love having members come with us! It brings something special to the lessons.

This week my companion and I have been studying the importance of members being involved in missionary work. As I studied, I went to some of my favorite missionaries in the Book of Mormon--Alma and Amulek. Alma and Amulek were fantastic missionaries! As I studied how they worked I came across a scripture that really touched me--Alma 13: 24-25 "24 For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory. 25 And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice." I know that angels are declaring the word of God to those here on earth. Many may say that missionaries are these angels, but they are not the only ones. It is the members who are these angels that are declaring the word and are preparing people to accept it. Truly, when members and missionaries work together it is helping to hasten the work of the Lord. As I continued to ponder this scripture this week, we came across a wonderful Mormon Message "The Hope of God's Light" ( As we watched we could feel the Spirit testify to us that each of us, can be and are more often than we know, an angel that helps bring the hope that only God's Light can give.

I know that we are the Lord's hands here upon the earth. He works through us to touch the lives of others. I know that as we listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, He will tell us what to say and what to do.  I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live. They love us! They want us to return to live with them again. 

Gracias por todo lo que hacen para mi y para todos los misioneros que estan serviendo alrededor del mundo. Los quiero mucho! Que tengan una feliz semana! (Thank you for all you do to help me and all the missionaries that serve around the world.  I love you lots!  Have a great week!)

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie


Semana 21 en Kerman

On August 5th Hermana VanWie wrote this letter:
Querida Familia y amigos --

This week has been great! We are so grateful it has decided to cool down and that the Lord is preparing people and placing them in our path!

We had the great opportunity to go to the temple today and we had a wonderful experience! I love the temple!

Something that Hermana Jimenez and I have become very aware of throughout this week is that the Lord is always with us. He is so aware of us! And as we do His work, He will always help us. I love what it says in Isaiah 49: 14-16.  14 But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.
 15 Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will not forget thee.
 16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.            

I know that the Lord is always aware of us and as it says in "How Firm a Foundation" He will strengthen us, help us, and cause us to stand. He will never forsake us.       
             We have seen that in our week. We found L again this week! We found her last week, but for some reason had a really hard time finding her again. We finally found her again and she told us that she had read the Introduction to the Book of Mormon and that she remembered something about Joseph Smith. As we talked more and got to know more about her life we discovered that she has talked to missionaries before near San Francisco and had received a blessing before and seen the Restoration video. She told us she had a stroke 2 years ago as well and because of that has forgotten a lot of things. As we taught the Restoration to her the Spirit was very strong and as Hermana Jimenez said the First Vision, I felt very strongly that I should pull out the picture of it even though she was already half way through it. When Hermana Jimenez finished Lupe said, "That's it! That's the picture I remember!" Although she had forgotten a lot, she could still remember the story behind the picture. When we invited her to pray about what we had taught that day, she said she didn't need to because she already knew it was true. She truly is prepared.

This story started on Wednesday. We had just come back from an exchange and Hermana Jimenez and I decided to go do some ATMs.  We ended up getting 3 referrals from a less active and he said that he was going to actually set up an appointment with one of them--his granddaughter. He told us to call him to follow up with him yesterday afternoon. We did so, yet we weren't able to get in touch with him. After reaching the home of a potential, both Hermana Jimenez and I felt like we should just get back in the car and go see him. We did so and when we arrived, his granddaughter had just walked out of the house. We had a wonderful lesson with her and she really wants to learn. Her name is S and she is 9 years old. She really didn't have much of a background on who God is or who Jesus Christ is. As we taught we helped her identify the Spirit. When we asked her to say the prayer she willingly did so and asked us to come back "tomorrow!" She is prepared and really wants to learn. I know that when we follow the impressions of the Spirit, we are where the Lord wants us/needs us to be. Through following the promptings that come, we will see miracles.

I know that this is the Lord's work. I know that His hand is in it. I know that He wants us to return to live with Him again. He has provided the way. This is His church. Thank you for all of the love and support you give me and all the other missionaries! Espero que tengan una semana maravillosa llena de oportunidades para compartir el evangelio!

Los quiero mucho!

Hermana VanWie

Semana 20 en Kerman

On July 28, 2014, Hermana VanWie wrote:
Querida Familia y amigos –

                We had a great week! I love working with Hermana Jimenez! We worked very hard to reach the goals we set and in doing so passed our goals. One in particular was especially fantastic--we had set a goal to find 6 new investigators and we were able to find 12. We are so excited! The Lord is truly blessing us as we strive to find those that He has prepared for us to teach. 

Wednesday we had several miracles! We were on bikes this day. First miracle of the day--we lived!!!! We were a little worried about what would happen since it had been a while since Hna Jimenez had ridden a bike. But after a few problems with her chain were resolved, it was a wonderful day! We contacted a ton of people, found great potentials and a few new investigators.  The second miracle of the day--a less active member called us and wanted to come out with us on a team-up. Even though all of our plans fell through including all of our back ups we had a wonderful lesson with her and she told us she wants to come out with us 3 times a week. Yay! I know that this will help her testimony be restrengthened as we help her prepare to teach and help her teach with us and testify of the things that she has seen bless her in her life. 

This week helped us remember that the Lord is in charge of this work. He wants us to succeed. He has the best plan for helping us find, teach, and baptize. Even though we had days where it seemed that everything was not working and that our plans were of little help, the Lord had the Master Plan. When we have enough faith to keep on going and to trust in Him and His plan, we will be able to make more of our missions (and lives) than we possibly can on our own.

This week I have focused my personal study on the Atonement. As we have taught this week, we have found many opportunities to teach about the Atonement. One of our favorite scriptures and quotes that we found this week was in Alma 7:11-12. Elder David A. Bednar explained, "...the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities—but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us. There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power."

I know this is true. I have been able to see the Atonement take effect in people's lives this week and it has changed our lives this week as we were able to accomplish things that we thought were beyond our reach.

I know our Savior loves us. I know He lives. He is always there for us. He knows us by name. He know how to best help us and succor us. 

Los quiero mucho! Espero que puedan sentir del amor que nuestro Padre Celestial tiene para cada uno de ustedes.   Gracias por todo lo que hacen para apoyar la obra misional! Que tengan una semana maravillosa!

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie



Semana 19 en Kerman

On July 21, 2014, Hermana VanWie wrote:
Querida Familia y amigos --

Although it was hard to send Hna Parra-Ortega home, I am so excited to be with my new companion!

My new companion is Hna Jimenez Carrillo! She is wonderful!!!!!!! I already love her! She is from Tabasco, Mexico and is learning English. It has been so much fun speaking in Spanish and helping each other learn the other's language. The few days that we have been in the area this week we have seen so many miracles. We are turning the area around and have been finding people who are ready to be baptized. Hna Jimenez is a wonderful missionary. She is learning very quickly! This is going to be a wonderful transfer! The first night in the area together we had 2 lessons and found 2 new investigators! 

Through the past few days my testimony of the Atonement, the gift of tongues, and heeding counsel from inspired leaders have increased. To start, my testimony of the Atonement has increased. The Atonement allows us to do things that at times seem impossible. It is only through the Atonement that we may access the Lord's help. I know that the Lord never gives us more than we can handle, although He does give us enough to stretch us and make us grow. I have seen this take effect as I have been with Hna Jimenez. In the past few days my language capacity has grown immensely.

                As we have taught together I have felt my testimony of the gift of tongues be strengthened as well. It is real! I know it is because as we have taught and testified together her testimony in English has been able to touch the hearts of those we have taught. I also know this because every day we have been together her English has been getting better and better and so has my Spanish. I realized a few transfers ago that the gift of tongues does not necessarily mean that we are going to be able to speak perfectly in an instant (sometimes it does), but it means that we will be able to have the ability to learn faster, to understand more rapidly and to apply it at a rate that before seemed impossible. 

My testimony of heeding the counsel from inspired leaders has also increased. A few transfers ago we had a training on the importance of the 12 week program in missionary work. As I continued to study it I came to know that it is an inspired program! Hna Jimenez loves the 12 week program and so do I! She can hardly wait to do it everyday. As we have been doing 12 week the past few days we have seen miracles and have been able to apply the things we are learning that day. On Saturday we found a new investigator named A M. That morning we had role played Como Comenzar a Ensenar (or How to Begin Teaching) and practiced inviting people to baptized. As plans fell through, we felt inspired to go see Ana. As we taught her, we used what we had practiced and because we role played everything went smoothly and we were able to work in unity and the Spirit was able to be there. Hna Jimenez was able to invite her to be baptized and she said yes! We set a date with her for the 17 of August. I know that when we follow the counsel of our leaders we are able to reach our potential and be able to powerfully testify and teach with the Spirit. 

We also had an amazing lesson with a less active family in English. We did an activity using a wood block and 12 nails. Ultimately the goal is get all of the nails to rest on one nail that is hammered into the block of wood. As we about the importance of the Savior and His Atonement and that it is only through Him that we can balance our lives and return to live with our Heavenly Father, the Spirit was strong. Hna Jimenez bore a beautiful testimony. Afterwards as we discussed the lesson she told me that for the first time she saw what I said I love about being a missionary--seeing the light come into people's eyes when they are touched by the Spirit and they suddenly understand. It was a very special experience.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve in the California Fresno Mission. I love serving the Lord! I know this is where He wants me to be. I know He lives. I know He loves us!  

Que tengan una semana fabulosa! Los quiero muchisimo!
Con amor,
Hermana VanWie

Semana 18 en Kerman

On July 14, 2014 Hermana VanWie wrote:

Hola mi querida familia y amigos!             
             We have continued finding this week (more people to teach). We found A this week. We taught him twice. The second time was extremely interesting. A is from Oaxaca (pronounced wa-ha-ka) and Spanish is his second language. He speaks a dialect from Oaxaca called Misteco. He seemed to have a desire to learn more about Christ and when we went back to teach his family we ran into a slight problem--his wife only speaks Misteco. She too really seems to want to learn, but neither Hna Parra nor I speak Misteco. Hopefully we can find someone in the ward who speaks his dialect of Misteco so we can continue teaching them.
             We also taught J. J is amazing! He has such a desire to learn. We taught him several times this week and he read the assigned parts everytime (even though reading is very difficult for him). After we taught him yesterday and explained to him that I would be getting a new companion he offered a sweet heart-felt prayer asking our Heavenly Father to watch over and protect all of us and he expressed sincere gratitude to Hna Parra for all that she has done to help him learn and come closer to God. He truly is a prepared man! 
              Transfer Calls were on Saturday evening. Drum roll please....... I will be Staying in Kerman! and I will be training a new missionary from the MTC (Missionary Training Center). I feel so humbled to be training. I am excited to begin working with this new missionary! 
               G got confirmed yesterday! He was so happy! His whole family was there again! His mother was beaming. I am so grateful that through G's example the whole family is coming back to church again!
                I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what changes people. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can become better and as we follow His teachings our lives can and will be changed. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who loved us enough to send His Only Begotten Son to suffer and die for us so that we can change and strive to become better every day!
                 I love being a missionary!  Thank you for supporting me and the missionaries serving near you.  Espero que tengan una semana fantastica! (I hope you have a fantastic week.)
Los quiero mucho!
Hermana VanWie

Semana 17 en Kerman

On July 7, 2014 Hermana Vanwie wrote:
Querida Familia y amigos --

We had a wonderful week! I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! How grateful I am that we live in a country that allows us to worship freely!

The highlights of the week were meeting the mission president and his wife and G's baptism!

On Wednesday we got to go out on a team-up with Sister Clark (Their new mission president’s wife.). She is such a sweetheart! She is super easy to talk to and has such a desire to learn. We went and got to teach Gl and he had his interview. She is learning Spanish and as she bore her simple testimony the Spirit flooded in. It really touched the hearts of his family and all that were there. I know that the gift of tongues is real and that when we are doing the Lord's work He will always bless us. 

Thursday we got to meet President and Sister Clark officially. They talked about things that the learned at the New Mission President's seminar and things they want to focus on here in the mission. Some of those things are really working with recent converts and less actives and focusing on the temple and family history work. I love doing this! I am so grateful that I have been able to be here with two mission presidents. I love President and Sister Gelwix and everything I have learned from them. And I am grateful that I now have the opportunity to grow even more as a missionary and learn and grow in different ways with President and Sister Clark. President Clark talked a lot about our success as a missionary, "The measure of our success as a missionary will be 30 years down the road. It will be when our children and our converts' children are making and keeping sacred covenants and are serving missions." I love focusing on the eternal perspective! As we learned from them, I felt the Spirit testify to me that they are the couple that are supposed to be here serving as the mission president and his wife. They are who the Lord wants to be here following President and Sister Gelwix.

We celebrated the 4th of July on the 3rd with the ward and then we spent the 4th with the D/M family and the N family. There were a ton of fireworks! It was wonderful to be able to get to know their families better and to celebrate the freedom of our country.

G was baptized yesterday! His whole family (his father as well) came to church and stayed the entire time. They are all planning on coming next week as well. It was wonderful to have them all there! The Primary was wonderful and really helped out as well. Two primary children gave talks on Baptism and the Holy Ghost and there was a wonderful spirit there as they plainly testified of things they know to be true. As we waited for G to change into dry clothes all of the missionaries sang "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" to the tune of "Come, Thou Fount" and then we had a mini testimony meeting. How powerful the message of the Restoration is. I am grateful for the Restoration of the Gospel and that we have the priesthood again on the earth that allows us to make sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father. G was so happy after his baptism and so was his family. I love their family!

I know that it is only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we can be together forever as families. I am grateful that their family now has an eternal perspective and is focusing on the temple and making and keeping sacred covenants. 

I am so grateful for all the tender mercies of the Lord that are in each one of our lives. I love the Lord! I know He lives! I know He loves us!

Gracias por todo lo que hacen para ayudar en esta obra misional. Los quiero muchisimo! (Thank you for everything they do to assist in this missionary work. I love you so much!)

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie

Semana 16 en Kerman

On June 30, 2014 Hermana VanWie shared this letter:
Querida Familia y amigos --

Esta semana estaba bien loca pero me encanto! On Tuesday we had an amazing specialized training with Bishop Greg McKeown. He recently published a book called The Essentialist. And he gave a fantastic training on how to essentialize our lives. He talked about discovering your divine mission. He explained, "As you understand your divine identity, you discover your divine mission." Jeremiah 1:5-6 explains that we are children of God and we were ordained and set apart before this life for our divine mission here on this earth. He explained that while we should keep our options open "it is not about keeping your options open; it is about essentializing to do your mission that has only been assigned to you." As we strive to discover our divine mission we must follow the obligation given to us. "Your obligation is to become more of who you already are and less of who you aren't. President Gelwix explained something similar at the end of the conference: "Put more focus on what/who you are becoming than what you are doing." When we do this we will turn to the Lord more fully and as we do what He asks of us (as we do His will), He will make of us what we cannot make of ourselves.

Thursday we said goodbye to President and Sister Gelwix. We had the wonderful opportunity to help deep clean the mission home and spend more time with them. I am so grateful for the blessing of serving with President and Sister Gelwix. In regards to them and to all of my companions, as we have served the Lord together we have become bonded and have formed lasting friendships. I realized that sometime between when I arrived in the Fresno Valley and now I have truly come to love the people that live here and with whom I serve. I love every minute of my mission! It will be very hard to see President and Sister Gelwix go, but I am very excited to get to know and work with President and Sister Clark. Sister Clark is coming out to teach with us on Wednesday and we are very excited to spend some time with her and teach with her!

 We have been part of 3 service projects this week! One move out/in, one cleaning of the mission home, and one cleaning/clearing of a backyard. I love service projects! 

Miracle of the week! G is going to be getting baptized next Sunday! We are so excited for him! His father readily gave permission and his mother has been supportive the entire time. He was also at church on Sunday. G is progressing very quickly. He learns very quickly. This past lesson we taught him about the 10 commandments (using hand signs to remember the order) and the Law of Chastity (using head, shoulders, knees, and toes). He was able to explain everything to us by the time we left. He is reading the Book of Mormon and understanding so much! We are thrilled by his progress!

This week my understanding and testimony of the Atonement has increased. I know the Atonement is real. It can and will and does carry us through hard times, joyous times, and sorrowful times. As we rely on the Savior He will carry us and help us to lighten our load. I love my Savior! I know He lives and that because He lives we live more fully and happily!

                Gracias por su apoyo y por sus oraciones! Espero que todos esten bien! Que tengan una semana magnifica! Los quiero!

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie


Semana 15 en Kerman

On June 23, 2014 Hermana VanWie wrote this letter: 
Querida Familia y amigos,

I can't believe that this week is our last week with President and Sister Gelwix! Time has flown by! This week we had one last Zone Conference with them. This Zone Conference was a little different than others in that we had the opportunity to get to know more about them. We got to know about their family, how they met, their life before the life of the mission president and his wife. We got to see how they have been living the gospel for years. It was wonderful! We have been so blessed to have them as our mission President! We had some wonderful trainings as well.

This week we found A!! She is super prepared! Finding her this week really strengthened my testimony that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers and is completely aware of us.

We had an appointment scheduled with one of our investigators named J, but she had previously need been there for her appointment. As we drove from Fresno to the appointment we discussed what would happen if she was not there. As we drove up, we saw her car and another car. We rejoiced because that meant that we would be able to teach her again. She heard us drive up and came outside to greet us and we sat down with her at the table outside. Within minutes of starting the lesson her friend, A came outside as well. She sat down with us as well and immediately started asking questions and was very interested to hear what we had to say. She then said that we could come back the next day, which we were very excited about.  The next day we taught about the gospel of Jesus Christ--the teachings of Christ (we had previously taught about the Restoration of Jesus Christ's church). As we taught and asked inspired questions, she came to the conclusion that she needed to completely follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the authority from God. 

How grateful I am that our Heavenly Father is so aware of each one of us! I know that He wants all of us to return to live with Him again. He wants us to follow the example of His Son and do all we can to become more like Him. 

I know that my Redeemer lives! He lives and He loves us! He did appear with His Father and our Heavenly Father to Joseph Smith in 1820. I know Joseph Smith was called by God to restore the Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth once more. I know the Priesthood is real. It is the power of God given to men to bless His children here on the earth. I know that it is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can be happy, pure, clean, obedient, and worthy and return to live with our Heavenly Father again. This I know. I know God answers our prayers. We are His children.

                Thank you for your love and continual support! Espero que tengan una semana llena de oportunidades misionales! Los quiero mucho!

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie


Semana 14 en Kerman

On June 9, 2014, Hermana VanWie shared this letter:
Querida Familia y amigos --

This week has been a finding week. We found 4 new investigators! And we are still looking for more people that the Lord has prepared.  This week we have truly been guided to some wonderful people.  On Tuesday we found a woman named J. She lives out in the middle of a vineyard--the pictures are near-ish her home--down a street in the middle of nowhere (somewhere in between Kerman and Biola). We were truly guided to her home because right after that we got lost in the vineyard! But we managed to found our way out. She was very welcoming and was excited to read the Book of Mormon. She is a wonderful woman who has a brother who is a member. We are excited to teach her later this week.

One of the hardest things on the mission is to see people reject the Spirit. We visited a man this week and got to know him and his family a little bit and then felt prompted to sing "Love at Home." The Spirit came flooding in! It was a wonderful feeling! However, this man quickly stood up at the end of the song and bid us good-bye. Sometimes it is hard to see people not want the blessings of the gospel in their lives. 

With that being said, we had an amazing experience the next day. We were walking towards our dinner appointment and a whole bunch of little girls ran up to us asking "Do you have pictures of Jesus?" We assured them that we did and proceeded to give them all pass along cards. One of the little girls didn't really want to leave so right before we went into dinner we asked if we could go visit her mom. I love working with families! She willingly showed us where she lived and after dinner we went and knocked on her door. He mother opened the door to us with open arms and we had a wonderful lesson with her! She, like her daughter, is very sensitive to the Spirit. I am so grateful for those who are welcoming and listen to the promptings of the Spirit. 

I know that it is through the Spirit that the Lord communicates with us. I know that the Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. I know that He will help us receive answers to our prayers if we are willing to listen. I know God loves. I know Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that He too lives! I know They love us!  Espero que tengan una semana maravillosa!

Con mucho amor,

Hermana VanWie


Semana 13 en Kerman

On June 9, 2014, Hermana VanWie shared this letter:
Querida Familia y amigos,

This week Sister Miller, my companion, finished her mission and I became companions with Hermana Parra-Ortega again! We had the great opportunity to go to the farewell for all the returning missionaries and President and Sister Gelwix (her mission president and his wife) also bore their testimonies at this farewell. (They go home June 30). So many people were there! Everyone loves President and Sister Gelwix! There was such a wonderful Spirit there as 23 missionaries who are returning home bore their testimonies. 

This week Hermana Parra and I also had the wonderful opportunity to do Open Your Mouth. (This is for the missionaries who came into the mission field that morning. We go out into neighborhoods and help them get a tracting experience.) I got to work with Sister H. She is wonderful! I so enjoyed working with her and getting to know her! We saw so many miracles especially as we bore testimony of what we know to be true. It touched people's hearts and gave them a desire to listen to us. As we bore testimony and talked to everyone we saw miracles. I think the biggest miracle was in Sister H. She became more confident and realized her divine calling as a missionary. She explained to me that by opening her mouth she felt joy. At first she was so confused as to why people were changing and willing to talk to us. I had the wonderful opportunity to explain the role of the Holy Ghost and how when we are exactly obedient,  the Spirit is in our companionship and testifies with us--directly to the hearts of the people. He changes their hearts! I am so grateful that He is in our companionships! I love Open Your Mouth! I love the new missionaries!!

We found a woman named G this week. Sister G and I (we were on exchanges for a day because our companions were both going home) gave her husband a harvest blessing a few days before and Hna Parra and I went back and we met her. She is amazing! She accepted everything very readily. When we talked to her about the Book of Mormon she said, "I already know this book is true. It makes sense, so it must be true." We invited her to be baptized and she said yes. We have an appointment with her and her husband tomorrow. We are excited to help them progress!

Earlier this week we had a great lesson with G's parents and a ward member came with us. G's mother came to church on Sunday with all of her boys and the oldest passed the Sacrament for the first time in a long time! We were so excited to see the family back at church. We will continue working with his father to help him come back to church. M was also at church. It has been such a blessing to see these wonderful people increase in their testimonies and have desires to return to church and to progress in the gospel again. 

I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what makes us happy. I know that our Savior lives and loves us. He wants us to be happy and will help us on our journey to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father again.

Gracias por todo lo que hacen para mi y todos los misioneros! Espero que tengan una semana maravillosa! Los quiero muchisimo! (Thank you for all you do for me and the missionaries.  I hopweyou have a wonderful week.  I love you lots.)

Con amor,  Hermana VanWie


Semana 12 en Kerman

On June 2, 2014, Hermana VanWie wrote this letter:
Querida Familia y amigos ---

Espero que tuvieron una semana maravillosa! (I hope you had a marvelous week!)

Story of the week: This week we had some unexpected and unwanted visitors to our apartment--cockroaches! Sister M and I did not want to get near it at all, but we didn't want them in our apartment either, so I decided to kill it. It was much bigger than the ones we saw in Ceres--it was about the size of a half dollar coin. We went a little crazy with the cleaning supplies to try to kill it/ stun it. It seemed to work, but then it was quite the scene--scooping it into a dust pan and running it out to the garbage outside. Only in a sisters' apartment.... It added some excitement into our day.

We had some amazing lessons this week! We had a great lesson with Gand his family! It was the first time that his dad sat in on a lesson and it made such a difference! We are going to work on reactivating the whole family now. We realized that when the father becomes reactivated, the whole family will be solid. G will get baptized soon, but we are going to focus on his whole family's conversion first so then he will be solid as well. 

We also had some wonderful lessons with M (we learned we had been spelling her name wrong a few days ago) and J. We had a great lesson about the Restoration and the importance of it and how we can apply it into our lives. We are so proud of M! she is coming so far and progressing so much! A few days after this lesson we had another lesson with M and her sister was there. She had a lot of questions and we had the wonderful opportunity to teach her in her sister's home about personal revelation and the Holy Ghost. I love teaching about the Holy Ghost and helping others recognize it! As we taught we were able to help her identify how she feels the Holy Ghost and explain what the Holy Ghost's purpose is. 

On Sunday M got confirmed! He was so happy! It was a wonderful way to end the transfer with Sister M. He drew a wonderful picture for us explaining the Holy Ghost and getting confirmed. As we teach to a person's needs and understanding they flourish and grow and have the opportunity to gain their own testimony. As we have been leaving M with commitments that allow him to process the information we teach, he has grown and developed and now has the beginnings of a strong testimony.

             Saturday night we received transfer calls!!!! Sister M will be returning home and I am going to be companions with Hermana Parra-Ortega again!! She will returning home at the end of this next transfer as well. I am so excited to be able to work with her again! 

I am so grateful for the scriptures! My testimony of the power of the Book of Mormon has been strengthened this week. As we consistently read and study the Book of Mormon, the Spirit is more abundant in our lives. This is because everything that is written in the Book of Mormon was included for a specific reason. The Spirit testified to me of this this morning as I was in my personal study. I was reading in Jacob chapter 4. In verse 1 he is describing the difficulty of writing on the plates. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that as we study its pages we will find answers to our prayers and come closer to our Heavenly Father and our Savior. We will find strength beyond our own.

Muchas gracias por todo lo que hacen para ayudar en esta obra misional. Los quiero muchisimo! Que tengan una semana llena de mucha felicidad!

Con amor,
Hermana VanWie

Semana 11 en Kerman

On May 26, 2014, Hermana VanWie shared this letter:
Querida Familia y amigos --

This week has been a busy week!  We had the opportunity to go to the temple on Tuesday and then Wednesday we had Specialized Training. President Gelwix gave a powerful training on the Atonement and the Assistants gave wonderful trainings on how to help others recognize the Spirit, communication, and companionship unity. The departing missionaries were also able to bear testimonies. It was so strange to me to have my companion up there. It made me think about how little time we are on missions and how much change and growth we see in others and in ourselves. It scares me a little when I think of how fast time has flown by! It is true what they say--once you have hit 6 months, everything flies by.

Thursday we had a great lesson with M and prepared him for his interview. Friday, M had his interview. Drum roll please....... he passed with flying colors!!!! He remembered everything! YAY for object lessons! I love teaching with object lessons and interactive activities! He was so excited to get baptized!

We also were working with a less active family this week. I love this part of missionary work!!! They are both in their 20s and we are going back to firming up their testimonies. As we had a lesson with them this week, I realized the importance of teaching with the simplicity that an 8 year old can understand. When we teach simply, the Spirit is able to teach and we and they are able to feel the Spirit testify of truth. In order to help them dive into the scriptures more, we have been texting them questions about the chapter they have been reading. We saw miracles as they responded back and applied the scriptures to themselves. They also came to church on Sunday! I love watching people progress!!

M got baptized yesterday!!! He and 3 of his cousins(all girls) got baptized yesterday. It was the most unstressful baptism I have ever had! All we had to do was figure out the logistics of how it would work to baptize them on the same day and teach him about our Heavenly Father and Savior. We didn't have to worry about filling the font, clothes, talks, music, prayers--nothing! The only thing we had to do was make sure M was happy. It was great! The family and the ward took care of everything else. It is so wonderful when the ward is so involved and helps the missionaries have a successful and Spirit filled baptism. There were so many people there (family and friends that came to support these children) that we had to have the talks in the chapel. There were almost enough people there to be an entire other ward! We found out later that almost everyone there was related--like another familia R from Ceres! M was so happy! He was smiling more than I have ever seen him smile. He still didn't talk too much, but his smile and his mother's smile said it all! I love baptisms! I love being able to feel the Spirit! I love watching and helping others make sacred covenants! I love being a missionary!!!

I love the quote that one of the Relief Society sisters here said, "The will of God will not take you where the grace of God will not protect you"

I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored church on the earth. I know we are led and guided by a living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson.  I know Jesus Christ is our Savior. He is leading and guiding this work. 

Muchas gracias por todo lo que hacen para ayudar en esta obra. Gracias por todo lo que hacen para mi.  Los extrano y los quiero mucho!

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Semana 10 en Kerman

On May 20, 2014, Hermana VanWie wrote this letter:
Querida familia y amigos –
Sorry this letter is a day late! We had interviews with President Gelwix yesterday and we got to go to the temple today! YAY!
This week has been hot! It has been the 100s! It was 104 degrees one of the days this week. But, it will be cooling down more this week.
The funny story of the week: We stopped by an investigator's home and knocked on her door and her 6 year old daughter answered the door. After going to look for her mom, she ran back to the door and said, "My mommy says you are annoying" just as innocently as she could. Well, at least we know that we were giving consistent, persistent follow-up.

This week was full of miracles! This week my testimony of the Lord knowing the details of our lives was very much strengthened. On Monday, last preparation day, we randomly decided to go window shopping at what is here in Kerman. We soon began to think that it was a big mistake since everything was closed except for one little Mexican tienda. However, as we walked in, we soon realized we were exactly where the Lord needed us to be. We walked in and the woman at the register said, "Ustedes son misioneras! Misioneras de la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ultimos Dias!" We were so surprised! It turned out that she was a less active member from a ward in Madera. She ended up talking to us for about an hour and in this hour we learned that she had prayed us there. She explained to us that she was feeling abandoned by God and was about to lose her house. But, she said she knows because we walked into her store and talked with her, that God is very aware of her and has not and never will abandon her. God is still watching over her. I know that our Heavenly Father is always watching over us. He is very aware of everything we go through and will put people in our path that can and will help us.
My testimony of the importance of and the power of prayer also increased. We had a wonderful lesson with E and C this week. It was a break through lesson! As he finished praying and we all said "Amen" he just sat there thinking. When we asked him how he felt he said with a huge smile on his face, "That felt good! I feel good!" (in Spanish). The simplicity of his prayer and his humble spirit brought the Holy Ghost so strongly into that lesson. I know that Heavenly Father listens to and will answer each and everyone of our prayers. 
We also have been teaching M this week! He is getting baptized on Sunday! This week we decided to try a new approach for his "assignments." We decided to have him draw pictures explaining to us in the picture what he learned. We saw many miracles come from teaching him in a way that he can understand--much more interactive and focusing on the basics. As he explained to us one day in a picture that he wanted to see Heavenly Father and live with him, it tied perfectly into the lesson we were going to teach that day--the Gospel of Jesus Christ or the 5 steps of how we can return to live with God again. He is so prepared to be baptized! He knows that he is a son of our Heavenly Father and he understands the importance of baptism and how essential it is. It also stunned me that he was able to identify and draw the correlation between Baptism and the Sacrament. How grateful I am that I have the opportunity to work with people like Mark who are willing and wanting to learn! Mark will be getting baptized on Sunday with 3 of his cousins, thanks to the Bishop who was able to help the 4 families work together. We are excited for Sunday!
       Today we had the great opportunity to go to the temple! I love the Spirit there!  I love to see the temple!  I'm grateful that those we are working with right now are also preparing themselves to go to the temple and having that as their goal. They too can sing the Primary song, "I love to see the temple!"
        I know that missionary work here and on the other side of the veil is the work of the Lord! It truly is the work of Salvation! I know God lives! I know He loves us and is aware of us!
Thank you for all that you do!
Los quiero mucho! Que tengan una semana maravillosa!
Con amor,
Hermana VanWie