California Fresno Mission May 2013 to November 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Semana 32 en Kerman - Spiritual Feast!

On October 20, Hermana VanWie shared her great experiences:
Querida Familia y amigos -
                I loved this week!! I feel so spiritually fed! This week I have been learning a lot about obedience both in Conferences and Trainings and also in personal and companionship study.

As Sister Jimenez and I talked about what we learned as we prepared for our training this week, we realized that we are obedient to keep the Spirit with us and as we are obedient we develop more faith. I know that we must have the Spirit to be with us if we are to teach. Only the Holy Ghost can change hearts. And the only way we can have a hope to change hearts and lives and bring people closer to Christ is if we have the Spirit with us. And the only way to have the Spirit with us enough to experience this miracle of a changed heart is through being exactly obedient. From trainings from Elder Nielson I also learned that it's not about what is in the white handbook, but it is about discipleship. I loved that he emphasized that obedience keeps us safe and free and that "Obedience is the key to the enabling power."

I loved the trainings that we received from President and Sister Clark, the Assistants, and Elder and Sister Nielson! I loved the training we received in Leadership Training about Divine Centered Leadership and serving with the motive of love and getting to know each heart, serving others so they may act, modeling the Way, the Truth, and the Life, challenging unrighteousness, and sharing an inspired vision. The thing that stood out to me that most was getting rid of the disconnect between what we believe and how we behave. As we internalize the principles we teach and are being taught there will truly be a shift from knowing it in our heads to knowing it in our hearts and letting this knowledge govern the way we act. I loved the focus about the Atonement and using the enabling power of the Atonement as a missionary and as a member of the church. As we have faith in Jesus Christ and strive to be sanctified "through a life filled of service to the Lord," the Grace of Jesus Christ (or His divine help) is sufficient for us to be sanctified and to do hard things and do the Lord's will.

I loved the thoughts on Hastening the Work as well. There are only 286 missionaries here in the valley but there are 40,000 members here. Truly hastening the work is much more about the members than it is the missionaries. He showed a wonderful video called "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go" that shows how sharing the gospel can be part of our everyday life.

This week I went on an exchange with Sister Reina in Madera. She is a wonderful missionary! She is a solid teacher. She knows how to teach by the Spirit. She is exactly obedient! She is doing great work in Madera and is helping Sister Henderson to understand the importance of being exactly obedient.

We have been working more closely with the ward recently. Last week we were asked by the Elders' Quorum President to go and see a less active and his wife who just had a baby. This week we were able to find them at home and we had a wonderful lesson with her. She is so excited to learn more! She explained to us that she has had a Book of Mormon for quite some time but has never had a desire to read it. Now, after teaching the Restoration to her, she has a thirst to read the Book of Mormon and to learn more about the message of the Restored Gospel. The ward is really working more with less actives as well and because of that we had many less actives and investigators at the Relief Society Activity on Thursday night. It was wonderful!

We experienced several miracles this week! One of the most amazing was on Sunday. My testimony of receiving revelation through Church attendance grew. We have been working with an investigator named J for quite a while now. His wife would always read the Book of Mormon and pray, but for some reason, he never seemed to have a desire to read the Book of Mormon. We taught several lessons about it, but for some reason the importance of the Book of Mormon just did not seem to sink in. Sunday in Sacrament Meeting a member gave a talk about the history of the Book of Mormon. Although it did not spark my interest to read the Book of Mormon nor did it teach doctrine from the Book of Mormon, it was exactly what J needed. As soon as the meeting ended, he practically ran back to us and asked if he could have his own Book of Mormon (before he had insisted that the family only needed one and would not accept more than one). He was so excited to have it in his hands and throughout the next class he held unto his Book of Mormon tightly. He expressed so much excitement to read it! Because of his excitement, the lesson we had with him and his family later was wonderful. We reviewed the Restoration and began teaching his children as well. All of the family committed to read the Book of Mormon and to pray to know if it is true. I know that because they now have a desire to know if it is true, they will receive an answer!

                It is such a privilege to be a missionary! I love this work! I know that this is the Lord's work and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God! I know it! I can feel the Spirit testify of that to me as I read and study its pages and apply it to my life. I love the Lord! I love all of you! Que tengan una semana maravillosa! Los quiero!

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie


Semana 31 en Kerman - Open Your Mouth

On October 12 Hermana VanWie sent this great email:

Querida Familia y amigos

This week has been a wonderful week! We got to have Hermana Gacio with us for a few days before she goes home. She is a great missionary who has given her whole heart to the Lord. I am grateful for her example and for her service her in the California Fresno Mission!

This week we had three investigators at church--A and J and their family and J. J was a miracle this week. We have been doing new member lessons with S and her grandfather. As we have reviewed the lessons we taught before, S and her grandfather have both gained even more of a desire to share the wonderful feelings they have at church with others. Her grandfather recently told us that he is friends with J and her mother and as we finished the lesson asked if they were planning on coming to church. We told him that we had just come from talking with them and that her mother had said no they were not. However, he called her then and there and invited her to come to church and told her that he would stop by at 9:45 to pick them up. Through his invitation and boldness J came to church. S was so happy!! It has been wonderful to see her joy and her grandfather's joy as they invite their friends to come unto Christ!

This week we have also been emphasizing talking with everyone! I'm grateful for the opportunity that Hermana Jimenez and I got to do Open Your Mouth again! Every time I have done it, it has amazed me how many prepared people are put into our paths. Truly the experiences these new missionaries have are important to the Lord. Yesterday as we were doing this we found a woman named R. As we said hello to her and got to know her we found that she had been taught by missionaries before and is very willing and wanting to learn more. I know that we talk with everyone we will find people that have been prepared by the Lord.

We have also been doing a lot of less active work as we look for new investigators. We know that as we work on bringing others back and helping them progress again that Heavenly Father will bless them to know which of their friends and family members are ready to be taught and accept the gospel. 

This week we had a lesson about the Word of Wisdom (or the Lord's Law of Health). The question was brought up about the why of not drinking coffee. As I reflected on this lesson a quote from PMG came to mind: (Chapter 6 of PMG) "Obedience is the first law of heaven. It is an act of faith. You may sometimes be required to do things you do not completely understand. As you obey, you increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom." I know that as we are obedient to the commandments and mission rules, we are blessed with these things. 

Tomorrow we are going to have the opportunity to hear from Elder Nielson and his wife (Elder Brent  Nielson a church leader) We are going to be talking about the Atonement. Studying the Atonement is something we are really focused on as a mission. I am learning so much!! As I was studying the talks in preparation for the conference, a quote I recently received from you came to mind: "The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can go home but that—miraculously—we can feel at home there. If Christ did not require faith and repentance, then there would be no desire to change. Think of your friends and family members who have chosen to live without faith and without repentance. They don’t want to change. They are not trying to abandon sin and become comfortable with God. Rather, they are trying to abandon God and become comfortable with sin. If Jesus did not require covenants and bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, then there would be no way to change. We would be left forever with only willpower, with no access to His power. If Jesus did not require endurance to the end, then there would be no internalization of those changes over time" (Brad Wilcox "His Grace is Sufficient"). Thank you for sending that quote!!

I know that the way we can apply the Atonement into our lives is through understanding who God is and who we are to Him. When we understand that we are His children and He loves us, we can also understand that this life is a time to learn and grow. As we learn and grow we make mistakes and as we realize these mistakes we also come to realize the necessity of a Savior. As we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we begin to change because we want to be more like Him. I am grateful to learn more about my Savior and His Atonement and to teach others about it as well. As I have taught and studied about the Atonement this week I have learned that it enables us and, as Elder Bednar says, we can put off the natural man and be strengthened to do and be good and serve beyond what we think we can. I am grateful for the opportunity that the Atonement gives me to change and to do hard things and to gain "spiritual traction" from them.

Gracias por todo lo que hacen! Los quiero!
Con amor,
Hermana VanWie

Monday, October 6, 2014

Semana 30 en Kerman

On October 6 Hermana VanWie shared these thoughts with us.  She returns home November 19th --
Querida Familia y amigos --

We received our transfer calls this week! Drum Roll......Hermana Jimenez and I are staying together another transfer here in Kerman!!! YAY!! This week we had some wonderful opportunities to be taught by the Spirit and help others be taught by the Spirit.

We received a surprise phone call from A and J this week. They invited us for dinner and we had Posole!! It was amazing!! It was Posole Verde. I had never had it before but it was wonderful! While we were there we taught about the Holy Ghost. Because we had been in their home serving them this past week, their children have become more comfortable with us. Their 6 year old daughter Jtalked to me all of dinner and then was very excited to help with the lesson. It was amazing to see her awe when we explained the role of the Holy Ghost as a protector using water and pepper and soap. It was wonderful to be able to have the whole family involved and understand.

We also had a member home lesson with two new investigators. It was wonderful to see the children of this member family teach about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. There was a sweet Spirit there as the 9 year old bore simple testimony of the truths he had come to know are true.

We had a wonderful opportunity as well to watch the new movie "Meet the Mormons." It was fantastic! It follows the lives of 6 people/families: A humanitarian in Nepal, a football coach of the Navy football team, a missionary mom, a bishop in Georgia, a fighter in Costa Rica, and the candy bomber from WWII. It was so uplifting! It showed how global the church is and how the gospel of Jesus Christ is part of their everyday lives. It did not preach church doctrine, but it showed how the gospel of Jesus Christ is an essential part of their lives. We are so excited to be able to have other people see it starting on October 10. You should go see it!!!

We had a wonderful lesson with a girl named S this week as well. She is from India and a non-Christian background. We have been teaching her for some time now. This week we finally found her again and had a powerful lesson about prophets and how we can know the Book of Mormon is true. It was wonderful to see in her eyes the desire to know for certain. As we testified and promised that she would receive an answer, the Spirit was very strong and she committed to pray and come to General Conference.

General Conference was definitely the highlight of the week! For missionaries, it is like the World Cup in Soccer or the SuperBowl in Football!!  (General Conference is broadcast via internet and television and people all over the world got to hear from our prophet, apostles and other church leaders. They broadcast the conference online and via satellite. This link will take you to the talks she refers to: ) I love General Conference! We had 3 investigators come to General Conference: A, S, and A and her children. We were able to watch one of the session with the Bishop and his family and then they also had A and her family there for one of the sessions! Some of the highlights from General Conference for me were: Sister Esplin's talk on the Sacrament and how it is not only to remember the repentance part of the Atonement, but the enabling part of the Atonement; President Uchtdorf's talk on how to know if the Book of Mormon is true and how gaining a testimony (or gathering spiritual light) is a quest of a lifetime and if we do our part, the testimony will come; Elder Callister's talk on the importance of a Christ-centered home; Elder Scott's talk on 4 tools to secure our lives in the Atonement of Jesus Christ; Elder Godoy's talk about how to back decisions in our lives; and Elder Bednar's talk addressed to those who are not members of the church but also to those who are members on how to be more missionary minded--feeling the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives.

My testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ has been strengthened as I have studied it in the scriptures, heard about it from the Apostles and Prophets, taught about it to others, and as I have learned to apply it in my life. I know with all my heart and soul that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer. He lived and He died for me and for you. He knows and understands me perfectly. He knows how to help me overcome my challenges. He will lift me up when I turn to Him. His Atonement is infinite and eternal. It cleanses us from our sins and from our short comings. It allows us to forgive ourselves and others. But even more so, it allows us to become the people that our Heavenly Father sees us becoming. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can reach our divine potential. We can do hard things. And we can become better everyday.

I love my Savior! How grateful I am to be doing His work! Gracias por todo lo que hacen para mi y los otros misioneros!

Que Dios los bendiga y los cuida!

Los quiero mucho!

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie

Semana 29 en Kerman

On September 29th Hermana VanWie wrote this email –

 Querida Familia y amigos--

             This week was wonderful!! We had interviews with the mission president this week. I love President and Sister Clark!! I felt so loved by both them and my Heavenly Father.

We had another wonderful lesson with A and J this week! We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the importance of baptism. J immediately responded that he would be baptized which stunned us and A also agreed, but was a little more hesitant than her husband. As we asked her what her doubt was, she began to explain to us what she had been searching for. She said that she felt like there was a hole in her heart/spirit and has been searching for something that would fill it. Now, she says that when she reads the Book of Mormon and comes to church and talks with us, she feels like this hole is filled. As she told us this she began to cry. She had not realized that this was an answer to her prayers. As we helped her identify what she was feeling was the Spirit, more tears came (from her and from us) and the Spirit was very strong. She now recognizes that this is an answer to her prayers. It was a wonderful lesson! They are so excited to learn more. 

We also had the opportunity to do service them. They were repainting their house (they told us this on Wednesday at their lesson). When we heard this we immediately volunteered to help. A little unbelievingly, J agreed to let us come. When we arrived at their house on Saturday in our service clothes, he was shocked. He couldn't believe that we actually were going to help them. It was a great experience. Throughout the time we spent with them his trust in us grew, we got to know their children, and we got to know Arcelia more as well. I LOVE service!! I know that as we serve members and investigators and less actives we come closer to them and they are more able to feel of the love we and our Heavenly Father have for them.

Hermana Jimenez and I had the great opportunity and privilege to see the end of a process and the beginning of a new journey--S was baptized! It has been such a wonderful journey for us and for her! We have been privileged to see the whole process: to find her grandfather, receive her as a referral, help her progress through teaching her, and watch her be baptized and invite her friends to also learn more. It has coincided exactly with the 12 week program. Everything we have been learning every week has applied exactly to what we were doing every week. It truly has been a tender mercy of the Lord.

During all of church on Sunday, S could hardly sit still. I was in primary playing the piano, and every 10 minutes she would come over and ask what time it was and when her baptism would be. Her baptism was very special--her grandfather was just beaming!! He said a wonderful prayer at the end. A family friend baptized her and confirmed her. The confirmation was wonderful and even though the member that did the confirmation was a little worried about his Spanish, the gift of tongues came into play and he gave a wonderful blessing. I am so excited for her to begin preparing to go to the temple! I loved how the Women's General Conference was centered on that!

                I am so grateful to be a missionary! I love this work! This is the Lord's work! Gracias por todo lo que hacen!

Love you!

Con amor,

Hermana VanWie


Semana 28 en Kerman

On September 22nd, Hermana VanWie shared these great experiences:
Mi querida familia y amigos -- 

This week has been great!!!!  This past preparation day our zone had the great opportunity to see the DVD, The Saratov Approach. It was wonderful! As I reflected on it, it helped me realize how much my perspective has changed over my mission. I know am learning spiritual things in everything I do. As we watched the movie, I learned more about the Savior and our Heavenly Father. It was reaffirmed to me that Jesus Christ did not want to suffer. In Luke 22, He prays to the Father and asks if there is not some other way. But then He shows us the perfect example and submits His will to that of His Father's. As He submitted His will, He showed His love for His Father and for us. He taught us what real love is and how we can and should submit our will to our Heavenly Father. As I pondered this I imagined what it must have been like for our Heavenly Father to hear His Son ask if there was not some other way. Our Heavenly Father did not want Jesus to suffer and die. He had the ability to prevent that. Yet, He permitted it to happen because He knew it was the only way that we could be saved. As I realized this, I could feel the love that my Heavenly Father and Savior have for me. How much They love us! How grateful I am for Christ's decision to submit to our Heavenly Father's will and for Heavenly Father's decision to permit it to happen so we can have the opportunity to return to live with Them again someday.

We had an amazing Zone Conference this week as well! There was a wonderful Spirit there.
We talked about the importance of focusing on the temple and becoming complete missionaries. I know this will help us retain our converts. We also learned that some of the most powerful teaching moments can be while eating dinner as we share experiences. After Zone Conference we had dinner with a family and as we talked we started sharing some our experiences from the week. These members asked if we had seen the Saratov Approach and we told them we had. Then as we talked about it with them, we began to testify of the truths that we learned. As we talked and testified, the sweetest Spirit came into the room and this wonderful brother opened up and openly talked about his mission and his experiences, why he went, and how it changed his life. In the seven months I have been here, I had never heard him talk about his mission like that. Sharing during dinner and using personal experiences truly helps us teach to people's needs and allows us to get to the next level of communication. 

We had some wonderful lessons with S this week! She is so excited to be baptized! We talked about the temple this week and she is so excited to go! She can hardly wait for the next 3 years until she can go. As she expressed her desire to go and her excitement for the gospel, her grandfather began to echo the same enthusiasm. By the next lesson he was reading is scriptures and praying every day and now has a goal to get the priesthood, have a calling, and be able to bless and pass the Sacrament and to go to the temple. It has been amazing to see how much he as changed because of his granddaughter. They both came to Stake Conference and they loved it! S even brought a friend! She has taught this friend how to pray and her grandfather wants us to start teaching the friend's family this next week. We love Samantha and her grandfather!

Stake Conference was amazing as well! Elder Baxtor of the 70 was there and he did a Q & A Saturday night which was really neat. He talked about the importance of realizing that we are not perfect and how we can use the Grace of Jesus Christ more in our lives and the importance of being patient with ourselves and slowing down a little. But more than anything over the two days, he talked about the temple and how much our Heavenly Father is aware of us. It was wonderful! 

We also had a wonderful lesson with A and J this week. We had the Bishop's wife (a friend of their family) with us. It was a great lesson! We taught about the Plan of Salvation. The Spirit was so special there and the member we had with us did a wonderful job explaining parts of the lesson. It was amazing to see A and J get excited about being a family forever through the temple and to help their relatives who have passed away feel the same joy and happiness they are experiencing right now.
I am so grateful to be serving a mission! I know this is the Lord's work! I know His hand is in it. How grateful I am for the love and support I can feel from you!  Gracias por todo lo que hacen. Que tengan una semana maravillosa!

Con amor,
Hermana VanWie

Semana 27 en Kerman

On September 15, Hermana VanWie sent this email:
Querida Familia y amigos –

This week has been great!!!! And we had some amazing lessons! We had a great lesson with M (a recent convert) and his brother and mother. We talked about the second half of the Plan of Salvation and doing temple work. The Spirit there was very strong. As we talked with them about the Plan of Salvation, a light came into their eyes and by the end of the lesson they had a fire to do family history work and temple work for their ancestors. They are both preparing to go to the temple and do work for their family members. Before the mission, I knew that temple work is important and I knew that the Spirit World excited. But now, I know in my heart without a doubt that the Spirit World is a real place. Our ancestors are there. They are waiting for us to help them to continue on their journey to come closer to our Heavenly Father. I love the Plan of Salvation!

We had 3 people in church on Sunday: S, A, and J and their family. S is solid. She is going to be baptized on the 28th. We are teaching lesson 5 to her this week. She loves Primary and she is really setting a great example for her grandfather. Through her, he is coming back to church and changing his life.

A and J and their family also came to church on Sunday. Although we were not able to have a lesson with them this week, they came to church and they loved it! They are so prepared. In Sunday School they talked about Tithing and Fast Offerings. As soon as church was over, A went up to the Bishop and paid her tithing. A also explained to us how her friend, the member that introduced us to her, gave her a For the Strength of Youth pamphlet and she loves it! She said, "This is what I believe! This is what I want for my children!" She also explained to us that she and Jesus have been praying together every night and studying the Book of Mormon every night together. Later, her young son, J, told us that he has been reading the Book of Mormon with his father and he loves it! This family is a prepared family! We did not ask them, nor did the members, to study together every night or to study with their children. We are so excited to continue working with them.

Gracias por su ejemplo hacia las personas al redendor de ustedes! Gracias por su apoyo y amor! Que tengan una semana maravillosa!


Con amor,

Hermana VanWie