Saturday, January 28, 2012

January 23, 2012

Dear Family,

Time sure has slowed down in January, you're right...  But the thing is that I have been in Gainesville for almost an entire transfer.  I'm guessing that Elder Vilorio will be leaving next Wednesday, but I hope not!  We are doing really well together & getting up every morning at 6:15 to go running.  It's nice having a companion to push me to do a little bit better than I would otherwise.  

Gainesville is still beautiful, but it doesn't feel like a whole lot happened this week.  Elena and Stephanie both told us they weren't ready.  Elena I can understand, but I feel like Stephanie is just afraid of the commitment involved with baptism.  I don't know if we need to be teaching with whipped cream and a cherry on top or what, but it just feels at times like you have to bribe people to live the gospel...  Elena is still reading in the Book of Mormon and she really seems to be doing all that she can to get some sort of answer.  I know that she will be answered if we are all patient and wait upon the Lord.  

We met a lot of Mexicans this week that apparently all work for the same company and move all around the United States together.  The funny thing is that the last places they lived in were Idaho Falls and Brigham City.  They seem to all have spoken to missionaries before, but they're all still pretty set on Catholicism.  I don't know that they can read, but that won't stop us from trying to help them!  

That was the most horrifying story I have ever read in my life about Molly.  I can't believe how terrible that is.  She's ok now, right?  I didn't really want to keep reading because I thought that you were going to tell me that she got killed or something.  Tell Dad to give her a Priesthood Blessing haha.  That is so funny that Sophie wanted to Skype with Molly and Lucy.  She's starting to sound like a little 2 year old girl!

I am so proud of Hannah for standing up and saying that in class.  Do everything you can to get him baptized!  If he reads the Book of Mormon he'll want to be.  You should talk to the missionaries about him and ask them about how you can help to convert that man.  He sounds elect as can be!  I am also proud of Russell for deciding to serve a mission.  I read his talk that Dad sent to me.  He is such an interesting person.  I didn't even know he knew anything about trucks.  I'm glad that he's excited because he is going to learn more on a mission than anywhere else in his entire life.  

I love you a lot and I'm so happy to hear from you.  Have a wonderful week!  



Saturday, January 21, 2012

January 16, 2012

Eric sent some pictures home this past week!  It was really great to see pictures of him looking so happy and healthy!  He is having such a great mission and we are so proud of him!  Here are just a few of my favorites.  For his birthday, I sent him a do-it-yourself birthday party kit!  It had a cake mix with frosting, sprinkles, and candles as well as balloons and a Happy Birthday sign for his door!

The mission president gave permission for the Elder's to participate in their ward campout activities.

We may have to wait until Eric gets back to identify the people in the pictures!  It looks like he is teaching a lot of truly wonderful folks!  Here's this week's letter:

This week was wonderful.  We started it off by going to this great Zone Meeting with everyone in the Gainesville and Lake City zones and we were told our yearly focus and goals and what President Barry has in mind for us.  I can't decide if this quote he told us is something to worry about or something to be thrilled about...  He said that Elder Russell M. Nelson told a Mission President that was almost done with his call:  "There will come a day when people will flock to the church because it is the last bastion of hope on earth and people will flock to it because that is the only place from where hope and light will come.  It will happen in your lifetime, and in my lifetime too.  Now you go think and pray about that."  

We were told again to take advantage of the time that we are in with these presidential candidates and this play and this explosion of all over the world.  I know that we have a lot of responsibility as members of the church!  

So anyway, we have been talking a lot to Elena and Stephanie.  Their dates are set for this weekend and they can be ready, they just need to have the faith to do it.  Stephanie has been telling us that she wants to wait, but last night we figured out she was holding back reasons from us.  I think she trusts us a lot and felt that what we told her about the Atonement and Repentance and Baptism was true.  The spirit almost burned a hole through me it was so strong in that lesson.  She's still a little bit shy and scared, but she will be baptized soon.  Hopefully this weekend.  Elena has been going out with a member and running errands and claims that member's house as "her second home."  This member is harboring her and helping her through a rough time...  I don't even know that they talk about the gospel all that much, but she still came to church yesterday because the member invited her and gave her a ride.  That's what the Lord asks of members!  Be an example and always be willing to lend a hand to those in need.  Just pray for those two because they need some guidance!!

Thank you for sending that package.  I got it on Friday I think.  I'm glad that the camera worked out and that you liked that picture of us in the wilderness.  I set up the camera on a fence post to take it.  That path was just way too desolate and untamed to not take some pictures to remember it.  I wish that you could actually see how scary that place is.  Haha

I am really enjoying everything that we are studying in Sunday School as well.  President Barry invited us to read the Book of Mormon and mark everything that relates to the doctrine of Christ as we do and to finish in 6 months.  It's interesting how there is always so much to learn from the scriptures.  I have a color pattern going on right now to tell when it's talking about faith or repentance or whatever part of the gospel.  We are taught in Spanish about the Book of Mormon in Sunday School.  Most of the people in Gainesville are actually from South America and the Caribbean Islands.  The members are from Peru and Colombia and Cuba and The Dominican Republic.  They are all wonderful people.  

Gainesville has been pretty cold this week, but all of the students are back.  It is crazy how many people live in such a small area.  There's bound to be a lot of people willing to accept the gospel and get baptized!  Keep on praying!  I love you.

I am feeling fine.  I am still on a pretty big dose of medication, but I am going to call Sister Barry to see if she thinks I should call the Mayo Clinic to get it put back to normal or something.  I haven't talked to a Doctor in almost a month...  Don't worry about me though.  In my setting apart blessing I was told that I would not ever be sick enough to impede the work.  So all you have to worry about is if I am qualifying for the blessings of the Lord :) haha which, of course I better be!



Monday, January 9, 2012

January 9, 2012

Gainesville, Florida
Dear Family,

One of our investigators, Elena, has been reading every day and is really trying to see if this is what God wants from her, but I think she might be a little bit "off" because she had brain cancer a while ago and is epileptic and just acts a little strange sometimes.  The other day she told us that she was really stressed out because she couldn't find her medicine, so she went to bed worried about it and in the morning picked up the Book of Mormon and said a prayer to find it.  She said the second she did that, she looked and saw them sitting there.  I would think that would tell her something about the church!  She came to church yesterday and afterwards we showed her around the building.  She told us that she was a little bit offended that we didn't have even a cross in the chapel, so one of the members explained to her that we worship the living Jesus and not the one on the cross and that seemed to calm her down a little bit.  She says that her brother in-law is an "Elder" so we're wondering if that means he's a seventy...?  That would be crazy.  Basically, when it comes down to it, a bunch of different things have been leading up to us meeting with her and her becoming converted, but she is still not sure.  Pray hard for her!  We won't give up until the door is slammed and locked in our face haha.

Stephanie might get baptized this week, she's just 13 and doesn't have a lot of support from anyone except us, so pray extra hard for her to have a mighty change of heart.

This week I was focusing my studies a lot on the Doctrine of Christ and the missionary purpose and just want to tell you how wonderful Jesus is.  You should read that talk given by Bruce R. McConkie right before he died.  It is really powerful and opened my eyes about how important Christ's life truly is to us.  

We are working hard in Gainesville!  The winter semester just started, so all of the students are back and we get to write our e-mails in the Library.  It really is a beautiful place.  It just feels so secluded and cut off from the rest of the world.  It's been a little chilly, but now it's been back up to 70 and 80.  I don't really feel the January blues because all the months pretty much feel the same haha.  I hope that you are successful in finding people to help out.  It's interesting how true it is about always knowing what to do when you have stewardship over a group of people.  All you really have to worry about right now is Hannah haha.

I hope you have a wonderful week!  I love you so much.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 2, 2011

Dear Family,
This week and last week we have had to do our e-mails at the members' houses because of the holidays.  Usually in Gainesville I guess we go to the University Library to do our e-mail, but that won't be until next week. 
The town is a lot like Boulder.  There are a lot more trees though.  It is so beautiful.  I'll try to take some pictures, but just so you know they won't do this place justice.  It literally feels like we are never under an open sky.  Both the East and the West are beautiful in their own ways, but I just think I'm more used to more open spaces...  Haha. 
We saw so many miracles this week it was incredible.  We went to this neighborhood and prayed to be a little more humble and see more miracles because we were already pretty excited about all of the lessons we had taught that day and then went up to the first door.  We were a little hesitant to knock at first because somebody was inside playing waltz-style classical music on the piano, and I haven't met a whole lot of hispanics that are into that kind of stuff, but we knocked anyway.  The guy's name was Airan and we thought he was Indian...  We asked if we could come in and listen to him play and he ended up telling us he was from Cuba!  He played a couple songs and I played a couple songs and he opened right up to hear about what we had to say.  It was a powerful lesson and he committed to read the Book of Mormon. 
He referred us to a couple of his neighbors and told us that almost that entire complex is full of Hispanics.  We visited his neighbors the next day and everyone has just been so open to listen and to read!  Just pray that we will be able to help them to understand the importance of there being a living prophet.  We found nine new investigators and I know that it was only because we went out and diligently sought and prayed to recognize those people that we should talk with.  The gospel will change their lives for so much good if they take those next few steps of reading and praying and receiving an answer for themselves. 
We are also teaching a girl named Stephanie that is a little bit nervous about getting baptized for some reason, but she has been taught everything.  All she needs to do is sincerely pray and she'll realized why she needs to do it.  We set a goal with her to be ready by the 15th.
I'm sorry I don't have a ton of time and I always feel in situations like this that all my companion is thinking is "when do I get to write my family?!" So I'm going to have to cut it short.  Just know that the work here is wonderful and that I am so excited to be companions with Elder Vilorio.  We have been working hard and even getting up to run every morning.  The harder you work and the more obedient you are and diligent in sharing the gospel the more you realize that there really is no shame in sharing with people the way to Salvation.  I love being a missionary.
I will be praying for Hannah and hoping that she gets into the BYU music program, and if not that program that she will decide to go there anyway haha.  I love you a lot and love hearing from you.  You are such a great example and I know that I am blessed because of your constant prayer and concern.  Look at Romans 1:16 and get to work with handing out those Books of Mormon!