First off, we had tornado warnings galore the last couple of days! Luckily, Sister Housley being from Kansas knew that it wasn't that big of a deal. I guess they go through these kinds of warnings all the time in Kansas...everyone here was making it a big deal though. We are safe and the actual tornado was north of us and never touched the ground...so we are all safe and sound!
Sherry has progressed LEAPS and BOUNDS this week. On Tuesday we taught her the word of wisdom. She was a little hesitant at first when she found out that she was going to have to give up not only smoking, but her coffee as well. But as we went on through the lesson, it made more and more sense to her. She was really okay about getting rid of the coffee. She even had Brother Lugo take her coffee machine and coffee grinds with him, so that she couldn't even have access to it. Her cigarettes were what she wanted to keep. She only had 7 left at the time and said that she would just smoke the last 7 and be done. But then suddenly she hopped up from the table during the middle of our lesson, walked in to her room, grabbed the pack of cigarettes and threw them at Brother Lugo. She was ALL in! Woot Woot! We offered her the option of a priesthood blessing and she told us that she wanted to test out her self control for a couple days and then would get back to us. Wednesday she had no coffee and snuck one cigarette from her neighbor. Pretty good. Thursday was a little bit harder for her and she called us that morning saying that she had texted Brother Lugo and had asked for a priesthood blessing. How cool that she took the initiative and asked for one by herself. The blessing went really well and she is still going strong! Her, Michael, Emily, and Jesus were all able to make it to church yesterday. I was a little nervous at first because the meeting had started and there was no sign of them. I sat there pleading with the Lord that they would show up. I turned around one last time before the opening song and they were walking in the door. Luckily I brought a bunch of books for Emily to play with or we would have had a disaster. She's a little crazy for a four year old, but we love them. We also discussed the law of chastity with Sherry. The elders came over and talked about it with Jesus...and they have both committed to living it.
The General Women's Meeting was wonderful! Conference and meetings like these are so much more special as a missionary and I take advantage of this sacred time to listen to our leaders speak! If you haven't watched it yet, you can find it online here: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2014/04?cid=HPTH032714628&lang=eng
The following are a couple of my favorite points from Women's Conference:
- Covenant keeping protects, blesses, and empowers
- Feelings of inadequacy fade when we keep our covenants
- FIRMLY PLANT your feet on the path to eternal life.
- Together with God, we are unstoppable
- "Be one. And if ye are not one, ye are not mine"
- Stop pointing out differences and focus on our strengths, so we can all reach our potential
- Love each other BETTER
- The best way to have a successful home is to keep covenants with others and the Lord
- Heavenly Father SMILES when we help someone to or through the covenant keeping path.
- He will provide the help we need to move others and ourselves back to live with Him.
I hope all of you are doing some preparation for General Conference this weekend. I love general conference so much! It is always such an uplifting experience. How lucky we are to have a living prophet on the earth today to lead and guide our church. I am grateful that through him we can know God's purpose and will. He knows whats best and through revelation, the prophet can relay that message to us. What an amazing blessing that is! I hope you all prepare by thinking of a few questions that you desire answers to. Prayerfully ask Heavenly Father to prepare you to be uplifted for general conference and He will make sure it is a good experience. One suggestion I have is to read over the following talk by Elder Hales from last conference. He talks all about the blessings that we can receive by preparing ourselves to be spiritually fed at conference. I hope you all take the time to read it. I know that it will change this weekend for you. Here is a link to that talk: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/general-conference-strengthening-faith-and-testimony?lang=eng
Can't wait to hear all about your conference experiences/favorite talks!
Friday we had a really good lesson with our investigator in the YSA ward, Tara. She had a baptismal date and everything for December and then the day of her baptism, her mom freaked out and wouldn't let her get baptized. Tara hasn't been to church since then, but finally came yesterday. She went home for spring break and said that her mom would mention things like "you better not join that church!", but then a couple hours later would say things like "maybe it would be good for you to join a church". She is getting all sorts of mixed signals from her mom. Tara still has the desire to be baptized though and we will keep working with her until that point. We invited her to challenge her mom to get online tomormon.org and just chat with missionaries. It would be a very non threatening way for her mom to learn about the church and that we aren't a "cult" like she thinks we are. (I do not understand why people think that about us, honestly. Satan!) She is going to invite her mom to do that this week and we think that it could really be a turning point in this whole situation with Tara.
I had a really good experience on Thursday night at an activity we did with the YSA called "Splits Night". A bunch of the YSA meet up at the institute and get a list of less-active YSA to go visit. We go out in groups of 3 or 4 and spend the next hour and a half visiting the people on our list. I went out with the relief society president, Melody, and we visited this boy named Josue. Sister Housley and I tried to contact Josue the first day that I got to Chico and he wasn't home. He was actually home thursday night and we were able to get in his house and have a really good conversation. He had been doing really well with coming to church before Christmas break and then since then hasn't really been coming at all. We began talking with him and asked why he hadn't been coming to church. He said things like "i've been busy" or "i dont have a ride", etc. Excuses that we hear from most of the YSA's. I could tell there was something more and started telling him that there was a time when I was up at school that I didn't attend church regularly. I wasn't making the best decisions and wasn't making church a priority at all. I made everything else first priority and soon realized that I wasn't happy that way. I told him that by the point I realized that I didn't feel very comfortable going back. Long story short, Josue has some issues that are making him feel unworthy and unable to attend church. I was able to really connect with him and be a first hand witness that the Atonement is for everyone. That no matter how far gone you think you are, He will always be there reaching out. Josue and I really connected and hopefully we will start seeing some progress with his attendance. I challenged him to start the repentance process now. Do it now and do not wait. It doesn't get any easier, the longer you wait. So just face it and get it over with. I am grateful for the experiences I had in my life that allowed me to connect with Josue. I feel like most of the less-active YSA's feel the same way Josue does. Unworthy or undeserving of the love God has for them because of some mistakes they have made. There are a lot of YSA who desire to come back, but just don't know how or think they can because of their situation. But I promise that there is a way back and that the Atonement is real. It can mend and heal any mistake we have made. I know that to be true with all my heart.
A couple weeks ago we contacted a woman named Melinda. She is super awesome and could actually be a very cointributing member. She is normal, super sweet, has a lot of faith and is pretty dang normal.I think I may have told you all a little about her in one of my last emails. Anyways, she is a former investigator that we picked up as a new investigator again. Sister Housley went over there on exchanges and had a really good lesson with her about the Book of Mormon. They left her with a copy and an invitation to read. We have invited the ward to pray for Melinda specifically and to pray that she will have a desire to read the Book of Mormon. AND our prayers have been answered!! We went over on Saturday to set up an appointment to see her and when we asked if she had read she told us "I read it every night before I go to bed. I am only about 20 or 30 pages in!" WHAT?! We were so pumped that she had actually read. Prayers are answered. God loves all his children. We are going back this week to read with her and I can hardly wait!
We received a new bishopric yesterday and we are soooo happy! The Lord knew what he was doing when he chose these men. We know the work is reallllllly going to start to move forward. The bishop is a convert of about 30+ years. He knows exactly how important it is that we are hastening the work. Thank goodness. This is exactly what we need! Prepare for salvation, Chico!
I love you all! I hope you enjoy your week,enjoy conference, and that life treats you well.
Stay Sweet. Pray Always. Give God Gratitude. Love you long time. Miss you like crazy!