Tuesday, August 18, 2015

week 28

First off- it's been raining non stop. Floods are happening left and right and our weather alert system goes off in the middle of the night... we play in puddles all day and contact EVERYONE on the streets.... which is basically no one. We're having a blast though.
Second: So yesterday I walk into the chapel after ward council. Sister Olson and I start talking to people. In the midst of a conversation, I turned and scanned the back of the congregation. I recognized a couple sitting up front that I didn't recognize. The woman turned and I thought, "Woah. She looks JUST like my aunt Leanne". Then I continued to scan the crowd, but looked back at her and noticed she was starring at me. This time I thought, "Seriously! They could be twins!!" And in that moment, the man turned. UNCLE DIXON. I literally died. My phone dropped open and I just started crying. I ditched my companion and ran up to the front. I was so confused, but oh so happy to see them! It was great having them join us for church yesterday. I was extremely grateful and VERY happy. Thank you Uncle Dixon and Aunt Leanne :)
Third: Story of the week!! About two weeks ago we prayed with a couple named Mark and Kathy. They are heavily Catholic, but no one can turn away prayer, so they happily let us pray with them. As we started talking to them, they told us about her dad who had cancer. We prayed for him very specifically, and she was grateful when we left. About 99.9% of the time, we don't see anyone after the first time we pray with them. Especially, when they are as dedicated to their religion as these two were.
So just this last week, we went to teach this boy named Chase. He's in his 20's. (More on him another day). But when we show up, his mom says to us, "I just want to tell you girls that you prayed with my friend Kathy the other day. You prayed for her dad who they thought had pancreatic cancer. Well I talked with Kathy a couple days ago and she wanted me to tell you that it turns out he doesn't have it! She is SO grateful for your prayer". 
President often tells us that people will never forget the prayer that the mormon missionaries said for them. And I've thought, "Well yeah, because it's not every day someone knocks on your door and offers to pray for you!" But this week I came to understand the full meaning of that statement. We talk with a lot of people and pray a lot each day, but hardly ever have the opportunity to know what comes of it. It was an eye opening experience and it helped us better understand just how powerful prayer truly is. God lives and He hears your prayers!
Love you all!
Sister Mal
P.S. The family talked about last week? We went back and the dad gave us a sermon. It was insanity. Needless to say, we are no longer teaching them. We've prepped them a little bit more for missionaries in the future :)

shark biker life!
one of the funnier moments of my life

Oh happy day! Leanne and Dixon!!

hermione went to the doctor today! 

week 29

Hello family-
So it's been a very interesting week around these parts of town. Between a lesson with Jehovah Witness and multiple run-ins with born again Christians where we exchanged "tracts", I've been thinking a lot about God this week and the life of Jesus Christ.
I have found myself reading a lot about the Savior's life this week and what He taught while He was here. He was bold and clear in His teachings and showed us the way to return to live with God again. He gave us commandments and helped us see how we can truly be happy in this life.
We met a man on the street this week who said to me, "What if you're wrong? What if everything you believe, this whole 'Jesus-plus' thing, is all wrong?"
Jesus-plus? I was very confused. As we talked more, He explained, "Would if the only way is Christ, nothing else?" I testified that was exactly what we believed. Christ is the center of everything, and we live by the commandments that He has given us. At the end of the conversation he said, "I hope I see you in heaven..." It's stuck with me all week.
It wasn't until after we left and he handed me his tract that I fully understood what he was saying. As I glanced over the tract he gave me, I found out that this man believed that as long as we say we accept Christ, we are saved. His grace will save us from everything, no matter how we live. 
This scripture immediately came to mind:
the JW are giving us watch towers and juice these days!!

Alma 42:25 "What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God"
We fall short, we are human beings and we are not perfect. But our faith and belief in Jesus Christ leads us to action. It is a constant and continuous effort to come unto Him. God knew we would fall short, and so He provided a Savior. We can't make it through this life without Him, but we have to make sure we are putting in the effort. 
I love the talk by Elder Holland, "The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship" in it he states, "Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds...It is obvious that the bumper sticker question “What would Jesus do?” will not always bring a popular response."
This is the work of God and I feel so blessed to be a part of it. It's hard work, but it was meant to be that way, to help us learn and grow and continually come unto Christ.
Love you all!
Siste Mal

week 30


it's hot here. not to get graphic, but i think I have forgotten what it's like to not sweat all the time. it's great though, i love it because I've learned I can't live in this for the rest of my life ;)

so last week our ward mission leader thought up a genius idea and it all started last sunday. Our ward has begun a 40 day fast. For 40 days there is a member of our ward fasting for the work to be hastened here and for their own missionary opportunities. on day three of the fast, 5 baptismal dates were set in the ward between us and the other sisters. this ward is INCREDIBLE, they have amazing faith and I love working with them.

Jaylen was one of the dates that was set this last week. Jaylen is 18, just graduated high school and is good friends with a family in the ward. One Sunday, Jaylen just showed up with them. As we got talking to him, we found out they didn't invite him to come, rather he just straight up asked if he could come to church with them... of course they said, "YES!" We started teaching him that week.

We've had a hard time getting him to open up to us, but we've realized that the more time we just talk with him and get to know him, the more he's willing to share. We had a lesson with him this week and we asked more about his family, to which he said, "They pray and they all believe in Jesus, but I can't wait around for them for something to happen. I need to gain my faith back". He wants to learn as much as he can and recognizes that this is a lifelong commitment. We read 1 Nephi 16 with him that day, because that's where he was at, and talked all about how Nephi left his family to go find food after his bow broke. Nephi didn't complain when times got hard, he moved forward and went straight to God to find help, and that's JUST what Jaylen is doing. 

As we have taught him more and more, I have these weird flashbacks to high school and when we had the missionary discussions in our home. Let me tell you, it's a whole new world sitting in the missionary position then the member position, but oh how grateful I am for that experience. Jaylen is truly teaching me how to seek God's will no matter what life throws at you.

Pray for him? and maybe Becca too? We're really excited about her.

Love ya lots
Sister Mal

matching last pday with my first child :)

these bugs are sister olson's nightmare. she runs whenever we see one of these. 

the craziest chair we found on USF's campus this week. we went on an exchange with the YSA sisters... it was a blast and a half. 

spent all of wednesday down at USF on an exchange with Sister Sutton :) i love her. also i am grateful that I don't serve in the YSA haha

Sunday, August 2, 2015

week 27

Here's 3 short stories for you that really hit me this week.
#1- Hutch. Hutch was baptized on day 3 of us being in Wesley Chapel. The sisters before us had worked heavily with him and so when we came in, we just made sure that the baptism was still going forward. Hutch had a friend who was a member of the church, 6 years ago, who gave him a Book of Mormon. It took him 6 years to read it, but he is now a member of the church and is there every week.
#2- Herbie. Herbie was baptized this last weekend, BY HUTCH. That alone was a really cool thing to witness. But 40 years ago, Herbie's commander gave him a Book of Mormon. He took it with him in combat jumps because he knew it was of value and it had to do with God, but couldn't make heads or tales of it. 8 years ago he was taught all the lessons by elders here, but decided not to be baptized because he wanted to be baptized with his family. The other sisters met him on the street about 6 weeks ago, and him and his wife were baptized on Saturday.
#3- The Melendez family. We were knocking looking for a less active. We had the address but not the apartment number, so we knocked every door. A man opened up on the fourth or fifth door and said, "I know exactly who you two are. I would know that name badge anywhere". Within 30 seconds he told us he met with missionaries in New Jersey 8 years ago and asked us to return to teach his whole family later that week. We returned, and taught him and his wife and their two teenage children on Saturday. We asked them to come to church, and THEY CAME. With them, they brought the copy of the Book of Mormon the Elders had given them, 8 years ago. They haven't read it, but have kept it all these years because they knew it was meaningful.
Now, why do I share these 3 stories? Because you truly never know how much good you do. I could easily share 10 more from this past week of smaller experiences that peole have had with the church, other than receiving a Book of Mormon. But in every case, these people have had experiences with the church before we met them. We were told about a month ago that it typically takes someone 7-8 times of encountering the church before they come to know for themselves. 7-8. Sometimes we meet peole and we are the first touch, and other times we are the fourth or the fifth. But when it comes down to it, you NEVER know how much good you do.
I love you all!
Siser Mal
P.S. Pray for the Melendez family? We are REALLY excited for them.

It was a happy day :)

crocs are my new favorite.

Look who I saw at the Ray's Game!!

I went running up to him, but Elder Dance, one of the assistants (seen on the right in the first picture) went to give him a handshake. Elder Tanuvasa just said, "Sorry Elder Dance" dodged him and came up to me. It was hysterical.

Then the other pictures are of our 3 minute conversation haha

I do not know how to work umbrellas.