Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15, 2014 - Happy Week of the Resurrection!


FAMILY! 

I can't believe it's another Easter week in the field! I remember a year ago we were passing out copies of "The Living Christ" like they were candy! I love being in the field at this time. It's cool to testify of the reality of the resurrection instead of focusing on the pain of the crucifixion. We have a goal to teach all the members and less actives this week about the hope and happiness we receive when we gain a testimony of the Resurrection. It shall be great! Plus, chocolate bunnies are in abundance over here so we are loving our lives right now. 

This week flew! We didn't have nearly as many meetings as the week before so it was a super good work week. Hermana Barnes and I set some solid goals and have both committed to expect miracles on a daily basis. Tuesday night we were so stoked to go out and just work our tails off and see it all pay off! We literally knocked on door after door after door and no one was answering. It was easy to get discouraged haha. But we kept thinking to ourselves "Just one more door.....just one more door" over and over again. Finally, at 8:45 an investigator answered and we had an incredible lesson with her. Working so hard and just trying one more time at one more door paid off in one simple lesson, and we went home happy. But on Wednesday we got SO dang blessed with all the miracles we saw! We taught 9 solid lessons and added 4 new people that day. We felt like the the quality of our teaching was better than it's ever been and that the people actually heard what we were telling them. We kept that mindset of "expect miracles" all day, and we saw them. We both feel that because we worked so hard without so much success on Tuesday night that we were both able to show Heavenly Father that we are willing to go and do "just one more thing" for Him, and that the next day we were blessed because of it. Wednesday was one of my favorite days of the mission, mainly because I felt like we learned how to really call down the powers of heaven to assist us in their work. It feels so good to go and work and know without a doubt that great things will happen!

We had a really cool lesson with an investigator named Priscilla. She's from the Philippines and she opened waaaay up during our lesson! She told us this story about how her late husband over there was part of basically the Filipino version of the mafia over there and when he died she had to leave her 8 month old son over there so she could escape being killed by his family (intense, much?). She was 4 months pregnant at the time and she told us about the guilt she felt because she left her son over there with her ex-mother in law. She went on to explain how she has been trying to get in contact with him ever since, and she finally found him on facebook just a few weeks ago!! They now chat back and forth and her son told her that her ex mother in law never told him anything bad about his mom, and that he was safe and happy. I will never forget the look on her face when she just stared at us with tears in her eyes and said, "God is good. So good.". She said it with such power and conviction that I couldn't believe she hadn't been a member all her life. Cool moment! 

Because we gave away all of our progressing investigators and half of our other ones because of the new companionship in the area, we've been majorly praying for some new people to teach. There's a city called Lakeside that we cover that we don't do a whole lot of work in because we've never been able to find success. But this past week the English elders over there have been working so hard and trying to contact people in Spanish that they've given us like 10 referrals for people over there! Most of which are families! They asked us about how to say different things in Spanish and have been totally killing it over there as a result! We would be totally lost without those elders and because of they're work we've added 7 new investigators in the past week over in Lakeside! They are getting a big plate of cookies sometime soon.

President Clayton told us about a media campaign going on on mormon.org entitled "Because of Him"-he showed us one of the videos and it's sooooooooooooooooo sick you HAVE TO CHECK IT OUT! 

We had a mission presidents fireside (hermana barnes and i arranged a "that easter morn" quartet. it was lovely if i do say so myself) and one of the recent converts went up to the podium to bear her testimony and said "we don't have bouncy houses or coffee or concerts or anything like that, but we will be petitioning for a food court soon so keep an eye out for that!". The investigators that were there got so excited. We needed to do some damage control after that one haha. 

Have such a solid and wonderful week! Eat a lot of ham. Know that I love y'all so dang much and you're always in my prayers!! 

Hermana Hess

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

April 8, 2014 - "Heavenly Father, you didn't have to do that!"

That has been the most repeated phrase of the past week, because we have been so dang blessed and we are seeing so many miracles and we are so happy that we literally have nothing to say but "Heavenly Father! We're already so happy! You didn't have to bless us with ALL OF THESE MIRACLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
 
Lets start with my new comp!!! HERMANA BARNES IS MY BEST FRIEND! Haha we served in Chula Vista together in the same district and she is one of the missionaries I have always looked up to. She came out 2 transfers after me (with Hermana Oliver!) and she is the most consecrated, happy, personality-filled missionary I have ever met. When President Clayton called her name during transfers we both just started jumping up and down and I literally couldn't stop smiling. President just looked over the pulpit and gave us a little wink. Oh man.....I am so happy. This week has been absolutely insane with different meetings that we've had to go to, so we have not had ONE companionship study since we've been together, but our unity is so solid and it's like we've been teaching together for months. We've seen a ton of miracles this week and I know that it's because there are people here that need HER and what she brings. Which is good, because at transfer meeting they announced that they are white-washing a new companionship into our branch, so instead of having 3 sets of missionaries we have 4. Which is awesome, but as a result of them opening a new area they literally took half of our area that we cover, which included all of our progressing investigators (Amber, Hector, Lupita....) that have just literally begun to progress. So....we were a little stressed out haha. We also found out that we cover 2 more companionships of sisters so we'll be going on 2 exchanges a week for the rest of the transfer.
 
But with all of the absolute craziness of this past week, I have never been happier. I love the mantle you get when you take over an area. No matter how many things get piled up on top of each other, I have never once felt overwhelmed or discouraged or anything. I feel like this companionship has a good hold on things and I literally can feel Heaven's help at every moment of the day. It's a humbling feeling, the strength that comes with the responsibility the Lord gives you. It's definitely not a confidence that was born out of me personally, but with the knowledge and constant companionship of the Spirit and the angels that have been assigned to help us and guide us. So while we feel like we've been running for the past week, we both are just so shoot dang stoked about life that we just sit and laugh and say "life is good".
 
CAN I JUST TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVED GENERAL CONFERENCE? In my opinion, Holland, Bednar, Uchdorf, and Packer all brought it home! The Sunday morning session was my favorite (am I allowed to have favorites?). We all watched it as a zone at the stake center and it felt good just to sit and be surrounded by the power that comes from being in a room packed with missionaries, and that comes from when the Prophet and the Twelve speak. Conference is way better than the Superbowl for SURE.
 
Ok, this is the major miracle of the week. I don't know if I've ever told you about Mayra and her family but she is one of the people I knew I needed to meet when I got to Santee. Mayra is a waaaaaay less active (like, she was baptized at 8 and never went back since.) who lives with her boyfriend and their kids. SUPER cute family and we just fell in love with them when we met them. We found their name in an area book 3 months ago and when we met them, "cold" doesn't begin to describe them. They only let us teach them if we didn't use the Book of Mormon or invite them to church or anything. So we took our time and focused on establishing a relationship with them, and it has totally paid off. I think this family is one of the biggest miracles I have ever seen! They have warmed up to us so much and it's been amazing thing to see the cold look in their eyes completely dissolve. Last Saturday we went over to their house randomly while they were walking out the door, so we didn't have time to share a message. A few hours later we received a call from the other elders in our zone and they told us that a member that they work with is best friends with Mayra, and Mayra was telling her that she was praying for guidance Friday night, and we randomly show up Saturday! Her friend invited Mayra to conference and SHE ACCEPTED!!!!!!! The woman who REFUSED to let us teach her family accepted the invitation to go to conference!! So we were having a fit about that. We went over last night to follow up and see how she liked it, and she told us she couldn't go. Dang haha. But we were chatting and their cute kids had all these crazy questions about "did I choose my parents?" "How did God get to be God?".....and so we launched into the most powerful Plan of Salvation lesson we have ever taught. It was so cool to be in that family room, with the WHOLE family (even the dad who used to literally run away) feeling the Spirit. It was incredible. Their hearts have changed and even though it may take a little while, Mayra will come back to full activity and her boyfriend, Arturo, and their 4 kids will be getting baptized. Of that, I have no doubt. I'm flipping out. 

So I'm still reeling about that haha. Yesterday we had a great zone meeting about Visions-how we need to have one for our area, our zone, our companionships, and for ourselves. While we were doing accountability, our zone leader called our names and said "these sisters gave away half of their area and all of their progressing investigators. They should expect great miracles.". That hit me and I spent the whole zone meeting pondering on that. I was like "YEAH. We NEED to expect these miracles". I thought a lot about re-examining expectations and how if we work, and pray and are obedient, we have the power to call down miracles. I've known this my whole mission but I guess it just hit me a few days ago. I look at Mayra's family and the other people we are teaching and I can say with all the confidence that I have that they will get baptized. I don't know when, but they will. I have great expectations for these next few transfers and I am stoked to see all the incredible things that are going to happen. I am learning that I need more faith, that I need to wrestle more with the Lord in prayers, and I am so stoked to see what comes next. 

Life is good. This is in no way easy and I'm getting my trash kicked but it is in every way the best thing I have ever been a part of. I love you so much!!! Be happy! Have a great week and know that I pray for y'all every dang day!

Hermana Hess 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 1, 2014 - Transfer #10



Aaaaand I'm staying in Santee!! I'm so stoked! Sister Hansen is leaving (depression) and is training a brand new missionary so I'll be training a new STL. I'm honestly so happy that I'm still here. I feel like some great things are going to happen in this area and I'm excited for the changes that are going to take place. This whole zone got completely flipped around and there is not one companionship staying the same, so we're excited for the miracles that are gonna happen! 

This week was crazy!! I went on my favorite exchange EVER this past week-in a place called City Heights. Literally in the middle of the city so basically I was in HEAVEN! It was a blissful 24 hours. The Hermana I was with, Hermana Shumway, is the definition of a consecrated missionary and I spent all day just writing down all the things I was learning. I felt like home, falling asleep to the dulcet tones of car alarms.  She told me something that I think I will never forget. She told me that one of the biggest things she's learned on her mission is that we become humble servants of the Lord when "Preaching" turns to "pleading". When we teach our investigators we need to be teaching from the bottom looking up, loving them enough to go below their level and LIFT. Go Hermana Shumway! 

We were at church on Sunday and one of our recent converts, Cesar Buenrostro, looked pretty down. His countenance was fallen so Hermana Hansen and I were worrying all day. Later that day our branch president texts us and asks us to go over and visit him and talk about forgiveness. SO we were freaking out. We went into that lesson with prayerful hearts and just pleading that we would be the instruments that the Lord needs us to be. I don't think I've ever felt the spirit that strong in a lesson. We just looked at Cesar and I've never felt the love of God more! I just pray that he knows how Loved he is and that no matter what, he can come back to the straight and narrow. By the end of the lesson Cesar looked like he had hope in his eyes again. We read DyC 122:7-9 "ALL these things shall be for thy good.....For God shall be with thee forever and ever". God doesn't leave. I've never felt it more than when I was testifying that to him. 

Fun moment of the week. We were teaching a recent convert named Luzmar and we were talking about the Good Shepard and we are His sheep. Luzmar just pops up with "I am not a sheep! I am a child of God!!". After we explained it to her she said "oh. ok. I can be a sheep. Sheeps are good.". Love her so dang much. 

I'm so sorry that this letter is short and lame but all these sisters are freaking out about transfers and we need to go to the mission office and counsel some lost children....hooray!! 

I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!!!! You have my heart! 

Hermana Hess

March 25, 2014 - Chiasmus' and pseudepigriphas

HEY FAM!!

To start off, we had the COOLEST Zone conference the other day. President Clayton is one of the most brilliant people I know. He went over 19 evidences of the Book of Mormon and I sat there for an hour and a half getting my mind blown. If I had hours to email I would just spill out all these things I learned (like the definitions of the polysyllabic words in the subject line) but it would make no sense. I took gnarley notes so that'll just have to suffice. And after all this information overload, President just looks at us and says "And none of this matters." It was cool to feel the excitement of learning the evidences of such a beloved book, and then feeling the confirmation that literally none of those physical or intellectual evidences matter. What matters is the quiet feeling of peace that accompanies when we read. That is evidence enough. 

This week was a tough one. We got dropped by Geraldo, our solid progressing investigator yesterday. Turns out he didn't tell his wife about us coming over and when we showed up to his house on Sunday to introduce ourselves to her, things didn't go over too well. Super sketchy...so we are pretty bummed. Diana, the investigator that has been meeting with us since before I got here, got her hands on some anti stuff and now won't meet with us, and our investigators that used to be reading and praying now aren't. It all boils down to the Book of Mormon. It is SO necessary that i don't even have words to describe how much I want these people to read it. Dang....Satan knows how integral the Book of Mormon is. He knows that when people read it, and KEEP reading it, they become truly converted and so he does every single thing he can to stop people from reading. It breaks my heart. It freaks me out that as members, we are in danger of the same trap. Baptized or not, the Book of Mormon keeps the testimony burning. So read it. Read it every day. Even if you are tired, or there is no time, keep reading.

I've been on a Book of Mormon rampage, lately....Can ya tell?

But throughout all the discouragements of the week, there have been some HUGE miracles and I still can't stop smiling! We added a new investigator named Hector last week (the man we contacted and got with a date!) and we had some pretty powerful lessons with him. It'll never cease to amaze me how perfectly God knows His children-Hermana Hansen and I teach him very simply and in a different way than most of our investigators. We aren't really sure why, but it feels so cool knowing that God is putting what he needs in your mind. He read a little of the Book of Mormon and loved it and has the best questions!! I love teaching him-feels more like "reminding" than teaching. Feels good:)

We also added a new family who currently hold a great part of my heart. The parents' names are Luis and Priscilla and they have 4 beautiful kids. Luis only speaks Spanish and Priscilla only speaks English and Tagolog (it's fun teaching those lessons..s) and "prepared" doesn't even begin to describe it. Luis seemed more interested at first but we went over the other day when just Priscilla was there and she opened up a TON. She's still a little hesitant, so if you could keep her and her family in your prayers, that would be great!!

We went to the Valley on Wednesday for exchanges:) it's a cool feeling, going back to your first area. I haven't served there since October but it feels so dang familiar. The same heavy feeling that i felt when i was there for the first 8 months of my mission came right back-that area is so special to me. It's different and requires a different kind of work. It felt like going home, driving into that place! But it also felt like coming home driving back to Santee. I have this goal that I want every area to feel like home when I am serving there. The Valley, Chula Vista and Santee are all home. What a good life. 

We went to a members house and I had 8 tacos. Not even ashamed. They were small I promise. 

This week I can't stop thinking about how much I love the Book of Mormon. I'm reading it again with a couple of things in my mind as I read and so many new things are standing out to me. I've gotten some admonitions, lots of words of comfort, and an incredible amount of direction this time around. I love it!

And I love you!! I hope you are all SO happy this week and that you can feel the prayers being said for your by MANY people here!! I love it when investigators and members pray for my family...know that they love you!

Hermana Hess 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014 - The Day Hermana Hess Ruined a Child's Dream

A few days ago we went to visit a less-active named Mayra and her family, and for some reason she asked my companion if teaching children about Santa Clause was okay. After Hermana Hansen replied with a resounding "heck yes!" Mayra just looked at her and said "of course it's not!!". So that was awkward. Then somehow the tooth fairy was brought up and I said that "of course it wasn't real", which was promptly followed by an eerie silence and all the kids just stared at me with open mouths and shocked faces. Just for future reference, Santa is bad. Tooth fairy is okay. I'm just glad that they all laughed it off afterwards and said "yeah, I kinda already knew" or else I would've felt like the most horrible person to ever walk the planet. Don't worry, she invited us over again and is going to come to church this Sunday!! Thank heavens for the spirit.....

HEY FAMILY!

This week was one of those "thank heavens Heavenly Father recognizes effort" weeks because we had many buffed appointments and a lot of rejection haha. But it actually turned out so good! Sometimes we get so caught up in the running from appointment to appointment business that we miss the little miracle moments, like pulling the car over and contacting for a few hours or really looking for Heavenly Father's guidance as to who to see next. So while it was a little rough and there was a lot of sweat and rejection, it was one of the most rewarding weeks of the mission. It brings me back to a lesson I learned while I served in my first area-it feels good to sweat for a purpose.

Jorge has a temple recommend! He came out of his interview waving it like a flag over his head! Not a bad moment!

I mentioned miracles earlier and this week was definitely full of them. The difference was that it was full of miracles after getting over a lot of pride and fear on my part haha. I have TONS of weaknesses, people. Tons of them. And this week a lot of them were thrown in my face, but as we just worked and worked and did it anyway, we saw a lot of really cool things happen! Ever since coming to Santee I have not been the best at street contacting in sketchy situations. Sometimes I think to myself "uuuuhhhh....this may not be such a good idea. They look less-than-pleasant," which is completely ridiculous on my part. So I made it a goal this week to just "get over yourself and do it anyway". We ended up contacting a guy named Hector, teaching him a SUPER powerful restoration lesson, and by the end of it he was in tears and accepted a baptismal date for April 12th! I walked away from that situation thoroughly humbled, to say the least. What made it even cooler was later that day we contacted another man named Gerardo, taught him an equally powerful restoration lesson, and he went on and on about how "right" it feels and he begged us to come and teach his family!! You guys, miracles don't happen within your comfort zone! Life is so good!

Another miracle of the week was that Hermana Hansen was sick on Thursday (that sounded awful) so I had three hours to tackle Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon. So I cried for three hours. How in the world did I not understand what it means before now?!? It's so legit!

And since we are talking about miracles, this weekend was full of them. We had a mission president's fireside this Sunday, but the whole thing was in Spanish (President Clayton served his mission in Peru and he still speaks like a native!). I've never been to a Spanish one before, and it was the coolest!! It was so cool to just sing in the language we were called to serve in. I LOVE THIS LANGUAGE! For some reason things said in Spanish mean a lot more to me than if it's said in English. I got asked to sing a musical number so I did "Lead Kindly Light" (the same one I sang at Ty's farewell) and the whole thing just took on a whole new meaning. The best part, though, was that so many people from my Chula Vista ward were there!!! DANG I LOVE THOSE PEOPLE!! I know I was only there for 2 transfers, but I feel the same way about them as I do the people in the Valley (I have no idea if that was grammatically correct at all, but you get the point.). I felt so at home there. I think that's one of the biggest blessings of my mission-I have felt at home in every place I've been in and the people have felt like family. It was so good to see them again!

Last week I went on an exchange with my MTC companion, Hermana DeAngelo, and it was so much fun. It was cool to be with her again, literally one year later, and see how she has changed and grown and gotten refined. She is doing so well and looks so happy-she is one who let the mission work through her and you can see it in her countenance!
 
I have been learning more and more about how the Spirit works these past few months. I love this feeling. And the coolest thing is that as long as we are worthy of it, it doesn't leave. Heavenly Father doesn't want to leave His children, so we need to live in a way that He doesn't have to take His spirit away from us. And even if we are going throughout our day, and we don't get that heart-pounding feeling at every moment, it is still there. That has brought me a lot of comfort: if we do our part, The Spirit won't leave. "I the Lord am bound...."
 
My heart is full this week! I am so dang happy. While this may not be the easiest thing we've ever done, I would do it over and over again if I could keep feeling this way. I love sitting in silence and feeling the spirit. It's better than Whitacre.
 
I love you so dang much it doesn't fit in my heart!
 
Hermana Hess!