Monday, January 30, 2017

Choose Happiness

Well, my companion has to go home this week or next.  She is really sick and I feel so bad for her.  Somehow we still had some really AMAZING experiences!  

1) Jayleen-  We went to an investigator's home on Monday, only to find that he wasn't actually interested, but his cousin was.  So we ended up teaching her, and holy cow!  I have never in my life met a 15 year old with so many hard times. When her cousin got out of prision, he had changed and become an important part of her life again.  He was was picking her up from school one day, and his old "friends" came and stabbed him right in front of her!  Then her grandmother, who raised her, died two months later. She is now living at her aunt's house and is the only one who believes in God. Her friend in aneheim is Mormon, and took her to church on a day when they taught the plan of salvation. It touched her heart, and she is changing- she wants to come to our church!  She wants to be baptized, and she is finding happiness in the good news of the Gospel! It's incredible and I feel so blessed to be one of her missionaires. 

2) Night with Members- Tuesday was hard.  My companion was (and still is) sick, so on Tuesday night I dropped her off at a member's home and went out to work with members for the evening. It was a ton of fun.  We found new investigators and we taught many people. The member lady I went with talked the entire time about marriage and that was a bit awkward for me, but other than that it was pretty fun!  My companion got sleep and we got the work done! 

3)The Dominguez Family- This is a less active family that wants to come back to church.  We have troubles meeting with them, but we did this week, and we talked for a long time about how to get them to come to church. In the end we decided on WAFFLES!! :) So we went to their home early on Sunday morning and made waffles for the family.  THEY CAME TO CHURCH and had members fellowship them and their two kiddos the entire three hours!  It was such a blessing. 

4) Bernice- We had a neat lesson with Bernice this week.  We decided we were going to teach her HOW to read the Book of Mormon, come to church, and pray.  So our lesson was filled with many personal experiences of how we have come to do these things. At the end, I decided I would close the lesson by saying a personal prayer out loud, asking for a witness that our church is true.  Sure enough, I felt the Spirit so strong in the prayer when I asked if Joseph Smith was a prophet, and if this was God's church.  It was a neat experience as I prayed for my own life and for members of my family out loud with her.  She and I were both visibly touched by the experience. 

5) Luna new year- Saturday I went on exchanges with SISTER HICKS (I trained her) and it. was. so. much. fun. I loved all of it.  We got to talk about people we both worked with.  We found two new investigators, and it was LUNA NEW YEAR! It's like Chinese new year but for Vietnamese people.  A lady gave us one of the red envelopes with money in it and we got to drive past the Buddhist temple on the way to an appointment so we were able to see all of them celebrating. IT WAS SO COOL!

6) Worldwide Missionary Devotional!- We went to a big meeting where they changed the schedule for missionaries and numbers we report on a weekly basis.  It was SO EXCITING!  I already love the change. It has been a blessing to us.  

SOMETHING I AM LEARNING and continue to learn on my mission is that happiness is totally a choice.  There are going to be times when nothing seems right, and when everything is rough.  There are going to be times when God will test you, life will test you, and Satan will test you.  There may even be times when you test yourself! BUT happiness is still a choice.  You really can pray in hard times and receive happiness, comfort, and peace despite undesirable circumstances.  It is PART OF His grace,  It is part of His atonement.  It's healthy to cry a little, and it's healthy to be sad, but it's so much more liberating to be happy.  So may we all "fall to our knees" this week when it seems happiness is not an option and UTILIZE THE ATONEMENT in a way we may normally take it for granted. 


Love, Jess
Sister Hicks and I on exchanges!  Great day!!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Not counting down . . . sorry . . . don't wanna

SO THIS WEEK WAS HARD and AMAZING all at the same time. 

I'll start with the miracles:  First, we got to see Jenny this week.  When we went to the Elder Holland training I prayed and asked God to reveal to me what I need to share with Jenny to help her become more converted. He told me to relate the entire second half of Elder Holland's training.  He taught about the exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus. The idea behind it is that Jesus was trying to communicate the idea that Nicodemus needed to be baptized and Nicodemus didn't get it.  He had us identify all the reasons why Nicodemus didn't understand, and compared that to the people who don't accept the gospel in Southern California.  He then told us that we need to overcome our barriers, and that God does care for the one. We used the same analogy with Jenny but with the Woman of Samaria at the well.  The woman didn't understand the concept of living water.  With Jenny we drew it out and tried to figure out the Samaritan woman's barriers.  Jenny understood, but what stood out to her the most was that Christ cares for and teaches the one. Whether they are an adulteress, outcast, Samaritan woman, or if they are someone famous who consistently sins and won't give his heart to God. HE STILL TEACHES THEM, HE STILL LOVES THEM!  No sinner, no ANYBODY is beneath Him. Jenny started to cry and told us many of her barriers to baptism.  She told us that the story and concept was exactly what she needed to hear that day.  I LOVE HER!!!!

Second, we were street contacting after one of my companion's doctor appointments (she's quite sick with back pain and leg pain).  There was a boy ahead of us.  We had planned to find a new investigator that day. My companion wanted to be diligent (bless her heart) so despite what the doctor said, she started running to this boy.  She contacted him and we began to share our message. We set a return appointment for the next day, and went to meet him. He told us his life story.  I have never in all my life met ANYONE who has gone through as much as he has gone through. His story is too personal so I won't share, but he is on 19, and most adults never have to experience what he has already gone through. God allowed us to share a message with him that touched his heart. He is exited to learn more, and I'm excited to teach him. 

Third, it was Saturday, and we hadn't yet achieved many of the goals we had set for the week. It wasn't totally our fault, with my companion not feeling well.  We had many doctor appointments and we also had a training this week.  Friday night we really sought revelation as we planned for the next day and we had members coming with us for part of the day.  So we set out to work, after another doctor appointment, and ended up finding a Syrian family who moved here two weeks ago and is struggling with many things.  They were excited for the gospel!  We also met a Latino lady who started crying in the doorway because we shared what she needed to hear.

We had Mission Leader Conference (MLC) this week, and that was fun.  President Patterson trained us mostly on how to be good leaders, which was really helpful.  I feel like I'm still learning so much about how to lead.

I am so grateful for my Savior.  It seems as though when you can do the least, or when you are struggling to do what you use to know how to do, he helps you over-achieve and stretch beyond your bounds.  I have been praying hard this week for many things and because of His love and grace, I have received answers beyond answers to many prayers I didn't even know He could answer.  I love Him so much, I wish I could express through a letter what I feel, but I know He is real and I know He is there.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

I'm A Great-Grandma! & ELDER HOLLAND!

so.... ELDER HOLLAND came to our mission on Saturday!!  I got to shake his hand, and we also had Elder Halstrom of the Seventy here.  They both spoke to us and it was AMAZING!  Elder Holland talked about how personal conversion is so important in the mission. I agree with this and was so inspired to have him with us!

It's my companion's birthday today and we have some BIG plans, so I don't have long to write, but I wanted to let you all know I'M A GREAT-GRANDMA!  So I trained Sister Hicks . . . she trained Sister Saunders . . .who is now training Sister Parkin!  (see pic below)  That's how geneology works on a mission and it's so cool to see my posterity!!! hahahaha

Also, I thought about Amanda yesterday and wished SO MUCH I could've been to her farewell.  I hear it was awesome and that she's READY TO SERVE!  I can't wait to hear from her every week on her mission!

Love you all!  
Sister Webb who trained Sister Hicks who trained Sister Saunders who is training Sister Parkin

Here are a few of the Allen gang at Amanda's farewell:)

Happy Birthday!

Monday, January 9, 2017

11 weeks . . . ummmmmm 11 WEEKS!!! AND MIRACLES CONTINUE!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I don't what what the heck is going on but all the sudden I was thinking about life and realized I ONLY HAVE LIKE 11 WEEKS LEFT!  I'm still trying to process how I feel about this . . . 

This week you all get to hear about Catrell. She is Eddie's girlfriend. Eddie was on a mission in Mexico but had to come back early for health reasons and she is his girl.  She is SUPER solid.  She loves the church, she has been to church a million times already, and she is reading the Book of Mormon.  Our lessons with her were so spiritual and uplifting. At the end of the first lesson, we asked her what she is going to do because of our message and she said, "I'm going to start reading the book of Mormon and praying to know if it's true.  I also had the thought that I should buy a journal and record any spiritual impressions I get, and also I think I am going to go to all the YSA activities and Church with Eddie."  We just looked at her in amazement!  Needless to say, she came to church.  The only bad part is that she lives in NY right now because she is going to school.  But she said she is going to study the church there too with the missionaries. 

We saw Ceasar twice this week, and he is good.  He is Sister Montague's recent convert but he has been struggling with staying active.  We've tried so hard to get him to church.  We had super spiritual lessons and everything and then he didn't show up.  If anyone has any advice on this, I would appreciate it! 

Friday we did service for Sister Jetter.  She is a member and such a kind older lady but struggles coming to church as well.  I don't know how she fits everything she has into her little apartment but she does.  It was fun to talk to her.  We shared a message on the sacrament. 

So I have TWO SUPER SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES, one is from this week that I want to share, and the other was in La Mirada that I forgot to share.  

1) THIS WEEK:  This weekend I got to go on an exchange with Sister Pack. She is such a fun missionary!  She likes to sing too and we sound really good together (not to toot my own horn or anything) so we contacted lots of people by singing.  Anyway, it was coming to the end of our exchange, and one thing she wanted to work on was finding. I wanted to find but wasn't really having success- so we decided to pray.  Together we prayed to know if we were in the right area, and then we asked God separately if there was anything that we needed to know about our new investigator.  After a few minutes of prayer I received the answer that is was going to be a girl, that I would be a vital part in her accepting our message, but that I was to let my companion do all of the teaching.  Sister Pack opened her eyes and she was just glowing. She said it was going to be a Latino mother.  So we got out of the car, and knocked on the first door we saw.  A young Latino mother answered the door, and we introduced ourselves, but guess what SHE ONLY SPOKE SPANISH!  So using broken Spanish I got her to open up to in Spanish and watch the Christmas video in Spanish.  It was obvious that it touched her, and after the video I had no idea what to do, but my companion all the sudden started speaking almost fluent Spanish.  She invited her to learn more about the church and we set a time to come back with the Spanish elders.  We got back in the car and were both absolutely astounded.  Sister Pack doesn't speak Spanish.  Also, she told me that she knew it was going to be a Spanish mother because in her minds eye she distinctly saw this woman.  She knew exactly who we were looking for!  I'm still so humbled by this experience!  

2) LA MIRADA: We had about 30 mins left in our evening, and Sister Hicks (my comp) decided she wanted to teach a less active lesson (trust me, you don't tell a greenie they are wrong because in my experience, God can tell them incredible things).  Well we didn't know any less actives in the area, and we didn't know where to go.... so we prayed in the car, and I received the impression to follow my companion.  I opened my eyes and she said "go straight".  So I started driving straight and she was paying extreme attention to the road ahead.  She told me to take several left's, right's, and so forth till we were in front of a tall rickety creepy old house.  She said, "It's this one". I thought "to heck with this one, some crazy serial killer will come out of that thing and kill us if we knock it"... but again, I don't fight with new missionaries and their spiritual impressions. So we walk up to the house and a lady is in the garage.  She was a less active member, in fact she our Bishop's sister!  She had just moved in.  She was amazed that we found her, and she said she wanted to come back.  After we visited with her for awhile,  I got back in the car and asked Sister Hicks, "How did you know where to go???" She just said "Well, the street was I followed the glow."


I love you all so much!  Love, Jess


This week was an awesome food week!  We found out about mid week that Sister Equihua was leaving so we had to try all of the restaurants that she wanted to try.  Our tiny little area is hopping with different stuff so we got Mexican food, Indian food, Thai food, and yep :)  It was pretty fun! Our area really is super diverse.  We have churches and mosques belonging to the Jewish, Buddhist, Catholic and Muslim faiths right in my neighborhood! AND OUR AREA IS ONLY 11 tracts!!

Then on Tuesday we had a full proselyting day.  We got to see so many people and had some super stellar lessons.  We also had to do two more weekly plannings with other sisters.  It was really long but lots of fun!  I have a new companion next transfer but I still get to stay here :)

We also had a neat finding experience.  Our mission president has been stressing that we need to work on planning.  So we planned at six o'clock to find a new investigator.  So at six o'clock we went crazy. We went through all our plans, we pulled our car over on random streets to talk to people outside  and then it was 6:50!!  We still hadn't found, and we prayed, got out of the car and FOUND someone!

So the lesson this week was DILIGENCE, to quote Ann Anderton "you oughta be where you oughta be when you oughta be there".  If you do, it all works out.  LOVE YOU ALL!!