Monday, November 25, 2013

Hello family and friends!

This week has been fantastic! I love this area SO much! Every day we have more success than the last! Hermana Duong and Newbill are really freaking out about it because we are doing so well! !! We've been teaching so many people, I don't even know where to begin!

I guess I will start with one of our favorites (haha as if I could choose a favorite) named Elizabeth. I'm not sure if I've written about her before so I'll give you a brief overview. We've been teaching her ever since I got here. She is from Puerto Rico, lives alone, is in her 50's, is the neighborhood gossip and is really quite hilarious! Haha, I just laugh thinking about her. One minute she'll be cracking a joke and then she will tell us about her parents dying.

This week we taught her lesson 3 and set a baptismal date with her! YAY!!! All we need now is for her to come to church, which is hard because her car is in the shop and she won't take a ride from anyone else. She's really stubborn, but she knows its true.

We have a lot of miracles happening. We taught a woman the other day named Islis who said she had been searching for the church of the Book of Mormon!! How crazy is that? So we're already freaking out just about that right, but no, she also told us that her husband, who is still in Panama, is a returned missionary! She didn't even know which church he belonged to, it was crazy! She's super interested. She asked us if the Book of Mormon was from the ancient Americas like the Mexico region. We about died! She is so GOLDEN! I literally cannot get over it.

We've been working so hard lately! It seems as though God has been pouring out his blessings on us. 

Guess what?! We were approved for iPads!!! Everyone is, except the elders that aren't ZL's or DL's. SO starting at the beginning of the year, I will have a new facebook account. I am only allowed to approve friends on the new account I will create, of people in my area, investigators, and my immediate family. Also my family is only allowed to post things that will help in the work; so you can 'like' my posts, and leave comments about spiritual things like the gospel principle that I'm discussing, but no small-talk is allowed. If you do, they told me I had to 'unfriend' you. But I want to friend you so just keep it spiritual, ok?

Well I have got to go but I love you all. I hope you have a good week.

Included is a picture of us with Alicia (the special Olympian I wrote about last week) and a picture of us with Cindy. Cindy is on lesson three and she is a sweetie pie! She comes to church every week and she always makes us dinner. 

Addendum from Heather's mom:  In her letter to me, Heather shared the following that I thought I'd share:

This week has been crazy! I've never been so pooped, and never been this successful in the entirety of my mission. I'm so happy. I wish you could see the things I've been seeing. You're right, service is so happy-making!

We had a tree, a really tiny one, but we gave it away to one of our investigators because she was crying because she didn't have any money for Christmas this year. It was amazing to see her little girl's face light up to see our tree.

Circumstances of people here are so humble. I will never look at immigrants the same way again. Those who don't have their papers have to work those awful jobs they don't want to; they have to live in the ghetto because it's the only place they can afford. They can't get licenses and they can't afford anything. On the other hand those who do have their papers are able to get decent jobs, live in beautiful homes, and don't have to rely on anyone, it's beautiful! But it is SO hard for people to get their papers, SO hard.

I'm beginning to love this culture more than my own. Haha. The people are amazing, so sweet and so blunt, haha. They give away everything and they trust. I've also become accustomed to their food. Hot sauce doesn't phase me. I love it! The hotter the better! I love when the sauce is so hot that my face gets all chilly-feeling! It tastes so good! 

Con Amor,
Hermana Mathis

Monday, November 18, 2013

Amigos y Familia (Friends and Family),

Wow, I can't believe it's P-day again! What a great week it's been! It's been a week of a lot of cancellations, celebrations, finding, and serving.  I love this area that I am in. I can not say that enough! The members here are a tremendous help! They have built us up, helped our investigators progress, and shared their testimonies with the light of Christ in their eyes.

Us with the Argueta Family, what great members!
They let us have dinner with them and one of our investigators every Monday.

I don't know where to begin, so I'm just going to start with my favorite lesson of the week. So the Mormon Play has been going on in Tampa this week and the other sisters in our area have joined the forces up there in representing the church. So in turn we have been looking after their area. 

Two of the people they asked us to go see were special Olympic athletes who had come up from Mexico to do some shopping for special wheelchairs for their races. One is named Alicia and is a member of the church. The other is named Fernando and has never heard of our church antes (before). So we went over Saturday night to teach them the first lesson. The lesson we gave was flawless, Fernando soaked it in. The Spirit was so strong that by the time we had finished there was not a dry eye in the room. The best part was when Alicia bore her testimony. There is nothing more effective than the testimony of a member. They came to church the next day and Fernando was touched. He asked to see us one more time before they leave for Mexico, so if the sisters don't come back we will visit them tomorrow. I hope so, they are amazing, even without legs.

We also had a great experience the other day with one of our investigators, Hugo. We had never planned on teaching him. It just happened that he was listening in on all our conversations with our other investigators Noemi and Julio. He came to church yesterday too, even though Noemi and Julio didn't! After all the meetings, he thought our church was "muy bonita" (very nice) and that he had had a good time. Kevin, one of the members had taken the liberty of driving him to and from church and becoming his friend. We have high hopes that he will be baptized soon. I was a little scared because the first week he came we talked about chastity in Gospel Principles but he said that he liked the lesson. Haha, after our lesson with Noemi, Julio, and Hugo the other day, someone had boxed in Kevin's car, but like a boss he totally got out without a scratch!

I'm continually amazed at how well God knows my heart. We were having a bad day the other day because all our appointments canceled.  We decided though not to feel down so we chose to go contacting. We taught a lesson with one of our contacts but it didn't go as well as we'd hoped. That was when we met Isles, a woman who lived in the same trailer park. She became our best friend in an instant. She told us she wasn't interested but that she really liked us and wanted to let us teach her. We asked her if we could come back and she agreed. Even though she told us she wasn't all that interested, I felt accomplished talking to her, she made my day. The Lord knows exactly who to send your way when your down. It's awesome!
Have a good week!

Con Amor (with love),
Hermana Mathis

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Family and Friends,

Thank you all for your letters. It is so good to hear how everyone is doing! It sounds like everyone is super busy! That's good though, I believe there is a quote that says something like, "An idle mind is the devils playground."

This past week has been super busy and lots of fun! We have had a lot of appointments lately and we've been doing English classes. Right now we are working with about 4 really promising investigator families and 2 single investigators. 

Mike, who I talked about in my last letter told us that one morning he just woke up and had the thought that he should be baptized on the second Sunday of December! We we so overjoyed! I feel so blessed, this area is unreal! Literally. My companions keep telling me that this area is going to ruin me because we have so many people! Every day we have been blessed to meet more and more new people.

One of our newbies is Adela, I love her so much! I never could have anticipated the love I would feel for these people. Adela is a single mother from Mexico, she is the perfect investigator, her heart is open and she is interested in all we have to say. We taught her a bit about families the other day and she told us that she felt blessed to have her little boy and that she knew God had given her her son because she had enough love in her heart to look after him. She's just so cute! So we're hoping to get things progressing with her. 

It's also been a week of eating... bleh! Did I mention Mexicans love to feed us? Well what I actually meant was Mexicans love to stuff us like a Thanksgiving turkey! Last Thursday we were putting up flyers for our English class after lunch when we ran into one of our members named Elvis. We talked with him and then were about to leave when he asked us if we wanted a burrito. Of course we couldn't say no so we agreed to go eat even though we were so stuffed from lunch. But this was no ordinary burrito, oh no, this was the Goliath of all burritos! We must have looked like lunatics because we were laughing so hard watching each other trying to down those. Haha.

Oh! And also we have this investigator named Tachima who has a little boy who will only drink milk and he's huge! She's like, "That body is ALL milk girls!" So anytime we're offered milk, we will sing a bit of that song (sexy and I know it) but we'll say "Girl look at that body, I drink milk!" Haha. We're having so many good times. Ooh and on the topic of music, we have a theme song that you need to look up, it's called "I hope they call me on a mission" by Popcorn Bopping, so corny but you'll love it!

The people down here are the best! I love the culture! The members are so sweet. I draw my spiritual strength from them. I wish I could write more but it's time for me to go! I'll keep you updated! 

Hermana Mathis

Oh and P.S. for those of you who wanted to know, the bike is working good, I did pop a tire the other day but it's all good, we'll have it fixed in a jiffy! And riding in a skirt is not so bad as I thought.

A beautiful Sunday Sunset

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dearest Darlingest Family and Friends,

Como le va? (How it goes?)

Flying into Tampa!
Well you guessed it. I finally made it to Tampa! Just at the perfect time too! Not too hot, not too rainy. So much has happened, I don't know where to begin!

I suppose I will start with my first day. So after approximately 6 hours of riding on a plane me, my companera Hermana Brough, and Elder Connors arrived in Tampa!  I absolutely love it here! It is so beautiful! Flying over it was probably the best part. I think there is more water here than dry land... at least in my area which is Largo!

So the first day in Tampa we did a lot of training, everyone was so tired so we went to bed at 7, haha. The next day we drove to a chapel for the sorting ceremony of sorts... he he, get it? Anyways we went over some paperwork and then ate lunch, then we received our new companions!
Hermana Newbill, Hermana Mathis, Hermana Duong
First Companions in Florida!

I am currently serving in a trio, but that is likely to change because we just received a newsletter from Salt Lake saying that they don't want us in trios anymore. So for right now my companions are Hermana Duong (pronounced deeun) and Hermana Newbill. It's really been different being in a trio, but they are both magnificent trainers. I didn't initially think so though. I wasn't sure if we were all going to get a long at first, and it was kind of a hard adjustment. But now I know that we are going to be friends forever, they are so amazing and already we've had SO many adventures!

Right now we are doing biking and driving. My new P-day is Monday with the exception of next week because of the holiday.

Now I get to talk about my favorite part... TEACHING!!! We teach in all Spanish which has been really fun! Everyone keeps asking me if it's hard to understand and how I'm doing. I must look really confused, haha. I just find it really funny though because I understand pretty much everything and I love it here!
We're teaching several investigators right now, my first lesson ever was with a 70 year old man with probably 4 teeth named Juan David. He's from Cuba too which means he has a pretty sweet accent. He's not actually our investigator. We were just passing him off to the other missionaries but he was a hoot! He won't come to church because he has a grandson in the hospital that he visits on Sundays but he believes us. Haha we sang to him and I think he thought we expected music from him too because he went over to his radio and turned on his favorite song which I'm pretty sure is called "Sabes una cosa" (know one thing) and he starting singing along. It was so cute! I really want to look that song up when I get home so I can remember my first day here in Largo.

If I were to write about every one of our investigators this email would be forever long so I'm just going to give you a brief description. Right now we are teaching Cindy, Jose, Maria, Cornelio, Mike, Noemi, Ema, Chavela, Jenny and various menos activos (less actives). Jose was just confirmed a member yesterday! YAY! and Cindy and Cornelio actually came to church! We have so many golden investigators! Mike is probably our closest to baptism, and then Cindy. Mike knows it's true.  He has been sincerely praying and reading, and he said he wanted to be baptized before the new year! Cindy just had the first lesson and in what little Spanish I new I taught the restoration and Hermana Duong challenged her to baptism. She accepted without hesitation. I am really happy to be teaching her because she has such a sweet spirit about her! I basically jumped out of my skin when I saw her at church yesterday!

We've also been doing a lot of street contacting. We've tried lots of places. And it's interesting because I'm going into those Mexican stores that I would have never gone into in Utah and finding that I actually love them and the food they sell. So far our most promising street contacts have been found at the local dog park and at the panderia (mexican bakery). We also tried going to this cultural event two days ago, haha! Everything was cool at first, there were lots of Mexicans and Peruvians to teach, but then things went south. So it was like a dance recital for kids right, but it kind of ended up turning into a club. The music was SO loud! We seriously couldn't hear anything and we were talking to this sweet little Mexican woman and the poor dear couldn't hear a word we said!

Our Apartment Complex

This letter is getting to be rather lengthy. Sorry about that but I just want to say a bit more about Tampa. The area is very green, there are tons of tropical plants and wildlife. Right now we're kind of in the city so we don't see much of it but its there. I have yet to see a regular sized bird. They are HUGE. And the ducks look like they have cancer or something. It's really sad. The weather is perfect though, our first day was a little sweltering but since has been good.

Oh and one last thing about Largo! Everyone feeds us! We can't so much as talk to a person without being offered candy,chili,bread, soda you name it! I've had more soda this week than I have in the past three years of my life! (Granted I have been strictly opposed to soda those past three years). But still.

Anyways I will leave you with this one last thought. The Lord knows you personally and he knows just what it is you need to calm your troubled heart. That is something I re-learned out here really fast probably in that first lesson with Cindy. He looks after ALL his children, and He doesn't pick favorites.

Have a blessed day!

Con Amor de (with love from) Tampa,  

Hermana Mathis  

P.S. Tell the women in the ward thank you for their letters. That was a pleasant surprise when I got to Tampa.