Monday, February 24, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Just a short email this week, I'm afraid. Last week went by really fast! We spent a lot of time tracting. We found this very cool family yesterday who was just outside picking cactus for dinner and invited us to eat with them. We did and then we taught the first bit of the first lesson it was so awesome. We had no idea where we were going to go and then they just invited us in.

We also met another family in the same neighborhood washing their cars who we are going to go see again
tomorrow, so there is a lot of finding going on.

We also set a date with one of our investigators named Chavela. She needs to move out of her boyfriends house in order to be baptized but she's planned it out. She says she's in 100%. She is already looking
for a new job so that she can go to church on Sundays. She's ready.

We did exchanges with the Hudson sisters as well. So last week I got to teach in English! It was very interesting, I'm not quite used to it. It was very back woodsy. I realized we are so lucky to have the
investigators we have. I love them all, and I love Spanish too. It was a fun break from Largo life but I am pumped and ready to get some investigators moving.

Love you all,

Hermana Mathis

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dearest darlingest family and friends,

As you all might have guessed from the title of my email this week, we got iPads! They are SO nice. The iPad basically has replaced everything we work with, our planners, our area book, our scriptures, our video players, everything! It's awesome and crazy at the same time because now we have to input all that information! You would think that this would take all our time, but ah, quite the contrary! We've actually had MORE lessons and MORE members out to our lessons. Hermana and I have both agreed that the iPad is very empowering and we feel more confident because of it. Also all the study information is hooked
up to my LDS account so even after I leave I will have all my online notes.

As I mentioned before, we've had a lot more lessons this week. We're really trying hard to see our investigators 2-3 times a week. This week we saw most of our investigators at least twice, so we're off to a
good start. We've also had a lot of miracles. I think I will just go through the week because there is so much to say!

Monday: We taught Tachima and Moises at the Arguetas house. It was really great because they got to connect with someone around their same age and circumstance. After that we taught one of our newer
investigators, Gabriel, the Plan of Salvation.

Tuesday: We received our iPads at our mini zone meeting! After that, all the sisters went out to eat with Sister Cusick (mission presidents wife). It was so fun to be there with all the girls in our zone I love
them all so much! They are some of the prettiest and strongest women I know.

We taught 5 lessons that day, all with members which made us super happy. If only members truly knew how much they help us. My favorite lesson of the day was teaching some teens that we've been working with
because we didn't think they would want to hear from us without their mom there. They loved our lesson about Ammon and have since started reading the scriptures on their own! We may or may not have also
sneaked in a teensy bit of basketball with them too.

Wednesday: we spent most of the day working on the area book. Thinking back I can't really recall what we did after that...probably a member present lesson. We had so many!

Thursday: We taught lesson after lesson. Everyone is progressing quite nicely.

Friday: For Valentines Day, we went out to eat with Romanee (our ward missionary) for lunch. It was lots of fun. We gave her a Chinese Valentines take-out box with paper fortune cookies inside like little
conversation hearts. She loved it.

After that, we decided to go back to the complex for some more area book work. While we were sitting there, this guy came up in his wheelchair and started talking to us. His name is Mark and he's a return veteran. He had some crazy stories and he kept swearing. Nevertheless, Hermana decided to teach him the first lesson right there. He kept interrupting with war stories, but we managed to finish. Then to our astonishment, he kissed Hermana Duong! I was stunned! What do you do when someone kisses your companion? She handled it super well and just told him the elders would be by soon to teach him.

As if that wasn't crazy enough, when we got back to the apartment one of our young single male investigators texted us and said,"I love you." We're like what? We didn't answer him back. THEN later that night we received chocolates from a random guy we met in Walgreens! Haha, we joked that we got everything a girl
could hope to get on Valentines Day. But the cool thing is the guy we met in Walgreens told us that he had the feeling he had to go there that night,  although he didn't know why and so did we! At first I was really
skeptical about him because I thought he might just be interested in us as girls but we taught him the next day and the spirit was amazing! He fully accepted everything we said and told us that he has been looking for direction in his life. When we said the first vision he was like, "Whoa." He told us he had never felt that good before. We really hope he's golden. We have a lesson set up with him tonight with the Arguetas it should be good!

Sunday: more great lessons, more great members.

We'll that's it my crazy week. I hope to hear from you all soon have a great week!

Con Amor de Largo,
Hermana Mathis

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,
Happy Valentines Day!

To start this weeks email, I would just like to say thank you to every member of my family for writing me! I loved your personal letters! I will try to write you each back personally... one day.

Every week of the mission has a theme it seems. The theme this week for me was Family. We've seen some miracles as we've taught family members of our ward members. It's amazing how the gospel brings the family together and builds it up and makes it stronger. :) This is why I feel so blessed to have all of you as part of my family or for those of you who are friends as part as my chosen family. Here are just a few stories from the past week:

This past Tuesday was Jose's birthday (recent convert). We made him a cake and took it over to his house. The sad thing though is that Jose wasn't even there. We decided it was a shame to have gone all the distance to see him and not talk with anybody, so while we waited for him to get back, we talked with his brother and mom who have both been really come-offish towards us. We didn't teach, but we explained to them our missionary purpose. 

Jose never showed up, so we had to leave without giving him his cake. However we came back the next day and he was there. We asked his family to come in and sing to him for his birthday. I think that was the first time in a long time his whole family has been together for more than a minute. They all congratulated him and joined in eating the cake. It's kind of amazing the way the Lord works, I think that day his mother truly accepted us. 

Just last night we went back and watched the Testaments with her and with Jose. She sat stiff as a rock the whole time, her face was sometimes angry, contemplative, or confused. At the end we testified, and then the water-works began. She completely opened up to us! She shared with us a dream she had about 2 young people coming to see her in white and bringing her a book! She was like "I think it's the bible, but they never said bible!" Obviously at this point, me and Hermana Duong are FREAKING OUT!! We're thinking, "There's two of us! We have the Book of Mormon! It supports the Bible!" 

We testified and testified and testified! Finally we could no longer testify because it was time to go home. To finish, we asked her to say the prayer. It was beautiful. For the first time EVER in all the time we've known her, she accepted our invitation to meet again!!! We may have walked away from that house in silence, but you can bet we were squealing in the car! Haha, we think next time we will show up in all white :) 

We also started teaching a new investigator named Manny. He's really excited to be learning about the gospel! I think we blew his face off when we told him Christ had come to the America's, haha. He turned to his mom, who is a member, and was like, "Mom did that really happen?" She was like "Si! Va estar bautizado?" (Yes, are you going to be baptized?) She gave him the baptismal commit before we even got the chance to! Wow! He didn't say yes. He avoided her question because he was freaking out, but he is taking this seriously and he's already come to church! He says he wants to come to both the English ward and the Spanish ward! Haha, I walked away from that lesson thinking, "Is this real? Did that really just happen?" I'll let you know what happens next week, I guess. :)

This coming week we are getting our iPads (wahoo!) and we're already on Facebook, so I guess you could say we're getting with the times now. I'm really excited to start teaching with the iPad. I'll let you know how it goes!
Have a good week, keep praying! Live the gospel. You will be blessed because of it, I know it!

Hermana Mathis

Monday, February 3, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,
What a week! That is literally all I can say. I feel like I squeezed a years worth of missionary experience into one week and that it went by in a matter of seconds. I know this email is extremely long, but I hope you'll read it because this past week has been one of the greatest of my mission so far. I feel like I have become a better person because of it. 

For starters, we traveled all week again. We started the week in Clearwater. Because we had run out of miles for the week, we spent the entire day of our P-day in Clearwater just walking around contacting people. It was so much fun! The city is really pretty and we actually met a couple Latinos walking around. We met this one guy Steve who seemed really interested, but we found out that he lived in Tampa so we would probably never see him again. We also took pictures of all the sights and just checked out the Latino markets there. That night we taught two lessons that went really well. One with a less active recent convert and one with a new investigator of ours named Juan Gabriel.
Clearwater Capitol Theater

I love Clearwater! This little city is so pretty!
It's got tons of little shops and fun things to do.
It's on one of the best beaches in Florida.
Our goal this week is to ride one of these trolleys
and meet some new people.
On Tuesday we visited Antonia (one of our investigators), Hermana Duong made us authentic Chinese food and I entertained on the piano. We ate and had a fun lesson on the apostasy. Antonia is doing so great! She was able to look through our picture book and tell us some of the stories that went along with the pictures! She's really been reading. We also explained Christ's coming to the America's to her. The spirit was amazing. That one lesson made our entire day.

The city of Clearwater has a ton of Dolphin statues,
so I decided to get photos with as many as possible.
Wednesday we went to Odessa for our combined Zone conference and President Cusick taught us more about using pamphlets and door approaches. We're super excited to receive our i-Pads this month so that we can pull up the pamphlets in whatever language we want right on the spot. We are teaching a woman who only speaks Portuguese, named Dayana, and it will be super helpful in teaching her. Haha she lives in the Tiki room. I could be wrong as she only speaks Portuguese, but from the sounds of it, she told us she has about 14 birds in her tiny apartment! They are all really bright vibrant colors too! She's doing really well too, she's been reading in the Livro de Mormon we gave her and she's starting to understand more English too. I'm so proud of her!

This is where is gets really fun. We went to Tampa for the weekend!!! It was so great! We had a training there with the Metro sisters (Birch and Larsen) and they had us contacting the whole time! It felt like we walked 1000 miles this weekend! Haha, we're a bit sore. The idea of the training is that our whole zone would go to Tampa and just pass out cards in the streets. It was genius! We taught several lessons, mostly with homeless people, and made several other new contacts for missionaries all over the mission. I learned so much about being bold and just sharing the gospel with everyone.

Beautiful Tampa!
The first couple rejections were awkward, but after a while you just go along with it. There is this really big theater called the Straz there where we spent most of the first night passing out cards to people who were going in to see the show. Amazingly, a lot of people talked to us! We also went to the downtown area where we practiced mostly because everyone was inside because it was really cold. But we were able to find this Latino guy who we taught for a while in front of a Jimmy Johns. He was homeless, but it felt nice to teach in Spanish again. I have learned from that trip that I actually prefer teaching in Spanish. It's actually easier for me.

Our second day in Tampa it was raining all day. Nevertheless,  we took to the streets bundled up in whatever we could find. The metro sisters were all prepared with umbrellas and tights for everyone. We went out and taught in the rain. I was super surprised to find that there were actually more people out in the rain that day than there had been the night before! Isn't that crazy?

Anyway, after about 3 hours of walking around soaked to the bone, the Metro sisters came and picked us up and took us to the mall. Haha, me and Hermana Duong were like, "We're not cute enough to go to the mall right now!" But it was actually a good thing we did. We showed up and the first guy we taught was a worker for an Irish pub who was on his smoke break. We talked with him for a while and found out that one of his best friends was Mormon and had served his mission in Utah. Just goes to show, everyone needs the gospel, even a guy with several piercings standing in the rain in a kilt smokin' his cigarette. He said he would check out the website and that he really wanted to call his friend now. Who knows if he will, but hey, we planted a seed. I would invite everyone of you who are reading this to do the same, just invite!

The night in Tampa was about 30 degrees. Brrrr!

The mall was crazy busy and NOBODY wanted to talk to us. We began to become discouraged but we just walked around passing out cards anyway. Then a miracle happened. We were passing Tiffanys and Hermana turns to me and says, "Steve works at a Tiffanys." So we walk in and sure enough, there is Steve! We never thought in a million years we would see this guy again! We started talking with him and he gave us some more of his information. He was super warm and friendly and although he couldn't talk to us long because he was working, he came and found us on his lunch break and talked with us! Our minds were blown! I am continually amazed to see how God works His miracles. We've been in contact with him and we'll probably go to see him this week.

The rest of the Tampa trip went by in a blur, even though it was icy cold. Thursday and Friday was like walking around in a sauna! Friday our area was down by the coast and at the Hyde Park Mall. After walking around there for a few hours, I've come to the conclusion that I have got to bring some of you back here to visit! It's beautiful here and so much fun! The coast is gorgeous! Hermana Duong and I were so tempted to just hop right in the water. We didn't have as much success that day, but I still had fun. I loved the whole experience. I couldn't have asked for a better time in the city! I think the one thing that I learned that stuck out to me most is that it is impossible to be unhappy when your heart is truly in the service of the Lord. 

But wait! There's more! (Tee hee.) After our Tampa trip, we had two more AMAZING lessons. I tell you I am on a spiritual high right now! I've learned so much! I fully trust in my Father in Heaven. He has helped me out so much. Through Christ, I have found the strength to overcome any trial I have come up against, the courage to do so, and the wisdom needed to teach unto understanding. I have found that the simplest lessons I received from my parents when I was 8 have become my greatest allies. Thank you Mom and Dad for raising me in this gospel. Keep going with family home evenings. Those lessons have stuck with me and I know they will stick with Karen and Mckell. I could not have asked for a better family, or better friends for that matter. I know that I would not have been here if it weren't for the example of each and every one of you! Thank you!
Con Amor,
Hermana Mathis