Monday, June 30, 2014

Ray of Sunshine

Dear Family and Friends,
Ray got baptized yesterday! It was the perfect baptism. Everything went so smoothly and everyone felt the spirit so strongly that there was hardly a dry eye in the room. The baptism was held right before church and so lots of the members came and so did Ray's family/friends. Ray even bought a white shirt and a tie for the occasion! 

Hermana Mathis, Ray, Hermana Holloway

We got to teach while he was changing so we taught the Restoration. When we finished teaching there was just the right amount of time left to sing Joseph Smith's First Prayer. The spirit was so strong. I was teary eyed the whole time. He received the Holy Ghost right after during Sacrament meeting. He said he felt really good afterward. He said he knew it was what he needed to do.
Rays Baptism
In the Spanish ward that same day we played a piano duet of Called to Serve Him for the branch's first ever missionary farewell. It was great! The missionary (Felix Lopez) and his whole family spoke. Haha his dad had to translate for him, it's kind of become a joke that the first missionary in the Spanish branch doesn't even speak Spanish! It reminded me of my mission farewell and how excited I was to leave. I can't believe that was almost a year ago. 

Our investigator Jose was there and he loved church so much that he told his fellowshipper afterwards and then he called us this morning to tell us AGAIN just how much he loved it.  We also had several non-member friends come to church. What a great day!
This past week we had an interview with President. It was good, I really admire him, he's a good leader. We taught Jose and Ray several times, we also taught a new investigator named Fernando. We gave him a tour of the church. We taught some less-active members this week too. We even taught some members who live out on the beach. That was fun. 

Riding in the Rain

On Friday we had the brilliant idea to ride bikes to save miles. Haha, it rained the whole afternoon! I am so grateful for a nice warm apartment to go home to at night. Haha we just had to laugh, we were like, "didn't we just dry this carpet?! and now we're getting it all wet again!"
On Monday we had family home evening with the Arguetas and Jose Garcia. We talked about the life and Atonement of Jesus Christ. No matter how much I study His life I could never feel like I've learned all there is to learn about his amazing sacrifice for us. He truly is the Savior of the world and he really does know us personally, as incomprehensible as that may seem.
I hope you all have a great week!
Con Amor,
Hermana Mathis

Monday, June 23, 2014

Half Way Through - Time is Flying By

Family and Friends,

I've officially been out 9 months! It's amazing how time has flown.

This week we've had the pleasure of having family home evening with several families and investigators. I've really learned the importance of learning the gospel with your family. Those who learn as a family learn at a far more accelerated rate. It's been fun to practice integrating games into our lessons and to teach all the kids.

Look! the leaves here are as big as we are!
We now have a new ward mission leader. He's really amazing, already he has helped us so much. His name is Brother Meyers. It's really sad to see Bro. Amyradakis go but we're happy to have Brother Meyers. Haha I think he was kind of shocked to learn that there were 8 missionaries that he was talking over. We love it though. The more missionaries the better!

Ray is well on his way to baptism. He may be baptized as soon as this weekend! Right now we're just helping him give up coffee, it's been hard but he's committed to doing it. We had an awesome lesson with him in the home of our Relief Society presdient. He's excited to join and has even invited his family who are anxious to see him be "drowned" (not literally). He and his family were moving this week so we were able to help him out with that.

I saw my first aligator! It was just a baby though.
We're teaching a new investigator named Jose Luis De Los Santos. He's a really genuine guy. Haha he tried to give me his violin! I told him I couldn't accept it. He started learning the lessons simply because he was interested in a church that's name was part of his name.(La Iglesia de Jesucristo DE LOS SANTOS de los Ulitmos Dias) Since he has started to pray and feel the holy ghost. We'll be meeting with him again soon, so we'll see how it goes.

Sometimes as a missionary it's hard to see how fast the Lord is Hastening his work but this week we had a zone district meeting and we were shocked to see that the number of baptisms from last month to this month had more than doubled! And that's just within our zone! We are continually making more and more progress. I love being a part of it!

We developed a new ward mission plan that I really like and want to share with you. It's three sentances:
Invite everyone,
invite another one,
and be a better missionary this year than you were last year.

Elder Christofferson said, "Don't be content with being busy." and to add to that Elder Clarke said, "Happy always, content never!"

There is still so much work to be done. I hope you all are taking part in it! It is the most fun and exciting thing that I've done :)

Hermana Mathis

Haha, we chased down this baby toad because we thought it was so  cute.
Little did we know that it's just the season, they are everywhere

Hermana Holloway with a baby toad.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Rains Came Down and the Floods Came Up!

Dear Family and Friends,
The song, "The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock" has taken on a whole new meaning to me this past week, haha!

For starters, our apartment flooded. There is water all over, in the closets, in the kitchen, in the living room, pretty much everywhere. The maintenence crew has done all they can to figure out where it was coming from and they think they've figured it out but they are still not 100% sure. They weren't able to work on it over the weekend, so their solution: put in a fan to dry up the water. The first day it was ok, but the fan actually lets off a great deal of heat so when we got home Saturday night our apartment was well about 80 degrees and the floor was still soaking! SO we spent the weekend with the Seminole sisters at their place.   
Ah! Our apartment flooded!!! We put down four layers of towels
(basically all we had) and they were wet within seconds!
On to better, brighter news. We met a couple new people this week who we have started to teach including Elouisa and Juan's neighbor Darwin. Elouisa and the kids came to church on Sunday (Juan had to work) and so did Ray. Ray is still progressing really quickly towards baptism, huzzah! We taught him the Plan of Salvation this last week and he came to our Book of Mormon study group.

Darwin and Elsa, his mom
We taught Elouisa and Juan the first lesson with Darwin and the whole time they were supporting everything we said, it was awesome! I also cut Elouisa's hair for her which was really fun. They are the cutest little family I just can't get enough of them.

I cut off about 9 inches of Elouisa's hair. Needless to say, I conquered her split ends!
We talked with Cindy this week. Everything is pretty much the same for the most part, she's still a buzz trying to get ready for the wedding. We taught her about baptism, it was a really good lesson.
I tried to make some bean dip but the can of beans exploded while I was opening it.
Ha ha, good thing Sister Holloway can cook.
We had the most amazing zone conference on Tuesday! Elder Clarke of the seventy came and we talked about pretty much everything having to do with missionary work. He is a very inspired man and had a lot of good insight for us. I love his motto: "Patience, but hurry." 

One thing I really like that he told us was that if we would just quietly transition from each of our Sunday meetings it would change our whole church experience and we would be able to feel the spirit more abundantly at church. We also talked about planning really effectively and about how to teach new converts. They brought in one of the AP's recent converts and we were able to ask him questions; it was really cool! 

I loved the conference because even though it was all intended for missionary life, he also taught us how it would apply after our missions. We were also surprised when he told us that the way they choose where missionaries will go is not necesarilly dependant on the country or state but rather that they are chosen to serve where they are because of their mission President and his wife. Now looking at my mission I can definetely see how having President and Sister Cusick here to guide me has shaped me into a better person. They are both inspiring and just amazing. Haha, at the conference they were compared to justice and mercy. President is the justice and Sister Cusick is the mercy! President Cusick talked about developing our faith and Sister Cusick talked about prayer. Overall the conference was one of my favorites so far. Haha, we even sang Head Shoulders Knees and Toes in Spanish!

Once upon a time we decided to walk to all our part-member families houses.
Despite all the sunscreen we put on, we still got sun burned.
I also learned a lot about how the gospel of Jesus Christ blesses families this past week. We spent a bit of Father's day with our wonderful bishop, Bishop Patrick and his family and the spirit there was phenonimal. All of the missionaries in our ward were there (there are 8 of us, crazy right?! But then again there are almost 900 members in our ward) and we all sang "Love is Spoken Here" for them and we gave Bishop a tie and Sister Patrick some flowers. We plan on doing something similar for our Spanish Branch president tonight. We really do appreciate all the work that ward leaders put in to help missionary work!
Well that's my week. Make this coming week a good one! Also Happy Father's Day to the best father ever!
Con Amor de un fin de semana en Seminole,

Hermana Mathis

Welcome to Candy Kitchen, where we didn't even buy any candy, ha ha!
The walls all have old candy wrappers on them and people's signatures
in all different colors. We just ended up getting ice cream.
Sister Holloway
The pop machine is covered in bottle caps.

Mmm... nothing like ice cream on a P-day!

Florida's biggest jaw breaker. Yikes!

The lovely Sister Holloway outside Candy Kitchen,
located just opposite of the beach on the island where we live.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

We set a date with Ray this week! He's going to be baptized the 28th of June. We asked him to pray about this date and promised him an answer. On Saturday night he told us he had good news for us, then on Sunday he told us he had received his answer and that he knew that this was the right thing to do. He's been reading the Book of Mormon and is doing really well.
We love contacting in the park in between visits!
We received some good referrals this past week. We're working on contacting them all. We really want to continue with this trend of working tight-knit with members to get referrals. 

We had an amazing family home evening this past week with a family in our Branch. We taught about Jesus Christ's atonement and watched Because of Him and sang Families Can be Together Forever with them. I have a testimony of forever families and I know that having good family home evenings makes a big difference. We discussed with them several of their friends who were potential investigators, we were able to help them think of a family and two friends who they could invite to our upcoming activities and to FHE.

Me and Cindy picking out wedding dresses.
We were also very fortunate to hear from President Cusick and Elder Thompson yesterday for a ward/branch council training meeting. They taught about how ward leaders can help in missionary work. We talked about having good activities and asking members to invite their friends. We're planning an activity in the branch soon on the 18th. It should be really good. When leaders work with the missionaries that's when the action happens. We are super grateful to have good leaders here in Florida. I've been studying priesthood a lot lately, what a good topic! I love the priesthood, we're very fortunate to have it. 

We went on our last exchange as STL's on Tuesday (with the new transfer they decided to give other sisters the chance to serve, so they changed the STLs in both the north and south districts). It was a good exchange. I stayed in Largo with an English sister from Seminole. We had a lot of Spanish lessons planned for the day, so I had to teach most of the lessons. While were finding, she taught me how to start up really good conversations. I love exchanges, I always learn so much.

Our friend Venus is super talented and painted
this on her daughter's bedroom wall.
Hermana Holloway hit her one year mark this week so we celebrated by eating a teensy peanut butter mousse cake from Frita's, a very popular pastry house near by that the English sisters referred us to, it was delightful! Congratulations sister Holloway!

That's it for this week. I hope you all have a good week!

Con Amor,
Hermana Mathis

Homeless guys sandwich (story below)
Haha, this comes from our exchange. So one day we were walking on the street and we met this homeless guy and decided to share a video with him. He said he liked the video but then afterwards just asked us for money. We said we didn't have any cash on us, he asked us if we had any food, we didn't. So I, trying to be nice offer him a sandwich if he will have a lesson with us. Haha, sister Holloway wasn't very happy with me because the guy was kind of creepy. Then we decided to do an exchange so I wasn't even there the day of our lesson with him. Luckily they went to the park during our exchange and he wasn't there so they just ended up eating the sandwich.