Monday, July 28, 2014

Hi everybody!

This week was lots of fun. We had two baptisms!

Mayra's Baptism Day
Our investigator Mayra got baptized! It was such a miracle because her family has been investigating for 10 years! She decided that she wanted to be baptized and her father was able to baptize her! Ha ha, she had to be dunked 4 times though, because her arm didn't go all the way under the first few times. They thought she was good after the third time but her mother who isn't even a member pointed out that she wasn't submerged all the way. We're so happy for her! Her brother says he wants to be baptized now.

Mayra with her father at her baptism
The other baptism was of an investigator named Oscar who was actually baptized before I got here but never received the Holy Ghost. We had thought that he wasn't going to ever come back but we stopped by this past week and read 3 Nephi ch. 11 with him and talked about the Holy Ghost. The next day we got a text from him saying that when we had taught him he felt like the Lord had been speaking to him and he knew that he needed to be re-baptized and confirmed this time. So on Sunday he was re-baptized. It was such a miracle!

Oscar's baptism

Cleaning out the font for the baptism.

We met several new people to teach this week. I know that the Lord has been blessing us with people in our path. It's always those days that we don't know what we're going to do that we see the biggest miracles.

We played this game with our investigators where the flour
symbolizes the family and each person has to name
something that destroys the family and then slice a piece of
flour away. The loser has to fish the penny out with their
nose. It was a lot of fun. In the end we shared a message
about families from Preach My Gospel.
Our investigator Roman says he's ready to get baptized and is going to be baptized on Saturday. He came to both Mayra's baptism and Eduardo's. He has also been coming to church. Yesterday he even participated in gospel principles. It's so amazing to watch these people grow and progress in the gospel.

With Roman.
The Branch is growing bigger every week. We just got a second councilor! We were all very excited. I feel so blessed to be here in this time. These people are so great.

Mirtha's Birthday!
I didn't even think about the 24th because they don't really celebrate it here. This has got to be one of the most interesting weeks of my mission. Crazy things that happened:
  • We gave a semi-homeless guy a tour of the church while we were on exchanges and he tried to convert us over to his homeless ways. He says that we should be homeless because Jesus was homeless...yeeah. Not only that he told us that being alone was a sin and that we worshiped our prophets who apparently, "have big houses and fancy cars." Ha ha, Hermana Snow was there and called him out, "You don't even know that!" She's fearless! So about the time he finished his schpeel to us we started directing him out but then he tried to convert everyone else in the church!!! He went up to our branch president and tried to convert him! So finally my companion for the day said, "I'm going to have to ask you to leave because your causing contention." So he did, but sadly it didn't end there, he went outside and tried to teach all the students leaving from institute!! Crazy! We were really proud of them though because they just gave him a Book of Mormon and took off.
  • Hermana Snow vacuumed up a lizard in our apartment! Ew!!! I felt so sick! I was sure that I was going to puke.
  • We rode bikes all day in 115+ degree weather! Joy!
  • We learned how to box.
  • We went out to Lido beach and Siesta key which is rated the #1 beach in America. I'm sure if you all were here you would LOVE it!!
Hope you all have a fantastic week!

Con Amor,
Hermana Mathis
  • Bike Day!

    One of the families in our ward has a ton of birds outside their house.

    Famous WWII Statue

    Look who we found in the park! Some of our younger members.

    Me and an Alligator head. Yes, it's real!

    We went out with the YSA sisters. Love these girls.

    Sarasota Sunset

Monday, July 21, 2014

Elephants, Kitty Cats and Koala Bears. Oh My!

Dear Family and Friends,
Hermana Snow and I
Don't have much time to write today but several great things happened this past week.
Eduardo's Baptism
1. Eduardo, one of our investigators, got baptized! He said that the feeling of being baptized went without words!  We have been working with him a lot to get him to this point and he finally got there. He was so excited to be washed clean of all his sins and afterwards could not stop smiling from ear to ear. We're super proud of him for making the decision. He's only been working with the missionaries for three weeks so it was a big leap of faith for him but he was more than happy to give up all his sins. His conversion is so amazing. It makes me so happy just thinking about it. 

We also had some investigators come to the baptism and decide that they wanted to be baptized themselves, so awesome!
With Mayra. She's going to be baptized this weekend.
Her birthday was Sunday, so we went over to celebrate with her.
2. We went on exchanges with the University Park sisters. I got to go serve in an English area for a day. It was great. I love working with all the different sisters. They're each so amazing. Sister Skeem and I had a blast!
These are the YSA sisters we serve with and the Garcia family
 3. We had a Zone Meeting and we trained. We trained on how to ask bold questions when you're contacting such as, "Have you been baptized?" or "Have you been forgiven of your sins?" I feel like it went over really well. The missionaries in our zone are awesome and their comments really added to the training. 

The ZL's trained us on teaching lesson 3 and brought in one of their actual investigators to teach it to. It was so cool to teach in a big group like that. We all got to participate. It reminded me of the MTC. At the end, their investigator agreed to be baptized! Miracles are happening here. 

The DL and his companion also taught. They taught us about believing in ourselves. Their training was really inspiring. Overall the meeting was a spiritual uplifting success. 

 4. As usual we had a lot of lessons this past week. We taught several people about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that the priesthood keys of salvation have been restored. I'm also really glad we can repent, it brings us so much happiness, and no matter how awful we feel we can always turn to the Lord. He loves us always. 
This is Roman. He's getting baptized soon.
 Anyways that's about it for the week. Thanks for all your letters/emails, your the best!
Con Amor,

La Hermana Mathis
Fun times! We got rear-ended. Luckily we didn't hit anyone else so
we won't be charged for anything, but it threw off our day a bit.
Ha ha, will I ever escape getting in car crashes? Had we not had our
bike rack, the accident would have been so much worse.
This experience shows me that God looks out for his missionaries.

This is for my cat-loving sister, Karen. Imitating a cat.

Hermana Snow imitating a Koala Bear.

We found a Columbian school of ballet. It's so famous that apparently
people from Spain move to the states so that their children can attend.
We taught a lesson out in front, it was great!

Find a couple plaster elephants in your area? Take a picture!

Monday, July 14, 2014

With Love From ... (New Area)

I'm still on the coast. Huzzah!
Hey everybody!

I'm in my new area now which is, drumroll.... Sarasota! I'm serving in the Sarasota Spanish branch with Hermana Snow. I love it here already! We have 5 dates set and several others on the way!!! This place is so golden! There are always people walking around outside, so it's super easy to find and everyone is really friendly. A lot of the members are from Argentina, so I've been having fun trying to understand their accent, it's really cool. Most everyone else is from Mexico.

Pizza creations with pita bread.
Hermana Snow is super funny and outgoing, I absolutely love her. She's from Arizona and she looks like Merida off of Brave. She has the funniest/cutest voice ever, I love it! She only has two transfers left so I'm pretty sure I will be taking over the area when she leaves. We get along really well. 

We're also STL's (again) so we get to exchange with the other sisters in the Sarasota zone too! I can't wait. We live in the same complex as two of our sisters, Sister Trebotitch who came out the same time I did and Sister Day who is a newbie. It's been so fun having them around, we're going to go hang out with them today for p-day. 
New friend. Too bad she's going on a mission.
As for Largo, the night before transfer meeting at about 10:00 we got a call from the APs telling us that Hermana Holloway was leaving too! So we frantically packed for a half an hour and then all morning the next day to get her ready to go. Good news is that they didn't close down the area, but they did "white-wash" it with elders. At transfer meeting we talked with the elders who are going there and let them know everything that is going on. They were super excited to hear that we were having a lot of lessons. I really hope all is well for them. The branch should be really happy because they've wanted elders for a long time. 

Sara and Elisa invited us into their dog tent for play time.

M-W I finished off all my goodbyes. Cindy was really upset that I was leaving. She started to tear up when I talked to her about it. Sarasota isn't too far away so I'm really hoping that I can get a ride up there for the wedding. She and Cornelio just got their engagement rings and their more in love than ever. They're looking out for his nephews and that has caused them to work together a lot more. They're so awesome, really just some of the greatest people I know. 

Cindy and the rings!
Saying goodbye to Gloria and Diego was really funny. They both tried to give me all their last minute tips and then Diego buried me in a giant hug. I didn't have the heart to tell him he's not supposed to hug sister missionaries. We also visited several of the members and other investigators. 

Th-Sun We've been super busy preparing everyone for their baptisms, we had over 20 lessons this week! That's more than I've ever had on my mission, granted half of those I wasn't here for, but still! The work in the Florida Tampa mission is progressing. 

We went to 7/11 on 7/11 and got free slushees (first time ever) and the ZLs sent us a text that said #slushtialkingdom and #slushponderandpray. Haha their hilarious. 

Nothing like a free slushee on a hot day.
We have two baptisms this weekend. I can't wait! These people are so prepared, it's amazing how the Lord sets their lives up just right. 

Yesterday I got to know the Branch. It's about the same size as the branch in Largo but it feels bigger because the building is smaller. There are more youth and less primary. They don't have a piano player so I played for sacrament meeting. Our ward mission leader just got back from vacation so we went over to his house yesterday and I got to get to know him a lot better. He's super nice.  

My new mailing address is:
2566 10th St. #102 
Sarasota 34327

Missionary Letters

Que tenga una buena semana! (Have a good week)

Con Amor de Sarasota (With love of Sarasota)

"Even though I can't see the baby I love him, that's how God's love is. We can feel he is there and we love him." - words from one of our returning members (she's pregnant) to her soon-to-be baptized daughter. Such a tender moment, the spirit was so strong.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Leaving Largo ... Destination Unknown!

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm getting transferred for the first time ever! Ahh! I'm so sad and excited at the same time. I got up to give my testimony in the Spanish Branch yesterday and just couldn't keep from crying as I looked out at my mission-found family. I'm going to miss them all SO much. I never could have imagined the love I would have for these people when I first got here. Gloria was crying and Diego (her husband) called me his daughter and exclaimed, "it's so much harder when you get attached to the missionaries!" For those of you who don't know I've been here 9 months.Transfer meeting isn't until Thursday so I don't know where I'm going yet but if your going to send anything don't send it until next week.

Other news is we have two date sets! We set one with Jose (I think I might have actually written about him last week) who is still on fire and anxious to learn. We also set one with the daughter of one of our members named Jettica. She is 10 years old and she's going to be baptized August 21st on the beach at sunset.
We're stilling working very closely with the members and helping them come back into "the fold." One of my best friends in the branch Estefania was able to watch her baby boy, Dante be blessed this week. It was such a happy moment for her. She is really looking forward to receiving her patriarchal blessing soon too.

On the Fourth of July, we went and visited some members and then went to a big event Largo city was having down at the park. We talked to as many people as we could, got some funnel cake and after an hour of rain watched some of the fireworks before it was time to go home. Overall it was a pretty good day.

Another miracle of the week: Several weeks ago we met this guy named Roberto in a tienda stocking supplies, we talked to him and then later went to another tienda where we saw him again that very same day. He is from Orlando so doesn't live within the mission boundaries. We gave him our number and asked him to add us on Facebook, hoping that we could teach him like that.

A couple weeks after that we saw him again at Pepe's a tienda in Clearwater. That day he gave us a few candies for free and then we just went along our way hoping once again that we could contact him on Facebook but only got as far as texting.

THEN this past week we are driving to a new member's house and we get stopped at a light right next to him! So we roll down are window and start talking to him. The light turns green and we go to our member's house, afterwards he calls us and asks us if we can meet up. So we met up with him and started teaching him about the church. Then he introduced us to his brother who was also interested in learning! Sadly his brother lives in Mexico but we agreed to keep up through Facebook. So cool! God purposely puts people in our path to teach, I know it!

Well that's about it for the week,
Hasta Luego!

Con Amor de Largo por la ultima vez,

Hermana Mathis