Monday, March 16, 2015

Final Letter

Mis queridos amigos y familiares,

Orlando Florida Temple
Today I had the wonderful opportunity to go to thehouse of the Lord. We went to the Orlando Temple! What a perfect way to end my mission. I can not imagine a better way to close this chapter of my life. I know that this weekend will continue to be filled with enriching lessons and loving goodbyes and after being in the home of my Father I feel ready to face them with a smile because I know that this mission is not the end nor is this life.

Instead of writing you about the hours of finding, the sunburns, the parties, or the dear sweet phrases of our gospel-loving converts I want to share with you a little bit of what I have been working on for my exit interview with President Cusick. He asked us to write down 100 things we've learned (not an easy task mind you, I'm at 85 right now)

So here's a few select ideas:
  • Confidence is built of our faith.
  • Fear is the opposite of any Christlike attribute.
  • Success comes from helping others succeed. 
  • Your happiness is God's purpose.
  • I of my own ability could never convince anyone to join the church. I need the spirit to teach.
  • It's important to repent often, REALLY often.
I hope to see many of you soon and I hope for others of you that your mission will be one of the greatest experiences of your lives. 

I love you all

Con Amor,

Hermana Heather Mathis

Monday, February 23, 2015

A baptism, trials, and choosing happiness

Here are some of the fun things that happened this last week:

On Thursday we had a conference with Elder Zwick of the 70 (he just gave a talk last April). He talked all about iPads and serving with a pure heart. I feel so inspired by it all! 

Baptism buddies in Bradenton
On Saturday we went to a baptism in Bradenton with our investigator, Celfia who is going to be baptized this Saturday. It was just what she needed to progress. Our relief society president brought her and she was able to make some new friends. She even found people from her home country (Honduras). She tells us that she is very excited for her own baptism. It's very very enriching to teach her. She is an amazing hard-working woman. 

Me and Celfia's daughter Ashly
Here is a funny/slightly sad story from this past week: Saturday was the dream day. Perfect weather, perfect lessons, good member-presents, a baptism, getting to see old companions, and just an overall sense of accomplishment. 

The next morning we woke up got ready only to find that someone hit our car sometime during the night! "Ok", we thought, "We'll let the mission know, no biggie." Go to church, everything is good. Get out of church to find our gas tank cap askew; someone siphened our gas! We barely had enough to make it home. 

Luz and Eladio's House
Still in our heads was the thought, "No problem, we have bikes." So we led out on our trusty two-wheels and taught a few lessons. Then as we were riding towards Danny's house my tire popped! So we had to walk. Satan was clearly trying to keep us from teaching people that night or something! However he didn't stop us, we had two amazing lessons talked to people along the way and made it home just as the clock ticked 9:15. No earthly force can stop the sister missionaries. It was probably one of my favorite days this week.

Biking in 50 degree weather
We met/taught a new family of Peruvians. They have all the right questions and their son has already decided that he wants to serve a mission. Haha! They are progressing really well.

You know you're in Florida when ... what?! 
Something I learned this week is that we can be happy all the time and that it is a choice. Our whole lives are meant to make us happy. Every commandment, every word that God gives us is to make us happy. "Men are that they might have joy." Jesus taught those he served to "be of good cheer" and to bring our sorrows to Him.  I know that we can be happy all the time. I also know that nothing has made me happier than doing missionary work (well other than maybe going to the temple with my family). 

I hope that all of you will strive to help the Lord in his work here upon the earth this week. Success is in the invitation. 

I love you all! 

Con amor,

Hermana Mathis

Missionary attempts to cook good food

More Valentine's gifts

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mis queridos,

Happy Valentines day to everyone! 
Sister Baugh's mom sent her cookies and so we frosted them for Valentines Day
I'd like to express my love to all of you for helping me throughout my life and throughout my mission. Know that I love you and pray for you all. 

I don't even know what to write this week because so much happened. Last week it seemed that we had nobody to prepare for baptism and then this week we managed to meet and teach several new people. It just goes to show that God is going to bless us with success so long as we do all that we are supposed to do. I know that this applies to pretty much everything in our lives.

At church last week we met a woman named Celfia at church who said she would like to receive the missionary visits. We set a date with her on Wednesday and she has been progressing ever since. She's a solid golden investigator.We are so excited to continue teaching her.

Our investigator Celfia gave us roses for Valentines Day and then we visited her sister Carmen and she also gave us roses.
For Valentines day we did my favorite thing to do as a missionary, teach! Our investigators were very sweet and they gave us roses. It was perfect temperature the whole day. I am loving it here in sunny Sarasota.

We also had the chance to go to a fireside with Dr. Ryan Murphy the assistant director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It was amazing and reminded me of why I love music and singing so much! I could feel the spirit so strongly as he played a piano piece for us. It's amazing how music can move someone to feel of God's love. 

The following day we were supposed to sing in a regional choir out on Siesta Key but had already set up some appointments for the day. It was a tough decision but I decided that it would be better to put my own desires aside to help God lift others up. We ended up having three amazing lessons that day. By the end of the day I could feel the spirit telling me that my decision was right. 

Yesterday we made a game to help some investigators realize all that the Book of Mormon teaches us. I had never written it all down before but the Book of Mormon teaches us so much! Really every thing that we need to know can be found within it's pages. It's marvelous!

Well that's it for this week. Tenga una buena semana!

-Hermana Mathis

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

As always, I've been keeping busy.Last week we had three baptisms, went on two exchanges, and had MLC in St. Petersburg (missionary leadership council).

Haha sister Johnson and I went to go contact one of their referrals and it turned out to be a tattoo shop, you never know what you're going to get from Church headquarters.

The baptisms all went smoothly, it was a miracle. I was so nervous that Luz, Eladio and Eugene wouldn't be able to be dunked but they all made it! We had two priesthood holders in the font for each of them to help them out.

Here are some fun photos from the baptisms! Haha once our AP told us that "If they aren't hopping in the font, we're not baptizing them." We've decided to change that to, "If they don't have a cane, we're not baptizing them!" ;) Have a great week!

Eugene received the Aaronic priesthood yesterday and Eladio will be receiving it next Sunday. My favorite part of the baptisms was watching how excited Luz got when she saw Eladio all dressed in white. Haha she was super cute with him throughout the whole service. I am so grateful to have been able to teach the Perez family!

Adis, Rosa, Eladio, Luz and the rest of us at their baptism luncheon.

MLC was really good. We discussed the Book of Mormon and how we can use it to convert not only others but ourselves. I have decided to start the Book of Mormon over again and already I have seen a brand new side to it that I had never seen before. I love reading it daily, it's made such a huge difference in my life.

St. Petersburg beach with my companions after MLC. I love these girls!
Sorry this is a small email. I love you all and am excited to see you soon!

Con amor,
Hermana Mathis

P.S. we got transfer emails on Sunday and sister McGee and sister Paulsen are being transferred out. Looks like I'll have a new companera this Thursday.

Also Jalicia is getting baptized this weekend! I'll make sure to send photos.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Three Baptisms this week PLUS a GOLDEN CONTACT!

Dear Family and Friends,

You know you're serving in Florida when the average age of your recent converts is 80. 

Last week we followed up with Eugene about his baptismal date. He told us that he had been praying about it and that the holy spirit told him that he should be baptized into our church! He also asked us if we could do it the very next day! Haha, we still have to teach him the rest of the lessons so we compromised for this Thursday. He's so excited. He's already daydreaming about receiving the priesthood. He's doing pretty swell for a 91 year old.

Luz and Eladio are also very excited for their baptisms this Saturday as well! They keep telling us how grateful they are for us because none of the missionaries beforehand made them go to church. They love church and bore their testimonies yesterday about it. They said that yesterday morning they really didn't feel good and didn't think they'd make it to church but then they set a goal to get dressed. Once they were dressed they still weren't sure but they said, "We made a promise to God that we were going to go," so they came! The moment they got to the church they started feeling better. It's a miracle!

We've also been teaching Jalicia some more. She is going to be baptized next week. For those of you who don't know who she is, she is one of the sister investigators that we picked up when sister McGee joined us.

We had another miracle yesterday at church. There's been a new woman coming to our branch for the past 3 weeks now and we've never been able to talk with her before she leaves but this week we did because she stayed all three meetings and she told us that she wanted to become a member! She said she wanted the lessons first though. You can imagine our faces at this point. We were more than happy to tell her yes.

Ooh! One last possible baptism!! On Monday we talked with Vanessa (our investigator who just got out of jail, she's had the lessons for the past year) and she said that she could possibly be baptized the first week of March depending on if she's taken off of parole! We think it's very likely because she was on house arrest before but they changed that really quickly and her attorney is doing a very good job. Please pray for her. She's so ready to be baptized. She even made her boyfriend move out to live the law of Chastity.

Other than that things have been pretty normal.

Love you tons!

Hermana Mathis

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Crazy Week

Dear Family/Friends,

This week has been CRAZY!!! I feel like it went by so fast but at the same time it feels like a year in one week. 

First of all, one of the sisters in our zone got hit by a car while biking!!! Luckily she will be ok, with a few injuries. Nothing was broken. She has three stitches and neck pain. She may go home, we're not sure yet. Because we are her sister training leaders, we had to pick her up from the emergency room, since we have been in a trio with her companion sister McGee. Because she's not coming back, it looks like we will now be in the University Park Ward (English) and our branch. Right now Sister Larsen is staying with the Cusicks in the mission home. Needless to say we've been SUPER careful about biking since.

Sister Larsen is recovering well

Second big change is that the Ft. Meyers portion of our mission was taken from us and put into the Ft. Lauderdale mission. All the missionaries who were in that zone are now in the other mission and without iPads. On the bright side they have a temple in their mission. I'm going to miss them all though. 

We also reduced our iPads down to one per companionship. It was super weird to give up having two iPads. I'm learning to get back into the swing of carrying around 3-4 books. 

With all the change we have been SUPER busy teaching, cleaning, packing and coordinating. Having sister McGee with us has been such a blessing. We adore her!

We are now preparing for three baptisms on the 31st. Jalicia, a 9 year old girl in the UP Ward, Eladio and Luz. The branch is really excited for the baptisms. We're going to have quite the show up and half are going to be extended family of Eladio and Luz from out of town. There will be lots of non-members around.

Eladio and Luz
The happiest part of this week was seeing Eduardo bless the sacrament and then give a talk! I can't believe how far he's come. His talk was on humility (it's the perfect subject for him because he's so humble). After he gave his talk he said, "Next time I'll prepare a better talk, afterall I've only been a member for 2 months!" Haha. We had 8 non-members at church and they were all very moved by his talk. One of our less-actives who's just returned also talked about baptism.

We also went to a Catholic funeral with one of our investigators because her dad died. It was really interesting. I now understand their devotion a little better. Afterwards we sang with them some hymns about Jesus Christ. While we were there one of our members showed up and we were able to get some referrals from her! It was awesome. 

We found a horse!
There's so much I could write about this week, but there just isn't time.

I love you all, I love this church and this gospel. I know this is the true church and that it was restored through Joseph Smith. More than anything else I know that God hears our prayers and that He loves us. I know that we can always depend on Jesus Christ to carry our struggles.

Con Amor,
Hermana Mathis 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Teaching, Celebrating, Biking

Dear Family and Friends,

Last week we focused our teaching on our older investigators, meaning those between the age of 60 and 100. 

On Monday we taught Eugene. Eugene is an interesting character. He is 91 and was raised in the
RLDS church so he already has a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. We taught him about prophets and committed him to praying to know if Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today. He said he would fast about it.

Haha he also told us that there is a scripture in the Bible that says we need to greet him with a "Holy kiss." Out of curiosity I looked it up to see if it actually existed and it does indeed, however the JST says a "holy greeting" instead of a kiss, silly Eugene.

Tuesday we celebrated Dia de los Reyes with the youth in our Ward by playing this game where everyone has to take turns cutting a piece of bread and if you cut a piece with a toy in it then you have to throw a party. I got away without a toy, but Hermana Paulsen didn't so I guess we need to throw a party. We taught lots of people that day and even did a little service.

Wednesday we went out to Sebring for an exchange. It always seems like a road trip going out there. To give you a better idea of what it's like, there are approximately 100 orange fields between here and
Sebring and little civilization. When we arrived we went straight to the church to train. We focused our training on treating our bodies, area books, and apartments like temples; clean and orderly. Sebring was fun and went by in the blink of an eye.

Because we went out to Sebring we don't have a ton of miles so we biked for the remainder of the week. Haha we only pick the coldest days to bike. The weather was in the low 50s and my bike fell apart because a bolt came off. At this point in my mission I feel like nothing phases me. We stashed our bikes and went out to find my bolt, the whole while I said a prayer in my heart at somehow our walking around would be worth the effort. We found the bolt, and walked back to our bikes without saying a word to anyone. 

The next day we called our sisters to do follow up. They told us that their investigator was getting baptized that day! We decided to go to the baptism. Their investigator's name is Nancy. I met her with Sister Snow while biking once, we taught her a little about the church and then handed her over
to the sisters assuming she wasn't really that interested. Now she is the newest member of the University Park Ward. It just goes to show every time that we are out walking or biking we never know the impact that we are making. 

At her baptism Nancy recognized me as the sister who had pulled her over. She joked, "You have to watch out for that one, she brings people in off the street!" It really built my testimony that God knows exactly what we're doing and as He said to Joseph Smith while he was in jail, "All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Mathis

Monday, January 5, 2015

¡Feliz año nuevo!

Dear Family/Friends,

¡Feliz año nuevo! (Happy New Year!)

I hope everyone had a great new year. I know I did! It's hard to believe my blackout year is over! It went by SO fast! But lots of great things happened, I'll always be grateful to Heavenly Father for 2014. I've learned so much, so much has changed. I've come to love a new place, new people, and a new way of living obedient to Gods commands. Truly I have been blessed :) I'm so grateful to all of you for always supporting me, your one of the greatest blessings of all in my life.

This week was stellar! We had so many fun adventures. We did two exchanges back to back, one with the Bradenton hermanas and one with the University Park sisters. I went to both of their areas while Hermana Paulsen stayed here. Our zone has some of the greatest sisters ever, they're each very diligent and full of the spirit.

In Bradenton we had some success going around asking absolutely everyone for referrals. We received a referral from a woman to go see her friend Silvia. As it turns out Silvia is super interested and lives across from the church! 

In University Park we set a date with one of their investigators who has been struggling and we went to a New Year's Eve party. It was a blast! 

When I got back to our area, I was surprised to find that we had two new solid investigators, and about 20 new potentials. In other words, I love exchanges! 

This week has been a week of amazing lessons. Sister Paulsen and I were super bold and had to drop a couple people but we also set 2 dates and had more people at church than we have had in a long time. 

Due to our recent success with the older generation, we've decided maybe it's just best we only teach people over 55. We have a new investigator named Eugene who has already read the Book of Mormon and even fought to come to church with us! He's just the cutest little old man you've ever met. 

Eladio and Luz
Eladio and Luz (the sibling-in-laws of Pedro, our recent convert) have officially declared to just about everyone (and anyone who will listen to them) that they are going to be baptized on the 31 of January! I'm so exited, I consider them to be my own great grandparents! 

For New Years I went to a party with Sister Larsen on our exchange. We ate and talked with all the member's friends. We didn't watch the ball drop but we had fun anyway. The family we were celebrating with has an outside pool and about half the guests were swimming, in December! It's a completely different world out here. Haha! 

We ended our week with mission leadership training and were able to go up to Tampa with Sister Trebotitch and Ray. I love those sisters! It was an inspiring training, I am so ready to just give everything over to God. I can already tell this is going to be one of the best years of my life. 

Well that's it for the week! 

Con Amor,
Hermana Mathis

P.S. Funny/awkward story. Before every lesson we say a prayer in our car and the other day while I was with Sister Gibson in Bradenton some random person came up to our car and got in while we were praying! Haha! They thought we were their friends, it made for the greatest conversation...