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...