Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Santee - Week #69 - August 26, 2014

Milliones de milagros ( Millions of Miracles )

Hola familia!

This past week has probably been one of the most miraculous weeks of the mission! Sheesh! Maybe I sound redunant. Today is going to be a bullet-point kind of day.
Some miracles:

--One of our investigators, Lyanne, had a change of heart experience. Every time we would try to commit her to come to church, she would come up with every possible excuse in the book. The other day, we applied what we learned at MTE's about church attendance (the acronym WHOA: Explaining the Why, How, Organizations, Attendance invitation) and here is her reaction, "Hermanas, nothing is going to stop me from going to church next Sunday! I really feel like I need to be there." Whoa... really? Alright Lyanne, you rock.

--We had a powerful lesson about receiving revelation with the Gonzalez-Ambriz family and at the end of the lesson, Mayra (who has been less-active for 20 years) said to us, "Hermanas, I was thinking today and I decided I want to be a real member of the church again. Like go to church every Sunday and do the things that members do." Then she turned to her boyfriend, Arturo, and told him he needs to get baptized. All the kids are already ready to get baptized. AAAHHHH!! We teared up a little bit! Haha. It might not seem as significant to you as it is to me. But seeing the progress in this family is unreal. Please keep praying for them, Satan is working real hard.

--Yesterday, we had a member with us at every lesson. We had an awesome first lesson with a new investigator named Cassandra and she accepted a baptismal invitation and also a baptismal date for Sept. 27! She is so awesome!

--Then, we ran into this guy named Luis, an extremely potential bible basher. All he wanted to do was bible bash. We were like, "Uh uh." So we told him to just listen to our message, and then he could tell us his opinion. So we simply testified of the Restauration of the Gospel and the Book of Mormon and I can't say he perfectly accepted everything, but his heart was softened and he accepted to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and told us to come back and follow up with him. No way!! How did that happen? The Spirit is real, people.

--Then, we had a lesson with Hermana Solis and her non-member nephew, Pedro, and he also accepted a baptismal date for Sept. 27!! AHHH!!! It was so awesome! Especially because Hermana Fairbourn and I had set a goal that we were going to focus more on getting people with baptismal dates. God saw our real desire and He made things happen the first day! My testimony of goals real with intention sky-rocketed.

Yesterday will probably go down in history for our zone. We added 12 new investigators and set 5 people with baptismal dates in one day! That's out of this world!! We have all been adding new people to teach like crazy. It's been so cool to see that as we work together and cheer each other on, we see more miracles.

Keep being missionaries! I love you!

Hermana Barnes

Santee - Week #68 - August 19, 2014

MTE's and Eternal Families

It's MTE season again! I don't know if you remember what MTE's are, but I'll copy and paste the definition I gave last time just in case:

MTE stands for Missionary Training Exchange/Experience. Meaning: Each zone or a group of zones at a time get a jam-packed training from the mission president in the morning and then they go and apply it like crazy for the next 24 hours with a coach, making each companionship a trio. The AP's, Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders are the coaches for all the zone's MTE's. So Sister Fairbourn and I went on loads of exchanges this week! The coolest thing about MTE's is that you see TONS of miracles because everyone is focused on working super hard to apply all the principles learned. The main thing that was focused on was church attendence.

My favorite MTE miracle, or should I say, MRE miracle? (missionary rear-ending experience): I was with two sisters serving in Chula Vista, and after the meeting was over, we pulled into get gas before heading back to their area and all of sudden "BOOOMM"... Rear-ended. AAHH! Haha no one was hurt, no worries. The lady behind just wasn't paying attention. Anyway, we got that all figured out and then we all turned to each other and said, "Okay, what miracle are we going to see from this?" Haha anyway, later on that day, we street contacted this guy who was smoking up on his balcony, who appeared to have no interest whatsoever in talking to three lil' sister missionaries. We went to talk to him anyway. At first, he was still pretty stand-offish, not really saying much back to us. Then we started applying what we learned at MTE's about church attendance, and he bolted down the stairs and said, "I have a church, but I feel like I need a change. THIS is what I've been searching for." NO WAY!!!!! It was such a miracle!! He committed to come to church and the sisters were able to add him as a new investigator. It was the fastest Alma the younger-change-of-heart experience I've ever seen. Anyway, moral of the story--if we wouldn't have gotten in the little rear-ending accident, we wouldn't have met Tony because all our plans got changed around, leading us perfectly to Tony. Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways? Very, very mysterious.

We haven't been able to spend a ton of time in our area due to MTE's, but things are still going well here. We had 7 investigators at church! That was definitely God taking care of our area. I will update you more next week! Love you!

Hermana Barnes

Las fotos:

1) We got to take the Gonzalez-Ambriz familia to the temple grounds! It was the coolest experience. They loved it. The Spirit was so strong and all the kids kept saying, "I just want to go inside! What do we have to do to go inside?" And Mayra, the mom, said, "Well, you all need to get baptized (including her boyfriend) and then we can all go together to get sealed as a family." The spirit of Eternal Families was everywhere! They couldn't deny it! They know what they need to do. We are learning patience, haha.

2) All of them at church for all three hours the next day!

3) Lili's "go-to" face for every picture. I don't know how Lili and Hna. Fairbourn can do that face and still look cute. I look like a monster.

4-6 More pictures at the Temple

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Santee - Week #67 - August 12, 2014

Talk to everyone, even cows.


What. a. WEEK. I don't ever want to leave this place. Missionary work really is the greatest work in the world. 
My new companion is the GREAT, the BEAUTIFUL, the ASIAN... Hermana Fairbourn!! Weighing in at 120 lbs of love, laughter, and the Spirit. I LOVE this hermana so much. When we found out we were companions, we jumped for joy. She was born in Japan but her family has lived in Draper, Utah for the past 4 years. She's going to BYU when she gets back. We flew into San Diego on the same plane! Anyway, we're happy.
I'm still saying this every week, but we saw so many miracles this week, it's insane!

One of the most obvious miracles I've ever experienced:

--A few days ago, we decided to contact this referral we've tried for weeks and haven't had any luck. Anyway, before we got out of the car, we prayed that there would be some way we'd be able to get into the locked gate that surrounds the entire complex, and that we'd be able to find Breanda home.  So we got out, tried the first door and it was locked. Then we tried the second door... also locked. We almost lost hope until all of a sudden, the big gate for cars miraculously opened, with no one in sight! We walked in, no questions asked. It seemed as though Heavenly Father was like, "Hermanas, it's time to find Breanda." Haha so we tried knocking on Breanda's apartment door... no answer. "No! This can't be!" we thought. Then, a split second later, we looked to our right down the stairs, and there was a lady walking up the stairs and we both knew it had to be her.
"Are you Breanda that lives here?" we asked, con mucha esperanza.

"That is my name, but I don't live there. I live two doors down," she replied. Oops. 

So miracle #2, Heavenly Father placed her perfectly in our path because otherwise, we wouldn't have found her because we had been knocking on the wrong door all those weeks! Anyway, we were able to talk to her, teach her, and then she told us to come back! We bothed walked away from that apartment complex with the biggest smiles on our faces. Later that night, we found another prepared soul who is living with a member family (who didn't think he was ready yet) and he's super excited to learn so that he can get baptized. Obedience brings miracles and blessings, like awesome, prepared people!

--Gonzalez-Ambriz are doing well! They continue to come to church every week. It's been a crazy week for them, but keep them in your prayers!

--Hermana Solis (member) set up an appointment with us, her, and her nephew so that he could start receiving the missionaries! Go Hermana Solis! The members in this branch are rock stars.

Yesterday, Hermana Fairbourn and I got to teach a portion of zone meeting. We talked about the concept of "Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work." We focused on talking to everyone. Sometimes we pray to be able to find prepared people, but we forget to "get on our feet and work" when we expect those people to just come to us and don't take the opportunitiy to talk to everyone with the fear of inconveniencing or annoying them. We won't know they're prepared until we get on our feet and talk to them! We did a super funny skit with some of the other missionaries in the zone at the beginning to illustrate it. But it's true, even for members. We are so afraid of offending people sometimes that we fail to give them the opportunity to partake of the greatest gift in the world. It is always worth it to try! Maybe I sound all preachy and what not, but I dare you all to talk to one new person this week, whether it be a less active or a non-member. Even just a simple act of service softens people's hearts to the Gospel. You got this!

I love you! 

D&C 123:17

Hermana Barnes

Las fotos:
1) We ate dinner with the Oteo family who basically live on a farm. They have 6 of these cow dogs! (great danes)

2) The cow was after us more than his hay!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Santee - Week #66 - August 5, 2014

Week full of food, love, and the Spirit.

Hola familia!
I just got back from dropping off Hermana Hess at the airport... I love her and miss her so much already. It's definitely not something you'd want to experience every day. It was so hard to say good-bye to everyone. You gain so much love for these people, including the missionaries, and especially your companions. It was crazy to see the 27 departing missionaries with their suitcases and faces full of anxiety, sadness, happiness, excitement, and tiredness all at the same time.
Side note: We ate meals at 5 different people's houses yesterday because it was Hermana Hess' last day. FIVE. I think I can go hibernate now.
It was such a good week full of food, love, and the Spirit. We saw so many cool miracles, and some of them we feel were just tender mercies from the Lord because it was Hermana Hess' last week. Haha here, I'll name a few:
--A less active member who hasn't been to church in over a year came to church on Sunday!! We were literally jumping for joy when we saw her walk in. Her husband has been trying to get her back to church all this time... his whole countenance was beaming all day as his family was reunited on the church pew. He bore a simple testimony in testimony meeting and the Spirit was so strong. It's amazing what the power of a visit from a visiting teacher can do.
--All of us, missionaries in the branch, planned a special musical fireside and everything went really well!! (it seems like there's always something that goes wrong with these missionary-planned things, but not this time!) We had musical numbers and testimonies and the Spirit was so strong. Arturo and the kids even came without Mayra! That's another miracle. Arturo is feeling more and more comfortable in the church and with the members. It's so stinkin' cool.
--We had an amazing lesson with them about the Restoration and at the end, Mayra (who is the one most hesitant to let the kids get baptized) said, "If this church really true, I want me daughter to be able to be baptized before she's 18 so I'm going to talk to my ex-husband this week to get his permission." WAHOO!!!
--Last night, we had the most amazing Family Home Evening with them at our branch president's house. It was Hna. Hess' last lesson as a missionary. Boy did she end her mission with a bang. The Spirit was out of this world, you could not deny it. They opened up a lot to the branch president and his wife. I know they are going to make a huge difference from here on out. I love the members in this branch. Members really do make a huge difference in missionary work. They are absolutely necessary for the progression of investigators.
Something really important I was reminded of this week is that in every single meeting in the church, all the way from General Conference to simple presidency meetings or coordination meetings with the missionaries, Jesus Christ must be talked about. No matter what the topic or circumstance, we must always keep Jesus Christ the center of everything because that is what He is. "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." What can you do better to keep Jesus Christ the main thing in your life?
I love you! Keep being wonderful!
Hermana Barnes
Las fotos:

1) Our district plus Laura Calvillo bowling with our zone on P-day (Laura stole one of the Elder's name tags)
2) Part of the Solis Family and one of the many "good-bye" desserts (Hna. Solis looks a little angry at the world, but she is one of the funniest people I know)
3) The beautiful Gloria came out on visits with us. She has such a solid testimony.
4) District picture at church--Hna. Hess' last one :(
5) Mayra and the kids at the Mormon Batallion
6) District at the temple