September 26, 2016

Fe como una semilla de mostaza (week 5)

Hi Friends and Family!

I've had some deep thoughts this week, and I'm excited to share them with you. 

It would be easier to study the words of Christ with regard to faith as a mustard seed if I had more than 2 hours a week to use the computer. I will be studying faith more this week, but yesterday, this came to mind, and I want to share:

I've always wondered if the message of the mustard seed is that faith is very small. I can't move mountains, so my faith must be smaller than a mustard seed.
What if the Savior meant that we need to have faith as a mustard seed has? The mustard seed has no proof that it will not be ripped out of the ground as soon as it begins to grow. It has no guarantee that the sun will shine upon it again, that water will come tomorrow, or that the fruits of its labor will be of any use. But one can depend on that mustard seed. 
Give the mustard seed a place to grow, and it will grow. Give it a little water, and it will drink it up. Give it a little sunlight, and it will reach up to that light with all its might. In doing so, it reveals its weaker stem and leaves.
If the sun doesn't come again, if water doesn't come, or someone pulls the mustard seed out of the ground, it will die. The seed only gets one chance to grow and once it dies, that's it. Why isn't the seed afraid to grow? Why does the mustard seed take such a risk at the very first chance it gets?
The mustard seed has faith. If we had faith as the mustard seed, we would jump at every opportunity to do God's work. We wouldn't be afraid to fail or to succeed. We would do all we can with the resources we have and trust God to provide. We would do all we can to fulfill our purpose. Oh, that I had the faith of a mustard seed!

I don't have time to polish it up, and I've never been big on learning from plants. It just doesn't seem fair to either party, but for me, I am afraid of some of the risks that seem so big, but in reality, they're not. God will provide. He knows how to take care of people way better than I do. I can trust the promptings of the Spirit. I can grow despite the guarantees. I must do all I can to fulfill my purpose as a missionary. 

So! How was the week? Update on my investigators:

I'm very sad to say that we haven't met with Pedro at all this week. I hope we're in contact soon. 

Beverly was in a really desperate and difficult place when we decided to pass by. The Spirit whispered that we should read the chapter that says faith is to "hope for things which are not seen, which are true." I had to ask my companion where it was. We read Alma 32. It starts out by saying that the people are blessed because they are poor in heart and have been cast out of the synagogues. That doesn't seem like a blessing at first glance, but it truly is. Then it talks a lot about faith. The Spirit was thick. It was just what she needed. Things started looking up for her. She's going to be baptized. 

I also met this fun family called Famila Gomez! They are from the Dominican Republic. The husband and wife are both really nice. I sometimes wish I could just be plain old friends with them. She's so pretty and a great cook. They have 3 boys, and the names are super hard to keep straight. They all end with "nel". I love talking to them, and I have to continually remind myself that the best thing I can do for them is to share the doctrine of Christ with them. I pray that their desire to know the truth will grow. I often worry when we find families that are pretty content in life that they won't really want to know about the Gospel. I've had to ask myself why I need the Gospel in my prosperous life. I'm working on answering that question. I hope that when I find the answer, I'll be able to use it in my missionary work.

I love this branch. The members are so supportive. They put a lot of time and effort into their callings and supporting the missionaries. Some families we even get the pleasure of eating with once a week! Even though I often get lost when people converse in Spanish around me, I'm working hard, and I know I'll get it.

Thanks for the package, Mom and Dad! Thanks for the notes, Grandma Stevia and University Ward Relief Society!

Mucho amor, 
Hermana Sleight

September 19, 2016

Fe para Recoger (week 4)

Dear Friends and Family,

What an adventure I’ve had in the last week! Here’s an interesting tip: It takes about 3 hours from the time you report to the travel office until you get to the airport and to a payphone. Pray that your travel group is small, so there will be enough phones open for you to call your family. I got to talk to mine, but about 2 and a half hours after I told them to be up. Silly me! I hope they forgave me!

I found my way to the Santa Clarita Second Branch. My area is 1/3 of the branch’s area. Sometimes I worry that it’s hard for so few members to feed 3 sets of missionaries. They are truly saints. Many of the families feed us once a week. I’m so grateful for them! Locals use the phrase “down in the valley” to refer to the San Fernando Valley, where I am not yet. I’m in the other valley “up here” in Santa Clarita. There are 2 Spanish speaking branches in the English speaking stake here. Down in the Valley, there’s a whole Spanish speaking stake! I’m in a car, but you could drive across our area in less than twenty minutes.

My companion is Hermana Whittingham from Linden, Utah. We have a lot in common. She has 2 little sisters and no brothers, and she's 5'11". I think people let us in because they see two tall blonde girls and think, “Hooray, someone who will teach me English!” We have actually gained two or three investigators by offering to also teach them English. Anyway, we have good times. I've been surprised at my surprise at how often we pray. How did I not expect to say a prayer every time we leave our home, a member's home, and investigator's home, and the car? Every time we leave, we pray. Smart. We also bless all of the food we eat, we pray at the beginning of every lesson and personal and compaionship study. We say morning and nightly prayers. We pray before knock out (keep reading). We pray in our hearts. Pray always, that ye may conquer Satan! (D&C 10)

You're probably wondering what knock out is, so I'll start there. Knock out is the time set aside by missionaries from 4 to 6 pm each day to knock doors. Everyone in the mission says a prayer at 3:55, and then we knock. Every day, we've found someone who needed our help. At least it seems that way. Yesterday, we knocked an apartment complex where we heard the residents deadbolt the doors after we knocked. It was very discouraging, but then we knocked on the door of a man who listened to our opening message and said he agreed 100%. He said it with the tone of voice more like, "I'm taken care of, thanks.", but I kept the conversation going. I tried hard to ask inspired questions, teach doctrine, and share from the Book of Mormon. I shared Mosiah 4:9-10, one of my favorite passages especially out here on the mission. I asked him if he would read the Book of Mormon, which I believe to be the word of God. He said yes. At the beginning of the doorstep visit, he wasn't interested. I don't think I said anything particularly persuasive either. The Holy Ghost changed his heart. I was just the mouthpiece. That's why we keep the prayer in our hearts. He spoke English, so we had to refer him to the English missionaries, but I hope he is converted. 

Another friend we found during knock out is Pedro. Pedro is from Peru, and he is an engineer! He is one of the investigators who we'll be practicing English with. His English is actually pretty strong. He wants to practice with us, though, so that he's good enough at English to be employed as an engineer in an English firm. Pedro has had some hard things happen in his life recently. I think he's really prepared to receive the gospel. We left a Book of Mormon and a Libro de Mormon with him. I'm really excited to be friends with him. He said on our first visit that he wants us to be lifelong friends!

Finally, I'll tell you about Beverly. She's from Chile. She has 3 sons. She works as a waitress, I believe, and her son Jacob (2 years old) teaches me Spanish. He loves to distract from the lessons! He plays with his toys and brings them to me. He has to tell me the names of everything from the colors to the animals to the vehicles. My first lesson was with Beverly. I met my companion, hurried through buying groceries, and went to the lesson. We had to switch off who was playing with Jacob and who was teaching. My Spanish is not good enough to play with Jacob and pay attention to the lesson. At one point, Hermana Whittingham just handed me the scriptures and pointed and switched me spots. I read with Beverly and testified the best I could. It feels weird when an investigator helps me remember a word in Spanish, because I don't know if it's really what I mean or what they want to hear. Hermana Whittingham said I did great, though, and we want to bring a member to our next lesson to play with Jacob.

Thank you, Kenna, for the letter and the pictures! I love them!


Hermana Sleight

P.S. She knows her mom loves Batman! Sister Witthingham and Carm on their first night together. and here is her address if you choose to send something. 18341 Oakmont Dr #716, Santa Clarita, CA 91387 until December 7th

September 13, 2016

Abra la Boca (week 3)

Hi friends and family!
I love my district! We care about each other so much! I have a theory about that. God loves us => He gives us the Holy Ghost to testify of truth => The Holy Ghost testifies of God's love => The Holy Ghost feels like love => We love the people with whom we have shared powerful spiritual experiences. => I love my district!
We love each other so much that we are sad about not spending the whole year together. All 8 of us are going to different missions. So we decided to celebrate the year together. Last Saturday was Halloween, the Thanksgiving on fast sunday, then Christmas, New Year's, Dia de Amor y Amistad, St. Patricks Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, and 4th of July
We've learned a lot this week, but the most important skill I'm working on is asking inspired questions. The most important thing I'm doing is trying to cast off my pride. I've had some hard times with some bitterness and I've even been unkind. People call me salty around here. I think that's my Dad coming out. 
Inspired questions make it possible for people to teach themselves the lessons. Preach my Gospel says that people have already been taught the truth in the premortal life. We're just reminding them. I'm really excited to try this out in the field. I would much prefer to have the Holy Ghost teach through the investigator's mouths than through my own. 
We've also talked about how important commitments are (side note: my zone often refers to commitments as "compro... comp... com.. commitments!" because the word for commitments in Spanish is compromismo. The same thing happens with the mission field. "the camp...comp... hang on.. what the English word? Field!"). Commitments are so key. Most of the spiritual growth investigators will experience will be while the missionaries aren't in the home. Sister McCubbins says it's best to aim for 15 minute visits and give strong commitments. Reading the Book of Mormon, praying to know that it is true and Joseph Smith is a prophet, going to church, keeping the commandments, and my new favorite, family prayer are way more important than the lessons in conversion. 
They say that your entertainment level in the MTC goes way up and everything is funny. I've found this to be true. This week, Elder Stevens accidentally kicked a volleyball hard up into his own face. I looked back to my team to find half of them laying on the ground with laughter. 
Keep the Faith! Love you all!
P.S. She leaves for CA today, 9/13.

September 5, 2016

Tengo Gozo en mi Alma Hoy (week 2)

Hi friends and family!

I have loved this week at the MTC! This first story is going to (hopefully) really reach the hearts of my family. 

One afternoon, Hermana Hernandez asked if we could sing, and we were all in agreeance, so we sang out of our Spanish himnos for a half hour. Elder Martinez loves Tengo Gozo en mi Alma Hoy(There is Sunshine in my Soul Today), so he asked to sing it and we did. 20 minutes later, we declare that we've sung the last hymn, and he refuses. He and Elder Black just broke into the chorus. We couldn't help it. We all joined in. But what made us laugh was when they wouldn't listen, and started into the second verse. Then the third. Then the fourth! We were laughing so hard we couldn't stand it! We decided to pray to invite the spirit, but when Hermana Lopez said, "Gracias porque podemos tener mucho .. fun... lo siento." We all started laughing silently to ourselves. Even her. We tried for probably 45 seconds to keep it together, but we were all laughing so hard that when we finally gave up,  there were tears in the eyes, and we were rolling on the floor with laughter. 

Ernesto and Marcela have been a challenge, but I actually got stood up by an investigator at the MTC, and that was tougher. The hardest was when I finally put into words how hard it is for me to ask inspired questions in Spanish. I cried in front of my whole district, which just goes to show how much I trust them, because I don't cry. 

Sorry it's so short. I love you all bunches! 

What she didn't say was that she leaves the MTC in 8 days! That's a bump up in schedule. :)