October 31, 2016

La Expacion, el Mas Gran Milagro (week7)

Dear Friends and Family,

I have not left myself much time to write this, and I am sorry about that. 
Happy birthday to my wonderful sister Meredith! She's going to be 14, finishing up her YW medallion! How incredible is she?! I love you, Meredith!!
There's a promise in PMG that as you come to understand the Atonement, your desire to share the gospel will increase. For anyone who feels their faith is suffering or they don't have the desire to share the gospel, the best advice I can give is to find a way to learn more about the Atonement. I have been able to witness miracles through the power of the Atonement this week, and I am so blessed! The gospel is true!

Beverly is progressing so well. Satan tried everything one her last week, from a messy house, to nothing to wear to church, to hungry children, to anti-Mormon/uninformed coworkers, he has tried everything to get her to quit, but she is still taking all of the necessary steps to be baptized. I am so happy for her. She is a dear friend now, and will be for eternity. I'm sure of that. 

Pedro is such a miracle to teach! Last week, we brought a book I have full of gospel pictures just to teach about the prophet, but his granddaughters, who are usually pretty loud and try to distract from the lesson, loved it. Because I was telling them stories of Jesus, He was able to focus on Hermana Whittingham, and his question was perfect. What are the other commandments so that I can be keeping them too? That was WednesdaySaturday we taught Tithing and the Law of Chastity. Sunday he came to church, and when we showed him where to find the tithing envelopes, he took 3 and asked where to put them. He's so ready to follow the Savior! I think the key for us is to be sure he's converted to the restored gospel, and he understands that this is the Lord's church on the earth, the only one with the priesthood. These things sometimes get lost in the lessons, but they are key. 

I am so blessed to be here in the mission. I am so blessed by the word of God. Thank you all for the letters, emails, and prayers! I love you a lot!


Hermana Sleight

Photos: The sisters went to IHOP for Sister Talbet's birthday for the first 2. Third is their date, lol. Fourth is Carmen reading to Pedro's granddaughters. 

October 24, 2016

Tened presente la fe, ... , diligencia. (DyC 4:5) (week 6)

Hi friends and family! 

I hope everyone had a good week! I know I did!

Hermana Whittingham doesn't even know I wrote it down, but she said something really wise this week in companionship study, "Of course you want to change the most you can on your mission." Maybe this is a no-brainer for some of you as well, but for me, I have this great fear that I'll change so much on my mission that the people I care about will be strangers to me, or me to them, when I get home. The truth is, though, that as people, we should all desire to change the most we can for the Savior. This is the refiner's fire, and as we choose not to fight it, we will find everything else works itself out. I also trust those I love to grow closer to God as well, so when we see each other, we'll be brethren in the faith, like in Alma 17.

Let's see! What is in my big box of miracles today! 

Beverly is on track! We've taught her all the lessons and she came to church yesterday! She committed to prepare for the temple after baptism and to read the Book of Mormon by December 16th. I know that it's by setting and working toward our own goals that we progress spiritually, so it is really exciting to me to see others set goals that will help them to partake of the peace and joy of the Savior. 

Pedro also came to church yesterday, and he's down to a medium coffee everyday! Commitments are so important! I am very happy about this. Last week, I started right in to teaching about the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Hermana Whittingham when her turn came asked if Pedro knew what the Holy Ghost was, and he said no. Whoops! I should have checked for understanding! But in our next lesson, he expressed that he feels good when we come to visit, and when he comes to church, and when he reads the Book of Mormon. We explained that that is the Holy Ghost for him. It was awesome. 

We also knocked into a girl named Ana who has a very tough life. She doesn't have much support, but she has a lot of responsibility. Once we uncovered that need, I was able to testify of the Book of Mormon as the way to feel of God's love and support, even when we've got no one else. It's amazing to watch the hope enter someone's eyes. Truly, I am so thankful that I get to play a part in God's work. 

I love you all lots! Thanks for your support!

Thanks Grandma Stevia and Mom for the letters!

Carmen is excited for her hair growing longer. The bottom pic is a pumpkin carving day with the district. 

October 17, 2016

El templo con Beverly

Dear Friends and Family, 

Happy Birthday to Laura on Thursday! I'm sad that I have to miss her birthday again, but I know that you'll take good care of her. She's a ray of sunshine, and she puts her best foot forward. I'm so thankful for my sister. I love you baby!

Additionally, happy birthday to Kayla Bailey, Connie Sleight, and Sydni Black on Saturday! Unfortunately, the baptism we anticipated on that day has been moved to the 29th, and I don't remember anyone whose birthday falls on that day. 

I found this scripture in my study of prayer this week: "And thou didst hear me because of mine afflictions and my sincerity; and it is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto me, therefore I will cry unto thee in all mine afflictions, for in thee is my joy; for thou hast turned thy judgments away from me, because of thy Son." (Alma 33:11). What interesting reasons for God to hear his prayers. sincerity is a real component of prayers. I learned in the Bible dictionary that it takes more than just saying so to pray in Christ's name. Some prayers go unanswered because they are not aligned with God's will and Christ's teachings. I've also learned that prayer is like the keys to the windows of heaven. You can't just pray that they all be opened. In order to open up a window for a specific blessing, you must ask for that specific blessing. As you turn that key, the window will open. But to pray for blessings generally or repetitively will not give such a glorious result.

This week we took Beverly to the Temple Visitor's Center! I think it went rather well. On the way down, Jacob was pretty rowdy, and that makes my Spanish shut down, but he napped on the way back, and we were able to chat with Beverly. It felt really nice just to chat merrily in Spanish. She told us about how she's been to Europe, and she asked us about where in the world the work is moving rapidly. It's cool to see investigators start acting like members like that. It also felt really good to be so close to the house of God again. I didn't get to go in, but I know I am worthy to do so, and that fills me with joy.

We taught Pedro Lopez about the Word of Wisdom. Giving up coffee is going to be hard for him because he drives truck, and he gets up at 3 am to make his shift. He committed to quit though, even if it means giving up coffee a little at a time. I stand all amazed at the way the Holy Ghost can empower the hearts of men to do good. 

I love you all, and I hope you are doing well! Keep your hearts close to our Savior! 

First pic is at the temple visitor's center with Beverly and the last one is with her son, Jacob. 

October 11, 2016

Miembros Presentes Traen Milagros (week 4)

NOTE from Mom: How did we go from week 6 to week 4? It's because her time in the MTC didn't count so we have to subtract those weeks to bring us to week 4 in the field.  She sent a photo of Zone Conference.

This is from Carmen:
First off, congratulations to my friend Audrey Ellis, who is celebrating the second anniversary of her baptism this week! Additionally, happy birthday to my aunt Tara, and happy day for Vincent, who just turned 3 months old!

This week has been a good one! I hardly know where to start! Here's a quote I loved from a few weeks ago that's not yet made it into the email: 

"“The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.” —Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society general president

This is the beauty of missionary work. As we qualify for, receive and act on personal revelation, we teach others to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation. In just a few words, we practice what we preach simultaneously! It's glorious! I am in agreement with Sister Beck. Not only is it a great skill for any accomplishment we may pursue, it also brings great joy and love into our lives. The Holy Ghost often prompts us to build relationships with others and with God. So my invitation to each of you is to ponder what you can do to practice this skill, and then, do what comes to mind! Your guides are the Holy Ghost, the Word of God, and your priesthood leaders.

I bet you want to hear about Beverly, because I want to talk about her! We taught Beverly 3 times with 3 different members and she came to church last week! It was amazing. We came to teach the Word of Wisdom, and she told us that she was already down from 6-8 cigarettes a day to less than 1, and she committed that she would never smoke again. We came to teach tithes and fasting, and she already knew the doctrine and had the verses highlighted in her Bible! She wasn't even concerned about how the church spends the money. She said that her mother taught her to pay what she owed to God, and if the clergy squander it, the judgement be upon their heads. Miracles and miracles. She's on track to be baptized on the 22nd. I love Beverly! Every morning we text her, and she texts us back and calls us her loving pet name, "angeles gigantes" or "ninas gigantes".(My apologies I don't have time to figure out how to switch to a Spanish keyboard.) We're taking her to the visitor's center tomorrow, so you'll probably get to see pictures next week! Her son, Randall, is 18, and he's such a gentleman! He's in school to be a Mechanical Engineer, and he came to play soccer with us last Friday. We haven't taught him yet, but I hope he'll choose to be a worthy priesthood holder in the near future. He's most of the way there.

I don't think I've told you about the family we teach from the Dominican Republic. Their names are Jhoanny and Leonel, and their 3 boys' first names are all variations of putting the 2 names together. It's very beautiful. Sister Whittingham and I love them so much! Jhoanny mainly listens to our message, but Leonel is the one who initially let us into the house, so hopefully he'll be more intent very soon. We have high hopes that they'll be able to be sealed as a family someday. They are so kind, so friendly, and so happy! I fall behind on their Spanish quite a bit though. If there's food to be had, we have to stay and try it after the lesson. Ensalada Mescla from the DR is excellent, as is everything else they've let me try. Also, she invented a juice made of carrot juice, lemon juice, and oatmeal if my Spanish serves correctly, and it is delicious! 

I love you all! Thank you for your notes and prayers!

October 3, 2016

Week 6

Hello Friends and Family!

I keep forgetting to tell you this: don't expect me home before March 13th, 2018. Apparently if you spend less than 6 weeks in the MTC, your 18 months don't start counting until you get out to the field. What a pleasant surprise!

As a follow up from last week's email, my Dad did some research to find that a black mustard seed is incredibly small, but can grow into a 15 foot tall tree, producing a whole bunch of more mustard seeds, giving it infinite potential. I also found this quote in Jesus the Christ, Chapter 24, under the heading "Healing of a Youthful Demonic", "The comparison between effective faith and a grain of mustard seed is one of quality rather than of quantity; it connotes living, virile faith, like unto the seed, however small, from which a great plant may spring, in contrast with a lifeless, artificial imitation, however prominent or demonstrative." So I'm satisfied with that line of research. I'll revisit faith soon I'm sure. 

How about conference! What a good time! I hope everyone was listening to Elder Oaks' talk on member missionary work! I would love to hear each one of you tell me about your missionary efforts! They really uplift my soul! I also loved that talk about "To whom shall you go?" by Elder Ballard. Truly, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is upon the earth in this church.

So, I have some requests for adventures! A man literally called me and Hermana Whittingham over to talk to him because he recognized us. We talked about conference, I bore testimony, and we left him with a card with the address of the church. Once we were out of earshot, Hermana Whittingham started laughing because he had peed his pants during the conversation! Folks, I had no idea! I am so oblivious! But sure enough, there was the puddle! What is going on here?

We also were out at 9 when we shouldn't have been because I applied the wrong principle(talk to everyone) at the wrong time(8:55, when we were rushing back to an investigator's apartment for a paper I accidentally left), and got caught talking to someone for too long in the street. This woman was really mean to us! She took the Spirit away, and it was really hard to plan that night. Curfew is important. I need to work on that. 

Okay, now for some positives! Beverly came to the last session of General Conference! Hooray! There were some great messages for her, and she told us that she was going to share the Book of Mormon with her 18 year old son! That will be wonderful! I'm not sure whether she understood that the men who spoke were apostles of God, but she definitely felt the truth of their teachings. I love the gospel! I am so blessed!

I went on my first exchanges this week! I spent 24 hours in an English area with Sister Hansen! It was tough! I'm so glad I'm a Spanish speaking missionary! We did one member inspire with a really nice family and one lesson with an investigator where we really uncovered her needs. I hope that she can get the answers she's seeking. I know that she will if she just does the things we're commanded: Church attendance, Pray sincerely with real intent, and Read the scriptures! Spiritual CPR! 

I don't feel like there's anything worth a long paragraph here. We had a lot of appointments fall through this week. The other missionaries say it's pretty normal, but I wish it wasn't. 

I love studying and sharing the gospel! I don't love Bible bashing! I never knew that Bible bashers would look and sound so nice. It takes a real sensitivity to the Spirit to recognize that you need to get out of a conversation about the Bible. Some love to say that you can't add to the Bible, but one man said that the Book of Mormon doesn't teach the same thing as the Bible. We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly. I need to say that last part more often. The Bible was perfect, and the Book of Mormon is perfect. Please world, open up your hearts to the Book of Mormon! To all of my readers: Please, read the Book of Mormon every day! The promises are real! You can know of it's truth for yourself!

Thanks Danielle for the sweet letter! Snail mail is the coolest!

Love you all!

P.S. The photo of the shower is to show how short it is, hits my shoulder!