Gloucester 10-7-13

General Conference is the best. Ever. That was by far the highlight of my week. I am so thankful to be able to listen to the words of the servants of the Lord. I’ve yet to determine a favorite talk because they were all so genuinely applicable. If I could preorder the November Ensign I would. We were able to get one of our investigators there, and she loved it. She wants to be baptized as soon as possible! We’re not sure exactly when that will be because she has to wait for parental consent, but it’s so exciting to see the light in her eyes every time she talks about the Gospel. She reminds me a lot of a young woman I was privileged to teach in Newport News, who was baptized in June and is now going to college. She wrote me an email this week saying that she’s preparing to go on a mission! I couldn’t be happier for her. It’s amazing the joy that the Gospel brings. We were able to share that joy with several new people this week that just moved here for work. We were out last night after Conference and were about to go home because we hadn’t eaten anything yet, but decided to knock just one last door. We did, and a man answered the door. We introduced ourselves and he very quickly invited us inside. We sat down and started talking to the four people present. We asked if any of them were religious, and the man who answered the door raised his hand. He said, “Yo soy mormon.” Which, being interpreted, means, “I am mormon.” You can imagine the shock on our faces. He told us that he had been baptized in Mexico 7 years ago and that he had to come to America to work every 6 months so it was hard, but he still believed it all. We taught his friends and he was a pretty big asset in that lesson. We now have 3 new investigators and a few more potentials because of the example he’s set for them. We were pretty excited about that, because we can now officially start our Spanish group here in Gloucester! The work is hastening, Brothers and Sisters. I pray each and every one of you finds opportunities to share the Gospel with those you love the most, because it really is the most joyous message this world has to offer. Have a blessed week. Cuidense mucho!

 
Love,
Hermana Karson
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Gloucester 9-30-13

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I’m gonna have to keep this one short because there’s a little countdown to restart on the computer and I have approx. 10 minutes. But this week was a wacko one. We’ve been planning like madwomen to get our Hispanic Heritage Fiesta thing going, and with General Conference this weekend, we have one less meeting to announce it in. We’ve been forced to go through the Stake directory making phone calls to people making sure they’re aware of the activity and planning on coming. That’s been a little stressful, but we’re excited about the activity and we’re expecting it to be a big turnout. Speaking of big turnouts, we were asked to help out this weekend with a member’s funeral at the church. Most of the ward was going to be at the temple at the same time, so we were keeping things in check with a couple of the sisters from the Relief Society who could make it. The audience of this particular funeral happened to consist mostly of Southern Baptists, and my companions and I were three of the only 6 white people present. It was definitely unlike anything I’d ever experienced before, but it was pretty amazing to how hearts were softened as the service continued and the Plan of Salvation was shared. The Spirit was really strong and I was thankful for the opportunity to be reminded of the sacred nature of life. Even though I was the chorister (which turned out to be more like a soloist), it was a good experience and I was grateful for it. We were also blessed to be able to find a family to teach this week, and they are truly the sweetest family. The mom, dad and 9 year old daughter are all so eager to learn and we’re excited to teach them, so we’ll see what happens! Transfer calls were yesterday and my companions and I will all be staying in Gloucester again this transfer, so we’ll be able to continue working with them. I hope you all have a blessed week!

Love,
Hermana Karson

Gloucester 9-23-13

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Lemme tell ya. When your companion has a birthday, it may as well be your own birthday. This week Hermana Newman got lots and lots of birthday packages, and every single one of them had some sort of candy in it. Combined with the box of candy I had from last week, our companionship has enough sugar to last til through the millenium. Not anticipating so many boxes of sweets, Hermana Haywood and I planned a surprise with a sister in the ward who was going to feed us that night. She made a huge chocolate checkerboard cake, and sent us home with everything we didn’t eat. I think it’s safe to say we’ll all be on a diet….after we finish the cakes of course.

Another exciting event this week was the discovery that my camera can be used as binoculars! Genius! You see, while on a mission, especially a foreign language stateside mission, you tend to spend a lot of time searching for people to teach. There are, of course, certain skills to be acquired in this line of work. One of those, is the art of detective work. Or, as my companion puts it, playing hide and stalk. When looking for potential investigators, one puts a lot of stock into patterns, stereotypes, generalities, and such. So, when one notices something that most Hispanic houses have in common, say Dish 500s, one starts assuming that having a Dish 500 means a Hispanic lives there. And assuming that one wants to come in contact with as many Hispanics as possible, one would start paying special attention to these Dish 500s. So, that’s what we do. We’ve actually become more or less experts at finding them, which leads us to our discovery that a camera can double as binoculars. Comes in pretty handy.
Because we’ve been spending so much time finding people to teach, we haven’t been able to have quite as many lessons this last week. Rather, because we haven’t been having as many lessons, we’ve been spending a lot of time searching out people to teach. But it’s been pretty successful so far, and we’ve had a pretty great week. There were rocky moments like any week, but the good by far outweighs the bad, and we’re still going strong. We showed up to one lesson to find our investigators packing everything up. We were confused and asked what was going on, and one of them, Noe, told us that they had just been told they were going back to Mexico this week. We were really surprised because we thought their visas were good for another month, but apparently they don’t really make the decisions about when they get to go where, so they were given less than a week’s notice to leave. They were really sad and we were too, but we’re confident there’s a reason for everything, so it will all work out in the end. We wrote our testimonies in Books of Mormon to bring with them to Mexico as a little parting gift, but hopefully we’ll be able to see them again someday.
On the other end of the spectrum, there were 4 other investigators we had been teaching before, but a couple weeks ago they told us they didn’t want to meet with us anymore and that they were comfortable with where they were at. So we decided to give them space for a while and let them miss the Spirit we brought with us. It must’ve worked, because yesterday they all called us and asked to meet with us again because they missed listening about our message. So we’ll hopefully be meeting with them this week and they’ll be ready to keep their committments!
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be serving in this area. These people are great. There are always ups and downs, and as one of our investigators explains it, “la vida es como un avion,” but it’s well worth it and there’s always something greater to gain than you’re giving up. I love you all and hope you have a blessed week!
Love,
Hermana Karson

Gloucester 9-17-13

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Thank you so much for everything this week! I feel much better and I’m doing regular missionary work again woohoo! Being sick on the mission is the worst, especially when you think about all the things you could have been doing while you were at the doctor’s office or lying in bed. But I’m all better now and we’ve tried to work extra hard to make up for the missed time! We saw lots of miracles this week, like every other week, and I’ve learned a lot. Lemme ‘splain. The week started off super fast paced on account of we were trying to make up for lost time like I said, so we had a bunch of lessons and new investigators all in the first two days, but things kinda leveled out by Wednesday, because we didn’t teach a single lesson all day. Every single one of our lessons fell through, and none of our backup plans produced any lessons either. Same story all the way til Saturday. It was rough. We even tried going to a livestock show, hence the pictures. We were doing everything possible to keep busy and find people to teach, but by Saturday evening we had just about burnt through all our investigators, potential investigators, and finding ideas. So we decided to pull over and say a prayer. We asked for guidance and expressed our desire to find people to teach. As we closed, one of my companions suggested we circle around and drive the road we were on one more time. We did so and saw a house that we thought might have Spanish speakers living in, so we pulled over to find a very white man working on his truck. But even though he didn’t speak Spanish, we talked to him for a bit and he became really interested in our message. And since we are called to teach in Spanish, we promised to give his information to the English missionaries here, and went on our way. That had taken about 10 minutes, and little did we know that if we hadn’t taken that 10 minutes, we wouldn’t have driven by a potential investigator’s house for about the third time that day and saw them pull in their driveway right as they got back from work late. And we wouldn’t have been able to teach him the best lesson we’d had all week. And we wouldn’t have been able to meet his roommate, who also wanted to hear about the Restored Gospel, and happens to be the funniest man ever (besides Papa of course). It may seem like a small thing, but I know that Heavenly Father was listening to our prayer and guided us to find them at just the right moment, and have an uplifting lesson that gave us the boost we needed to finish out the week strong. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who listens and cares about us. I know He’s always there and we can always turn to Him in any moment. I’m so thankful for all your love and support! I miss you all and hope to hear from you soon! Love yall!

Love,
Hermana Karson

Gloucester 9-9-13

Holy cow it’s been 6 months? It seems like it’s only been a few weeks but yet again it seems like I’ve been here forever. I think time just kinda stopped for me as soon as I arrived and the world’s been spinning without me. I have a hard time believing that this time next year I won’t be wearing a nametag anymore. It gives me just that much more motivation to make this next 12 months really count. I was telling Mama in my other e-mail that it’s crazy to think I’ve been here for so long and I still don’t feel like I’ve made a difference yet. I think I came here wanting to have a lasting impact on the people here, although I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting to have happen. I look back on the past 6 months and don’t feel like I’ve actually made all that much of a difference. That’s not to say it hasn’t been worth it or I can’t see a change, because I certainly see everything differently now. My view of the world, the people in it, including myself, and of my Savior has changed a lot. I’ve witnessed many miracles while here and I feel like a different person because of it. So I know that at least I will have converted myself. I guess that’s what happens when you do the Lord’s work. It’s a great blessing to be here. I’m a part of something much bigger that I can even comprehend. I see that every day when I take a moment to think about the magnitude of my calling as a representative of Jesus Christ. The amount that I don’t yet understand by far outweights what my mind does have somewhat of a hold on, but what I can testify to, is that this church is true. Jesus Christ has restored his Gospel and Priesthood authority on the earth once more through a prophet, and we have the Lord’s guidance because of it. He knows who we are, and what challenges we have. I recieved a confirmation of this earlier this week as I was talking to a former companion of mine, who now lives with us as a result of some other events (don’t ask). I was impressed by the love the Savior must feel for her, and as I was talking to her, I realized that I everything I was saying applies directly to each and every one of us. YOU (insert pointing finger here) are a child of Heavenly Father. He loves you. He knows your name. He knows what’s in your heart, so you can be sure that when no one else understands, He does. He gets it. He gets you. And He reaches out to you every day if you let Him. As we share this truth with people every day, it’s easy to forget to apply it to myself and really internalize how amazing that is. I am a daughter of God! How cool is that?? I wish I could make everyone just grasp that concept. If people really understood their divine nature, every other principle of the Gospel would just fall in line. They wouldn’t have a problem with the Word of Wisdom, because they wouldn’t dare defile their bodies with harmful things. They would easily accept the Plan of Salvation, because it makes perfect sense that Heavenly Father would have sent us here with a sure way to return to Him again. There would be peace and love in the world, because it would be clearly understood that the worth of every soul is precious in the sight of God. Every once in a while I get a glimpse of the eternal nature of these truths, and it just blows my mind. We had an experience this week like that. We were in a lesson with a man who’s been confined to a wheelchair because of a work-related accident. In the middle of the lesson, I had a prompting to sing “I am a child of God” to him. So my companions and I sang all three verses. Most of those that know me also know that I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to music, choirs, harmony, etc., but I can honestly say that I’ve never heard anything more beautiful and in-tune than that song. And I’m sure it has nothing to do with our talent. My companions and I all agreed that that was the strongest we’d felt the Spirit in any lesson we’d had so far. I know that it was witnessing to me the truthfulness of the message those verses contained.

Not everyone is ready to hear that message though, because soon after, the same investigator moved to “Guatemala.” I put it in quotation marks because he didn’t actually go to the country Guatemala. We’re not sure exactly what went on, but we have an idea that “Guatemala” may have just been code for “the other bedroom.” We were having a conversation with him and his sister about how they were leaving the next morning at 3am to catch a flight, when his brother, who was also going, walked in. We asked if he was excited to go, and he replied “donde?” His sister then elbowed him and said, “Guatemala, remember?” I think there may have been a wink in there too. He quickly looked back at us and insisted he was kidding and said yes, he was indeed excited. This week we had another companionship take over this particular area, so we asked them to go visit this house. They reported back that the brothers were indeed still there. We still have no solid ideas of why they lied about this, but either way, the missionaries are still going to visit them! Haha…
Anyway, this week was pretty uneventful. I caught strep throat and spent a couple days inside and in and out of the doctor/pharmacies/walmart buying orange juice, but I’m finally back on my feet and we’re ready to work again! One of my companions complained of a little sore throat this morning though, so fingers crossed we won’t be starting the process over again. I thank you all for your prayers and thoughts! I’m grateful for all the support and I feel it every day!
A special thought and prayer goes out to all those who will have a hard week as the anniversary of 9/11 comes up. We will never forget.
I love all of you!
 
Love,
Hermana Karson

Gloucester 9-3-13

I may have forgotten to tell ya’ll last week that I wouldn’t be able to e-mail yesterday. Oops. But anyway, here’s a rundown of the last couple weeks. We had our first full week together as a companionship and man oh man am I lucky with my companions. They’re both from Utah and they’re just great. They went to the Mexico MTC so they had a very different experience than I had in Provo. It sounded really interesting. We all get along great and sometimes it’s hard to focus because we like to talk to each other too much, but we’ve been working really hard and we’re starting to see some fruits of our labors, and the groundwork that we laid when we opened this area. Since we cover two whole areas, we keep track of the numbers from both. So in one area we had one investigator attend church, and in the other 3 investigators came with a friend they brought. It was awesome! The Spirit was really strong, which was really nice because I translated into Spanish and I’m not sure they actually understood all that much ha. It was fast and testimony meeting, but it ended up turning more into fast and story time, so it was really difficult to translate. I just don’t have the vocabulary I need to talk about dirty gas stations on trips across the country last summer to visit a great aunt that lives in a gunsmith shop. I guess I know what I need to focus on in language study…But really it was great and the wards were really welcoming and our visitors were excited about coming back the next week. Hopefully they will! Another awesome experience this week was when a family in the branch invited a couple investigators over for dinner and a lesson at their house. They went to great lengths to make them feel comfortable and welcome and it was very special. One of the guests almost cried with gratitude. That environment was especially helpful when we asked him to be baptized, and he said yes. So we have a date planned later this month and we’re all very excited. But the miracles didn’t end there, because after the lesson was over, we asked the other man to pray. We had tried to help him pray for weeks and he never would. We finally found out why; he was angry at God for allowing him to be injured in a work-related accident that caused the loss of his leg. We had tried really hard to focus on prayer and had asked him multiple time to pray, but it wasn’t until this night at a member’s home that he finally softened his heart and offered a simple prayer. It was so powerful and when he was finished you could just see the light in his face. It was so touching, and I wish we could continue to work with him, but he’s moving back to his country this week. He said he really wanted to search out the Church there too though, so hopefully this will only be the beginning of his journey.
I’ve been so blessed to see so many miracles in my mission already, and I just know more will follow. Thank you all for your love and support. Hasta la proxima semana!
Love,
Hermana Karson

Gloucester 8-19-13

Hellooo! I have news! First though, lemme splain what all happened this week. It was our first full week together, Hermana S. and I, and we just went straight to work. In case I forgot to tell everyone, our companionships were switched up a little bit in the middle of this last transfer, so Hna V. switched places with Hna S, who I just started training instead. She’s been working really hard and we’ve been getting a lot done together. At the beginning of this week we had a lesson with a few ladies we’d been teaching for a while, but were never going anywhere. Finally I felt to tell them that there were other people that we needed to teach that were more prepared to hear our message, so we were going to focus on them. This didn’t really make sense to me at the time, since they were really actually our only investigators. But I said it anyway, and we parted ways until they feel ready to call and listen again. But we went ahead and focused our efforts on finding people that were prepared. One day we were driving and passed a greenhouse that we’ve driven past 20 times already. We decided to go ahead and stop in, and we did. We approached the hispanic workers there and proceeded to talk to them. They asked what we do and as soon as we told them, they asked if we had time to sit and talk with them. So, con mucho gusto, we did. We sat and taught the message of the Restoration. And they were so excited. They had so many questions and asked if they could come to church even if they weren’t members. We told them of course! And they promised to ask work off to come. We stopped by again a couple days later just to check up on them and they again asked if we had time to teach them. So we did, this time about the Plan of Salvation. They were equally as excited and now want to be baptized. We will hopefully see them again this week at English classes, and they promised to bring all their friends. We’re really looking forward to it!

So about my news. We had transfer calls last night, and President Baker informed us that there would be some new changes. Hna S. and V., both of whom have not yet finished their training, are being put together as companions and will finish their training together in a different area of the zone. I am to stay here and train again. But this time, I’ll be given two Hermanas out of the MTC. He said he’s never done this before, but felt very strongly I could do it, so I agreed to do my best! I’m so intimidated and I can’t even begin to think about how I’m going to go about training two new missionaries at the same time, but I’m sure at the very least I’ll grow a lot from it! So this Thursday I’ll pick up my new companions in Portsmouth, and we’ll start again! I’ve only been a missionary for a little over 5 months, and I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing, let alone how to do it in Spanish, but I was blessed with a really great trainer and some pretty awesome first trainees, so hopefully this next couple transfers will be very enlightening for all of us!
I’m so grateful for all of the love and support I receive from all of you, my family and friends. I love you each dearly and hope all is well! You are in my prayers each night.
 
Love,
Hermana Karson

 

Gloucester 8-12-13

I think I always start off saying it’s been a crazy week, but man, has this week been crazy! It started off pretty normally (as normal as a week in the life of a missionary can be), and we had a few appointments, most of which fell through, meetings, etc. Then mid-week we went on exchanges and I learned SO MUCH. The problem with being so far away from everyone else in the mission is that we don’t have much contact with the other Spanish speaking missionaries outside of our district. So it was a minor mind-blowing experience to learn how to plan more effectively from another Hermana. I don’t think I’ve gotten that excited about goal setting in a while. But at the end of the exchange, we got a call from President Baker (which is always scary) telling us that my companion Hna Valdez and I would be temporarily split up to accommodate an emergency transfer for another companionship. So that added to the craziness. So I am now training my second trainee, who speaks 0 Espanol. So it’s been difficult and I feel completely unqualified to carry the Spanish by myself, but I feel like I’m improving for sure and I’m grateful for that. We’re working together on her Spanish and she’s learning really quickly. I think this will be a blessing, however challenging it might be.

One of the first items of business was to get her some food, so we went to the Walmart. There we saw a large group of former investigators, whom we’ve had to stop teaching because one of them happened to be in love with me. No big deal. At first he was just a little confused and once I explained our rules as missionaries (no dating), he seemed to understand and was embarrassed about the whole thing. But the next week he sent us a message professing his love. So we figured we would have to talk to our leaders again, but before we got the chance, he called again. For emphasis I guess. After that my companion and I felt very uncomfortable and decided to stop teaching him until we could have other Spanish missionaries (preferably elders) go teach him. But every once in a while we’ll run into him around the area and have to awkwardly avoid them. How nice that my new companion’s first experience in Gloucester was not talking to Hispanics in Walmart. She must have thought I was such a bad missionary until I explained the situation. But she’s taller than all of them, so I think we’re safe ;) .
All in all, it was a challenging week, but one filled with growth. So until next time, cuidense mucho!
 
Love,
Hermana Karson

Gloucester 8-5-13

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It’s been a slow week in a lot of ways. Our numbers weren’t quite as high as we’d hoped, but also, we got stuck in traffic. A lot. We had meetings all this week and none of them were where we live, so we ended up driving all over the place. We had a meeting in Virginia Beach one day and were supposed to be back for an appt in Deltaville that evening. We left the meeting at 2:30 so we figured we’d have plenty of time and then some. But we got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic for FOUR HOURS. They closed the road and we couldn’t go anywhere for a long time. That happened twice. Thus the lackof appointments. But cross your fingers this week will be better! We ended up going out of our area for church yesterday at the Stake President’s request, and found a ton of people to teach! So that was good. We were hoping to be able to move into our new apartment that’s more centrally located soon, but apparently it won’t be ready until September first, so we’re really going to be struggling with miles. Lots of factors make it difficult to have meetings with our investigators, but that just means someone is working extra hard because they’re going to be extra awesome! We have lots of people to contact the coming week and I just know it’ll be awesome. Quick miracle story. We had planned to go up  to the top of our area on Saturday to see if we could track down some lessons with potential investigators, but most of the people we wanted to talk to only stop working when the weather is bad. So Hermana Valdez and I each prayed the night before that it would rain. The next morning we woke up and it was bright as can be, but in companionship study we prayed again, and what do you know. An hour later it starts pouring. We got up to see our potential investigators and we were able to see someone in almost every place we went to. Never underestimate the power of prayer! I hope each and every one of you have a spectacular week filled with little miracles.Love,
Hermana Karson

 

Gloucester 7-29-13

I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t have enough time to cover everything that happened this week, but I’ll do my best to cover the main stuff.
 
So this week we’ve been pretty limited due to the mile alottment that we’ve been given, so it’s been difficult to find enough rides to go everywhere we need to and fill the time that we have to. But because we’ve been relying so heavily on the members to take us to lessons, we’re able to introduce our investigators to the members and it works out well. One lady we have been meeting with lives about 50 miles away from us. So we always try to get a member to take us to see her. We had one lesson on Sunday of last week where we walked in and she saw us as an answer to her prayers. This week we saw her with another member, and she sat us down and explained how she wouldn’t be seeing us anymore because the Book of Mormon was not true. We were able to ask her questions enough to find out what her concerns were, and we tried to address them. She finally allowed us to teach the lesson of the Restoration and explain more about where the Book of Mormon came from. By the end of the lesson, she decided that even though she had a hard time with 3rd Nephi with Christ’s ministry to the Americas, she thought Joseph Smith must’ve been a true prophet. We were surprised when she said that because of how hard she’d been fighting that, but we were excited to hear it. We asked what made her feel differently, and she got up and left the room. We looked at each other and wondered what to do, but she soon came back in with an armful of spiral notebooks. She showed them to us and we read them out loud. She explained that they were her prophesies about the destruction of the world and her revelations for the earth. She was starting to believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but was apparently having a difficult time understanding what exactly a prophet was. We tried to explain more clearly that a prophet is a man who holds the priesthood authority and the keys to be God’s mouthpiece on the earth, but she seemed to miss the first part and jump to the conclusion that she was a prophet too. So we’ll continue to work on that, but we know as she reads the Book of Mormon and prays to know it’s true and gains that testimony, the rest of it will be taken care of. She even gave us some referrals to some other people we plan on teaching soon too. That’s usually how it goes, that once you meet one hispanic they lead you to more, because the same thing happened earlier that week. We met a lady at Walmart and set up an appointment with her. We ended up teaching 3 of her co-workers before her, and she had invited her brother and sister to her appointment. And after their appt. they pointed us across the street to a housefull of men they worked with as well. We went over and taught them as well, getting a return appointment to teach 8 of the people that lived there too. There are lots of rules we follow to stay safe in many different situations, so we’re always taking precautions when we teach or do anything. But I guess there are always risks associated with teaching anyone. Physical safety is often the first that comes to mind, but there are others that we as missionaries just don’t even think of when going about the Lord’s errand. Which is why the phone call the next day was such a shock. One of the muchachos called us the next morning and started talking about what we thought was the Book of Mormon and how much he liked it. We were very excited and for some reason he kept asking if we understood him. We kept saying yes, but he still seemed unsure. After a few more minutes of conversation, we were ready to commit him to baptism. But he had a different kind of committment in mind. Finally we realized that he wasn’t talking about the book, he was talking about ME. Once that clicked I immediately explained about our rules and how we didn’t have relationships as missionaries, and no, not even if they got baptized, he finally understood and then asked if he could still read the Book of Mormon anyway. So after explaining the situation to our District and Zone leaders, we were given permission to continue to teach the men in their house as long as we brought members with us, did it in daylight..etc. So more precautions, but at least we’re still teaching them, because out of that day alone we had 9 new investigators! We’re definitely starting to see more and more miracles happen every day and I’m so grateful to be in this area. We have a pretty busy week coming up, so hopefully we’ll see even more! Take care everyone and I’ll update again next week!
 
Love,
Hermana Karson