Newport News 6-24-13

This week was a trip. Last Monday we found out we would be getting another companion straight from the MTC, so Thursday we went to go pick her up. She’s super sweet and already pretty fluent in Spanish, so that’s good. Wednesday, we had a lesson with a girl we’re teaching. She just graduated high school and had been dating the Branch Mission Leader’s son for a while, so they introduced us and we started teaching her. She’s amazing. Two weeks ago we asked her if she would be baptized, and she said she would have to pray about it but didn’t feel ready yet. So last week, we had a lesson with her and asked her if she thought she received an answer, and she said no, she didn’t get a yes or no. But before we could be too disappointed she said, “But, I just stepped back and looked at the big picture and how much happier I am now that I’ve been meeting with you, and I know it’s true, so I think I want to be baptized.” So we got right to work setting things up and we’re having the first baptism in this branch in about a year this Friday! I’m so excited and it’s just been amazing to see one person progress so much in such a short amount of time. And that just tells me again that this Church really is true. This is the same church that Jesus Christ established when he himself was on the earth, and it will continue to be the same, because He directs it through a living prophet. How amazing is that?? So already the week was going really well. Then Friday we were able to split up with some of the Hermanas from Richmond, and cover twice the appointments. My temporary companion and I went to teach a man that we met the first week we came to Newport News. We had to drop him for a while because he didn’t keep any of his appointments, but last week out of the blue he called us and said he was ready and set up an appointment, so we went. And he was there, but he was pretty intoxicated. We talked to him out on the street and he told us lots of things about his life. It was really sad actually. He’s alone in the country and misses his family and he’s a drunk so he doesn’t deserve respect and promised God he would go to church but didn’t and so he’s not good enough etc. We tried to show him how much Heavenly Father loves him anyway and wants to help him, but it was difficult to get a word in sideways because he would interrupt and couldn’t focus. Throughout the time he would laugh at me and tell me how bad my Spanish was, but after the 3rd time I had had enough. It was difficult to have the courage to say anything back because my Spanish really isn’t that good and it was hard to say what I wanted to, but I think the Lord helped me out a little bit, because I suddenly had all the words I needed to say “Look. We are not here so you can judge our Spanish. We are not here to argue or fight. We are here to help people come closer to Christ and use His Atonement to live with their Heavenly Father again. If you are not prepared to listen to that message, there are many people who are. We know what we have to offer is very important, so if you are not willing to accept it, we will just leave you now and teach someone who is.” And all the sudden he stopped talking, immediately asked for forgiveness, and promised to come to church and listen to us because he knew it was what he needed to do because the only person who could help him was God. So ultimately, even though we walked away reeking of alcohol, and weren’t sure he would remember it in the morning, I was grateful for the opportunity to let the Lord help me and give me the words to use like He promises He will if we just listen to the Spirit. So it was a good experience. Then Sunday we had Elder Lancing, an Area 70 come and speak to us, which was really cool. One of our investigators who I believe I mentioned last week, came and just loved all 3 hours of church and was so excited to come next week. I hope he does. It’s been a busy, good week. And I think next week will be even better. I miss you all and thank you so much for all your prayers and support. Love ya’ll!

 
Love,
Hermana Karson

Newport News 6-17-13

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This week kinda flew by. Monday we went to the zoo, and since I didn’t have time to e-mail that day I already told you all about it on Tuesday. After e-mailing we went to visit some people. Sort of. Not kidding, we stopped by 8 houses and 2 people were home. One of which slammed the door in our face. But we ended up having a little lesson with a less active member after, so it was okay. The next morning all of our appointments and backup plans fell through, so we visited some people we hadn’t planned to. We had been given 2 referrals from some other missionaries; a mother and daughter. They lived together with the daughter’s husband, who is very against the church. When we showed up she answered the door and her husband was right behind her, so we just asked for her mom. Once he left she quickly told us to come back next friday morning when he wasn’t home so she could listen too. So we will hopefully get to see them this week! We just hope and pray the husband’s heart will be softened so she can come to church with her mom, who’s already been once or twice. We had a couple other appointments that night, but they didn’t work out, so the only thing left was soccer. We play futbol every wednesday night at the church, and usually we have a couple nonmembers there, but we had never had one of our investigators come until last week. We met this kid at the flea market last Saturday, and had a lesson on the spot. For anonymity’s sake, his name is Jose. Well, Jose is from Guatemala and has only been here a little while. He’s completely alone in this country. He has brothers and sisters back in Guatemala, but his parents died when he was just 10. We found out yesterday he’s only 19 years old, but he’s been supporting himself for years. He wasn’t raised going to church or anything, so he has close to no knowledge of religion. He just believes in God. He prays every morning and every night, and tells us every time we meet how blessed he is. His life is so hard, but he’s so grateful for everything he has. He just lights up every time we talk about Christ. You can just feel his desire to be close to Him. He’s the sweetest most humble boy I’ve ever met. Yesterday we had planned to talk about the Restoration with him and break it down, but for some reason we didn’t feel it was right and talked a little about everything, but a lot about faith. He told us how he never drinks or smokes because he knows God doesn’t like it, and how he always feels really bad when his roomates use bad words. He told us about the promises he’s made with Heavenly Father and how he’s protected him all these years, so now it’s his turn to do his end and go to church. He is just the picture of meekness and faith. We invited him to be baptized last night and he immediately agreed, so we plan on setting him with a date this Wednesday. Then there’s this other woman we met with, and her two teenage daughters joined in the lesson too and want to keep learning more with her. She said next week she’s going to ask her husband to listen too. They’re just the sweetest family and we have really big hopes for them. It’s amazing how so many things fall through to make way for even greater blessings.

This morning we got a phone call from President Perry, which gave us both a heart attack, but he just called to ask my companion to take on a new trainee. So Wednesday we’re getting a new companion, mid-transfer, straight from the MTC. Apparently they’re getting so full they’re testing missionaries’ language skills, and if they’re good enough, they just send them straight to their missions! So this week we’ll be a trio. I’m really excited and I just know that it’ll be a good experience.
Last thing before I leave. I’m attaching a few pictures from dinner we had at a member’s house Saturday. She’s just the sweetest. My birthday and another elder’s birthday was in May, and she made a cake for us and apologized that it was so late. Bless her heart. So that’s what those are!
I love you all and can’t wait to hear back from you!
Love,
Hermana Karson

Newport News 6-11-13

This week we had a lot of time to spend with less active members on account of all the investigators that dropped us, so we spent almost every night last week having a Family Home Evening with families in the branch. Some of the families we’ve been working with for a while, and some we just started meeting with, but it’s pretty much our favorite thing to do. Even though we’ve been working hard to get less actives to come back to church, it was still a surprise when so many showed up this Sunday. We had a record breaking 60 people at church, which is almost twice as much as when we first came in the area. It’s been amazing to see so many people turning things around and putting the Lord first, and the blessing they’re receiving in their families for it.

In addition to all the time we spend meeting with members, we’ve had lots of opportunities to find new people to teach, which was suprisingly successful last Saturday. We decided to go to the flea market hoping to find some hispanics to teach, and ended up teaching a lesson on the spot almost as soon as we got there. Then as we were just about to leave we were talking to someone and a man came out of nowhere and demanded to know if we were Mormons. We told him yessir we are, and he started on a rampage telling us things that we believe (which we actually dont’) and accusing us of all sorts of ridiculousness. So I did all I felt I could do without making the situation more contentious. I bore a simple testimony. “I know this Church is true. It’s Jesus Christ’s own restored church. I know we have a living prophet who receives revelation, and I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God along with the Bible.” I don’t know if I said more, because I was too nervous to be aware of what I was saying, but I do remember that he didn’t say a thing after that. We were able to walk away without any furthur confrontation. It really is true that no one can argue with a sincere testimony of what you know to be true.
Last point before I go. I love the Gospel. It’s the only way to return back to our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ to live in their presence. I know my Redeemer lives, and I know this is his work.
I hope everything is going well at home. Love all of you.
 
Love,
Hermana Karson

Virginia Chesapeake Mission

So this week. Whew. Where to start. Well, I think I’ve written about the investigator we had that was super solid and that we found working in her garder a few weeks ago? She didn’t believe in God at first and was super aggressive when we talked to her, but through a tender mercy of the Lord it started pouring outside and she invited us in. As we met with her over the weeks it became clear she was really special. We met with her twice a week and usually for about 2 hours each appt because of all the questions she had. She always kept the committments we gave her and just within a few weeks her whole countenance changed. The way she spoke, the way she treated her children, and just the way she carried herself, you could literally see the difference the Gospel was making in her life. It was amazing to witness. We were really excited about her. Then she missed our last appointment, which never happened before. We called and rescheduled, and she said she was really busy and would have to call us back, which also never happened. So I guess a small part of me saw it coming when she sent us a text message saying she didn’t want to meet with us anymore. But still, it was pretty shocking. We had been struggling with unity in the branch for a while and we were having a hard time meeting with people more than once, so when our only solid progressing investigator dropped us, I felt like everything just fell apart at once. It was a rough day. All the rest of our appointments fell through the rest of the day, so we decided to visit less actives. We stopped by to see a family that had been active until recently, and we knew what the problem was, so we were very bold with them because everyone else seemed to sugarcoat the issue. They were pretty quiet the whole lesson, but seemed like they understood that they needed to suck it up and move on. Apparently not, because a little while after we left, we got a message from some other missionaries in the branch telling us that this family had asked them to tell us not to come by their house anymore. Yeah. Yaknow the Avengers stickers you sent for my birthday? I stuck a sticker of the Hulk on that day because that’s how I felt. Ha. So now I’m studying the Christlike Attributes chapter of Preach My Gospel. Anyway, so we had literally nothing left to do the rest of the week seeing as everyone had dropped us or we had already visited them. So we knocked doors. In one area we noticed a man who had been kinda watching us from his door since we got there, but we kinda ignored it. But we walked by him as we were leaving and were impressed to go back and talk to him. Turns out he was a member who hadn’t been to church for a while and we somehow missed his name on the records. He was worried everyone would be mad at him for missing so many Sundays and didn’t want to go back and face them. We addressed his fear and he showed up to church yesterday! He also gave us the new address of another less active member who wasn’t on our records. And a family we had visited earlier in the week ended up coming to church as well. So it turned out to be a pretty good week with lots of little miracles. Oh. And we got transfer calls yesterday. I’m staying here for another transfer, which means I will be in the Chesapeake Mission now. So the new address is:

 
Virginia Chesapeake Mission
11151 Cherokee Rd.
Portsmouth VA 23701
 
Well, I think that’s about all I have time for this week, so until next time. Have a great week. Miss you. Love you.
 
Love,
Hermana Karson