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!
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!

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!
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!
Hermana Karson