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

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 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

Gloucester 7-22-13

I think the ball is starting to roll. It’s been very slow going
lately, but we see things changing a little bit every day.  In the
beginning of the week President Hamilton (the Stake President) and his
family came up to Gloucester and took us out to dinner. We got to talk
to him a little about his vision for the area and get some ideas of
how to help the area. The next day we went to visit some less active
members. We weren’t able to really get anywhere with a few of them, so
we came back a couple days later in service clothes and asked to help
with something. They were a little hesitant at first, but it didn’t
take long for them to put us to work. We spent most of that day
sweeping, mopping, dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing, spraying, washing,
mowing, you name it. We were wiped out after a while, but we feel like
some of the families we helped started to finally see us as servants
of the Lord. So we’re hoping to continue to do missionary work like
Ammon to soften the hearts of the people. We’ve been working mainly
with less actives this week since we’ve had such a hard time finding
people to teach in Spanish. But we had heard from several sources that
Walmart was the place to be on Friday nights to find Hispanics, so we
asked permission to stay out late, and spent a few hours walking
around there. And waddya know. Around 7 o’clock, we started seeing the
first of many Spanish-speakers walking down the isles of Walmart. By
the time we left, we had 5 new lessons set up and many more names and
numbers. So we plan on doing that every Friday night from now on. When
we’re not visiting less actives or walking around Walmart, we spend
our time traveling to other towns around Gloucester to find people to
teach. It’s been something of a wild goose chase so far, but yesterday
we talked to one of the counselors on the Stake Presidency, and he
gave us lots of helpful names and information to find more people to
teach. So we plan on following up on all those this week and we expect
things to really start moving forward.
Last night we got some members to drive us up to Deltaville, a little
itty bitty town at the top of our area, for a few appointments we had.
We had three different lessons scheduled with three different people,
but ultimately each and every one of them stood us up. It was a bit of
a bummer, especially since we had members driving us. We were just
about to leave when it was suggested that we pray. So we did, and the
thought came to visit a friend of someone’s that lived in the area
before we left. We drove over there and it looked like there was
nobody home, but we decided to knock anyway. As we were just about to
knock, the door opened and she invited us in. So we came and sat down,
and over the course of the discussion she told us that she had
recently left her church because she felt that she could no longer
serve the Lord sufficiently there, and had prayed to know where the
Lord would have her go next. She was waiting on an answer when we came
up to the door. She then told us how she truly believes the Lord
answers prayers through other people sometimes, and here we were. Then
she turned to me and said, “Just look at you. You’re glowing. You’re
positively glowing.” Then she told us that we must be her answer
because of it. So she asked for all the information to our church and
promised to come next Sunday and bring all of her hispanic friends
that she could, because she knew the Lord was giving her an answer. As
disappointing as it is when people blow us off for appointments, it’s
all worth it when the Lord puts you in the path of someone who’s
searching for answers. Getting doors slammed in your face and people
yelling and cursing at you never gets any easier, but the work is
always worth it.

Love,
Hermana Karson

Gloucester 7-15-13

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New companion, new area, new ward, new people, new apartment, etc.
This has been a week of changes. I’m in a place called Gloucester VA.
We’re opening up the area to Spanish which is so exciting! We’re
spending most of our time looking for Hispanics to teach, and hadn’t
had much luck where we’re living, sodecided to take a trip up north
to Deltaville to follow up on some leads. We seriously feel like
detectives. We were lead from one place to another on the word of some
people in town, and it was like a treasure hunt. We finally ended up
at a big farm, and found a bunch of migrant workers. Because of food
regulations and such, we couldn’t actually talk to the workers, but we
left lots of pamphlets and Book of Mormons with the boss, so we plan
on following up in a couple days. The members have been super helpful
and we already have lots of referrals to contact whenever we go back
up there, so we’re excited about that. We’re living with a member
right now that goes by “big momma” in the ward, and she’s just about
the sweetest little old lady you ever did see. They’re working on
getting us an apartment up further north so we won’t have to drive so
far every day, but until then we’re being spoiled living with Big
Momma. The area is really pretty and the people are super friendly. I
miss the Spanish branch a little. Church in English just isn’t the
same. Most of our ward are converts, and we seem to hear some
interesting new doctrine every time we talk with them.

Every time someone goes up to the pulpit and says “good morning brothers and
sisters,” there’s always the response “good morning!” by the
congregation. My companion and I couldn’t help but laugh when we went
to the ward for the first time yesterday. Like I said, they’re
friendly. Speaking of my companion, her name is Hermana Valdez, and
she’s from Utah. She’s a native Spanish speaker (thank goodness), so
she only spend 2 weeks in the MTC. She finds knocking doors very
exciting and we’ve been doing a lot of that lately, so it’s been good.
We’re working hard and very hopeful about this week. I miss all of
you. Shout out to Will Welch who’s going into the MTC this week! The
work is hastening. Don’t let it move on without you! Love ya’ll!

Love,
Hermana Karson