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

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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

 

Newport News 7-8-13

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First and foremost, Happy late Fourth of July! Thank you to all of the men and women who have fought for our freedom, and who keep our country safe. Your sacrifice is appreciated. 4th of July here was great. We got the day off, and got to stay out late (until 10:30). We were going to watch the fireworks, but decided we wouldn’t be able to make it back home in time, so ended up making s-mores in the oven, which in my opinion, taste way better than fireworks. Oh. Back to the beginning of the week. So Monday I got my haircut. Like I told Benjamin, if he cut his hair I’d cut mine. And he did. So I did. It was getting too hot to walk around like Cousin It, so I decided to chop it. 10 inches. Gone. It’s taken some getting used to, and with the humidity sometimes I look like a lion, but it’s so much cooler, and therefore worth it. Monday was also the first official day of the Virginia Chesapeake Mission, so Tuesday when we had Mission Conference we met President Baker and his wife. There have already been some pretty big changes, but he’s an inspired man, so I feel confident with the direction he’s leading the mission. And it’s a good thing I gained that testimony the first day I met him with the phone call we got yesterday. Since the Richmond mission split, the Chesapeake mission was put a week behind to coordinate with the transfer periods of the MTC or something, so we lost a week. So instead of transfers being next week, they’re this week. So instead of transfer calls being made next Sunday, they were made yesterday. We were teaching Spanish at a member’s house when the phone rang, and since they only call if a change is being made, we knew one of us were leaving. And since the caller ID said President Baker, we knew it was a big change. We excused ourselves and put it on speaker, and he asked to speak with me. Most of what he said was a blur, but from what I remember and what my companions have told me, I’m going to Gloucester. I’m opening the area for Spanish speaking missionaries. And. I’m training a new Hermana straight from the MTC. And I’m not even finished with my own training. So this Thursday I’m going to the training meeting where I’ll receive more information, and then the transfer meeting where I’ll receive my trainee. Hermana Flores and I opened up this area when we came to Newport News, but there had already been Spanish missionaries here for a long time, just not Hermanas, so it was really different. This time there are absolutely no Spanish missionaries there and they don’t have a Spanish branch. Which means from what I gather, that we’ll be bringing Spanish investigators to the English ward and translating for them. So here’s hoping my new companion already speaks Spanish, because if not our investigators may be hearing a very different message than the one I translate. Fake it til you make it right? Ha. I know the Lord knows what he’s doing, but I sure don’t, so hopefully everything will work out! I’m still a little in shock, but really I’m excited to go and find some people to teach in Gloucester. The Stake President’s vision is that one day this will turn into a Spanish Stake, so I guess what better way to start than to get some branches started. I hope all is and are well back home and I love each and every one of you! Good luck to Will who’s leaving on his mission to Argentina next week, and Rachel who’s just started hers in the MTC! Keep up all the missionary work.

Love,
Hermana Karson

Newport News 7-1-13

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This week has probably been the craziest week of my whole mission. Lots of ups and downs. The beginning of the week started off slow. Well just Monday. And it might have something to do with the fact that it was preparation day. But by Tuesday morning things were in full swing and never slowed down. We had an appt with an investigator who confessed a bunch of sins to us, and I had no idea what to do with all that information. I guess people feel like they can trust us since we’re missionaries, but it starts to weigh on you after a while. I guess from what I’ve heard it’s something I’ll just have to get used to. And I can’t remember if it was this week or last week, but either way I forgot to mention, so…we got robbed. Yep. Someone broke into our car and stole a GPS (which we were borrowing), and a DVD player (which we were also borrowing). So that was a bummer. And I don’t remember if it was before or after that, but our downstairs neighbors got in a fight in the parking lot and we had to call the police. So that was fun. Actually not so much. But now they had to move out so hopefully the next tenant will be a cat lady. Then we had Family History Training and we are now officially FH consultants. That was really fun. I would strongly urge you to do your family history work. Okay so then we had a baptism!!! And everyone agrees that handsdown it was the most disfunctional baptism yet. Among many other things, our pianist was camping, the water was cold, my nose was bleeding, the branch president was confused, and the confirmation was NOT approved for right after the baptism. But other than that, the service was beautiful :D . Ha. But she got baptized, and that’s all that matters right? Then Saturday we had a blitz and handed out flyers for the open house of the new chapel opening up. We knocked so many doors and were drenched in sweat afterward because of how stinkin humid it was, but it was nice to get to talk to so many people. We said goodbye to a very active family in the branch this week, but two more families showed up to church that hadn’t in years, so it was really nice. We had a few very sobering lessons, and a few lessons with people who were not so sober, but either way, I know this Gospel is true. Keep the faith.

Love,
Hermana Karson

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

Newport News 5-27-13

I can’t believe it’s only been a week! Do I say that every week? Because I feel like I do. I’m not sure I can even remember most of it! But a few points. Saturday we went to Shenandoah National Park for a branch hike. I’ll attach some pics so you can see, but it was absolutely beautiful! We went on a six mile hike, and our branch mission leader and branch president were the two in charge of that hike (there was a smaller one for the kids). Suffice it to say, they’re both in the military and had whistles. You can imagine. We ran up the mountain. Ran. And missionaries don’t exaggerate. But even though we were going so fast, it was hard to miss how amazing everything around us was. Sunday we were dragging and so sore. We had a pretty busy day with appointments and church and such, so I actually forgot it was my birthday until later. It was Sunday so we didn’t get any mail, so I wasn’t expecting any surprises. But at 9:30 as we were finishing daily planning the elders in our district showed up with a cake and sang. It was really thoughtful. Then as we were getting ready to go to bed, the Stake President’s family showed up with a cake and sang to me! I was so touched. The people here are so great. So it was a pretty good day. Yesterday being Memorial Day and all I’m a day late on the e-mail, but apparently 24 hours makes a big difference in the amount of things I remember from this week. I just know that it was full of ups and downs with nothing exciting to report, but we still have some really solid investigators that we’re working with. So please pray for the work! I know you will each be blessed as you pray for missionary opportunities and seek them out. The message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone, whether they are single or have a family, don’t believe in God or regularly attend their own church, old and young, financially stable or not. And whether they know it yet or not, everyone needs the joy that the Gospel brings. Spencer W. Kimball (I think?) once said: “The Gospel makes bad men good, and good men better.” Many a prophet have testified of the blessings that come of missionary work, so pray for the courage, open your mouth, and the Lord will give you the words to say in the very moment that you need them. The Church is true.

Love,
Hermana Karson

Newport News 5-20-13

We planted a lot more seeds this week. My companion has been sick lately and it’s hard for her to speak, so I ended up doing most of the talking when we were able to leave the apartment and invite people to church. Maybe the fact that I was the one stumbling over the Spanish so much had something to do with the number of doors that were slammed in our faces. If I had to guess, there’s probably a correlation. But nevertheless, we did have our first investigator come to church yay! She’s 17 years old and dating the branch mission leader’s son who is leaving on a mission this summer, so that probably helped, but she genuinely loved it. She told us that everything just makes so much more sense now and it’s like everything we’re teaching her and everything she learned at church just connects and supports each other. Isn’t it amazing how the Gospel works? So she’s going to be coming back next week and hopefully we’ll get to teach her again soon too. We have another investigator who we’re still excited about, but she’s been going through a lot of rough stuff lately, so hopefully we can hang on to her.

So embarrassing moment for this week. We had dinner at a sister in the Branch’s house like we do every Saturday. So we just finished eating some amazing enchiladas and as we’re all talking around the table she comes up behind one of the Elders holding a cake (it was his birthday the next day). I thought it was a really pretty cake, so I told her so. So everyone turns and looks at it. Come to find out, it was a surprise. Oops. Ha. I won’t be able to live that down for a while.
Well, I want to thank everyone for the letters and support. I’m so thankful for such great family and friends. I hope y’all have a blessed week.
 
Love,
Hermana Karson
 
P.S. Please do a favor for me. Pray and think about someone who needs the Gospel in their life. Invite them over for dinner or lunch or something with the missionaries. We all pray for members that are involved in missionary work, so maybe by doing so you’ll be answering the prayers of a servant of the Lord, as well as your friend who needs the blessings the Gospel brings.