Thursday, August 8, 2013

August 5th, 2013

Dear Family,

As always, it's great to hear about yall's adventures. Mom, I was able to watch the video about Sister Brock and loved seeing some familiar sights, but there's no sound in the library, and we're not supposed to use headphones. As soon as I get a chance, I'll watch it with stereo. We've been sharing a lot of cards and referring people to watch the videos, so now I'll have a specific one to reference.  J

A lot of our time this week was spent with the mundane tasks of opening an area. We finally got some boundaries set so that we don't end up proselyting in someone else's stake again (oops!), bought a map, divided our area into smaller bites, mapped out which members we cover, visited the mission office to get Spanish teaching supplies, called all of the English ward bishops, and took care of some STL stuff too, like coordinating exchanges for the rest of the transfer (two a week until the end!), calling district and zone leaders to get info about our sisters etc, etc. 

That being said, there were still some great moments to highlight. This week's focus is FAMILIES!! President Slaughter is all about finding and teaching families, which I love. That's really what we need in the church, and families that convert are more likely to stay active than single people that convert by themselves. The problem is, families are usually harder to teach, so sometimes, we shy away from finding and teaching them. President Slaughter was in the mission office the same time we were there getting supplies, and I realized as we talked to him for a few minutes that normally when we set goals for finding new investigators, I only plan for one or two. What family with a father and mother is made up of one person? I can't think of any. So this week, we've been setting our goal higher, with 3, 4 or 5 new investigators, trusting that Heavenly Father will help us find families.

So, one evening, we were at an apt complex to knock, but sitting in the car finishing a phone call. When I looked up, there was a family of four getting out of their car!! "Sister H!! It's our family!!" Papers flying, backpacks neglected, we tumbled out of our car and practically ran over to them. The contact turned into a QGC (quality gospel conversation) turned into a first lesson turned into two new investigators (their girls are both under 8). I'm not sure they'll get baptized or even turn into a second lesson (they've been ignoring our calls), but Heavenly Father helps us meet our goals when we have faith to find. 

In Mission Leadership Conference (MLC) this week (one of the perks of being an Sister Training Leader, or STL), we talked about blind spots and fathers. So what's a blind spot? Imagine you're picking raspberries. When you walk up to the bushes, there are usually one or two ripe ones visible, but not very many. In order to find the really good ones, you have to dig a little bit, turn over leaves, hunt around, and often times, the very best, ripest clumps of raspberries are hidden beneath the surface of leaves where they're not readily visible. Now imagine that you knock a door, talk to the mother of the house who is receptive to your message, and in your excitement to teach her a first lesson, don't think to invite her teenage kids into the room to come and listen or ask where her husband is and if he might be interested in the message too. So many times, we walk into a teaching situation and pick the "raspberries" that we can see off the top and then wonder why we don't have more investigators. These people have friends and families and connections. Every data point is a link to a million others, but if you never follow the links, you never find the other data points. Blind spots. And one of the usual victims of blind spots are fathers.

Think about this for a minute. Women generally tend to be more readily receptive to the gospel. But even if you baptize 10,000 women and no Melchizedek Priesthood holders, can you split the ward? Nope. Can those women be sealed in the temple and become an eternal family? Nope. Can they receive all of the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant which is our whole purpose for being here anyway? Nope, they can't. We need fathers. Fathers are the backbone of the church. Why does every worthy man hold the Priesthood? Because the family is the basic unit of the church, and without that Priesthood link, the family is not connected to the administering agent of the gospel. Families without fathers rarely last, whereas those that are led by fathers become converted. J G, again, is a prime example. When he was converted, the whole family came too. In contrast, many of the women we were teaching in Del Rio without their husbands didn't make it. Maria wouldn't get baptized, Kfell out of activity once she was. Whenever we go in to teach a family, we have to make sure we teach the father his divine role to preside by allowing him to do so. He has to be invited to participate, and even if he doesn't want to, every time we come to teach, we should ask his permission to be there. My whole mission has changed. The invisible walls we kept running into in Del Rio are now visible. This is something that every missionary needs to understand. Teach families by teaching them how to be families, and that includes allowing the father to fulfill his divine role to preside.

No miracles with this one yet, but they're going to come. Probably this week. Hna H and I have been asked to do a training on this for the South Zone's zone conference this week, and I'm really excited!!

Another miracle of the week. We were knocking doors in an apartment complex and had a brief conversation with a young man named A. All we did was give him a card, invite him to church, and get his number to follow up. But guess what?!? He came!! He could only stay one hour yesterday, but said he'd come for all three next week. In the evening, we had a good visit with him and learned more about his life, some wild years growing up and a big changed that happened during a period of consequences. We have another lesson tonight, and I'm really excited to teach him. And guess what? We've checked our blind spots. He lives with his sister and her kids and he has friends too. Are we going to hunt them down? Yes we are.

Some good news from Del Rio!! Hermana L and Hermana L went back to visit M (the mom of J and A that ignored us for a really long time) and she let them in! They even got a return appointment. A and S are making plans to not live together, and A's daughter A got baptized last Sunday. S is planning to be baptized at the end of the month, and asked if I could come down for the baptism. I don't think I'll be able to, but I'm so excited for him!!! 

Funny story. We were talking to two moms and their combined five kids that weren't very interested in what we had to say, but didn't tell us no straight out either. So of course, we kept going. When we were done, we asked if we could come back and set an appointment with the one mom then turned to the other and asked if she lived in the apartment above the other mom's. She told us yes without making eye contact, but then their two little boys ratted her out big time. "No, no!! We live across the street in that building, first apartment on the right!!" Don't try to lie in front of kids. It's not gonna work.

Sage advice from a pro: If you don't want people to see you in your underwear, don't answer the door without your clothes on. A lot of people haven't seemed to figure that one out yet, so I thought I'd pass it on.

Praying for you all as always. Tons of love!


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