Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ring Out Wild Bells

Hello everybody!
Christmas week was awesome! 
We have helped one of our investigators make delicious treats for the holidays!  I love service/bonding time with our friends!  She helped us make cookies on our pday (Thanks mom for the delicious cookie mix!  We decorated them and gave them to lots of people as a merry Christmas present).  Then later on, we helped her make cake-pops.  They are so easy to make and so delicious!!!  I will definitely be making some when I get home!
One of my favorite things is that whenever we visit Hiedi, she has had her young women's necklace on (The girl in the torch).  She glows with the spirit!!!
During interviews with President, he told us that he was going to close Cove.  In fact he had been planning on it, but somehow our names ended up there instead.  My first reaction was "No, don't close Cove!"  It definitely puts a new perspective on things.
All of the things that we have done.  All of the people we have taught, helped reactive and baptize.  Almost all of that never happened.  :0  That would be so sad.  I am so glad that I am here in Cove!  It is the best place to serve!
The whole time we've been here, even though we cover Lampasas and Gatesville and parts of Killeen, I have always felt like Cove was were it was at.  Even though, there aren't many Spanish people in Cove, those that are here are the best.  There are some truly amazing souls here just waiting to be found.  One day the church will be filled!
Here is a list of some of the miracles we have seen while serving here:
  1. Hiedi got baptized!
    1. She will be one of the first active Laurels in the Spanish Branch, and it should help ease the tensions between the Spanish Branch and the Cove 2nd Ward (The Spanish YWs meet with the Cove 2 ward, and not everyone has the same vision about what the role of the different wards/branches are. Just by having Hiedi going to mutual and classes, things will work out better.)
    2. Hiedi will be the means of bringing at least 12 people to Christ. (The number of non-members at her baptismal or confirmation service). Hiedi has already been doing missionary work even before she was baptized, and it will her role will only continue to skyrocket as she gets more and more involved in the gospel.
    3. Hiedi plans on serving a mission when she is 19, which means that even more people will be blessed by Hiedi.
  2. Martina (Hiedi's mom) is preparing for baptism! Her baptism is scheduled for Saturday!
  3. Lucy (a slightly less active recent convert when we arrived in Cove) has been called to serve as the Relief Society secretary.
  4. Roxana (a recently reactivated member and wife of a recent convert) has been called to serve as the Relief Society 2nd Counselor. Roxana has told us that by going on exchanges with us is what helped her to strengthen her testimony.
  5. Maria (a less active) has been to church 2 out of the last 3 weeks. The only thing keeping her from church was a ride. She just needed to be found.
Feliz Ano Nuevo.  Nos vemos en el proximo ano!
Hermana Julie Anna Sanchez

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

White Christmas

What a great week!  This has definitely been one of the hardest and most amazing weeks of my life.
Before I go any farther, I just want to point out that through the whole week Hiedi has been solid.  She hasn't wavered about anything.  However, everything else was hard.
Last week, we thought we had the baptism all arranged.  Hector had been asked to baptize Hiedi.  Roxana had been asked to give the talk on the Holy Ghost.  Samantha had been asked to give the talk on Baptism.  We had asked Roxana to make a cake for Hiedi for after her baptism (to celebrate her birthday).  Everyone committed to do their part. 
We had communicated with our Ward Mission Leader about all of the details.  He agreed to call Presidente Wojnowski and confirm everything and to reserve the building and make programs.
Well, Hector's dad passed away, so they are in California for the funeral.  Samantha is there too.  We asked several members to give talks, none of them were going to make it to the baptism.
Finally one member agreed to give the talk on the Holy Ghost.  We were still looking for someone to give a talk on Baptism.  We try calling the Young Women's President and everybody else we know.  No one.  So we decide that I will give the talk on Baptism.
Hiedi asked that Elder Shields would baptize her.  Thankfully missionaries are reliable, so we didn't have to worry about that.
We find a less-active Beehive in the Spanish branch.  She agreed to give the closing prayer. 
Sister Coombs has agreed to make a cake.  (She is one of the cutest senior missionaries ever!  She and her husband are serving in Cove as Military Relations.)
We ask our Ward Mission Leader who is going to fill the font and where are the baptism clothes.  He doesn't know, and he doesn't have a key to the font, neither to do we.  We call our district leader and our branch president, nobody has a key to the font.
We are inviting everybody we can think of to come to the baptism.  No one can.  We are pretty sure that there are going to be more non-members than members at the baptism.
We call up the English missionaries serving in Cove.  They call their bishop and borrow his keys.  They drop them off Saturday morning.
The Beehive gets in a car-crash.  She's fine, but they can't drive the car.  No one can give her a ride to the baptism.  We ask another missionary to say the closing prayer. 
Our Branch President texts us to say that he isn't going to be able to make it to the baptism.
We find the baptismal clothes and it is all too big.  We call our district leader and ask him to bring some smaller clothes from the Killeen font.  He agrees.
We fill up the font, and the water is cold.  With a big stick we manage to unplug the font to let some of the water go down.  And we add more hot water. 
Hiedi and all of her family show up.  We take lots of pictures.  (And we don't let her know about all of the problems with the baptism)
Elder Shields fills out the baptismal record (this should have been done at her interview, but at least it gets done sooner than later).
Our Ward Mission Leader shows up, wearing a red sweater, and he has the programs.  He used google-translate to translate them and there are some funny things in the program. (The baptism was in English).  My favorite is the baptism of Heidi Rodriguez for Elder Shields.  (In Spanish the word for 'by' is 'por' which is also the same thing as a lot of other words like 'for'.)
There are a few members who showed up for the baptism.  We think that there were about 1/3 part members, 1/3 part missionaries, and 1/3 part Hiedi's friends and family at the service.  There were a lot of people there. 
Everybody is sitting in the room waiting for it to start, when someone that we do not know comes up to us, and asks us if there is a member of the branch presidency there.  There wasn't.  He says that we can't have a baptism unless there is a member of the branch presidency to preside.  He says that the Ward Mission Leader can't preside because he isn't wearing a white shirt and he doesn't have permission from the Branch President.
Fortunately, our Ward Mission Leader was wearing a white shirt. He just had a red sweater on top of it.  We call our branch president and ask if our Ward Mission Leader can preside at the baptism.  He says yes.
We were so worried that we were going to have to cancel the baptism, after everyone was already there, because the branch presidency wasn't there.
Fortunately it all worked out!!!
We start the program.  The elder conducting has never been to a baptism before.  There are a whole bunch of mistakes.  The talk by the Holy Ghost is first, then the baptism, and then the talk on Baptism.  No one welcomed her to the ward. 
But it was amazing.  Despite everything, the spirit was strong.  Hiedi is the first in her family to get baptized.  Her mom will be baptized in two weeks, and hopefully her dad soon thereafter.  Taide, Hiedi's dad, felt the spirit very strongly, and he got some good fellowship at the baptism.
Hiedi was beautiful, and the spirit was strong and everything worked out!

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." D & C 123:17
It was a white Christmas and it was wonderful!
Church on Sunday was fabulous as well.  Hiedi got confirmed.  Benjamin received the Melchezidek priesthood.  Lucy got called as secretary in the Relief Society Presidency.  We had a whole row of investigators and non-members.  One of the people who came to church is named Jaime (he is not related to Hiedi at all).  He felt the spirit super strong!  It was awesome!
Feliz Navidad,
Hermana Julie Anna Sanchez

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mary Wrapped the First Christmas Present

Feliz Navidad!
The subject for this email comes from the sign outside the Roberson Avenue Baptist Church in Copperas Cove.  I often read the signs and they are almost always inspiring.  Truth can be found in any church.
We have been working closely with Heidi and we are so excited that she is going to be baptized this Saturday, which is also her birthday.  This is going to be an exciting week!
Heidi and her family are the best ever!  Heidi has started coming to mutual and she has made it a priority and she is inviting her friends to come as well. 
This week she surprised us by asking us how old you have to be to go on a mission.  Then she told us that she really wants to go on a mission!  We are so excited for her!!!
We have had a lot of miracles this week.  One of them, we have been calling our Christmas Miracle.    We were teaching a less active family. They haven't been to church for a while, and when we first started teaching them, we weren't sure what it would take to get them to church.
Then we watched What Shall We Give? and They Gave Up Their Christmas and talked about giving a gift to Jesus.  Hermano surprised us and said that he thinks that their gift will be to come back to church and get the whole family to come with us! 
We realize that it will take more work to actually get them to come to church, but we are so excited.  His heart is in the right place!
This week was also the Christmas Party for our branch!  And it was full!  So many people came!!!  It was super exciting!
Les quiero mucho,
Hermana Julie Anna Sanchez

Monday, December 9, 2013

Northern Texas got iced in!

Hello Everybody,
First of all, I want to announce that after 23 years, I finally have a favorite color.  My favorite color is red.
Second, Dad asked me to tell about my companion.  Her name is Sister Black.  She is from Oregon.  She is 20 years old, and studied civil engineering at BYU for two years before her mission.  She plays the violin.  She has brown hair and is a little bit shorter than me.  She about to her halfway point on the mission, and she is an amazing missionary!
Northern Texas got iced in.  Our cars were grounded on Friday, so we walked and got a lot of rides from members.  It wasn't too bad down here in Copperas Cove, but from what we hear, Dallas and Fort Worth were very bad.  It sounded like a frozen wasteland.
On Friday, we helped Heidi and her family set up all their decorations for her sweet 16 birthday party.  (She missed her quinceniera last year, so they decided to have a sweet 16 for her instead.)  And Heidi is preparing to be baptized on her 16th birthday!!!  She will be baptized on Dec 21!  It is going to be a white Christmas here!!!  :D :D :D :D :D :D
Saturday evening we went to the adult session of Stake Conference, and it was amazing.  We learned about member-missionary work, and I am excited to be a member-missionary!  It is going to be amazing!
Here are some of the things that I wrote down from my notes:
  • Write the gospel in your mind that you may have understanding and in your heart that you may love to do God's will.
  • In member-missionary work:
    • We need to plan each step.
    • Work with more than 1 family or person.
    • Set some goals
    • talk with family members on a weekly basis to evaluate progress
    • involve prayer
    • make it a family event
    • get to know people's names
    • pray
    • smile, be happy
    • find out about their business, birthdays, hobbies, etc.
    • pray
    • offer a hand
    • find out what their interests are
    • pray
    • invite them into your homes
    • pray
    • share your testimony
    • pray
  • We aren't teaching people things that they don't already know.
  • Stop feeling guilty about missionary work.  What we should feel when we think about the opportunity to share the gospel is hope.
  • go be part of the community and live your religion
  • live your religion, and open your mouth with the opportunity presents itself.
  • pray
  • roleplay, practice talking with your friends about the gospel.
  • 1 Nephi 21:21-22 we are the prophesied kings and queens in this scripture.
  • Not everyone will get baptized the first time they get introduced to the church.
  • They want to know what we believe.  They are curious
  • We Rejoice in Christ
  • Prayerfully consider your missionary efforts and set a date of when you want to accomplish it.
And I translated Stake Conference!
Hasta Luego,
Hermana Julie Anna Sanchez

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Stand ye in Holy Places

Feliz Navidad!
The subject of my email comes from Tuesday.  We had to get our tires changed at Firestone, and it took a very long time.  We were waiting in the lobby, trying to study our scriptures, but it was hard because the T.V. was on and it was distracting.  They had it tuned to the small claims court.  There was one case about a woman suing her former best friend because she bailed her out of jail and the friend never paid her back.  As it was going, I kept thinking about how sad it was - a friendship was ruined over a small amount of money and a large amount of pride.
But then a case came on of a woman suing her ex-boyfriend.  They were having lots of breaking the law of chastity problems and it was very explicit.  It was completely impossible to tune it out and the Spirit told us to leave.  So we did.
We walked to the closest public place (It was very cold that day, so we were not going to wait outside.), which just happened to be a Chick-Fil-A.  So we studied the scriptures and the Spirit was there.  There were many families eating together, very cheerful employees, and some quiet worldly music playing (we wouldn't be listening it as missionaries, but there was nothing bad about it).  Truly it was a place where the Spirit could dwell.  It wasn't a temple or a chapel, but it was a Holy Place.
The different between Chick-Fil-A and the bad TV at Firestone was completely different.  It was a difference between night and day.  As I was sitting at Chick-Fil-A, I realized that I have been very blessed in my life to have always been in Holy Places.  Holy Places do not have to be a temple or a mountaintop, all they have to be is a place where the spirit can dwell. 
We covenanted when we were baptized to stand in Holy Places always.  I think I understood a little bit more about that that day at Chick-Fil-A.  I never want to leave Holy Places. Ever.
We have been doing a lot of Family Home Evenings with the families in the ward, and it is awesome!  I love Family Home Evening!  Really it is just an opportunity to have fun as a family.  It is great!
We taught Julia the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was a powerful lesson.  She has been reading and marking the Book of Mormon.  She can't read very well, because the letters are too small, but she is trying the best that she can, which is awesome!  And that is pure faith!  And we set a baptismal date with her.
We have adopted a Panamanian Grandma.  She is this sweet old lady that we serve, and share a scripture, and she makes us yummy food.  We keep trying to teach her for real.  I know that it will happen someday, but she loves us and we love her!
We had lots and lots of food for Thanksgiving.  We actually ate 3 Thanksgiving dinners (although one was on Friday.)  The first was with the Nunez family, and it was delicious.  She cooks her turkey upside down to make the meat more flavorful, and it was so good!  The second was with the Queiro family, and they had invited their nonmember cousin over as well.  We taught him the first lesson and gave him a Book of Mormon.  They had rice instead of stuffing.  The third was with one of our investigators.  She is from Puerto Rico, and it was a traditional Puerto Rican Thanksgiving.  We had turkey, and rice, and a salad consisting of green platinos, turkey gizzards, olives, and olive oil.  I didn't really like the salad, but everything else that we were given was delicious!
On Friday, we met a modern day John Tanner (The John Tanner Story).  If you haven't watched this film, you should, it is really good! The quote to listen for is "Excuse me, but would you have a copy of that book that I might review?" "Of course, would you like to meet with us after?" 
So we were following up on an old referral from the sisters.  We tried finding Claudia, and she was actually home.  Very hesitantly she permitted us to enter her home and share a brief message about Christmas.  We went inside and met her brother Jose as well.
We introduced the Book of Mormon, read Alma 7:10-11, talked a little bit about Christmas, gave Claudia a copy of the Book of Mormon and said the closing prayer and left. 
After the prayer, Jose (who had been very quiet for most of the lesson) asked us if he could have a copy of the book as well.  He was curious and said that he wanted to read it.  We didn't have another copy with us, but we told him that we could go to our car, and get him his own copy as well. He actually followed us out to the car in the cold, because he really wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon!  Definitely a modern day John Tanner!
And the Rodriguez family came to church!  And on Sunday after Church we had a Christmas sing-a-long.  It was awesome!
Que les duerman con los angelitos,
Hermana Julie Anna Sanchez

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