Christmas Eve is a lot more important here in South America than Christmas day so Christmas Eve we couldn’t get an appointment with anyone. Elder Walker and I were talking about what we could do all day that’s when we noticed that we had another box of "He is the Gift" cards that was left over from the conference. We had the best idea. We had to share the pass-a-long cards with everyone we could find while singing Christmas songs in English walking up and down Terrón Colorado. I’m not going to lie, our day was awesome! We started around 2, Christmas ties, Christmas hats the whole shabang and we started to climb the mountain asking people if we could sing Christmas songs to them and their families. We shared 80 pass-a-long cards and got about 60 referrals. It was the best day I’ve had so far with "He is the Gift" pass-a-long cards singing our hearts out until we could sing no more. It was such an amazing moment and we met some super awesome people that we will see again next week.
Next week we start the New Year.
That makes me think of a lot of things, but most of all, I think about the year that has passed and all of the experiences it held.
2014 was my only full year concentrated to the Lord. I have seen moments where I wasn’t sure how I would continue on and others that felt like they could have been the happiest moments of my life. I have seen a large change in my life over the last year and can now see my own progress over this time. It all comes down to a parable found in John 15:1-11
The parable talks about a grapevine. How Jesus Christ is the vine, and if we obey the commandments we are like the branches of the vine that bear fruit. When we disobey the commandments we cut ourselves off from the vine.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” He who has cut himself off from the vine must pass through what is said in verse 6
“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” Sometimes we obey all the commandments but feel we are passing through many trials, afflictions, so much so that we feel that we cannot move on. However, if we endure, we come out much stronger and with the ability to bare more fruit, we are told that
“every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” Just as we must prune the grapes back every year to bear more fruit, the Lord prunes his children back to me the most humble and fructiferous possible.
I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life this last year as he pruned me back and helped me grow. As we approach the 1 year mark of my Dad’s passing, at first I only felt confusion, and injustice, I had only done just as the Lord had commanded me to do, how could He do this to me. What a selfish thought, and how close minded I was to think like that. However, I now see better, that God always has a plan, I may not know that plan but we can only march forward exercizing what is true faith in Him. For the purpose of this life is to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Sometimes we feel like we don’t understand and we throw the white towel in like a toddler who doesn’t understand how to put together a puzzle.
The only way to cultivate faith is by acting.
“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17).
So my CHALLENGE to you all is to think of all the ways the Lord has "pruned" you this past year how you can use those experiences in the next year to better “walk by faith.”
I love you all,
Happy New Year.
I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints is true. I know that my Savior lives, and that he leads this church through his living prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I know that He lives and loves every one of us.
Well this week we spent the majority of the week moving the mission home to a real home. We will now be able accommodate up to 20 missionaries. So, my incredibly awesome spiritual experiences were limited. But I will share with you my favorite from this week.
Thursday the whole office was stuck doing errands all day long. I was not going to be needed so I called a member to go with me all day. It was an awesome day and we started off with Anthony...
Anthony is an investigator that Sister Mendez and Sister Ramos have been teaching with Elder Mejia and Elder Rebolledo, but I wanted to get to know him. So Jimmy (the member) and I went to visit him. Anthony is 22 years old, and very intelligent, which was obvious from the beginning. Though he started to talk about things like realism, evolution, and that God, Jesus Christ and all of Christianity is just mythology, (the sister missionaries had warned me about this, hahaha) that they are just great stories but as to the validity that it actually happened is skeptical. We started to talk about the plan of salvation (one of my most favorite topics to talk about with people) and when we got to the point about how after the resurrection and final judgment there are three places where someone can go, celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. I explained that in order to go to the celestial kingdom you must be baptized and make covenants with God.
He responded that he had already been baptized and done first communion, what more did he have to do?
I told him that he had to enter into a temple of God, a holy place where he could make a covenant between himself and the Lord.
This was something that he never had heard before and his ears perked up and he started to ask me questions. I bore my testimony about the sacredness of temples and how they affect not only this life but most importantly the life to come, and that in the temple you can feel His presence.
He asked me how he could go inside to feel the things that I told him that I had felt and to make those covenants with God, and I told him that he had to enter through the straight and narrow path by being baptized. I told him that we would help him get in the temple in 1 year by being baptized the 10th of January and he accepted. He was very excited to start this personal journey of being more like the Savior. I told him that these things are more than just mythology, but it is the divine reason that explains everything. I told him that many people try to separate God and science when truly what we know about science only bears witness that God exists. It was an incredible moment and I felt awesome. We could feel the spirit so strong.
I love the mission.
Here you can really see the difference you can have in someone’s life.
My challenge for you this week is:
Invite someone to do something concerning the gospel. Challenge a friend to pray as a family every night this week, or to come to church with you. Invite someone to do one of the commandments.
This week we started He is the Gift here in the mission.
Everyday we have to share 10 pass along cards with people and take out a referral. The truth is that it has been an incredible experience. Here in this mission area I can honestly say that we never talked to people as we walked along the streets from appointment to appointment, we had always looked for friends of members, recent converts, less actives and investigators, and found people through them. However with this new initiative that the church has put in place we are talking to a lot more people and it is so awesome. This week we found someone and talked to him, we offered a card and told him that he should go to church with us. He called us that Saturday and sure enough he went to church with us. This mission has exploded with referrals. - Truth is it’s truly incredible. We have had some awesome experiences. To talk with everyone all the time you really come to appreciate the uniqueness of the message that we give:
That families can be together forever
This is the point that I always use to start to talk to people, I always bring one thing up, and that’s the temples.
I tell them that I know that I can have a family for time and all eternity and not just "until death do us part". With the knowledge that I have and the faith that I have that my family will be together forever I feel others can sense that, and it interests them. Who doesn’t want to have a family forever? I love this gospel and how much it has impacted my life. I’m not going to lie, I love the new pass along cards, I find that near the end of the day I always go looking for a new one in my shirt pocket to hand out but then I find I come up short. I had to limit myself to only take 11 out everyday because if not I’d end up without any more cards a week before Christmas. I love this new initiative and the video:
He is the Gift is life changing
(scroll down and watch this wonderful video posted here 11/29th)
So cool note from the week. A referral came into the office the other day, and Elder Rojas (the new records secretary) asked me if I knew where the neighborhood-Santa Rita was at in Cali. When I heard that he had a referral for Santa Rita I couldn’t believe it. I said, "YOUR IN IT!" (the mission home is located here) Santa Rita is one of the richest parts of Cali, and there has never been a member here, nor a baptism, everyone in the office did a little jig, ha-ha. I called the number and a woman answered, her name is Diana Sherwood. The referral that came in was different from the rest, because it wasn’t from the initiative it was directly from the Mormon.org page. Elder Walker planned an appointment to go to her house and meet her. Elder Walker and I went and knocked on the door, the speaker out front of the house said, "Who is it?" We said "The Missionaries!" and all we heard was "Rosita! HURRY OPEN THE DOOR!"
At this point Elder Walker and I are pretty pumped not going to lie, when the housemaid came down and opened the door for us. We climbed the stairs and that’s when two dogs came running out, from inside the house we heard "SILVER! Get back in here!" in perfect English. Diana welcomed us in English and told us to take a sit. We went to her living room and started to talk to her and she was speaking perfect English. She told us that she had left Colombia in 1961 and had lived in various parts of the world but before she came back to Colombia she had been living in San Diego California and when she goes back she plans to buy a house in Orange. She was super comfortable talking to us as missionaries so we had to ask, "Sister Sherwood, have you met missionaries before?"
She started to laugh and pulled out a little paper and handed it to us. It was the baptismal agenda from when she had gotten baptized one year ago in Julian. Elder Walker and I were sitting there in her home with our mouths open. She lives like 2 houses from the office. She has already gone to the temple and she wants us to teach her the lessons again so that she will be ready to get endowed. It was a slap in the face moment we have a member in Santa Rita.
Her family was one of the first to construct a house here in Santa Rita over 70 years ago, and helped Terron Colorado be a recognized neighborhood of Cali. Imagine Terron is the entire mountainside where we spend most of our day preaching and at the base of the mountain where it is flat is Santa Rita. The two are only divided by one street, and the difference between the two is huge.
We are sharing the Gift with everyone. People are hearing the gospel like never before here in Colombia and the children of God are coming unto Christ. Miracles will occur this Christmas, if they are not already occurring.
I love this time of year, I love the mission and I love my Savior, the Prince of Peace.
I challenge you all to talk to at least one person about how your family celebrates Christmas by remembering Jesus Christ. One person that’s it. I know you can do it and I know that you will feel good doing it as well. It’s easiest to start the conversation in terms of something else, like Christmas lights or something and then in the appropriate moment in the conversation talk about your beliefs, be bold. Open your mouths and speak miracles.
I love you all
Have a great week. Tomorrow is candle day in Colombia, pictures to come guaranteed.