Monday, December 2, 2013

December 2, 2013

I just received your package and I am SO overwhelmed with gratitude for you guys. You don't know how much that means to me. There are so many missionaries out here whose families aren't very supportive, and I am just so grateful that you all support my decision to serve and that you keep me staying positive! I honestly could not do this without your support. so thank you thank you THANK YOU!! This was definitely the best week of my mission so far...I've had some of the most joyful, spiritual experiences of my life this week and I will treasure these memories for the rest of my life!!! After preparation day ended last week, we went and visited Sister E. Shes a less active member and she owns a shop here in Alexandria and works a lot so her life is very hectic. She was really busy and was having a really awful day and we shared a quick spiritual message with her and I think it really lifted her spirits! From there we went and tried to visit TONS of people, but no one was home. we ended up at S's! She let us in and told us how frustrated she is right now because her apartment management isn't helping her out with all the issues her apartment has because she is Chinese. That apartment complex is known for taking advantage of immigrants and people of different races so it was just so disappointing to hear this! She invited us to come back for dinner on Saturday. She asked us if we've ever eaten duck before, but with her accent it sounded like she said dog. she was like "have you had dog before? I haven't ever cooked it, but I'm going to make it for you!" I was freaking out and then she got the duck out of the fridge and I was just like " oh good.." haha!! as we were leaving she asked us where we live. we live about 15 minutes away from her and so she just hugged us and thanked us for coming just to visit her. it made me feel so good to make her feel cared about!! we ended the night having FHE with L and T! I just can't tell you enough how much I love those two...they are so full of joy and every time we go over there I leave with a big smile on my face. They are truly my friends and it's so much fun to teach them! On Tuesday we did studies and then for language study we went over to a woman named Angela. she's a member of a neighboring ward and she's from BRASIL!! She's a member of the church but her husband is not supportive of her membership so she doesn't come to church anymore. She had about 3 other Brasillians there and none of them spoke English!! It was amazing practice! I really understood a lot of what was said and I felt really confident. After that we went and saw Do. She's the sister of a ward member and she's living with them for awhile. We've been teaching her a bit but up to this point I think she had felt really pressured into listening to us. So we went and saw her and it was just us and her and it was such a great visit! we got to know her better and let her know that we really care about her and she realized that we are just normal people so she shouldn't feel pressured into anything! it was funny because last time we had challenged her to pray daily and her sister was like "yes. just focus on one thing and see if you get an answer" well, she thought she could only ask for one thing while praying! she was like "I've been really selfish this week. I actually prayed for 3 things the other night.." so we cleared that up for her!! we had dinner with the relief society president and then had a meeting with her and our ward mission leader. we ended the night visiting another family i love so much! we read the scriptures with them. it's really hard for them to understand the book of mormon, but they're making great progress. Thanksgiving Eve was a wonderful day as well! we had zone and district meetings and I really learned a lot there. we were reminded that there needs to be a sense of urgency in this work! you know i'm a laid back person, but since becoming a missionary I've been working 10X harder than before and I have never been happier! We are so exhausted at the end of the day, but it's just so rewarding and I know that I just need to keep trying harder!! it's been really great serving with my current companion because we respect each other and we both have a say in things and that our opinion really matter. we learn and grow together and that's something i really appreciate! we went and did facebook. I think there is potential there for someone to teach! we then went and had dinner with Sister B, and her daughter and daughters friend. we went to this place called the silver was sooo good! i had a banana nutella milkshake. to die for!! but the best part of the meal was talking to her daughter. she's in her junior year of college...exactly where I'd be if i weren't out here! this time of year, it's incredibly hard to be away from home. I am very lonely and I miss you guys a lot! but talking to sister b's daughter helped me recognize that i am exactly where I need to be! i am giving up the instant gratification of being with friends and family and dating and all that stuff, for a lifetime of irreplaceable experiences and an opportunity to build my testimony so i can raise strong children! the experiences i am having on my mission are teaching me things i could not learn anywhere else! I don't mean to sound like a snob or rude about her daughter not being on a mission. I'm just saying I'm where i am meant to be and it's wonderful to know that! as we ate, a waiter walked by and asked if we were all sisters. he got baptized 2 years ago. the b's were baptized 5 years ago. sister b was super mean to the missionaries at first, but now she's such an amazing member! after dinner we met the W's. they're probably in their 50s. great couple! then we had a lesson with E, our 10 year old investigator. i am learning a lot about teaching young people here! it's really fun and it helps me explain things more simply. we found out on Tuesday that we're not allowed to knock doors on Thanksgiving, so we had been trying all day to find places to go for Thanksgiving! as of Wednesday night we only had 3 solid places to visit!! This was probably the most unique thanksgiving I've ever had! after studies, we were sort of at a loss of what to do. we didn't want to just drop in on anyone so we called sister r and asked if we could come rake her leaves. so we did! then we headed to our first meal of the day at the D's! :) bother d told us his conversion story. they only have one child left at home so it was a pretty small gathering. for our spiritual thought we sang for the beauty of the earth. i played guitar. they loved it! it was so fun. from there we went back to the r's for our dinner! i thought of you guys and how great dad treats mom. dad is so patient and kind. I NEVER doubted the love you two have for each other. we were in their home for most of the evening. we were supposed to go see the A's, but they weren't home so we grabbed the ward list and decided to call the H's. we shared a spiritual thought with them and i wondered what one earth we'd do with the rest of our night as we left their home. we had a text from Lsaying we could come over! so we did! we sang for her and talked with her. My companion brought up baptism and L said she 100% decided that she and T are getting baptized!!!! I can't even explain the joy I felt in that moment. I just thought "This is why I'm here!!" This makes all the hard stuff worth it! The mission is not easy! I expected Thanksgiving to be full of fun times in members homes, but it didn't turn out that way. This experience showed me how the gospel and the work I'm doing now are the only way to lasting joy and peace. did i get to play games and have fun all day? no. was i with my family and loved ones? no. but this was definitely one of the best, most memorable thanksgivings EVER!! Friday did not start out very well. i felt very homesick. i really just wanted to be home and with my family. at first i just kept this to myself because i was kind of embarrassed that i felt this way, but then i to;ld my companion how I felt. it's kind of interesting because both my companions here in DC have not come from super warm, loving homes and they don't get home sick very often. sister b really helped me feel better and about an hour later i realized how irrational i had been! funny how those hormones work! so we did weekly planning and it went great! i really love being with Sister B because she's very genuine. apparently i have been offending her by not eating what she cooks, so we made a deal that I'll eat one thing she makes per day. you have to make these kind of sacrifices to be a unified companionship. I'm sure this will help me compromise in my marriage!! we then went on facebook! after that we went and helped L organize and pack for her move. we then went with her to a members home where she wants to rent out there basement. they are vegetarians so L can't cook meat in their home! but she's cool with it and is gonna move in there so i hope it works out wel1. L went and got us dinner and we took it to her place and watched finding faith in Christ. it was like a Friday night with friends, but in a super mormon/ religious way! it was a lot of fun and we answered lots of her questions and just strengthened our relationship with her! when we were out in public with her i laughed at how funny we must look and she goes "you know you guys are more than just missionaries to me. you're like my cool little sisters, with a big religious emphasis!" it was so sweet. i have loved being in Franconia and working on building friendships with my investigators! Saturday truly exceeded every expectation I had. I feel like it was almost indescribable, but I'll try my best to do it justice! I was really nervous that I'd miss Leesburg so much and not want to come back to Franconia. Luckily, that wasn't the case. Obviously I miss it a lot and it'll always hold a special place in my heart, but I've grown to love Franconia a lot! so Sister D drove sister s and i up to leesburg for the baptism. at transfers we literally swapped companions so we just did a mini exchange for the baptism. in typical mormon/brasillian fashion, it started late! Andresa looked so beautiful in white! she was so excited that i could come. it was really great seeing the members. Sister S said the ward really misses me, and that made me feel so great! we helped Andresa get ready and then the program began. i said the opening prayer, then Fielding's brother gave a talk in Portuguese about baptism. then Andresa's niece played "i am a child of god" on violin. that's when the water works began for both Andresa and I!! after the musical number, Sister W gave a beautiful talk on the gift of the holy ghost. She had Andresa come up to the stage and she wrapped her in a comforter, it was so cute. but then she just looked at Andresa and told her how incredibly happy she was and how this is truly one of the great days of her life, to see her baptized. as i listened to this talk and looked around me at all of Fielding's family, i was so overwhelmed at the magnitude of what was happening for this family. the strength of the Spirit i felt was indescribable and Andresa felt that so strongly! we then headed to the baptims. we skyped Andresa's mom so she could watch. I'm not sure I've experienced such immense happiness before. sister s and i just hugged and cried and it was like i could never experience more happiness than I did in that moment. I will treasure that memory forever...we then had a testimony by the ward mission leader and the bishop welcomed her into the ward. the program ended and we had to say goodbye. Andresa and I just hugged and cried and she thanked me over and over again. It really amazes me the love I develop for these people. it comes so quickly and easily! i will remember Andresa for the rest of my life! shes my first convert, and my first brasillian convert! :) i wish everyone could feel the joy i felt that day. i wish every family could be brought together the way the W's family were that day. Andresa was so prepared for the gospel, but it was still such an amazing experience to witness her life change because of and through the gospel. I really didn't want to leave! when we got back to Franconia we went and saw brother C. he is an older man. he is so sassy! i love him! we then went and had a lesson with L at a members home. we taught the gospel of Christ and i really don't think it could have gone much better. L is an incredible person. we rode to the appointment with her and when she was driving she cussed in front of us, so when she said the prayer in the lesson she asked the Lord for forgiveness for that. it was so funny! after that we had dinner at S's! I'm so glad I'm not on a mission in china cause they don't stop feeding you! the food was really great though! and i ate with chopsticks! we got to talk to sue a bit about who God is. we are just taking it as slow as possible with her. then we stopped by the A's for awhile. it's so sad because none of the members have reached out to them and they are really discouraged. we're trying our best to find members to help them!! Sunday was so great!! i wasn't too excited since it was fast Sunday, but it really exceeded my expectations! ;) we had testimony meeting and L got up and bore her testimony! It was wonderful! she is so brave and I just love her so much! she even went up and told bishop she's getting baptized. she's so excited.the lesson in relief society was really awesome. it was all about why life is so hard. many sisters shared their struggles and it made me realized that i shouldn't ever wish for my mission to end so that life can be "easy." life is never easy! the way to make it easy is to find joy in spite of all our trials. that just really hit me yesterday and reminded me to enjoy this season of my life as much as i can. we had lunch with the Bayouths after church. we then went and saw doni and the cumberlands! it's great because doni is recognizing that we visit her because we love her. D left the room for a bit and her sister just cried and told us how happy she is that D is now learning about the gospel because it's really strengthening their relationship. that made me so happy! we then had dinner at the D's. sister d is an amazing cook! she gave us a cute mini Christmas tree for our apartment. we ended the night having yet another lesson with L and T! it's been a L week! but i think she needed. we talked about obedience, prophets, 10 commandments, and the sabbath day. she took it so well! I'm just so amazed at how the spirit is working in her! on our way home, My companion expressed some concerns because she feels like she hasn't been feeling the spirit very much. i told her that as missionaries i think we can get stuck in ruts because we feel the spirit so much that it doesn't seem as special to us at times. i was kind of experiencing this before andresa's baptism and i was worried that after the baptism, nothing would compare to that spirit i felt. the complete opposite has happened though! i just feel renewed and more motivated to do this work because I've seen the results that can come of it! this truly has been a marvelous week. i wish you all could be here to experience it with me! but you're not and i know that heavenly father is taking care of us all while were' apart! i love you all so much and miss you tons, but i feel your love so strongly as well as heavenly fathers. hope your weeks are great! love you!! Sister Pehrson :)

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