Friday, May 22, 2015

Word of Wisdom (May 18th)

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been long. Really long.  However it has been filled with lot's of good appointments which is nice.  We have 4 investigators that are really great!  We have two investigators that are on date right now, but unfortunately they will both be attending the English ward.  We will keep teaching on of them because she is an older lady that prefers to have Sisters, and seeing as how we are the only sisters in Stockton we have been asked to teach her. The other is the daughter of a native Spanish speaker that just decided she wants to go to the English ward. Kind of a bummer for us but at least she is still going and is still progressing!

This week we also had two awesome lessons with our sweet older lady who I have named my Latino Grandma.  Anyway, she is so great because even though in the beginning she made it clear that she was Catholic, she has just absorbed everything we teach like a sponge.  This last week we taught her about the temple and about the spirit world and how families can be together forever.  The next time we came back it was like everything we had taught became a part of her.  We also had the opportunity to teach her about the Word of Wisdom.  As we talked about the reason God has given us a code of health and the blessings that come from it we were able to see her explain to us her ideas and her desires to have the blessings of this law in her life.  We set up a plan to help her overcome some of the struggles she has with the Word of Wisdom that she want's to change and we are so excited to see the changes that will come from living this.  I am so grateful for the Word of Wisdom and that God has revealed to us the dangers of using tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs, coffee, and tea.  Even though I may not fully understand physically why it is these five things he has chosen, I have a testimony that as we avoid these things that the Lord will bless us.  Many people think that we are being restricted but I have never once felt that way.  Every time I see someone trapped in the bonds of addiction that come with many of these things I give thanks that I have the freedom to chose to do the things I love without having anything to hold me back.  I know that God has given us this law to protect us and also like any commandment, as we follow God's counsel he gives us so many more blessings. 

I am so grateful to be working with these people.  I love them so much and all I want to do is to help them to experience the fullness of the blessings that come as we live the principles of the gospel.  I know it may not always be easy but I do know that every bit of sacrifice we have to make to live it is worth it!

Anyway, I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!


Hermana Carpenter

God Has a Plan (May 11th)

Hey everybody, I know it has been so long since you have heard from me...I am really grateful for the opportunity I had to talk to each of you that were at Grandma's yesterday, especially in light of Grandpa's passing on Saturday. I am so grateful for all of you and all of your support.  I pray that the Comforter will be with you all during this time as each individual is searching for the peace they need and desire.  After talking with you I got the chance to take some time to think about Grandpa and the memories I have of him along with God's plan for him and each one of us.

Being one of the younger grandchildren means the my memories of grandpa without his memory loss are limited and the memories of him I have of him are different than what they may have been in his earlier years.  Some of the things I remember the most from when I was younger was how much he loved us as his grandchildren.  He was always so happy to see us and always expressed his love for us by giving us nosies before we would leave. I remember when my family lived with him that every Wednesday he would make pancakes and eggs for us which I always looked forward to.

As I got older much of that stopped because of his memory loss, however the memories I have of the time after that are still good and will always be precious to me.  I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to live with he and grandma the last two years before my mission and for the time I got to spend with them. 

Living with a man who had lost his mind definitely leads to some interesting moments.  One of my favorite things that always made me smile was that because he couldn't remember a lot of things he got to have a lot of "first times" over and over again.  Whenever I would make something for dinner he would usually exclaim "I have never had this before.  You're a good cookie!  Some man will be very lucky to have you."  or something along that line.  

Even though he couldn't remember a lot of the time I could always tell when he was in a phase where he could remember because of the little jokes he made.  I can't imagine how hard it would be to lose your memory but when he was himself he always had a good attitude about it.  During these moments he would say something that someone without a memory would say, with a very serious face, and then he would crack a wicked little grin and then walk away.  To me that was his way of saying, I know what is going on and I'm going to make the best of it.  I always admired that about him.

One of the things I admired the most though about him was how that even when he couldn't remember those things he was still able to manifest the things that mattered the most to him by the habits he had formed and the way he spent his day.  His routine was always simple but it was a shining example to me of what I need to always remember in my life.  First of all I know he was a man that loved the gospel.  Each day I would find him in his chair reading out of the scriptures or some other church related book.  Every night we would come together to have family prayer, and every week that he could he would hobble over with Grandma to Sacrament meeting.  Even in his old age I knew that God was first in his life.

Another thing I always would find him doing in his chair was reading from the newspaper.  Even after having been retired from the education system he was still able to show me how important it is to be educated and informed about the things going on in this world.  Grandpa was always reading and was an example to me that I should always be seeking to do the same and learn from the good books that are out there.

Health was another thing that mattered to Grandpa.  Almost everyday when the weather was good Grandpa would head out for his daily walk. As he left the house we would be attired in a jacket (even in the dead of summer), his sunglasses, a hat, his cassette player with headphones, and of course his walker. He would then proceed to complete his lap around the church, which might I add usually took him about an hour.  That didn't stop him though.  

Grandpa was also generous.  He would have given money to every single charity that sent something his way had we let him.  Anyone that came into his home was well taken care of and new exactly where to find all of the cereal and treats.

Through his actions I also know that he loved his wife.  After his meals he would always make sure to wash up his dishes (in unusual ways at times) so that Grandma wouldn't have to.  I also remember one time when Grandma was in the hospital he would ask every day where she was and when he would get to see her.  There was also one specific time when he got left behind and boy was he fit to be tied!  

He was also thoughtful and every time I left for the day he would ask me when I would be home so that he could make sure to leave the door unlocked and the porch light on for me if I got home late.  On a regular basis he would also ask me things like if I was "in the pink" or "in the green" that day which was his way of asking how I was doing.  

Those moments will always be precious to me and I am so grateful to be able to have those memories.

One thing I am also so grateful for during this time is my knowledge of the plan of Salvation.  I am so blessed to have the knowledge that this life is not the end. I know that if I continue to live faithfully that I will get the chance to be with him and the rest of my family forever.  This however I know would not be possible without my Savior Jesus Christ.  As Amulek states in Alma 34, without the atonement of Jesus Christ "all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which is expedient should be made." I can't imagine a life where death was the end. A life where we were doomed to come to earth and form these relationships of love only to have them ripped away from us without the hope of anything else.  Through the Atonement though there is hope.  A loving Heavenly Father prepared a way so that through faith and repentance we can be encircled "in the arms of safety"  we can on day "sit down in [God's] kingdom, to go no more out" and to one day "rest from all of [our] afflictions.  I know that those arms of safety are around Grandpa right now and I know that he is finally resting.  I also know that one day he will enter into God's Kingdom, no more to go out.  Even though I will miss him I find comfort and joy in this knowledge.  I find peace in knowing that if I do all that I can in this life to follow Jesus Christ that I will have claim to those same blessings and get to live with him and all of my other family members again.

I want you to know how much I love you and although I am sad I will be missing this time with the family I am grateful I can help bring this message to those who do not have this hope.  You are all in my thoughts and prayers this week.


Hermana Carpenter

Transfers!! (May 5th)

Hey everybody!!

So as I mentioned last week, transfers are here once again.  I found out last night that I will  be staying here in Stockton for another transfer!  I am really excited to be able to be here.  Things are finally picking up in our area and I know I would have been really sad to leave at this point.  I will be getting a new companion though.  I am so sad to see Hermana Ka'a'a leaving. This transfer has just been so awesome! It we have gotten along so well, have worked hard, and have been able to see the Lord's hand in the work.  My new companion will be Hermana Sellers. I am excited to be working with her and to see what new things this next transfer holds.

So this week has been really crazy but super awesome! Last week on Thursday, we came out of a dinner appointment and looked at our phone and we had four missed calls from someone that was in our phone but that we didn't know.  We called the Lady back right a way and come to find out I actually did know her.  She was an old investigator that Hermana Shawcroft and I had talked to once last transfer but had told us she was moving the next week to LA.  We asked her if she needed help moving but she said no and we never heard from her after that and we didn't go back because we had assumed she had moved. Well guess what, she didn't move!  Anyway, so when we called her she invited us to come eat but since we had already eaten we just went over to talk with her.  When we got there she basically told us that this last week there had been some things that had happened and that she new she needed to start investigating the church again and that she was ready....what!!! She then proceded to tell us that her 26 year old daughter had also been following the blog of some members and that she wanted to learn more about the church too.  On Sunday the mom, daughter, and the 16 year old son were at church and they have started reading the Book of Mormon and everything!  

They are so awesome and I am so grateful for the chance that I get to continue to work with them this next transfer and help them to receive personal confirmation that the Book of Mormon is true and to make that next step towards baptism.

The other investigator we have that is awesome is a lady we are teaching who is in her 70's.  She is the sweetest old lady.  She is basically the Latino version of Grandma Geertsen, but catholic, ha.  So we have been teaching her the last two weeks and it has been amazing to see how the spirit touches her.  One of the first things she mentioned when we met her is that she could see the peace and joy we have and that she wants that in her life.  She is so funny too, the first time we invited her to baptism we asked her that if she came to know if it is true if she would be baptized and she goes "No, I am catholic and I've already been baptized". Her daughter who was right there said yes she would and the mom goes "Really, not me." But then when we had the next lesson where we taught her about the Plan of Salvation, and agency, and Jesus Christ, we challenged her again she had changed her answer to a "Yes, if I find out it is true".  I know that the spirit has been preparing her and that through her desires and through reading the Book of Mormon and praying that she will receive her own answer that it is true.  I also cannot wait to continue to work with her!

There are so many other things that have been going on too and I wish I had more time to talk about them! Hopefully next week I can share some more about the members and their experiences with missionary work this week.

Before a go I just want to give a shout out to all of those mothers out there, especially mine!  I am so grateful to have had such a wonderful mother who has always done her best to teach me the simple truths of the gospel. I'm so grateful for her example and love.  One of my most prominent memories of her is how she always made it a priority to go to the temple.  I remember singing "I love to see the temple" every time we would drive past the Provo, Temple.  I know it is because of her that I have such a great love and appreciation for the temple.  I'm so grateful to for all of the other woman in my life that have been such wonderful examples to me and their motherly care.  I have a special prayer in my heart for all of those mothers out there, especially those who may be struggling.  I love you all and hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day!

I hope you all have a great week!


Hermana Carpenter
Ward Mission leader and his wife the Centenos

The Potters-an English family that works in our ward

The Simple Message of the Restored Gospel (April 27th)

Hola mi familia!

I hope that everything is going well back home!  This week has been such an awesome week.  I finally feel like all of the work Hermana Ka'a'a have done this transfer is finally paying off.  The Lord has blessed us with so many people to teach.  We are also finally getting member referrals which is awesome. This week it just seemed like everywhere we went there were new people to teach and people that were actually interested in what we had to say. It is so amazing to be able to teach the message of the restoration and watch as people open up their hearts and gain a desire to know for themselves.  One of my favorite things is when we start talking to someone and the first thing they say is that they're Catholic and they this wall up, but then as we talk to them and get to know them and share the restoration they open up.  They start asking questions and all of a sudden it doesn't matter that they are Catholic, all they want is to learn for themselves what the truth is and what God want's for them.

One thing that is a testimony to me that this is God's church is the fact that even the way we share the gospel is in line with God's plan for each of His children to have agency and to act for themselves.  I love that when we teach we are not trying to force them to believe what we say. We are not trying to tell them they are wrong.  Rather, we are simply there to tell them that we know there is something more and that they can know it for themselves.  We testify and then we invite them to put in action those things that we teach, to test it out, and to see if this message can change their lives.  Most of all I love that at the center of the message is the importance of asking God.  We know that He is the source of truth and light and that because we are his children and because he loves us that he will help us to know what is true.

Each day I seek to help others find the truth also reminds me of the importance of applying these same principles in my own life.  It is so sad to see how many people have fallen away because they stopped doing those small things like searching for truth, acting in faith, and praying for confirmation that what they are doing is right.  Even though they may seem too simple at times I have such a strong testimony that it is through these simple principles that we can keep our testimonies strong and find peace and joy in this life. This week I rededicated myself to doing each of these with a more sincere heart and with a greater desire to know the truth. I hope that each of you can do the same, especially if these things have been set on the back burner. I know that as you do you will be able to feel the peace that the gospel brings fill your life.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!


Hermana Carpenter

What More Can I Do That right? (April 20th)

Wow, where did this week go??

I feel like I was just writing everyone, and yet here I am again.

This week was a really good week.  Nothing really new going on but Hermana Ka'a'a and I have just been having such good feelings about the work.   We having been sorting through a lot of the people that are not ready yet and we know it is only a matter of time before someone that is prepared comes a long. 

So this week we had Zone Conference which was really good.  We talked a lot about what more we can do that is right.  Instead of focusing so much on what we aren't doing, as a mission we are trying to put our focus more on what more we can do as individuals to be worthy of the spirit and gain the Lord's trust.  It has been awesome to see how much more there is I can be doing as a missionary.  It is a little bit overwhelming but I know that as long as I take it one step at a time and try not to do everything at once that I will see blessings because of it.  Also we learned at zone conference that in 6-8 weeks we will be getting Ipads.  Woooh! I am excited to see all of the cool missionary tools we will have access to through them.  

Also this week I went on exchanges with one of the Sister Training Leaders, Hermana Webb.  She is an awesome missionary and I learned so much from her that I am trying to put into my own missionary work.

So my thoughts this week have been on one of the talks in the April Ensign titled, Faith and Works in a Secular Socitey by Keith B. McMullin.  I really  was impressed by the benchmarks of faith he talked about.  As I have sought to increase my faith on the mission I often struggle with how I can tell that my faith has actually grown.  I loved the four things he talked about that we can use to measure where our faith is at.  He said that we can measure our faith by:

1. The choices we make
2. The devotion we exhibit
3. The obedience we practice
4. The service we give

It is through our desire and ability to make righteous choices, our increase in our devotion to the Lord and His teachings, our obedience to his words, and through our desires to serve and the service that we give that we can see where our faith is at.  As I read this I realized that my faith is growing. Little by little, which is maybe why it is hard to recognize, my desire and ability to do each of these things has increased.  At the same time though it is humbling because I know I have so much more I can do to make better choices, be a more devoted and obedient servant, and seek to serve in all that I do.  I know though that as I seek to increase my faith and follow the Savior that my ability to do these things will increase as well. I think these benchmarks are something we can all use regularly to measure our faith and make the changes we need to to increase our faith.  I know that as we do we will see changes in every one of these areas.  We won't have to be told to do these things but rather we will desire to do each of these in our own lives.

Anyway, I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!


Hermana Carpenter

Me and Hermana Webb

Celebrating Hermana Kaaa's Birthday!