Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Birthdays and baptisms

Thank you everyone for all of the Birthday wishes via email, cards/letters, and packages! I have the best bunch of family and friends!

This week was so awesome.  Both the members and missionaries were so awesome.  My birthday morning started out with opening presents and cards.  We did studies, went and visited one of our recent converts and then we went and had lunch with Sister Palmer and all of the sisters from our zone and then had a little meeting where we talked about the work here in Lodi. She was so sweet and payed for all of us. It was awesome to get to know her one on one. I love her.  Sister Palmer then went with us to a lesson with another recent convert. Sister Palmer is trying to learn Spanish and it was so awesome to see her testify in a language that she hardly knows.  The spirit was so strong though! After that we went and tried visiting a couple of other people but no one was home.  After that we met up with Sister Wilson and Sister Allen and got ice cream sundaes from the Velvet Grill. They were delicious!  We had correlation after that and the Ward Mission Leader bought Dominoes (my fav.) and so we had pizza.  By the end of the day I was feeling a little sick because of all of the eating out and what not but it was all so good.  I feel so spoiled!

Also to make things even better my investigator, Claudia, from Stockton got baptized on Saturday!! She has been ready for a while but her schedule has been so crazy that they had to keep changing the date. I got a message early in the week though saying it was finally going to be happening.  It was great to be able to go back and see her and her mom who is also investigating, as well as the members and missionaries serving there.  I am so excited for her and how much I know this will bless her life.  

Beatrice was at church again this Sunday. I love her.  It is so awesome to see the change that has come over her these last few weeks.  She is so happy and you can tell she feels the peace of the gospel in her life.  I was so glad she was in church because in sacrament meeting they talked about temples and families.  I could feel the spirit testifying so strongly of how families can be eternal and that it is through the temple that we can all have that.  I know that she could feel it too.  After church she was talking about how she wants her other family members to come to church so that they can feel it too.  We are working on that. She has a lot of family though so we are hopeful! I am so grateful to be working with her and helping her move towards that goal of going to the temple one day.  

The work here is good though.  I am doing great!

I hope you all have a wonderful week this week.  Lot's of love!

Hermana Carpenter

Monday, July 13, 2015

Teaching the Gospel and Eating Bugs

Hey there everyone! Another week has come and gone and it has been a really good week.

So I guess I will start by addressing the title of my email.  Yes, I really ate live bugs, beetles to be exact.  No, it was not bad as you would think, and yes, I did it of my own free will and choice.  Surprised? I was too.  Anyway, so yesterday we were visiting a recent convert and his wife was in the kitchen and had this container with bread covered in beetles.  Usually I am grossed out by bugs but for whatever reason I was intrigued.  I had heard of these little guys (Chinese beetles) before but hadn't actually met anyone who ate them.  Well my thought process was "I wonder if I could actually eat one of those...I kind of want to try...If they offer I am going to eat one" And then they offered. I started out with just two.  I put them in my mouth live and then swallowed them like pills.  They are actually kind of spicy.  Hermana Porter and I decided though that two was too wimpy so we went for a little handful.  Needless to say we ate them and we didn't throw up and we didn't die.  I can now check eating a bug on purpose of my list of things I have done.  I am also feeling a little more confident that if I ever go to a country and am offered bugs for a meal I might actually be able to do it!

Bug's aside, we have had some really awesome experiences with investigators this week as well.  Right now we are teaching this couple named Beatrice and Enrique.  They were taught by the sisters before us but then were really busy for a month and so we hadn't met with them until about a week and a half ago.  We had some really awesome lessons with them this week and the spirit was really strong.  Our lesson on Saturday was especially good though. We had the opportunity to ask her about if she believed that the Book of Mormon was true and if Joseph Smith was a prophet.  She looked at us and without pausing gave a sincere "Si, se que todo de estas cosas son verdaderas y yo quiero ser bautizado esta mez." In english that is yes, I know that all of these things are true and I want to be baptized this month.  It has been so amazing to see how quickly she has gained a testimony as she has sincerely studied the Book of Mormon and prayed.  Her husband isn't quite there yet and she is so funny because she told him during our lesson that she thought it was because she was reading the Book of Mormon and he wasn't.  We had to laugh a little inside because it is so true. The Book of Mormon really is key in conversion.  

I have thought a lot this week about Beatrice and my other investigators and about conversion.  One thing I have really been thinking about in relation to them is the importance of feeling the gospel.  It is not simply enough to learn the gospel.  Acquired facts, even about truths, are not enough to lead to a lasting conversion.  It isn't enough simply to believe what is being said because it makes sense.  We have to do our part to feel what is being said is true.  The more I am on my mission the more I have come to understand that from the point of view of a teacher and also the point of view as someone who is seeking to know what is true in this life.  I know that I am an active member of this church not because of what I know factually but in reality because what I have felt in my heart as I study the Book of Mormon and as I listen to and live the teachings of Jesus Christ and his servants. My goal lately as I teach and bear testimony has been to really focus on this aspect. On helping those I teach to feel the power of the Book of Mormon, to feel the small whispering of the spirit testifying of the truthfulness of the gospel.  

I know that this is the reason Beatrice is where she is at. I know this is why when at church yesterday and her husband wanted to go home after the first hour she held her ground and said she was going to stay all three even if it meant it was without him.  She feels it, and Hermana Porter and I can feel it as she bears simple testimony of the things she is learning and feeling.  
I love the scripture in Alma 5:26 that says "And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"  Can you feel it? Are we doing what we need to everyday to fell the gospel and in reality the love of Jesus Christ every day?  Are we allowing our hearts to be continually changed by his words and his teachings?  I try to ask these questions to myself on a regular basis and if I find myself feeling like it has been a while since I have felt it I do all I can to bring myself back where I need to be.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful week! Thanks for all of the love and support and early birthday wishes! Love you all!


Hermana Carpenter

p.s. hope you enjoy my bug pictures!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Half way done say what??

Hey everyone, sorry I have been slacking off a little bit with my group emails.  I am going to repent though and make sure they are better from now on!  This week though I will be hitting my 9 month mark which means I will have now served half of my mission.  Sometimes I feel like I have been here forever and sometimes I feel like I am barely getting the hang of things.  I wonder what I am going to be feeling when I am getting on a plane to come home.  Thinking about how quickly that will come based off of these past 9 months just makes me to work even harder and use every minute I have here to it's fullest.  I know I still have so much more to learn and do!

I hope that everyone had a good 4th of July.  It was weird not being with family or watching the Stadium of Fire fireworks this year.  My 4th of July was good but a little hard at the same time.   Hermana Porter and I were planning a baptism all week and then on Saturday it fell through at the last minute.  It was for the daughter of a member who really want's to get baptized. Her dad is all for it but her mom, not so much.  We were working all week to try and get her permission.  It was difficult because she wouldn't even talk to us.  Really all we want is to understand where she is coming from and help her to understand what it is her daughter is learning and why it is she wants to be baptized.  Sometimes it is frustrating when you want something so badly, for all of the right reasons, and then it doesn't happen.  I know though that God has a plan for this girl and I know that even though it didn't turn out that we felt prompted to plan this baptism and work with this investigator like that for a reason. That night though we got to play sports with all of the missionaries which helped to lift our spirits.

This week we also had a really cool experience with a referral we received.  So the referral started out with just a phone number, which usually when we get those don't go anywhere.  However when we called it, the guy answered and asked when we could come over.  We set up an appointment and everything seemed great.  So this guy lives on a ranch, kind of in the middle of nowhere and we pull up and there was a guy outside with a horse.  It wasn't the guy we were there to meet with but he directed us into the back and said he would go find who we were looking for.  When we meet the guy, his name is Fidencio, he leads us to where he had a table and some chairs.  He seemed nice enough but we were slightly worried because we were in the middle of nowhere and with not many people around. There were no spiritual promptings though to make us really worried so we started with the lesson. About five minutes into the lesson he stops us and then says (in spanish of course) "One minute, I will be right back".  We are like, okay, this is kind of weird.  Then he returns with this English lady named Deanna.  She sits down and starts talking.  She was super nice and we were really relieved.  Anyway so it turns out they both really are interested in learning about the gospel.  We taught the restoration and at the end extended baptismal dates and they both accepted!  In fact part way through the lesson Deanna asked us "So I have been thinking a lot about how I need to change my life and that from what I know about church I think I need to be baptized, can you help me with this?"  It was amazing to see how ready she was for everything.  We referred her to the English Sisters who are now teaching her. 

We also had a return lesson with Fidencio and it was great!  He said that he had never prayed before so for the lesson we just talked about prayer and about revelation.  It was amazing to see how the spirit was able to teach him the importance of prayer and how through prayer we can receive answers directly from God.  At the end of the lesson we invited him to pray and he accepted and gave a simple but sincere prayer.  It was so special to be a part of that experience and to see how he wanted to begin to make prayer a part of his life.  It really touched me because I know how much prayer has blessed my life.  Prayer was what helped me to learn that I really do have a Heavenly Father that loves me and knows me.  I know that God answer's our prayers because He has answered mine over and over again.  It was through this knowledge that my desire to follow him grew.  My desire to read the scriptures and to keep His commandments grew.  I know that where I am today is in large part due to prayer.  As we were leaving the lesson I just was so happy because I knew that if he really did apply those things and sincerely pray that it would change his life.  

I am so excited to see where his progress goes over the next couple of weeks and to be able to continue to teach him the precious truths of the gospel.

This week I have been studying about Alma the younger.  I love how much I have been learning about how I can be a better missionary.  The thing that really stuck out to me is how prayer played such a big role in his missionary work.  As I have studied and taught about prayer I have been analyzing my prayers and trying to see where I can improve them to really help prayer become a stronger tool in my day to day missionary work.

Well I think that about sums this week all up!  Hope all of you are doing well.  Don't forget to pray!


Hermana Carpenter

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My Week In A Nutshell

Hey everyone,

Sorry this email is so lame this week!  This week was bittersweet as we said our goodbyes to President and Sister Jardine.  I love those two but am excited to meet our new president this week.  I'm sure it will be great!

I have attached some pictures from our farewell.  Have a wonderful week!


Hermana Carpenter