Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Life on the Rez - Week 12

Yoo-hoo! Family!

        First off if you don't get the Disney reference, maybe you shouldn't be in this email list.... Just kidding I love you all!!!
        Well I am definitely still being humbled, like everyday. So that's good. This past week or so have been a little hard. See, in the Native American communities, every three months they get their money from the
government for being native, they call it per cap. Well that whole week when they get their money the missionaries always have such a hard time having lessons because no one is home, they are all out
spending all of the money they just got. 

BUT! We had a baptism this past Saturday! There were five baptisms in our stake, two of them in
our ward!It was finally Charles' day.  Last time that we taught him before his baptism the Spirit was so strong. He told us about how he completely changed his life about a year ago and how he finally started coming to church, and my appreciation for this man grew so much. He truly has been converted to follow Jesus Christ and always is searching for ways to become and even better disciple. Man, I am just so proud of him! On Saturday after his baptism he just kept thanking us for coming to teach him and how he felt clean and whole. It was such a tender moment. Later that day we went to my first Pow-wow!
 It was way cool! But we saw Charles there and he saw us and said sassily, man I told you guys I would be at church tomorrow, you didn't have to follow me! Hahahaha I love this guy!  We were supposed to have two baptisms on Saturday, but the other one (Judy) was so sick! She woke up with a fever and upset stomach. Satan is really working hard on this poor lady. Missionaries have been teaching her for about a year and her date for baptism keeps moving around. She is so ready spiritually but she has some illnesses that really keep her down sometimes. We are now striving for the 7th of November which is the day before Sister Havea leaves so we are really hoping that it all works out for that day! 
Halloween is in full swing here in Arizona! So many people go all out! Almost all of the houses have decorations and there was a community party on Friday and I kid you not, every single person was dressed up. And I'm not talking simple whatever you have in the closet that afternoon costumes, I'm talking like they sent days if not weeks to finish their costumes! Crazy! A little girl (Aniah) we teach was a port-a-potty. So cute an funny, I'll have to attach a pic for ya'll. This evening we have the ward trunk-or-treat, which apparently is a huge thing around here. We have been told that hundreds of people come and a lot of them are nonmembers. So the SEVEN missionaries we have here in the one Papago ward are having a booth where we are giving out copies of the Book of Mormon that have testimonies of the ward members written on the inside cover, pass along cards, all sorts of pamphlets, and the big thing that we are doing is we are having a raffle for a huge and so beautiful picture of Jesus Christ. And then all of the people who enter the raffle has to put down their phone number and address so that the missionaries can come by and drop off a small picture of Christ. It is going to be pretty great! The other missionaries say that the booths that they have had in the past are always really successful. Hopefully this will help with our lack of lessons as of lately.... 
This Saturday so on Halloween, all of the missionaries in the valley get to go to the temple for the evening. President Sweeney says that it can get pretty crazy here on Halloween night and it isn't a successful night to proselyte, so we we get to spend the whole evening in the temple! He has also encouraged us to take family names with us to do so Sister Havea and I will be working on that this week. 
It has been getting cooler here! And by cooler I mean that it is only 90 degrees at nine o'clock at night instead of 100. But progress is progress right? Ha. Sometimes it even gets down to 60 at night, those nights are the best :) 
This week in my studies I have really realized my true love of the Book of Mormon. I mean I know that I have said it before but it just really hit me this week how powerful it is. I am in the part of Alma where the sons of Mosiah and Alma the younger are teaching the Lamanites, and maybe it is because I am on my mission now but I am just amazed at their strength and testimonies especially through all their trials, and how they were such amazing missionaries. They truly knew how to teach people not lessons. That is something that I think I am still working on, maybe that is why their stories have touched me so much this week. There is so much that I am still learning and I thought, if I trust God then it really doesn't matter what I don't understand. And that is the true test here, isn't it? How much do we trust God to follow Him and the plan that he has set out for us. Sometimes we may not know exactly what that plan is, but that is what the trust and faith is for, so that one day we will know what that plan is or maybe we can see his plan for us in retrospect and be thankful for the trials and experiences we had that made us the person we became. There is a Mormon message that talks about a man that gets stuck in the snow when he goes out to get firewood. He says a prayer asking for God to send him someone that can help him return home. Instead of just sitting by the road and waiting for God to do all of the work, he went and he did what he knew he could do and he cut firewood and tried his best to get his truck out of the snow. After the truck is full of wood the man decides to try again and is able to make it out of the snow bank. It was because of the load or weight in the bed of the truck that put enough pressure on the truck so he could get out. The story goes on to say that we all have loads and trials and it is only because of these things that we are able to move on along the path home. These things make us who we are and give us opportunities to strengthen our faith in Christ and our relationship with God. So even though our trials are hard to bear they are great experiences we have to grow our testimonies and really rely on the Lord and His Atonement. 
I love you guys so much! I hope you are doing well and find strength in the Lord through your hard as well as god times. 

Love and prayers,
Sister Welch 

P.S. I love my district.

Pictures from the Rez

I asked Sister Welch (Bex) for some pictures from the Rez, and this is what she sent me.  No telling me who the people are, but glad to see the faces she sees regularly.

Life on the Rez - Week 11

This week was pretty chill. We had a lot of visits and lessons, but
nothing too crazy. Every Thursday night we have sports night with our
ward and it is a pretty good activity to get people from the community
to come and meet us in a casual setting. This week our zone leader was
on exchanges with the district leader during sports night and I
thought he was going to die. hahaha the members just get so into the
game (usually basketball), they love their rez ball! It was so funny
to watch Elder Johnson's reactions to their craziness. On Friday night
Sister Havea and I traveled up to the reservation in the mountains to
attend a funeral of one of the ladies she worked with. She was only 25
and had a little girl and husband. It was quite possibly one of the
saddest things I have been to in my whole life. There were so many
people and they were all crying. I didn't even know anyone there and I
was crying! On a happier note though.... on our way home we stopped
for dinner and we were walking up to the restaurant and saw these guys
waving fanatically at us. I thought that Sister Havea knew them
because she had served in the area where we were eating but she had no
clue who they were... turns out they were RM's and they were super
nice and bought our dinner! They said that they knew the poor
missionary life at almost the end of the month, haha. Other than that
we had a pretty slow week. Hopefully I will have more stories next
time :) One thing that I really liked during studies this week was
this quote by Elder Oaks: "The purpose of the gospel is to transform
common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change." I
can literally see this as I serve the people here in Arizona. Hope you
all are doing well! Love you guys!

Sister Welch

Monday, October 12, 2015

Life on the Res - Week 10

        It feels like the weeks here are getting shorter and shorter (and it
has nothing to do with the fact that it gets dark now at 6 o'clock in
the evening...)! Last Monday we found out that President Sweeney
forgot that Sister Havea wanted to extend so her ticket to Tonga is
already bought for the 9th of November! Our time left together
literally just got cut in half. So we have been trying to work extra
hard and make the most of the time we have left! (a month left
together may seem like a ling time but it flies by out here!)
        We now have two investigators on date for the 24th of this month!
Judy and Charles! Judy has been meeting with us for a while and she is
finally taking the plunge (no pun intended... well maybe a little...)
and then Charles is the older man that we have seen for only a couple
weeks who had a heart attack. It is the best thing to see people
changing to come to Christ right before our eyes. One of the less
actives we are meeting with, well she isn't so less active now, is
coming with us to do baptisms at the temple next week and we are going
to start teaching her the temple preparation classes  so she can
receive her endowments! She is an amazing example for her family, but
not all of our less actives are making such great progress... There is
a quote by Elder Bednar that says "After we come out of the waters of
baptism, our souls need to be continually immersed in and saturated
with the truth and the light of the Savior's gospel. Sporadic and
shallow dipping in the doctrine of Christ and partial participation in
His restored Church cannot produce the spiritual transformation that
enables us to walk in a newness of life. Rather, fidelity to
covenants, constancy of commitment, and offering our whole soul unto
God are required if we are to receive the blessings of eternity...
Total immersion in and saturation with the Savior's gospel are
essential steps in the process of being born again." It is so true. We
cannot expect to automatically have all these blessings and a great
testimony and relationship with Christ if we aren't putting in any
work.  Slowly I think we are getting them to understand and as long as
they are making progress I'm happy :)
        This week we had a Zone Training Meeting and it was amazing. First
off my zone leaders are like the coolest thing since sliced bread and
they are super in tune with the Spirit which makes them even cooler.
Anyways, we discussed a lot our reasons for coming on missions and how
that fuels us to be the best we can be. Some of the cools things that
we said were: "If we are striving to be celestial beings, we cannot
use terrestrial words and still expect to reach that goal" and "if we
want miracles like God performs then we have to live as God lives".
Elder Johnson, one of the zone leaders posed the question, what's your
why? I really had to ponder why did I really come on a mission and
this is the conclusion that I reached: before my mission I had a
testimony but I came on a mission to be converted. It is so important
to keep an open mind and heart everyday so that that conversion can
take place. Just like Elder Holland has said, belief is a good start.
But that's just what it is, a start. We sing all the time the hymn
Called to Serve. Called to serve what, called to serve when, and
called to serve how? If reaching our own conversion is the end goal,
we have to start now on that path back to Him. I am learning so much
every day and what I am learning I love to share. READ THE BOOK OF
MORMON IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. It answers all questions and calms
all fears. It has for me and I know it can for you, but it can't
change your life if you don't read it.
        Last night we had a Mission President's Fireside where recent
converts to the church bore their testimony and President Sweeney and
our stake president spoke. A few of our investigators came as well as
some of the less actives we have been working with. Once of the guys
that came the elders have been trying to get to come back to church
for almost a year! Sister Havea and I visit his aunt who lives right
behind him and one day when we saw her we decided to leave a note and
flyer inviting him to the fireside and he actually came! We were so
surprised! And then we were talking to him after and he said he is
going to start coming to church and the sports night that the
missionaries host every Thursday! So cool and all from a note! We
didn't even talk to the guy! Anyway, the fireside was pretty amazing.
There was a 13 year old young man from our ward that spoke about how
he fond the church and joined. When he bore his testimony I cried...
it was so sweet. He has so much faith and is such an example for all
of his family who are now investigating as well. He already knows that
he wants to go on a mission and you can see the Spirit radiating from
this young man. He has been through so much, just like most of the
youth that live on the reservation. It seems like they all have been
in a group home at at least one point in their lives, but all of them
have such great and strong testimonies and know that they can draw
from the Savior's strength. What great examples they are to the rest
of the ward.
        The work here is great! I love you all, and look forward to all of
your emails, letters, and packages! Keep being the amazing lights that
you are :)

Sister Welch

Life on the Res - week 9

So it has not been that long since my last PDay so this is probably
going to be a little short... At the end of last week we sang at two
funerals. I only ever met one of the people that had died but the
worst part was when members that I have come to love were so upset and
one of the older ladies came up and gave me a big hug and just cried
on my shoulder. But right after that we got to go to general
conference which is always like my most favorite thing ever. I really
loved and enjoyed all of the talks but some of my favorites were the
three members of the church presidency and of course Elder Holland. I
definitely have some things to really think about and work on for sure
:) haha well yeah... During my personal study earlier this week I had
the privilege of reading the first presidency message in the Ensign
for this month. SO GOOD! President Uchtdorf said some really amazing
things, he talked about how in Ancient Greece they had a relay race
where the runners to win had to cross the finish line with a lit
torch. He related how this is like how we must keep the light of
Christ during our race of life. He said "while it is important to
start the race, it is even more important that we finish with our
touch still lit... For the touch is not about us or what we can do. It
is about the savior of the world. And that is a light that annoy ever
be dimmed. It is a light that swallows the darkness, heals our wounds,
and blazes even in the midst of deepest sorrow and unfathomable
darkness. It is a light that surpasses understanding." Other than that
not much else has been going on exciting, well except for the changing
hearts of the people we are working with :) Erica is doing amazing! We
see her almost every day and when we don't see her she calls us with
questions. She was so excited for general conference so she could see
the living prophet, how cool is that? Our next baptism isn't for a few
weeks so that will be really amazing! I'll for sure keep you posted
about all the other fun stuff that happens this week!

Love y'all!
Sister Welch

Life on the Res - 30 Sept 2015

Sweet mother of pearl, has it already been a whole transfer out in the
mission field?!?! I am no longer the baby missionary any more, yay!
Sorry for not mentioning that last week for all of you who await to
hear all the interesting things that happen here on the Pima Maricopa
Indian reservation..... This week was Native American day so a lot of
people were not at home cause they have huge celebrations with all
kinds of vendors and dances and lots of super cool stuff like that! We
are trying to stay as busy as we can and visit a lot of people. We got
two new investigators! Erica is 18 and her family used to come to the
church but she was never baptized and is really interested now and
loves coming to church with us! She asks so many good questions in our
lessons and I can tell she is really wanting to change and learn more.
Our other new investigator is Charles, he is an older gentleman who
has been coming to church since February but told the missionaries
then that he wasn't interested in getting baptized. But a week or so
ago he came up to us before church and said he wants to be baptized
and asked what he had to do to be ready! So we are reaching him now as
well and he already knows quite a bit just from church attendance. We
put him on date for the 24th of this coming month!
We get to do a ton of service out here on the reservation, almost
everyday. I love it! It is such a good way for me to get to know the
members of our ward a little better, plus they usually make us
breakfast which is a plus!
 Sometimes, it is hard here though. When I came out my brother told me
that the hardest part about missionary work is other people's agency
and when they don't use it to do the things they know they should. I
see that with a lot of our less actives and sometimes even our
investigators, but I still love them and want to help them in any way
that I can. I so wish that I could shake some of the people we are
working with! They know the things they should be doing but are
holding themselves back from blessings of church attendance and going
to the temple because of stupid pride or fear or weaknesses they think
they have and cannot get over. JUST DO IT, I want to say to them. Just
let it go. Give it to Christ. That is what he is there for. That is
why he suffered for so long and so hard in the garden of Gethsemane.
Because he loves us and wants to take away our pains. But the can only
do that if we give it to him! He will not make us clean against our
will. We all have problems, that is why we come to church. It is like
a hospital where everyone has a different sickness but we are all
there to get healed. Maybe one day I can help them see that. Maybe one
day they will able to understand to a fullness the blessing that
Christ's sacrifice is. And maybe I will be here to see it. Agency is
the hardest part of missionary work. I have come to love these people
so much! I think that when I was set apart as a missionary I was then
able to love as God and Christ love, because that is the only way to
explain how my love for these people came so fast and so full. But
because of that love I want them to have what I have and to find
happiness in Christ and his gospel like I have. That is why agency is
the hardest part of missionary work.
Sister Havea is amazing. I am so thankful everyday that she is my
trainer! We get along so well and when we teach it just kinda flows. I
am learning a lot and making a lifelong friend at the same time. We
have been working extra hard this week especially to have member
presents at all of our lessons, and I think it has been going pretty
well. We had a 24 hour missionary one day this week and she did a
really amazing job. The members out here are great and really love
helping out in any way that they can.
One of the elders we had here on the reservation got transferred out
this week and his companion is finishing his mission in a couple weeks
so we got two new missionaries! Now there are seven of us and we eat
dinner together every night so that makes it so fun and busy! This is
my last full transfer with Sister Havea cause she goes home around
thanksgiving so we are doing to make the best of it :)
I love love love getting all your emails and letters and packages! It
makes it so fun everyday! Thank you all so much for all the love and
support. Love you all!