Monday, August 26, 2013

Wait. Is this Little Mexico or China Town?

First thing first. Sister Hansen and I are both staying in the Westfield ward, which I'm super excited about! If I'm not going to be in Argentina, I want to be in Carmel!

So Tuesday was a little rough because we had interviews with President Cleveland but he was way behind! The assistants set up interviews starting at 8:30 but told President to be there at 10. So not only did he start late, he got far behind. Our appointment was for 11:30. We were told to come 30 minutes late. We didn't leave until 6:00.

We have 4 more Spanish investigators!!! The Hernandez's, the Fernandez's. And then a Chinese guy named Jimmy.

The Hernandez's have been taught a lot but always by English missionaries. Maybe we can make progress with them if there's that connection with the language. For not being a Spanish missionary yet, I have pretty good Spanish, just saying. We took the Garcias to a member's home to teach this week and Bernardo told them that my Spanish is really good and that they always understand what I say. When we brought Blanca a cheesecake and card, she said my letter to her in Spanish was really good. Now if only I was actually fluent...

Anyway the Fernadez's are a miracle story! We found Elvira's name in the area book (we found a lot of Spanish people and decided to try them since, well I think it's pretty obvious.)
We stopped by the address only to find she didn't live there anymore. We asked if they knew where they moved to but they had no idea. So I tried calling. Can I just say speaking Spanish over the phone is no easy task! When I can't see lips move it's very hard to understand. Elvira seemed open to studying the Bible with us but said only the Bible not any other book. I tried to explain that we study from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon but I don't know how much she understood. We finally set up a time after struggling to understand each other. Well trying to get her new address was SOO difficult. I got the numbers just fine but couldn't for the life of me understand the street name and then she gave me the zip code and I thought she was trying to give me the house number again so I was just that much more confused! So I asked her to text it to me. She never did. So this week I called again. And this time she texted the address but told us not to waste our time on her if we wanted to study a different book than the Bible. When we went to her home she told us how her husband had met Mormons before and had our book. But she never did. We were going to do a lesson on the apostasy but I forgot my Spanish Scriptures and Sister Hansen forgot the visual aid we were going to use. So we decided we'd do a get to know you deal and share our favorite scriptures. Well as we shared our scriptures on trust, Elvira opened right up to us. She told us about all the trials of her daughter and things like that. We really connected and knew she'd let us come back. Then her daughter Elisabeth got home from work. She called her into the room to meet us. Immediately, there was a connection as we shared those scriptures again. She opened up too and told us of her abusive, alcoholic father who because of God has been sober for a year and a half. And about her recent divorce and battle against cancer. And she's only 24. We told her how we had tried so many different times to find them and that we were inspired to keep trying and we were in her path for a reason. She agreed. Even though we hadn't introduced really anything of our church, Sister Hansen felt she should share a scripture in Alma. We were both kind of nervous because of how adamant Elvira had been about no other book and without even an introduction of it we were worried how it'd be received. But they loved the scripture! Elisabeth took the English copy we had and said she loved reading so she'd start reading it. We were all crying because the Spirit was so strong and we knelt down in prayer. I asked if I could say it in Spanish and so I was thinking hard about what to say and how to say it so there were some pauses. Well something pretty common with the Hispanics we're teaching is that they will whisper their own prayer at the same time as you and since that's happened a lot I didn't think anything of it. Well I was half-way through my prayer, pausing to figure out how to say the next thing and Elvira turns her whispered prayer into a loud one and finished the prayer for us. It totally caught me off guard! It was such a cool experience and they recognized us right away as disciples of Christ which helped us build a strong relationship with them. I now understand the phrase, "Mi casa es tu casa" much better. She said she knew we were away from home and that if we ever needed anything her door was open and she'd be our mom. It was such a touching experience. We have an appointment for tomorrow and I hope it goes just as well!

Now that we teach Fernandez, Hernandez and Garcia we just need Rodriguez, Ramirez and Sanchez and we'll be set!

Jimmy has kind of an interesting background too. We had high sights for teaching this week. It was a solid start to the week and we had a bunch of lessons set up- 20! which considering we only had 5 the first week here, that's quite an accomplishment! We really have done some great work here. The difference in this area in just one transfer has been amazing! And we still have so much work to do! Well I swear half those lessons canceled on us. But we still managed to pull off our weekly goal. We had about an hour left on Sunday before we had to go in and we still needed a member present lesson and an other. So we stopped by our investigator who doesn't get out much, assuming he'd be home. Because he ALWAYS is. Well he wasn't. We didn't know how we'd fit in those last 2 lessons! But we remembered that there is a part member family on the same street. We stopped by there, they invited us in and let us teach a short lesson. So with 30 minutes to go, we set off to go find a referral to fit in one more lesson. The address we had was for an apartment building but didn't say which apartment so we knocked on the doors looking for her. The only guy who opened his door was Chinese and spoke very little English. We were going to not worry about him since it was hard to talk to him but we felt like we really needed to hit our goal. So we spoke really slow and with really short words and told him about the Book of Mormon. We prayed with him and it made him tear up. I don't think he completely grasped everything we said but he definitely felt it. He wants us to come back and give him a Chinese Book of Mormon.

It's so funny to us that we live in Carmel and always find the foreigners. We were walking down the street and started to talking to a guy but he was on business from Brazil. He recognized our church as the one with the guy and the trumpet on our buildings. He said he'd be interested to talk to missionaries when he's back in Brazil so we tried to get his information to send in a referral but he was too cautious of giving out personal info. So we gave him a card and told him to look at the website in Portuguese and he could order a Book of Mormon. Well apparently he looked at it because the next day, the Carmel Elders got a referral to bring him a Book of Mormon. The Elders taught him a couple lessons and the man came to church yesterday. He committed to get baptized when he goes back to Brazil!

Well I've finished one transfer in Indy. It went by so fast! So I'm sure even if I wait for 6 months for my visa it won't feel like too long!

Mucho Amor Por Ustedes,
Hermana Pearson
The Campbell kids love us!

Sister Hansen that we visit

Some of our investigators B & B

Monday, August 19, 2013

Is This Real Life?

Our first lesson of the week was with a guy our age named Zach. During exchanges, Sister Hansen met him on a trail by our house called the Monon. Sadly, he was in the other ward boundaries.  Well the sister training leaders had set up 2 appointments with him that fell through. They had a 3rd appointment scheduled and then found out that they had leadership meetings with the president. They were worried they wouldn't be able to reschedule so asked us to teach him. Before we even start the lesson, he said "I was really interested in all this so I read a lot of things online and I just think it's terrible that people killed that man and his brother." Then he said, "I already asked my friends what they would think if I became a Mormon and they all said it didn't matter cause I never would. They said it's too much like a cult but I don't think so. It's just like a big family that helps each other. I'm already thinking about being a Mormon, no matter what my friends think." We taught him the Restoration and he ate it up. When we taught about living prophets he put his hands up in the air and said "How have I lived my whole life not knowing about this prophet until now?" Near the end of the lesson he said well "I'd really like to come to church will you this week." So that's when we told him one of those living prophets, Jeffrey R. Holland was going to be in Indiana THIS WEEK. He got so excited and wanted to go so bad and starting making arrangements about how he could get there. He told us all about how it was God's plan that we met him right when the apostle was coming. He said he was starting to doubt God before he met the missionaries. The day he saw them he was supposed to meet a friend and he didn't know why but decided to go to the Monon a little early and that's when the missionaries started talking to him. Then he asked "so after I go to church with you guys, how long until I can get baptized?" He was so cool. His excitement was unreal. The whole day we just kept wondering is this kid for real? The sister's got a text late that night that said. "This book is magnificent. I can't stop reading. lol" He came to stake conference and loved Elder Holland. We're really sad we aren't the lucky ones that get to teach him. But he was great evidence to me that God prepares people. Some more than others but He prepares them nevertheless.

Bernardo was out of town this week but we went to visit Blanca by herself. Since we've taught Bernie more times than Blanca, we went back to the restoration for her and taught it more in depth since she only had the recap. She was so receptive and it made sense to her. She said that when we come we talk with such excitement and she just wants to feel the same. She feels like the church she goes to now is missing things. She likes our message and she prays every time before we come over and asks God to help her know if what we teach is true. We invited her to be baptized on September 21st. She won't commitment because she doesn't want to break our hearts if she doesn't go through with it but she says if she gets her answer she will. We invited her to come listen to Elder Holland and promised she could receive her answer there and she wanted so badly to come but she had already committed to a friend that she would help her at that time. When she said the closing prayer, it was the sweetest thing I have ever heard. Since it was in Spanish Sister Hansen and Sister Hodges (one of the senior missionaries that came with us) couldn't understand but they could feel the sincerity. By the end she was crying because she just wants to know the truth and follow Jesus Christ. We have high hopes for her and her husband because they accept the Book of Mormon  already. Things just need to click a little more for them. Sister Hansen and I are already planning what Spanish song we'll sing at their baptism ;)

So remember the family we're teaching the discussions to for Family Night? Well the mom told us yesterday that differences have been resolved enough to let the kids get baptized! We were honestly quite surprised since this issue has been going on for a while but we're SO excited!! We've been praying that the parents hearts will be soft and after 2 years it sounds like they've worked things out enough in just this last month we been teaching. What a miracle! We're going there again tonight and hopefully will get more details of the story!
Snake wrangling!

So fun part of the week: We stop by a potential investigator's house and she says she doesn't have time to talk because her cat let in a snake and she needs to catch it. So I said, "Do you want help?" Keep in mind every time we ask people if we can help them, they say NO. But of course she didn't want to actually catch the snake so she said, "Sure! Ever chased a snake before?" I told her that I hadn't but I could sure try. She had me grab some gloves out of the garage and showed me where it was. It wasn't even hard cause it was scared and wasn't moving. So I just picked it up and took it outside. No big deal. Well then since we were already in her house she let us sit down and teach her a lesson. We taught the restoration in 15 minutes and asked if we could come back. We set up an appointment for next week. So I played snake wrangler this week and we got a new investigator out of it!

This week we had a mission conference for Elder Switzer to train us. That in combination with stake conference with the ONE and ONLY Elder Holland was just what I needed to keep me excited about being  a missionary in Indiana. I've been out in Indy for over a month and it went by pretty quickly so I guess it won't be too bad waiting here for a few more months! If there was one place in all of America to be waiting it's right here where I am!

The Sunday session of Stake Conference had to be held on Butler's campus because so many people would be there to hear Elder Holland. Wow I have so much to say about Elder Holland but I just can't do him justice. He speaks with such power and emotion but he's also so humble. The thing that stuck out the most in his words, he said with all his might, the one thing we can NEVER do is think or say that God doesn't love us. You know how he gets when he grabs the pulpit and practically yells! He also talked about how if we don't get serious about life we'll reach an old age and realize that we wish more than anything that we could tell our grandchildren of our wonderful spiritual experiences. We don't want to live with regret so we have to get serious now. I really wish I could describe how amazing his talks were but I'm just not capable of that. He said so many things that I'll always remember. How lucky we are to have men like him leading us.

As always I love you! I hope all is well at home.

Mucho amor,
Hermana Pearson
Sister Hansen and her trainees (Mom and daughters)

My district and zone leaders

This is near where we live

Hermanas Keetch and Howard

Elder Coombs (Hi Jes!)

Emily Way

Butler Univeristy

Monday, August 12, 2013

This Perfect Little Place Called Carmel

We taught with Sister Cleveland this week. We broke her in! She's never been in lessons before. We had an appointment with a former investigator and couldn't find any members to come with us so since the Mission President is in our ward, we thought we'd ask his wife! She's so sweet and it's fun being close to them because we get to know them way more than a lot of the other missionaries get a chance to.

The lesson she came with us to was a man whose late mother and brother are members. He's read the Book of Mormon like three times but he's too analytical and feels the need for proof rather than going by faith. Since he's been taught by lots of other missionaries before he's very familiar with it all. He's especially interested in the articles of faith. As we left he gave us a paper with all 13 articles and his response/concern about each one. It's our homework I guess. We learn as missionaries to uncover investigators concerns and he literally handed them over to us. He might as well have put it on a silver platter! Sister Cleveland started crying at the end (it's her thing!) and bore a powerful testimony. She's the best!

On Wednesday I went on an exchange with Sister Cordner (She's the one who is my roommate so it didn't take up much travel time!) While we were studying, there was a knock at the door. It was her brother! He's a private pilot and happened to be in Indiana. Sister Cordner didn't even think he read her emails but when he realized she was in Carmel and so was she, he stopped by. The shock on her face was pretty funny! He asked if she could come to lunch so after we got permission from President Cleveland, we went out to eat. Sister Cordner was so brave and told him we could go but we'd have to teach him a lesson. I think that would be so hard for me when I knew very well that someone so close to me just wasn't interested in the message. She's a rock star.

We taught lessons to a couple...interesting people...And both their homes were infested with animals. You probably didn't think I could dislike dogs and cats more than I did. WRONG! In Indiana everybody and their dog, has a dog (pun intended). The biggest problem to me is the fact that owners never seem to care that their pet is literally climbing all over you. When I left I could feel pet hair in my throat. Well that side tangent rant is over. Anyway, funny story. One of the ladies we visited has a major Josh Groban obsession. Well apparently after we left she told the Carmel Sisters that she didn't like me at first because she thought Josh Groban and I would make a cute couple and that really upset her!

When Sister Hansen was in our area, they taught a man we met (with Sister Cleveland again) And apparently he told her that he thinks we're literal angels. He said when we first walked up to him, we came out of nowhere. Our eyes pierced his soul and we were glowing. He's convinced we have wings...

On Thursday both Sister Hansen and I were sick. We tried to get energy to leave or at least plan but we just slept the entire day. It was just a 24 hour bug and we were better by the next day. One of the perks of being close to the Mission Home and Mission Office is that all the adult missionaries take such good care of us! Sister Cleveland, Sister Bailey and Sister Hodges all made sure we were well taken care of. We're so spoiled here. This is the area everyone wants to be in-but not until the end of their mission because it's all downhill after Carmel.

Friday we had Zone Conference which took most of the day. We talked about using members in the work. That's definitely the new push here. President Cleveland wants us to start counting a new number which is lessons taught to investigators in members homes.

Saturday we taught Justin and he literally had an anxiety attack. We asked him about his feelings and he started getting shaky and sweaty and had to take a breather and drink water. He said he used to think he had no feelings but his therapist told him he does. When he was asked to think about how he feels, he just got scared and nervous. Luckily he stayed calm enough that nothing drastic happened.

We taught Bernardo and Blanca again. They are my favorite! They just get it! Bernardo is already highlighting el LdM(the Book of Mormon) and he told us that because it's the word of God that Joseph Smith had to be a prophet because he translated the book perfectly! We invited them to be baptized. Bernardo had objections because he's already been baptized but Blanca told him this is different because they have the priesthood like Jesus gave to his apostles. And Sister Hansen and I were just like nodding our heads-yeah, exactly. Blanca wants to learn more before she commits but they'll come around. Blanca couldn't come to church because she has commitments at her church for the next couple three weeks (that's a Hoosier term: couple three) but she'll come after that. And Bernardo was there Sunday! He sat by the Marty's who have taught with us before to help with the Spanish. We talked to him after and he said it was different but only because he's not used to it. He left for Texas today though to visit family so we won't see him for a couple three weeks.

So at the retirement apartments we've been at to visit a ward member, I guess we caused a huge fuss. One lady was so angry that we were allowed in that she was threatening to sue and everything. I guess management calmed her down but they added all these "No Trespassing" signs and sent out a newsletter instructing everyone to not let in the two girls. The member we visited was mad about it all and put up a fit that they can't stop her visitors from coming. We went in to management and explained things and so now we're allowed to come as long as we have a planned appointment. Haha who would think two girls would cause such chaos at an old folks home. What we realized is that old ladies really are just teenage girls with wrinkles!

Well, love you all. Hope all is well!
Con mucho amor,

Hermana Pearson
With the Campbell kids

Monday, August 5, 2013

Muchos Milagros

We started this last week out with a finding fast. Our area was just so dry and we knew we needed more people to teach. It didn't take long to start seeing the miracles.

We went to visit a less active, who is only less active because of health. She lives in a retirement community and at the door a lady was bringing groceries. We tried to help her but she didn't want us to so we just talked to her instead. She wasn't interested in a message from us but she said she'd tell the ladies in the lobby to listen to us. She proceeded to interrupt  a group of ten people saying "These girls have something to say" It sparked conversation about religion among all of them. We gave each of them a card with our number and one lady afterwards told us she didn't want to change religions but she did want to learn about Mormons. So we went back the next day and taught her. Wow, was she prepared. But here's the heartbreaking part...This less active lady well apparently she's in our ward but only by special permission. It's her son's ward so she attends Westfield even though she lives in Carmel, so all those wonderful ladies in her apartment building aren't ours to teach. We had to give not one, not two but four referrals to the other sisters. Even though we were so sad we wouldn't be able to teach them (old women are our favorite) we obediently gave up our investigator and trusted that God would give us others to teach in our own area.

So this week as part of my training I've had to watch videos about using family history in our approaches. I kinda felt like I should take that approach for the following week. At first I wasn't really looking forward to doing it that way. But I did it anyway and have loved it! Turns out people actually are interested in their geneaology! Who knew? Using that method was a miracle in and of itself because it's a great conversation starter and got us a few names and numbers of people who are willing to meet with the missionaries!

We went to an appointment with a former investigator who I guess was really close to baptism but apparently the missionaries took a member with them who scared her and so she stopped investigating and started going to a different church. We got to her door and no one answered. We called and she said she thought we were coming the next day. We rescheduled with her but didn't really know how to fill that time because we were hoping to stay in the area because it was close to our next lesson. We stepped outside and saw a man sitting out eating a Popsicle with a little girl. We started talking about family history, then tied it to the church and he said he'd like to learn more. Then the little girl said so would my mom. She lives over there, come talk to her. She was interested too. Then we thought we'd visit a ward member that we didn't know that lived just one street over. They don't live there anymore, but a Hispanic family does. She's just a little younger than me and when Sister Hansen asked if she's ever wondered why there are so many churches on the earth she was like yeah I always have. It sparked her interest but she said she's really busy working two jobs and taking English classes. We told her meeting with us would be great practice for her English so we're hoping to set up an appointment with her. We talked for a while and when we left I said a prayer in Spanish. It was cool. Spanish is super cool!

One morning we set out to contact a referral. The referral was just a simple one we had got when tracting. After people tell us they aren't interested we ask if they know anyone who might be. The guy said the next door neighbor maria might be, but that she speaks spanish so there might be a language barrier. Well I said that's okay I know some Spanish. This was our third time trying to get in contact with Maria. We stood at the door for a while and finally I decided to write a note on the Spanish Restoration pamphlet and leave it at the door. As I was writing this note a man came up. He spoke NO English. I asked if he lived there. He said yes, so I asked about Maria. He said Maria was his 13 year old daughter. So I told him his neighbor said they might be interested in our message and he said yeah, I've met with missionary compaƱeros before, but they moved away and stopped coming over. So after talking to him for a bit, we set up on appointment to see him at the end of the week. Sister Hansen and I were pretty nervous about how it would go since she knew no Spanish and he knew no English. We asked a couple from our ward to come with us. They're from Puerto Rico so we knew they'd be helpful to us! The lesson actually turned out great! He was very open to learning and he said he would read and pray about the Book of Mormon. I spoke in Spanish most of the time and would even translate for Sister Hansen and then the Marty's would talk to him if Jose had trouble understanding me. I understood most everything he said. It was SO COOL! Sister Hansen even could follow a little bit. We were originally thinking we'd give Jose to the Spanish Elders since Sister Hansen wouldn't be able to teach but the Zone Leaders said we could teach them and the Marty's said that my Spanish is "awesome." We prayed about it and I think we'll at least try to teach another lesson before we'd give up on him so easily.

Sister Hansen said before this transfer she was sure that no Hispanics lived in Indiana but I guess it's working out since we seem to be finding some who will listen to us too. We went back to teach Bernardo and were planning on asking if his wife wanted to join us but before we could say anything he said he was going to go get his wife. He asked us a specific question of something that confused him in the Bible. At first we didn't really understand what he was asking but Sister Hansen took them to Alma and read a few verses that answered it perfectly. They don't really doubt the Book of Mormon. Our next step is to try to help them understand the apostasy better so they'll see the need for just one church that has priesthood authority. We hope we can get them to come to church too. They said they'd try but for Blanca it takes too much time to drive there-she just goes to the church across the street. And Bernardo likes to go to a Spanish Sunday School so he can understand better. We were hoping they'd be at church but they weren't. We'll probably introduce them to the Marty's soon. Maybe that will help.

Even though they were at church we did have an unexpected investigator show up. The less active mom came with her 3 kids (which we were expecting) But she also brought her best friend that has been over for the Family Home Evening Lessons. That was a great surprise! Turned out he even knew a member from business school!

That helped us exceed our goals for investigators at church and along with the other miracles of the week our numbers were way more than we expected. We started this area with 0 investigators and only teaching 5 lessons to people at their doorstep who really had no intention of learning more. This week we have 8 investigators and taught 14 lessons and got a bunch of referrals and potentials too (and that doesn't even count the ones we had to give away.) And I'm getting to use Spanish in those lessons. What a blessing!

On Thursday we were planning on seeing an "investigator" after dinner (I use quotations because she's very old and we're not sure how much she retains. She remembers us-and boy does she love us. She says we can teach her but then her attention span is so short that we can't teach much) Well anyway while we were at dinner and Sister Merrill mentioned how she took Mary Jo to the hospital the day before. Sister Merrill, the Elders and Sister Hansen and I all went to visit her. When we got there the room was so cold and uninviting. The Elders gave her a blessing, we shared with her a scripture and sang a hymn to her. By the time we left the room was warm and friendly. It's amazing what the Spirit can do. As we contemplated everything that fell perfectly in to place. it was amazing to see how God really is in the details and he will prepare things way in advanced so that things will fall into place when the time comes. For example, the Merrills have the missionaries over every other Thursday and have for months. We almost didn't go to dinner but made it work. And that's just part of it.

Hermana Howard did an exchange with the Sister Training Leaders so she came to stay at our apartment! It was so fun to see her and catch up with her! She's sure making a killer missionary! We even got to do our language study together, which was so helpful! Studying a language by yourself just doesn't cut it.

This letter doesn't fully describe how truly amazing this week was. Everyday was wonderful. Everyday was a miracle. I guess the greatest part of all is the fact that I finally feel like I belong in Indiana. I had such a good attitude at first about being here and just wanted to forget about my visa until it comes. But everyday someone will ask me about it so it's hard to forget about. I was starting to feel disappointed and like I'd be so much better off in Salta. But it doesn't matter now. I know I'm supposed to be here so I can learn something and being here feels right. I'll be excited to get to Argentina when it's time but until then I just won't worry about it.

You know, I don't know if we even actually had more miracles this week than last or if our eyes have just been opened wider and our perception is clearer. I hope you all look at your days a little more closely and find little miracle everyday.

As my Argentinan mission president signs his letters:

Un Abrazo,
Hermana Pearson
My very own street!

Catching up with my MTC companion