Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 30, 2013

My dearest family,
It was a wonderful blessing to talk to you on Christmas! It felt like only 5 minutes, though! I couldn't believe how fast it went by! I had a wonderful Christmas day. We went to Sister Peterson's parents' house and opened presents and had biscuits and gravy there! I loved all the presents I got. I felt like a little kid with how excited I was to open presents. Thank you! Even though I couldn't be home with ya'll I had a spectacular family to be with. It sounds like Mecate Christmas went well, too. Luckily I only have to miss one, so I am excited to be there next year! Oh, and the Filipino food was so exciting, Grandma! I used the banana ketchup right away!

This week held many Christmas miracles for us. Our whole zone was praying for us that we would find a miracle. We found a new investigator every day except for Monday. That's 6 new people to teach! One of them is the wife of a less active, Brandon. He has PTSD and it is very difficult for him to be at church and to be with a lot of people. But he is so awesome! His wife has never really been interested in the church. She actually used to hide from the missionaries! But we took them some cookies on Christmas and shared a message and then asked if we could start teaching them the lessons to help Brandon out, but also to help us with our teaching. And Jen said she would sit in, too! We had our first lesson with them on Saturday and it went so well! Jen had lots of questions and so many things were cleared up that she was confused about before. I am so excited for them. They are a great couple. I know that it will strengthen them so much and bring so much light into both of their lives if Jen accepts the gospel and they are able to start coming to church together. They also have two of the sweetest pit bulls ever. One is Sarah and she sheds like crazy but is so nice. And the new one is Charlies and she is CRAZY hyper. They have a fun household.
The longer I am in both wards, the more I love the people, and the happier I have become. It's a great life, to be a missionary. I am dreading transfers. I feel like things are going too well to stay like this for long. Whatever is God's will has to be the best thing, but I still have a deepening desire to stay here! I have grown to love the people, and I am NOT ready to let go. We will see what happens.

We had a lesson with LaChelle at President Eaton's home on Saturday! It was great. It was kind of a surprise to see President Eaton so relaxed and laid back. Usually he is a little more fired up, and so it was nice to be around him in when he was just a little more himself. He has a sense of humor like no other. And Sister Eaton is just the sweetest wife to him. They are a riot, and are also some of the most converted people I have ever met. Anyways the lesson went well. LaChelle is progressing so much, and her son Tourez came, too! And she told us the next day that he read some verses in the Book of Mormon. I was sooooo excited! Wahoo! I can see hope coming into her life. She is an amazing woman, and we are trying to help her see that she really is a child of God and that He loves her unconditionally. I know she will accept the gospel and will be baptized eventually. Her heart is humble and her intentions pure. It's only a matter of when. It will be one of the happiest days in my life!
Time is about up. One thing that I have realized about missionary work is that it truly helps us become like our Savior. As we share the gospel, we are happier in the gospel! The Lord could do His work however he wanted and he has allowed us the blessing of being a part of it. Elder Corbridge talked to us about that a couple of weeks ago. One girl I met before I came on my mission told me that her mission saved her life. I feel the same! This is an experience that is strengthening my testimony and my love of God and His children in ways that I've never before felt. I know this work is real and that God and Jesus Christ live. The message of the Restoration is true! Joseph Smith really was a prophet. And the Book of Mormon really is the word of God. As you find ways to share your testimony of Jesus Christ with others, you will see the blessings in your life and in theirs! Have a great week.
Sister Mecate

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 23, 2013

Dear Family,
There were too many miracles this week to write about. Someone has been praying for us-this I know. Miracles don't just happen without faith! Ok, so I will just jump right in!

On P-day, we had a conversation with a man at a gas station. He is religious at a Pentecostal church. He said we had a good spirit about us and that drew him to us. We talked a little bit about the restoration, gave him our number, and he said he would call sometime. I didn't really think he would, but he did! We had a quick lesson with him at the church with Sister Peterson, gave him a Book of Mormon, and now we hope he will call us again! He really just wants to strengthen his testimony of Jesus Christ.

On Sunday, we were able to teach two less active families, one whose son Riley is 9 and hasn't been baptized. They also have twin 7 year olds and then an 8 year old foster son and 6 year old foster daughter. It was like teaching primary-so fun! We taught them about Jesus Christ and the real meaning of Christmas. We have an appointment to go back next Sunday! Good things are in store for their families.

Oh my goodness gracious I almost forgot-we gave John a Book of Mormon!!!!! This is beyond exciting. John is the one who served in Iraq. Sister Margaritis and I tried a few times to share the gospel with him. We gave him an article and he never read it, and we invited him to watch conference and he wouldn't. Sister Kirschner and I found out his wife passed away 3 years ago on the day we gave him the Book of Mormon. John has many burdens in his life. He is such a good person, he just needs the hope of the gospel! Also, John was going to move to Oregon a couple months ago, but then ended up staying here for a while longer. I know he's here so that he can have the gospel in his life! Heavenly Father does not work in the way of coincidences-he works in miracles! (Mormon 9:11-"But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles...") Sister Kirschner's faith is blessing so many people. I am hesitant to bring up gospel things, because I don't want to annoy him, but she just brings it up! She asked about his beliefs and he opened up a lot. By the end of the conversation he was just like, "I've got books, I already know stuff." And I was like,"We have a book!" So eloquent and profound, I know. I was just so excited! And we ran into him last night and he said he's been reading it! I went into a frenzy the other day writing scriptures and my correlating testimony in a letter to him. I'm still working on it, but I am very excited to give it to him.
 The gospel is so real and it's so true!
On Saturday night, after a long day of not having a lot of success, we found Colton. He is the grandson of a less active lady we are going to start teaching. He went outside to smoke when we were leaving, and he ended up talking to us about how he wants to turn his life around, he just doesn't know where to start. We are going to go back and teach him tonight! He is at a very low point in his life. I know that no matter how low we get, the Savior can pull us heavenward and save us from the depths of hell. There is always hope! 

I was just thinking this morning about how I really wish the youth programs focused more on prayer. The truth and importance of every basic principle of the gospel can be made known to us through prayer. Prayer is an amazing gift from Heavenly Father! I have totally taken it for granted in my life. If the youth were taught to really pray, I think lives would be changed. And I know I've had many lessons on prayer, don't get me wrong, but actually implementing faith filled prayer in my life is changing who I am and what I understand about our Heavenly Father. Now that I have a very urgent need to pray, I am learning this principle, but I think I too often coasted through times in my life where I should have been praying more fervently. As I have prayed with faith, and with specificity, I have seen specific blessings happen. This strengthens my faith in God and helps me to want to pray more often and with more faith! Such a basic principle, but it takes so long to really learn it! But there are so many promises given to us from Heavenly Father about prayer. 3 Nephi 18:18-20 "Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you."
Prayer gives us strength to avoid Satan-what a blessing! And that is in any aspect of our lives-thinking negative thoughts about ourselves or others, giving us strength against the natural man, and everything else hard in our lives!
Remember the reason for the season. Jesus Christ, born in the humblest of circumstances, came to redeem of from our sins. I know He lives! I am so grateful to serve Him at this time of year. 

And I'm about out of time! I love you all! Have a Merry Christmas! I will talk to you all in approximately 48 hours! Wahooooooo!
Sister Mecate

Saturday, December 21, 2013

December 16, 2013

Dear Family,
It has been a week of great blessing. We finally seem to be getting into the swing of things and I am just loving serving in the Rock Creek Ward. Have I said much about Sister Peterson, the Relief Society president? She is seriously one of the most wonderful people. She is changing my mission. I have no doubt that she plays an inspired role in my life as part of my growth as a missionary and as a person. She is a convert to the church and has been through A LOT of things. She has been through the refiner's fire more than once in her life! And she emanates the Light of Christ in such a powerful, powerful way. You cannot help but love her.
This week we had a great lesson with Lachelle. She is another one who has been through her fair share and more of trials in life. Sister Peterson was there for the lesson. And it's actually kind of funny. I couldn't find my name tag that morning and so we ended up being about 10 minutes late to Lachelle's lesson. (I found my back up tag and then I later found my normal tag in a drawer that it is usually in.) It turned out that Sister Peterson showed her around the church while waiting for us, and she was teaching Lachelle about the articles of faith when we got there. I think our lateness had a purpose behind it. Sister Peterson is so good for Lachelle. During this lesson, Lachelle opened up to us more than ever before, mostly because of the connection she has made with Sister Peterson. We were able to bear pure testimony of Jesus Christ, the Atonement, and how the gospel is real and how it has blessed our lives. God has put Lachelle on a path that is bringing her right back to Him. She is one of the most wonderful people, yet she struggles to see her divine potential. We see it, and we are trying so hard to help her to be able to see it. I am so excited for the blessings that wait in store for Lachelle and her sons as they learn more of Jesus Christ, who I know to be the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. I tesitfy that he loves us adn that he is who He says He is. We met a guy this week who said he believed that Christ was a good man, but that He was not the son of God. He was only a good role model. We met a man that lived right next to him who is atheist and thinks that the accounts of miracles in the Bible are just made up stories that are meant to give people something to believe in, that they are not "realistic." I just want everyone to know that Jesus Christ really is the Son of God, that He does lives, and that miracles do happen, because God is real! Things don't just happen because of luck or coincidence. God is in our lives more than we know. He loves us immensely, and He wants us to return to live with Him.
This weekend we had our missionary Christmas party, which I absolutely loved. It was a little piece of feeling at home. The power of the missionaries is great! We had a white elephant gift exchange, lots of dessert, musical numbers performed by all of us, and some very inspirational talks from President and Sister Eaton. I felt so blessed and content. And even though I miss Christmas at home terribly, I am so grateful to be able to serve the Lord this Christmas as a full-time missionary! So before we left for the Christmas party I had been carrying a lot of stuff out to the car. When we got back from the Christmas party, I opened the back door and all this stuff fell out-frustrating! As I was picking up the papers and binder and stuff I found my wallet on the ground too. But it was soaking wet. My wallet had fallen on the ground before the Christmas party, had gotten rained on for a couple of hours, and then all the stuff fell out of the car so I could find it on the ground. It was one of those moments where I knew Heavenly father was watching out for me. There are no coincidences.
Something else great that happened was that Jim and Laura went on a church tour! Jim is really progressing! But unfortunately Laura might have to lose her other leg. She already lost one and now the other one has bad circulation, too. SHe is hoping she can last til Christmas. We are trying to get them to church, but it's hard for Laura. But I think Jim is really starting to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit is changing his heart. We have been working with him off and on for at least 4 months! I hope that we can really help him to come to understand who God is and what that means for him.
Yesterday in church I felt like there was a theme I kept hearing, the importance of inviting people to do things. This is something I need to improve on. Sometimes I let my doubts and fears guide me rather than my knowledge of the things that bring us happiness. If we want someone to do something, we just need to invite them! So I want to invite everyone to read the Book of Mormon. It will change your life, whether you have read it already or not. Read it again, or keep reading it. I promise that with time and understanding it will change your life. The Spirit of God resides in it's pages, in the stories it tells, and in the promises it gives us. I know it is true, not because of what men tell me, but because of the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost. Moroni 10: 5 tells us, "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." Men certainly cannot tell us what is true or not for sure, but God, who is all knowing and who loves us, really can. I also want to invite you to go to lds.org/biblevidoes and watch a couple of those short clips about the life of Jesus Christ and His disciples. I LOVE these videos. They will bring the Spirit of Christ into Christmas for you.
I love you all so much. I am thinking about you! I hope you are having a fantastic Christmas season. It's a great time of year. Merry Christmas!
Sister Mecate

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 9, 2013

Dear Family,
I thought I should just start out by saying that God answers prayers. I have seen over and over again how He hears our prayers and answers them according to our faith. I wonder how many miracles I have seen on my mission that are an answer to the prayers you have prayed for me. Thank you. Your prayers mean so much to me.
This week the thing that warmed my heart the most was being able to take Lachelle and two of her boys to the "Celebrate the Nativity" event that happened at our church building. The whole stake puts on this event where they put 600+ nativities on display, they have a live nativity, they have free cookies, they have a kids craft room, and they have an Art Walk of pictures of Christ. The nativities are displayed kind of how mom does it in our house, just there are quite a bit more. Lachelle was able to come and she was able to convince her two sons, Terrez and Derrick, to come with her. Watching them walk through and look at all the nativities together was such a neat experience. I know it's not something they normally would do as a family. My favorite part, however, was walking through the Art Walk with them. As they paused at some pictures and wondered about them, we were able to tell them some of the stories of Jesus and teach them precious truths about Him. It made me think of something President Eaton told us at a zone conference once. He said that it's like we are all running through the night, and we are trying to help people make it to Jesus, guiding them over fallen branches and through thorny ways, telling them the whole time of how wonderful it will be when they meet Him. It almost brought me to tears thinking of how, in a very literal way, we were able to bring this little family unto Jesus that night. I love this time of year-so much. And I find myself missing things from home. But I have felt literally lifted in Spirit as I see the effects that Christmas has on everyone here. There is a great feeling in the air.
One miracle that I wanted to tell you about was when we went contacting this week at the Festival of Lights at the park by the Lake. We figured it would be a good place to invite people the Nativity. We started out by a small bonfire they had going, and then we decided we needed to branch out, because that was a bit constrictive and awkward.
Then we went and took advantage of the free hot chocolate they had available, and we invited the man who was handing them out. Then a lady came up to us and asked us if we wanted a free taco, so we tried inviting her. We took our free tacos and went to put condiments on them. Sister Kirschner said a small prayer that we would be able to know who Heavenly Father needed and wanted us to talk to. While she was praying, I noticed a guy with a dog who I felt like we should talk to. He was getting a free taco too. I told Sister Kirschner, and so we quickly started thinking of how we could go and talk to him and make it seem natural. Finally, we just decided to walk up to him and start talking. Sister Kirschner asked about his dog, and from there we were able to have a great conversation! He wouldn't accept a Book of Mormon, but at the end of our conversation, I asked if we could say a prayer with him. He was happy to! He asked what kind of prayers we do, if we say a recited one or what. We explained that when we say a prayer we just open our hearts to Heavenly Father, and we just talk with Him. He was a little bit surprised, but was still happy to pray nonetheless. I said a prayer for him and his family, and then he said one for us. He said afterwards that he was truly touched. I hope he realized how touched we were as well. We knew after we parted ways that he was the soul we were meant to touch that night.
I testify that God does answer our prayers. As we pray specifically and with faith, they are answered. I have seen this so many times on my mission. I am learning that there is power in prayer beyond our own comprehension. With diligence and sincere humility, there is even power to change some of the things about ourselves that we might think near impossible. "...With God nothing shall be impossible." Luke 1 :37. I was just thinking yesterday how it's hard to imagine myself, me, Danielle Kristen Mecate, who has many insecurities and weaknesses, being able to go up to a complete stranger and teach and testify of the things that are most important in my life. Crazy things happen when we turn our lives over to God.
I hope you all are having a great Christmas season! As I stop to think about why we truly celebrate Christmas, my heart is full. I know that mu Redeemer lives! I love you all so much!
Sister Mecate

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December 2, 2013

Dear family,
I don't have a whole lot of time left this week, but let me tell you, training turns your mission into a whole other ball game! It's kind of like being a mom. Everything I do and say will affect how my companion feels and how she acts. I have really felt the pressure in wanting to be the best missionary I can be. I also must say that I love Sister Kirschner! She is such a blessing to me! I learn from her everyday. She has a beautiful testimony and great faith. We work together well contacting, tracting, and teaching. We find new things everyday in which we are similar. She was on a softball scholarship at Salt Lake Community College, but felt that she needed to come on a mission, so she did. She is so kind and she just loves people and wants to share the gospel with them.
Thanksgiving was amazing. First, we had a mission activity in the morning in which we were allowed to play volleyball, basketball, hang out, watch a movie, and eat Costco muffins. It was so fun to see missionaries dressed down just being themselves. We ended up having dinner at the Peterson's house. We couldn't have been made more welcome. Sister Peterson is hands down one of the most Christ-like people I have ever met. I already know that working with her and Sister Kirschner is going to change my mission. Sister Peterson is the Relief Society President in Rock Creek, and she is all about missionary work. She has started a Relief Society committee meeting in the ward and already has a referral set up for us. She lives and breaths the gospel. All she wants is for everyone to feel and have the same joy that she has experienced in coming unto the Savior. She is a convert herself and knows the difference that the gospel can make. Thanksgiving dinner was so yummy. We had all the rounds of thanksgiving food-the stuffing made my day. And then dessert was a bunch of delicious pies. The only thing missing was Mom's pumpkin pie. I couldn't help thinking to myself about the line that Bruce says in Matilda- "My mom's is better." But everything really was superb. I was so grateful that day for the Peterson's and for the gospel, to be able to feel at home miles away from my family. It was a great blessing. Sister Peterson's less-active brothers were also there and she asked us to share our testimonies and why we came on a mission at the dinner table. Later that night and the next day she told us about how impressed her brother Scott was with us. This touched our heart. Scott has been pondering about getting to the temple to be sealed to his family forever. It was a blessing to play a small part in bringing him back to the gospel.
On Friday we had a great lesson with Lachelle. We brought Sister Peterson as fellowship and it's like they were meant to be friends! They have been through so many similar things. Lachelle really opened up with us and I think we made a lot of progress. She believes in a God, but isn't quite sure about everything. She has been through tings that might turn others to harden their hearts and deny that there is a God, but she has been able to see how He has helped her through the hard times. Lachelle is just wonderful! I have faith that she will accept the gospel and that she will soon recognize the small and quiet voice of the Spirit.
As Sister Kirschner and I have exercised our faith, we have seen miracles. Just last night we found a new investigator within the last 15 minutes of our day. If we had gone in early we would have missed out on praying with a pizza delivery guy, inviting a nonreligious guy to "Celebrate the Nativity," and finding a new investigator, the mother of a less-active lady in the ward. It always seems to be in hindsight that I recognize how Heavenly Father blesses us for the faith that we exercise. This work truly is amazing and filled with miracles. I testify that God loves us and He is just waiting to bless us as we exercise real faith.
I love you all so much I hope you are able to feel and remember the real meaning of the upcoming holiday season. The Christmas Spirit in the air here is so thick you could it with a knife. I love this time of year. I am grateful to be a missionary. Have a great week!
Sister Mecate

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26, 2013

Dear Family,
Here is what I wrote to President Eaton this week:

Dear President,

The Lord is blessing us greatly. As I have been praying for myself, Sister Margaritis, and all the missionaries having to make changes this transfer, I have been filled with peace. It is so humbling to see how I have changed when facing a new challenge. I know I will have many struggles as a trainer, but I have been able to feel peace about the changes that are happening and the responsibilities I am being given, only because of prayers, those I have said and those said by others for me. I am truly sad to let go of Glacier Park, but I feel confident in knowing that the Lord has a greater plan for what I and my new companion need to do. For Sister Margaritis, I know leaving Lake Wilderness is one of the most difficult things she will have to do on her mission, but I know she will do wonderfully in her next area. Even if she can't see it now, I am seeing how the Lord has blessed her to deal with this. She has grown in a lot of ways.

There are so many potential opportunities to share the gospel in Glacier Park. I am excited for what new missionaries can do for that area. I am confident that you and your family inspired people in that ward and that good things are to come. And although I am not thrilled about covering a new area, I am grateful to be able to grow and learn. And having to rely on the Lord so much is almost freeing. I am excited to learn and grow.

We were able to meet with Alyssa this past week. After a month of praying that she would contact us in some way, since she had been ignoring us for a while, she did! We met with her, and she said she just felt like she needed to meet with us again. We hope that this time around she will have a desire to keep her commitments.

I know this email is getting long, so I will end it by saying thank you, as always. Thank you for new opportunities. I'm sure I will have many moments of desperation, but I guess those moments end up in the most growth, right? Have a great week, President!

Sister Mecate
So in greater explanation, Sister Margaritis is being transferred. I am staying and giving up Glacier Park, but I will now keep Lake Wilderness and also take over Rock Creek ward, which is another ward that meets at our building. I have been called as a trainer. I will meet my new companion in about 5 hours! She is probably just arriving at the mission home after a long morning of travel. I will miss Sister Margaritis. We have been a good companionship. She has been in this area for almost 9 months, so leaving is hard! But I know she will do great in her next area. This transfer will be one of great growth for both of us. I'm training-Aah! But like I told President Eaton, the Lord has blessed me with peace. I am excited for this new opportunity to grow. I am one that likes to take the back seat sometimes. Being the leader is going to put me out of my comfort zone, but I know it will be great. If I only learn one thing from my mission, it may just be that I am learning to put my trust in the Lord more than ever before. Obviously I'm learning so much more, but with faith being at the core of missionary work, it's changing me! Isaiah 42:16 reads, "And I will bring the blind by a way they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." Isaiah 41:10-"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." I truly believe in the truths told in these scriptures. Of course, sometimes in the moment we lose faith-I do all the time! But reflecting upon the experiences that I have already been blessed with and putting my faith forward now has brought me great peace. Prayer is wonderful, amazing, powerful. As we pray specifically and with faith, we see miracles.
This morning I read 3 Nephi 26 in the Book of Mormon. I read it once and thought it fine, but I received no personal revelation which I felt prompted to write. Then, I reread it with a specific question in mind, one that has been given to us as a talk topic-"How can I teach with power?" What I found the second time around was that the Spirit pointed out many things to me which I then felt prompted to write in my journal. So many times I have been taught to study the scriptures, not just read them. Sometimes I don't think about what that actually means. This experience helped me realize the power behind that principle! The scriptures come alive as we study with specific topics and questions in mind. And the Book of Mormon has the power to answer all the important questions of life. In it, we learn about who we are, what will make us happy, where we are going, how we can find true peace, and what God expects of us. I testify that it is true. If there are any who are looking for more in their life, I know that the Book of Mormon has it! it contains a fulness of truth!
Sister Walton in our ward made us Christmas presents and gave them to us early since Sister Margaritis is leaving. She made us matching pajama pants! The fleece is a sister missionary design. So cute! I will have to send you a picture. Sister Walton is one of the coolest people I have met on my mission. I just love her. Also, I will have to send you a picture of the Hinton's. Brother Hinton is the Lake Wilderness ward mission leader. I just love his kids! I can't stand how cute they are! They are just a precious family.
Something that I thought very profound was what Elder Basilius said to Sister Margaritis when she asked what advice he had for her about being transferred. He said "Thank God with all your heart, might, mind, and strength that He has let you stay as long as He has." When trials come upon us, some of our greatest strength can come from thanking the Lord for the many blessings that we do have. I thought this very appropriate and inspiring for this time of year, but also for our whole lives!
I love you all so much. Have a most fantastic Thanksgiving! One thing that I am thankful for are those who have passed on and who help us from the other side of the veil. I know God send angels to lift us up when we need it! The gospel is so great! I am also so grateful for eternal families! And many more things. I love you!
Sister Mecate

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 18, 2013

Dear Family,
I am loving the new Bible videos the church has put out. They portray Christ and His apostles in a way no other videos have yet, I think. My favorite so far may be "Jesus Declares: I Am the Light of the World, the Truth Shall Make You Free." Jesus declares that He is God. I do believe, and I testify, that Jesus is the Christ, that He is the Son of God, and that He has the power to do all things, even forgive our greatest sins, and our smallest shortcomings. Please watch the video! It will change your day! http://www.lds.org/bible-videos/videos/jesus-declares-i-am-the-light-of-the-world-the-truth-shall-make-you-free?lang=eng
Some great things are happening here. We are finding people to teach in both wards. Our teaching pool may be small, but we see miracles daily. We have been able to see Lachelle and to teach her about the Restoration, about prayer, about the hope that the Savior gives us because of His sacrifice. She wants the peace and the joy. She is nervous and unsure, like we all are sometimes, but once she grabs a hold of the gospel, I don't think there will be any turning back. She is one of the best people I have met.
This week I had a moment of doubt about the Restoration. But everyone has those once in a while, a trial of their faith. I was thinking about what our friend, Cheryl, has said about our beliefs. She used to be a member but is not anymore. It wasn't really that I had doubts about the Restoration as much as it was a struggle to understand why Cheryl cannot see the truth. The next day in church, the Relief Society lesson was on the kingdom of God coming forth in the latter days. It was an answer to my prayers. God is so aware of us and loves us. The hastening of the work that has been emphasized in the last year, and for the last couple centuries, is real and it's true. Sometimes people won't accept the gospel for whatever reason, but God's hand is in this work, and the kingdom is being built up. We won't have answers to every question, doubt, or concern we have in this life. But we are promised that the Spirit will testify to us of truth. We will feel in our hearts what is right. "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance:" Galatians 5;22-23. The things that follow this trend are the things that we should hold fast to in our lives. This is what we should be implementing in our relationships and in our personal character. The message of the Restoration is one of love. The Book of Mormon brings us peace. And the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ leads us to be gentle, good, meek, and to have faith. There are so many other blessings that I have had in my life because of the restored gospel. I invite you to reflect on the blessings you have received from the restored gospel. There will be many! Something that I have had a strong testimony of, for my entire life it seems, is that of eternal families. I know that through the priesthood power and the covenants made in the temple, families can be together forever. We will see again the loved ones we lose. I know this like I know my name is Danielle Kristen Mecate and I like ketchup!  Elder Uchtdorf says, "Doubt your doubt before you doubt your faith." The gospel is good. And it's true, I promise!
In sacrament yesterday, Brother Hinton, our ward mission leader, spoke about missioanry work. He began by telling a story about how he loves this treat called scotcharoos-peanut butter, butterscoth chips, rice crispies, and chocolate. He realized that his kids had never had them before. He was so excited for them to try them. Then his son Gordon said he did not want to try them and he wanted an otter-pop instead. Brother Hinton was devastated. Why didn't Gordon want to try this treat that was so good and would make him happy? . But, Brother Hinton said he persisted with Gordon, until finally Gordon tried them and he loved them, but it did take a lot of effort and persistence. Sometimes we try to share the gospel, and people don't want it, even though we know it will make them so happy. They don't know that yet. But if we persist, following the Spirit, one day they may accept it and find out how happy it will make them. I wish you all could meet the Hinton family. I love them. Many laughs on my mission have been instigated by the authenticity of the Hinton family.
I hope you all are able to have a peaceful, happy week. I am blessed to only have to focus on others right now, and not the hustle and bustle of life. It can be so hard, but I know the small things like scripture study, prayer, and church are great blessings and really allow Christ to be in our lives. Love you! Have a great week!
Sister Mecate

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

November 12, 2013

Dear family,
Yesterday was a great and beautiful day. Since it was Veteran's Day, we took P-day on Tuesday instead, so the library would be open for emailing. We didn't find out until Sunday night that we weren't having P-day on Monday, so we were a bit disappointed, but it turned out to be a great blessing. The sun was out yesterday, and there was a slight breeze. We were able to spend much of the day outside proselyting rather than sitting in the library emailing or at the store grocery shopping. The weather first reminded me of San Diego, and then later in the day it felt like a brisk fall day in Utah. I found myself longing to be in these places that I consider home, and I recognized the odd weather (for Washington, at least) as a tender mercy from the Lord. It reminded me that I need to take more time to realize how blessed I am and to have an attitude of gratitude in my heart. It was a beautiful day to share the gospel!
This week we had a wonderful lesson with Maureen. She is truly an easy person to love. She is honest, sincere, and kind. She lives above the lake and has a beautiful view right outside her glass sliding doors onto her patio. She told us about the eagles that lived in the trees for years, and how a huge wind storm ruined their nest. Her concern for the eagles' well-being endeared me to her as a fellow nature lover right away. Maureen is also really busy with training for a new job. But she is making the time to meet with us, because she has a desire to learn about the gospel. She has already read a good chunk of the Book of Mormon and has questions about Nephi, the tribes of Israel, and all sorts of things. She has Native American blood in her, and the story of the Book of Mormon intrigues her in relation to her ancestry. She also told us about some personal trials she has had concerning the Plan of Salvation. We, along with Sister Hartmann, our fellowship, were able to bare our testimonies of the Plan of Salvation, and how God has prepared a way for each of His children to return to Him, whether it be those who died as infants, or those who died as adults, without participating in the gospel. After this lesson, she eagerly planned a time for us to come back and teach her more. We invited her to continue reading the Book of Mormon and to pray and ask God if it's true. I have faith that Maureen's heart is in the right place and that she will soon discover the truth for herself. I really just love her!
I really enjoy being over two wards. Because both areas are small compared to others, I don't feel like we are too busy or anything. There is a lot of potential in both areas. Right now it kind of feels like we are on the edge of success, and we just need to keep working hard to get that little push from the Lord so that we can really see progress with people. This week we were able to help Anna and her daughters move apartments. Anna is the lady who showed up at church a couple of months ago. We weren't really able to get a hold of her or teach her anything since then, because she was always so busy or preoccupied.She called us one day to see if we could help her move. It was a long process for their family. They had a lot of stuff, and just one van to move it. We helped them a couple of different times, and they just could not hide the exhaustion on their faces. I truly feel that this opportunity to serve them is a blessing for them and for us. We hope that now they will be open and willing to let us teach them, so that they can receive the blessings of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know the opportunity will arise soon. The Lord is working His magic.
We had zone conference this week, and boy, was it a good one! President Eaton's focus was on creating a culture of faith in our mission, in our meetings, and in our companionships. It was definitely something I needed. I struggle from day to day to have the faith to see miracles. I feel so blessed to have such an inspired family as the Eaton's to lead and guide us as a mission. One of the scriptures that President Eaton's daughter shared (she just got back from her mission in Italy) is Ether 12:4. I have really been liking this scripture lately. "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God." When we stop to think about things through God's perspective, everything seems so clear. As long as we have faith in Him, the storms of the world, and the "darts of the adversary" take the backseat, and we can live in a world of hope. There is so much that we can apply to ourselves and our relationship with God in this scripture. That night after we returned home from zone conference, we had two very faith filled experiences. We had a great lesson with Jim and Laura about the restoration. It was the most productive lesson we have had in their home yet! It took faith for us to buckle down and teach those bold doctrines with them. Then we went to visit Lachelle at the laundromat. She ended up not being there, but her son, Derrick, was waiting in the parking lot in his car to close up. We have never really talked with Derrick much, because it just seems like he wouldn't be interested. But Sister Margaritis had faith. She pulled up next to him and we talked to him through our car windows. He has a lot of trials in life, especially for someone who is only 20. By the end of the night we had gotten out of our cars and we said a prayer with him after he told us he doesn't really have a belief about God. After the prayer, we saw his countenance change, and he seemed so grateful to us for talking with him and saying that prayer. Some days, I just don't have so much faith. Other days, I am blessed with more faith than usual. I have seen God's power in this work, and I am so grateful that He truly is in control.
My favorite scripture this week is D&C 33:8-10. "Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness.
Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you.
Yea, open your mouths and they shall be filled, saying: Repent, repent, and prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;"
The Lord is promising that if we open our mouths to share the gospel, they will be filled with what to say. When we are acting in the service of God, He will provide. Satan does not want us to open our mouths to share things that will bless or uplift others. I find that when I have doubts, but then I don't listen to them, I am blessed and others are blessed. But, when I do listen to my doubts, everyone is missing out on great opportunities. Don't listen to Satan. As President Spencer W. Kimball (and Nike) said, Just "Do it."
Have a great week! You are all so wonderful. I love looking through my family photo album, even though I've seen each picture quite a few times by now. I love you!
Sister Mecate

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 2013

Dear Family,
It has been a most fantastic week. Little miracles keep me going! Being a missionary is hard and difficult, yes. But the Lord is so good to us, all of His children. Being a part of this work is such a blessing! First, I will tell you, we got to have dinner with the Seely's yesterday! It made me so happy! We caught up on what's been going on in the Valley for the last eight years. We had some great laughs and conversation. They are such an amazing family. The lasagna Sister Seely made was delicious, too. They showed me the play kitchen and dollhouse that they used to play with when I would babysit. It was so wonderful to see how grown up they all are! The friendships we make in the Church truly last for eternity, no matter how long it's been since you've seen people.
We had a tracting miracle this week. It was dark out, and we were lacking in faith. Sister Margaritis prayed that we would have a miracle before we went out. It's something we have been trying to improve in our prayers. The first few doors were not encouraging at all. In fact open guy just shut the door while we were still talking and trying to have a conversation. On the third or fourth house a truck pulled up just as we were walking to the door. We hate those awkward situations. So, we just waited while he got out of his truck and put his dog inside. We thought he was just going to go inside and not talk to us, but then he came back and asked what we were up to. We quickly steered the conversation to the restoration. This man, Rob, was humble and curious about the message we were sharing. We could tell the Spirit touched his heart as we talked to him about the restoration of Jesus Christ's true church. He is looking for something to bring relief to his life. We also found out as we talked with him that he grew up in Rowland Heights! I excitedly explained that my Grandma lives there and that my dad grew up there! He said he went to Nogalas High School. I can't remember which one you went to, Dad. And when he went to pronounce my name, he said Mecate the way you say it-correctly! So of course in my head I was thinking maybe he met you years ago and remembered the name, but that's just me being imaginative. Anyways, we gave him a book of Mormon and testified of the peace it has brought us and to our families. By the end of our conversation he said, "Looks Like I've got some reading to do." No other words could have made us happier, except for maybe, "I need to be baptized." We were so excited that he was open to hear the message we had to share. We know this can bless his life and his family and whatever trials they are going through. The lord truly is preparing people everywhere to here about the restoration of the gospel and church of Jesus Christ.
We found out on Halloween night that the less-active family we are teaching, the Streight's have been reading the Book of Mormon! We were thrilled to hear that! I think I underestimate how powerful the Book of Mormon can be in our lives. It is such a blessing! To see that people we are teaching and who we care about are reading it is one of the greatest joys on a mission! I wish everyone could realize the importance and power of the Book of Mormon. It carries such a special spirit with it. It has a converting power and a spiritually healing power. I have recently been reading in 3 Nephi. A lot happens in those first few chapters. One theme that sticks out to me as a missionary is that true repentance leads us to baptism, or for those who have already been baptized, it leads us to the sacrament. Making that covenant with God is a result of the joy we feel as we repent. The righteous were really being tried and persecuted, but they still found joy in their Savior. They had to have so much faith. This was the time right before the Savior appeared to them in the America's. They had never seen Him. They had no proof that He was real. But they followed the teachings
of the prophet, Nephi, and they were spiritually protected. They found joy amidst darkness. We are promised the same joy in these latter days. We have no "proof" or evidence that Jesus is real, but we have the Spirit of God to testify of Him in our hearts! As we follow the teachings of the prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and as we immerse ourselves in the scriptures, we can find peace and happiness amidst the darkness of the world. Jesus Christ lives and He loves us!
We had a great fast and testimony meeting this Sunday. One boy related how making a cake is like sharing the gospel. He knew his mom and brother would not want to take the time to make a cake, so he did it without asking, knowing that they would enjoy it. Sharing the gospel is kind of like that. People don't know what they are missing out, so they don't want to take the time to hear about it. So we just try to share it! I really liked his analogy. He's such a cute little kid. Many other wonderful testimonies were shared.
I love you all! Have a great week! I don't want to hear about anyone ending up in the hospital from stress, so try to take a break once in a while, like a P-day! ;)
Sister Mecate

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28, 2013

Dear Family,
This has truly been a wonderful week. Last Tuesday we went tracting around 3 o'clock. normally we would tract around 5. The first door we knocked on, a lady named Maurine answered. She has a brother who became Mormon, she doesn't currently have a church to go to, and she was very interested in learning about the prophet. It was one of the best doorstep experiences I have had yet! We are going back to teach her more about the restoration tomorrow. Within that same hour, we visited a family in the ward to tell them about Maurine. What we didn't know was that they just had a tragic death in the family. We were able to pray with the two daughters that were home. Knowing that we were in the right area at the right time, doing what the Lord would have us do was such a blessing to me. I am so grateful for those moments where it is so clear that the Lord is aware of me and Sister Margaritis.
This transfer is going by too fast already! We are almost positive it is our last transfer together. But it has been fruitful so far! I am learning a lot about patience in the Lord's timing. Not yet having a baptism has been weighing heavily on my mind. Of course, I am not here just to "baptize" people. I am here to bring them closer to Christ. But I often can't help wondering if I really am doing something horribly wrong. I kind of feel like I am failing the people in this area. But I have to remember, I don't understand everything. The Lord has a greater plan than I can come up with. All of my weaknesses as a missionary are troublesome to me, but this isn't about me. It's about doing what Christ would do. And if I focus on that, peace and happiness are the result. 

The Lord is really blessing us with miracles. On Saturday, we had 3 people text us to see if we could help with moving people. We didn't have to make it to make it to all three. In the morning, we went to help move out a family that we had never met before. They are not members. We were told to just go in and start working. When the Mom walked in, Cory, she looked at us in surprise and asked who we were. We were soon all good friends. When we met her kids, who came later, they asked us in child-like boldness, "Do we know you?" Her husband was also quick to befriend us. They are a neat family. I love them! We didn't share a message before we left, because it would have been awkward with all the people there, but we are eager and excited to go back and teach them the restoration. Such a blessing!
We are beginning to teach the discussions to a less active family in Glacier Park, the Streight's. The son is trying to get back to coming to church. Our first appointment was scheduled for last night at 7pm. There was also a baptism scheduled at that time for a man named Will. We met Will at general conference, and he seems like an amazing guy. I wanted so badly to go. We tried inviting many people to go watch, but no one could make it. We can't just go to baptisms unless we have someone to take to them. So anyways, I was kind of bummed that we couldn't go. As we went to the Streight's house to teach them, I was really trying not to be selfish in thinking about wanting to be at the baptism. However, once we got there and started talking with the son, Aaron, my heart was blessed with happiness and love for this family, and I was so grateful to be there teaching them. We taught the restoration and showed the 20 minute clip about Joseph Smith. We committed them to read everyday from the Book of Mormon. It was a wonderful lesson. Kimmie, who is about 30, seemed so eager to receive the blessings of reading from the Book of Mormon. Also, in her prayer, she said she was grateful that Aaron tried to come to church today. (He didn't go, because he was late in traffic). It was just funny, but I think you had to be there. Even though they weren't all jumping out of their chairs so eager to read or to go to church, the hope that was in their eyes that they were trying to hide was enough for me to be SO happy. I am grateful for the change of heart I was given. The Lord is so good to us!
On Sunday we were invited to teach the kids in primary. I was so excited! We talked to them about how we can be missionaries by the example we set and the service we do. We also talked about how growing our testimony is like growing a plant. We brought in a live plant and a dead plant as visual aids. They really liked that. It was also the primary program this week. We have amazing families in the Lake Wilderness Ward. I have grown to love them all so much.
Oh, I almost forgot! We invited Allen and his family to come to the Glacier Park Halloween party. Allen is someone we taught when we were in Glacier Park 4 months ago. He told us then that he didn't believe our doctrine and wasn't interested anymore. When we were inviting people to the party, he was one of the first people that came to our minds. And he came! I was so excited when we saw him and his 2 kids walk through the door! Then the rest of the night I was kind of paranoid and stressing out as we tried to tell people to go talk to him and make him feel welcome. (I felt more like my old self than I have in a long time with the stressing out part!) His daughter quickly found a friend and seemed to enjoy herself. And his son did, too. It was a miracle, and so exciting.
I kind of feel like this email has just been a long report. So I must tell you of my testimony! I love this gospel! I know Jesus Christ lives and loves us! I know that His church has been restored to the earth and that we have a living prophet on the earth today. It's really quite amazing when you think about it. We are so blessed! The priesthood is the greatest blessing God could give to His children. And we have access to that power! I am so grateful for the blessing that the priesthood has been in my life-father's blessings, blessings of healing, the sacrament, baptismal covenants, temple covenants, and being sealed to my family forever! And so much more. God truly does love us. We can know of that love through sincere prayer and diligent scripture study. We also feel of that love as we serve others and love them like Christ would. I love you family-I love you, I love you, I love you! Pray for and then look for opportunities to serve this week. You won't regret it! Have a tremendous week!

Sister Mecate

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 21, 2013

Dear family,
The first week of the transfer is over. It's gonna fly by! I think this is my last one with Sister Margaritis-it will be our 4th together! Anyways, great things are already happening! Oh, and guess what. We are taking over Glacier Park ward again. So many mixed feelings! First of all it was not communicated to us very clearly that we were in charge there. Second of all, they took missionaries from there, because there "isn't a lot of work there." So we aren't sure if that makes sense to have us only giving half our time to the area, but that's what' s happening. It will be a little more stressful, a little more demanding, but that's all part of the adventure! I am excited to be serving the ward members there again! They are wonderful people. We developed some great friendships just from the 3 weeks we served there a few months ago.
On Sunday, a lady named Mari (short for Marianne) showed up to church. Her humble and meek spirit made it easy to love her right away. She just moved into the area and is trying to get settled. She said she is looking for a church. After sitting through sacrament meeting, she expressed how good she felt there. She really felt welcome, and we could tell she felt the Spirit.

We have had many experiences this past week with less active members. We talked with Cynthia about feeling peace that only comes from the Savior. She shared a personal experience about peace she felt after receiving a blessing when her daughter was born. Frank told us he felt he needed to start coming back to church. And he did! (This is the same guy who crashed his bike a couple weeks ago and said he would rather bless his bike before he buried than get a blessing for himself. He's a funny guy). A less active father and his 2 kids came to church so that his son could be ordained to the Aaronic priesthood. And a man named Mike is coming back to church and is accepting a calling. We had a great discussion with him at his doorstep this past week. It's such a blessing to see the lord working in these people's lives.
I don't know if I ever told you about Trish. She is going through an awful divorce. We haven't actually "taught" her, but we are trying to be a support to her through this hard time. She is one of the most selfless mothers I have ever met. She is doing all she can to save her son from the trauma of the situation. She lives to serve him and teach him and love him. This past week, after she told us all of the recent horror that have been going on, Trish asked if she could get a blessing, and if homes can be blessed. We were so thrilled that she would ask and that she has faith in the priesthood. We told her we would definitely find a brother in the ward who could give her a blessing. We came back on Thursday night with brother Thompson and his wife. They are righteous and Christ-like people. Trish told them most of her story and just opened her soul to them. brother Thompson gave her one of the most inspired blessings I have ever heard. After the blessing, Trish's countenance was one of peace. Time and time again, I have seen the truth of the priesthood as I have listened to and received priesthood blessings. I know that the authority to act in Christ's name has been restored to the earth! I know that the power of the priesthood is real! I know that Heavenly Father wants all of His children to be blessed by the priesthood by receiving the restored gospel. God is so good.
As we have strived to talk with more people, we have had some funny experiences. The two young men cleaning out their garage were interesting. We tried multiple times to relate the gospel to their lives and each time we were shut down by pessimism and skepticism. It was kind of comical to us how ridiculous they were being. Then there was the man we tracted into who, after we asked if there was anything we could do for him, exclaimed, "Seeing as I am a man of my own destiny, I can do things for myself!" And then he promptly shut the door. And there are many other instances which I could relay. Although we often get a chuckle out of these situations, it is always sad to think that we were not able to help these people come closer to Christ.
We have had wonderful experiences with service this week. We have been helping a lady named Pearl clean her house and hang paintings everywhere. Pearl is lonely and lives in a huge house (maybe I already told you about her). She has been opening up to us the more time we spend with her. She still doesn't believe in Jesus Christ, but she has a lot of faith in God. She has a beautiful spirit. Another experience of service was when we cleaned our ward mission leader's kitchen for her! That was probably the highlight of my day. We stopped by to drop off some fliers and asked if we could do anything for her. She said "Oh, I wouldn't ask you to do that. " We knew she needed something. She has 3 little crazy boys and a 4 month old baby girl. There is always something going on in their home! I have grown to love that family so much. I love their kids, and Brother and Sister Hinton truly invite the Spirit into their home in the way they teach their children and in the way they treat each other. Anyways, we convinced her to let us "sweep her kitchen," but we ended up doing the dishes and cleaning the counters too. I cannot tell you how good it made me feel to help her do that. She literally could not do it herself while she was trying to take care of her 2 year old and new born. It was such a blessing to us to be able to serve her. We had dinner with them on Sunday, which is always fun with Gordon and Hyrum. They always have something great to say. Hyrum was so cute as he told us about how he is scared the sun is going to over take the earth. He has had to pray a lot so he won't be scared so he can go to bed each night. He says he really tries, but it is just so hard to get that feeling of faith! His dad helped him recognize that since he has been praying about it, he has been able to go to bed a lot easier. What cute little Hyrum failed to realize (what I think we all fail to realize sometimes) is that faith isn't always just a feeling-it's a decision (Elder Anderson). Hyrum chose to act in faith by praying about his fears and then by acting and trying to do his best. He may still have that fear sometimes, but he does his best to act. And that is all Heavnely Father asks of us. just act, even when we don't get that "feeling of faith." The feeling will come after we decide to have faith. And then I just ahve to tell you what Gordon said in sacrament meeting one day. His dad was telling him to settle down and stay quiet for the sacrament and Gordon said, "Enough of this Heavenly Father and Jesus stuff!" I'm telling you these boys are a riot!
Well, I love you! Have a glorious week! I know I will, because my feet will be warm and dry with my new shoes! And Oh yeah, I'm a missionary!
Sister Mecate

Saturday, October 19, 2013

October 15, 2013

Dear family,

Another transfer has passed and I am still here in Lake Wilderness Ward with Sister Margaritis. That will make 4 transfers together as companions and Sister Margaritis will have been here for half her mission! That's not the norm, I don't think. We are so very grateful to stay. I feel so strongly that there is more I need to do here. I feel more inspired and motivated to work hard and diligently to find those who are being prepared to here the message of the Restoration.
It's been a great week. Have I told you about Lachelle? She is a lady that President Eaton met at the laundromat a few months ago. He called us and asked us to go visit her, because the laundromat is in our area. The first night we met her, we weren't really sure what to do or say, so we ended up just offering to come help her close the laundromat some nights and she happily agreed. Lachelle is great. She has such a fun loving personality. We have now gone a few times and helped her, but never really had the opportunity to share a message. On our last visit, her two sons were there helping her close, but we just joined in and started sweeping. At one point Lachelle went outside to smoke and we followed her out, because we were talking with her. After a few moments of just talking, she began asking us questions about some of the rules we follow as missionaries. This led into her asking us questions about our religion, and this led into a full blown discussion about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This night may have been the most exciting and satisfying moment of my whole mission thus far. There were points in out discussion where Lachelle was teaching herself about the apostacy, how, because we are all human, we all interpret God in a differing way, explaining why there are so many churches and why they do not all agree with each other. This led to her asking, "So what makes your church so different?" Probably one of the most golden questions we could get from anybody! After explaining the restoration and Joseph Smith's experience in the grove (having God the Father and His son Jesus Christ explain that none of the churches were true and that Joseph was to restore Christ's church upon the earth), she asked, "And how can I know this is true?" Another golden question! Seeing how Heavenly Father has prepared Lachelle to receive the message of the restoration was inspiring to me. She has a sincere desire to find truth in her life. We explained to her about the Book of Mormon and showed her the promise in Moroni 10:3-5. If we read the Book of Mormon and pray and ask if it is true with a sincere desire to know and act upon that knowledge, God will bless us with an answer, and we can know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and that Joseph Smith really was a prophet! Lachelle told us she was glad she let her come to us instead of trying to force out religion upon her. She said she had been trying to bring it up for a while, but was too nervous, and we said the same about ourselves! We reflected on this and thought about how inspired that had been. Our own nervousness and shortcomings made it so that Lachelle could come to us at the right time. The Lord truly knows us so well. Even though we felt that we were failing sometimes as we did not share a message with Lachelle, the Lord was prepared for our weaknesses and blessed us with this miracle. As long as we do our best, the Lord provides a way for miracles! We still have not followed up with her, but we will soon!
We met with Nancy this week and we were able to talk with her about her decision to stop meeting with us. She had a dream where she went to another church and didn't feel good about it. Although we still have a good friendship with Nancy, we were sad as we said goodbye and left. I wish desperately that she wanted to hear more. We have more to teach her and I know this would bless her life and her family's. Even if Nancy does not change her mind while I am here as a missionary, this experience has given me more motivation to be a more powerful teacher, to not be afraid to open my mouth and share right away my beliefs with the people meet. I am so grateful for the ways in which the Lord is changing me. My desire to share the gospel continues to grow each day. I am receiving so much more than I am giving. Learning to truly rely on the Lord in all things has been somewhat of a challenge. I tend to doubt myself a lot. But as I remember the promises in the scriptures about trusting in the Lord and putting our faith in Him, I find peace and comfort, and I can keep moving forward.
We met a man named Ziggy while we were tracting Sunday night. Most of our conversation was of him bearing his testimony to us of the Bible and his belief in Jesus Christ. What a powerful man! He is about 70 years old, from Poland, and pretty tiny. He kept telling us to read Psalms 32:8. "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye." Although he really did not want to hear about the Book of Mormon (he was born-again Christian), he was inspiring to us! I'm not sure that we inspired him much, but we were so glad to have met him!

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is an amazing thing, something so amazing it is fairly incomprehensible!  How grateful I am to know that He sacrificed for me so that I could return to live with my Father in Heaven, eternally, with my family! I am so grateful for the apostles and the prophet. I know Thomas S. Monson is our prophet on the earth today! I know this is Christ's church. I love you all, and I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family!
Sister Mecate

Monday, October 7, 2013

October 7, 2013

Dear family,
I have been so humbled this week, and I cannot begin to express how blessed I feel. I must firstly say how absolutely amazing conference was. How blessed we are to have a prophet, Thomas S. Monson, on the earth today. Sometimes I wonder if missionary work is supposed to build me up and make me stronger in the Lord or tear me down and make me doubt. Satan works hard on missionaries. But don't worry-of course it always ends good, right? ;)

This week we had our last official visit with Karen. She explained to us how so much of our doctrine she cannot believe in. She cannot believe in and accept the same Savior Jesus Christ that we do. We listened to her talk for probably a solid 20 minutes, going through doctrine after doctrine and discrediting it. I don't mean to say she was mean or anything. Karen is so kind and friendly. It was just a very open and frank discussion between all of us. And although I do have a testimony of this Church and of the restored gospel, it can be painful to hear someone who is kind and Christ-like, and who you have come to respect and care about, tear apart the very foundations of what you believe in. Heavenly Father sent me to this mission for a reason, and the longer I serve hear, the more I suspect that what I need to make me stronger is to confront human reasoning in the face and throw it out the window. My faith is getting a great 18 month work out! Although I had a peaceful feeling after we left Karen, it still haunts me to think about not being able to help her understand, and wondering why that is. If this is the one and only true church as we claim that it is, shouldn't this be just a little bit easier? On the contrary! I think that is part of the testimony that it really is the one and only true church. Satan will do anything and everything to keep people from it. During the 3rd session of Conference, I received thoughts and feelings that were balm to my troubled heart. It was during Elder Scott's talk that I began writing a quick note about covenants. I honestly can't really remember what his whole talk was about, because as I began writing, more thoughts came to me about why covenants are so important in our church and how this is a testimony to me of the truthfulness of this gospel. I would not want to worship and follow the Lord any other way than through keeping the sacred covenants I have made at baptism and in the temple. I believe in a God who holds true to covenants, and who expects us to become as He is through keeping our covenants and trusting in him. I know through so many testimony building spiritual experiences that this is Christ's true church restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. And although my witness may not be as powerful as I would like, there are 15 special witnesses of Jesus Christ on the earth today who bear witness of the testimony that Jesus Christ lives, that He loves every single one of us, and that His Church has been restored and all are invited to join and gain peace and eternal happiness from it.
There is one tender mercy that I would like to share with you from this week. We had 30 extra minutes to use up before we took our dinner break one day. We weren't sure where we should go, so we were driving down a street and Sister Margaritis just decided to drive to a family's house just for the heck of it. As we were driving, we saw a young man sitting on the side of the road on his skateboard. He looked sad and lonely. When we drove past again we felt like we should stop and talk to him, after some hesitation. We parked, got out of the car, and walked towards him. we weren't sure what to say so Sister Margaritis asked if he knew where a certain street was. he told us he wasn't from the area. Then I awkwardly asked what kind of skate board he had to keep the conversation going. (I don't know anything about skateboards). We ended up having a decent conversation with him about prayer and watching general conference. Then we kept walking down the street. We quickly realized we should have prayed with him. Something was telling us he needed it. Again we walked past him and awkwardly asked if we could say a prayer with him and he agreed. We asked if there was anything we could pray about for him. He looked kind of hesitant and asked "What do people usually say?" We told him anything that is important to you is important to Heavenly Father. People tell us all kinds of random things. He finally opened up and said we could pray that things would be better with him and his girlfriend, that they were having a rough time. We went ahead and said a prayer and said goodbye and told him things would get better. As we walked away, we felt that we undoubtedly were meant to be in that area at that time, talking to that young man. There is hardly a better feeling than knowing that you were where the Lord wanted you to be and you were able to help some
one. Seeing the way his demeanor changed touched me. I was so grateful that the Lord granted us that tender mercy, and that we could see how we were instruments in His hands.
Today is Sister Margaritis's birthday! It's going to be a great day! I have loved being her companion. Transfers are coming up in a week and I hope we can be together for at least one more transfer. I think we are at the point where we could have great progress together in the work! We are teaching together better and building some great relationships in this area. This week as we really strived to talk with everyone we saw, we received the blessings from it in being able to teach many lessons.
I love this gospel. I really do. I love being a missionary. I am surrounded by so many spiritual giants. The Washington Federal Way missionaries are wonderful! And we had interviews this week and I am always inspired by President and Sister Eaton.
Thank you for the emails this week. I will try to respond as much as I can, but know that I did read them! I love you all! Have a blessed week. And as President Uchtdorf talked about, sometimes it's ok to have doubts. But take them to the Lord and rely on the things you already know. He will strengthen you. "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith."
So much love to all of you,
Sister Mecate

Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013

My dearest Family,
This morning I was reading the September Ensign and I read an article about being grateful. Here are some of the things I am grateful for: MY FAMILY, the power of temple covenants, the scriptures, the restored gospel!, Jesus Christ and the Atonement, answered prayers, emailing, hand-written letters!, ICE CREAM, my companion, my wonderful roommates, all of my friends, heaters, comfy sweatpants, recycling, the people I meet every day who make life interesting, my mission president, General Conference, and many more things! You should try keeping a list up of things you are grateful for in the house that you can keep adding to. See how many you can come up with in a week! I will do the same :)
It rained a lot this week. And it's starting to get dark earlier. It makes the evenings kind of dreary. It's hard to knock on someone's door when it's dark and not many lights are on in their house. Often we struggle to find things to do in the later hours. That just means we need to get more creative! One blessing is that President Eaton told us about a woman who works at the Laundromat, Lachelle. She closes at 8. We met her once and now we are going to help her close some nights. We want to start teaching her soon. She says one day she will worry about religion and things, but she doesn't really right now. That day will come sooner than she thinks! She really is so kind and has a fun personality. We like her a lot.
We had a great district meeting this past week. We talked about the grace of Jesus Christ. I think the article we read is in the Ensign. Read it, please! Or look it up on lds.org. It's by Brad Wilcox. There is nothing that brings more hope to someone than the grace of Jesus Christ. No matter how imperfect we think we are, no matter how bad we have become, and no matter where we are at on our journey to salvation, the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient for us all. Because He performed the Atonement, we do not have to be perfect right now. We just don't. And we can be happy as long as we "keep moving forward." ( Meet the Robinson's reference) Brother Wilcox uses the analogy of a mother who pays for her child's piano lessons (which I quite liked). A mother who pays for piano lessons does not expect perfection of her child as he practices. She is not angered by the mistakes he makes. She does not ask that the child pay her back for the lessons. She only asks that he practices and uses the opportunity to learn and to become something. If there is something I have needed to learn on my mission, this is definitely it (amongst many other things). I still have to re-learn every day that the grace of Jesus Christ is sufficient for my flaws as a missionary. I can be happy, even as I make mistakes, as long as I take the opportunity to believe in my Savior, to trust Him, and to use His Atonement. I know that everyone can experience a feeling of peace, love, and forgiveness if they will just come unto Jesus Christ!

We had to help move Sister B out of her apartment this week. It was a pretty sad time. There has been so much drama with Section 8 housing and a whole bunch of nonsense with her family. Anyways, we were grateful to have had the opportunity to serve her. It took 4 sets of missionaries (one of them being the office elders who have a trailer), and her friend Vicki, to move her out. I am always inspired when I work alongside other missionaries and see how awesome they truly are. And Sister B is a strong woman. She has been through so much, and she is so giving unto others.
We have had two investigators drop us-Karen and Nancy. They are both so wonderful, so it was a bit disheartening. But we haven't given up hope! As our ward mission leader (Brother Hinton) said, the Lord must be preparing us for something! I cannot say enough how much I love and appreciate the ward here. There are some fine Saints in Maple Valley, Washington! We ate dinner at the Bishop's house last night. I am always so grateful for the Spirit we feel in members' homes.
We had a fire alarm go off in Sacrament meeting! So then everyone had to stand outside in the cold while the firefighters came to turn off the alarm. It was all quite exciting. I heard a rumor that it was the 12 year old deacons who set it off. Not a surprise!

I feel like this is kind of a short email, but I am almost out of time and I'm not sure what else to write about. I love you! Sometimes when the days are hard, you guys keep me going! I hope you have a great week!
Sister Mecate

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 23, 2013

Dear Family,
Being on a mission is a lot like normal life, but not. It's a lot of work. It can be very difficult. It's not always fun. But the Lord is always with us. I know that now more than I ever have before in my life. It's not even huge miraculous life changing events that make me say this, but the small miracles that we are blessed with every day. The Lord does so much for us each day, but sometimes our eyes are not open enough to realize it. I am grateful that my eyes are being opened. Something that I truly have a testimony of is that when we are seeking to do the will of the Lord, we are blessed, always. There is a quote, and I can't remember who said it, but it basically it says, "When we are doing the Lord's work we are entitled to His help." Just yesterday at church there was a Sister who I really wanted to talk to. She comes to church by herself mostly. Her husband isn't a member and her children are kind of struggling. I don't often see her in the halls, but I really wanted to talk to her to see how she was doing, so I said a little prayer that I would have the opportunity to do so. Not to my surprise, I ran into her in the hallway before Relief Society started, where I have never ran into her before. Usually I only see her once during Sacrament meeting from across the room. I was able to have a really good conversation with her. Heavenly Father answered my prayer so that I could serve one of His children in a very small way, and I feel like I was the most blessed for it. It is these small miracles that I am so grateful for. Heavenly Father is so aware of each of us. I am grateful to see His hand in my life. It brings me peace when I am able to recognize that from day to day.
I am also so grateful for the ward here. The church is amazing, just as the gospel is. My testimony is strengthened as I see the ward members each week. They uplift and encourage us as missionaries, but seeing them uplift and encourage each other is just as happy to me. Our friend, Mary, gave a talk in church this week. She talked about how service in the Church and in the community has blessed her life. Mary had tongue cancer and went through years of treatment to get rid of it. She lost most of her tongue and all of her teeth. Today she is totally cancer free and wears fake teeth that look just wonderful on her. (I was here for the before and after). It was through the service of church members and kind doctors that Mary could make it to all her of appointments and afford her teeth. She has a beautiful testimony of the restored gospel and of the truthfulness of it. It was an inspiring talk.
This week in ward council, our Bishop told us he had an impression that there would be some powerful baptisms coming up in the future. This was encouraging, because it seems that as much as we work, there has not been a huge progression with many of the people we teach. I cannot imagine how happy I would be to see each of them join the Church and receive those blessings. The Lord is preparing people in so many ways. I think a lot of missionary work requires learning the virtue of patience! Our dear, sweet, kind Bishop Pike gave us a little bit of the hope we needed.
This past week we had dinner at the Pinter's home. It was one of the most entertaining dinners I have been to yet. The two younger daughters were so hyper and very loud and giggly. Guess who they reminded me of! I told brother Hinter how at home my dad calls my sisters and I set 1 and set 2, and that his two youngest daughters reminded me a lot of home and my own siblings! It was a classic Mormon dinner with a lot of "life" going on and some good home-cooked food to go with it. Oh, and we had hot fudge pudding cake with ice cream for dessert. It doesn't get a whole lot better than that!
Well, I guess I will "talk" to ya'll in another week! I hope you are getting excited for General Conference. I know I am! The brethren are always so inspired in what they say. I hope that there are things you have been thinking about that the Lord can answer through His Latter day apostles and prophet. We are so blessed in these Latter days! I love you all! Have a good week!
Sister Mecate

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16, 2013

Dear Family,
Thank you so much for emailing, writing, sending packages. It means the world to me when I get them! When I hear from you I am reminded of the "why" of the of the gospel, that our greatest happiness can be with our families! And even though I miss you so much, others need to hear and know this too, so I'm hear in the glorious land of Maple Valley Washington!
This may have been the longest week of my mission. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the people, or maybe it was just my attitude (most likely). And I can tell-I'm getting tired! But guess what, time keeps going! Time is a funny thing on the mission. It's so easy to lose track of. Even though 18 months seems like forever, I know it's not enough! There is so much to do to build up the kingdom of God, and I am so blessed to be able to serve a mission for the Lord. I remember Elder Farr would always say how grateful he was to serve a mission when he would bare his testimony. I thought it was an admirable thing to say, but I didn't fully feel his joy. Now I understand the gratitude he had a little bit more. It's a blessing and a miracle that I get to be fully enveloped in God's work, away from the world. Each of His children needs to hear this message, that of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and as we each strive to share it, we are so blessed in return. I know this Gospel is true, not because my brain logically worked out every detail of the gospel and made sense of it, but because I have felt the undeniable witness of the Holy Ghost time and time again, and I've seen the fruits of the gospel in the lives of so many.
We taught Nancy this week. We read with her from the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 27. It had such an effect on her and on our relationship, I feel like! Sister Thompson came as fellowship and she has such a beautiful and strong testimony of the Gospel. We discussed the blessings of following Christ and enduring to the end, how it may be difficult, but as we allow ourselves to embrace the gospel we are blessed and are so happy. The Book of Mormon is powerful! We need to incorporate it more in our teaching, because it truly has the power to bring the Spirit as we read from it and discuss it together. It made me think of how the lord said when two or three gather in my name, there will I be also.
We also taught Karen this week. Wow, what a lesson that was! Karen is such a strong believer in Jesus Christ. I don't think anything on this earth could pull her away from that. She said she has been praying and reading from the Book of Mormon and that she has not been this "on fire" with the Spirit in a long time. However, she has not yet received an answer that she needs to join our Church (really it's Christ's Church). She cannot agree with some of our doctrines, but I think really it's a misinterpretation of the doctrine mixed with her own ideas. She is not lacking in faith; she is not lacking in a desire to follow Jesus Christ. I think there are powerful things going on inside of her heart. She will just need some more time and spiritual elbow grease to sort them out. Sister Hartmann was our fellowship for that lesson. She is just the cutest! She talked with Karen about the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost and at one point she pointed her finger at Karen and said "You need to dig deeper!" but in the most loving way possible.
We had a miracle happen on Sunday! We had no investigators come to church. Then during the middle of sacrament meeting, a brother tapped me on the shoulder and said there was a lady in the foyer looking to talk with the missionaries. Her name is Anna. She wanted to know when church was, when the activities were during the week and so on. We listened to the end of sacrament meeting with her. I asked her where she was from. She said Peru. Then I told her about Olinda, a member we visit quite often who is from Peru. It turns out they know each other and Olinda had told her about Church, but did not know she was coming! It was a very exciting moment at the end of the meeting! Anna is so sweet and kind. She made a beautiful comment during Sunday School about blessings we receive from God and how we should be reaching out to others. She actually lives in our apartment complex, so we are so excited to start teaching her! The Lord really prepares His children. Oh and she used to work for the Church in Peru. She worked with Elder Cook!
Well, I am excited for another week. I hope you are too! Even when getting up in the morning is NOT fun, and you are tired, and there is too much to do in a day, remember that God is with you. I read a talk this morning called "Beautiful Mornings." Each day can be beautiful if we think about Jesus Christ and how much He loves us and what the gospel means to each of Us personally. You should read that talk (lds.org). It's great! I'm going to try to work on it, and to be happier no matter what. Thank you for all being wonderful examples to me. I love you and miss you dearly.
Sister Mecate