Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 26, 2013

My dear Family,
Another week has passed, and I am coming up on my 3 month mark. Crazy! Sister Margaritis and I are being so blessed here in Maple Valley. We have 6 or 7 solid investigators. It is amazing to see how the work has changed just from when I got here. We had no investigators to begin with! The many blessings we have received inspire me to want to be a better missionary. Heavenly father is allowing me the privilege of teaching these people, and I do so many things wrong. The only way missionary work can progress at all is if it is turned over to His hands. That is all we can do in life to find peace and happiness, do our best and trust in the Lord that He will provide what we seem to be unable to produce on our own.
We were able to teach Karen this week. She is so busy that her appointments are usually 2 weeks apart. She is one of the most inspired and inspiring people I have ever met. She grew up Catholic but is now working at a Presbyterian church. (I'm not sure how much I told you about her before). Her beliefs about life and about God are a melting pot of what she has learned in both churches and what she has personally come up with herself by studying the works of people like C.S. Lewis. The Spirit truly guides her and has molded her into a truly Christ-like individual. In this last visit we planned to teach her the 2nd half of the Plan of Salvation (from the Spirit world to the degrees of glory) and through her own inspired thinking she began asking us what happens to each of us from different faiths after we die. I was truly touched by her sensitivity to the Spirit and her pure desires to learn more about God. I love Karen, I just love her! One of my favorite things so far has been being able to sit and discuss with her true doctrines, doctrines that can bring us happiness and peace as we exercise our faith and believe that they are true.
Yesterday in church our lesson was based on a talk by Elder Holland from the last conference, "Lord, I Believe." Sister Atwood talked about how the Lord does not ask us to focus on HOW much faith we have but to focus on claiming the faith that we do have. It's not really about striving to "gain more faith" in hard times. It's about exercising the faith that we have already gained. Gaining more faith will follow naturally as we rely on what we already have. This concept is phenomenal! As humans trying to "gain faith" is not an easy task, but reflecting on our lives and realizing what the Lord has already blessed us with is strengthening and encouraging. He loves us, and He will not leave us. Each day we need faith, sometimes for something as small as not losing our temper or smiling at someone when we haven't had the best day. If we are constantly trying to remember what our Savior did for us and what that actually means, the limits on what we can do and who we can become start to  disappear. This lesson is a hard one fro me to learn. Each day I start over in trying to gain this mindset, but each day I am little stronger knowing I made it through the last one with the Lord's help!
Last Tuesday we had a wonderful district meeting. I can't even remember exactly what we talked about. I think it was about listening and baring testimony. But the best part was the end. Our district leader's companion, Elder Brown, performed a solo for our closing hymn. He sang the first verse of Choose the Right and then everyone was supposed to join in on the last 2 verses. I was in the back playing the piano, so I was able to watch and play from the back of the room. Elder Brown sang a wonderful solo, not exactly hitting all the notes, but singing from his heart. At the beginning of the second verse, Elder Voraceck jumped up and started singing with him at the front, while everyone else started singing too. One by one they all stood up and sang as a district while I played in the back. I was trying not to be distracted as I played, but I wanted to watch them. It just filled my heart will admiration at Elder Voraceck's humble love. He is one of the most outstanding, kind , and considerate people I have ever met. Each elder (and my companion) is wonderful and I am so grateful for our district and for the opportunity that we have to gather each week and to learn and strengthen each other. God is helping us all in this great work. Being a missionary is a great privilege that I cannot believe I have! I never really thought I would be on a mission, but it is so wonderful!
Each of us is blessed to be here on this earth. There are so many wonderful opportunities in store for us. Gather as friends, as family, and as members of the Church. As we look fro ways to strengthen each other, we are strengthened in the process. I love you all and miss you!
Sister Mecate
P.S.-We get to go see Mt. Rainier today with Sister Walton today!

Monday, August 19, 2013

August 19, 2013

Dear Family,
It has been a blessed week. We are teaching a girl named Alyssa (yes, same spelling!) who referred herself to Church head quarters so she could be taught. She has many LDS friends. Her one friend, Maddie, has been sharing the gospel with her for a few years. She has been to many church activities and has felt the Spirit. Our first lesson with her was amazing, like a missionary's dream come true. She has heard the lesson on the Restoration twice already, and so it was basically a question and answer session on the Restoration. The Spirit was so strong as she talked about her experiences and as we testified to her of God's love for her. Towards the end of the lesson, Sister Margaritis asked her if she would be baptized if she came to know the Book of Mormon was true for herself. With a big smile on her face she happily agreed to. She is scheduled to be baptized on September 7th! After that I told her how happy her Father in heaven is with her. At this point I looked to my right and her friend Maddie was in tears and I looked to my left and Sister Margaritis's eyes were glistening, and in my heart I felt JOY. It was one of those moments that are talked about that make up for all the hard moments, all the times we want to give up and turn back. To see someone have a desire to follow their Savior and be baptized through the proper priesthood authority as He was makes a missionary so happy, and Heavenly Father! Alyssa's greatest concern is that of the Book of Mormon and being able to overcome her need to find "proof" that it is true. She knows that only through reading the Book of Mormon and praying and asking specifically if it is true can she know for herself in her heart that it truly is the Word of God and that this is Christ's true Church on the earth. I love Alyssa and I feel so blessed that the Lord has allowed us to be able to teach her. Her friend Maddie is a great example to me. She openly shares what she knows to be true with her friend, because she knows how happy it will make her. Maddie has such a strong and beautiful testimony of the Restoration of the Church and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
This week I went to my first zone conference. It was great! It included role play's, teaching from our zone leaders, teaching from Senior missionary couples, and teaching from President Eaton. Oh, and lunch! I just absolutely love President Eaton. He teaches in such a way that your mind is automatically broadened to a greater understanding about the gospel. His main focus has been on helping us to love our investigators and on relating the Gospel to every day life, creating analogies of the Gospel to things in life. It's still hard to have good, engaging conversations with people sometimes. It can be quite discouraging, actually, to see all the things I am not very good at as a missionary. At the same time, I see how the Lord is blessing me and is helping me to BECOME a different person. One of the greatest enabling powers of the Atonement is that we are able to leave behind some of our "natural man" tendencies and become people that the Lord needs to do His work. "Whom the Lord calls, He qualifies." It is all through our Savior Jesus Christ. What an amazing gospel this is.
It's amazing how as a missionary, you are receiving revelation for others throughout the day. A mere thought popping up in your head can be from the Spirit. The more we are thinking about our investigators, the more the Spirit will be able to lead us and guide us in our thoughts. And sometimes we wonder what is from the Spirit and what is from us, and sometimes when we wonder those things it really doesn't matter. Elder Bednar gave a talk and he talked about how we often wonder whether our thoughts are from us or if they are from the Spirit. He basically said as long as we are being a "good girl" or a "good boy" we are doing good and that's all that matters. Act on good thoughts that you have, because everything good is from Christ. The Lord is with us more than we know. He is watching out for us, even when we feel distant from Him. His love for us is incomprehensible, and it causes miracles to happen when we are obedient. So many times I wonder how such good things happen, but it's because the lord knows we are not perfect and He knows when we are doing our best to follow our Savior Jesus Christ.
I know Heavenly Father loves each and every one of you so much. I have an amazing family and amazing friends. I could not have asked to be more blessed than with the people who have been in my life. I miss you all so much, but the Lord has a work here for me to do so He helps to keep me here!
One last thing, this week there has really been a focus on the power of prayer. As we pray for specific things, we are blessed with specific things. The Lord wants to bless us, we just need to ask. As we pray to know the Lord's will, and as we put more effort into the detail of our prayer's, miracles happen. I know this is true! Have a most fantastic week!
Sister Mecate

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August 12, 2013

Dearest Family,
It has been a wonderful and blessed week! We have more set appointments than ever before! We are teaching Karen, Nancy, Teresita, Maria, Pauline (and maybe her mom), and Alyssa, oh and someone named Sarah who I haven't yet met because we were on exchanges. I love them all! Each has such a different perspective on religion and God and on the message we have to share, but what they most definitely have in common is that God loves them and is guiding them and desperately wants them to receive the blessings of His kingdom. There are many other people who we are "close" to teaching, people that we are developing friendships who say they aren't interested in the gospel, or they just don't think they are.
Before I go off on some random tangent, I have to tell you about Sister B! I can't believe I haven't told you about her yet. Sister B is an older lady who lives in our apartment complex was inactive for 10 years. She just started coming to church with Sister Margaritis and Sister Anderson a few months before I got here. She struggles with many health issues and has a really hard time getting around. She definitely has a strong testimony of the Church and of priesthood power. None of her children support her in her faith, and she doesn't have a husband, but she still believes. One of her caretaker's, Maria, is someone who we have been teaching. Maria has a thick Mexican accent and is so funny! She believes in God and Jesus Christ very much, but isn't too sure about organized religion. Her other caretaker, Cathlina, is Tongan and is a member and is very strong in the Church. She is a strong, steady woman with a lot of faith. Sister B's home is kind of like a a home away from home. She likes to hear about the people we meet and what's going on in the mission. She says "her missionaries" are what keep her going, and that's been for 10 years! Sadly she is moving soon, because they are renovating the apartments. We will have to move soon too, because our apartments are next. Sister B is a one-of-a-kind woman, with a great heart. We don't know what we are going to do when she leaves!
We had exchanges this week, and they were really good! I was paired with Sister Parry (her first name is Katie, Haha), and she has only been out in the field for 3 weeks! I was nervous at first, but after meeting Sister Parry my nerves were calmed. She is pretty quiet, but she has a confidence about her that is reassuring. She has a lot of faith, and nothing will deter her from her testimony of the Gospel. Tracting with her was good for me, because I was the Senior companion! I had to lead the conversations many times, because she isn't quite used to it yet. It helped me to realize that I really have improved. There is no way that two months ago I would have been so comfortable and confident talking to complete strangers about the Gospel the way I did. It was just one of God's small mercies that day that lifted my spirits.
One pattern that has reoccurred many times in the past few weeks is that Heavenly Father picks me up each time I think I can't go on any more. In the moments where I most want to give up, He lifts my Spirits and renews my strength. District meetings, Zone meetings, partaking of the sacrament, finding new people to teach are all placed in my life when I need them. So many things are inspired, on the mission especially, but in every day life too. God is opening my eyes. Where I once doubted and felt confusion, I now see that I am being led. It is all about our perspective and our faith. There are miracles every day. We just need eyes with which to see them. God loves each of His children the same. He is desperately trying to get each of His children on the path to their salvation. This world is scary and distracting and unloving, but God's mercy is extended to each of us so that we may overcome those things of the world that bring us down.

Something I have pondered a lot on my mission from day to day is the meaning of happiness. I want happiness. We all want it. I sometimes question why I'm not happy every moment. I am a member of Christ's Church. I have a wonderful family. I am in good health. I know Jesus Christ lives and loves me. Am I supposed to be "happy" all the time? yes...and maybe no. I have thought a lot about Joseph Smith. He had a glorious message to share with the world. And for it, he dealt with persecution beyond belief. Surely Joseph Smith was not "happy" in the sense that I think of happiness. He was doing God's work, but he and his family suffered so many heart-wrenching things. How could he have been "happy" throughout it all? God hasn't promised us joy or happiness in our every moment on this earth. We are fallen beings. We suffer from sin, we suffer from trials and tribulation. He knew, and we knew, before we came here that this would be the case. Our joy is not rooted in the fact that in every moment we are as "happy" as can be. Our joy is rooted in the promises that God has given us, that one day we will receive a "fulness of joy" and we can live forever with our families, and we can be with God. Joseph knew this, with all his heart, with all his mind, and all his strength. We are not condemned for not having a smile on our face in each hard moment, but we are expected to trust God. He loves us immensely, infinitely, as does Jesus Christ. We can have complete confidence in that.These are just some of the thoughts that have been formulating in my head for the last couple months, so take them with a grain of salt. My witness of this may not be as deep as that of Joseph Smith's (not nearly), but I do know that it is true. My confidence and happiness lie in God and in the promises he has given me. I am weak, but He is strong.
I love you all! I miss you all! Have a fantastic week!
Sister Mecate

August 5, 2013

Dear Family!
This week something happened to me for the first time in my life!......I was stung by a wasp! I'm assuming it was a wasp because there was no stinger in me. And it did not swell up because I think I squeezed the toxin (or whatever they sting you with) out of my finger, because I was squeezing it so hard and I would not let go. I screamed like a little girl. I think Sister Margaritis was shocked and embarrassed and stunned because my scream came out of nowhere. The look on her face was pretty funny. I'm sure if someone saw it they would have laughed their head off as I ran down the side walk, screaming, then hyperventilating, then talking to myself/Sister Margaritis. So now I can say I've been stung by a wasp! Just why I wanted to come on my mission! Ha!
First, before I run out of time, I want to tell you about Teresita. She is this little Filipino lady we met the same day we ran into the Seeley's. We talked to her in her drive way as she watched her grandkids. We left her with a prayer and she said we could come back next week at the same time to teach her more. It seemed like a very casual invitation back, so we were excited, but we didn't expect her to be so interested. So fast-forward to the next week. We decided to park and walk that day, because we get more exercise that way and we get to talk to more people outside. We tried Teresita an hour earlier than we had planned and nobody answered. We came back an hour and 20 mins later (so 20 mins late, technically). We were just kind of frustrated that afternoon and a bit discouraged, so we were lacking faith in the moment. We knocked on her door, she answered, to our surprise, and invited us in. Teresita is so cute. She asked us "Where have you been?" in her Filipino accent, and we kind of explained that we hadn't realized she meant for us to come exactly at 4. Then we asked if we could start with a prayer, and we did. Then Sister Margaritis and I looked at each other for a few seconds, because we were less prepared than usual and Teresita said, "That's it?!" We quickly assured her we had a message to share and I jumped right into the message of the restoration. It was kind of a blessing in a way, because we really had to rely on the Lord, that she would be able to feel the Spirit and understand our message. At the end she said, "From now on at night I read this before I go to bed." (meaning the Book of Mormon). I just love Teresita. She reminds me a lot of Papa Mecate. She has dark hair and is so tiny! And she is very kind and friendly. She is so sweet with her grandkids. Our next lesson with her is this Wednesday at 3, and we are hoping for a miracle! In the last lesson she said she would be baptized if she came to know that teh Book of Mormon is true. She said she doesn't want to jump into anything that she is unsure of. We invited her to come watch a baptism this past Saturday, but she couldn't make it because one of her grandkids was being christened. She said maybe next time though, because she would like to watch one. She is just so humble and has a desire to know the truth. My faith wavers when good things happen. I don't want to get my hopes up and then have them crash, but I know that if Teresita is ready, the Lord will help her and us to help her find her answer and start on the road to baptism. "Faith is not only a feeling, it is a decision." -Elder Anderson. This is something that quickly becomes apparent on a mission, and I know it to be true!
We have a friend named John that lives in the apartment complex we live in. He is often out walking his little dog named Bandit, who Sister Margaritis calls Nico. He's the cutest little dog! John is divorced and served in Iraq for a year. He is one of the nicest guys, but we know he has a hard life. He told Sister Margaritis before I got here that he wasn't interested in the Church, but as we have become better friends with him, I cannot stand that he doesn't have the gospel. It would bring him so much happiness! There is a talk we are going to give him from the last conference that we hope will peak his interest. It's called "The Hope of God's Light" by President Uchtdorf. You should look it up and read it. It is really an amazing talk.
I wish I could tell you all about the members here. They are wonderful! Oh and I need to tell you a quick story from Sunday. There were these 2 little boys in red button up shirts. The family was visiting the ward. I turned to them and asked them their names. The younger one said, "Daniel," and the older one said, "James." James was looking at me and then my name-tag and then I said, 'And I'm Sister Mecate." And then he half whispered, "And you're Beautiful." I looked at him, surprised and flattered! Ha! His parents are going to have to watch out for that one! But he made my day for sure!

I love you and hope you are all having a good week. I apologize that I don't communicate more individually with you all. I am a slow writer I think. My favorite scripture this week is 2 Nephi 33:6. "I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus for he hath redeemed my soul from hell."
Jesus is the Christ. I know that He lives. I know that he loves each of us more than we can comprehend. And that love blesses us with a power to overcome sorrow, grief, guilt, and pain that is more miraculous than we can know. The gospel is wonderful and I am so grateful that I have this opportunity to learn so much about it. I love you!
Sister Mecate