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