Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 28, 2014

Dear Family,
I am late emailing this week, because we got to go to the temple today! It's been a crazy day, but wonderful! I cannot express what a blessing it was to be in the temple. I almost couldn't bring myself to leave. It had been 7 months since I had been inside a temple, and it was a long overdo trip. Peace beyond anything else this world can offer is what I felt today. I know that the temple truly is a House of the Lord. I'm sure I've quoted this scripture to you before, but it is just so fitting. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27. I have a renewed vigor to help our investigators not only be baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but to help them get to the temple and then to eternal life. Also, I have been having feelings of anxiety about possibly being transferred, seeing as how I have spent half my mission in Maple Valley. I do not want to leave. There are so many people here who I love who I still want to help. But in the temple I was able to feel peace at the idea of doing whatever Heavenly Father needs me to do. All I can say is that I know God loves His children and He desperately wants all of us to be happy and full of joy in this life and to return to Him in the next.  One of the tracting ideas we have been using is "On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy will you be if the Seahawks win the Superbowl?" (Everyone are crazy Seahawks fans here and the Superbowl is this weekend!) So far people have said 10. Then we talk about how there are lots of things in this world that make us happy, but the gospel of Jesus Christ brings us real joy and peace and makes us happier than we could rate on a scale of 1 to 10. I am so grateful for this knowledge. I love the gospel!
We now have two people committed to baptism! One is Riley, the 9 year old boy. We are also teaching DeVon, his foster brother. And another is Joe. Joe's wife is a member. We went over to visit their family one night, and Joe sat down and started talking with us. We ended up teaching parts of the Restoration and how the gospel brings us peace in this life. He said that's what he's looking for and asked if he could be baptized! We could see how much he wanted for his family to be happy, especially his kids. There are many miracles happening with Part Member families! There's Doug and Alicia. Doug thinks he's really cool and tries to mock us just a little bit, but he really wants the best for his family, and deep down he appreciates us. He waved exuberantly at us the other day while we were walking down the street and he drove by. It made our day! There's the Brandon and Jen, who we love. Jen is actually considering baptism after being someone who used to hide from the missionaries. There's Kelly, whose husband is a member but wants nothing to do with the church. We are good friends with her and we think her heart is prepared is hear and accept the gospel. We have been trying for weeks to teach her. We are determined to teach her this week. There's the Politeo's. Brother Politeo isn't a member (yet) but he comes to church all the time! And there's the Steele's, Sam and Nicole. They are the cutest little family. They have a 2 and a half year old named Amelia. Sam has been a member his whole life. He calls the commandments guidelines (he's pretty funny), and Nicole has investigated the church before. She's still working on getting her answer. And there's the LeBlanc's. Such a cute little family. Landon, the dad, used to play baseball, so we have an in! They have the most adorable children. We love all of these people! They are just amazing.
LaChelle is progressing, slowly, but surely. That woman is amazing! She has so much strength. And her faith is building in Jesus Christ. She recognizes that the peace she feels around us and at church and in the scriptures is the Holy Ghost. I cannot wait for the day when I get to be with her in the temple!
Well, I hope you have a great week! Sorry this email was kind of all over the place. Our time is cut a little short. I know God lives and Loves you! And I do to!
Sister Mecate

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 21, 2014

Dear Family,
I have really enjoyed this week! First I must tell you of two new food preferences that I have. I love Pacific Rose apples! I can't remember having so many apple choices in California or Utah. Washington has great apples! Also, you should try eating cookies and cream ice cream with pretzels. That's such a good ice cream topping. Why didn't I think of it before?
We had some really great lessons this week, and then some really great disappointments afterwards. But it's ok. Sister Kirschner and I are learning that people's agency can be frustrating. We had a lesson with one man named Tom who has talked to many missionaries in the past. Now he just tries to get them to play chess with him. Anyways, we ran into him and had an hour long conversation with him and then we bore our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith being a prophet and of Jesus Christ being our Savior and he ended up having tears in his eyes. The Spirit was so strong! We gave a him a pamphlet to read of Joseph Smith's testimony and he said he would read it. We came back on Friday and he completely rejected the message after having admitted that he felt the Spirit when we talked to him before. He said he wasn't willing to make changes in his life or to search for the truth. We were devastated! It's sad to see that as human beings sometimes we hold ourselves back from blessings when we aren't willing to change. We had another family reject the church before we could even come sit down and teach them. They were all set up for a church tour and to go to church on Sunday, and then they did some of their own "research" and they asked us not to come back, without even reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it. That was heart breaking, knowing that if they had read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it, the Spirit would have told them that this is Jesus Christ's church restored on the earth by a prophet. It's sad when they won't even give themselves a chance to find truth. The Book of Mormon is true, I know it! When I read it, I have the Spirit of God with me, just like I do as I read the Bible. But the Book of Mormon helps me to better understand our Savior Jesus Christ and to realize that He has a specific way for each of us to be forgiven of our sins and to return to live with our Father in Heaven. The Plan is wonderful! I want everyone to know about it!
Something else I realized this week is that as I do things because I love God, they become much easier to do. It seems like I would have learned that a long time ago! But actually feeling that in my heart isn't the easiest thing for me to learn. So instead of saying, "I need to go talk to that person, because they need the gospel or because I just know I need to," I say, "Heavenly Father, I love you, so I'm just going to do it." And then it's so much easier to do hard things, and then I love the people more. And there is obviously a lot more to it. We are imperfect human beings who can't just know how to love God, a perfect and infinitely merciful Heavenly Father. But I do see that as I turn my heart to Him more often, I feel of His love more, and I learn more how to love Him.

Sister Kirschner and I have slowly become goofier and goofier. She says I bring it out in her like no one else, and I'm not sure that's a compliment! I feel like I've reigned in a lot of my weirdness on my mission, too! Haha! I guess I'm just weird. I really love Sister Kirschner. She is teaching me so much. This girl has so much faith. I feel like these last two transfers have been a whirlwind of change, adjustment, growth, and learning. I'm secretly (or not so secretly) hoping that I get to stay my whole mission in Maple Valley. I LOVE this place, maybe just because I've seen myself grow so much here. And I love the people. And I might have anxiety attacks if I go anywhere that is remotely ghetto. Oh, well!
I love you all! Have a wonderful week! I invite you to pray with greater faith and more specificity. I'm always working on that. I know that as you do, you will see the blessings and you will see God's hand in your life!  Ether 12:12-"For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith." Story of my mission! And of life! God will bless you as you show Him your faith. He loves you!
Sister Mecate

Friday, January 17, 2014

January 13, 2014

Dear Family,
It's been a great week! I first want to tell you how I have come to know a little bit more that God loves me and that it's ok that I am not perfect. On Saturday night, we got a voice mail blast from the office elders that are now serving in the Glacier Park ward. They excitedly told our whole zone of how they now have 2 people committed to baptism, one of them being a man I met and talked to twice while I served in that area, Melvin. I reflected upon my encounters with him and immediately felt regret and frustration at not having taught him more or invited him to receive the blessings of the gospel through baptism. It seemed that everything on my mission was either going to be failure or success in my eyes because of this experience. I am discovering that I often act as Dobby the house elfwhen I make a mistake. "Bad Dobby!" is how I let myself feel. I don't want to let go of the pain and regret, preferring to let myself wallow in it, just as Dobby tends to inflict punishment upon himself. Those who know me best know this about me, so it's nothing new. After hearing this voice mail about Melvin, I had to figure out how I was going to face my fears. What I feared most was that this would be the pattern of my whole mission, that I would meet people prepared to hear the gospel and then not do enough about it to help them receive the blessings. How could I be such a failure?! But then the Lord stepped in. On Sunday, the talks were all about home and visiting teaching, programs in the church that allow us to help and serve one another. The last man that spoke talked about why we sometimes don't fulfill our callings as home or visiting teachers, because we allow ourselves to be paralyzed by guilt or doubt at our ability to serve as good as someone else could. I couldn't believe how clearly he was speaking to me. The adversary tries to get us to knock ourselves down so that we don't see our potential and so that we don't move forward. He pulls us away from what is true, away from the fact that we always get a second chance, and that God is always willing to help us move forward and to fill us with joy. Then this morning in our studies, Sister Kirschner shared a quote about how we must move forward with faith, taking with us the glowing embers of the past and leaving behind the ashes. (Elder Jeffery R. Holland). This is all part pf the plan, making mistakes, then moving forward with faith in Jesus Christ that we can change and that we are loved infinitely by Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Even if I feel like I've been floundering around, not really knowing what to do my whole mission up to this point (and I don't really feel that way), I can feel and know God's love, and I can trust that this is His work and that He will pick up the slack where I fail or make mistakes. And of course in this whole process, the Spirit plays an important role in teaching us sweetly and quietly about this love. Even though I wanted to be so upset this weekend, the Spirit cushioned my heart and soul from my own negativity and determination to label myself as a failure. He taught me that God doesn't work in those labels, and that no matter the distance one of His children falls, He will always invite them back into His arms of love and mercy.
So on to the update, we have an investigator committed to baptism! Riley is 9 years old and autistic. His family has not come to church in a couple of years and they came yesterday! They have 2 other children that they are trying to adopt, DeVon and Katelyn.
 DeVon is 8 and he also wants to be baptized. He soaks up any knowledge about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father like a sponge. It is such a blessing to teach them!
Lots of other things happened this week, but I'm about out of time. I just rambled on in the beginning about that experience I had, so sorry. But it was a great week. We also had exchanges and I was with Sister Taylor, and I just love her. Love you and miss you all!
Sister Mecate

Friday, January 10, 2014

January 7, 2014

Dear Family,
First, I must tell you of my complete excitement at NOT being transferred. Wahoo! I love both of these wards so much and I love being with Sister Kirschner, so my heart is full of gratitude to the Lord and to President Eaton for allowing me to stay another transfer. I will be in Maple Valley for at least half of my mission! What a wonderful place! SO many amazing things are happening here. I'm not sure yet all the things I want to tell you!
On Monday we had a church tour with Anthony. It was great. He got there about an hour late, but he came! The whole church tour was fine, but at the end it was the best. We talked about the Restoration as we looked at a picture of Joseph Smith and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove. Brother Summerhays bore a powerful testimony of the restoration. I think it was a powerful moment for Anthony. But then we went into the chapel and it was even more powerful. The Spirit was there. We all walked in and sat in the pews for a few minutes and Sister Kirschner and I talked about later how we felt a little awkward at the silence, but Anthony was really feeling the Spirit. We talked about church and the sacrament, and then asked if he had any questions. He responded, "I'm just enjoying sitting in the silence." It was apparent that he could tell the difference with the strong Spirit that was in that room. It was so peaceful, like the temple, where you don't want to have to leave to go back out into the busy world. It was even better, because Anthony is a tall black guy that wears basketball shorts and a ball cap and he really likes to talk. He is so awesome!  We could see how his demeanor changed in the chapel. I love seeing how the gospel, and the Spirit, touch people of all different kinds of personalities.
Sister Kirschner and I have really been experiencing blessings as we follow promptings.
Yesterday we had the choice of tracting down a street with lots of cars or one with only a few cars. I really felt like we should go down the one with fewer cars, even though that would mean less people likely to answer the door. We ended up finding a man who said he would read a part of the Book of Mormon and would pray and ask God that night if it were true! It was a tender mercy to us, and to him, even if he doesn't quite know it yet. Then we found Larry when we went looking for someone else named Dustin. Sister Kirschner felt like we should start at a certain house and Larry ended up walking out. We had a long conversation with him about religion. He loves the Mormons he said! He is a very active Catholic, though. We ended up leaving him with a Book of Mormon and explaining how it contains a fulness of the doctrine of Jesus Christ and how the Bible even talks about the Stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph coming together. He seemed pretty interested in looking at it and he also said he might come on a church tour. He said his son plays baseball, too. Sister Kirschner talked about playing softball and I talked about how Dad was Catholic, played baseball, went to BYU, and then read the Book of Mormon and converted! Larry is a really neat and honest guy. We are definitely going back. Later that night we were in a neighborhood around 7:30 to visit someone and we ended up knocking on a former investigator's door instead and meeting Linda, who at first didn't want to talk, but then opened up and said she could really use some peace in her life right now. When we prayed with her, she said she got goosebumps, and we explained that the Holy Spirit can sometimes communicate with us like that, and through feelings of peace. We are going back on Friday. We have just seen some wonderful things happen as we follow specific promptings of the Spirit.
On Sunday our lesson in Gospel Principles was on the family. I felt a great gratitude throughout that lesson for both of my parents who raised their family on a strong gospel foundation. I have such wonderful amazing parents, and I couldn't have asked for a greater gift from them than the gospel! You have both developed strong testimonies and conviction from your faith and diligence in following the Savior. The faith you have both exercised will bless generations to come with the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love that the Church gives us guides and teachings from Jesus Christ on which we can build our foundation so "that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock (Our Redeemer) upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." The gospel is great! And with Jesus Christ we will never fall. If it's in the scriptures, it's from God, and if it's from God, it's true!
I'm about out of time. I love you all! Have a great week! Remember, you're New Year's resolutions will be a lot more successful if you involve your Savior. He's so willing to help!
Sister Mecate