Dearest Family whom I love oh so very much,
Haha okay so I have a TON to write today and have to hurry as always but I'll try to get in as much as possible..... ohhhh man I get the biggest butterflies on p-days!!! Seriously, my stomach is full of them the second I wake up in the morning on p-days. I just get soooo overly excited to hear from everyone and to tell you all how my mission is going!! However this morning we went on our usual morning run (you'd be so proud of me... I am the annoying companion that insists we run haha after I roll out of bed and say my morning prayer, I flip on the lights and say, "let's goooo runnnning!!!!" haha I love it) which is around this sand track right near our house. It's a sandy track around a big grass field... surrounded by orchards. SOO pretty!! Every morning we run at sunrise and we just watch the beautiful sun rise above the tops of the trees in the orchards...... amazing. The skys are BEAUTIFUL here and since there aren't many lights, the stars are sooo pretty and bright. I love it!! But anyways, we ran which made me feel very good, luckily Ragnar has still helped me with running haha now I feel like I can run anything, it's great. But anyways, before I tell you a little bit about our current investigators and the stories that go along with them, I just want you all to know how often I think about each and every one of you and how much I love you all.
Being on my mission has opened my eyes in more ways than I can express and given me such a greater appreciation for life and those in my life. Especially my amazing family. I never knew I could feel SOO blessed and lucky. It truly warms my heart and I also never knew I could feel so renewed each and every single day... I truly feel like I grow so much EACH day!!! I am just constantly growing and I can always say that I feel like I am a different person than I was the day before. It's an amazing feeling. I am changing so much and ahhhh I am just soo so happy. I also love how I always have an eternal perspective in mind and with that alone I am constantly growing a greater appreciation and love for this gospel, my loving Heavenly Father and of course, my selfless, merciful and perfect Savior, Jesus Christ. And also His Atonement. I love constantly seeking after my Father in Heaven and Savior and just the perspective I have here.... I never want to dwindle away from it. I can now see why it's hard for missionaries to come home because it's sooo easy to fall away and lose sight of what's most important. It's easy to not always think of things in an eternal perspective. And I think this is one of the biggest factors as to why missionaries are SO happy. They ALWAYS have an eternal perspective in mind, are constantly thinking of what's MOST important in life, they realize what being humble really is... knowing that we can do NOTHING without the Savior and that we are completely in His hands... etc. And also because missionaries are constantly seeking to serve others and build the Kingdom of God. It's an incredible thing and I already cannot imagine my life without have performing this service. But okay here are some stories and updates!! These are miracles to me and number 2's story is one that is very special to me because this experience alone has proved to me why I am here and why I was called to serve in the California, Roseville mission... Spanish speaking and here in Gridley at this time.
MIRACLE #1 -
So on Tuesday we had some appointments and then had an hour where an appointment fell through so we had time to spare.... well, I of course, said we should go tracting. We've been having success with it so I felt strongly that it was what we should do. Hermana Piggott wasn't feeling the same and tried to find other people we could go meet but I said a little prayer and knew we needed to. I told her this and so we went tracting. Well, the FIRST house we knocked on we met a girl named Magdelina. Whom we now call Maggie. Maggie is 13 years old and from a very very Catholic family (everyone and their doggg is Catholic here.... however, some of them haven't been since who knows when) but they are super active and anyways, we started talking to Maggie about our message after we got to know her a little and then asked her if she'd like to know more. Usually younger people don't care to know but she was different. There was a different countenance about her and I knew it from the start. She was pretty soft spoken but very sweet and said she did. We then asked her if she had time right then and she did. So we sat out on her porch and taught her the entire first lesson.. The Apostasy, Restoration, about the Book of Mormon.... everything. We taught her the most detailed lesson we ever have too and it was so powerful. Since she is from a religious background she was so interested and respectful. And after I recited the first vision her eyes completely widened and she smiled. And we talked to her about how Joseph was only a year older than her and she said, "Yeah and I have questioned myself which church is true too."
Ohhh she is DARLING!!! Well anyways, we asked her for her thoughts and she would say, "WOW!! This is amazing!!" and I could see it in her eyes and body language that she believed every word. We then taught her about the Book of Mormon, like I said and gave her her own copy, inviting her to read it and pray over what she read and what we've taught her. She agreed to it and even said, "I'm excited to read this book!" .. oh and I also shared grandpa Barth's story again... I have a feeling I'll be sharing it a lot. People LOVE it. But then we taught her how to pray and asked her if she'd pray. She agreed however, we had Hermana Piggott pray first so that she could see how it's done and feel more comfortable. In her church the prayers are all memorized... Well we then got down on our knees and after Hermana Piggott, Maggie said the SWEETEST, most heart felt prayer. It was too sweet for words. And then we asked her when we could meet with her again and she said tomorrow!! Oh, and her dad was in the kitchen with the window open... secretly listening we assumed haha. Well we were so excited and then taught her the next day. She said she had read the intro/testimonies at the beginning of the Book of Mormon because we didn't tell her where to start... woops. But she said she prayed and didn't get an answer yet. Well we then briefly brushed over more of the Book of Mormon and she actually had a church thing with her dad so we had to make it quick. We also brushed over the Plan of Salvation and told her we'd be teaching it her next time... which ended up being the next day. Oh, and we asked her if her parents were okay with her meeting with us and she said they were and that her dad even heard us praying and said he liked how we prayed!! Exciting. But so then we went back the next day and taught her the Plan of Salvation. After finding out that her little 9 year old sister has Cancer... Leukemia. So hearing that alone really touched all of our hearts and brought the spirit more into the lesson.
Well, we taught her a very detailed lesson of the Plan of Salvation and yet again, she LOVED it. She kept widening her eyes and saying... "WOW!!" and afterwards she said, "It feels so good to know I don't have to worry anymore... and worry about my sister... where she's going." SOO CUTE!!!! And I forgot to mention this but before the lesson I asked her if in their church they talk at all about what happens after this life and she said no! Still shocked me. They really don't know about sooo much of God's plan!! And we DO!!!! I was like, "Really!? Well we're going to tell you!!" haha. But then we touched baptism and invited her to be baptized and she said YESSSS!!!!!!! We were soooo excited. She said, "Yesss. I know it's a good thing." We were all smiles. However, we have to get permission from her parents since she's so young and we don't know how that will go but PLEASE PRAY FOR MAGGIE!!!! And that her parents hearts will be softened. The dad always smiles and waves at us though however we continue to teach on the porch and ya just never know.... our goal is to teach her parents too though. And the little sister when she's back from the hospital. I know they would be golden and NEED the restored gospel in their lives!! So that's our darling Maggie.... we're meeting with her tomorrow.
MIRACLE #2 -
So the next door we knocked on happened to be Jaime's door (it sounds lots different in Spanish). He is a member however his wife Nelis (Nelly) is not. So anyways, we met Nelly at the door and she was very sweet to us and we set up an appointment with her for the next day. Hermana Piggott was shocked because apparently in the past she wanted nothing to do with the missionaries. Well, we went back the next night and shared Ether and D&C 82:10... They were awesome and Jaime helped a ton because if we didn't explain something perfectly in Spanish, he would and he would also expound on it... well anyways, she was soo cute and was very engaged. And afterwards, Hermana Piggott tried to slyly ask if we could come back and teach some more, work on our Spanish and what not... to not make her feel like it was all on her... and they agreed. And we asked if she personally wanted to learn more and she said she did and then pointed to me and started telling me a story. Her eyes were stuck on mine when she told it though and although I couldn't understand every word, she speaks very fast, I could feel something different. I could feel her spirit. And then it was silent, Nelly had tears in her eyes and Jaime retold us the story Nelly told us. She said she had a dream where she was drowning and a girl came over to her and pulled her out of the water, saved her life. And she said the girl was in all white and looked exactly like me. And she said there were two young men standing behind me who were also dressed in white...... the Elder's. She had a dream about us missionaries!!! Saving her when she was drowing!! This is noo coincidence and she knows it. We asked her when she had this dream too and she said only 2 weeks ago. And then she said that she had a dream before this awhile back about two young men dressed in white too and she said some Elder's came to her door and one of them had the exact same eyes as a boy in the dream. So she's had two of the dreams and what makes it even more of a sign is that her husband had the EXACT same thing happen to him and that's why he was converted to the church!! He was having a really really bad day, feeling awful and then had a vivid dream of two Elder missionaries dressed in white appearing to him and two hours later missionaries showed up at his front door and he knew he had to get baptized. Right then and there he knew. And now Nelly is having the exact same dreams and it is NO coincidence!! And it is noo coincidence that we showed up after she had a dream of seeing me!!!!!! AMAZING!!!!! When she told this story I felt the spirit soo strong too and we were all just silent. It was amazing. We then told her that it was a sign and she nodded. She KNOWS. And Jaime was soo excited about it. I loved it soo much!!!! Sooo she's getting baptized. We know it. We just have to teach her more. And we taught her again later on and we taught the Restoration... it went awesome, especially with Jaime's help. However, when we invited her to be baptized she said she wanted to learn more. She's just being stubborn.... because she grew up Catholic of course but we'll get her. She'll be baptized. Especially with her husband by her side... and those dreams, she's received her answer. So we'll keep you updated on her!! But that alone is an EXACT reason why I have been called to serve here!!!!! Hahaha and earlier that week me and Hermana Piggott were saying how we wanted to have one of those classic missionary moments... when someone says to you that they've seen you before, etc. Well this was better than I could have ever imagined.
MIRACLE #3 -
So the other day we were teaching one of our less-actives, who is actually active now but wasn't when Hermana Piggott got here, Idalia... and we were reading Ether 12 with her. Well anyways, afterwards I was talking to her son Oscar, we're super close to their fam and since their are no youth besides him in our branch... and we'd been working with Maggie (and a girl named Sonia... more later) .. I asked him if he had any friends we could teach. At first he couldn't think of any but he then thought of a boy named Jesus (say it in Spanish). Jesus is the son of Laticia (that lady I told you about when I first got here) and anyways, I had met him one before and he's such a cutie, soo nice. But Oscar said he was soo nice and that they shared a locker so he asked about him... and apparently Hermana Piggott and Hermana Butler taught him a little before while teaching Idalia and I guess he even said to them that he knew it was true... but for some reason they didn't follow up with him. Laticia probably has a little bit to do with that. Well anyways, he then came into my mind really strongly. Well anyways, we invited Oscar to a baptism the sisters were having and he said he wanted to come and we were having a girl Sonia coming. But anyways, Sonia ended up not being able to come, she had to go somewhere with her family and so we tried to think of someone else we could invite. We tried calling a few different people and then JESUS came into my mind. So we ran over to his house, had 15 min before the baptism and found him home. He was playing video games and we asked him how he was. He said bad and continued to tell us that he had been having a really bad week and day and that he had been listening to his parents fighting constantly and just felt like nothing. We then told him we knew exactly what he needed and invited him to the baptism. He said he didn't for awhile and said he didn't know how he could feel better but after we talked to him for a long time and told him Oscar would be there and wanted him to come, he agreed. We then got Elder Call to get big Oscar, Oscar's dad... the BEST guy, to come pick Jesus up because we couldn't take him so the Elders came with him in 4 minutes and we made it to the baptism!! We barely made it too but it was sooo peaceful and he LOVED it. It took him awhile to warm up but they played the perfect mormon message for him to hear and watch right after the ordinance and he just kept nodding the whole time. And then he met all the missionaries, some ward people and talked to Oscar for a long time.. and he even sang during the closing hymn!! So cute!!! And then Oscar and him went into the Hall and Elder Call explained to him the pictures on the walls. One of Christ appearing to the Lamanites, etc. and anyways... Jesus was loving them and he even said for that picture, "I know Christ is telling them... come follow ME" and then I overheard Oscar saying to Jesus with another picture, "The church really is true. Joseph Smith is true. The Book of Mormon is true.... this is the true church."
My heart was sooo warmed!!!! Oscar was being a little missionary!!! SOOO CUTE!!!!! And then Jesus asked about the temple video we watched, asked if he could see the baptismal font, feel the water, etc.... he couldn't. But we talked to him about a lot and he kept saying how glad he was that he came. Well there was a lot more but I don't have time to tell you.... He's just GOLDEN. And the next day we went to his house and he was sleeping but we asked him if he'd come to church and at first he said no but we kept being his annoying sisters and told him he knew he wanted to, like last night, and he finally agreed. Well we then ran back to church to get big Oscar and little Oscar to go pick him up and when we got back his dad already had left to take him because they thought we had forgotten!! This NEVER happens!!! And then we found them at the gas station and they followed us to the church. His dad Jesus, little Jesus and their little beautiful Maria came to church too!!!! And it was sooo good. Haha big Jesus is kinda crazy though and while the sacrament was being passed he stood up and BEAR HUGGED Brother Valasques (don't know how to spell it) ... it killed me haha. He's kinda a nut but he LOVES us because he loves talking about God and ya know what, he's a child of God just like me!! But anyways, little Jesus LOVED sacrament meeting and said he wants to come back and wants to learn more from us. However he feels dumb that he doesn't have church clothes so we talked to Brother Orem (counselor in the Stake Presidency) and he said he's get him stuff. So we'll have him dressed in church clothes next week!! Sooooo cute!!!! But anyways, I have to hurry but I'll give you updates on that. We're asking him to be baptized this week and I know he's getting baptized!!!! I CANNOT WAIT!!!!!!!
So I have a LOT more miracles to share however I have no time... so those are 3. We have 2 other people on date for baptism too. But I'll keep you updated on everything and everyone later!!! In one of Michael's emails to me he said, "It may have had some hard times but now YOU are there. Turn it around baby!!" .... It's turning around!!!!!! Not because of me alone but his statement has stuck with me and I knew I couldn't get stuck in the rut of this place... I had to help turn it around. And with that I had to depend on the Lord more than ever before, pray harder than I ever have before and work harder than I ever have. That is exactly what I am doing and we are seeing miracle after miracle!!! Which also in that same email Michael said, "The lord will bless you greatly as you trust him. Don´t forget to thank him constantly as well even for the smallest of miracles." This really stood out to me as well and as I have been thanking the Lord constantly, I've been noticing more and more miracles happen every single day. Well anyways, I love this work with all of my heart and am sooooo happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pray for these people and also Reina, Margarito and Raquel. I'll give you more updates later. But November is going to be a WONDERFUL month I know it!!! Of course it's always a wonderful month, my Birthday month, haha but this one is going to be better than ever before. I can't wait!!! I love this work and love working my bum off!! Hahaha okay I have to go. But I love you all so much and BRODLES!!! I got your package of dried mangoes... you know I have already eaten two of the bags..... hahaha but it made my day and I loved your letter too mama!! My family is the BEST!!! Okay, love you all soo much!!! Oh and Abs & Ralph!! Tell darling Olivia and Will CONGRATS!!! I can't believe their wedding is already here. I feel like I was just talking to Olivia about it at YOUR wedding. Wow, time has flown. So exciting!! Make sure to send LOTS of pictures too!!! I know Olivia will look gorgeous and Will very handsome. Okay, love you all!!!!!
Con mucho amor, Hermana Barth