How are all of you!? Oh, I love you each so very much. But okay...LET'S GET DOWN TO BUSINESS. I need to do this in bullet points.1. I saw Any and Maria the other night! Everyfridaynight the YubaCity & Gridley branches get together and play volleyball.. so fun,best Spanish branches in the mission hands down.. but so this weekGridley came up here and I was at the stake center having dinner withthe Pedroza family and all of the sudden Any and Maria walked in!! Iwas soo excited. They are so so darling and we were all smiling &hugging like crazy. Made my heart so happy. Also, Any has never lookedhappier or more full of night.. it is soo clear she has been baptizedand given the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost. Seeing her made myentire week!! She is soo happy! And seeing her with all of themembers, as a member, soo unbelievably happy and having the time ofher life.... to see all that has come simply starting with HermanaRichards and I knocking on her door. What a miracle. Heavenly Fathertruly is aware of all of His children. I could not be more humbled.Any and Maria are so special and dear to me!!! They were the mostgolden of all golden investigators too and now are becoming the mostgolden/solid members. I love it more than I can say. Also, Any wasincredible at volleyball and killing it out on the court. She playedvolleyball & basketball in Mexico... so awesome. Everyone was lovingher haha
2. We had 5 less-actives at church yesterday!!! Including José, thecutest man alive. José hadn't been to church in so long and now he hascome 2 weeks in a row! We are so happy. Also, he wanted to show us aplace where there were tons of Hispanics so he came tracting with usfor 2 hours this past week!! So awesome! He is wonderful. He wasinviting everyone to church too haha so I guess he realized he betterpractice what he preached. I love it. We are working with tons ofless-actives right now and I love each of them soo much!
3. We met another one of our less-actives last Sunday and she isabsolutely darling. We immediately clicked with her and then we overto her house againon Tuesdayand she taught us how to make "real"tortillas!! It was amazing! Ohh it was so much fun and we made themstart to finish. We also helped her make the best salsa, beans andmeat along with it... oh, so good. If only you could all taste some ofthese authentic Mexican meals!! They are so amazing and I never getsick of them! And Maria is probably in her 50's - 60's but I alreadyfeel so close to her and love her so so much. She is wonderful andcame to church yesterday too, woot woot!
4. Fun miracle. My back has been having some issues lately, I have noidea why, but the other day it was feeling more tense than normal andI was thinking to myself how wonderful a massage would be... hahawell, Heavenly Father looks out for us in even the smallest ways. Wewent to visit a less-active with our Relief Society President thatsame day that my back was giving my problems and the Hermana wevisited had a massage table folded up in her family room.. she givesmassages!! Haha, of course I asked her about this and she said shewould give us missionaries massages for free!!! We are so excited. Wemay possibly go do that today.
5. We taught the Fung family againon Saturdaynight, with schoolending everyone has been super busy, but we taught them once again andHermana y Hermano Pedroza came with us. It was a very long lessonbecause Pedro, the dad, had tons & tons of questions but overall itwas very good! I am happy he has so many questions because it shows heis truly investigating and wanting to learn more. They have startedreading from the Book of Mormon too so things are progressing. Thisnight we went over parts of the Restoration again, answering some oftheir questions, etc. and then taught the Plan of Salvation. Whichthey still had plenty of questions along the way but what Pedro lovedthe very most was the three kingdoms of glory and that is what madehis desire to learn more increase even more. Which is awesome. Hedoesn't agree with a lot of the Catholic beliefs, which is the churchhe belongs to as of now, especially regarding the after life... andour knowledge and belief in the Plan of Salvation is quite differentthan what the Catholics believe so that will greatly be in ourbenefit. It also kinda helps with some of the reasons why he studiedBuddhism in college. So we're excited to keep teaching this family.The mom, Candy, is a little more difficult though because sheabsolutely loves everything we teach however she always says it's theexact same in the Catholic Church. When in reality it is so different.So we are going to take members to our next lesson with us who havemore knowledge of the Catholic Church, who used to be Catholic and tryto help her understand the differences. In a positive, respectful way.Then their kids were still awesome and darling, asking and commentingaway. However Pedro was the main one we were discussing things withand since he's the head of the home, that's super important. He alsosaid the closing prayer for us again while we were all kneeling andthat was very exciting. Updates to come!!
6. My craziest story. I can't go into too many details with this oneor else I won't be able to stop haha. But so this past week HermanaHughes and I have been focusing our personal studies on "faith." Wedecided for this transfer, which just started, that we are going tofocus each week on one specific principle or Christ-like attribute.For example, the ones listed in PMG and in D&C 4:7 ... So this pastweek was faith. Which was super complex however I focused on certainthings regarding faith and learned ohh so much. It's crazy how themore I learn the more I realize I have soo much more to learn haha.You can never stop learning and I love it! I love learning soo much!!I have never loved it more in my life. But so along with studyingabout faith we both prayed for an experience to truly test orstrengthen our faith and our prayers were definitely answered. Notthat my faith isn't tested or strengthened every single day as amissionary haha and I even have times when we will be contacting,tracting or something and not being seeing much success so doubts willslip in my head and not too long after I will hear in my mind a soft,sweet little voice saying, "O ye of little faith." Haha it alwaysmakes me smile to myself when that thought pops in. And I immediatelytry to be positive and act on my faith. But so with this specificexperience... we have (had) an investigator named Misael. He was aformer and we had taught him twice. He is super nice, a little olderwith a few kids.. well anyways, he has been studying with the JehovahWitnesses for 2 years now. He has not been baptized into their churchbut he has been attending, etc. Well, he clearly still did not feel100% confident in that religion and that's why he started studyingwith us again. So, we had a lesson with himon Saturdayand we weresuper excited about it and brought Hermano Oseguera, our ward missionleader and the cutest older Mexican man alive with us. But so when wegot to Misael's home, another man dressed up in a shirt and tie wassitting there on the porch. He was waiting for Misael too and said heas well had a lesson with him at
7. Hmmm.. interesting. Right away I
knew something was up and had a feeling of what was coming. He was aJehovah Witness. Well, after we introduced ourselves the first thinghe said to us was he knew we preached about Joseph Smith. I simplyexplained why and then he started bashing on the Book of Mormon andsaying how the Bible is the only word of God, etc. He asked us what wewere planning to teach Misael about and we told him, the Plan ofSalvation. Hermano Oseguera explained an overview of that plan and theJW already started rejecting things, trying to disprove him and wasoverall being very disrespectful, etc. So then Misael showed up andset up chairs for us to all sit down. My stomach dropped. I didn'twant to sit there and listen to someone disrespect our church so much.Well, we thought we were still going to teach a little of our lessonand we didn't want to leave yet because we had a member with us wholives pretty far away... but it ended up being completely awful. Weasked if we could begin with a prayer, Misael said yes and the JW saidno, which it wasn't his home so he had no place state his opinion...and then without hesitating he started talking away. Well, pretty muchthe entire time we were there, this man didn't talk about his churchat all, never bore testimony and completely focused all of his effortsand breath on bashing and disproving our church and beliefs. From thevery beginning we also told him we were not going to bash, battle orcompete with him and he didn't seem to care. He would shove his Bible,which has been changed according to their church beliefs, in my faceand tell me to read things and then ask me all of these questions. Hehad Misael read to us from this book that compared the Book of Mormon& their Bible too and it was crazy. He was completely trying tocontrol the lesson and barely gave anyone a chance to speak. One timeit took Hermana Hughes 4 times to finish her sentence and sometimeswhen we would get the chance to say something he would just shake hishead and look disgusted as we shared a belief. It was crazy. And heeven told us that we were going to you know where... because we readfrom and believe in the Book of Mormon. Ohhh it was so sad. But thenthe second time he put his bible on my lap and told me to readsomething I closed the book and said I wanted to share something. Heeven was sassy with me then and said, "Oh okay Barth, everyone...Barth wants to speak." He refused to refer to us as "Hermana orHermano." But so then I paused for a moment, praying in my heart forthe spirit to be present and I simply bore my strong & sinceretestimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and of thetruthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I told them simply and purely whatI know to be true and invited them to know for themselves. Misael hadread a tiny bit of the Book of Mormon but he hadn't prayed about it,he couldn't even tell us he had a testimony of the Bible either, andof course the JW has never read from the Book of Mormon so I told themwhat I knew to be true and told them that the only way they will cometo know if the Book of Mormon is true or not is by simply reading andpraying to our Heavenly Father about it. That's the only thing we areinviting them to do and it's the only way they will know if what we'resaying is true or not. It is oh so simple yet so so powerful. I alsoread to them Moroni 10:3-5 and explained reading with real intent,having faith in Christ... but sometimes I think they let it go throughone ear and out the other. Which is sad, but while I bore my testimonyI felt the spirit soo strong, for the first and only time throughoutthe lesson and I knew I was doing what my Savior wanted me to do. Notbashing anyone else or their beliefs, not tearing down another'stestimony or religion, but powerfully bearing testimony and inviting.My purpose as a missionary is to simply invite others to come untoChrist... and I was fulfilling my purpose. So anyways, throughout thelesson we were very strong, peaceful, patient and the only things thatwould come out of our mouths were simple beliefs and testimonies wehad along with an invitation for them to read for themselves and to goto the only source who really knows, that being our dear HeavenlyFather. At the end of our lesson Hermana Hughes asked if we could saya closing prayer again and this time after Misael agreed, she went forit. She said the most heartfelt and sincere prayer I have ever heard.Her voice was trembling and I knew she was holding back tears... butit touched my heart so much and I felt in that moment how much theSavior loves each of us and how proud he was of us. We are Hisrepresentatives, His servants, His missionaries, we wear His name onour chest and we are doing His work, preaching His word and gospel.How amazing. Well then after her sweet prayer, which was only of thekindest and most simple words... the JW very rudely asked if he couldthen pray and wow. It was crazy. His entire prayer was about us andnot in a positive way. He said how lost we were, how we are on thewrong path, how where we are headed is not according to God's plan,how there is no other book or prophet, how we need to find God, etc.It was mind boggling. I could not believe this man would truly pray insuch a way. Right then there was such a clear difference in alone ourprayers and I have never felt more humbled and grateful to haveknowledge of the truth and be a member of the Church of Jesus Christof Latter-Day Saints. My Savior, Jesus Christ's church. What was crazyas well though was after Hermana Hughes prayer, Misael had tears inhis eyes and he wouldn't look at us. Up until we left he would keephis head down or away and looking back I feel as though he must havebeen embarrassed for how the situation happened, how we were treatingand in all honesty.... I think he knows. I think he knows deep downwhat we were teaching and testifying of is true however he is beingcontrolled by other people and not acting enough to find things outfor himself. It is so sad. And as soon as we walked away from thelesson, I had tears roll down my cheeks. Then Hermano Oseguera said,"Those are the people that crucified Jesus Christ." Just a classicBroseguera comment haha. But then as soon as we got back in our car,Hermana Hughes and I both had eyes filled with tears and we said howmuch it hurt our hearts. Not because I felt as though my faith hadbeen tested but it hurt my hear hearing people bash what I believe sostrongly in. What I hold soo dear to my heart. Hearing them tear downthe Book of Mormon, the book that has and will continue to change mylife... hearing them say such disrespectful things about Joseph Smith,one of my biggest heroes, and I can't even explain it, but it hurt. Itis so sad to me to see people behave in such a way and to know theyare sooo close to knowing the truth but have hardened their hearts tomuch to receive the knowledge and great blessings of it. It killed me.And I know Satan is furious because of the 80,000 missionaries servingthroughout the world and he is doing all he can in his power todestroy us. He is so upset with the strength and growth the church ishaving. So he is working so hard on each and everyone of God'schildren. But so that lesson was one of the craziest experiences Ihave had on my mission thus far, teaching wise, however I walked awayvery grateful for the experience. I walked away feeling my faithincreased and strengthened that much more and my testimony as well. Itwas one of those experience that confirmed to me of my testimony andbeliefs and I felt such approval and love from my Father above. Thereis absolutely nothing like it. Also, Hermana Hughes told me that as Ibore my testimony in the lesson, she also could feel the spirit soostrong and she said in that moment it hit her how I was truly calledapart to be a representative of our Savior. She said in how I spokeshe could sense such a great difference. Even from hearing HermanoOseguera speak. We are truly called apart, by the laying on of handsby someone holding the true, correct authority of God.. to be afull-time representative of our Savior. We are his mouthpiece andthere could not be anything more humbling, powerful or special to me.I never want to lose this power. It is incredible and has changed mylife.The church is true my family and friends. The Church of Jesus Christof Latter-Day Saints is the true church of our Savior, Jesus Christ.It is Christ's church, with the exact same authority and organization,again restored in these latter days. In these last days. The SecondComing of our Beloved Savior, Jesus Christ is approaching and I amhere, in California, serving a full-time mission, to announce that. Wehave the truth on the earth! We have all that we need to receiveeternal life and be in the presence of our Heavenly Father again. Tolive with Him in a state of complete joy forever! With Him, our Saviorand our families! Could there be anything more glorious??? Christ'schurch has been restored. I know that it was though the Prophet JosephSmith that it was made possible. Joseph Smith was the tool andmouthpiece God chose to do the Savior's work and restore all that waslost. I also know that we have a living Prophet on the earth today,Thomas S. Monson and I know that through his modern day revelation wecan be guided through this crazy world and stay on the straight andnarrow path that leads back to God. I know that God is truly ourHeavenly Father. I know He loves us more than we can imagine. I knowthat Jesus Christ truly is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Iknow that of we do our part, have faith & believe in Him, he trulywill save and redeem us, our souls. I know that He lives. I know it.And I will never deny it.I love you all so very much and hope you have a wonderful week. Neverforget how much I love you and know that I will do anything &everything for you. I'm not perfect and I'm far from it... but I lovemy Savior and His gospel and am trying to be more like Him each andevery day.Con mucho amor,Hermana Barth