Monday, November 24, 2014

Week #14 - Lis got Baptized!

Hello everyone!

This week I am eternally grateful for rain and for rejection. 
This week we got to watch Meet the Mormons as part of a specialized training. If you haven't watched it yet, you should. Its funny, touching and very spiritual. It's made by inspired people :) 

I sent out a picture this week that just funny of me teaching a lesson to our recent convert (She got baptized this last SUNDAY!). As you can tell, I was really into it :) When I feel the Spirit during a lesson, my voice gets more gentle, sincere and passionate and my hands start getting into the lesson. I look up to try to hear what the Spirit wants for me to say and I more often then not look up for moments to figure out what Spanish word to use :) Every time I speak Spanish, certain ladies in my ward just smile and coo at me saying, "Awwww, Que Linda" Which translates to "Awwwwww, How cute!" I AM NOT CUTE!!! I am a representative trying her hardest!! 

I've come to the realization that Christmas is better explained with those feelings you get when Investigators come to Sacrament Meeting. You wait with great anticipation, you look and look and look to see if there are "presents under the tree" and then you unwrap the gift as they walk in and sit down ON TIME! Joy, giddiness and laughter and you just can't contain your excitement. Or they don't come and it's like the times you get socks for Christmas...come on, we've all had that present before. Disappointment, sadness and a little regret enter your heart. But that's okay...Christmas comes once every week here! ;)  I know understand the feelings that children get on Christmas....I hope I never forget again :) 

Miracle: LIS GOT BAPTIZED! She came to church and everything but when we saw her she did NOT look good. She had a fever, super bad headache, etc. It was bad. She received a priesthood blessing which helped a little bit. She stayed for all three hours and that only helped a little bit as well. But then we got to her baptism and afterwards.....She explained it as though she was floating. She said she felt so liberated, so free, so much peace and that all the sicknesses she had before were GONE! Satan will try everything to keep people from making these covenants. Fight tooth and nail and peace comes :) After the baptism she was asking us if we would still come by her house and visit her. Then she adamantly said, "NO QUIERO CUALQUIER OTRAS HERMANAS. YO QUIERO ESTAS HERMANAS." For a 5'2 Cuban, She is FIERCE :) And I love her.
Lis's Baptism
I LOVE MY MISSION!!!!!!!! I love how hard it is and how I constantly feel out of place. No worries, all with time! I will grow and become :) 

Hna lake

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week #13 - I Love these People!


Funny: This week one of my investigators said that when we first began meeting with her that SHE was praying for the gift of tongues in order to understand me. Now, she remarks on how good I've become at Spanish and requires that I pray at every lesson, calling it my "Spanish Lesson" for the day. She's the best! Very Cuban!! The other day, someone asked her if she was pregnant and she adamantly stated "NO BABIES!!" multiple times while making air pregnant belly with her hands..... She doesn't speak English but she knew that :) 

I LOVE people of other ethnicities. They are always so warm and open. They love to talk, laugh, and have a good time. They are humble. They wear hilarious outfits. They treat their families like GOLD. They love the Lord. They are AMAZING! I joke around with a sweet Nigerian sister that I'm going to get a full body transplant to look, talk, and act like her because she is seriously the best! No worries everyone, I'm still tall, gawky, and blonde :D) 

Well, we got in a car accident! Whoo! It wasn't bad, really. We were stopped at a light and this guy came up behind us WAY too fast and rear ended us, then in turn ran into the lady in front of us. Both of us are more than just a little bit sore. 

Book of Mormon: I've been learning more about covenants and about how sanctification works. As I understand it - Christ was sanctified for us; however, if we don't know what sanctification m5. is it makes that difficult. So with a little more digging we find that Sanctification is when we align our will with the Father. Because Christ aligned His will with the Father's and provided that the only way we could return to God was through Christ....well, we have to align our will with God as well. We align our will with God and then are called by the name of Christ. Because we are converted to Him and have no more desire to do evil, we are worthy of this name. If we were called by the name but not truly sanctified then it would make God a liar and that isn't possible. So yeah. I learned that I want to be sanctified! More than anything I have fallen in LOVE with Book of Mormon and the Bible. Who needs marriage? I've got my life set up. I'm going to be a hermit. A Mormon hermit. I'm going to go to school, learn all that I can about the religious world and then retire to a life of backpacking and sending my knowledge to random colleges for their enlightenment. I'll be that crazy lady :) I tried to convince my mom that eloping would be a better way than all the trouble of receptions and weddings but she didn't I'm just not getting married.  :)  

Miracles: This week we were sitting in our car before going out to Harvest and prayed that we would be able to find someone that had been previously introduced to the Gospel because we knew that they would be one step closer to accepting it and had been prepared. We walked down the street and turned the corner when we saw a house and felt prompted to go there. As we walked up, this sweet older lady saw us and welcomed us in with no hesitation. As we sat talking with her at the table after our harvest prayer she all the sudden turns to us and goes, "Wait, what church are you?" We said the name of the church and her face just lights up and she says, "My son is a member in Panama! He wanted me to get in touch with missionaries since I've been in America!" We felt so humbled that the Lord knew He could answer our prayers so quickly.  

Yesterday we went to go teach a Guatamelan named Pascual. He is a Less Active and very shy. He wouldn't even look at me when I first met him. Perks of being tall... he really couldn't really see me unless he looked up :) Anyway, I for some reason felt very drawn to wanting to help him. I don't know why. I can't explain it. I had been rather blunt with him in lessons past because he wasn't doing anything to show he really had desires to come back to church but talked about wanting a temple marriage all the time. So dumb. Mom, I understand why it frustrated you so much when I didn't follow up with what I said I wanted. Anyway, I started to talking to him just like a friend and he REALLY opened up. He is talking with the bishop TODAY!! The best part is that I can never understand anything he says. Nothing. But right then...I could. The gift of tongues is real! 

More than anything I have felt like the Lord trusts me. He has placed so many amazing people in our path and allowed us the opportunity to teach them. All our investigators are insanely elect and so sweet. We should have a LOT of baptisms in the next few weeks. We need to get 21 by the end of the year to make our ward goal....needless to say, it'll be white Christmas here in sunny Florida after all!  I hope that continues! 

I love you all!

Hna Lake

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week #12 _ Me Llamo Hermana Lago

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, just a laugh. So here, no one can pronounce my companion's name (Hna McAfee) so they always call her really weird things. They have started calling her MacCafe or McAfea ( fea means ugly). Then they get to my name and all of a sudden "Lake" becomes impossible. SO I am hereafter known as Hermana Lago.  I'll take it - always :) 

This week was GREAT! I'm finally starting to feel like a missionary and to fit in to exactly what I need to do. This is the END of my first transfer but it's all good because I'm staying in the same area, with the same companion. Sadly my favorite STL ever is leaving, Sister Aisa, to return to Australia. I'm going to love every single Hna from now on....regardless of how hard it is.  

My studying in the Book of Mormon has been insane. So, basically I started out studying names then went on a ride lead entirely by the Lord. Everything connects - which is crazy to me :) Names, callings, Urimm and Thummim, temples, kingdoms of Glory, purification and sanctification, circumcision, blindness, uncircumcised hearts, prayer, mind, revelation, understanding and submission. The Lord AMAZES me with everything that He knows and is willing to teach me. Basically, I learned this week about how the heart and mind work with each other. Our mind is kind of like a funnel to the things of the world. It receives temptations, senses, knowledge, etc. Everything goes into the mind and it processed there right? Then the heart filters out what is true and good from the bad. We filter our minds through our hearts, through the Holy Ghost. The reason we need the heart/HG is because our minds have the veil. Our memories are held back from us. BUT we will always remember feelings better than anything else. Essentially, our hearts do not have the veil. That is how others are able to have the Light of Christ without the Holy Ghost (before baptism). This light is actually the Holy Ghost helping us to recognize those things that we already previously knew but cannot remember due to the veil. However, the only way that we can achieve "understanding" is by being completely submissive to the Lord. When we understand more about the Lord and His purpose in our lives and therefore, our divine heritage, we UNDERSTAND everything more fully. It's like we are given a puzzle piece to the universe every time we give a piece of ourselves more fully to the Lord. If you want to read more about it, look at the talk by Neal A Maxwell called "Willing to Submit". It is the BEST! 

Miracles this week: Lis, one of our amazing soon to be baptized, got a really big miracle this week. So we had set up a FHE with a member in our ward and invited her but she can't view messages till she gets off at work at 6-6:30. So at around 6 we went over to her house because we felt like we needed to talk to her just a little bit to round her up for the FHE. We went over and she opened the door. (She told us later that at the exact moment we were knocking on the door, she was sending us a message saying she couldn't go.) We talked about what would happen, how fun it would be and how long it would be. That day had been terrible for her because her card (All her money) had been declined, work was difficult and she was overworked (happens a LOT with Latins. A lot of work with almost no pay) , she couldn't call her family and she had been having family problems at home with her kids. When kids are going off the path, the mothers really struggle. I've seen it myself :)  But anyway, we convinced her to come. She really enjoyed it and the members did amazing. Anyways, a few days later we were teaching her and she told us more about her experience. She had been feeling really alone and felt very depressed that week. We called her up and invited her and she did NOT want to go. But she felt like she should give it a chance when we showed up at her house. She came and then the rest of her week was WONDERFUL. She had so many tender mercies and blessings happen from just FHE! She was happier, she had hope for her family and she felt like the Lord was there for her. The Lord loves ALL his children :)  

SUPER FUN THING! So, we have two awesome people from our district going home, our STL and Zone Leader. Because they are going home, we got it approved to go "Sunrising". We drove down the pier in Lantana Florida and watched the sunrise. I was up and at 'em at 4 this morning! We drove all the way down there and took some of the most amazing pictures. Only sad part is that, weirdly enough, IT WAS RAINY! Huh, who da thunk in Florida right? Seriously, it feels like Seattle sometimes. It's even cold here! We had clouds everywhere and it was lightly drizzling. Lame. But that's okay because we still got some awesome pictures. The Lord created one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen here.  

Another miracle is Amado. So he is an older guy that we met while walking down the street. The stinker actually was kind of cat calling us and calling us "dolls" because we are blonde with blue eyes. All Latins say we look like Dolls or that Hna and I are sisters. *insert eye roll with a rueful grin. (I've really learned that my vocabulary has a lot of words that most people don't even know. Hna McAfee often needs me to explain the meaning of words I say. In English and Spanish!) Anyway, we gave him a card and walked away. Then a week or so later, we knocked on his door whilst harvesting. Interesting. Had a lesson but he just wasn't interested. Then he called the number for a Finding Faith DVD and when we came over he said that he had religious people come to his house all the time but that he only listens to us because we are the closest to the Catholic church. He then expressed interest in learning more. He had been so humbled over the past few weeks and was ready to accept the gospel. We meet with him tomorrow. Keep you posted :)  

Love you All!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week #11 - Angels!

Hello to my family and to all! 

We have been on BIKES! Our miles ran out because we had to go to Trainer/Trainee meeting this week and I got to see all my "family" again. AH! The joy of seeing my Elders and my MTC companion, Hna Simmons is indescribable! I love my current companion - don't get me wrong - but Hna Simmons is my Sister forever and always :)  

I also gained another family! They are Jamaican and their names are Bernice and Mike. We met them Harvesting one day and ended up talking with them for about 30 minutes. They were missionaries of sorts in Jamaica and talked a lot about how America limits you because you can't just go out and preach the same way they used to. As we talked, Bernice mentioned how she wanted to just stop doing physical work sometimes and only do spiritual work. She didn't know about the temple but I KNEW this woman needed the temple in her life. So wrote down their information and they are getting baptized NEXT WEEK! They love Joseph Smith and couldn't get enough of the gospel. They were English speaking investigators, so we had to pass them off to the English speaking missionaries; however, they told those sisters that they weren't welcome to come back to their home unless they brought us with them for a Jamaican dinner. I had Jamaican food! It was to DIE for. I love this place with all its different cultures! 

This week has been amazing. I love getting to know my companion better and understanding more about her as a person. I have been so blessed to be in this mission and to learn from her. I definitely have a long way to go before I am ready to "leave home" but when it comes, I know that the Lord will bless me. I have the strangest feeling that I will be leaving Hna McAfee at transfers and I really don't want to. She is an inspiration to me. She has been through a lot of really hard companions and is so patient. My district is also so very wonderful. Basically, I feel like I have been given all the blessings of the world right now -- Sorry to the rest of you for being a hog :) 

I learned a lot about blindness and about being "uncircumcised of heart" this week. It was prophesied that the Savior would heal the blind, but I know that it was referencing both physical and spiritual blindness. I also learned that spiritual blindness can be a choice. To be uncircumcised of heart is to not have our heart dedicated to our Savior. I don't ever want my desires and actions to show my Savior that I am blind, deaf, or close-minded. I am dedicated to Him in all things and I know that through this dedication, my life will continue in a blessed and strengthened way. MY REDEEMER LIVES!

My miracle this week comes from a very special place in my heart. I was getting frustrated because our investigators - those to whom I had given my heart and soul to - weren't keeping commitments and were denying themselves so much when I KNEW that they were elect.  My Spanish was halting to a stop and I was very frustrated. I was attempting to still love these people, but was getting impatient and a little angry with them. I finally understood how my mother would feel when she wished to take all my agency away as I didn't do what she already knew was best. She had to back up and let me make my choices even if they were wrong. It KILLED me. Then Sunday morning in ward correlation, my Ward Mission Leader stopped the meeting and looked at me. He said "Hna, I feel impressed to share something with you. The people are going to reject you, your Spanish won't be perfect, your investigators won't do as you wish they would, etc. (EVERY single thing that had been frustrating me), but don't get frustrated. Don't get upset. Be patient. I promise you that by the end of your mission you will speak Spanish perfectly." I felt so loved. I knew that my Savior was looking right at me and sending His words through Hno Bazano. I gained such a testimony of the way the Lord uses us if we are worthy and of the vital importance of recognizing promptings. 

This week it became very obvious to me why missions are hard! If you do all of the things you are supposed to and your heart and soul is in the mission field, then you open up your heart to be stomped on, twisted, rejected, laughed at, and even ridiculed. You will feel the darkest of souls and lightest of hearts. You will recognize Satan in his works and God in His miracles. You will bear witness that there truly is opposition in ALL things. Missions aren't necessarily hard because you are working 24/7 or that you don't have the opportunity to do ANYTHING for yourself. No it's hard because these experiences push you closer to your Savior than ever before as you strive to become like Him and go through a lot of what He went through. You feel the rejection, pain, ridicule, and hardness of the people just as He did. You see the wheels in their heads turning on ways to trick you into leaving their home without offering your message. You see people coming to church with black eyes because their family doesn't like them being Mormon. I understand my Savior so much more than I could have ever thought possible because I am striving to live His life. I am in His shoes. I wake up and put on those worn out sandals that carried Him all over Jerusalem. I am not Hermana Lake, representative of the Church of Jesus Christ. No...I'm Hermana Lake, A REPRESENTATIVE OF JESUS CHRIST.  I love this church, I love my Redeemer. I love MY MISSION! We had another one of our super elect investigators (who rejected the gospel this week) ask us if we were angels. We had to tell him about 3 times that we weren't. But in all honesty....I'm lying a little bit. because as we bring salvation to people, we are doing His work. No wonder they think we are angels!
I love you all! 

Hna Lake