Monday, March 30, 2015

Week #32 - A New Area!

Hello All!

I'm sorry to say that I focused a lot more on the individuals than this email. Sorry! 

This week has been one of great fun and adventures. We are knocking till we drop, preaching till we can't talk anymore, and eating all this Latin food till we almost explode :) All for the Lord. Worth it, no?

The area is going well. We are looking over a lot of former and potentials. The less active work in this area is HUGE and so we are very conscious of making sure we balance the 75% with the 25%.  We are experiencing some difficulty with the ward but there isn't anything the we can't handle with a little charity right? We are going to be rebuilding a lot of burned bridges and praying for that guidance. I know I can be of use in this area FOR A LONG TIME. Hopefully, the Lord feels that way too :)   I am excited for my time here. A lot of hard work to be DONE! 

Sister Bradley and I love each other. We clicked from the beginning and have just helped each other overcome fears, worries and insecurities through our past learning experiences. Un ejemplo that God always has a plan and that it always works out!

A miracle that we enjoyed this week was actually just that I was blessed with the Elders we have and my companion. I know that together, the area will becoming a spiritual and life-saving MACHINE (with still a lot of love and charity and mind centered on the people, no worries :)) Thank you for being worthy of the guidance of our Father in Heaven. It truly helped us out here in this area. 

Something that I learned is that because of the fall of Adam, those without the gospel are cut off from God. Completely. Spiritually Dead. I'm saving lives out here! I am literally an angel. I can't believe it. Gives me incentive to work 10 times harder!

Hna Lake

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week #31 - Walking in a White-Washing Wonderland

Hello Family!  

So, I've been TRANSFERRED! I'm now in the beautiful area of Lauderhill South, speaking Spanish (Happily!) and WHITEWASHING! WHoo. I feel like I'm getting a good enough handle on this that the Lord decided I could handle it. The area is amazing and the ward is hilarious. I love it here. Sister Bradley is my companion and she is probably one of the most laid back, fun people ever. I already love her to pieces and we have very similar goals to work HARD and get this area up to the fire-filled area it was before. Keep you posted :)  

So, Funny story.

Once upon a time Sister Lake had transfers. She packed up her belongings in a neat little row and walked off to know her fate. After the meeting she packed up her new car with a little skip in her step and drove to new horizons. That night she unpacked with a hurried vigor and realized rather disparagingly....that ALL OF HER SHOES were left behind....So, I've been wearing the same shoes everyday...and praying it doesn't rain :) But no worries, I get them next week...but it's definitely been a giggle. I keep thinking about How to Train your Dragon when they guys says,  "They always steal your socks....but only the left ones....what's up with that?" How I got so lucky to lose ALL of my shoes, who knows?

This week I've been learning that the Lord has very individual and completely perfect plans for every single one of us. I've looked back at every companion that I've been with, the area wherein I served, my leaders, and realized that each one had something that I needed to learn. I also look back and realize that there were people who had qualities ....or rather, weaknesses that I had that I couldn't see until another possessed the same. The only way that I can possibly explain the phenomenon is...that God exists. He loves me. He wants me to become like Him. He doesn't just give us a fake promise that if we do X, Y and Z  then He will make us into marvelous beings with talents and abilities and truly perfect us. God KEEPS HIS PROMISES. We just have to keep ours. It's like a pinky promise....who can only break it if you break a finger...and that just hurts. We have our baptismal promises, temple promises, and sacramental promises (or covenants) that if we just brings sadness, pain, frustration, and anger.

Victor's Birthday
For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why I wasn't happy. I was SO confused as to why I had all these blessings and had all these resources of love but yet felt as if my life was on hold. Like I wasn't living. Every day felt like it just slugged by with no progress or fun and I had no desire to do much of anything. I was confused and angry that I couldn't figure it out and that I had to rely on my Savior for anything. I was independent right? I had my agency right? Well...I figured it out! Yes, our agency is OURS.Yes, we are here on this earth to choose and to learn, to be our own master and to fight these hard battles...but really...Our purpose here on this earth is to choose let the Grand Master take over. To allow our will to be His will and for our heart to be His that moment, our lives change. In that moment, WE BECOME. 

In the Book of Mormon I've been reading in Helaman 10-11(?) and how Nephi and Lehi teach the people and try to get them to repent. The chief judge dies and then NEPHI PROPHESIES THE WHOLE THING! But yet, the people still don't listen. Nephi leaves the city and God tells Him to go back. Nephi goes back and still has NO success. Then the plague comes and humbles them, they repent.....only to return back to their old ways a chapter later. THIS IS NOT BECOMING! This is sitting on your tush (just for Eden) and watching the movie of your life pass on the screen and then getting up for popcorn! I don't want to be like this. Do you? Do you want to let NOTHING move you short of a spiritual plague? Where you can't feel peace, love, charity, or happiness? When we step back and look at our lives in this changes things. Selena Gomez shout out, "A year without rain."....when I wasn't doing what I was supposed really felt like an eternity of desert. But now, I feel like I'm vacationing with my family in the green, wonderful forests of Washington, lying in a hammock. Can you look at your life and visualize your own paradise? Or do we see desert? 
I complimented my recent convert on her dress when we were knocking doors....and at the end she stripped and gave it to me. Haha, I died laughing. Cute huh? :)

We visited a less-active who was going through some really hard times. The whole family is inactive actually. His father slept with his Aunt and he now has a sister/cousin. His GF was abusive and then left Him. He has started doing a lot of not so great things and was denying the existence of a God at one time. But we went over and I was able to share my testimony of this exact principle. That TRULY, repentance is like receiving that rain of peace after a spiritual desert. TRUE REPENTANCE, when we change...truly our lives change! He took our word for it. HE CAME TO CHURCH. He hasn't come for 5 years. He said he is coming next week. I love him so much! I hope and pray that God can use us here!

This is the ultimate test. To choose between the carnal, natural man and our glorified, TRUE selves. "I want to be the BEST I can....and live with God again"

I love you all! I love my mission and I LOVE THIS GOSPEL. It is so true.  

Hna Lake

Monday, March 16, 2015

Week #30 - Baby Steps to the Transfer Meeting

Hello Family! 

So I'm transferring! After being here in West Palm Beach for almost 6 months, I'm heading out! I don't know where I will be going but Hermana McGrath is TRAINING! This girl is so stinking prepared. I couldn't be more happy to see her rock this....although I am so sad she is leaving :( I love Sister McGrath so much.....I can't really explain it. We are just friends/sisters/best friends/companions. I don't know! The mission screws with you makes you all soft and gooey.  It's a wonderful thing to love everyone here in Florida so stinking much that you would lay down your life for them....but also mildly dangerous as many of them would glad take advantage of that ;) (Just Kidding Mom!!)

As I said, I'm leaving.....right AFTER all the miracles start hitting us. We have had a really tough transfer with a LOT of knocking doors, fighting for all we've got for referrals and receiving almost nothing. But it definitely prepared me to be humble enough and loving enough to receive the amazing investigators we have now.
Our Miracle: We pray, in front of a map for our area, every time we go out to knock doors. This last week, we prayed fervently and felt like we should go to this little tiny area of houses to knock which was completely untouched. So we drove on over, parked ourselves and knocked on the very first door we could find. A cute Latina answered the door and we started talking to her. She was only about 16 so we asked if her parents were home. She opened the door a little wider to reveal her family sitting at the table. Without hesitation the parents welcomed us in. We sat down and IMMEDIATELY clicked with this family. After almost 45 minutes of joking around and laughing we shared a prayer with them. In the prayer, they asked us to include the husband's parents who were very sick. We, of course, did and felt the Spirit very strongly. We called them the next day and the mother, with many tears, told us that the mother-in-law had passed away. We stopped by the house that night and found them all SOBBING. We offered what consoling words we could, tried to explain the Plan of Salvation a little bit, and then went on our way, trying to figure out how to share this message of hope with them. We realized the only way we could....would be through LOVE and SERVICE! When we stopped by the next day, the family were all smiling as we walked in. We began joking around and making them laugh when some other friends arrived. Of course, they began to question who we were and why we were there. Louis, the father, stood up for us and explained that we had come in a time of need and that we were good friends. He understood that we were merely there because we LOVE this family. When we explained that we had to leave, Louis' face just FELL. You could tell that this family was feeding off of the peace that we brought every time we entered their home. The next day, we showed them "On the Way Home". It's a really touching story about a family that loses their daughter. As we showed it to them, the Spirit entered so strongly. We explained that our message came from our hearts and that we wanted nothing more than to help and to strengthen them. We asked them to pray to know that God wanted this message for them. We will go over tonight to teach the Plan of Salvation. I AM SO NERVOUS!!!! But so grateful. I know they will get baptized. They are AMAZING!

I had to say goodbye to Victor hard. Man. I love him SO MUCH! He explained to us how we had changed his life. In the time we found him, he had his mother, 3 brothers, a granddaughter and a niece all die. He was on the run from people who hated him. He was alone. He explained to us how he had been going through such a hard time...he had lost the desire to live. Then we showed up. He explained that if it had been anyone older, more experience, he would have ignored them and stated all was a lie. But because the Lord sent him two sweet, innocent 18 year olds...he listened and began to feel peace. He told us very plainly that we had saved his life. He bore his strong testimony that he KNEW this was the one true church, that he was reading the Book of Mormon (Even though it gives him terrible headaches because of poor vision) and that we needed to go on to find other "Victors". He called us his angels :) 

Nancy and Jenny came knocking doors with us and fully expressed that they felt we were their angels as well. That we had changed their lives. They felt peace and that their lives made a full 180 turn around. Nancy explained that her whole life, she felt like something was missing. She had been searching for YEARS and after she was baptized...she explained that she felt WHOLE. What was lost was found. Jenny explained that right before her baptism in another church ...that she hesitated...she felt someone telling her not to do it. But she ignored it, saying it was the devil and did it anyway. Afterwards, she felt HORRIBLE. She knew she had done wrong! Before her baptism a month ago....she says she felt none of that and afterwards...she felt complete peace and joy.  

Let's just say this folks: Missionary work is THE LORD'S WORK. I am the weakest of the weak and am the most natural of natural men....but through me....these amazing people were able to feel of the love of their Savior and understand FINALLY who they are. How can anyone doubt their testimony when they have the opportunity to see this work?? THAT is why it's a commandment to do missionary work. Yes, it's for your brothers and sisters....but news flash! Nothing God ever commands us to do only blesses one way. EVERYTHING blesses you and others equally. When you share a testimony, it grows, fortifies and becomes KNOWLEDGE. I hope and pray that when I leave my mission....people can say that Hermana Lake KNEW her Savior; that she KNEW He lives; that she KNEW the gospel was true and that she KNEW the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was the Savior's church here on the earth. I love this work. I love my Savior. I LOVE MY GOD! 

Hermana Lake

Monday, March 2, 2015

Week #28 - My Best and Worst Week Yet!!

Hello Family!  

This week has been one where I've been trying to laugh more. It's been a harder week. I won't lie to you. We've taught almost no lessons, essentially knocked doors all day, everyday, and have only one progressing investigator. It's been raining all week and we've been on bikes. We were soaked completely for a day straight. But in a blessing I received it says that I will be a positive person with only a memory of the good times. I realized that if I remain positive and make things fun, ALL memories will be memories of good times! This has both been the worst and the BEST week of my mission. I have had almost no success this transfer....and yet, it's been my favorite.  

The hardest thing that happened this week actually happened about 4 hours ago. We finished cleaning up the apartment and I heard the phone ring. It was Victor! I love talking to that man. I answered the phone and ask how he is when he all the sudden launches into asking me if he had done something bad. I said "No" and then he launched into an fiery, pain-filled, distraught rant about how the church wasn't true, that we had lied to him and that we really didn't love him. All because we hadn't called him once that week. He ranted on and on. We tried so hard to console him, to heal whatever pain was digging it's claws further into his heart and all he said was that he didn't want us calling, visiting or talking to him anymore. This man....who I have called "mi tio" for about 3 months...who I built fences with, ate Cuban food with, laughed, cried and tried so hard to heal the hurt that plagued him......completely washed his hands of us and then hung up on us. What hurts the most? The one thing that could heal him and bring him peace....he just walked out on. I don't care that he hurt me and threw me on the ground. I don't care. I care that this man.....doesn't want the most precious gift that could change his life. A member, not even 2 weeks earlier, had told him of the peace that she could see in him. How he looked changed! AHH! It KILLS me. If this right now doesn't teach me that everything is in the Lord's hands, that I am insignificant and that I just work my hardest for the Lord's purposes....I don't know what will. 

I love Victor. I love him with all my heart and soul. I won't give up on him. This man had a dream that I came and visited him with my husband and my 1st born child, a little girl. I AM NOT going to let Satan destroy that dream. I felt spiritual confirmation that Victor was dreaming about the moment that I would come back for his baptism. If I have to wait for how ever long it takes....I will. One of our Sisters that lives with us had to drop an investigator that she loved so dearly. He smoked and drank like crazy... Well, he just got baptized last Sunday. It took a year, but this man got baptized. Victor will be just like this man. I have no doubts.  

I learned something really cool in the BoM this week. Ammon is talking all about how he wished that he were an angel and could teach the world, bringing them to repentance. He then chastises himself for wishing for more than the Lord had allotted them. I have caught myself many times wishing for more. Asking why I am the way I am. Judging my weaknesses on another's strengths. Well, Ammon gave me quite the news flash. God has given us our lives, experiences, talents etc. for a reason. If you aren't happy with what you've been given, YOU NEVER WILL BE. We chose, in part, who we would be in this life. Our job, it's to make the best of the raw materials we have been given so that when we are worthy enough to see who we were in the pre-mortal life...we won't be surprised.

Sheri Dew said:

“Is it possible to be happy when life is hard? To feel peace amid uncertainty and hope in the midst of cynicism? Is it possible to change, to shake off old habits and become new again? Is it possible to live with integrity and purity in a world that no longer values the virtues that distinguish the followers of Christ?
“Yes. The answer is yes because of Jesus Christ, whose Atonement ensures that we need not bear the burdens of mortality alone. …
“Through the years I, like you, have experienced pressures and disappointments that would have crushed me had I not been able to draw upon a source of wisdom and strength far greater than my own. He has never forgotten or forsaken me, and I have come to know for myself that Jesus is the Christ and that this is His Church. With Ammon I say, ‘[For] who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy … ? Behold, … I cannot say the smallest part which I feel’ (Alma 26:16). I testify that in this, the twilight of the dispensation of the fullness of times, when Lucifer is working overtime to jeopardize our journey home and to separate us from the Savior’s atoning power, the only answer for any of us is Jesus Christ”
Right now, I'm trying my HARDEST to let the Atonement change me. Yeah, I'll be honest. It's hard. Life rips you up. But the Atonement has an unlimited supply of Band-Aids. :)

I Love you All! You are my favorite!
Hna Lake