Monday, August 31, 2015

Wheel of Life

Hey all!

Although this week we had a lot of things take our attention away from the work, we had some awesome moments and found some new people to teach. And President Calderon taught an AMAZING class yesterday in church. He used the "bicycle wheel examination" to teach us a way to self-evaluate how smooth our life is running. It involves the spokes of a bicycle as levels from 1 to 10 on how well we are in a certain area, such as socially, spiritually, with family, education, and other topics. If we had a 10 in each area, it would connect to be a perfect circle and the wheel would run smoothly and perfectly. But as we might be doing well spiritually, weak with our education, ok with our sociability, the lines connect to make an abstract shape and it rolls like an unrefined stone. I have a poor drawing in my agenda from taking notes that might show better what I explained. 
On another note, the work in Huanchaco has truly been great. We are focusing on finding new investigators as I might have mentioned--which has been more difficult than it seemed. We can find many people to teach and get an appointment with, but finding "the chosen ones" is more like finding the ripest apples on the tree. It takes a lot of skill and asking the "Lord of the vineyard" for help in recognizing the ripe ones, but when we find one it gives us a completely new drive for the work. In our efforts we have found a few chosen ones that have some great potential. I mentioned in my letter to President Marler that I desire to come to a point where the missionary purpose--teaching and acting as Christ--isn't a hurdle that I am trying to overcome. I would like to reach a point that the missionary work is natural and my focus is completely on the needs of the investigators, less actives, and the ward. Having a great companion like Hermana Bronson has helped and being with a missionary who has less time has taught me a TON. I love being with her!

One scripture I want to share (that yes, is from President Calderon's class haha) is one that he shares quite often from Alma 38:1--

1. My son, give ear to my words, for I say unto you, even as I said unto Helaman, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosperin the land ; and inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence

Although the english scripture is good, I prefer the translation of the verse in Spanish:

 Hijo mío, da oído a mis palabras, porque te digo, como dije a Helamán, que al grado que guardes los mandamientos de Dios, prosperarás en la tierra; y si no guardas los mandamientos de Dios, serás separado de su presencia.

I think the key phrase is that it says, "al grado que guardes los mandamientos" or "the grade(level) that you keep the commandments." President Calderon has expounded on this and has helped the ward focus on the "level of obedience" we are putting forth. When I feel like I might not be "prospering" in the mission, I have to step back and observe how dedicated I am to obeying every rule, suggestion, and spiritual inclination that comes into my path. As my sister mentioned to me before my mission, "obedience produces blessings, and exact obedience produces miracles." The invitation for all of you at home is to observe the level of dedication that you are putting forth to receive the eternal blessings God has in store. I hope we can learn to be as humble as The Perfect Sacrifice was in the coming week. Love you all!

Hermana Furness

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Water is Polluted

It has been such a spectacular week and I don't know where to begin. 

On Tuesday we had a district meeting that completely changed my perspective on the work in Huanchaco. We have been focusing on less actives because that's a huge problem in south america and Hna. Bronson and I felt that it was our duty to get the lost part of the herd back into the coral. But our district meeting on Tuesday was amazing and I heard God say to me that "I NEED you to be finding those that do not know the gospel yet. Your focus isn't on the less actives right now--I will take care of that. I just need you to find new investigators right now." It was so clear that we set a goal of 14 lessons with members this week and we celebrated with 15 completed lessons yesterday. So it looks like we will be working to find people to baptize (: 

Alright. 2nd greatest moment of the week. We were teaching the Garcia Family this week and taught them about the plan of salvation. They ALL paid attention and it was one of the best lessons me and my companion had taught. At the end, I felt prompted to invite them to be baptized and it went over smoother than butter. They still need to pray to know if it's right, but the mother of the family said when we were with them:"well, if we are to be baptized, we should be baptized as a family, no?" 


I was SO happy to hear that.

3rd best moment of the week--we were in Ward Council yesterday and the stake representative, President Calderon (who is acting as bishop until we have another one called) talked on how we are going to organize the work in Huanchaco. We created lists and we will be deciding on who's names to fill the lists with this week. I thanked him afterwards because Hna. Bronson and I had been desperately crying and praying to God on how we can organize the work here. It's hard to be a missionary. NOT because of walking everywhere, the culture is different, or because it's not our accostomed lifestyle. It's hard because people don't want to progress sometimes and it's hard because trying to balance all our responsabilities is a magic act. But the best news is that those things are manageable with the help of the Lord and dedication to trying our best. It is AMAZING to be a missionary. 

I don't have much time, but I gotta share this thought from our legendary ward council meeting yesterday. The 1st counselor to the stake president is our back-up bishop, if you will, right now in Huanchaco. He talked about ward as a fish tank and the danger of "polluting the water" with gossip. It has been a pretty bad problem here, apparently. But he talked about the necessity of a water filter to keep the water clean, which is the bishopric within the ward. All of the gossip and hearsay should be taken to the bishopric who filter out the lies and find the truth to keep the ward healthy and sanitary for those who are in it and those who are visiting. When we have a loving environment free from groups and gossip, investigators and new converts will swim happily in our little ward tanks (: I just thought I would share that all with you!! 

Hermana Furness

Monday, August 17, 2015

We Can Do Difficult Things!

Dear Family and Friends,

 I was just on and watched that video that talks about what distracts us most. Love it! I encourage all of you to go check it out. 

Some things that are building up for us in Huanchaco right now are giving me and Hermana Bronson fear and excitement. We have SO many things to do each week and so little time, truly. It has helped us to set a goal of being in the house for no more than 20 minutes--more work gets done and the work is more effective. We have also applied some things we learned from our interviews with President Marler, Sister Marler, and the office assistants. It has created a much more sincere desire in me to share the Book of Mormon with more people. They have challenged us to carry a copy of the BOM around with us ALL the time. The extra weight has made it so worth it though--you'd be surprised at how many people don't have one or how it could help someone so much!

This week I was reading the Book of Mormon as part of Sister Marler's challenge to us, and a verse from 2 Nephi 1 stuck out to me:

 27 And it must needs be that the power of God must be with him, even unto his commanding you that ye must obey. But behold, it was not he, but it was the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, which opened his mouth to utterance that he could not shut it.

This verse made me think about how often I try to speak up about the wrong that goes on around me, and within myself. Without a doubt, we SO underestimate the seriousness of sins of omission. Stealing money from a store seems to weigh more than cheating our finances with our debtors. I feel like Lehi understood what it was like to be an investigator. I can feel my companion or other members speak through the spirit and work as God's mouthpiece. It takes an immense amount of love and concern for others to allow the spirit speak that which God has to say to them. I invite you all to open your mouths this week about the wrong you may see in your lives or the lives of others, doing so with nothing but interest to glorify the kingdom of God and show your love for others.

Thanks everyone for all your support(: I told my first companion, Hermana Hawks, that I was scared I wouldn't be able to survive the mission without the support she had given me in my first six weeks. But I testify that the Lord delivers us from our weakest and most difficult moments--we CAN do difficult things and set our goals beyond the heavens because that is honestly where our #1 help is: our loving Celestial Father. Take care everyone! :)

Sister Furness

Monday, August 10, 2015

Happy Happy Happy

Dear family and friends, 

I think I am just going a little overboard on happiness right now. It is seriously the most unexplainable thing but I suddenly had a wave of happiness come over me and can't think straight about all the things I had buzzing on in my mind to share. We worked really hard in helping less actives this week and had a ton of them come to church. We are booting up as well for interviews with President and Sister Marler this Wednesday, as well as a Leader Training Meeting for the ward missionaries and leaders to better know the lessons. Our ward mission leader has lined up the ward missionaries to teach the recent converts, which is a GREAT help to us in the work. I haven't seen such support before and it is a huge contribution to helping shift the work to half and half with the members. Wahoo! (:

So in preparing for a talk I gave Sunday, I found a lot of great verses on missionary work. I especially felt drawn to one in the first section of Doctrine and Covenants:

 18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—
 19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—
 20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
 21 That faith also might increase in the earth;
 22 That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
 23 That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.
 24 Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.

Sorry for the huge section of verses, but I feel drawn to this because I relate to being the simple and the weak that share the gospel. Although I have come to a mission and might be trying to fill gigantic shoes, my abilities are far from those whom are spiritual giants. But part of being the weak and simple is fortifying our testimonies and the testimonies of others through Christ. Heavenly Father is calling ALL people--and it is a COMMANDMENT of all who have covenanted with Him in baptism--to share the gospel and bear testimony. The only difference between members and missionaries is the time allotted to share the gospel. So as I said in my family e-mail, if you're feeling down this week, go share your testimony and give service for a quick fix to happiness! (:

Love you all and enjoy the stellar pic of a llama my companion drew. CHEVERE!

Hermana Furness

Monday, August 3, 2015

Temple Revelation

What an AMAZING experience to go through the temple. I am still so happy from visiting the Trujillo temple this last friday (: I tried to prepare myself for the experience and entered with a few questions in mind that I wanted to take to the Lord. One of them was a desire to know if the Book of Mormon is true. I know it is true, and I have been preaching to everyone I know that it is. But I wanted a new testimony. So when I entered the celestial room, I sat down and read 3 Nephi 11, as it is the key chapter of all of the sacred text. I just cried and read and felt God confirm that this book was true. When I read it, I felt such an emphatic emotion for what the Nephites saw when Christ came here. I read it as though I was seeing what they saw and felt what they felt. It was so real and I knew that Nephi wrote down those things as he saw them, not as they had been imagined. 

Our work this week proved to be succesful in our plans for the next week. At church, we had several members ASK us if they could accompany us and they seem geared up on sharing their testimonies with the investigators. I am so happy about working here in Huanchaco and even the cold weather isn't dampening my spirits.

I don't have a whole lot of time to share from my studies this week, but a little preview to the next e-mail--I plan on obsessing on and studying every day about patience, one of the attributes of Christ. I hope to share something really good next week from my finds. 

Have a happy Monday, everyone! (:

Sister Furness