Monday, November 24, 2014

I Cannot Say The Smallest Part Which I Feel

I Have Learned...

I cannot even write how I feel...not only about this last week but my entire mission. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the things I have learned on my mission, and especially the person I have become. My mission has shaped me. I have learned that Heavenly Father's will is always better than mine. I have learned that difficult and unwanted experiences make me strong and eventually become dear to my heart. I have learned how to be humble and submissive. I have learned that the Lord does not need me to do his work but he allows me to participate in His miracles for my own growth. I have learned how to make and accomplish faith filled goals. I learned to love unconditionally. I have learned that as children of a divine being our capacity to love is unlimited. And more than anything I have learned and I know now more than ever that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world. He is my redeemer. Heavenly Father loves us with an infinite love. And we are in His true church.

I feel like Ammon when he said..."Therefore, let us glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of man? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."
Ya ya I know what you are all thinking...she is going to be a weird returned missionary when she gets home, she is already expressing herself through scripture quotes. :) But I can't help it. I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.

I am so grateful for each one of you. Thank you for reading my long boring emails. :) Thank you for supporting me on my mission. Thank you for your prayers! I couldn't have done it with out all of you. I am forever grateful.

Hermana England

The Last Week Of My Mission Has Been The BEST Of My Mission

Elsa's Baptism! 

Querido familia,

I have to say I never thought this day would come. haha It still feels like I will just be a missionary for forever. I don't even know where to start this email SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED! 

I would like to say that this last week has been probably the BEST of my mission....probably the best week out of anyone's mission in the world...but I am kind of bias so I don't know if I can make that call. :) WE SAW MIRACLES! And I know I say that every week but seriously this week it was like MIRACLE of MIRACLES!!! Okay I will just tell you what happened....I don't even know how I am going to put it all in words but I'm going to try...WARNING: This is going to be a long one...

So when we planned for my last week we had made a goal to have a baptism because Patty had her baptismal date. But I pretty much knew in my heart of hearts that she was not going to be baptized that week. (She is still doing really well by the way but she just needs more time to build her testimony) I was pretty bummed because we didn't really have anyone else who was really prepared to be baptized this past week, but I felt really strongly about this goal! Well, Sunday night, right before I started into my last week, I was saying my nightly prayer and I felt that Patty was for sure not ready, but I also felt that someone was. I prayed to Heavenly Father and told him my feelings. In that moment I just knew that Heavenly Father had someone in our area that needed to be baptized. I told Him..."I don't know how you are going to do this, but I am going to follow your lead and we are going to find them!" I laid awake for at least an hour maybe more just thinking about this and how sure I was that it was going to happen. I thought that He was going to have someone move into our ward or branch that had already taken the lessons and was all ready for baptism...that was the only possible way I could think of it working...but Heavenly Father had something else in mind.

The next day; on Monday, we randomly decided to visit our investigator Elsa. We have not been able to meet with her since I arrived in Fort Collins because she has been really sick, like REALLY sick, she is on hospice care. (She has double kidney failure) She is taking a medication that makes her sleep all the time so every time we went she was asleep. We almost gave up on teaching her but on Monday we randomly put her in our plans. We arrived at her house and of course she was sleeping. But miraculously her atheist daughter Jennifer let us in! Her other daughter Nesley was there as well. We talked for a little bit and asked if we could share a message. They agreed and the spirit totally guided our lesson! We talked about God's influence in their lives and how God has a plan for their family. Nesley told us that since they have been taking so much care of their mom she has seen how God has helped their family. Jenny was a little thrown off by our lesson but told us that she doesn't know how but she thinks God may have helped them. When we talked about the Plan that God has for their family they both broke down in tears. I know they could feel the sprit, it was SO STRONG!...THEN Elsa woke up and came out to talk to us. We got talking about how when the sisters were teaching her before she had a baptismal date (her baptism was actually all planned with talks and everything but then she got really sick) and she told us that she still wanted to get baptized. Then out of the blue Jennifer says...."Mom you need to be baptized!" Then she turned to us and said, "What does she need to do to be baptized?" Elsa had already taken all the lessons (some twice), she loves the Book of Mormon, and she had been to church twice. So we told them that all she had to do was have a baptismal interview and come to church one more time. Jennifer's eyes lit up and she looked to Elsa and Elsa was like..."Okay well I will have to do tha"t. As I was thinking back to my prayer the night before and FREAKING OUT in my head at how fast my prayer was answered, I invited Elsa to be baptized on Sunday after church. She told us she would pray about it but that she felt that she should.

We came back the next day with the Elders to give Elsa a priesthood blessing for her sickness. After the blessing she told us that she would be baptized that Sunday. Jennifer was the only one home and was able to listen to Elsa's blessing. Then we offered her a blessing of comfort and strength and she almost declined but her mom told her she should do it to gain strength in this hard time for their family. The Elders gave her a beautiful blessing and after Jennifer was crying again. The Elders left and we taught Elsa and Jennifer the plan of salvation. It was like a member present lesson because Elsa was bearing testimony of how true it was, and Jennifer's eyes were glued on us the whole time. She was like a sponge just soaking it all in. Jen told us that she will pray about it and that she had a feeling inside that was like..."too much happiness."

We continued to visit them every day before Elsa's baptism. Sunday came and because of lots of fasting and prayer Elsa had enough energy to come to church and feel good at her baptism. Her baptism was AMAZING! She was so prepared and so ready. At the end of her baptismal service she stood up in front of everyone and bore her testimony and thanked everyone for accepting her as family. (The entire branch was there....first baptism in the Alta Vista Spanish branch!!!)  Jennifer said that she felt really good at the baptism and is now our new investigator! I just cannot explain the pure joy that we all had! I love Elsa so much. She has taught me so many things this week. AHH I just love er!

I can't even put into words how amazing this week has been we have also seen amazing miracles with Kika and our less active Enrique! He FINALLY built up the courage get Sunday's off of work and came to church for the first time in months! I also got to go to the temple with the departing missionaries. Oh my goodness I am so grateful.

One more funny quote of the week: (After dinner at a restaurant)

Hermana Stratford: "We need to find a candy dispenser."
Me: "Who is she"
Hermana Stratford: "What?"
Me: "Candida Spencer!...who is she? Did she marry a gringo, her last name is so white."

When we both realized what the other one was thinking we burst into laughter. hahah...incase you didn't know Candida is a common Hispanic woman's name...Too good. Too good.

I love you all more than you will ever know.
See you tomorrow :)
Hermana England

Elsa's daughter Jen
(who was later baptized!!)

Monday, November 17, 2014

I Plan On Working So Hard I Will Just Kill Over

 This old Hymn book belongs to one the members
here in Fort Collins. Joseph Fielding Smith,
Melvin J. Ballard & Bruce R. McConkie all lived
with her grandparents when they were missionaries
and signed the book! She has all the missionaries
that serve here sign it!

Joseph Fielding Smith

Bruce R. McConkie - Oct. 19, 1936

Melvin J. Ballard - Oct. 20, 1938

Hermana Macy England - Sandy UT -
November 2014

Mi querido familia!

Well this is it people I have one week left! Can you believe it? I can't. Seriously I really can't! Thank you for the package. I loved everything in it. I am very excited to see you guys again. 

This last week was great. It was chuck full (my companions all tell me I say that wrong...chalk full?). We had our first branch activity which went great, we also had a pie palooza for the ward. 

Elder Baxter of the 70 came to our mission for a mission tour and it was amazing! I can't even tell you how much I learned. It actually gave me so much peace about my mission ending. Heavenly Father knew I needed that! Plus he is from Scotland so we got to listen to his sweet accent all much fun. It reminded me of Scott and his Scottish accent. Haha I miss the Florences. I am going to have to visit Texas soon! 
Well Miguel was not baptized but I think he is making progress. In this week's lesson we tried to focus on just being there for him and helping him feel and see our love for him. I think sometimes he thinks we just want to dunk him....which we do....but it's so much more than that. I am praying so hard that he can see our love and care and desire to be baptized.
This Saturday is Patty's baptismal day! She has been preparing so well and we feel that she is so ready to make this covenant. She is loving every step. She is a little hesitant to get baptized so fast because it is a BIG step, especially seeing as months ago she didn't even believe in Jesus Christ. Weather she gets baptized this week or just continues to progress towards baptism, I am so proud of her! She also hasn't told her family that she has been going to a Christian church, so I think she wants to tell them first. Either way keep Patty in your prayers. She is amazing! 

I don't remember if I told you about Kika but she is one of our new investigators! We had THE BEST lesson with her!!! Oh my word she is so prepared! We read the introduction of the Book of Mormon together and she LOVED it! She said it made so much sense! (Which it does...the gospel just makes so much sense) After we read the line where it says The Book of Mormon "tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life" She broke down crying. She told us of some trials she was experiencing and how when she reads this book she feels that peace. This gospel is so cool because it is designed to heal. Everyone has problems and the gospel has all the answers. I am so glad we talked to Kika while she was walking to her mailbox just a month ago. Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways.
We also had a great visit with Raul. He is a 15 year old recent convert. He is the only member in his family but Enrique who is a member lives with them. I am amazed at how strong Raul is. His family and life situation is rough. He doesn't receive much love from his family at all. He struggles because he is a little different than the other kids at church. Last week we asked him what the most important thing in the world is to him. He said...well my family. He went on to say...Even though they never listen to me or follow my example they are still the most important thing because they are all I have, besides being a Mormon. I asked him why being a Mormon was important to him and he said...Because now I know how to return to my Heavenly Father. I am amazed at his spiritual maturity. I don't know why such a choice spirit was sent to earth in such hard circumstances but one thing I do know is that Heavenly Father loves him and will help him. I can't put into words all the things I have learned from Raul. He is one of my greatest examples. 

We don't even know how blessed we are. Everyday I learn just a little bit more about how indebted I am to my Heavenly Father. It is mind boggling. I am so grateful for you. I don't know why I was blessing with the family and friends that I have but I am forever grateful. 

As for this next week I plan on working so hard that I will just kill over when it's over! The next time you see me I will probably look pretty run down. :) haha Keep me in your prayers this week....I'm gonna need it. Between the thousands of stray cats in the trailer parks and random breakdowns I will probably scare all the new investigators and ninos with my puffy eyes...I'll try to hold it together. :) Wish me luck! 

Love you all so much! 
Hermana England

Monday, November 10, 2014

Crazy Busy But Really Fulfilling

This is a pic Hermana Luke drew
of me! ... I Love Candy Corn!

Hey Hey family,

Okay so there are like a gazillion things going on at home right now...Everyone is dating someone, or engaged, or pregnant (except Kenna :/) or going on adventures or school dances....Enough of all were all supposed to pause your life for a year and a half until I got back...sheesh. In the spirit of being Christ like I guess I will forgive you.

This week was awesome. I feel like since I have such little time left I am trying to do SO MUCH at once. I feel like a chicken running around with it's head cut off! Anyway, even though it was crazy busy it was really fulfilling. 

We had an awesome dinner and lesson with the Arellanos, and then they didn't show to church!!! We were so bummed. Especially because Ashley wants to come so bad but if Leticia and Jaime don't come she can't either. Blahh! Hopefully they will come next week. They are progressing though. They watched the Restoration as a family for FHE :)

Miguel is the same. He comes to church every week and loves the Book of Mormon. He participates in Sunday school and priesthood classes. He answers all the baptismal questions perfectly until you get to the last one where it asks if you are ready to make this commitment and he flips. He always says he needs more time. We are trying to pray for the gift of discernment to really know what to do with him. I fasted yesterday and we decided that we really believe he could get baptized this week. Our plan is to pray SO HARD that he feels the spirit ULTRA STRONG at church (and when we teach him) and then pray SO HARD that it leave him as soon as he leaves the church so that he can feel the difference! We want him to see the need for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. I pray that Miguel will feel the difference and accept the invitation to be baptized this week. Say a little prayer for him! :)

Patty came to church as well. We taught her the Law of Chastity and it went surprisingly well. She is a little nervous that her date is so close but she is still preparing and working toward baptism. 

Estella was a no show at church :( We should be teaching her today so we will follow up with her on that. However she is keeping commitments to read and pray so I have hope that she will eventually come to church....hopefully eventually means next week! 

Things are going great here in FOCO. It doesn't feel real that my mission is almost over. I basically live in denial and then I have small moments where reality smacks me in the face and I have a mental break usually ends in the fetal position on the floor. I'm trying to just focus on the people.

Well, have a great week! Love you all so much! 
Hermana England

It was Edler Sondrup's birthday
(One of the Elder's in our ward)
So we decorated their car before our
corrilation meeting!

Monday, November 3, 2014

La Rama

My failed attempt at growing a plant...
died :(

Hola de FOCO,

Sounds like you all had a fun Halloween. I want to see pictures of all your costumes! Send me some!

Davis - Way to whip out the big guns....I needed a Holland quote :) haha keep up the amazing work in your area! I wish you were my district leader!

Okay so we were holding our breath to see if all our less actives would continue attending church this week. This was the real official week of the branch....because last week was only sacrament and there were a million gringos. And...tons of our people came! It was still really full!...okay well full for una ramita. It was amazed. We have Relief Society in a normal class room and we were over flowing. And the chapel was like one third full! This is an awesome start. I am so exited for this rama! Yesterday was another emotional meeting. So many Hispanic members bearing their testimonies for the first time in forever because all their meetings have been in English in the past. I also bore my testimony...and of course bawled like a baby because it was my last fast and testimony meeting as a missionary. Blah...prepare for an emotional mess people.

Okay so we have so many amazing things happening so I am just going to up date and tell you a little about everyone...

Miguel: He did all his reading assigments and came to church! We tried to set him with a baptismal date this last Thursday but for some reason he won't commit! We can not figure it out! We went through all the baptismal questions with him and he answers them all fine until he gets to the last question that asks if you consider yourself ready to make this commitment and he says..."I need more time". We think his concern is that he thinks that he has to be perfect after baptism. We have taught him about why we have the atonement and about repentance after baptism a bunch of times but he still won't commit. Our plan of action this week is to get the branch council heavily involved and fellowship him like nobodies business. Keep praying for him.

Patty: She has a baptismal date for Nov. 22!!! :) She is awesome! She came to church as well and is really excited about preparing for baptism. The only thing we are a little worried about is the law of chastity. When her boyfriend Daniel comes in town he stays with her and from past comments we know they are not living the law of chastity right now. Hopefully she will have the strength to know it is true and live it when we teach it this week.

Estela: AWESOME new investigator. We met her at Walmart last P-day by the peppers. We asked her tips on how to make salsa verde. She helped us then gave us her address so that we could visit her. Later that week we went and taught her the Restoration. She loved it and told us that she knew God put us in her path because she usually goes to King supers but she just randomly went to Walmart that day and she usually gets her other groceries first but she felt that she should go right to the peppers. MILAGROS! We are meeting with her this week so she can teach us how to make chiles reyenos and so that we can teach her the plan of salvation. So excited!

La familia Arellano: They are a part member family the dad and oldest daughter (Jaime and Jamie....yes...those are their names.) are members (less active) and the mom and other daughter are investigators. We had an awesome lesson with them about the plan of salvation. Ashley who is 8 years old really wants to get baptized. Leticia the mom said that they need to come to church more before making that decision....We were like Yes! Come! We agree! haha They had to work this Sunday so hopefully they will be there next week. I love this family SO MUCH. We are eating dinner with them and teaching them more this Thursday...I love how Hispanic people always offer to feed you. It's the best.

Hermana Clara Bejerano: Used to be less active but in the past few months has become super active was called as the branch Relief Society President!!! This was such a miracle! She bore powerful testimony yesterday and I know this will be so good for her and her family. Her husband is not a member. I LOVE her!

John: John is 15 years old and is one of our recent converts. He has made some REALLY bad decisions in the last few months but we have had some miracle break through lessons with him these last few weeks. He told us that the spirit he felt after being baptized is gone and he wants it back. We are helping him through the repentance process. Keep him in your prayers!

There are so many others as well but those were the big ones from this week. I am so grateful for all of these people. In helping them come unto Christ I have realized that they are the ones helping me. These people, their examples, and sacrifices to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes me a better person. I love them so much. Thank you all so much as well. You are all included in the group of people who have truly helped me become who I am.

Love you all so much
Hermana England

PS. Hilarious quote of the week. So we went to Spanish Sunday school and Patty obviously went to the English one with Enya. And after she came up to us and said...."I am confused about the Sunday school lesson."  (Patty is still learning English) so we asked her what she didn't understand and with a really strange face she said...."What does delighting in fatness mean?"  hahaha we just told her we would explain that later.

Making chiles rellanos with Estela
our awesome investigator!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Branch Is Officially Started

Halloween party and all four of the Terry Lake
missionaries dressed up like 50's girls and boys!

Hola hola,

First off Happy Birthday Grandpa!! 95 and still going strong! You are one of my all time heros! Everyone give Grandad a big hug and a smooch for me!

Davis that was such a cool miracle about seeing Carlos on the bus! Your emails make me want to be a better missionary. YOU are the best. Lo mejor ejemplo hermano misionero en todo el mundo!!

This week was incredible! THE BRANCH IS OFFICALLY STARTED! Oh my goodness we saw so many miracles! We had ten less actives at church! We had our first sacrament meeting and it was such an emotional meeting. This branch is a huge answer to prayer for so many of the members here. I can't imagine having to listen to church EVERY week through head phones...and usually a bad translation by the missionaries haha. There is just something about hearing the gospel in your own language (I saw that when I listened to general conference in Spanish and English) Spanish has a special place in my heart but the spirit can touch you in a special way in your first language. We are a tiny branch...even with all the less actives there. But we will grow! So many members came up to us after and told us that they have non member friends that they are going to invite to church! :) Hermana Bejerano gave the closing prayer and in the prayer she thanked Heavenly Father for the branch and with tears said she has waited for this day for a long time. Of course we were all tearing up. haha It was an amazing meeting. Our branch President is Presidente Lister (gringo) and his Spanish is VERY rusty...but it was really cool to see him and reflect back on my greenie days when I spoke little to no spanish. I am so grateful for those days. (I never want to go back to that dark dark place but I wouldn't trade them for the world :) I have no doubt that Presidente Lister will learn his Spanish again very quickly and he will have the gift of tongues.

Our investigator Miguel also came to church! He is sort of an "eternigator". He has been taking the lessons for about a year. He has been dropped and taught several times. We were actually thinking about dropping him again because he would not commit to be baptized and wasn't coming to church. But, in the lesson when we were going to tell him we both felt like we shouldn't. Well, then the branch started. And Angy who is Miguel's girlfriend is now becoming active in the church. Miguel told us that he really wants to participate in this branch, but he has reservations about being baptized...mostly because of some habits he has. So this is what we did. We gave him a paper divided into seven sections, each section a day of the week. Each day had a reading assignment from the Book of Mormon. Each day had a theme, most were the 5 steps in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And last, each day had two boxes. One to check if he had read, and one to check if he had prayed. We gave him this paper and invited him to follow this reading and praying schedule EXACTLY this week. We promised him that at the end of the week if EVERY box was checked then he would feel ready for his baptism. I really feel that the spirit lead us to this assignment and I am so excited to see how it goes for him. Miguel is such a strong person and I know Heavenly Father is preparing him to be a strong priesthood holder for the branch! Keep him in your prayers this week! He is going to get baptized soon :) He makes me miss our other Miguel (who I hear is going to move back to Greeley!!!)  

We also had our Halloween party and all four of the Terry Lake missionaries dressed up like 50's girls...and boys for the elders. haha we had a lot of fun! 

Well love you all so much! Have a great week!
Hermana England

ps. They dissolved the Spanish group in Longmont :( I don't know exactly why but I hear the Spanish members from Longmont are going to Boulder for church. I hope everything is okay and I pray that Arturo and our other members are either staying in the English ward in Longmont or finding a Spanish group to go to. :( I can't believe it.

At the ward party!
So much Fun!

The Asian Tinker Bell is Enya!
Me and Hermana Stratford...

Halloween night!
We had to be in way early
so we got take out and ate at home...

We had to be in by 6:00 :)