Monday, September 29, 2014

There are Angels Among Us

I really have no idea where to start. 

I have never felt so bendecida in my entire life. 

Imagine this. Imagine the sun in it's brightness and glory. Shining. It's rays reaching into the darkest corners where most don’t dare to go. Now put that burning ray of sunshine in your heart. Can you feel it? Your heart just grew 3 sizes and is swelling. With each beat it is struggling to contain the brightness inside. It can't in fact. It humanly can't contain it, so it shines from the inside out and you can feel the sun shining out of you. 

Yes. That's how I feel. That is how I have felt all week. I haven't been able to stop myself from feeling that way. 

In all of the lessons this week, I have put 100% of my faith in Heavenly Father and have taught with as much power and authority as I knew how. 

One of my favorite experiences this week was on Saturday night. It was 8:00pm and we had just finished teaching a lesson to our investigator Nicolas. He is set to be baptized on the 19th of October. He is incredible! He 17 years old, still in high school and is taking 4 or 5 AP classes right now. He does all of his reading assignments, he prays, and he comes to church every week without fail and he loves to learn about the gospel. We had just finished a wonderful lesson with him and were on our way to the church to watch the General Women's Broadcast. We were maybe 5-10 minutes walking distance away when a thought came to my mind. "You need to go visit Luis. Call Luis", it said. I looked at Hermana Carter and told her what I was feeling. She looked at me with sad eyes. She knew what that meant. We were going to miss the Broadcast. I was sad too. We were both looking forward to it. I gave her a hug and told her, "Heavenly Father's not going to let us down." 

Luis' house was the opposite way that we were walking, so we turned around and began walking as fast as we could meanwhile calling Luis. He picked up and said with urgency, "I'm so glad that you called. I'm sending my cousin down to open the door for you when you get here." Strange. We hadn't even said that we were coming. Usually it was a 12-15 minute walk from where we were to Luis' house, but we managed to do it in half the time. 

We arrived a little short of breath from walk/running so fast. Prayed and asked for Heavenly Father's guidance during this lesson and then rang the doorbell. When we were in the apartment we saw Luis with 3 of his cousins whom we had never met before. We started by getting to know them. They are all teenage young men, Luis being the oldest of them all is 20 years old and less active. His cousins names are Jordy, Gabriel, and Ismael ranging from ages 13-17. While getting to know them we laughed a ton. It seemed very natural, but when we should have started the lesson, their 5 year old brother came in and...well....was just a regular little 5 year old. A little rowdy, curious about everything, and a little distracting. The lesson started to head south, but with Heavenly Father's help we were able to change that. I asked their 5 year old brother, Angel, if he liked to read. He said, "kind of, but I like video games more." We all chuckled. I asked if he had ever read the Book of Mormon. "No", he said, "does it have any people fighting in it?" We all laughed again and then we continued on to share about what the Book of Mormon is and how it's about a family, like theirs, that traveled from a different country to the Americas (they are from the Dominican Republic). I continued on by doing "How to Begin Teaching", a powerful way to define our purpose as missionaries when we first get into a lesson (outlined in Preach My Gospel), by simply testifying of every bullet point. The Spirit was SO strong. That sun, as mentioned earlier, was shining more brightly than usual. And with that we began the lesson of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Their eyes were glued to us as we taught them. They were feeling the Spirit and were so intrigued by it. By the end of the lesson they all accepted a baptismal date. November 2 will be a great day. 

When we left the house we were physically and spiritually exhausted, but we still had a long walk back to our house and not very much time to do we ran. 

It was worth it. It was all worth it. 

That same day, earlier in the morning, I saw Heavenly Father work through earthly angels. We had been at the church building teaching some of the ladies in the ward how to play the piano. The Sister Training Leaders stopped by because they said that they had some clothes that they wanted to give to us. After the lesson we greeted them outside at their car. 

As I was talking to Hermana Carter and one of the Sister Training Leader, Hermana Duke, Hermana Weinstock went back to their car to grab a box. When she returned from the car, with the box in hand, she called me over. She told me that she had mentioned my name in an email home to her family recently telling them about my gluten allergy. Her adopted uncle (family friend), had read the email and responded to her asking if there was anything he could do for me. He said to her that he really wanted to send me something. He told Hermana Weinstock that he was sending a small package to her and that she could give it to me when it arrived. 

This is what his "small package" contained: 

I opened the box right there on the street and cried in gratitude. I have been blessed to have had Hermana Weinstock as my companion and now to have her as my Sister Training Leader. I can feel so much love from her. Through her I know Heavenly Father has been able to work miracles. I know that because they have happened to me. 

I have been walking among the celestial. There are angels watching over us. Both earthly and heavenly, and I can feel them. I may not know them: Jerry Turner, the "uncle" of Hermana Weinstock; or the spiritual beings that I know have been with us, but I know that they are there. 

This week would not have been as wonderful as it was without their help. 

I am so grateful to a loving Heavenly Father who knows and understands my needs. I have learned to trust him fully. The leap of faith isn't as hard for me anymore because I know without a doubt that he will catch me. 

I testify that this work is true. That we are the tools that the Lord will bring for this angelic work. 

And finally, I am so grateful to be a missionary. I love it with all my heart. 

Sending all my love home, well....not all of it...I'm keeping some of it here for my area and my companion. :)

Hermana Childs

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Something Celestial

This last Saturday my friend Jorge Gomez was baptized.
Me, Jorge, Hermano Diaz, Hermana Carter
Hermano Diaz, Me, Jorge
Saturday morning I woke up and was itching with excitement...and nerves. Nerves? Why was I nervous? I've already been baptized. haha
We started off the morning with a couple hours of service in the community which gradually made their way into the early hours of the baptism. We arrived at the church, turned on the water in the font, and made the program. We set up the chairs, the food, and the newly printed programs on the table. Jorge had arrived an hour early to prepare himself for the baptism. It was a good thing too! We couldn't' find a baptismal suit that fit him! The only one large enough was being cleaned by the other set of missionaries who had a baptism last week. We made a few quick calls and just before the baptism started the suit arrived.
The hour before the baptism Jorge had picked up one of the programs; sat down in the foyer; and looked at the picture on the front cover, the picture of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus Christ.
The service flowed very nicely. Many people came, even though it was a Saturday, to support him in his decision. Everyone was smiles and the spirit was felt as Hermano Roberto Diaz said the baptismal prayer. As Jorge came out of the water he wiped the streams of water off and then turned to his friends and said, "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." haha It seems to be his favorite phrase when he agrees with something. It comes with his personality. haha What a character! We had a special musical number by one of the missionaries who is a wonderful pianist while Jorge was changing. The spirit was felt all through the service. It was truly incredible.
Although the service was lovely and the spirit was felt, my favorite part came later in the day. We had set an appointment to meet with him at 8:00pm to talk about the baptism. When we arrived, we asked about his feelings during the baptism. He said, "as I was standing in the pool of water (the font), and I had one of my hands on Roberto's arm, and the other was holding my nose, I was thinking 'this is what Jesus Christ did'. I know I followed Jesus Christ." It was the most profound thing he had ever said to us. We knew he understood baptism, and he understood all of the doctrines that we taught him, but we had never felt like he had a personal connection with them. He now had that personal connection. We saw a few tears escape his eyes and my heart was touched. It was really something celestial.
The next day was just as grand. Jorge Gomez was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Just after the confirmation the bishop asked him to share a few thoughts. With his quirky personality he expressed that he was 'Jorge Gomez from Cuba', stated his age, his address, and then talked about how happy he was to be here among his brothers and sisters.
He was changed. He was not the Jorge I knew before Saturday. He had been transformed into a spiritual giant!
We have visited with him every day since his baptism and he continues to glow. He really glows. I love him on a deeper level. I love to visit him and hear about him still talk about his baptism.
Jorge Gomez, "the 60 year old from Cuba" and  my friend, has entered into the kingdom of God. I couldn't be happier.
Hermana Childs

Friday, September 19, 2014

Warning: Flood Alert. Highly Unusual.


Caution: high volume of pictures sent within a span of 7 minutes
Maybe highly hazardous
Prepare yourself by sitting down
Results: may experience an overwhelming sense of happiness. side effects may last days
Serving on Ellis Island again, this time with Hermana Carter
My district here in Jersey City
"Mustache" dinner with our zone
I "mustache" you a question

Sister Duke and I on exchange eating some Salvadorian food
 Second exchanges with Hermana Weinstock, Sister Duke and Hermana Carter
Capt. Moroni look alike. We tried to contact him.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Little Piece of Heaven on Earth

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Catch Up

These past few P-days have been crazy. We haven't had a normal P-day to email yet, but today I'll fill you in on everything that has been going on.

Two weeks ago we had the most incredible faith building experience. We had Stake Conference on the 24th. Saturday night one of our less actives named Isaiah, who is 11 years old, told us that he really wanted to come to Stake Conference the next day. This was a miracle in itself because he hasn't been to church in almost a year. 

Because it was Stake Conference, our chapel wasn't big enough (because it's an office building), and so we had to travel to the nearest chapel that would accommodate that many people which was located in Morristown. Well, most of the members don't have cars, so the ward paid for a bus to drive us. We were to meet at our chapel at 8:00 sharp on Sunday morning because the bus would be leaving. We told Isaiah that we would walk with him if he would meet us at the Burger King at 7:15. We called him at 7:00 on Sunday morning to see if he had left yet. He had just woken up. 7:15, we were there at the Burger King waiting for him, but when we called to see where he was, he hadn't even left his house yet. He said he was on his way and that he'd be there soon. 7:30 came around, we called again because if we didn't start walking soon, we would be late and wouldn't make the bus either. He still hadn't left his house. He said he would just meet us at the chapel in Journal Square. We didn't feel comfortable with that idea. Journal Square is a very big and busy city and if he didn't make it on time, he would be all alone there for the whole day. (He lives in a hotel with his grandma and older brother because his parents are in jail and they lost their house about 3 months ago. His grandma works in New York from Sunday to Wednesday and leaves Isaiah and his brother at the hotel while she is gone). We had already called all of the members we could think of and they all said that they wouldn't be able to take him and his grandma had already left for work, and the option of having him walk around in the streets of Journal Square really concerned us. We were faced with the option of calling him and telling him that he wouldn't be able to come this week, or ...well.....we didn't know what the alternative was. We were on the phone with him and about to tell him to wait to come to church next week, but I knew that God wanted him to come. Isaiah finally had a desire to come to church, all that was missing was a way to get him there. It was 7:45 and we were desperate. In the middle of the phone call we told him to wait just a minute. We bowed our heads and said a prayer right on the corner of Burger King and told Heavenly Father that we needed his help right then. Just as soon as we ended the prayer we saw some of the members driving down the street. They jokingly honked at us and pulled over to talk for a moment. They asked us if we were coming to Stake Conference. We replied and said yes, and told them the whole situation with Isaiah. They looked at each other and said, "Do you have a ride?" We told them that we were walking. "Get in the car", they said. "We'll go pick him up, but we need you to show us where he lives." We climbed in with great relief. I couldn't believe it. God had helped us in the very last second that we needed Him. He had tested our faith to the limits, but just like always, He showed us that He was there. We all enjoyed the most wonderful Stake Conference that I have been to in a long time. And we did it because the Lord helped us. 

We have also seen miracles with our investigators. At the very beginning of this transfer everyone was cancelling on us, we had almost no one to teach, but within the past week or two we have doubled our teaching pool, have 2 investigators with a baptismal date, one of which will be having a marriage shortly followed by a baptism. 

We are teaching Veronica Valle right now. She has been taking the lessons from the missionaries for almost 10 years, but it is finally her time! We are planning a wedding (who would have thought that my Pinterest skills would be so handy on the mission ;) just kidding...she's taking care of all of that.) and then a baptism (now that we are planning! ). I am so excited! We are anticipating her baptism for the first week in October! She sent her son to Mexico so that he could bring the divorce papers in to the government and so there wouldn't be any confusion. I'm happy to say that her son has returned and things are ready to go! 

Jorge is still progressing to be baptized on the 21st of September! He hasn't smoked in almost a month! We are so proud! He has been taught everything, we are just preparing him to pass his interview and make sure that he really does know everything. 

Last Preparation Day almost our whole zone went to Carlos Bakery in Hoboken. Carlos Bakery is a famous bakery nation wide because the tv show Cake Boss is filmed there. When we arrived, we had to wait in a line outside the store for 40 minutes just to enter. There were people from all over the world that had traveled to the United States and made a stop in Jersey just to buy something from Carlos Bakery. We talked with people from Russia, France, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Italy. When we walked in, we were given a ticket that had a number on it. When they called our number we were then able to order. It was packed, but it was definitely worth it! I even found something gluten free!! It was a mini chocolate truffle brownie. It was SO good! 
From Carlos Bakery  in Hoboken - "Cake Boss" TV Show

Hoboken of NYC

Later on in the week I was able to go on an exchange with Hermana Weinstock. This was the second exchange in this transfer. Last time I stayed in Jersey City with her companion while Hermana Carter went to Bayonne (the Sister Training Leader's area) with Hermana Weinstock. When I heard that I would be with Hermana Weinstock again I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait for Friday to come around. Finally together on Friday afternoon we were both grinning from ear to ear. We couldn't believe it! We jumped right into the work and taught just like we did in Princeton. In between teaching lessons we couldn't help but talk a million miles an hour so that we could catch up on how things were and how we were doing. We laughed the whole time. It was the best! I was with one of my best friends doing my favorite thing in the whole world, missionary work! Towards the end of our exchange we were waiting for the other sisters to finish their studies. We had been thinking and talking about our previous investigators in Princeton, especially Marisol. We talked about how much we missed her and about how her progression had plateaued. While waiting we remembered that the mission rules had just changed that we could call the less active members, investigators, and recent converts that you had taught in your previous mission areas if you had played a large role in bringing them in to the church. We are able to call them twice a month only for a few minutes at a time, just to help remind them of the spiritual experiences they had while in lessons with us. We didn't have her number with us, but Heavenly Father helped me remember the number that I had called so many times while in Princeton. We were so anxious as the phone rang; we didn't even know for sure if it was her number. When someone answered, we asked if Marisol was there. They said yes. It was her! We told her who we were and she was so excited! She couldn't believe it! Neither could we! We talked for about 10 minutes before hanging up. We encouraged her to keep listening to the missionaries, to continue to go to church, to read her scriptures, and to take the next step of baptism. She said she is working on getting married to her boyfriend so that she can get baptized. It's incredible! It was such a blessing for us to talk to her....together! It was the PERFECT exchange. I couldn't have been happier. 

That sums up a couple of the amazing experiences that have occurred here in Jersey City. 

A mission is incredible. It is, and always will be, the biggest blessing in my life. It has helped shape me, stretch me, and made me realized what is important. I have never felt so close to my Savior, Jesus Christ, nor seen others with such loving eyes. I am so grateful to be here representing Him, and to witness the change I see in the people that live here. It has truly changed me. 

I'll keep you posted on the other miracles that will continue to happen here in Jersey City! 

Big Hugs!

Hermana Childs