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!
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!