week eight: new transfer, new me

Hello everyone!! Can you believe Christmas is over?! 2016 is upon us!! And a new transfer! I can’t believe I am already done with my first transfer. And luckily since I’m still training, I get to stay with Sister Burns πŸ™‚

As always, it was such an amazing week. Here’s what happened:

Tuesday was such a good day. On Sunday we had quickly put together a service project for the ward. The mom of one of our investigators is in between jobs right now and she expressed concern to us about Christmas. She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to get anything for him and asked if the ward ever does anything to help with that. So we announced it in relief society and also in priesthood and by Tuesday we were able to pull together a whole Christmas for our investigator. It was so incredible to see how much charity the ward members had for him. His mom was sooo happy and so grateful. We were so grateful too.

Tuesday night was also really good. We had a lesson with Dustin and his wife Ashley. We tracted into Dustin a couple weeks ago, he was raised in a part member family but was never baptized and he was soo excited to meet us. We taught him and his wife about the plan of salvation. It went pretty well. And at the end they gave us cereal and told us they went to the store just to specifically buy it for us. So sweet. Cereal and a return appointment, all good things. πŸ™‚

Wednesday we had our Christmas devotional with the whole mission (actually half of it because they split us in two for these meetings). It was soo good! Tons of amazing musical numbers and everything was centered on Christ and that was the best part. πŸ™‚ My favorite part of it was when Sister Taggart (my mission president’s wife) read “The Living Christ” with piano playing in the background. I can’t help but cry every single time I hear or read the Living Christ. Please go read it. It is so incredible. And sister Burns and I love it so much that we’ve decided we are going to read it with every member of the ward and challenge them to memorize the whole thing, or just the fourth paragraph. The fourth paragraph reads: “We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.” He lives!! He died for our sins on Calvary, but his Spirit lives for eternity. He is always with us! Nothing could possibly be more comforting than having that knowledge.

The rest of Wednesday was super good too. We got to meet a new family in our ward. They have actually lived in our ward boundaries for almost a year but they are less active and just moved their records into our ward. I loove them oh my goodness! They are hilarious, and want us to come over every week. They want us to help them be more active in the church, and we are more than willing hahaha. So exciting. Then that night we went to visit Marisol. Marisol is a woman who we met tracting. She is taking care of her niece and nephews who are kind of in a tough situation right now and from the moment we met her she wanted us to teach them so that they could come to church. We’ve been trying to teach them for almost a month now but it just hasn’t worked out. She told us to come over Wednesday night but when we showed up the kids weren’t there, and she was busy making tamales for her family’s Christmas Eve party. So of course we offered to help! And it was soo much fun. Sister Burns and I now (sort of) know how to make tamales. They tasted so good too. The things you learn on a mission hahah.

Thursday aka Christmas Eve we had district meeting. It was super sad because our district leader, Elder Famme, was being transferred to another zone. And Sister Davis was going home. And lots of other people in our zone were being moved around too! It was sad but it was super fun. We did a white elephant gift exchange and it was hilarious. Fun times. The gift I gave was microwaveable heated slippers and I ended up stealing them back because I actually wanted them hahaha. Christmas Eve night we went to an ugly Christmas sweater party that a ward member invited us to. It was so fun. Sister Burns and I borrowed sweaters/vests from other ward members and we looked super festive and ugly hahah.

Friday- Christmas! Christmas as a missionary is super weird. But also so incredible. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever been so focused on Christ during Christmas before. And from now on i hope every Christmas is that way πŸ™‚ Friday’s are always our weekly planning days where we spend like 3 hours planning for the next week. So we did that. And then after that we got to FaceTime our families!! It was so good to hear their voices and to see all of them. Best Christmas gift ever! Saying goodbye was so hard, but I am okay with being away from them for this short time as long as I am serving the Lord.

Saturday was such a good day. We were on fire! We taught like 6 lessons in the span of an hour and a half and we found 2 new investigators as well. It was so awesome. It’s so awesome being a missionary!

That was pretty much my week. I hope you all had an amazing
Christmas!! I sure did. And since I won’t be able to email until after…happy new year!!! I hope you all have the goal of coming closer to Christ in the new year! With Him, all of your other resolutions will be so much easier. He strengthens all that we do! I love my Savior and the knowledge that I have of all that He has done for me. I love this gospel, His gospel. I love having Him with me through every step of the way. And I know that he is with all of you throughout every step too. Please read the Living Christ. I promise it will help you come closer to Him. I hope you all have a wonderful week!

All my love,

Sister Martinez πŸ’•
Our sweaters!

My cute family πŸ™‚

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week seven:

hi hi hiiii!

How is everyone doing?! I can’t believe it’s almost Christmas. It was another long week that still somehow went by sooo fast. Long and fast but still so good! As always πŸ™‚ here’s what happened this week:

Tuesday we had another lesson with Shawn. It was awesome because when we got there, two of the young men were there inviting him to mutual. So they stayed for the lesson! We went over the restoration again and Shawn is grasping the concepts so well! I can see his testimony growing and it is so awesome. Shawn was actually supposed to be baptized yesterday but he was out of town and next week he’ll be out of town and it’s just been crazy with scheduling. But we’re pretty sure January 2nd is gonna be his day. Everybody pray it will happen!! I’m so happy and excited for him.

So we were actually supposed to be having exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders on Saturday, but they called us and changed it last minute to Wednesday. So Tuesday night Sister Burns and I went to go meet up with Sister Herrera and Sister Belnap and exchange! I went to Anaheim 2nd with Sister Herrera and Sister Belnap went with Sister Burns to our area. Honestly I’ve been dreading exchanges so much. I just really don’t want to be away from Sister Burns hahahha. She’s basically like my security blanket. But it got me out of my comfort zone so that was good! Anyway, I spent all of Wednesday in Anaheim with Sister Herrera. Sister Herrera is from the Phillipines and she’s so cute and so sweet. We had a good time! But it was definitely weird to be in another area with another companion. We had a couple awesome lessons and then went to dinner at a member’s home and helped her set up and decorate her Christmas tree! It was super fun and she was so grateful for our help. Wednesday night when we exchanged back, I was sooo happy to see Sister Burns! And it was so good to be back in Garden Grove. So my first experience with exchanges wasn’t too bad. πŸ™‚

Thursday and Friday we didn’t have that much going on. We did a lot of finding and then Friday we did our weekly planning which takes forever sometimes! And Friday morning we had a meeting because we’re almost halfway through training. It was so fun because I got to see all the missionaries that I came in with from the MTC! I missed them. Almost totally forgot!! Thursday was my month mark! I’ve officially been in California for a month now and I can’t believe it! Sister Burns was so sweet and decorated our apartment for me.

Saturday was such an amazing day!! Before Saturday we hadn’t met too many of our goals and we felt like we weren’t getting anywhere. But Saturday totally made up for it. We taught 6 lessons, which doesn’t sound like a lot but for us it is. And not only that but we met a lot of people and got some return appointments for people who couldn’t meet right at that time. It was so awesome. And then, Saturday night it poured rain!! Which for California is crazy! It rained a ton. And Sister Burns always says, “rain means success!” so I think it was a sign (half kidding).

I hope you all are doing well! Things are amazing here in Garden Grove. I love the people so much and it’s so incredible to be able to feel Heavenly Father’s love for every single person we meet. The people are prepared and we are here to find them!! I love being a missionary and sometimes I really miss some things from home or some other things that I can’t do as a missionary, but then I remember that those things can wait. I hope you all have an incredible Christmas! Please remember to keep your focus on Christ. He is the reason we celebrate and He is our savior and our redeemer. He has given up everything for us and I know that through Him we can be forgiven, and also have endless amounts of joy! I love you all! Have an amazing week.

All my love,

Sister Martinez πŸ’–
One month!

Cute decorations courtesy of Sister Burns

week six: sopping

Hi everyone!! Sorry for no email last week…I had a super busy P day and had no time to write out a big summary of my week! I felt so bad. But I’ll do two separate emails today of the past two weeks. So just pretend I sent this last week.. πŸ™‚

Like I say every week…its been another amazing week! Everyday is a good day when you’re serving the Lord. This past week was shorter since we had P day on Tuesday, zone conference, etc. but still so many miracles! Here’s the breakdown:

Wednesday we started out the day with service. So for the past couple weeks our zone leaders invited us to come to their Vietnamese citizenship class. Half of my zone, including my zone leaders, is Vietnamese speaking elders who are serving in the Vietnamese branch in the Garden Grove stake for their whole missions. The whole city of garden grove is heavily populated by Vietnamese people, it’s like Falls Church/Eden Center area on steroids for all of my people back home. Anyway, our church teaches a lot of the Vietnamese people English, and then those people want to become citizens so they started doing citizenship classes for them to practice for their interviews! It’s mostly all elderly Vietnamese people who have lived here for a few years and don’t speak much English and they are so cute. Basically we all are paired off with a Vietnamese person and we do a practice interview with them for about 10 minutes and we keep going until we’ve interviewed everyone who showed up for the class that day. Sister burns and I have a blast doing it. Hopefully the Elders keep inviting us to come hahaha. So then after that we had an amazing lesson with Shawn, we were able to have two members come with us and teach him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Shawn was supposed to be baptized the 20th but because of scheduling issues that probably won’t happen. But he is still fully committed to being baptized so we are shooting for early January and are so excited!! And he is keeping his commitments and coming to church and we are just so happy for him.

After Shawn we had a lesson with this other 13 year old boy Evan who we meet with weekly. Evan was on date for baptism before I got here, but his parents want him to wait before being baptized. So we still teach him, he comes to church and mutual every week, reads the Book of Mormon, and still really wants to be baptized. It will happen one day πŸ™‚ Evan is suuuuper smart and grasps every concept we teach him, and he has really strong faith in Jesus Christ. The lesson that we had with him on Wednesday, we retaught the Restoration to see where he is at with it. We found out that he hasn’t receiving an answer to his prayers about Joseph smith. We were so shocked!! We had no idea. that’s huge! And it’s all because a member, Nolan, came with us and bore his strong testimony of Joseph smith and the restoration of the gospel. We are so grateful that we brought Nolan and learned more about Evan’s needs. Now we know how to help Evan progress more in the gospel.

Later Wednesday night we were tracting and knocked on the door of this younger guy who was with his baby daughter, Emerson. His name is Dustin and he told us that he was raised in a part member family, his mom is a member and his dad is Catholic. He grew up going to both churches so we aren’t sure if he was baptized or not. But his mom is still fully active in the church and Dustin has a lot of LDS friends and he was so excited to meet us! He told us to come over whenever so that he could feed us and so we can teach him and his wife. πŸ™‚ we weren’t even planning on knocking on his door and then we meet someone like him. So crazy how the Lord prepares those who we find! Anyway, we are planning on visiting him next week. Super exciting!

Friday night we had another amazing lesson with Shawn. We taught him about the 10 commandments, law of chastity, and the word of wisdom. Pretty heavy stuff all at once! But he is seriously such a good kid. It was my first time teaching about the law of chastity and word of wisdom and I was so nervous especially since he’s a 13 year old boy, but it went so well. He understood all of it and committed to following these commandments. And his mom was super encouraging and supportive towards him. We talked more about his baptism date coming up, and because of all the scheduling issues, we are postponing it for a few weeks. But it’s looking like January 2nd will be his date! Woooo!

Honestly, the other parts of the week were pretty hard. Sister Burns and I faced a lot of rejection in the past week. Which of course is not fun, but I just keep trying to remember that we are doing the best that we can by inviting. Even if we invite and people don’t accept, at least we invited. That is our purpose. To invite others to come unto Christ. It’s so hard to remember that I shouldn’t put myself down about things that are out of my control! But I’m learning and growing and that’s all a part of the process.

Today for P day we went to downtown Disney with our whole district! Sister Burns and I were kind of meh about going but Sister Davis, another sister in our district (and sister burns’ last companion/trainer!) is going home in two weeks and she wanted to go! So we went and just shopped around and whatnot. It was pretty fun. Kind of sad to be so close to disneyland and not be allowed to go. But that’s okay, this time is not about me and what I want to do hahaha.

Wellll that was pretty much my week (actually last week)! I almost wrote in an earlier part of this email that this week was not very eventful. But I stopped myself because that is so not true!! Like I said earlier, everyday is a good day when you are serving the Lord. I am so grateful to have this calling and to be serving the people in this area. This is God’s work and His glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39)!! This is one of the most important and sacred callings to have and the Lord has put His trust in me to do it. I am grateful everyday that serving a mission is a part of God’s plan for me. There is nothing I would rather be doing right now!

I love you all, please keep sharing the gospel. It’s the most truthful thing on earth and everyone needs to know about it! Stay tuned for week 7…aka this past week not the week before. Sorry if this is a little confusing!

All my love,

Sister Martinez 🌻

In-n-out with my district after downtown Disney!

The best place to be serving. πŸ™‚

week five: they know

HOLAAAAAA

it’s P day again! On a Tuesday…whaaa? Yep. P day on a Tuesday. So yesterday instead of our normal preparation day we had zone
conference!! Basically, 4 of the zones in our mission met together and had a roughly 6 hour conference. And Elder Dube of the quorum of the seventy came to speak to us. He’s a little biased to our mission, because his son is serving here! Which is super awesome. But I’ll talk more about zone conference later! As usual, tons and tons of stuff happened this week and I have so many thoughts that I hope will make sense but here we go…

So Tuesday night was honestly one of the hardest nights of my life. But it ended on a good note. Monday during the day we got a
notification that we had a new referral from Mormon.org, someone wanted a Book of Mormon! We were sooo excited. So we went over the next morning, no answer, we were pretty sure nobody was home. Then later in the afternoon we tried again, this time there was a car in the driveway, still no answer. Then after an appointment that night, we stopped by around 8:15ish. No answer. While we were waiting to knock again, we heard a man behind us yell “what do you want?” It was the man who had asked for a book of mormon. He had come out of the side door of his house and walked around to sneak up on us. We started to talk to him and he immediately started yelling and cussing at us about how he didn’t believe in God and how he didn’t want us to come because he thought that the Book of Mormon would be shipped in the mail. He only wanted the book to bash it. He’s already read it before. And he also told us that earlier that day when we had come, he saw us and didn’t answer on purpose, and then when we showed up again he wanted to scare us on purpose because we “shouldn’t be out so late” even though it was only 8:15 and we can be out till 9. I’ve honestly never felt so unsafe or scared in my life. I was shaking and so scared of what was going to happen. I wanted to just walk away so badly but I thought he was going to chase us or something, and I wanted to stand up for what I believe in. After standing there being yelled at for 15 minutes I finally broke down. When I started crying he said some really mean things, and sister burns and I ran to our car. I have not had a panic attack like that in a long time. Also if was the first time I’ve cried since I left on my mission. It was honestly really rough. Thank goodness sister burns and I are so close. We stopped and sat for awhile in the car and then sister burns realized I should get a priesthood blessing. So we went and I got a blessing of comfort from one of my zone leaders, Elder Visser. My testimony of priesthood blessings has grown sooo much. I can honestly say that after that blessing, I felt like God was patting me on the back and telling me that I’m doing the right thing. I’m so grateful to have the restored gospel and priesthood on the earth.

That was super hard…but the rest of the week has been incredible and miraculous and so so wonderful. So the church came out with this year’s Christmas video, A Savior is Born. It is super different from last year’s videos, but I’m telling you, this video has worked miracles. On Saturday we went out to find people to share the video with. For most of the morning and afternoon we were super busy and didn’t get to do a lot of missionary work. We were worried that we wouldn’t get to actually teach! But we went out and knocked on this man named Ed’s door. Sister burns and her previous companion had already met with him before but he didn’t seem super interested. We wanted to be sure though, so we went to see him again. We showed him the video, which led us into talking about the restoration, and tons of other stuff. At one point he got really emotional and said he had to go. I asked if we could quickly say a prayer since he seemed a little disoriented, and the spirit was crazy strong. Then we went to some random people who we knocked into on thanksgiving and told us to come back another time. The first was a guy named Byron. We went right into the video which led again into the restoration. We talked with him for awhile, he was so nice and respectful. He even asked where our church is and when the services are. then we said a prayer with him and he told us that his grandma is not doing well, so we prayed for her. And we are planning on teaching the plan of salvation with him next time we meet πŸ™‚ then, we went to go find someone else but they weren’t home, so we knocked on their neighbor’s door. A high school aged boy came out and we showed him the video. He told us he doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ and was raised Catholic but doesn’t believe any of it, or anything really. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he told us he wanted to read it because he loves to read and would finish it in a week or so. He was very respectful and said we could come back next week. Then last night we went to go see this 17 year old girl named Miranda who had told us to come back the night before. We showed her the video, and basically she told us that she was raised Catholic but hasn’t been to church in awhile. She’s trying to regain her faith back, but doesn’t really know what she believes. We taught her about the restoration and the Book of Mormon, and also about prayer. She’s never said a personal prayer out loud before, so we showed her how and told her about personal experiences. She prayed with us and the spirit was so strong I can’t even tell you. She wants us to come back on Friday. πŸ™‚ because of this video, we have found those who have been prepared to hear the gospel. And nothing is more incredible.

Wednesday we met with Shawn (our investigator on date for baptism) and it went so well. He is fully preparing for baptism and he came to church for the first time on Sunday and we were so excited! We’re really hoping that he can prepare as well as he can and reach his goal.

Like I said before, yesterday was zone conference with Elder Dube of the Seventy. I don’t have a lot of time but he talked about how we shouldn’t be “me’ missionaries, in other words, selfish. I really needed to hear that!! And I felt like he was speaking right to me. It was such a blessing and i’m so grateful that we were able to hear him speak to us and share his testimony of missionary work.

Well, that’s unfortunately all the time I have…this gospel is true everyone. So so true. I know it is with all my heart. I would encourage you all to read 3 Nephi 1:12-14. It’s what we’re sharing with investigators and it’s touched my heart so much. I know Jesus is the Christ and that as we follow him and try to be like him, we will have an immense amount of joy in our lives.

I hope you all have an amazing week!!

All my love,

Sister Martinez πŸ’•
We seriously see these everyday hahaha. Who puts this on their front door?!

Sister burns and I with brother Beserra. We visit him every week and read Book of Mormon stories with him. He’s the kindest person in the world!

week four: turkey, for lack of a better word

Helloooo everyone! How was everyone’s thanksgiving?! How are you all in general?! It’s been an awesome and crazy and stressful and amazing and hard week here in garden grove. Just pushing along πŸ™‚ my mom tells me all about everyone who says they read my weekly emails/blog posts and wants to see how I’m doing and it seriously brightens my day! I’m so grateful to have so many amazing people in my life. And I really appreciate all of the emails and cards! Seriously the best thing to receive as a missionary.

I don’t even know where to begin! So after P day on Monday night, we had dinner with this elderly couple, the Waldrons. They are in their 80s and have so many stories to tell us about their lives. They’re so cute that sister burns and I could not stop laughing the entire time. Seriously it was ridiculously hard not to crack up out loud right in front of them. They’re just so cute and their stories weren’t actually funny but to us they were and we couldn’t hold it back. We felt so bad hahahha but they were so cute. They must’ve thought we were crazy.

The next night we met some amazing people!! Hugely potential investigators. We were tracting and met this man named John. He doesn’t go to a church but he believes in Christ and said he would start reading the Book of Mormon, and that we could come back πŸ™‚ and then the next house we knocked on, we met a guy named Fernando, he was waiting for his wife to get home from work and they have two little kids who were running around like crazy. They were so cute. Anyway, we taught Fernando about the restoration and gave him a Book of Mormon, and read two paragraphs of the intro with him. I think the intro to the Book of Mormon is overlooked a lot…it’s so amazing and I love it!! Anyway, Fernando already goes to another Christian church but he still seemed super interested. And while we were teaching, his wife Kat pulled up. She was sooo nice too, and we all prayed together. The spirit was so strong. I’m so excited to go visit them all again this week!

Thursday….thanksgiving! It was a very strange thanksgiving that’s for sure… Not like the usual. But it was so good! We had a big thanksgiving lunch with a family in our ward, the Youngermans, along with 25 of their friends and family. One of their friends had tons of family from England in town. They were hilarious and we spent our whole lunch listening to their stories. The food was delicious, but it was definitely super weird to be having normal conversation that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with missionary work. Like so weird! So as missionaries, holidays are just like any working day. But it’s hard because nobody wants to make a teaching appointment with us on thanksgiving, so the only thing left to do is tract…which we did…for 4 hours. And it was freezing (aka it was 63 degrees..sorry but not). So we met a lot of angry people who were in the middle of dinner and we saw this sign at one of the houses…hahaha I’ve actually seen a bunch of different variations of this same sign. These are the only houses we don’t knock at. A couple days ago we saw a sign similar to this and we stood there for a couple minutes contemplating whether or not we should knock. While we were contemplating we could see a man coming to the door and he locked it right in front of us while shaking his head. So funny.
Thanksgiving night while we were tracting, we knocked on a door and a woman answered, before we could even ask her if she believed in Jesus Christ (it’s part of our spiel) she insisted that we come in and sit with them at dinner. Her whole family was there, and coincidentally her brother in law who was there is an inactive returned missionary…like how crazy is that!! Anyway, he was super respectful and I think we brought back a lot of good memories from his mission. The whole family was super nice and wanted to hear all about our missionary life. After being there for about an hour, we shared a message with them before we left. We read Alma 37:37 (amazing scripture) with them. It’s about prayer, and we invited them to pray in gratitude for all that they have. Then we said a prayer with them and the spirit was so strong. We don’t know how interested they are, but they said we could come back anytime. And it was such a blessing to knock on their door when the rest of the night we were mostly getting doors shut in our faces.

The rest of the weekend wasn’t too interesting..just normal missionary stuff. And I gave a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday about living a Christlike life. Let me know if you want a copy!! I’m about out of time but I’m so grateful for the chance that I have to share my experiences with all of you. I know this is the true gospel that I’m sharing everyday. I know that my savior lives and loves me and all of you. I’m so so happy to be a missionary and I know this is definitely a part of God’s plan for me!! I hope you can all try to find ways to come closer to Christ this week.

Sending all my love,

Sister Martinez πŸ’•

Cute random lemon tree

The only picture we took on Thanksgiving…we’re normal.