week twenty: when your family goes to cancun without you but it’s okay because you’re on a mission

{this is from last week! again! sorry I’ve been so behind!!}

Hey hey! How was everyone’s week? I always feel kind of awkward starting out these big group emails because it’s kind of a rhetorical “how is everyone” but at the same time I still love hearing back from all of you hahah. So I’ll just keep asking. Anyway, it was a pretty awesome week!

We started off the week “chalking” with the other sisters in our district, Sister Forsgren and Sister Logsdon. Chalking is basically just going to a park or any public place and drawing out the plan of salvation with sidewalk chalk. It was pretty awesome. The park we went to has been at the center of my area my whole mission and I haven’t even thought of going to try to find people there. But it’s better late than never I guess! So Sister Logsdon and Sister Moore chalked while Sister Forsgren and I went out to find people to talk to in the park. First, we saw this guy sitting alone at a picnic table. We went and sat with him. His name is Rooster and he was really nice and open to listening. He told us that he’s been living in his car for three years with his girlfriend and that things have been pretty tough. We started teaching him the restoration and he seemed pretty interested. The spirit was so strong during that lesson. We ended up leaving him with a Book of Mormon and he said he would start reading it. Then after we walked away, he talked to Sister Moore and Sister Logsdon, and said he would come to church and wanted to take a tour of the church too! Pretty awesome. Hopefully we can actually find him again since he doesn’t have an address and his phone is only on when it’s charged…but either way. I’m so grateful he was sitting at that picnic table in the park that day.

After our awesome lesson with Rooster we were pretty pumped up and went around to try to find other people to talk to. We met this girl named Kori. She actually doesn’t live in our area, she lives in Anaheim and was just in Garden Grove for her nannying job, so we wouldn’t be able to continue teaching her, but our lesson was awesome. She’s already Christian and when we showed her the #Hallelujah video she said it wasn’t anything she hadn’t hear before. So we went right into teaching the restoration, which is of course something she hasn’t heard before. It was so amazing, she was so open to listening and said she would read from the Book of Mormon and pray about it. It’s so cool how we just find these people randomly sometimes. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Kori again, but I hope that the missionaries we passed her off to will.

Wednesday was a really awesome day. We were finally able to teach Shawn again. It was like the third time since he’s been baptized. It’s so cool to see how far he’s come since we first started teaching him. He’s learned and grown so much. I love seeing the gospel change people’s lives! Then we went to have a lesson with Evan as we do every week. This time we decided we needed to watch the 20 minute
Restoration video. We’ve been meeting with Evan for so long and he really acts like he believes that the church is true and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, etc. but then he says that he doesn’t think he’s received an answer about it yet. It’s kind of confusing because he really does act like he believes it and he’s been pursuing it for so long, but he tells us he hasn’t recognized an answer yet. Honestly it can be kind of frustrating. So we showed him the video and it was really good for him to watch. He told us that he now
understands how God answers prayers, in His own time and His own way. Then we talked about what it feels like to feel the Holy Ghost, and he told us he feels the Holy Ghost when he goes to church and reads the Book of Mormon. We told him that is a confirmation that this church is true, and an answer to his prayers and he agreed. But then at the end of the lesson he still told us he hasn’t received an answer yet. At this point we’re just praying a lot for Evan and hoping that he will finally recognize that God has already answered his prayers.

Like I said, Wednesday was really awesome. We went to go see Maddie, the 13 year old girl we are teaching and ended up meeting her brother George. This was super exciting because Maddie had told us the week before that George was reading the Book of Mormon, and we hadn’t even met him yet! So we were so happy to meet him. We invited him to join us in our next lesson with Maddie and he said he wanted to. Yay! Wednesday night we went to go visit some less active members in our area book who has not been contacted yet. We knocked on one house and a woman answered the door. She immediately let us in, which is always really surprising. She was so nice. Then we got to really talking and she told us that she and her husband hadn’t been to church since before they were married because her husband had been deeply offended by other members as a teenager. This is one of the main reasons people stop going to church, and it’s so sad. The people in the church definitely aren’t perfect, but the gospel is. And people lose the gospel because of the imperfect people and it makes me really sad. Anyway. We were asking her if she was ever planning on coming back to church and she told us she hadn’t really thought about it, but she wouldn’t say no. Then she told us some of her concerns. She told us she feels unworthy and guilty going back to church because she hasn’t been in 20+ years, and she feels like a lost cause. We shared 2 Nephi 25:26 with her which reads: “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” She began to cry. We told her that everyone is welcome in church, there is no such thing as a lost cause, and Christ waits for everyone with open arms. Wow the Spirit was so strong. Honestly going into that lesson I wasn’t even expecting to be invited into her home, and we left with hope that she might come back to church one day.

Friday we were so excited because we had our lesson with Maddie and George. So we went…and a little preface: we’ve met with Maddie multiple times now and have met her dad multiple times too. Each time he is really nice and has told us before that he is personally not interested but he is okay with his kids making their own decisions about what they believe and gave us permission to teach them. So we weren’t sure what the story was with their mom, we had never met her before. Well…Friday afternoon we knock on their door and she answers. She was very confused about why her kids were meeting with us and why no one had told her. Then she said she was going to go get her kids and talk to them. She brought them out and basically had an intervention. It was the mom, us, and Maddie and George all standing around in their living room. She basically was asking why they were meeting with us, and why they hadn’t told us that they were
Catholic…then Maddie proceeded to say, “I didn’t know we were..” Awkward. Then their mom kept saying that she didn’t want them to waste our time since we are doing God’s work and there are other people out there who will be a better use of our time. Sister Moore interjected and asked Maddie how she feels during our lessons. Maddie said she feels good and likes the things we are teaching her and how we explain things (aka she feels the Spirit). She told them they could still have the lesson with us that day and decide if they still wanted to meet with us after that. It was honestly so uncomfortable. But we went ahead with the lesson and taught them the plan of salvation. At the end, we asked if they still wanted to keep meeting with us and they both said yes. The mom said she would be okay with that. Thank goodness! Wow there’s so many awkward things that happen as a missionary but I’m still so grateful for these experiences.

Holy wow. I was not expecting to write that much about this week! It’s crazy how during the week it doesn’t feel like you’re doing that much or accomplishing a lot, but by the end of the week you look back and see that a lot actually happened. The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days! I’m so happy to be a missionary and to be serving the Lord. This week was also transfer calls and I found out I’m staying in Garden Grove for another 6 weeks with Sister Moore. I’m so happy to be staying here and to see the work progress in this area. I’m hoping for a lot of hard work and success in the next 6 weeks πŸ™‚

I hope you all have an amazing week!

All my love,

Sister Martinez πŸ’•
Sister Moore and I eat a lot of pho 🍜

I love these people!

πŸ‘―

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week nineteen: knock on wood

{this is from last week, and was meant to be sent Monday, March 14}

Hola everyone! It was an interesting week here in Garden Grove. Don’t really feel like I taught very much but certainly had some great experiences. This week was a little crazy because we had a lot of different meetings and whatnot. So let’s just get right to the highlights!

Friday we had a special training meeting with a member of the seventy, Elder Hamula. We got an email a few weeks ago about this special training and everyone was freaking out about what it could be about. Could’ve been a number of things, obedience, repentance, etc. It wasn’t what any of us were expecting, but it was soo good. I seriously feel like as a missionary there haven’t been very many meetings where I don’t leave super inspired. One of the main things he talked about was Christlike attributes, and how Christ is at the center of the work that we do. He said so many great things, but one thing I loved was that each week when we take the sacrament, we reaffirm the acceptance of our mission call. When we take the sacrament, we promise that we are willing to take upon ourselves the name of Christ. What does it mean to take upon yourself the name of Christ? 1. Agree to become like Him, to take upon yourself His identity, his traits, his attributes. 2. You are willing to do His work the way He wants it done. 3. You are willing to submit yourself to His authority and all those He has appointed. That is a pretty big promise to make. And something as simple as eating a little piece of bread and taking a sip of water, actually means so much. Honestly I’ve never realized how important and sacred the sacrament is until my mission. The promise that we make, those three things that we are saying we will do, can be hard to be willing to keep especially if we don’t fully understand the atonement. I certainly don’t fully understand the atonement yet, and I don’t think I ever will in this life. But as I take the sacrament each week, I walk through Gethsemane with Christ and just try to imagine what that must have felt like for Him. And suddenly, I’m a lot more willing to take upon myself His name.

After the meeting with Elder Hamula, we had a lesson with our new progressing investigator, Maddie. We actually got into her house this time which is always exciting as a missionary. Teaching at the door can be so awkward. We sat down with her and talked more about the Book of Mormon and what our purpose is as missionaries. We invited her to learn more, and take the rest of the lessons, and she said yes. πŸ™‚ so that’s really exciting. You can definitely tell that she feels the Spirit in our lessons and I’m so excited for her to eventually understand what that means.

On Thursday Sister Moore and I were at 7/11 grabbing a big gulp as we typically do, and we walked outside and saw Shawn (my recent convert who was baptized in January) and his mom getting gas. I haven’t seen Shawn in sooo long! With the ward boundaries changing, and our area being split in half, he was technically in the Elder’s area. So when we got our new area we decided they could start meeting with him, but they never were able to, so we had just decided we were going to take him back and start teaching him again. Well, before we could even contact him, we run into them at the gas station. And find out…that he was on his way to temple baptisms. What?! My heart was going crazy! I hadn’t even seen Shawn in about a month, and then we randomly run into him on his way to his first temple trip. It was honestly so cool. This might sound a little crazy, but I really feel like we went to that 7/11 right at that specific time for a reason.

This weekend was Stake Conference for the Garden Grove stake. A member of the seventy, Elder Nash, was there to speak so that was cool. Saturday night they had an adult session, and it was so good. He is awesome! The biggest thing I learned was from things he both said and did. After each speaker before and after him he would walk up at the end and ask the congregation, “what did you learn?” Then after a few answers he would ask, “how are you going to apply what you learned?” It was really cool. Then when he spoke, he said, “come to a meeting with the intent to learn and leave with the intention of acting upon what you’ve learned.” Man, if I went to every meeting with that attitude, I would never be bored again in my life! Super good advice.

The next day was the Sunday session of Stake conference and we had an amazing experience. The night before, Elder Nash asked us if we had any investigators coming to stake conference. We told him we had one that would probably be coming, and he told us to bring him up to meet him afterwards. We thought it was nice of him but didn’t really think anything of it. Then at stake conference, Evan (our 14 year old investigator who has to wait a year to be baptized) AND his dad ended up showing up! It was so awesome. When we brought Evan and his dad up to meet Elder Nash afterwards, Elder Nash bore the most amazing testimony to them. You could tell Evan and his dad both felt the spirit. It was so cool…to have a special witness of Christ testifying of the truthfulness of this gospel to one of our
investigators. Very grateful for that moment. I definitely think it helped Evan realize that he knows the gospel is true, which is something that he feels like he hasn’t gotten an answer about the last few months.

Well, I wasn’t expecting to write so much about a week that didn’t feel very successful. But apparently the Spirit thought otherwise. I’m so grateful for the things I learn each day as a missionary. I’m so grateful for my ever growing testimony of this gospel. I know this is the true restored church that Christ established while he was on the earth, and I’m so happy to be able to share that with all who I meet.

I hope you all have an incredible week!

Love,

Sister Martinez πŸ’•

Went on a hike in Orange with my district today!

week eighteen: i’ll believe it when i see it

{this is from two weeks ago, and was meant to be sent Monday, March 7th}

Hello hello! How was everyone’s week?! It stormed last night here in “sunny California”. A little different. Grateful for the moisture though ya know. Anyway, it was such a good week!!

Tuesday we had a pretty amazing experience. We have a pretty long list of less active members we’ve never met/contacted especially since the ward boundaries changed. So we prayed about who we should visit on that list and a couple of people stood out. We first went to go visit a woman named Rita. We didn’t know what to expect, but when we knocked on her door she let us in. She was super nice and when we sat down with her she was telling us about how she had been away from the church for many years. She told us she hadn’t been active since before she and her first husband got divorced, and it didn’t sound like she was ever planning on coming back. But she did let us share a message with her. We showed her the “He Lives” video the church came out with awhile ago. During the video, I noticed she was tearing up. I wasn’t sure if she was getting emotional or if it was the reflection of the iPad screen…but then after the video she broke down. She told us that she had recently been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and she was going in for surgery a week from that day. She said that she’s been relying on Him to get through it. Is that not crazy?! The Spirit was so strong. I don’t think she’s planning on coming back to church anytime soon, especially with all of her treatments in the future. But I’m so glad that we were led to her when she was having a hard time.

Tuesday night was cool as well. There’s a family we’ve been working with since I got here. The whole family is active except the mom, so we meet with the whole family. The whole time I’ve been here we haven’t really known what we should do to help them be more unified as a family. Finally we decided to introduce Book of Mormon Stories to them, this was awhile back with Sister Burns but we hadn’t been back to follow up with them yet. So we went by this week, and found out they’ve been reading Book of Mormon stories together every Tuesday AND the actual Book of Mormon every Sunday!! How awesome! They did even more than we invited them to do. And we could tell they were already more connected spiritually, which then helps everything else come together. It was so great.

So we now have a new progressing investigator!! Woooo. Her name is Maddie. I think I might’ve written about her before, but to refresh your memory, Sister Burns and I met her brother, Michael at the door awhile ago. Everytime we went he was never there, but his sister Maddie always was. So we figured we would just teach her…teach when you find, find when you teach, ya know. Maddie is 13, plays softball, and is super sweet. When we saw her this week, we finally taught her the restoration in full. It was awesome. She understood all of it and really seems to have the desire to know more. She invited us to come back next week so we’ll see what happens there. πŸ™‚

This week we were also able to see one of my favorite less active families in the ward. They have 4 daughters 13 and under so things can be a little crazy sometimes but the dad really wants us to come over weekly to help them be stronger in the gospel. So we went and introduced Book of Mormon stories to them and they committed to reading a story per week as a family! Woohooooo. I’m telling you, Book of Mormon Stories changes lives. Actually it’s just the Book of Mormon that does. Either way. Gospel is true.

I’m so grateful for the experiences I’ve had so far on my mission and I’m looking forward to so many more in the future. It’s so incredible to watch the gospel change people’s lives, and for people who already have the gospel in their lives to rediscover it. I know this is the Lord’s work!

I hope you all have an amazing week!

All my love,

Sister Martinez πŸ•Š

week seventeen: won’t be 17 forever

Hi everyone!! How’s it going?! It was an awesome week here in Garden Grove. As usual, learned a lot and prayed a lot. Not feeling sick anymore, just a lingering cough! It’s been hard though because once you’ve been sick it’s hard to get back into the swing of things. I feel like I haven’t worked that hard, but it was still a good week!! Here are some highlights from this week!

So Wednesday was a super awesome day. We went on exchanges with our sister training leaders. I stayed in our area with Sister Zemp, and Sister Moore went to Anaheim with Sister Hathcock. I loove Sister Zemp! She’s like missionary goals hahaha. She also went to BYU Hawaii for a year before her mission and we found out that we lived in the exact same dorm room, Hale 8 room 311, only difference is she was there a year earlier. So crazy!! The LDS world is so tiny hahah.

That day we were able to meet and teach some awesome people. We had another lesson with Evan. We’ve decided for now that we’ll keep teaching him until his parents are ready for him to be baptized, just so that he can continue to learn and prepare for it when that day does come. We read the Book of Mormon with him and we’re still in 1 Nephi, but no complaints because 1 Nephi is so awesome. We were reading a part about how God doesn’t give us any commandments, or anything, without a way for them to be accomplished. In other words, he doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle. It’s so cool how Evan can completely understand everything we read. So much faith in such a young boy. Sometimes I think about how when Joseph Smith had the First Vision, he was around the same age as Evan, without all of the education that Evan has received. And he was able to be called as a prophet. So amazing! Anyway, it’s so cool to see Evan’s faith grow each week. And there he was at church again on Sunday, as usual. πŸ™‚ the day that boy is baptized will be a great one.

Wednesday we were also able to contact both of the referrals we had. We had them for awhile and it took us a long time to finally reach them, but we did! Neither of them were interested, but it is still always nice to meet people that members know and are friends with and share a message about Christ with them. Around the same time that we contacted them, we met a super awesome potential investigator named Kendall. She was super sweet and said she would read the Book of Mormon so we’ll see! πŸ™‚

Thursday was a great day, after our exchange Sister Moore and I were both on spiritual highs since we both had a good experience. We worked so hard! We met a couple awesome potentials, were dropped by a couple people…but it’s all good! The work continues!

Regardless of the different struggles, it was such a good week. I learned a lot about myself and about the Savior. I’m so grateful for the experiences that I have been able to have on my mission so far, and I’m looking forward to all of the ones that will come. It’s so awesome to be serving the Lord. Sometimes throughout the week, I’ll just have these moments where I sit and realize that I truly am doing His work. It’s the coolest thing ever. I’m so grateful for this gospel!!

I hope you all have an amazing week πŸ’•

All my love,

Sister Martinez
I’m so happy to be a missionary πŸ™‚