January 23rd, 2017
This week was so amazing!
We had a zone training about finding new investigators, because all the missionaries in this zone are really struggling with that right now. It was such a good meeting; probably one of my favorites that I've ever had. We talked about 8 finding ideas: Family History, teaching youth, members (specifically helping members practice sharing the gospel), the dinner calendar, prospective elders, Family Home Evening, social media, and service. These are all things that we have all heard over and over again, but this time as we discussed it there were just so many awesome ideas and stories that were shared, and we're so excited to try some new ideas. Some examples: During the dinner calendar discussion, we were invited to try calling our dinner appointments 1 week before to ask these member families to invite a friend over for dinner so that we can share a message with them. Having dinners with members and other people is not about us getting fed or staying warm, but it's about saving souls. Another example, Elder Schoenfeld shared about how in a previous area, he came up with some fun fireside ideas for youth to help them realize that they have a testimony, and invite their friends to the next fireside. The social media discussion was my personal favorite, because there were such ideas as, we can share a Mormon message with an active family and invite them to immediately share the video on Facebook. Some missionaries shared their experiences from how they shared the gospel through social media back home. Some people would go out with the missionaries and then take a picture with them and share the picture on Instagram. Or simply having a picture of the temple or something on your Facebook can have people asking questions about the Church. One missionary, Elder Lee, shared a story of how back home, his xBox username was "Stormin' Mormon" and someone from England chatted with him online about it, asking him about his beliefs and stuff, and this person eventually sought out the missionaries and got baptized. That's so cool!
This week we went on exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders, and I stayed here in Manteca with Hna Dayton. It was a really good exchange! We talked to a lot of very nice people and planted a lot of seeds. We taught a prospective elder about the Restoration, and we asked him to share his testimony on the Atonement. It was so awesome and you could really feel the Spirit very strongly.
Yesterday the most recent convert in the ward, Dxxx, received the priesthood! We are so happy for him. We had a Family Home Evening with him and his family yesterday, and we did a really good job! We really tried to ask a lot of questions (since youth don't have a long enough attention span for monologues) and we helped them see the importance of seminary and mutual. And then we played Loteria! I haven't played that in ages.
Last year when I was in Manteca, on the bike trail I would often run in to this old man named Jxxx who only spoke Spanish, and he was always really nice but he never seemed interested when we talked about the gospel. A few days ago we ran into him on the bike trail, and we were talking to him for a long time, and he gave us his number and said we could talk to him again! That's so crazy! There are definitely no coincidences in God's plan.
Yesterday, Brother Gxxx from the high council had come to visit our ward. After church, he talked with us 6 missionaries and our ward mission leader. He felt inspired to talk about his mission experience. He served in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana mission in Spanish. That is like, the Bible belt of the country (similar to this area of California), and a lot of people don't like missionaries down there. A lot of his mission was spent tracting (also just like our mission). He couldn't understand why he was sent there. It felt like it was a waste since no one listened. It was hard to find people to teach. But he realized that Heavenly Father must have sent him there because, since it was so hard to find investigators, it made it so much more sweet once he finally did find someone. He then challenged us with a ward goal of one baptism per month. I was really grateful that he told us all that. For me, I've heard of other missions where the member missionary work is so on point, that the missionaries don't have to tract much. And lately I've been thinking how nice it'd be to be sent to one of those missions. Not that I don't like tracting, because it is fun, but lots of times I don't have the faith that we will actually find someone that way. But I really believe that Brother Gxxx's challenge was inspired, and I know that us six missionaries were sent to work in this ward for a reason.
On a less-serious note, yesterday Elder Little was kinda freakin us out, because he was saying that by the time he gets home (he's been serving for like 5 months), Hna Maya and I could be married and have a kid. That's crazy talk! But then we had dinner yesterday with one of our favorite families, the Hxxx's, and their 22-year old daughter was there. She got married when she was 20, and she has an 8-month-old baby boy. It's like, exactly that time span that Elder Little said! What is this!
Last week we were playing soccer as a zone, and I'm not as good as I used to be but I still have a really powerful leg. I kicked the ball at the goal, and Elder Schultz was stunned! He said, "Hi, my name is Sister Aburto and I've done steroids since I was 2 years old." Haha!