Monday, February 24, 2014

Thirty-sixth Week in the Field

Hola Everyone!
SOOOO....We got the news this morning on transfers.....I'm no longer in Moorpark :(
BUT....I'm going to Oxnard and will be serving in the 5th ward area 4 and whitewashing with Hermana Rayez!  I can't believe that there's four areas in this one ward, but we'll see how it goes!  We'll also be living with two other companionships!  It'll probably be a party, but I'll let you know more next week. :)
Hermana Shepherd's going to be staying in Moorpark (the ward and the branch still!) and serving with Hermana Romero AND Hermana Hardy!!!  I have no doubt that Moorpark will be in good hands. 

On a spiritual note, this week has been so incredible! We've seen so many miracles and I know that it's because of all of the hard work we've been doing. We've been focusing a lot on inviting people to be baptized within the first moments of speaking with them. It's been a lot more productive because we've been able to figure out who's really interested by helping them understand our purpose. I'm so grateful for having been able to focus on that this past week and thrilled that we were able to invite 20 people to be baptized. I'm especially grateful for our zone leaders and how much they pushed us to exceed our goals and help us understand that the Atonement effects everything we do. I feel like I've grown so much this past transfer as I've been able to understand what exactly Christ has done for me.

Earlier this week, we received a referral from Church Headquarters for a man named Ashish. He was in Salt Lake City with his mom just to check out Temple Square and see the "Mormon Temple." When he was there he became fascinated with the idea of the Spirit World, the concept of the Book of Mormon, and he wants to be able to find more spiritual strength in his life. When we met with him, he told us that he's 36 and unmarried, but he really wants to be. He wants to turn to God in this trial and be able to find answers to many of his questions. His faith is amazing and he's willing to do anything we ask him to if it means that he'll come closer to God. We're planning on teaching the Plan of Salvation tonight at our appointment with him.

We've also been able to continue teaching Charlotte this week. She is such a cute little girl who really has a strong desire to be baptized. Although she wants to do this, she wants to be sure that she fully understands what baptism entails before jumping right into it. Every time we've visited her, she's had great questions and wants to keep learning more. The only concern that we have about her is that she doesn't always seem enthusiastic about us coming over. We're still trying to figure out if she's just really shy or if her mom is pushing her a little. She did however open up more this week and told us more about herself, which was great! I love seeing signs of improvement.

The Ramirez' and Ezra are doing so great! We were able to visit them twice this week and during the first visit, Brother Ramirez told us that now that Ezra's baptized, they've made the goal to go to the temple in one year! This is the first time that they've ever talked about this goal with anyone and made it audible. I love their family so much and I've loved being able to work with them through this difficult process of getting Ezra baptized and getting them, as a family, reactivated. Their oldest son, Kyle, as been going to mutual more often and firesides with one of the families in the ward too. He even told us that he wants to start going to seminary too! I'm so grateful that the ward is starting to step up and help all of these wonderful people here in Moorpark. We've been trying to work on getting Brother Ramirez a calling so that he'll feel more needed and wanted in the ward. It hasn't happened yet, but it will soon. We've also been trying to get Sister Ramirez to become closer with some of the members so that she'll feel more loved as well.

Pablo is doing absolutely amazing! After 7 months of being here, I've loved being able to see the transformation of him from depressed and lonely to hopeful and preparing to go the temple. I've seen the Atonement play such a vital role in his life and that's probably another reason why I appreciate the Atonement so much in my life and in the lives of others. It'll be hard to leave him after this long, but I know that Hermana Shepherd, Hermana Romero, and Hermana Hardy will take good care of him.

One of our investigators, Jason, has been really hard to work with lately. He has the desire to keep learning, but keeps telling us that he's lost his faith and that he doesn't know if God really exists anymore. He keeps cancelling and the rescheduling our appointments that we set up with him, so we don't know how devoted he is to learning. We don't want to give up on him, but we've been thinking a lot about dropping him, even though he doesn't want us to "give up on him." We'll see if he shows up to his appointment on Wednesday.
Also, all four of us Hermanas were able to sing in the branch on Sunday and it went great! :)

I've loved being able to be here in Moorpark for 5 transfers. I've loved being able to work through all of the difficulties and heartbreaks that have helped me to become a better missionary. Moorpark will definitely always be in my heart and the people even more so. The relationships that I've been able to form with the members and investigators here are so strong and I hope to be able to stay in touch with all of them. I've also loved being able to be companions with Hermana Shepherd. She's taught me so much about what it means to work hard and have a positive attitude while doing it. I know that she's so converted to the gospel and is going to accomplish great things during the remainder of her mission.
You're all so great!! Thanks so much for all the prayers!
Con amor,
Hermana Halliday

Hermanas and Pablo (CVM)

Me with the Parra Family

 Me with Jessica Parra

 Me with James Parra

The "TO Temple" Not really... just our church building that's HUGE!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Thirty-fifth Week in the Field

Hola Everyone!!

This was week was so absolutely amazing! First of all, Ezra was baptized and confirmed! The baptismal service couldn't have been more perfect and the confirmation in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday was probably even better than the baptismal service. I've been waiting so long (about 6 months) for Ezra to finally be baptized and I'm so grateful for the chance that I've had to be here to actually see it happen. Ezra was so excited for this to finally happen and his family was probably more supportive than I've ever seen them before. During the baptismal service, our ward mission leader (who we had a few conflicts with on when Ezra should be baptized) said that Thursday was the exact right time that he should have been baptized and that the Lord was very happy with him. Hermana Shepherd and I were absolutely thrilled and touched especially all of the hard work, prayers, and tears that were involved in getting this boy baptized. When the bishop welcomed him into the ward, he talked a lot about how those who go through the most trials in life have the most in store for them. When Ezra was young, he had a lot of health problems that the doctors didn't think he was going to survive, but he was able to pull through them. He still has a few problems, but his faith and his desire to come closer to Heavenly Father are helping him to fight the adversary. Now that he's baptized and confirmed, I know that he'll be able to accomplish so many great things with even more help from our Heavenly Father. He's going to be such a great example to his friends, but most importantly to his family. Many of the comments that were made at the service revolved around the temple and how it's the next step for him and his family. When the bishop confirmed him and gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost, he mentioned also that he would serve and mission and get sealed in the temple someday. Being able to see the blessings of baptism in his life has strengthened my testimony of the power of it and of the Holy Ghost as well. 

It was kind of funny because in Ezra's baptismal interview which was on Tuesday, when Elder Atkin (our district leader) asked him if he committed any serious crime, he answered no at first, but then was all like, "Wait!  I killed a baby chicken!"  We all got a pretty good laugh at that one!

Yesterday, at church in the Spanish branch, the boyfriend (Leo) of one of the young women (Nancy) came to church with her. We were so excited especially since we had no idea that he was planning on coming. We've been teaching him when we've been able to and when he's been available, but this is the first time he's ever come to church. It was even better because he stayed for all three hours AND for the baptism of Jose Tun (the other hermanas' investigator/recent convert) after church. When we talked to him afterwards, he said that most of the questions that he came with were answered and that everything made a lot more sense now that he had actually been to church and a baptism. It was such a miracle!

This week, we were also able to start teaching the daughter of one of the members (Sister Clonts) in the English ward. Her name is Charlotte and she's 12-years-old. She's been wanting to be baptized for a while, but her dad (her mom's ex-husband) didn't want her to be. About two weeks ago, he finally said that he didn't care if she did or not, so her mom came up to us and told us to come over and start teaching her. We had such a great lesson with her and the spirit was so strong. Sister Clonts bore her testimony many times throughout the lesson and I could tell that Charlotte could feel the spirit and really does want to be baptized. We haven't set her with a date yet because she wants her older brother to baptize her and she doesn't know when he'll be able to come and do it. Hopefully, we'll be able to find out tonight at our next lesson with her. 

Hermana Shepherd and I had the chance to listen to a talk entitled "Teaching by the Spirit" by Elder Cook from the Seventy. It was really inspiring and it helped me realize not only how I could better invite the spirit when teaching, but also how I can be a much better teacher when I don't focus on what I'm actually saying. I need to let the Spirit guide me and try to be as worthy as I can to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. 

I've been a little sick again this week, but this time only with a head cold. I've been really congested and had some pretty bad headaches, but they've been getting better. It's not nearly as bad as last time, but it's still be hard to working with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. As a zone, for the past two weeks, we've been able to study more about the enabling power of the Atonement and how it can aid us in the work. Over the past transfer and a half, I feel like the Atonement has been even more prevalent and has had a stronger influence in my life than it ever has before. I can definitely feel the hand in the Lord everyday helping me to get better and pushing me to keep working. I know, though, that with pain and suffering comes immense blessings (aka Ezra's baptism) and a lesson learned. 

On a funnier note, yesterday, in the branch, the former President Parra (aka Hermano Parra) told me that while his wife was getting ready in the morning, she kept asking him if her outfit looked okay and he replied that she looked great!  In his words, "forget looking good, you look great!"  She then proceeded to ask their 9-year-old son, Josh, who happened to be in the room, what he thought.  He said, "You look good mom.  You look really good.  You look like Sister Halliday!"  When Hermano Parra told me this I busted up and he told me that he was shocked at what his son said, but it still cracked him up too!  No big deal, I have a nine-year-old as my secret admirer! :)

I've been so grateful to be able to serve here in Moorpark these past five transfers and work with the amazing people here. Everything that has happened to me here has helped me to become a better missionary and more prepared servant of the Lord. 

Thanks so much for all the love and support!  Until next week!

Con amor, 

Hermana Halliday

 Being Ganstas!

 Filling the Font!

 Ezra's Baptism!

  Ezra's Baptism!

  Ezra's Baptism!


 Mission views!
  Ezra's Baptism!

 Ezra with us at church!

 Ezra, the cool kid!

 Ezra gave us flowers!

 Our new bracelets!

 Ezra's Baptismal Program

  Ezra's Baptismal Program

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thirty-fourth Week in the Field

Hola Everyone!

So much has happened this week! It's definitely a good thing, but it was a little stressful at the same time.

First of all, EZRA'S GETTING BAPTIZED ON THURSDAY!!!!!!  I'm sooooo pumped!!!!

On Tuesday, we went over to the Ramirez' home to talk with them a little bit more about when Ezra's baptism would happen. They seemed really open to having it as soon as possible (aka this last Saturday), but we wanted him to come to church the week before he gets baptized. They then said that it would be great to have in on Valentine's Day, which is Brother and Sister Ramirez' anniversary. We were so excited, but talked to Bishop about it and he suggested that we have it on the 13th instead of Valentine's Day because not as many people would come to the baptism. We did so and it's still tentitavely scheduled for this Thursday. Hermana Shepherd and I are both so excited! We've talked to Ezra about the program and already have it all set in stone. He came to church for the fifth time with his mom, this time, who hasn't come since they moved back into the ward back in August. It was really great to see them both there. His interview is scheduled for Tuesday and he's so ready. Even though his family isn't the most supportive, we feel like when he makes the baptismal covenant with Heavenly Father (one that's very individualized), he'll be able to be a better example for his parents and an even stronger desire to continue making covenants and good choices. It helps a lot as well that the ward is super supportive. In ward council on Sunday, the primary president and the first counselor in the bishopric both chimed in and said that if his parents aren't going to take him to church, then it's the wards responsibility to find rides for him and his older brother to get there. It was such a confirmation to me that he'll be in good hands when we leave the ward (whenever that is).  I'll let you all know how the baptism went next week!

On Friday, we were able to have exchanges with Hermana Romero and Hermana Wright. I was fortunate enough to go on an exchange with Hermana Romero! I love her so much! Being able to work with her again reminded me even more of what my whole purpose is here in the field. We were able to talk to so many people and invite 5 people to be baptized. The way she invited people was different than I would have done, but I loved it. Instead of inviting people to be baptized at the end of a declaration or a lesson, she invited them in the middle of the declaration. I'm definitely going to do that from now on. It seemed a lot more effective than the traditional way.

On exchanges, we were able to find this one woman, Maria, who got out of the shower to talk to us. She sat in her bath robe while we taught her the restoration and invited her to be baptized. I've never met anyone who would ever do that, so I really excited to get to work with her more. We also had the chance to teach two eleven-year-old girls, Cindy and Ruby, who are the sister and cousin of one of our formers. They are both so smart and love learning about God. They have such a desire to be a part of the restored church of Christ and come closer to Him. They're some of the most willing people that I've ever met to make and keep commitments.

Throughout this week, I've been able to realize the importance of the youth in the world and how they really are a chosen generation. Almost all of our investigators who are progressing the most are younger than 16. I love being able to watch them change their lives and know what their purpose is with such conviction. I feel like they are so much closer to the veil and have such a great capacity to help others come closer to God as well. When I first started my mission, I kind of had a skeptical attitude about working with youth, but that's definitely changed now.

Yesterday, in Moorpark 1st Ward, Hermana Shepherd and I had the chance to speak in Sacrament Meeting. She talked about faith as an action word and I talked about recognizing the spirit and acting on promptings. We had just listened to part of a talk about teaching by the spirit and it was really neat to be able to apply it directly to giving a talk. Neither of us prepared any notes and it went a lot better than how I thought it was going to go. I'm normally the type of person that will have a pretty detailed outline on what I'm going to say, so I was nervous at first, but as I was speaking my nerves went away and it gave me a lot more confidence to be able to do it again in the future. It helps a lot too that we've been working on that in district meetings too.

We've been able to keep working with Pablo, Brother Levine, and Nancy in helping them prepare to go to the temple. Seeing their excitement to go just makes me want to go all the time (even though I can't right now).

Hermana Shepherd is such a great example to me of what it means to be persistent and diligent in fighting for the souls of the people we work with. I love working with her so much and have learned so much from her.

I'm feeling so great and couldn't feel better!!!  I hope you're all doing great and I still love hearing from you!

Con amor,

Hermana Halliday

We decided to drink more water and drink a gallon everyday...i put motivational sayings on the gallons that go along with each Disney princess :)

 Stalking Pablo

Hermana Romero and Me

 Pablo is cold!