Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Happy New Year!

What the hecka cold?! That's crazy! It get's chilly here.... like 30... 90 degrees colder in MN!!!!!!! SO crazy.

Wow, New Years sounded awesome! Guess what we did?! Well mission rule, all mission cars need to be parked by 6. If you go out after that you have to be with a member. So a member picked us up for dinner at 6:30. We had to be back inside our apartment at 8 instead of 9 as well. So we ate with them and went back at 8 and... drumroll please.... we went to sleep. Woke up at 9 and Sister Organista planned the next day because I was 75% asleep still and then were successfully back in bed by 9:15. HAPPY NEW YEAR. Haha... first year I haven't been up for the change. I was thinking I'd be up at 10 for the Minnesotan New Year... not even close. Haha, but that's ok. We were bushed. Accident recovery is still going strong... I'm dying. I'm regressing. My neck the past two days is almost as bad as when we first crashed. Probably because I hate icing it and I hate taking so many painkillers for so long. But I'm going to try to be more diligent in that. 

So news from the field:

Well this week was pretty much amazing. I just love coming home after knowing you put it all out there on the field. We've been focusing on me learning how to street contact better, because 1 I'm still kind of really afraid to do it and 2 we rarely get opportunities to since we're always in our car driving around. I've gained a testimony that the things that you are afraid to do that you need to do are things that you have to just force yourself to do like 5 times in a row and then it's not painful and after another 5 it's comfortable and by 15 times its fun! I love watching my fear disappear as I practice. We really need new investigators. We've been praying for months and although we don't really have any new solid people from our finding efforts this week (we have quite a few return appointments though), my testimony has grown that the Spirit will really guide you to the right people. For example, this was my first story about being led by the Spirit in the mission field. I've heard a lot of stories like this, but this was my first experience with it. Wednesday Sister Organista and I were just leaving the house at 1 after studying and 12 weeks and Language study. We spent about an hour or so trying to make contact with less actives and didn't find a ton of success. We had about another hour until our first scheduled appointment. I asked her where I should drive and she said that I needed to choose. So I just decided, the zone leaders have talked about driving until they felt prompted to stop, I'm going to do the same thing. I've been praying for weeks to find those who are prepared and I have never worked so hard to be worthy in my life. Time to learn to follow the Spirit. So I just started driving and didn't feel much. Saw and apartment complex and thought that was it but somehow got lost trying to find parking and ended up back on the street without realizing it and had no convenient way back in. So I thought, guess that wasn't it. Kept driving and suddenly pulled over onto another street. This was it. We got out of the car and looked around. Sister Organista asked me which house and I felt something for a couple houses, but just picked the one in front of us first. We knocked and the door opened! It was a 21 year old man, and we told him about the blessing we wanted to leave with him. He said, "Well that's pretty nice, come in." So we did. It was him and his 19 year old sister, and their grandma who only spoke Spanish who was very sick. Well they had a million questions and we ended up teaching lesson 2 briefly in addition to the harvesting blessing. They also just happened to be related to a less active family in the ward. And they accepted the baptismal invitation. WHAT?! First try? Never. The spirit was so strong. We haven't been able to meet with them again since then, but I know that was inspired. It helped me learn how to trust following the Spirit when I have no idea where to go. 

Also we had some great experiences with the N family! Especially with Brother N. He is a spiritual giant. We went over on Friday and because of their questions we taught them about temples and callings. Brother N was very interested. We watched the temple video with them and that was what really brought the Spirit. At the end of the video, Brother N said that he wanted to be baptized the next day and to serve in a calling. What?! And then they attended church yesterday and the Spanish group is really small for Fast and Testimony Meeting. So it was really quiet. Also Hispanics are really humble and don't necessarily like to get up and speak, also they are all converts pretty much. So after a few minutes Elder Castenda bore his testimony which was basically straight for Sister N, who is struggling with a lot more doubts than Brother N. Then it was really quiet for a long time, so I bore my testimony. I had a strong feeling afterward and that earlier that morning that Brother N needed to bear his testimony, but I was sitting too far away to say anything to him. Just then, Sister Organista looked back at me and told me she wanted him to bear his testimony. I nodded and so she nudged him and invited him to go up. President, that man got up and bore his testimony! He said in his testimony that he felt that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that he knew the Book of Mormon was true and that he'd been searching for the truth since he was 14 years old. It was so simple and so sweet and sincere.... President, this man is going to be a bishop some day! When I think about him, I just see him in temple clothes.... it's happening President. This man is a miracle. He's getting baptized in two weeks, hopefully with his wife, if not she'll come soon after. And C's son G is getting baptized this Sunday. So we have a pretty good chance of baptizing 3 people this month, with a few miracles, 4 or 5. J is C's husband, and if we can get some member support there, I believe he can be baptized this month, and whenever L get's somewhere to live, she's in the font. 

President, I have never felt more rewarding success than this. We have baptized every month of my mission. I love it. These people are real, and I really love them. I love this work. 

Also, L is amazing. We talked to her last week and she said something to the effect of, "You know, I went to counseling before for me and my girls and everything we went through, but we have never changed like this. It helped, but I always felt like something was missing." Because that is what the truth and the gospel does. It brings people out of the dark. It gives them purpose and motivation. It makes good people great people. I've seen it, Mom. I see these people completely change. I testify that anyone who wants anything more out of their life will find that in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like if you're looking for a 1% increase in happiness or a 99.99999% increase.... you will find it in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I promise and testify to that with all of my heart. There is nothing that can replace the love and understanding you gain from understanding the truths found in the Bible with the help of the Book of Mormon or modern day prophets. If anyone doesn't believe that, there is a fantastically simple way to find out. Read the Book of Mormon and sincerely ask God if it is true. If you sincerely intend to follow through on your answer, you will get one. I know it, I know it, I know it.

Speaking of change, you'll never believe this. Sister Organista and I were doing companionship inventory Saturday night to finish up our weekly planning and she told me that I was humble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT?!?!?! Just take a second to re-read that. For the first time in my life, someone has called me humble. Haha! Awyeah! You may find this celebration ironic, but really truly you should see the change in me. I have been working so hard to become teachable. She did say "Well I mean there's humble and there's humble, but you are getting there." Haha, so maybe I'm not night and day yet, but I am working so hard to give up everything and to let God make me who he needs me to be. I'm trying really hard to listen to counsel, to learn how to follow and to think before I speak. It's great. I started the Purification Challenge yesterday as part of my fast. It's when you make a list of at least 10 things that you do that pull the Spirit away from you. So my list is about 17 things right now, most of them having to do with the way I think about things. Every morning and every night you have to take that list and account for every thing on it and how you are doing. You are fasting from those things, so you don't do them. It lasts for 40 days. And just in the past 48 hours I have had a lot of success. I already feel peace much more in my life and I wake up super excited to have a day to improve. I love it! I've never been so desperate and desirous to change and improve. I really realized this week how the little things I do don't just effect me. It effects how other missionaries, members, and investigators can feel the Spirit. Every single little thing you do in this life effects someone else, even if you're completely alone, because everything you do effects how the Spirit can interact with you. If you don't have the Spirit with you, you can miss important opportunities to change someone else's life. It all matters. And since as a missionary I have no other purpose or value than to change someone else's life for the better, missing anything from the Spirit is a big deal.

Well I love you all a ton! I hope you all are happy and well.

Peace and blessings!

Hermana Zollinger

PS funny story... so I asked Sister Organista how my accent is the other day, cuz some missionaries sound SUPER WHITE and she said "Well you really don't sound white at all." So I was pretty excited until she said "You actually sound pretty Italian." WHAT THE WEIRD?! I have no idea how that happened, but I've been asking other missionaries what they thought and they all agree with her! Hahaha so I don't get it, but I don't sound white, so that's good, but I do sound Italian, and that's just not right.... working on my accent. Sister Organista says that if I really commit to learning the language, she things I won't have an accent at all by the end of my mission. So that's pretty great!

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