Monday, February 24, 2014

Birthday Surprises and Progression!

 Sergio & Jesus at church.  Jesus is on the left.

Hola mi familia!
This has been a really really good week! Hermana Stricklin and I thought of ways to be better missionaries the week before and as we pushed ourselves to be better at little things, we saw a lot more miracles and we were a lot happier! We truly are happier when we follow all of God's commandments and push ourselves to be better!

First I want to tell you about my friend Karen. She is related to one of our investigators and she is 8 years old. We go to her house every Monday night to have an FHE with her and her little siblings and every time we walk in they are literally jumping with joy and hugging the bajeebers out of us! In fact, her little brother Jose is always headbutting me in in the stomach and knocking the wind out of me out of love! So Karen always offers to say the opening prayer and I die every time because she is just so cute. She comes from a different church background so when she prays, she is VERY animated! Last week was the best because she literally jumped up and down in circles with her hands up in the air and then she ran to us and put her hands on our heads and thanked God for sending such good Sisters her way and she anointed us with God's love! She's the best. Her mom never would sit in the room with us when we were over but little by little she has been warming up to us and she finally comes and sits down and listens and tells them to pay attention to us! We're hoping to get them to church soon!

Tuesday was a great day. We decided to have a "themed" day and our theme was "The District 1." Anyone who served a mission recently and watched Preach my Gospel training videos knows exactly what I'm talking about! That day we had anther fantastic lesson with our friend Mark! We taught the Plan of Salvation and it went really well! We had a member with us that went into some deep stuff but we did our best to lead the discussion back to the simple truths of the gospel. I love that as missionaries we have only been set apart to teach simple truths, we are not here to teach EVERYTHING! 

This District 1 outfit also transformed into a Slytherin outfit from Harry Potter.

We had a funny miracle happen! We had met these men a month ago at Walmart who were super friendly and nice and took a pamphlet from us but when we asked for their address they said they would give it to us but they had no idea exactly what it was! (This is VERY common with the people that just come here to work!) Well last Tuesday we went to a former investigator's house to see if they were home but they weren't :/ but I felt really impressed that there was SOMEONE there we had to talk to so we just kept knocking on people's doors and either they weren't home or didn't want to talk to us. Finally we knocked on one last door and when it opened I saw our friend from Walmart! I immediately was like "WHOOOAAAA!" and told him that we finally found him- he couldn't hide from us! We all started laughing and Romberro let us in. We had a really funny lesson with him and his roommates. His roommate Noe is such a clown. After we had explained what the Book of Mormon was and gave them a copy, we asked Noe if he would read from it and his reply was that he couldn't see without his glasses. I thought, okay, I understand because I can't see anything far away without mine! BUT then he continued to say that every time he tries to read he cries because he doesn't have a wife to help him- wait what?? Then we were like well you're friend can read to you and his reply was "He just cries too when he tries to read!" They were too much! They were super friendly and Rromberro said he would read from the Book of Mormon this week so we're going back to see how it went!

Another cool miracle happened that same night!! We were driving towards a potential investigator's house and I saw this man walking on the side of the road and I immediately felt impressed to stop and talk to him. Well being the stubborn and scared person that I am I was like wellllll we need to see this other person and that man could have a gun or something! So I promised that if the other people weren't home that we would turn around and look for that man. Well we got to the people's house and they were super awkward and wouldn't let us in so we went back and I couldn't find the guy on the street but I felt like we should check the corner market. The second we walked in he was standing right there about to walk out! I was just honest with him and told him that we saw him walking and felt like God wanted us to talk to him! He could have easily gotten creeped out but he was just like "Whoa, that's so cool!" We had a really good talk with him about God and talked about the Book of Mormon and he said he wanted to read from one! We left him with a chapter to read and he said that he wants to come to church sometime! I hope that we'll see Lonzo again really soon in church!!
A ridiculous truck that had tons of junk in it.  So Southern!!

Wednesday we went out with some of our members to do their visiting teaching. They took us to some of the less active sisters that we have never met and it was a wonderful day! One of the sisters lives in a super super pretty old southern house and I could not stop drooling over it while we were there! She said it's a lot of work keeping it clean so we offered to come by and help her and we get to go back this week! I am so excited! I love serving others!!

We had a great FHE with our Spanish group. We had the kids help us build a "tent" out of blankets and chairs and we sat inside it and read from Mosiah where King Benjamin is speaking to everyone while they have their tents faced towards the temple. We read about service and the kids helped us think of ways that we can serve people more! It was really fun.

One more great thing about Wednesday- we had another "theme" day and the them was our moms! We dressed up like our moms and I acted like mine all day, it was so fun! I had my hair in a sockbun for the first time in my life! We love our moms!!!
 This is me being my Mom

We had a huge storm Thursday night so we had to go in early that night and it was crazy! At one point when we were 5 minutes from our house I couldn't even see a foot in front of us because buckets and buckets of rain were coming down! We had a tornado warning but nothing happened! Just lots of rain and wind!

Friday night we had our Spanish movie night and it was so great! We watched the Testaments and our investigator Jesus came along with some of the Hispanic members! Jesus has a baptismal date and so we're trying to get him more involved with the members and the movie night was perfect for that! During the movie I kept saying a little prayer in my heart that Jesus would feel the spirit. At the end of the movie when Christ comes, Jesus had tears streaming down his face. The SECOND the movie ended he jumped up and said the movie was good and stormed out of the room! I was stunned because I was getting ready to bear testimony of the Book of Mormon and was not expecting that! After he got himself cleaned up in the bathroom he came back in because Hermana Whitson had a surprise birthday cake for Hermana Stricklin :) The members were so good at making Jesus feel welcome and loved. 
Surprise birthday cake with Jesus

Saturday was Hermana Stricklin's birthday!!! I had a whole day planned but wouldn't tell her what we were doing :) Thank goodness for facebook because I set up our appointments with our favorite people for that day without her knowing ;) I made these super cheesy sunglasses covered in paper so she couldn't see where we were going and I drove in circles and took weird shortcuts so she couldn't guess where she was going by direction! We had a surprise Nacho Libre themed lunch with the Ryder family and it was so fun! Then we went to see one of our investigators who wasn't home :/ but we were walking by their neighbor's house and had a really cool conversation with him! He was defending our church to his friend that was there and said the best things about the LDS faith! He then asked for one of our "bibles" (Book of Mormon) and he said that he was really excited to start reading it! Miracle! Then the blindfold went back on and we went to our friend Tiffany's place which she had decorated all cute and she had cheesecake waiting for us :) She's so sweet and not only got Hna Stricklin a lil present but got me something too and a balloon so I would feel special too :) We then had a surprise dinner with Sister Fletcher- a non-active sister here- and she took us out to eat and it was so fun! She is the sweetest thing ever and is a joy to be with! We finished the night at the church for the English movie night- they watched a really horrible movie called the Book of Mormon that wasn't made by the church. It just covered the first two books of Nephi. It was hilarious because they had changed or added some random things into the story of Nephi! Afterwards a member turned around and said, "The book was better!" I died laughing! Our friend Mike who we had handed over to the Elders to teach was there and he loved it! He said that he better start reading the book to find out what happens next! We ended the night feeling bloated from all the food and cake and somehow manged to eat some See's chocolates that someone had sent her! It was a special and fun day! 
Hermana Whitson made the awesome cake, with Hermana Strickin
Cute lil Hermana Macario- one of our favorite ward members
Hermana Stricklin opening her birthday package from her mom
Her awesome mask I spent 30 minutes making...
The Ryders singing Happy Birthday
The beautiful cake the Ryders made for her
Cute decorations

Tiffany made us feel so special

Sister Fletcher and Hermana Stricklin

Sunday was a MIRACLE!!! We had been trying forever to get Jesus and Sergio to meet each other because we thought it would help them feel more comfortable in church and they finally both showed up on the same Sunday! At first, after sacrament, Jesus said he couldn't stay for classes because his throat hurt but we talked him into staying for at least 10 more minutes. Once we got into class and started talking about the Priesthood he didn't leave! And after Sunday School, Sergio, who usually skips out 3rd hour, talked Jesus into staying and they both went and loved it! We had an FHE with the two of them later that night in the Smith's home and it was so great! Sister Smith is so cute and she made lemon bars and cookies for us! We watched "To this end was I born" and talked about how grateful we were for Jesus Christ and His sufferings and sacrifices for us. They both opened up more to us and to each other and we got to know them better! 
Me in my Spanish Gospel Principles class.

I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to testify of my Savior each and every day. Without Him, I really would have nothing. Without a Savior, life would have no purpose. We would have no way to change and be better and we would have no way to make it back to our Heavenly home. I know that He lives and I know that He is the only way to true and everlasting happiness. 
I've been studying in the book of Mosiah this week and am grateful for the countless testimonies of our Savior....

Mosiah 3:17 
17 And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.

I hope that all of you can feel the love of your Savior this week. I hope we can all take more time to truly remember Him and what He has done and continues to do for us in every moment of our lives. I love y'all so much!!!

Hermana Knight

Any recent Returned Missionary will understand this picture...don't mind the messy couch in the background :-)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ginger ale and a Glad Heart!

Buenos dias mis amigos!!!!

I had quite the week! Sorry, but this will be a somewhat long one today!

First of all, remember that guy Mark that we met in that little store last week? He's amazing! We went with Sister McKee on Tuesday to go see him and had such a great visit! We discussed the restoration of the full Gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith and it was so wonderful! Mark compared this event to a lot of things that happened in the Bible and realized that if God truly is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow- then of course He would call a prophet in our day! He has been reading the Book of Mormon and loving it! He has such an incredible understanding of the Bible and so he loves how the Book of Mormon just flows with it! They truly do support one another and they truly are both testimonies of Jesus Christ! We had a lesson with him over the phone last night and he is just such a cool guy! We are learning SO much from him as well! He works at the donut factory here in town and invited us to come and stop by sometime :) I love donuts. I love sharing the gospel with people like Mark!

Our Relief Society has a book club and guess what book they read for the month of February?? The Power of the Everyday Missionary by Clayton Christensen of course! We were honored when we were asked by our dearest Sister Fears to lead the discussion during their meeting Tuesday night! We didn't have the BEST turn out because of the weather but it was incredible! We started off talking about the book but ended up talking about our ward and how we can better help the members that we have and how we can be better member-missionaries here- it was amazing! The sisters had a lot of really good questions and they came up with a lot of things that our ward can be doing to be better. This book is SO powerful! It not only inspires us to be more involved in the work and gives us examples of how but we also can receive revelation for the specific area that we live in and what we need to be better at or change! I encourage all of you to read it! There was a little picture that I saw on Facebook that said "If you're too busy to be praying and reading  your scriptures, then you are much busier than God intended for you to be." I would like to change that to..."If you are too busy to share the gospel in some way or strengthen the members of your ward, then you are much busier than God ever intended for you to be!" Brothers and Sisters, now is the time to open your mouths! Now is the time to do what you can to build up the Kingdom of God! Get to work!

We had the incredible blessing to go and attend the temple on Wednesday. We were so excited that morning- it was more exciting than Disneyland! It was exactly what I needed. We only go every 6 months as missionaries and it always comes just in time! I love the power that the temple has to rejuvenate me and give me the strength to keep going! I went to the temple with a lot of questions for Heavenly Father and I found a lot of answers. I am so grateful for the ability that we have to receive answers through prayer in our day to day lives and also in the temple. I am so grateful that we have the opportunity here on earth to make covenants with God- just like in the times of Moses. I am so grateful for the peace and the love that we feel as we come to the Lord's house. 

We had some really exciting plans for Valentine's Day but I had to ruin it all by getting the stomach flu! Blah. I have not been that sick in YEARS! Yo queria estar muerto! We were supposed to have dinner with the cute Kinley family and then make crafts with the girls but instead they came over and dropped off some herbal remedies for me and some soup for Hermana Stricklin- they are the nicest! We watched every church movie we had in our apartment! I was out all of friday- most of Saturday and a large chunk of yesterday. I am finally starting to feel better. I tried eating lunch yesterday and that was a mistake! Toast and jello it is for the next day or so! Sprite and gingerale have been my best friends all weekend. Thank goodness for saltine crackers too! Thank goodness we have facebook and telephones so we were still able to share the gospel in some way this weekend!

We were able to teach 3 lessons in different member's homes this week and it was so incredible. Lessons in member's homes are the greatest things ever because the Spirit is already there! I hope you member's realize how lucky you are to have the Spirit dwell in your home. We have a friend Irma from Peru that is friends with members in our ward and when we had dinner with all of them on Saturday night it just felt so natural as we talked about the gospel, I loved it! We almost didn't go because I looked like a joke and wanted to die but once we knew Irma was going to be there it didn't matter! The Lord took care of me and I felt a lot better during the time that we were there! We had a dinner of white rice and rotisserie chicken- thank goodness because it was actually something I could eat! Afterwards we watched some Mormon Messages and were finally able to share a Book of Mormon with her. It was crazy because that's not something we planned on doing at all but the Spirit kept telling me that we could not leave until we shared a BOM with her. She had SO many questions and I know it's what we needed to share with her that night.  I love this work!

We have some really exciting appointments this week that I can't wait to share with you next Monday! Keep Mark in your prayers-he is so ready for the gospel!

I know that this gospel is what brings us true happiness, I know it is what unites our families not just in this life, but in the eternities. 

Hermana Knight

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kombucha and a Baptism Date!!!


First I'm going to share my stupid selfish miracle.....we were at Krogers getting groceries and I was staring at the organic drink section as I always do because I would much rather drink my calories than eat them :) Well, I was staring at the kombucha selection wishing that I had $5 to blow on one when I looked down and there was a box that said "Take one- they're free!" And do you know what it was?? Kombucha! Verbena Rose flavored- yum! As I looked in the box my heart dropped because it was empty...but wait...there was one hiding in the back left corner! I know that Heavenly Father loves me :) haha...

This week we had exchanges which is when we trade companions and area for one day- so Hermana Stricklin went to Clarksville with cute Sister Gibson and Sister J. Johnson came to Hopkinsville for the day! It was a day full of MIRACLES!!!! We ended up finding two new people who are interested in the gospel and have appointments to go back and see them this week. One of them is a woman named Maria who's from Mexico and her husband is from there as well- from Villahermosa!! I freaked out because it made me miss my brother SO much! It was great that Trevor served his mission there because I was able to talk to her about the ruins there which led into a conversation about the ancient Indians that lived there- which are her ancestors- which then led into the account of the "white man" that appeared to them. It was so neat to explain that we had a record of that! The Book of Mormon! We opened up 3 Nephi 11 with her and she said she was so excited to read it. I love the Book of Mormon for so many reasons! Later that day we were just stopping by our friend Khori's store to say hi before we had dinner and we met a man named Mark who said that he had seen the church's commercials in the 80's and ordered a Book of Mormon but they never sent him one! He was so excited when we handed him one right in that second! He said he was going to read from it and we're going over tomorrow to visit him! We had a fun dinner with Patriarch Fears-he is such a character! He asked us to share Books of Mormon with both of our waitresses and as we talked about what the book is the other member there Brother Bodkin chimed in and added his testimony- it was so cool! So we made two MORE friends who were super excited to read the Book of Mormon! Miracles everywhere! After dinner we stopped by a recent converts house who has been having a hard time putting some things behind her to get to the temple and we read from Alma 36 together and the spirit was SOOO strong. She had a daughter pass away when she was just a toddler and we all could feel her presence there as we read and talked about the power of Jesus Christ. It was one of the most beautiful experiences that I will never forget. I am so grateful that through the gospel of Jesus Christ and because the authority of God and temples have been restored to the earth, we truly can see and live with those we love again after this life. I love how the gospel connects us to those that have passed on.

Last but NOT least, that night we went by to see our friend Jesus. He had called us earlier that day because he was sad. When we went over he let us know what was going on- he had to push some people out of his life to do what he knew he needed to do. I immediately this going where I think it is going......and it was :) We read from 2 Nephi 31 about Christ being baptized and our need to follow His example and afterwards the Spirit so strongly impressed me to ask him about baptism. Mind you- I was with Sister Johnson who does not speak spanish so she had no idea what was going on! I invited him to baptism and he said yes! He said that God has guided him a lot this past week to making this decision and he knows it's what he needs to do. We set a date for his birthday in April! It was such an incredible evening! I am so excited for Jesus- he has been meeting with the missionaries since last summer and had a baptismal date at one point but didn't make it. When I mentioned that the adversary would be working really hard on him from making it to the baptismal font he said that he knew. He talked about how the adversary had done that a few months ago when he originally planned on getting baptized. I was so amazed by Jesus' faith and by his ability to recognize the influence of God and the influence of the adversary in his life. He is such a great guy. We're also teaching all of his roommates and when one of them, Fermine, found out about his baptism at our next visit, he said that he would be getting baptized some day too! I love being a missionary!!! 

I am so grateful to be here. When I first opened my mission call, I was like....Tennessee Nashville Spanish Speaking?? But I have learned that it is not about the place but the people! I love the people SOOO much!!! Sharing the gospel is something that brings us SO much joy and so many blessings! I hope you take time this week to share your testimony with someone and help them come closer to their home with their Heavenly Father!

Also, if any of you have any friends or family that I didn't know previously to the mission- feel free to give me their names on Facebook and I can try getting to know them and sharing the gospel with them in some way! I love online referrals :)

I hope you all have a magical Disney kind of week!

Hermana Knight
My little friend Maranda was baptized!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Slushy Hail and a Humble Heart

Buenas Tardes! 
       Hopkinsville is currently covered in ice and a tid bit of snow! Since we're missionaries and we never know what's going on with the weather, we got to a member's house last night for dinner and ended up getting iced in! It was super weird but SUPER fun! We got to sleep over at the Kinley's home and they made us feel so welcome and so loved. We made cookies and played Apples to Apples and in the morning we had family scriptures study and prayer and then made breakfast! The roads were still pretty bad but we wanted to try and get out before everything started melting. We ended up leaving around 10 and made it by going 20 mph down the windy icy snowy country roads and once we got out of that the roads weren't TOO bad. They don't have equipment to clear the roads here and so the town kind of shuts down whenever things like this happen. Nothing like Salt Lake! I miss Salt Lake City because they always have the roads being cleared- not here!

Anywho, besides our last minute surprise fun sleepover, we had a pretty good week. We learned and grew A LOT. At least I did! 

So we met this woman named Heather last week, I think I emailed about her already. She had one of her baby twins pass away and we taught the most beautiful lesson on Tuesday! We thought it was just going to be Heather but it ended up being the father of her twins and her brother's fiance. We taught about the plan of salvation- where we came from, why we're here and what happens after death. The spirit was SO sweet the entire time we were there. All of them had loved ones that recently passed away and so it was really neat to teach about the Spirit World and how it's a place of rest and learning until we're resurrected. I don't think I've ever taught in such a natural and powerful way. It was an amazing experience to truly feel like I was being used as an instrument in God's hands to share these precious truths with His children. 

We also met with a former investigator that the Hermanas who were here before us AND our ward mission leader told us to check up on. Well he was out of town for a while and then he said he was busy but last Monday night we had just gotten a text from our other friend saying that she couldn't meet with us so we were a little bummed. Then 25 minutes later this man text us asking if we could meet up with him. Heavenly Father is SO involved in this work! We sat and talked to him about some personal trials he's going through and it was amazing to just sit and read scriptures together and uplift one another. While we were there, in a Starbucks, it was so incredible to see the Spirit speaking to him and giving him so much comfort and so much insight through our visit. I too learned a lot during that visit. We met with him another night there and made some new friends at Starbucks while waiting for him! Starbucks is the place to be! We met a man there who LOVED chess and he mentioned that he loved it because his sister taught him how to play. I felt like there was more to his sister and their relationship and so when I asked about her he opened up and tol us about how she had passed away from cancer several years ago. I was so humbled to hear the little part that he had shared about his journey. I love my calling at this time because whether people recognize it or not, their souls sense who we are and so many people immediately open up to us and share with us so many personal experiences and things. We truly are servants of our Savior and as a missionary I feel this increased love and concern for everyone I meet and once they feel that they are so open. I love that I get to see people as our Heavenly Father does right now and that I get to so strongly feel the love that He has for each and every one of them. This is something I hope I can continue to feel after I am released from this calling.

Everyone that we are teaching right now is going through the craziest things! From torn ligaments, their dogs biting people, their children being in the hospital to their spouses wanting a divorce. With every single thing that these people are going through, it amazes me that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to bring all of them peace, strength and HOPE through all of these individual trials. Some of these things are from other's agency and God's will but I can't help but also feel that the adversary is hard at work. Satan is working so hard on those that are so close to the truth but I don't think he realizes that he's giving our Father in Heaven more opportunities to show these people that He is there and that He loves them. 

I had several experiences this week where I was brought to my knees crying. I just felt so weak and like such a bad person or missionary! I am so grateful for these moments though because they brought me to a place where I was humbled. I have been praying and praying my whole mission to help me be more humble because i am so prideful sometimes! Heavenly Father really helped me this week take a good look at who I am, find things I can work on and then built me up. Heavenly Father will never tear us down without building us back up. I hope this is making some kind of sense! Within one of these experiences I had some bitter feelings towards someone and I just prayed and prayed to let them go, give them to my Savior, and see this person for their goodness. I was reading about Christ's crucifixion that morning and I realized that He was SO misunderstood! Here I was throwing myself a pity party because I felt so misunderstood and then I was completely humbled as I thought about how Christ reacted in that situation. Here he is performing miracles, loving others and doing the Father's will and these people are persecuting Him and seeing Him as anything but what He truly is. These people crucified Him and while He was hanging there He asked Heavenly Father to forgive them "because they know not what they do." Wow. He truly understood that people are unaware of how misconstrued their perceptions can be and He wasn't angry with them or bitter, He just loved them for where they were at. I want to be that way- to love people for where they are at in life and for who they can become. After this experience that only lasted an hour- of having these bitter feelings- I truly understood what it means to have Christ purify our hearts. Within an hour Christ replaced those bitter feelings with feelings of love and understanding. He truly purified my heart from the poisonous emotions. I am so grateful for Him.

Brothers and Sisters, the power of the Atonement is so real. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and I know that He loves each and every one of us so purely. He loves us despite our weaknesses and He gives us the ability to become better and better everyday. 

I love y'all so much :)

Hermana Knight

PS. I've been feeling a little lonely lately so anyone is MORE than welcome to send me some kind of letter or something in the mail ;)

Also, I would be so appreciative if you could share my blog with other people! It's an easy and great way to share the gospel ;) This week I wrote about my love for the knowledge of where we came from and the perspective that it brings into our lives....