Monday, August 21, 2017

Lessons in Patience

I have learned a lot about faith and patience this week. We have been trying so hard to find new investigators lately and we haven't found any for a few weeks. I can't tell you how many times I have read chapter 9 in Preach My Gospel (its all about finding) this week looking for something new to try. We've been praying hard, setting goals, asking for referrals, and nothing has been happening in regard to finding.

On Monday we pretty much spent our evening searching for the elect. They were hiding too well, so we didn't find any that night.

Tuesday on the other hand was a different story! We have been getting lots of referrals for less active members of the ward and so we tried to contact a lot of them. Pretty much everyone we tried to see was home and let us in. That never happens! We met one sister who asked us to come back later in the week to do service for her. We actually had done service for her in the past. Remember when we scooped horse poop? That was for her. So we set up a time to come help again.

We also stopped by a less active man's home who has a nonmember girlfriend. She wasn't home at the time, but he told us she had heard that there are sisters in the area now and she seemed intrigued. He said we should come back during the weekend and meet her.

That evening was CRAZY! We had set up with the Young Women's president to help out with Young women's that night. There are two girls who consistently go to church and Young women's who the Elders had been teaching before we got here. We have been trying to get in contact with their family the whole 6 weeks we've been here, and haven't' been able to. Desperate times call for desperate measures so we helped set up for the Young Women's pool party and shared a message. We waited for a while to see if they would come. We had waited long enough that we were running late to our dinner appointment so we decided to head out. But guess who comes walking in right as we are leaving? That's right, the two girls we were there to see along with a less active young woman the bishop had told us about! We were able to introduce ourselves, but that's about it. After our dinner we decided to go back to see if we could mingle a little more, but everyone left as soon as we got there. Apparently we have poor timing. Either that or the Lord just has better timing than we do and we aren't supposed to get to know them right now. I don't know.
A member brought us Panda Express

Late Tuesday night we got a text from the local senior nutrition center asking for help for the next morning. We got some missionaries from the zone who said they could come and told them we would be there!

We got there and ended up waiting around for a long time. It was a great opportunity to talk to people. Apparently, there is a food distribution once a month. They need volunteers there to unload the truck, sort through food, bag it up, and give it to people. It was a lot of fun! I think we might get involved in this one more often! Sister Losee and I got to work next to a man named Bearded Bill, so that was even more fun! We also were able to talk to a man who we had taught the restoration to at the laundromat a week earlier. He was picking up some food.

We had a couple other lessons that evening but nothing too crazy.

Thursday was weekly planning just like every other Thursday. We also had a lesson with a less active member of the ward. We recently started teaching her the missionary lessons. This week we read in the Book of Mormon with her and helped her apply it. She said the closing prayer which was a HUGE accomplishment for her. We were so happy.

On Friday we did service for the sister I talked about earlier in this letter. She needed help digging out sticker weeds this time. That was a new experience for me because I have never tried to dig those things up before. Now I know a new life skill. We were exhausted afterward though, so that was a great way to start the day!

That evening we had dinner with a family in the ward, and they gave us one of the best compliments I've gotten on my mission. They told us that they could tell that we are really trying to apply what Preach My Gospel says. I loved hearing that because Sister Losee have been trying so hard lately to be better with that. I needed to hear that this week.

On Saturday we read the Book of Mormon with Sister Smith again. She asked if she could say the opening prayer. She started crying as she thanked the Lord for the sister missionaries who come to read with her. The two of us got a little teary too. It's always good to know that we are being helpful to someone.

In the evening we decided to stop by an investigator's house. She was home, and for the first time since we have been here, she let us in! We had a lesson and she loved it! We are so excited to work with her!

Sunday was great! We had no responsibilities during the church day. We just got to be there and enjoy it for the first time in forever! We were a little disappointed. We had 7 investigators who had said they would be there, but only two came and they left after the first hour.

I was feeling a little depressed about the whole thing as well as the lack of new investigators and I had a nice little cry session for a couple minutes.

Once I had composed myself we went to see that less active man that I mentioned earlier, and his girlfriend became a new investigator! We were able to share a bit about the Book of Mormon with her and we set up another time to meet! It was a miracle! I cried a little more afterward because the Lord is so good to us.

Today has been great so far. One of the sisters in Redlands is having a birthday next week so we had a little party for her.
Sister Brown's birthday party

Then we went to the mission office and picked up a package for one of the sisters. Her dad sent her glasses to watch the solar eclipse. We passed them around and all got a turn to see it!
Solar Eclipse

I feel like I've grown a lot the past couple weeks. I'm always learning more how to trust in the Lord's timing and this week was no exception. There are people here in Yucaipa who are being prepared, and we're going to find them when the Lord thinks it's best for us to find them.

Love you all!

Sister Melissa Heiner

Monday, August 14, 2017

Exchanges and Investigators at Church

What the sunset looked like last night
Hello to all you beautiful people!

A LOT has happened this week. I honestly thought some of the stuff that happened this week happened a couple weeks ago and I was surprised to find out that no, they happened like three days ago.

Anyway, we had a fun lesson with S on Monday. The day before she had asked us if we had a dinner appointment already for Monday and we told her we did. Apparently there was a miscommunication, because when we came for our lesson at 8 at night she had dinner all ready for us. It was so sweet of her and it was so good. We were already full but we ate it all anyway! We sure love her.

We had an interesting experience on Tuesday. We went to go visit a less active family in the ward. We knocked on the door and introduced ourselves as the new sisters in their ward. They welcomed us in, got us water, and invited us to sit down. As soon as we were sitting down they went into all this anti stuff. We could barely get a word in. We shared our testimonies and left. We were a little shaken for a minute, but then we were just sad. There is so much out there that can blind people to the truth. Thank goodness for the Book of Mormon which stands as unshakable evidence of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that this church - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - is Christ's church on the earth today.

Wednesday we went on exchanges! Sister Jones came into our area and we had some interesting experiences that day too. We did some service at DI in the morning, then we had a very dramatic afternoon when one of our investigators got very angry at us for not responding to her text within 15 minutes. We ended up getting it all sorted out with a lot of help from her member friends in the ward.

Then we got to do even more service. Some members in the ward asked us to come help them fold and organize fabric then they took us out to dinner.

In the evening we took our investigator M on a church tour. He has had a difficult time keeping commitments in the past, but we saw some major progress with him that night. He said he would probably come to church, which is the first time he has even partially committed to anything!

We weekly planned on Thursday and had a couple lessons with less active members who the ward had asked us to visit.

Friday was a fun day! We worked so hard. It was so hot, and I loved every minute of it! There is something so fulfilling about working so hard. We spent pretty much the whole day searching for new investigators with no luck. At 8:30 pm we were feeling a little desperate to find a new investigator. We were talking to everyone we could and knocking on random doors, and doing everything we could. We even ended up going inside the home of this one family to teach them and we were sure that was going to be the miracle we got from working so hard all day. Unfortunately, the Lord doesn't always do things the way we expect and the family wasn't interested at all. The Lord must be trying to teach me patience or something. It's working.

Saturday was awesome! We got to have lunch with some members in the ward. They invited us to a restaurant that they love and the members have been trying to reach out to the restaurant owners to share the gospel with them. They have a plan to give them Book of Mormons in their native language (Cambodian) as well as English! It's so exciting to see members of the church actively sharing the gospel with their friends.

Church was great on Sunday. It was a missionary farewell and we had 3 of our investigators there! M was one of them (the one we had the church tour with) and he had a great experience! He actually stayed all three hours!

During the second hour SIster Losee and I got to teach a class about using skype and FaceTime to do missionary work which was fun. It's a blessing to have so many tools to spread the gospel.

We ended the day with a bit of a miracle. We had been parked under a tree while looking at our maps and figuring out where we were going.
Just as we were about to leave, a thick tree branch fell a few feet in front of our car. If we had been a little further up the car could have been seriously damaged.

Then we had a great spontaneous lesson with one of our investigators!

Today was great. We had a Zone activity with the Dixons at the mission home. We had a barbecue and played games.

Well, that's all for now! Have a fantastic week!

Sister Melissa Heiner

Ps. We didn't take very many pictures this week, but this is what the sunset looked like last night!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Another Fantastic Week!

Hello Everyone! It's been a great week.

Last Monday I forgot to tell you about a cool experience we had at the Laundromat. We were waiting for our clothes to finish drying and we started talking to this man who was also waiting for his clothes to dry. He asked us what we do and we told him all about being missionaries. He asked us about why bad things happen to good people. We shared a scripture from the Book of Mormon. One thing led to another and pretty soon we had taught the whole Restoration! He said we could share more with him! Unfortunately he doesn't live in our ward boundaries, but we referred him off to some other missionaries and hopefully they are teaching him now!

On Tuesday we had interviews with President Dixon. I always love interviews. Normally during interviews, there is a discussion with Sister Dixon going on for all the missionaries waiting for their interviews. This time they showed some excerpts from the new mission presidents' seminar. There was one clip of recent converts telling how they met the missionaries and one of the people I taught was in it!!!! I was so excited I started crying. It made me excited to go out and find more of the Lord's elect to teach.

Right after interviews we had a lesson with an investigator. He told us all about the near death experiences he has had. He said that he realizes God must have a bigger plan for him, he just wishes he knew what it was. He said something along the lines of, "Why doesn't God just send me an angel to tell me what more I need to do!" Sister Losee brilliantly told him that we were the angels he has been waiting for. That got him thinking. I have a great companion!

That night we had dinner with our investigator, S. We love her.

The next morning we actually helped her paint a wall of her house. It looked pretty good if I do say so myself! :)

In the evening we had a lesson scheduled with another investigator. We thought we were going to have to cancel it because we couldn't find anyone to come. We called him half an hour before saying we needed to cancel and literally right as we hung up the phone we heard from a woman in the ward who said she could come. Miracles are REAL people!

I had MLC on Thursday. It was kind of an emotional one because it was Sister Larson's last one. She was my companion last November through January and it was weird saying goodbye to her. There were also a ton of random things I ended up bringing back from MLC, one of them being a cactus I had left in Yucca Valley about 5 months ago. It was a great meeting focused on the importance of the Sacrament and helping our investigators worship rather than just go to church.

Friday we had a lesson with a recent convert. Her kids are so adorable and brighten our day every time we go see them. They colored us about a billion pictures while we were there and also pretended to be cheerleaders!

Saturday we got to read the Book of Mormon with a less active member. Her nonmember grandson was home at the time and came by the door to listen as we read. He asked us what book we were reading. We told him it was the Book of Mormon. He asked if that was the Old Testament. We were about to explain more, but he ended up needing to go. Hopefully next time we go over there we'll be able to share more.

Later that day we had dinner with a family from the ward. They had invited an elderly neighbor to come to dinner, but she didn't come until we were sharing the message. It wasn't the best dinner thought we have ever given and we were a little hard on ourselves coming out of it.

The next day was Sunday. Church was amazing as always! S
came again and partway through sacrament meeting an investigator who we had never met walked in and sat down. He told us he hadn't been there for 3 years, but that he loves the gospel principles book! We'll hopefully be seeing more of him soon!

We were asked to fill in for Singing Time in primary this week, so we spent third hour in there. We had a very sweet experience. One of the girls who we had eaten with the night before gave a talk and she talked about how she had invited her friend to eat with the missionaries and how her friend told her she wants to come to church now. We had NO CLUE that the message we shared had made any impact! It is so good to hear that our efforts make a difference.

At the end of the day we decided to stop by a man on the side of the road who was fixing his tire. We ended up talking for a good 45 minutes. He said he had been thinking about Mormons for 3 weeks now and wanted to know what we believed. We told him and he didn't say he wants to meet, but he said we could email him more information. It's so cool to be placed where the Lord needs you to be.

Well, I love you all and hope you are having a great week! Talk to you all next Monday!

Sister Heiner
Ancestors standing by a Joshua tree

Me standing by a Joshua tree

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Power of Gratitude

Hi Everyone!

As always, it has been a magnificent week here in the California Redlands Mission, specifically in the Yucaipa 4th ward. :)

On Monday evening we got to have another lesson with a recent convert and her family. Her husband and daughter haven't shown much interest in the past, but they are learning more now and seem to be enjoying it. We read from the Book of Mormon with them and a couple from the ward randomly dropped in in the middle of the lesson. It worked out pretty well!

We had a couple lessons on Tuesday. We had one with a man who keeps telling us that he is never going to get baptized, but that he likes the information. We can sense some real intent in him though. It was a good lesson and hopefully they'll just keep on getting better!

That evening we had a lesson with another investigator. She has been through quite a few sets of missionaries and it took her a bit to warm up to us. She likes us now but she's a little too attached. She told us as soon as one of us leaves she is done investigating the church.
Sounds like its time to get her some more friends in the ward so it won't be so dramatic when one of us leaves. It was a bit of a dramatic lesson.

Wednesday was AWESOME! We had Zone Conference and I think this was the most involved I have ever been in one of these things. I got to be in charge of leading a small group discussion on finding through dinner thoughts, then I got to lead a discussion with the Zone about new goals for the month of August. Then Sister Losee, the Yucaipa 2nd sisters, and I got to do a musical number. The whole conference was so good. We talked a lot about the importance of having the Holy Ghost be our senior companion. We've been working on that more this week.
Zone Conference

That evening we found a new investigator! He was sitting outside and we walked past his house. We started talking to him and found out that he was a former investigator. We shared a bit about the plan of salvation and he said he wants to learn more now!

On Thursday we had a surprising lesson with our investigator S. We started teaching the Plan of Salvation and he didn't completely agree with everything we taught, but he said he could "put that on a shelf and worry about it later". He has been investigating the church for over 20 years and it seems like his heart is finally starting to soften. Then he told us that he would like to go to church! Yay!

On Friday we volunteered at the "Senior Nutrition Center". We got to bag some sack lunches and then serve bananas and milk to the seniors who were there. They have free meals for them and volunteers come in to help serve it every week. It was a fun service activity and I hope we get to do it again!

Saturday was a little rough. We were trying so hard to stay optimistic but nothing seemed to be going right. It was hot and we were tired and we were murmuring like Laman and Lemuel just a little bit. :) The Lord is so good and helped us get out of our bad attitudes pretty quickly.
Partway through the morning we decided to stop by at a less active member's home. We got to know her and found out she's been recovering from an injury and hasn't been able to make it to church. She has been reading the Book of Mormon though. We asked if we could read with her wherever she was currently reading. She said yes, so we started reading Alma 26 with her.

It was EXACTLY what Sister Losee and I needed. I was holding back tears pretty much the whole chapter. Ammon and Aaron are rejoicing in the success they've seen on their missions and glorifying God for it. I realized how silly I was being. There is always something to be grateful for. Not every moment has to be exciting or particularly meaningful in order to have that gratitude. We've been working on our attitudes since then and have been listing our blessings whenever we've had a hard time seeing the good that was happening around us. It's definitely helped and the work has been much more joyful.

On Sunday Sister Losee and I got to speak in Sacrament Meeting. She got to talk on modern-day pioneers and I got to speak about being disciples of Jesus Christ. I think it went well! Plenty of people told us we did a good job, but its also a possibility that our ward members are just nice. :)

We had 2 investigators there! S came and he told us afterward that it was his first time coming in the 20 years he has been learning about the church!! We were so excited! He loved it and said he wants to come again. He didn't realize that there would be more after sacrament meeting and he had some things already scheduled, but he said he was interested in coming to the other hours of church in the future!

 We were so happy to see our other investigator there too. We actually get to help her paint her house this week so we are looking forward to that! She's feeding us dinner tomorrow too, so we are going to get to know her a lot better this week!

We saw another miracle that evening. We decided to stop by another less active family's home and we met a woman who
grew up in the church, went to BYU, and then stopped going to church. She has a friend who invited her to come back to church so she decided she would. She's been going to another ward for a couple months now and enjoying the spirit she feels back in her life. We shared a video with her and she started to tear up. She told us that her friend is out of town right now, so she hadn't gone to church for a couple weeks. Right before we had come she was thinking to herself that she would just stop going again. When we came, she realized that she wants the blessings of the gospel in her life. I love the opportunities we have to be instruments in the Lord's hands. We had no clue that any of this was going on, but the Lord knew, and I know he put us where he needed us.

I love you all and hope this week is the best week ever for you!

Sister Melissa Heiner
We went hiking today