Monday, August 19, 2013

Dear Family,
Everyone down here has started school today (kid school, not UF). When do ya'll start? It feels weird that I'm not going back for Fall Semester. More and more University of Florida students show up by the day! Too bad that most if not all of them would fall under the YSA category and we can't teach them.
I've never heard so much Spanish in my life! Not that it's a bad thing. I can start picking out words like 'Dios' when our Ward Mission Leader is speaking. Brother Driaza is on fire! We went and had a lesson with one of his longtime friends who owns a shop off of Tower Rd last night around 8pm. Half of the lesson was in Spanish (she understood Enlish, but her boyfriend who came in about halfway through didn't), and every now and then someone would come into the store to buy something, but it was a really great first lesson. Miss P is really excited about reading the Book of Mormon! On top of that really great lesson, the Driaza's are also inviting us over to their house for dinner on Wednesday to meet a couple they've been friends with for a while. Member Missionaries!
Along with Miss P , we have another new Gator this week! We went to this neighborhood to see a less active (apparently she moved last year to High Springs, but her records are still in the Ward) and when we found she wasn't there, we started knocking on the doors around her. Sister Shelley was kind of ansy about it because it was a 'No Soliciting' neighborhood, but I was in a major tracting mood that day (which is happening more and more often lately!) and two miracles happend. #1 - I had forgotten a water bottle earlier that day and was really thirsty when BAM! This really nice guy who is Trinity Methodist who wasn't interested, gave us two sealed water bottles! Heavenly Father is so nice to me! #2 - We were about finished knocking five doors around this LA, when BAM! Mrs. M and her two year old daughter Amelia answer the door, and wouldn't you know, Mrs. M doesn't know anything about the church, wanted a copy of the BoM, and was super excited to meet with us again! She also works full time and goes to school, so we haven't seen her since then, but we've been in communication via text. (Hopefully this facebook thing starts up soon...) Haha! Just four weeks ago we didn't have any Gators, or know anyone in the Ward. Now we are teaching 5!
Yesterday Miss Brazil and Mrs. S came to Church! Miss Brazil tried everything in English this time to see if she could understand (I don't think she understood that much, but she said she had a good time). Mrs. S had a great time too! She said she couldn't wait until she got home so she could call her niece in Utah about it. :) We taught the lesson in Gospel Principles class. Along with Mrs. S and Brazil the Elders Quorum President invited a few new couples and a new RC family that just moved in to attend so that there would be some people to participate. This new couple called the Mattox's just moved in and Bro Mattox went on his mission to Malasia. He had a lot of good stories to share. The lesson was on the 12 Spiritual Gifts of the Spirit and he had a really cool story about the Gift of Healing.
Just to explain the title of this letter and the picture attached, we caught a lizard this week in our apartment. It's been living here with us for a few days, and I'm glad we caught it before it died and started to stink. It was really small. Around our apartment there are three animals that you will see without fail every single day. Lizards, squirrels, and cranes (in the river out the back). Catching the lizard was much more enjoyable than trying to catch those huge American Cockroaches.

The other half of the title comes from knocking into a guy's house who pretty much had the bible memorized. He was super nice and loved that we were spreading God's word full time, he was just concerned that we were being deceived by the Book of Mormon. Before we left his doorstep he prayed for us that we would have visions and dreams to help guide and direct us to discern deceiving doctrines. He took a copy of the BoM though and gave us a referral of some Jewish people who lived near him. He reminded me a lot of Scott, that faith healer in 2nd Ward. Same kinds of ideas with the Gift of Tongues, Healing, and Prophecy. Interesting that that was the lesson on Sunday!
Fun idea you might like, Thursday after District Meeting we did a 'Service Project' where we nuked fortune cookies till they were soft (13-20sec depending on the microwave) took out the fortunes, and replaced them with scriptures! Might be fun for Relief Society or something. You have to be really quick though, cause they harden back up really fast!
Anyway. Out of time.
Love ya!
~Sista Lizard Catcher

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sister Florida

Hey-o Family!
1st Ward has been really nice, and we've got a few ideas to get members more familiar with us, but we've only eaten with members once every other week since the new transfer three weeks ago. Compared to 2nd Ward we were invited to eat at the members at least 2-3 times per week. So all Sister Shelley and I eat is ramen, peanut butter or tuna sandwiches, and cereal. We will be purchasing frozen burritos to add to our tasty list later today.
Miss T (an investigator from 2nd Ward that Sister Pettingill and I found, but Sister Atkinson and I started teaching) just moved into 1st Ward! She's super fun! Every time we go over she gives us cookies and that herbal tea stuff that Mom likes (mango flavored). We had the Elders come by and dedicate her home, and she said she really felt the Spirit when they did :). Our lessons with her go for too long though, and they feel more like 'nice talks' than real spiritual uplifting stuff. Short, Powerful lessons is what my goal is this next week.
Miss Brazil didn't come to Church this Sunday because the member that she lives with was sick and she looked after the kids. Sigh. But I think it all turned out for the best because in Sunday School, we sat next to a lady who really needed us to sit by her. I won't go into details. We went over to the Simnitt's house and had a lesson with Miss Brazil though! We had dug through several different missionaries stuff and we finally found a Portugese Book of Mormon for her to have for herself. (We had ordered her one, along with the lesson pamplets in Portugese, and we get supplies once a month at Zone Meeting, but this month NONE of our supplies came. Poor Elder Saynes looked devastated when he had to tell me we didn't get anything! So we've been stealing other people's stuff to keep our heads above the water - with their permission of course). 
The lesson with Miss Brazil was the best one yet! We struggled through the Plan of Salvation and almost crashed and burned at the end when she didn't understand Terrestrial glory. "But I live in terrestrial?" But we somehow got through it and then Sister Shelley asked the inspired question to Sister Simnitt: "How did you come to know that the Book of Mormon is true?" My goodness! Powerhouse testimony! I almost cried several times! The Spirit was so strong you could cut it with a knife! Even though they grew up together, Miss Brazil learned something from her friend that day - Sister Simnitt KNOWS the Book of Mormon is true! :)
As I already alluded to previously, we had Zone Meeting this week! Set a goal of 15 Baptisms this month. Elder Gao was kind of put out. He wanted to go for 16, because that's a very successfull/ lucky number in China. Elder Bishop (the new ZL who will be dying next transfer) said 15, but that we'll over-achieve and get 16. Hopefully we can contribute. We don't have any baptismal dates at all. 2nd Ward just had three convert baptisms (three unbaptized children I'd given the first lesson to before leaving) and there's 20 something on-dates still so far this month. We'll see how it goes.
We learned about how to get personal revelation. There's a really simple and easy process how:
Write a question at the top of your paper
1. Pray
2. Read
3. Write
4. Pray
They gave us the assignment to teach this to all our investigators this week. It went pretty well for the most part, except when we taught it to a RC and they got an answer they needed to move to Miami with her 11 month old baby to her family who is a really bad influence if you know what I mean. Feel kind of bad about that. We were planning on going back the next day after teaching her this and talking about what answers she got and making sure it was really the Spirit and not her own desires, but she was gone by then...
Out of time. Write me!
~Sister Carlson
This is from a trip up to High Springs to do a service project in helping this lady take out her floor. It was really fun! I love these baptist people!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hey Family!
How's everyone doin? Jessie's job doesn't sound too good for her health. Nurses who work the night shift get cancer more often than day Nurses because thier sarchadian rhythm is off. Your immune system can't function right. Or so said my physiology teacher to a room half full of pre-nursing students.
If she is only doing custodian work during the night for one week I think she will survive. 
Things have been... going here in the GV 1st Ward. We started an English Gospel Principles class (which only one person went to - everyone else speaks Spanish) and Miss Brazil came to church yesterday! She told us after Sacrament that she wanted to try out and see if she would understand in English, but she said that everyone was going too fast and she didn't get much out of it. So she went to the Spanish Gospel Principles because she can understand Spanish better than English. In Relief Society there are a couple of other sisters who are still trying to learn English so there's a lady who translates into a headset in the back and the ones who don't understand wear headphones. We'll have her wear those at Sacrament Meeting from now on. Maybe there's a second microphone and we can have someone translate in Portugese - that would be even better! Love technology! She didn't miss much during Fast & Testimony meeting though. There were maybe three people that actually gave their testimonies that I would want an investigator to hear. The rest of the time there were 'story-monies' or 'I-just-moved-in-monies' or 'I'm-moving-out-monies'. People would go on and on about useless things like going horseback riding and how their records aren't in the Ward for some reason. Nothing that I would want someone that knows next to nothing about the Church and is trying to feel the Spirit to hear. Especially if that was what they would base thier experience off of in deciding that they want to come back the next week.
After Relief Society this old lady from Cuba came up to me, pointed to my legs and said 'Mosquitos!' really loudly and then started talking to me really fast in Spanish. Apparently, Miss Maria-Elena was a doctor in Cuba before moving here and, through translation, said that the Vicks stuff that you put on your chest if you have a cough works really well in making the itchiness go away with mosquito bites. Good to know! I don't have many bites any more, but it just looks really bad because they don't go away for a long time (it looks like a bruise after they stop itching). Wish I knew that a couple of weeks ago! 
Other than that... we've been visiting Less Active people and knocking on doors. The typical response is 'I'm not interested'. Once in a blue moon someone will talk to us, but that's usually because they're a Minister in another faith. We don't have any potential people to visit since the Elder's potentials are all Spanish, so this week we're really going to focus on asking people for referrals. We're going to start directing members to the website for the book 'The Power of the Everyday Missionary'. The website is modeled after with lots of good training videos with ideas on how members could be missionaries. You should check it out! I was only shown the website once by my Sister Training Leader, but we're still not allowed to use the internet other that emails. Let me know if any of the stuff on there is helpful!
Anyway. I'm almost done with reading the Book of Mormon for the first time since coming out. I'm almost in Ether and I'm already planning on reading it again. I got a hardback regular Book of Mormon and plan to read through that, but highlighting just the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having a different color for Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Recieving the Holy Ghost, Enduring to the End, and the Atonement. This was a challange a couple of months ago under President and Sister Barry. There are a couple of other challenges like it: going through and highlighting every time it refers to Jesus Christ, or highlighting just the Christlike Attributes (Sister Jensen is doing that one right now). I'm really excited about it!
Sooo... that's pretty much my life right now. Sister Shelley has been doing ok. She's been going like your typical 19 year old. She's talking a little bit more when I ask her questions and taking a little bit more initiative. We've been working on having short, powerful lessons and trying to have an effective 1st Lesson in 5 minutes or less. Ya'll should try that in FHE or something.
I think about food all the time. Been craving mexican more than usual lately. (I crave Cafe Rio all the time, but I can't have that so I've been craving Taco Bell). During long silences you get to think about a lot of things. That is what I think about.
Anyway. Thats all I can think of for today. Not much has happened. We did go on a trade-off Friday/Saturday. That was fun.
Jess! You should write me! I need a laugh. I've been so starved of laughter that during one of the prayers on our trade off, I just started laughing histerically and I couln't stop. It was weird.
Sister Jen
P.S. Mom. We have plenty of ramen. If you could send me Chocolate and Starbursts I could be a happy camper. No gummies. I don't know what else you could send me. The Walmart here doesn't sell food so don't send me a gift card to there. The cheepest place for groceries is Target.  Also, you know those socky things? Well, my favorite kind are the ones with the pads on the bottom and the rubber on the heel so they don't slip off. I only have two pairs of those, so I just switch wearing them every other day, but they get kind of stinky. Could you send me more of those? Love you lots!