Sunday, August 6, 2017

Wonders of wonders, miracles of miracles

July 24, 2017

Hello, all! What a great week! It all started on Monday night when we saw a family, the Cordova family, that we had previously met, walking outside in our apartment complex. The mother asked if we could set up a time to meet. So, of course, we did! It was on Wednesday morning, and it was difficult because the mother speaks Spanish and the daughter is really sick so can't speak very clearly, but it went well and they liked it. The nurse that was there for the daughter listened and even volunteered to say the closing prayer!

We had the first district meeting of the transfer on Tuesday. It was weird because the sisters that used to be in our district were moved to another district. ☹️ But it was great! Later we stopped by the Patterson family. The wife is the only member of the church and she does not come. But they were really nice and let us right in! We met the father and 2 boys who are 9 and 11. They said we could come share a message with them after school starts back up. (Which is super early here - August 10!)

Later that day we met with another Spanish family, the Figueroa family. It was just the mother and son. Again, it was a little rough because we don't know much Spanish, but we made it work and the son was able to translate a little. They said they would read the Book of Mormon. We are meeting with them tonight and bringing a member who can translate this time! After that we met with Brinlee and Sister Oncher.

On Wednesday was our visit with the Cordova family. We arranged that we would meet them on Sunday morning and they could follow us to church. When we went on Sunday morning, a nurse answered and said they were sleeping and had gone to church yesterday. We were really confused. But we stopped by that night and Fleur, the mother, told us that she had tried to come to church but the parking lot was full. Our parking lot is never full so we think she had the wrong church. It was a good visit, though, and we will be seeing them on Wednesday again. Anyway, after that we visited with a less active grandma and grandson who also live in our apartment complex. They seemed to feel the Spirit and remember a lot about what they had learned before. We are planning on doing family history with them next time! Then at 2:30 John Lambru had his baptism interview! Elder Johnson said it went well. We saw a huge change in him this week as he overcame his doubts and acted in faith to continue forward with his baptism.

On Friday afternoon we were finally able to meet with a man who I had met with Sister Lesuma. His name is Ray. He was very receptive to the message and said he would be baptized if he came to know it was true. We set a date for August 26. He said he would try to come to church, but he was very self conscious about what to wear. We told him just to come in the best that he had. But...he didn't come. We had our last lesson with Brother Lambru that night and it made me really excited because I felt he really was ready to be baptized! That night we saw a man named Julio in our complex who we had helped with the printer in the computer lab while we were emailing several weeks ago. He was very nice and we set up an appointment with him. He said he would come to church not this week, but next!

Saturday was baptism day! It was so awesome! Brother Lambru was having a really hard time walking but he made it. We were so scared that he was going to fall walking into the font or not be able to bend his knees to get underwater. The whole room went dead silent. But miracles happen - he was fully submerged the first time! The talks were great. The woman who was playing the piano brought her nonmember husband. Missionaries came to support from surrounding areas. It was just all-around awesome!

On Sunday was John's confirmation. Sister Durrant was asked to lead the music in sacrament meeting so I was sitting alone (with some members) which felt really weird. When she came to sit down she didn't come sit with me but kept one of our investigators who was sitting behind me! Ms. Williams came to church! She was even singing along to the hymns! We're not sure how much she enjoyed it because she is used to a much different atmosphere. But it was good to see her there.

Well, this is really long and scatterbrained. Sorry! So much happened this week it is hard to summarize and prioritize it. In short, great things are happening in Apollo Beach! It's a little overwhelming but it is in the Lord's hands!

D&C 100:4 Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls.

Love, Sister Porter 😊

John after his baptism!

Fun in the Sun!

July 17, 2017

Hello, all! It has been a pretty great week.

On Monday night we met a really cool woman with 2 little boys. She is going through a hard time and said she felt the hand of God in our paths crossing. We set up an appointment, but neglected to get her phone number even though I had thought about it and the next night we couldn't find her address. Lesson learned: always follow the promptings of the Spirit!

We met with Sister Valdez again and talked to her about coming to church. She said she would try to come and likes the idea of being an example to her family. We also taught Brinlee on Tuesday night. They weren't able to come to church because Sister Oncher wasn't feeling well.

On Wednesday we served at St. Andrew's again. They like to put us on the job of making the little napkin silverware bundles. But it's fine. We walked to a less active in the afternoon and had a pretty good visit with her, but a really bad thunderstorm came while we were there. We ended up calling Sister Howell to take us back to our car, haha. As we were heading home, I felt that we should stop by Lydia because we haven't heard anything from her. We did and she wasn't home, but we decided to stop by another man who we have been trying to set something up with. He was home with his family and it was actually his birthday! He was a slightly inebriated but in a really good mood so we set up an appointment to meet with his whole family! But when we went back, nobody was home. Anyway, that night we taught Emily and Kaylin and they are doing really well! They have both been reading the Book of Mormon and they understood the plan of salvation and had great questions.

Thursday...we met with Tammy. Sister Durrant invited her to be baptized and she got really upset and confused. It was really bad. But she still wants us to come over so we don't know what to do. We feel it would do more damage to stop going at this point. But Heavenly Father knows her needs and he can guide us to know how to help her.

On Friday, we had coordination. Brother Young is back in town after a few weeks and we have a new elder, Elder Drumright, who just transferred in. He was in Valrico when I was there. Then we taught John with Brother and Sister Hales. He seems to be keeping on. We are still planning on his baptism on Saturday, but are being very careful about it because we want to be sure he has a real testimony and isn't just doing things because we tell him to. But he has made big changes in his life and we as well as many of the members have seen that change. We are excited for him! We feel he is very close to being ready for this next step. He wasn't feeling well and didn't make it to church on Sunday, but he came 4 weeks in a row before that. I guess we'll see! Please keep him in your prayers!

Alright, well, that's about it for this week. I love you all!

Spirit and Snickerdoodles

July 10,

Hello, all! Guess what? It is transfer week yet again. And, for the first time since change for me! Sister Durrant and I are both staying here in Apollo Beach.

On Wednesday we had district meeting and then had an appointment with a less active Sister Valdez. Well, she was running late getting home, but her mother-in-law was there and allowed us to share a little message with her. That night we were able to talk to Emily and Kaylin's mom and she was absolutely fine with us teaching them, but said she would have to consider further about them being baptized. They are such a cool family!

Thursday night we taught Ms. Williams who we had been trying to meet with for awhile. She is really cool. Then we met with Tammy and Neil. After that, we were deciding what to do next because another appointment fell through and I had an idea to go stop by a woman named Toni we had met on Monday. Well, we did! She was outside with her dog again and said she had actually just been thinking about us. She had read some of the pamphlet and was considering calling us. So we set up an appointment which will be tomorrow! We are excited to see how it goes.

On Friday we stopped by Nina's house because we hadn't been able to get in contact with her. Her mom came out and told us Nina had moved to Clearwater, which she had mentioned might happen. We talked with her for awhile and she said she wanted to come to church and she would bring her other daughter. They didn't come, but hopefully we can continue to help them strengthen their faith.

On Saturday we had dinner at the Mancis with John. It was delicious! John seems to be regressing a little, though. He has turned back to his old doubts and questions. After that we rushed off to Wesley Chapel to meet with President Cooper at the mission home. I always love going there; it is so beautiful. While Sister Durrant was in her interview, I got to help Sister Cooper make snickerdoodles! What a fun privilege.

Yesterday church was amazing. It had a focus on sacrifice and work, which applied to me specifically right now. After church we had 4 or 5 back to back appointments planned in the same neighborhood and only one happened. But it went well! It was with a woman named Nicole and her daughter Nya. It was Nya's birthday so Nicole was cooking in the kitchen but still listened and asked questions. They seemed to enjoy it and said they would pray about being baptized and read the Book of Mormon. After dinner we had an appointment with a less active family who recently moved back into the ward. Sister Oncher and her daughters Brinlee and Kaylee are super cool! Sister Oncher told us that Brinlee has not been baptized and would like to be. We showed them a video about baptism and Brinlee was really excited! We set a baptism date for August 19, the day after her birthday. It was an awesome miracle where God just put the puzzle pieces together for us. All we had to do was be there and follow the Spirit. :)

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week! Here are some scriptures that really touched me this week. They talk about crying unto the Lord and trusting in Him.

Alma 37

36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

Alma 38

5 And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials, and your troubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

8 And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.

9 And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness.

Happy 4th!

July 4,

Hello, all! Happy 4th of July! We're not sure why, but our P-day was changed to today this week.

Last Monday we had zone activity day which was pretty fun. Then we taught John with an awesome couple in the ward who we hadn't brought before. They are amazing and John is making great progress. After that we taught Kaylin and Emily, two young women. We met them last Saturday. We were talking to their dad and he recommended we talk to them and see if they were interested. They seemed to like what we taught and were willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray and come to youth activities, but we haven't been able to talk to their mom yet and see if she is alright with us preparing them for baptism.

On Wednesday we did service at St. Andrew's again and were able to actually serve the tables this time. At the end we met a neighbor of our ward mission leader who he had invited to some church events. She was really nice.

That night we stopped by a woman named Lydia who we hadn't been able to get ahold of. She let us in and we ended up being able to teach her the whole Restoration! She loved it and she even accepted a baptism invitation. She already knows a member of our ward and said she would read the Book of Mormon and come to church, but she didn't make it on Sunday. After that we taught Kaylin and Emily and read the introduction to the Book of Mormon with them.

On Thursday we taught Tammy and Neil sat in this time! He didn't say much, but listened and joined in occasionally.

Let's see...on Saturday we had the ward 4th of July breakfast. It was pretty fun and one of the members made Sister Durrant and I Mickey Mouse pancakes! :) Then we hurried off to a funeral for one of the elders' investigators. It was an interesting experience, but his wife had said she wanted us there and seemed to appreciate it. It was good for me to see a little of how other churches work so I can understand people from other churches better.

That night we taught John with the Howells again. The Howells hadn't come with us to teach John in quite some time, so after the lesson they told us they were really impressed with how much he has changed. He is struggling a little bit with getting rid of coffee, but is trying and improving.

Yesterday we helped a member pull weeds for an elderly couple in the ward. We taught John that night with Sister Moore.

Well, that was about our week! There were some other interesting things that happened, but those are the basics. I hope you all have a great week! πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

1. Belated picture of our zone at the temple :)
2. We went and ate dinner at the beach on Friday :)

It looks like I have chicken pox from all the bug bites ...

June 26,

Hello, all!

On Tuesday we had interviews with President and a great district meeting. This week we were asked to set daily goals and record how we spend our time and report them to our district leader. It has been cool to see how goals really help us improve and when we report them, we improve even more and feel more accountable for everything we do. I guess a real life application of this is prayer to Heavenly Father. We can tell him about our day and report what we did and how we want to be better in the future.

On Wednesday we did service serving a lunch for homeless or lonely people at a church. The woman who told us about it was there as well as a woman we had met in our apartment complex. They were very grateful for our help and even insisted we take some lunch. We taught Nina in the afternoon and she included two younger adopted siblings in the lesson. They seemed pretty interested and asked questions, but Nina told us her mom has been resistant to the church even though she gave permission for them to join in the lesson. That night we taught John and decided to move back his baptism date. At the next lesson we proposed July 22 to him so he could pray about it.

On Thursday we taught Tammy. She had finished watching the Restoration video and said she had to go back and watch it again. She was really bugged by the fact that the video says, "And many other things did they speak unto me" when Joseph Smith is having his first vision. We tried to explain that we don't need to know everything, and if we did it would mean a lot more responsibility. A scripture came to my mind, 3 Nephi 19:31-34 that talks about Jesus praying for a congregation of people. The people could not record the words that he said because they were so sacred and meant only for those who were there. She felt better about it after we read that. At the end of the lesson she told us that she had a mighty prayer on Saturday night where she was able to forgive her husband. The next morning she made a big breakfast and brought it into him and told him she forgives him and loves him. She is truly having a change of heart and the Spirit is working in her. It was so exciting to see! That night there was a storm so we went into Publix and the power went out while we were there! Apparently that never happens here. It was pretty exciting.

On Saturday night we had an adventure. We got home and our smoke alarms went off a couple of times. Nothing seemed wrong so we didn't worry about it. But right after we got in bed, they started going off more and so we eventually called the fire department. 3 firemen came to check it out and said it was just a faulty fire alarm and because all the fire alarms in the apartment are connected, it was causing them all to go off. Anyway, we lost 2 hours of sleep that night 😴

Yesterday, John came to church...for the first time 2 weeks in a row! A less active woman and her non member husband came as well, and we had dinner with them last night which was fun. Her parents were there as well and they are less active members in Tampa 2, Sister Durrant's old area. In the afternoon we had an appointment with a nice lady who had told us we could come back and share a message. It turns out she is a member of the church who hasn't been to church in a really long time. At first she said she did not want to come back to church and wouldn't read the Book of Mormon, but by the end of the lesson she seemed excited about the pancake breakfast our ward is having on Saturday and said she would try to read from the Book of Mormon. She also committed herself to write down things she is grateful for each day. The Spirit guided that lesson for sure! I just hope she felt God's love.

Well, I hope you all have a great week! When we follow the Spirit and rely on God, we see more and more miracles every day!

Temple and Exchange!

June 19,

Hello, all! It was a great week. On Monday Sister Moore picked us up and we went to go teach John. He was going through a hard time and still didn't feel like he had received an answer from God. We taught him on Friday as well and he was doing much better. We read a chapter from the Book of Mormon and he understood it. He told us he has been reading it every day but it is hard to understand it on his own. He came to church on Sunday and for the first time said he enjoyed it and learned something. I think his heart is really opening up to feeling the Spirit.

On Tuesday we saw Tammy but she was rushing around the house in the middle of caring for Carol. She is super stressed and going through a lot. She had started watching the Restoration video and seems to be following it well. She said she liked it. That night there was a Relief Society activity and Sister Tecer, the less active we taught on Saturday, came! We also got asked to help with the music in primary while some people will be gone for the summer, so that will be fun!

Wednesday was going to the temple and zone conference! We had a super fun car ride there and back with Sister Bennett and Sister Christensen. The temple was amazing and I felt so much peace there. It was like all my worries were gone. Heavenly Father loves us so much! Zone Conference was great. We got pizza for lunch and learned how to contact people on the street better. Sister Swanson gave an amazing last testimony as did the other missionaries who are going home. It was hard to say goodbye but I felt God telling me it was ok and this is not the end. It was just a great day!

On Thursday we weekly planned and then went on an exchange! It was so weird to be back in Lithia. We had so much fun! Sister Bennett and I taught a recent convert and then went to stop by another family in the neighborhood. They were not interested, but as we were walking away, Sister Bennett received a prompting to knock on the door next to them. The woman answered the door, looked at me, and said, "I've talked to you before. You were here a few months ago." Well, it was 10 or more months ago, but I remember talking to her outside while she was walking her dog. She was very nice and she and her 2 teenage daughters accepted a return appointment. What a miracle! The hand of God is in everything.

The next day we stopped by Kelsey's family who is moving soon. They are really nice and seemed to be open to learning about the gospel. This is a complete night and day difference from what Kelsey told us while she was preparing to be baptized. Then we got ice cream at the same shop that Sister Anderson and I went to a lot. So much fun! We exchanged back that night and went to teach John with Sister Williams. We read the Book of Mormon with him and he seemed to enjoy and understand it more.

On Saturday we taught Nina (the referral from New York). She is so awesome and has a really strong testimony of the gospel. We are trying to figure out what is holding her back from baptism. She has told us she wants to be baptized and pretty much already considers herself a member. Because of circumstances in her life, she has some really hard things to overcome. She really wanted to come to church this Sunday but said it was too hard for her this week.

On Sunday John came to church and Sister Durrant played the piano in primary. In a few weeks I will also be filling in for leading the music. It was so fun to be there with the kids. That night we met a lot of cool people. We saw a less active who lives in our apartment complex and had a great conversation with her. She is getting more committed to come back to church every time we talk to her. We met a woman and her kids who were watching a helicopter take off from the hospital and found out they are the family of a man we had met and were trying to meet with. She told us she had seen the card and pamphlet we gave him and was planning on calling us when they get some free time, but their schedule is crazy. Finally we met a man and his wife who moved into our apartment complex about a week ago from Minnesota and he was very open to learning and gave us his phone number. It was a huge testimony to me that Heavenly Father puts us where we need to be when we need to be there.

Well, I hope you all had a great week and a happy Father's Day! I love you all and hope everything is going well.

-Sister Porter

P.S. The quote that I sent in a picture in my last email is actually from President Thomas S. Monson...whoops :)

1. Sister Bennett and I :)
2. Old apartment
3. This is a really cool thing.  It says Apollo Beach and has manatees on it.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Popcorn and miracles

June 12, 2017

Hello all! It was an interesting week.

On Tuesday we went to the funeral for a less active sister in the ward who passed away. It was led by a pastor of another church who was a relative of the family, but last minute Sister Durrant got to lead the song and got many compliments. It was funny because they passed out little bags of popcorn because the sister had joked before she passed about putting popcorn in the crematorium with her. On Wednesday we taught Nina and brought a member Sister Capano who lives nearby so they could meet because Nina will need rides to church. They got along great and related to each other in a few different ways. Nina didn't end up being able to come to church, though. Later that day we stopped by a referral Vairy who we had received from some other missionaries and she was home and let us right in! Her son was there, too. We taught them the Restoration and she definitely felt the Spirit strongly. She said she would be baptized but wants to become more familiar with the scriptures and the church first. We can help with that!

On Friday we biked around a neighborhood, visited a member who was sick, visited a member in the hospital, taught John, then biked some more to visit a less active couple and they pulled in right as we were riding away and were able to talk to them. On the way back we met a lady who told us about an awesome service opportunity. In John's lesson we were able to reset his baptism date for June 24th. He seems confident about it and we feel good about it as long as we meet with him a lot more often which shouldn't be a problem. We are excited for him! He wasn't feeling well enough on Sunday to come to church, but the member who went to pick him up said he tried getting in the car.

On Sunday church was really good. We had a Spanish speaking sacrament meeting with the English words projected on the wall. After church there was a baptism for a little girl. Her friend who is not a member came and it was just a really special experience. That night we were biking near our apartment and stopped at the hospital for the bathroom. On the way out we met a young man who talked with us about how he used to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others and his baptism changed his life completely. He gave us his phone number and wants to meet with us. So many miracles in Apollo Beach!

I hope you all have a great week and remember your earthly father and your Heavenly Father on Father's Day! Hebrews 12:9

1. Sister Durrant made me this awesome quote because I liked it. It is from President Gordon B. Hinckley.
2. Sunset selfie!
3. Beautiful sunset
4. Emma's baptism!

A Land of Opportunity

June 5, 2017

Hello, all! So here I am with Sister Durrant. She's pretty awesome :) She is super silly and she loves to sing. We have seen so many miracles this week just by talking and meeting lots of different people. We went to one neighborhood I had never been to and were able to meet and set appointments with 2 less active members. On Friday we were able to help Tammy by cleaning her floors and making breakfast. She is so overwhelmed with everything that is going on. We ended up answering a couple questions about the Book of Mormon and Tammy basically committed herself to read the introduction page. After the lesson she got really emotional and gave me the biggest, most meaningful hug saying thank you so much for everything. We were also able to give their new hospice worker a Book of Mormon! We taught John that night. We had trouble finding a member to come with us but finally did and it was a great experience for her. She had never taught with missionaries before and she shared a beautiful testimony. John came to church and told us that he was planning on coming last week, but nobody showed up to give him a ride. We hadn't asked anybody to pick him up because he hadn't answered his phone so we weren't sure if he was planning on coming or not. He has a lot to learn, but he wants to learn and is trying hard despite all his questions.

On Saturday we met Nina who was a referral who moved from New York. She is super awesome and we set up an appointment for this week. She will come to church next Sunday if we can get her a ride, and there is an awesome member who lives in her neighborhood who can probably pick her and her daughter up. Her daughter was really excited to come to church, too :) That night we were about to leave a neighborhood, but I got a feeling we should go see somebody. Well, we didn't end up going to see that person but on the way we met several awesome people! One was a man who remembered us knocking on his door on Easter and sharing a video. I think I remember who he is but I'm not sure, haha.

Last night was awesome as well! We went back to an area near our apartment to try to see a woman we had met a couple weeks before. We not only got to see her and set up an appointment, but met a super cool man named Junior who said he has been wanting to get back into church and believed everything we taught him. He even said he would be baptized!

Well, who knows what this next week will hold, but I do know that it will be full of miracles and that whatever happens is God's will. I love you all and hope you never forget how much Heavenly Father loves you!
Transfer Pics!
1. Sister Lesuma saying goodbye to the Bolt family
2. Transfers...bye Sister Lesuma! ☹️
3. Sister Swanson! 😊
4. Me and Sister Durrant...she's a lot of fun 😝


Circle of Life

May 30, 2017

Hello, all! Our P-day was changed due to Memorial Day. So first off, transfers are a real thing. Sister Lesuma and I didn't think that anything was going to happen to us, so we were shocked to find out that she is going to New Tampa to be in a trio with Sister Swanson's trainee. What?! My new companion will be Sister Durrant who was previously in Tampa 2 and was companions with Sister Hunt awhile ago. There is also a new sister training leader in Lithia, so I might be able to go on an exchange there!

This week we met a lot of people who seemed interested and said we could come back. The trick is catching them again, and before they forget the feeling from the Spirit that led them to invite us back. But we are very hopeful for the future! We also got a couple referrals, one from New York who is moving in and has been meeting with missionaries for about a year, one who some missionaries met in downtown Tampa, and another from the elders. She is a self referral who they hadn't been able to meet with. On Saturday, all of our appointments and plans fell through so we biked to her neighborhood to go see her and she was home. She is super awesome! She has been researching the church because she is looking for a church and has some friends who are members of our church. She said she wanted the happiness that she sees in them. We have an appointment with her on Thursday.

Oh, we also had to say goodbye to Rene and his family this week. They are so sweet. We will probably call them soon and hopefully in a few weeks they will be settled in their own house and we can ask the missionaries up there to start teaching them again.

We taught Tammy on Thursday and she had tried to read the chapters we gave her, but was not able to focus or understand. She just has so much on her mind. We promised her that reading the scriptures would help her mind be clear for the challenges she faces. We talked a little about prayer and eventually committed her to pray with her husband that night and try to make it a daily habit. It will bless their relationship and their outlook through their trials immensely. We also gave her a Restoration video in hopes that would speak to her if reading didn't.

That night, we did an activity with the 8-11 year old girls from the congregation about missionary work. They are amazing missionaries already! It was so cool to see. We all got "mission calls" (I'm going to Uganda) and we practiced with them talking to the adult leaders as if we were missionaries meeting them on the street.

We taught John on Friday night and the member we brought with us was really helpful in finding out his needs and helping him open up about his questions and concerns. He is still open to learning but we're not sure how he is progressing. There was a baptism on Saturday and we wanted him to come, but he didn't answer the phone so we didn't get him a ride. He didn't come to church and still hasn't called us back.

Last few random tidbits: On Saturday night, Sister Lesuma tried to make a cake but accidentally misread the instructions and mixed the cake ingredients with the icing ingredients. We also didn't have any eggs. It didn't turn out very edible, but it was fun to watch it bake! We had a family home evening with the Hackers and the Higbees last night which was also fun.

Well, that's about it for this week. Love y'alls!
1. The district
2 and 3. What happens when we try to take jumping pictures...
4. Giant grasshopper we found
5. Saying goodbye to the cutest family...the kids wanted us to hold the stuffed animals 😊
6. Sister Lesuma saying goodbye to the Hackers


Miracles all around

May 22, 2017

Hello, all! It was a pretty good week. On Wednesday we taught Tammy with Ashley, the girl who was visiting who just got home from her mission. She is awesome!

On Thursday we had zone conference! It was amazing. I got to see Sister Swanson as well as Sister Smith and Sister Frye. There were great musical numbers and we learned a lot. After the conference, a group of us stayed to practice a song for the Why I Believe fireside. It was so fun a send I felt like I was in choir again! Then we drove back to church, had English class, and played volleyball afterwards. We had invited a lot of people because we had heard that a few less actives had really enjoyed it in the past, but Rene's family and the elders were the only ones who came. But it was fun! I still think that those kids are the cutest ever :)

We had a couple of big thunderstorms this week! One started during a lesson with Tammy and she gave us trash bags to go outside with. We ate dinner on the beach before the lesson.

But Saturday was the best! It was such an amazing day. We did service at the thrift store, had lunch, called a bunch of people, and then went to see a family that we had met a week or so before. We walked up just in time to help the wife and son carry a couch up the front steps and into their house. The wife and daughter were open to learning more about the church and we set an appointment for next Saturday. Then we went to visit Sister Valdez. She is less active and her husband is not a member. We got to meet her husband and he is really nice! They were talking about doing yard work and we offered to help. Sister Valdez was hesitant to let us help, but Brother Valdez was all for it! So next Saturday we will (most likely) be going over there to help out. It will be a great way to get to know him and see if he is interested in being taught. Then we stopped by a couple of potential investigators and had good conversations with them. We set up an appointment with one of them for...wait for Saturday! Wow, that is going to be a great day! After that we decided to try to find this nice beach with a restaurant that a lot of people had told us about because it was Sister Lesuma's 10 month mark. We found it and the restaurant wasn't great, but when we walked out onto the beach we started talking to a lady who was sitting on a bench. She was really nice and eventually told us that she had met with elders when she was a teenager because her friend had invited her to. She mentioned that she had moved here recently and seen the elders biking around. She felt it was a sign from God that we had run into her. We were led to that beach, and she told us that they had been about to leave, but her sons had asked to stay longer. She said she would come to the Why I Believe fireside, but she didn't make it. However, she did say that she would be willing to learn more if we would be openminded towards her. She is so cool! Her name is Shauntae. But the miracles of the day don't end there! We stopped by a less active man and he and his daughter opened the door. They were really nice and he was going to let us in, but his wife wasn't home. He said he would talk to his wife about coming to the fireside, and that we could come back and share a message sometime. The Lord definitely has a hand in His work!

Yesterday John made it to church! After church we came home, had studies and dinner, and then headed to the stake center for the Why I Believe fireside! It was really cool. There were 4 or 5 recent converts to the church who bore their testimonies, interspersed with musical numbers by the missionaries. It seemed as if almost the whole mission was there, haha. Then President Cooper and President Howell, the stake president, spoke. It was a great event.

Well, I love you all and hope you aren't too cold up farther from the tropics :)

1. Us with Ashley after teaching Tammy :)
2. Zone conference
3. Rene and his family after volleyball
4. Storm coming in on the beach 
5. Manatee mailbox.  Manatees are big in Apollo Beach
6. Adorable little kitten at the Valdezes!
7, 8, 9. Us on the beach with Shauntae
10. A random group of missionaries after the Why I Believe fireside



Another week in the hot sun

May 15, 2017

Hello, all! What a crazy week. Here is what happened:

We had a lesson with Rene and his family on Wednesday and it went well. There was a even a less active young man there who helped us translate. We invited them to be baptized and they said yes. But when we tried to pick a date, Rene says, "We have a big problem." He goes on to tell us that they are moving back to Wisconsin in 2 weeks! So sad. But the whole family came to the multicultural event on Friday night and it was super fun! Rene is the coolest DJ ever. He went around and took pictures of everyone and put them straight on the projector screen. There were lots of tables with food and artifacts from China, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Honduras, El Salvador, Denmark, Germany, and more! I love the diversity here. Us missionaries did some fun acts. The last act was our presentation on Fiji that Sister Lesuma came up with. The elders were the first missionaries in Fiji who found her uncle's wife's mother, played by me. We made props and everything. It was great, even though I totally missed the elders with the water I was supposed to throw at them...

Yesterday we met a girl who was visiting family in the ward who just got off her mission less than 3 weeks ago. She really wants to come teach with us. She is so cool! I wonder if I'll be that cool when I get home πŸ€”

Then last night we got to skype our families! It was so fun. It was so weird because it felt so natural, but so crazy at the same time. I can't believe it's the last call I have before I come home.

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week!
Pics from Zone Activity, Multicultural Event, Mother's Day
1. Zone Activity
2. Cutest kids! (Rene's)
3. Us with our ward mission leader, Brother Young
4. Happy Mother's Day!

Primera Dios - God First

May 8, 2017

Hello, all! So many amazing things happened this week. I think it was the best week of my mission! Here we go:

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we had an exchange and I went with Sister Suman in YSA (USF Campus). It was so fun! We met a lot of awesome people and hope they keep in contact. One of their investigators came to institute class with us and said he felt something different there. We also went to Vallarta's for dollar tacos - so good!

On Thursday we cleaned out a disabled member's pantry and food storage that was old and dirty. English class was cancelled both days this week because they all work at the same place and had to work late. We taught John on Friday and he seems to be progressing in his knowledge. He wasn't able to come to church on Sunday but has been reading the Book of Mormon.

Saturday and Sunday were the best. We stopped by Rene's house and were able to teach his whole family! He and his son Haritz took turns translating for Rosa, Rene's wife. They were very receptive and had already been planning on coming to church with their cousins. When we asked them to come, they looked at each other and said, "Primera Dios" or "God first". They are so amazing and the kids are so cute. They came to church and got Spanish translation headsets. We have a Spanish Sunday school class, so Rene and Rosa went there while we got to go to Primary with Sbeide, their daughter! It was so fun.

After church we had a lesson with Tammy and she opened up to us with questions and concerns. It was really good because we were able to understand how to teach her better. She wouldn't take a Book of Mormon because she said this week was so crazy she wouldn't have time to read it and she also wanted time to absorb what we had taught her. But she agreed with almost everything we said and is very close to the Spirit.

Missionary work is amazing. There is no greater happiness than to see someone come closer to Jesus Christ. The love we feel for those we teach is amazing as well. I am so grateful for Heavenly Father's blessings. He knows us perfectly and wants what is best for us.

Have a great week!

Crazy week #52!

May 1, 2017

Crazy week. It feels like it has been 3. But here's what happened:

On Tuesday, we had district meeting and stopped by a woman named Tammy who we had met last week and she told us to come back. This time, her husband let us in and we were able to teach them a little bit. They are very nice and seem open to the gospel, but can't come to church because they watch over his mother and nurses don't come to help on Sundays. We haven't taught them very much yet, so we'll see what happens. But she said we came at just the right time and she knows God is watching over her because of that. That night, we went to the Barahonas and they gave us a "snack" because they know we can't eat with them. The snack was 2 tacos and a huge bowl of ice cream. Funny!

On Wednesday, we taught John with the Howells and they were amazing at helping us teach and helping John feel comfortable. We were able to help him accept a baptismal date! He was hesitant at first because he said he didn't think he was worthy. He came to church on Sunday as well! He still has a few questions, but he seemed to enjoy it and said it was inspiring.

Thursday - We stopped by Tammy and happened to be there right when they were about to sing Happy Birthday and eat cake for the mom's birthday with her nurse. How fun! Then, we went and got ice cream because GUESS WHAT. It was my year mark! I have been gone a year. I can now look back in my journal and see what happened in my mission last year. Crazy! Anyway, we had English class after that and Rene, one of the people who comes, said he had been looking at LDS movies. (He also said a fantastic prayer on Tuesday, by the way) So we asked him if we could teach his family! When we went over on Sunday, there were a lot of people there just hanging out so we didn't really get to teach anything. But we initiated a spiritual discussion and prayer and it was cool because his cousins who he lives with are members and were able to share their conversion stories and testify of eternal families. Rene and his wife Rosa listened and seemed to enjoy it. We wish their kids had stuck around to listen, too! Maybe next time.

On Saturday we helped to clean the church a little. The Kekoolanis invited us to go out to lunch with them. It was pretty good! Then we went to teach some former investigators and a few minutes in, their pastor walked in and started challenging our beliefs. He really wouldn't let us talk back. About an hour later, we walk out feeling pretty awful. We drive home for dinner, I plop down on my bed, and then the neighbors invite us over for dinner! It was really nice, and definitely a blessing after the crazy day. I realized from the experience how important it is to have a strong testimony from the Holy Spirit. I am grateful for what I have learned in the past so that I could not be confused by what that pastor was saying. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and is written by inspiration from Him and not by man. It testifies of Christ. I know that we have a prophet just like in the Bible who leads and guides us and teaches us what God wants us to know right now. I know not because of what anyone told me, but what I feel from the Holy Ghost. It brings me a lot of peace and happiness.

Love you all! Have a great week.

-- Sister Porter
1. We got ice cream to celebrate one year!
2. The elders decided to decorate our car with invitations to the ward party...


Let the Holy Spirit Guide

April 24, 2017

Hello, all! It was a great week.

Let's see. Something really cool that happened was on Tuesday, we went to visit someone and on the way back, we saw a nice old lady outside and we offered to take her trash for her. We talked to her for awhile and then she mentioned she needed to clean her floor. We offered to clean her floor for her, too. And guess what? She let us! That never happens! Nobody ever accepts our help when we offer. We haven't been able to see her again yet, but we hope our service touched her heart.

But the highlight of our week was probably Wednesday. We had zone training meeting and interviews with President Cooper, and then that night Sister Cooper came with us to a lesson and to stop by a few people. It was so great! She is awesome.

On Thursday, we stopped by someone Sister Lesuma knew who lives in our apartment complex and she let us right in! We were able to teach her about the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. She seemed open to it and wants to come to church next Sunday. We gave her a Book of Mormon and are going back to teach her again tonight.

On Saturday we did service at a thrift store that supports a battered women's shelter. The lady who works there asked us to help a customer get 2 wooden end tables out of a shed and into her car. It was a little outside of my ability and hard for Sister Lesuma. Maybe we should get the elders over there, haha. That night we spent time with the young women and their leaders preparing for the camp that they will be having this summer. It was really fun!

I invite you all to reach out and be a friend to someone this week. One kind act can make a huge difference in someone's life. Just follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit that you have and everything will work out. Heavenly Father loves us and wants the best for His children. D&C 100:4 "Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls."

Love you all!
1. Zone Training Meeting.  The Brandon zone is almost twice as big as Odessa!
2 and 3. Sister Cooper!


Apollo Beach: Week One!

April 17, 2017

Hello, all! What a crazy week! But it has been really good. Apollo Beach is great and so is Sister Lesuma. It was not a hard transition at all. Heavenly Father has his plan, and it is always better than what we think!

So let's see. Transfers were on Wednesday and because Sister Lesuma and I were waiting for something at the mission office, we got to eat lunch with Sister Swanson and the other trainers and trainees! It was super fun. Then we drove to Apollo Beach and had dinner and I got mostly unpacked. We had a lesson with an investigator named John and had members coming, but we got there and he said he wasn't feeling well and couldn't meet. We still had an awesome discussion at the door, though. The Hales, the couple who came with us, were very good missionaries and friends for him. We have an investigator who is preparing for baptism, but I haven't been able to meet her yet and we have stopped by and texted her and she has not responded. The last thing she said had to do with being sick and something about the hospital, so we hope she's ok.

On Thursday, we got a new car! A 2017 Chevy Malibu! It's great, but it doesn't seem to have a CD player, which is a real bummer. But it has 3 months of free wifi. Everyone who sees it keeps commenting on it. Sister Swanson got a new car, too, 4 months after we hit the deer. πŸ˜‚ We also taught an English class and a scripture study class at the church that night.

On Friday we taught a recent convert named Tyler who is 17 and super awesome. He is planning on going to the temple for baptisms by the end of the month. Our apartment complex was having an Easter egg hunt and we asked if we could help. They were really appreciative and had us hide the Easter eggs.

On Saturday, we had the ward Easter egg hunt. So we hid more Easter eggs. The members here seem super awesome and it was really fun. Then, here is the coolest story ever: we stopped by a lady who is listed as a member but has no connection to the church and hasn't been baptized. We think she somehow got mixed up with someone who has the same name. But she was really nice and let us in to show her the #PRINCEofPEACE video. Then her brother walked in, and we were able to teach them both a brief overview of the Restoration and they both wanted Book of Mormons! Super cool. After that, we taught the Lambsons and asked them to think of someone they could share the #PRINCEofPEACE video with. Sister Lambson thought of their neighbor, so we'll see if anything comes of it. They seem to be really good at missionary work, though.

Then, yesterday was Easter. What a beautiful day to remember our Savior and the gifts He has given us! The church service was wonderful and some members invited us over. We went to the Venturas and were only expecting to share a short message, but we got a 3 course meal! It was delicious, too. Then we went straight to the Hackers for another meal, and then to the Hales (different from the other Hales who came to a lesson with us). The Hales live on a boat right now and are going to move to the Virgin Islands in a few weeks and give boat tours. They are really cool. So we ate on a pavilion near their boat and it was really nice.

I found this really cool scripture this morning. It is in the book of 2 Nephi, but it is Nephi's brother Jacob quoting Isaiah.

2 Nephi 8

11 Therefore, the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy and holiness shall be upon their heads; and they shall obtain gladness and joy; sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

12 I am he; yea, I am he that comforteth you. Behold, who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of man, who shall die, and of the son of man, who shall be made like unto grass?

He is the way! And we don't need to be afraid. Also, isn't it so cool that the people in America around 600 B.C. had some of the scriptures that were written across the world? And all because one young man (Nephi) followed the Spirit on how to get the record from Laban. God loves his children!

Have a great week!

-Sister Porter
Transfers and Easter!
1. Transfers! Sister Lesuma is in the back with me, and Sister Swanson and her trainee Sister Graff are in front.
2. We got these in Relief Society.  Cute!
3. Our view from Easter dinner. We ate on a pavilion overlooking the bay :)


Area #6, Companion #8!

April 10, 2017

We got transfer calls today. I am transferring to Apollo Beach and will be with Sister Lesuma! I am excited, but super nervous. I will miss Sister Swanson and Hudson a lot.

This week was great! We got out to find and talk to people a lot. We helped with the youth cultural night on Wednesday. It was really cool! The first part was set up like an airplane and then there were 5 different booths of ward members presenting on different countries that they were either from or had visited. Sister Farmer, the young women president, came up with it all on her own!

Thursday was zone service day. We went to Metropolitan Ministries, and Sister Swanson and I cleaned the bathroom and dining area, made egg salad, served lunch for a little while, and cleaned the dining area again. It was fun!

On Saturday, we taught the stop smoking lesson to a friend of an investigator in Palm Harbor. She had no problem with it and the lesson went really well. She had already been doing some of the things that she needed to do to quit. Her son joined in as well and agreed to do all of the steps, but we aren't sure how committed he was.

Sunday was interesting. The microphone was not working in sacrament meeting, so the congregation sang hymns the whole time. It was pretty cool. All of us missionaries were already planning on doing a musical number, so it worked out great. We sang "Nearer, My God, to Thee".

Well, that was pretty much our week. It was a great last week in Hudson. I hope you all have a great week!

District and Zone Shenanigans
1. The district.  We are pretty awkward.
2. This one is a little better.  The zone leaders decided to jump in.
3. Zone Service Day at Metropolitan Ministries!