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.