Wow mom, sounds like you have been having quite the week. Especially since I’ve been hearing about the freezing cold, snowy weather in those parts. I think about you every time someone from Utah comes in and tells me how the weather they left behind is. Ill try to blow some of our sunshine down there:) Happy Late Birthday Alexa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Of course I'm sending you something in the mail so get excited about that:) I'm sorry it wasn't the best of birthdays, but 17! Wow!!!!! Your all growed up:) I am sending a nice big hug for you in this email so enjoy:) I love you so much! This past week has been an interesting one for me as well. On Wed I had my 1st Zone Conference and then my interview with the mission pres. He just asked me how I was doing, how my Spanish is going (he really enjoys throwing random Spanish phrases out at hermana and I:) and asked if I had a boyfriend:). That letter you got was probably sent to a lot of different parents because pretty sure there are plenty of sisters who have people come visit them:) I don't know, maybe they have realized that I know like half my ward here because of school:). Ill prepare that bag though:)
So after Zone Conference, the rest of the week was kind of slow and a bit discouraging. Because 92% of the population here in Laie are LDS, investigators are generally a bit difficult to find. Therefore, we spend most of our time working with less-actives and trying to get referrals from the members and because the Stake President talked Pauli into signing up for classes, she is no longer in our YSA Non-Student ward and we can't teach her. We are super excited for her baptism though! Anyways, we still pressed forward and continued looking for people to teach, when the Lord provided a miracle for us! So on Sun. after sacrament was over, we were talking to some members when a young man came up to me and said "excuse me, are you a missionary?" I said "yes I am!" and he pointed at hermana and said "is she one too?" (She had thought he was just someone else I knew from Choir and wasn't listening). I grabbed her arm and said "Yes she is...hermana..." She turned around all confused and then he said, "hi, I'm interested in becoming a member!" "Well," I replied with a shocked smile on my face, "We are interested in teaching you!!!!" His name is Brandon Johnson from New Jersey and he just started at BYUH (he is in our Student ward) and his roommate invited him to church and he feels like he finally found the right church for him. He said that he ended up at BYUH because he turned down 10 different schools who wanted him for sports because he felt like BYUH was the one he needed to go to. He is taking a Book of Mormon class and says he really wants to get involved in this religion. Like Joseph Smith, he has been looking for the right church and has been a member of many different churches but feels that this is the right one!!!! I testified to him that the Holy Ghost has been leading him and that this he has found what he has been looking for. He just had a goofy smile on the whole time and said, "I know!!!" He has been so prepared its amazing! We taught him the first lesson and he said he will pray about it but he already thinks he knows the answer he will get. He even talked about repentance and how he wants to give his life to God! We set his Baptism date for Jan 26!!!!! When we asked him how he felt about that he started crying and said "So grateful! Yes, Definitely Yes!" It is sooooooo amazing to see the joy that this gospel brings to peoples lives!
Another miracle we had was not quite that fulfilling but still really cool. We had 5 students who were on a quick exchange trip from Mainland China come in. One of them spoke really good English and said that they wanted to know more about this religion. We showed them the Book of Mormon displays and explained what it was and the importance of it. I don't remember exactly what we said but hermana Rodriguez did a great job explaining it since they didn't have a Christian background. They found the one in their language and each of them picked it up and looked at it. We told them that it was important that they find out for themselves if it was true and that they needed to read the book and then ask God. They agreed that they needed to read it. Our spokesman said, "is this your only copy? can we have it?" We told them that we could give them each a copy if they wanted and they all agreed. He said that he actually had a friend who was Christian and had been to church a few times with him but he was trying to find the right one. We were so sad that we couldn't send missionaries to them since they are from Mainland China, but we sent them home with all we could and hopefully it will one day grow into more. Heavenly Father really is in charge of this work! It's been so humbling to see his hand working in the lives of so many people around the world! It really gives perspective.
I think the hardest part about Spanish here is that the mission pres. along with so many others keep reminding me that I need to get it down cause I only have a few more weeks with Hermana and then I will be doing the Spanish tours on my own. No pressure right. At one of our ward activities though I met a girl who just got back from her mission in New Jersey a week ago. She said that she actually started out her mission in English and then a few weeks into the field they switched her to Spanish. I asked her how on earth she learned the language and how long it took her to feel comfortable conversing. She said that the biggest thing she did was read the Book of Mormon in Spanish out loud (Which I have been doing faithfully) and that it took her about 6 mths to feel comfortable conversing. She ended up reading the BOM in Spanish 6 times on her mission and she testified that there was power in that book and that was really what helped her the most. She also set goals for herself and just trusted in the Lord. I know that the Lord will help me learn this language in his own time. I'm doing my best and striving to do better each day and that's all that counts:) Keep praying for me:)
I love this work and I love this gospel. I am thinking and praying for you daily and am forever grateful for all you've taught me. By the way mom, Hermana wants to meet you so bad now:) Sounds like she was raised in a way that is so similar to the way I was and we decided that our families would love each other...too bad one only knows Spanish and the other only English...guess one of you will have to learn the other language...how do you feel about learning Spanish?:)
Well I love you all so much! Keep me updated on Alexa and everything. Les Amo!
Hermana Rowley (Shayla)
Thanks so much for the package by the way! Hermana and I were twinsies last night it was cute:) Ill have to get a pic. And thanks for sending me James letter:) I did enjoy his message on the recorder and hopefully ill have time to write him back today. I actually just ran out of digestives. I've been so grateful to have ensymes here! And also, I was wondering if you could possibly send me another little Spanish hymnbook. I got my name engraved in mine in the MTC and everything and then I lost it like in the first week here. I wish I had been able to let you know before you sent the package. Sorry:( I don't need them right away though so don't worry about that. I love you so much mom! Thanks for all you are doing! I was talking to hermana and said that what I look forward to in having kids is that I can raise them like you raised us and they could grow up and be my best friends like you are to me! I am so grateful for your example and all that you do! I love you!!!!!
Te Amo, Hermana Rowley (Shayla)