Monday, January 26, 2015

Celebrating Eternal Families...... 1-26-15

Adding another week to the list! And a great week it was! I am thankful for the experiences I have been given!

So I have to start off with the best part. This past Wednesday I had the honor to travel down to Montevideo and meet up with one of my former comps Elder Toledo as well as Hermana Chen. In December 2013 we were all in Carmelo teaching Eduardo and Cinthia when he got baptized and the family started going to church. And now January 21, 2015 was when everything was made Eternal in the Temple :) We arrived at the temple early that morning and they were giddy as ever for the day. They first were Endowed and we were able to accompany them in the session! Cinthia was extremely emotional and Eduardo was more like "what just happened", haha - how I remember that feeling. 
The family (minus their daughter who was asleep in someones arms) and us Missionaries - all GLOWING!
More photos in the in the Salto picture folder

Then in the afternoon they were sealed as a family. Elder Toledo and I were the witnesses and wow I have to say I was truly so happy seeing that family be sealed together. Elder Toledo, Hermana Chen, and I all had a flashback to his baptism too because we had planned the Baptism and us as missionaries, we sang Families can be Together Forever. The Spirit that we felt singing that song and forseeing them dressed in white came true! We three stood there speechless after, pondering and enjoying the blessing that the Lord had let us participate in. It will be something that I will never forget and I can't wait to be in contact with them. :) 

Now I'll come down from Cloud 9 back to Earth. The week here in Ceibal was full of a lot of great lessons, scorching heat and seeing people with desires to make changes! One of the lessons that I enjoyed most was with a Less Active mom of 4 kids. We talked to them about the Atonement of Christ and the upmost priority it plays in our lives. We shared our experiences especially with the kids and teens. It was cool to be able to testify and give them counsel and hope for the future. They listened very intently. They didn't go to church Sunday, but I know that there was a seed planted there. Now we are just waiting to be able to talk to the whole family together and see if the father wants to enter in the path too :) 

We are seeing great things here in Ceibal and there is so much potential! The ward has a big vision of what it can become if we all work together in it. We have the goal that by the end of February to have 120 people in church and I truly have no doubt that we can get there. The atmosphere with the leaders and members is something that I haven't really experienced before. It changes when everyone has the same desire to rescue those that are off the path and try to find those who are ready to join in :) We are going to push forward building on those desires trusting in the Lord. Thanks for all of the love, support, and prayers you have given me! I appreciate them so much! Have a great week to finish out January? CRAZY!!!!
                   ELDER Devashrayee

Monday, January 19, 2015

The "New Guys" and I guess I am Tall????..... 1-19-15

The "new guy" haha. That is exactly how we feel here in Ceibal. They say that every time we meet somebody new along with the "wow you are tall", "how is the air up there" and then they look at my comps name and laugh (it is funny for those of you who know Spanish) and just stare at my name tag and continue laughing because they have no idea how to even start saying it. It has been quite the experience opening up a new area, especially with a Latin Comp. I realized that it had been 6 months straight with a Gringo and I'm loving having Elder Cepeda as my comp. He is from Ecuador and has a year and 9 months in the mission. 

Starting off here we have passed by a ton of members houses and gotten a feel of the situation they are in, and finding out who from each family is active, less-active, or not a member. It has been great to have that perspective because there are no "habits" in the work. It is a fresh start and the members have really responded well. The area was left pretty dead, so we are looking to the members and the leaders of each organization to give us lists of less-actives so we can have places to go and look for people on the way. The people are a lot different from some of my previous areas, everyone always offers us food. :)

 We had a great experience this past Saturday and Sunday. Saturday we did service for a sister here who has been having really big problems in her Marriage. She told us that he is always working and is probably going to leave her with the 2 little kids. All of this chaos going on didn't give her the desire at all to clean her house for the past few months. We spent the whole morning with the Sister Missionaries giving the house a make over! We spent our time in the kitchen and the sisters folded clothes and organized the 2 rooms they have. It really was a sad sight at first, but by the end she truly was so grateful for what we had done. She had a complete change of heart and the Spirit in the house truly had changed :) That was the best part about leaving, knowing that she was going to have a little more hope.

The rest  of the afternoon we spent visiting the Converts from 2013 and 2014 inviting them to go to church the next day. We saw the fruits the next day and it was a great way to start off this change. There were 104 people in church! We also found out in church that we had a talk that day- good thing we as missionaries are always well prepared haha. What a blessing we have to serve in this great work and get to know our Savior more. I know he loves us and has shown us the way to get back to our Heavenly Father. I'm so grateful for that Knowledge and the Love that they have towards us. This is His Church and He gives us the chance to serve and be perfected as we are faithful and apply the Atonement in our lives. Hope you all have a great week!
                      ELDER Devashrayee

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Experiences in a "Bubble"...... 1-13-15

Another great week here in Salto Uruguay! It ended with a bang and a lot of changes coming here this next change. So I'll start out with my change......... I'm going to stay here in Salto! BUT I'm going to open up a different area here with a new Zone Leader named Elder Cepeda! The new area is called Ceibal and is right next door to the area that I am in right now. Elder Johnson is going to stay here and train to finish his mission. There are a lot of "older" missionaries that are leaving and the Zone this next change is going to be quite young- but that's what brings energy :) It was weird to find out that I was going because I felt that I really hadn't gotten to know really well the people and we have been seeing so many great blessings and experiences as a companionship, but the Lord knows why and I am really excited to get going in Ceibal. 

So some experiences that we have had this past week. President Smith came up to Salto and we had a great Zone Training going over all of the new changes that are happening throughout the missions here in South America! I love listening to President and the Spirit he has for the Work of the Lord. I know that 2015 is the year that the Lord is really starting to focus on the Gathering of Israel, whether it is through new members or helping those who are already members come back, we are gathering His Children to the truth. 

2013 was the when the Prophet announced that the Lord was hastening His work, that D&C 88:73 has come to pass. 2014 was when the Prophet announced that Members and Missionaries need to work together in the Lord's vineyard. And now 2015 The First Presidency is focusing on the Gathering. Doesn't it sound like the Lord is trying to tell us something?? What a blessing it is to be out here in such a special time! I know that what we are going to do this year is going to make great changes down here in Uruguay. 

Then yesterday night we had some experiences that really hit home. We went to a less active family and we started out talking about Alma 5:38: how the Good Pastor is calling and we need to listen to his voice. The Spirit entered right there, and we kept reading there in Alma 5: 42,43,49, and 50 where it talks about repentance. The Spirit literally called them to Repentance through us. That is exactly how I felt and they felt it too. We were sitting outside and everything yet it was perfectly calm- not one car, dog barking, it was silent. It felt like there was a bubble around us and it was a personal experience for every single one of us there. At the end the Mom who never wanted to listen to us told us thank you for coming and for the message. It struck home. We left just so grateful for what we felt and the fact that we were there for that, but the day didn't end there. 

We were around later and we showed up to a house that we had contacted before. She (Soledad) let us in and said that her son had commented that we had come by and asked some great questions that he couldn't answer them, haha. She asked us what we did and we showed her the "Because of Him" video. Once again it was like a bubble! We talked about the Love God has for us and the Promise her son, who is Autistic, has to have a perfect body after this Life thanks to Christ. We asked her how she felt, to see if it was just us feeling the Spirit so strongly, and she answered "I am full of peace and tranquility". She accepted to have us come back and tell her how she can gain that peace in her own life :) 

The Lord gave us a great day to finish off as a companionship! I know that He lives and touches each one of us with His Spirit. We just need to listen and follow and find out for ourselves. Thanks for all of the support that you have given me and love you all! Make it a great week! 
                                         ELDER Devashrayee

Monday, January 5, 2015

"Fireworks" enter in 2015....... 1-5-15

Whats up 2015!! Can't believe it is here, but I wish everyone a great year and hope that it has started out well! Every day counts to make a year good! 

Our year here in the mission has started with Fireworks! (in both senses of the word) There were once again thousands of fireworks shot off that I was able to enjoy from our 2nd floor apartment :) It really is a tradition that I would love to continue there in the states, but then I remember that it is 0 degrees there haha. 

The other Firework was the "Bomb" that we received from the Churches South America South Presidency of the 70. The new way we are going to be "counting" our work has changed. The new Key Indicators are ONLY Baptisms and Attendance! Then each mission has the freedom to add a couple of other indicators that are particular for the mission and will help those two main Goals grow. Here in our mission we are going to 1- Still keep track of hours working in the vineyard WITH members 2- Track New Investigators we find WITH members  3- Track Investigators that are progressing with a baptismal date. And 4- Track "progressing" members- that consists of any member that is moving toward the Necessary Covenants to be able to live with God and Christ again as a family!! 

Last week we as Zone Leaders went down to Montevideo to have a big council talk with President and start this year off by following the leaders direction. It really is the Lord´s work of Salvation. It doesn't matter who we are or where we are in the path, we all need to move forward and help others along the way by baptizing, rescuing, and retaining everyone! We had a big discussion/study of Doctrine and Covenants 101:43-62. With verse 55 being the theme and focus of the year being the WHOLE STRENGTH OF THE HOUSE doing work in the Lord´s vineyard! I am super stoked for it, and it is going to be a great learning experience helping the leaders and the members join in on the blessings of His Work! 

Here in the Area we have really been focusing on figuring out who, out of the people we have found, are ready to move forward and be baptized. We had a great lesson with a family watching the Restoration video this week. They have had terrible experiences with churches and don't want anything to do with "going to one." But they have made some great progress and understand the importance of what we have to share- That Christ's Church has truly been restored to the Earth with the Authority of God and the Fullness of the Gospel. It is all based on what we want to do. If we pray with true intent asking God, He will answer us. That is what they said they would do and it was awesome to have a member there with us who gave such a powerful testimony of the Church and its purpose. The member just barely got sealed to his family this past year and has a very strong testimony of how the Lord blesses the family through HIS Church, Authority, and Covenants. 

Another Cool experience that actually happened on the 1st of January :) Was being able to talk to a less active woman of 15 years that we found. At first she was really bitter against things that happened earlier that caused her to leave the church, but this visit was different. We went and talked to her about how she felt back then, why she got baptized, and what baptism means for us. We basically taught the Restoration and she had a complete change of heart because the Spirit was there testifying of what we were saying. It was such a great experience to see the change in her thanks to the Power of the Holy Ghost. We are going to be working with her this upcoming week and helping her get back on the path! 

I also got to do divisions with Elder Abel this week too :) It was a great day with the kid! We talked about things we have learned and how we have grown. Love this work and Love the chance that I have to try to grow in it. These are my last 6 months so lets all make 2015 a great year!! Love you guys!
            ELDER Devashrayee