Monday, September 26, 2016

Contagious Companions and Miracle Cards

Bom dia todos!
When starting this email, I thought it'd be really short like last week, and then my fingers started flying on my new Bluetooth keyboard and this week's is actually quite long.

It's sad to say that the most exciting part of our week was that Sister Watkins got sick. On Wednesday, she said she wasn't feeling good and then Thursday morning she said she needed to go to the doctors because she had a hard time walking.  One trip to the doctor's later and a stop by the pharmacy, she was drugged up with antibiotics, but nothing for the pain, so we sat around a lot both Thursday and Friday.  Friday night, however, she got a priesthood blessing to help her get better.
On Saturday, I let her sleep in for a couple of hours and when she did get up, she was hobbling.  It looked painful to breathe.  She acted tough, but it was obvious that dying probably looked like a better option. However, she took a bath Saturday morning, and when she got out, she was healed.  Like miraculously.  She felt completely fine--a little sore, I think she said--but you would not have been able to tell that she was "dying" just a few minutes before. (She was never actually contagious, but it just sounded good in the subject line).

This week, we did the inevitable.  We have been teaching CJ quite consistently this past month or so, but we had a feeling he didn't live in our area.  On Tuesday, we were finally able to get him to tell us his address, and sure enough, he did not live in our area.  Even though we found him, helped him get a testimony, committed him to be baptized, and taught him literally all he needs to know before being baptized, we have to pass him to other missionaries.  It's kind of irking and annoying, but it's the way it is for a reason, I guess.  We passed him to an area that gets a couple baptisms a month and the Kentlands curse is still in effect--that we have had one baptism this year and before that, it's been about 2/2.5 years since the last baptism #KentlandsCurse  It's just hard being in one of the lowest baptizing areas in the whole mission  :/

Our Polish family has now come to church 5 times and some of the ward activities as well.  Joanna and her daughter came to part of the General Women's broadcast on Saturday and she enjoyed it, but she said that if she had to watch it at her home, she wouldn't.... So we'll see how General Conference next week goes. Their family is really good about telling their friends what they believe.  They've even recently started telling them that they go to the Mormon church.  Which is interesting because we haven't been able to teach them the first thing about what Mormons believe yet...we're working on working around both our and their busy schedules...but at least they're excited :)

Another cool story for this week! So at the VC, we send missionaries referrals of those who come online to to request free copies of the Bibles etc, and then we stay in touch with them to make sure the missionaries give them what they asked for and to see if they're interested in learning more about the Church.  What's awesome is that a lot of those people actually do learn more and some even get baptized because of our efforts :) At the VC we have a goal of getting one baptism a day for a monthly goal of 30 or 31 baptisms.  This month we were struggling hardcore, with 9 baptisms on the 22nd of the month.  So the Sister Training Leaders got us all together and told us that we set the goal of having one baptism a day and we set that goal with faith, so Heavenly Father is going to help us reach that goal.  We were told that we needed to focus all our efforts for the rest of the month on finding those that have been baptized that we haven't followed up on.  This was a daunting task seeing as we had 8 days to find 21 baptisms, but we trusted in the Lord and went to work.
We all got out our old contacts and started to call and text everybody we haven't followed up with.  I personally, am pretty good at staying on top of those I send referrals to, but some sisters were calling people that they hadn't talked to since April and before. Those of us that either don't have a lot of people to follow up with or those that have followed up with all those that we have were then given another task.
An "upper box" is what we call a little card that a person who comes to the VC can fill out with their name and information saying that they want to learn more about the Church.  By the end of a VC sister's mission, they can collect a hundred of these little cards, but also by the end, many of the sisters (at least recently) had gotten lazy and many cards remained uncontacted. Our task, was to go through some of the bags of these cards of the sisters who have recently left and follow up on every single person. This task was almost more daunting than the first.
Sister Watkins and I decided to take up Sister E Wilson's bag and call all her contacts.  We weren't surprised with what we found.  There was one that was a bit surprising though.  Thursday night, Sister Watkins found somebody who had come into the VC over 3 years ago and had been baptized not very long after that.  So that means, this card was passed down from at least one other sister to Sister Wilson to Sister Watkins before anyone ever had the idea to call the person to see how they were doing.  That shouldn't happen.  But we added a baptism to the list and were one step closer to our goal :)
Last night--still going through these cards--I found a guy who was so prepared to hear the Gospel.  He had come in either a year ago or two years ago, or even longer ago for Christmas time, and he had never had missionaries come by his home.  He was so ready that he even took notes about what the Church believes while I was talking on the phone with him.  It was awesome.  However, at one point he asked me about what the meaning of the Church's name is.  This was a first.  I explained that we are the same church Christ established 2000 years ago, hence The Church of Jesus Christ.  Then I explained that "Latter-day" meant "last days" because we are living in the last days, all whilst, he was taking notes and saying "uh huh, okay".  And when I thought he was satisfied, he asked what the "Saint" part meant--what it meant to be a saint.  I wasn't exactly sure how to answer this question.  Here I am, my entire life, saying "I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" and I don't even know what I'm saying.  Little did he know that this was a teaching moment for both him and I when I told him that a saint is a person who tries their best to follow Jesus Christ.

It's as simple as that.  Jesus only wants us to try our best.  That's all He can ask.  But He also knows what we can become if we try our hardest and push ourselves to become greater than we now are.

"Keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever."
~Elder Jeffrey R Holland

Love you all so much!
~Sister Galli

All (but two who were sick) of the Visitors' Center sister missionaries.
Also, a senior missionary couple and the VC director and his wife.

VC sisters chatting in the hallway after their meeting

Sister Galli and Sister Watkins
(Someone sent this pic to me via text yesterday - LOVE it when that happens!)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Time is Ticking 🕑

Happy p-day everybody :)
I hope you've all had a wonderful week with many smiles
Unlike usual, I'll start out this email with the most exciting fact
and that is that yesterday marked my 4 month mark 🎉😱
It's both exciting and terrifying for me.
I'm mere days away from my 25% completion day.
I should have believed all those wise souls that said missions were short.
Although it is quite an accomplishment to have been serving God with
all the fibers of my being for four months, I'm more terrified to
think that I still have so much work to get done before I have to
begin "real life" again.
But time is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.  We really
ought to cherish all the time that we have.
No matter where you've been, who you were or who you are, you can
change.  You can improve.  Today is the first day of the rest of your
life.  So act today in a way that you'd like to be for the rest of
your life.  But we also know life doesn't even end with death.
Moments are the molecules that make up eternity.
I think this video is really good an applies to a lot of our hectic lives

Not much update on the work in Kentlands.  We met with Patty and CJ
again last week and are planning to meet with both of them again this
week.  Also, our Polish family were finally able to move into their
town house so once they're unpacked, we'll be able to actually teach
them the lessons and not just trying to explain things during church
while the teachers are speaking.

Sorry if this email sounds a little jumbled or scatterbrained--trying
to write it quickly so Sister Watkins can use my iPad to email her
~Sister Galli

Six of the 14 missionaries that came from the MTC together

Monday, September 12, 2016

Bambi Took Place in Maryland 🌲

Happy Fall one and all!  
Well, kinda.  It still gets up to 95° here every day, but the sun is setting earlier, so it gets down to a comfortable 86° by the time we're heading home.🙃
Our air conditioning broke again this week so we set up the space cooler again #InRecordTime

But as for the news you've all been reading this email for, I have been training this week!
The trainees arrived safely Tuesday afternoon and we got to meet them and be assigned this Wednesday.  My companion for this transfer is.... *drumroll* Sister Watkins.  She's from West Jordan.  Her personality reminds me a lot of Brandon (my brother)--very yellow (color code).  Not as perfect of a match as Sister Minguito and I, but we still get a long and laugh a lot... Probably too much.
Fellow missionaries, it is the weirdest flipping thing going from being trained to training with no time in between.  One day it's like, ah, the senior companion will handle it to, Ah! I'm the senior companion and I have to handle this.

Every transfer (6 weeks) our VC schedule changes, and this transfer, we'll have a lot less time in our area, so it'll be difficult to get in everything that we need to do.
Our golden Polish family has consistently come to church for the past three weeks but have been super busy throughout the week that we haven't met with them to give them a formal lesson.  We hope to meet with them Saturday to help them unpack and teach the Restoration.

A few last things before I wrap this up.
One, now that I'm the senior companion, I'm driving us around everywhere.  
Two, Maryland drivers are crazy.  
Three, this mission has one of the highest rates of auto accidents (mostly missionaries being rear-ended or hitting deer). 
Four, I haven't gone an entire day in Maryland without seeing at least one deer (but it's usually closer to 4/5). 
All these facts are leading up to while I was turning on the on-ramp to get on the freeway (accelerating, mind you), three deer decide it's a good idea to run across the road.  Luckily I saw them in time to hit the brakes really quick and thank goodness no one was behind me.  #MarioKartTaughtMeFastReactionTime
Everyone survived the encounter, including us, the car, and the deer, but the deer won't last much longer if they're stupid enough to dash across parts of the freeway. #NaturalSelection #SadButTrue 

Remember, the Church is True, the Book is Blue, and God loves You!
~Sister Galli

Final picture being Sister Minguito's companion
(Hannah says she misses her a lot. They only see each other for a few minutes every other day now.
She misses her wisdom. Hannah said, "She'll be one of those people I'll be friends with throughout life and in the eternities". As a mom, it warms my heart to hear her talk about her trainer this way.
I thank my Heavenly Father for putting this amazing person in Sister Galli's path.)  

New companion, Sister Watkins from West Jordan, UT

Random selfie with Hermana Ruiz de Mendoza, who is also from Spain
They are doing some exterior work on the temple and Moroni came down for some TLC

Some of the VC sisters with the Angel Moroni in the background

For size reference

Many of the VC missionaries
#NoFilter #NoNothin'

Monday, September 5, 2016

Enter Player 5 🎮

 Let's see... I'll start with the more routine news and then end with the most exciting news so just scroll down if that's all you read these emails for.  #NotJudging #We'reAllBusy

This week has certainly been one for the books.  A lot has happened in a very short amount of time.
First off, a funny pattern I've noticed for P-days.  Three weeks ago, our apartment didn't have wifi, two weeks ago was no water, last week was no AC, so I'm really "excited" to see what basic necessity we will not have access to today. Woo! #GhettoApartments #WestSideLyfe

We were able to help our Polish family this week make their frantic move out of their black mold infested apartment on the 31 before midnight.  Best news of the week is that they were indeed able to rent the townhouse they've been looking at starting the 15th of September and it's still in our area. 🎉
We still haven't put them on baptismal date but we hope to this week :)

We were also able to meet with CJ again.  He's so solid.  We had planned to teach him the restoration (as it's the first lesson) and he already knew it so well down to the details that we usually don't even share the first lesson, so we just taught to whatever he had questions about.  We invited him to be baptized October 1 and he accepted.  Although, we suspect he doesn't live within our area and, therefore, can't baptize him in our congregation (mission rules) but I'm counting him as someone I've helped be baptized  :)

We received a sad email last night with a huge long list of new rules being implemented staring today.  Most of them make sense and will make us all better missionaries and more effective, but some I outright disagree with like the fact that, now, we are only allowed to go to the city once or twice a year...........
I have no desire to be a disobedient missionary as I know obedience brings blessings, but that doesn't seem right to me.  We are a stone's throw from the Capitol of the World and we aren't allowed to see it?  And some of us will never have the opportunity to ever see it again.  I'm going to write a concerned letter about it to President and hopefully he'll reconsider it.  But as for now, I'm obedient and therefore, there will be a lot less pictures being sent to all of you as we will be doing a lot less picture-worthy things.  My apologies.

As for the more exciting parts of life, transfers are on Wednesday and I got a call last Thursday. We had called president Johnson earlier that day because we had a couple of difficult questions, so when he called us back later that night, that's all we expected it to be about.  But he answered our question and then said he had been praying a lot lately and had taken 'this' matter to the Lord (had no idea what he was talking about), but that he had received revelation that both Sister Minguito and I are to be trainers next transfer. 
Y'know what a cat looks like when it gets scared, with all its hair standing on end?  That's how I felt.  It just caught me so off guard.  To be honest, I said yes then passed the phone to Sister Minguito and then the next 15 minutes after that I have no idea what was said.
In the mission, you are trained for two transfers (12 weeks) and then you're just a normal missionary unless you get called to be a trainer.  All three of my trainers are going home this week or in 6 weeks, so I'm used to the idea that trainers are the experienced, seasoned missionaries towards the end of their mission.  I've been out less than two transfers.  Help.  Many prayers please. 

With that being said, this week I'll receive my 5th companion (which is so not normal).  The list thus far consists of Sister Escobar, Sister McArthur, Sister Williams, Sister Minguito, and now this new sister.  Most sister missionaries have 5-7 companions total throughout their mission.  Let's see if I can break the record for most companions over the course of my mission.  Woo!

I hope you all have a great week!

~Sister Galli

It was the director of the Visitor's Center's 50th wedding anniversary, so they did this to his office

Riding out the lack of central air for 5 nights like this

District picture