Monday, September 30, 2013

Hey hey hey familia!
The week are zooming by! California is a great place to be and I am learning a lot. Sorry, there is especially not a lot of time this week for emails, but just know I love the work, I love Sister Cusick, and I love the Lord! Things are going well.
Our mission goal for the month of September was 40 baptisms. We found out today that we reached 38! We know that all of our many prayers do not go unanswered and that we could not have found that many without the help of the Lord. The goal for October is also 40 so we will be working extra hard again to try to reach this goal.
One of our zone goals is also to search out and find people wearing a specific color each week. It is kindof fun to keep our eyes out for this throughout the week. We can better recognize those who are prepared. This week was pink and we actually found a new investigator this week through it. Our zone leaders are the best.
One thing that I have really learned this week through teaching and through my studies is how connected everything in the gospel is. Everything relates back to Christ and is all so interwoved and interrelated. Things such as faith, hope, and charity. Or repentence, faith, and prayer. Everything builds upon each other and testifies of the other truths that are in the gospel. How cool is that?! I can have faith that the entirety of the gospel is true because all of the pieces fit together and point to the Savior. I love my Redeemer Jesus Christ and know that He is the Son of God. Because of Him, everything we do as missionaries will be worth it. I am working to see all of the people I teach and talk to as he does, and it makes a huge difference. The work is great! Every day is a great day as a missionary.
 
Love,
Sister Marchant
 
 
Hello President Castro!******
It has been a great week. Thank you so much for your council and love at Mission President Interviews. I felt the Spirit so strong throughout the hours we were being trained by you and the Sister Training Leaders. We have such great leaders in this mission and I am always rejuvinated and encouraged when I hear from all of them. Thank you so much for believing in us and supporting us through all of our efforts. Together we can do miracles for the Lord!
Every week seems to go faster and faster. I cannot believe it is already Preparation Day again! The days are zooming by.
This week we taught our investigator Leonard, Lauren, Paul, the Ruiz family, and a recent convert, Sister Johnston.
Leonard is doing well. We had a lesson planned with him earlier in the week that fell through. We came back later in the week to visit him again. It was a miracle that we found him because we actually had to change our plans a little bit and visited him later than planned. He was not home but we saw him walking home from work as we were leaving his trailer park. I know that God is in this work because we would not have found him if we had done what we wanted to do originally! We had a great lesson with him and planned another one where we will teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ later on next week. We asked him how he was feeling about his baptism that is planned for a few weeks and he said he hasn't received a firm answer yet but that he is very willing to pray and ponder on it this week. He has a good heart and I know that the power of the gospel can really bless his life.
We met Lauren while knocking last week. She has been through some rough times and right now has an unstable relationship with her family. We taught her the Restoration this week and she had a lot of sincere questions. She has not been very religious for a long time but now has realized that she needs God's help in her life and is willing to come to Him. I can tell she has real intent and really wants to become better. We think she can go really far, but the only problem is that she is moving to Las Vegas next week. We exchanged phone numbers and will hopefully be able to refer her to missionaries in her new area when we find out exactly where she will be living.
We taught Paul a lesson on prayer again this week. He is having some bad pressure from his family to stop meeting with us and is wavering on his testimony. He will not tell us much, but he did pray this week and is still searching for answers. Paul has been taught a long time and we might drop him after our next lesson if he will not act or keep his commitments. This week Sister Johnston came to our lesson. She was a HUGE help and really related to him so much better than we could. I have really seen the power of member-present lessons this week. They can make all the difference.
We finally met the Ruiz family! Wahoo! They are so great. There was actually a wrong address listed in our area book and they were not returning calls, so we had trouble finding where they lived. But this week we decided to knock around close to where their address was listed and we knocked into them! They are such a kind and happy family. Rihanna (17) is excited about the gospel and really wants to learn more. Paul and Sandy (dad and mom) and their sons Gabe and Noah are also willing to hear our message and I think they could become progressing investigators very soon. We will be praying a lot for them this week. We are teaching a lesson on following the prophet and inviting them to come to General Conference this weekend. I think this could really be a turning point in their understanding and acceptance of the gospel. We also found a member couple to come with us to their lesson this week who we think will be a really great fit for them. Our Heavenly Father is helping make it possible for us to meet and teach his prepared children. I have really come to know that everyone we teach is important to Him.
We have started to create a very trusting relationship with Sister Johnston. She has been through just about everything difficult possible in this life, but now has a true desire to repent and change. I love hearing her extremely strong testimony of the truth of this gospel and of the Holy Ghost. She can recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost strongly in her life and is striving with all of her heart to come closer to God. She came to the Relief Society Broadcast last Saturday and is excited to come to General Conference this week. She is also planning on officially quitting smoking again this weekend. I know this will be extremely difficult for her, but I also know that huge blessings come from following the prophet and keeping the commandments. I believe that this weekend will be a weekend of miracles for her and for all of our investigators who are touched and taught by the messages of Conference.
Speaking of which, I have never been more excited to go to General Conference in my life! After teaching about the Restoration of modern-day revelation and prophets for the past month, hearing the words of our prophet and apostles means so much more to me. I never want to miss a session of Conference for as long as live, for I now appreciate a lot more the importance of their words and how much they can bless our lives. This Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is inspired and directed by God Himself. I know we will be greatly strengthened this weekend.
Thank you President!
Sister Marchant

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hello Hello Hello!!!
This week went by pretty quick. It took me a while to transition into the missionary schedule last week so that I wasn't tired all the time but now I am feeling great. We walk a lot without having a car all the time and are getting pretty tan and buff. I am slowly trying to get ready for the super sun of Brazil.
The weather of this town is unlike anything I have ever experienced before. It is pretty much perfect every day with lots of sun and just a few little wispy clouds, but this wind is ridiculous! I have never felt so much wind every single day in my life. Last night we were woken up multiple times by this huge storm, but no, there wasn't any rain or thunder or anything, just super loud wind shaking our little apartment. Wierd stuff. But it makes walking easy because we never have to take an umbrella or jacket. I can see why California is such a desirable place to live.
Last week I think I forgot to tell you that we are actually whitewashing this area. It has been interesting trying to get to know everyone and get in contact with all of our investigators (that has been one of the hardest parts of getting started. Lots of the sisters' previous investigators will not answer their phones ever or return calls. Hopefully that will change this week), especially since we are both relatively new missionaries. But we are working hard and getting to know names and faces little by little. The ward is still super supportive even though they do not know us and loved the last sisters that just left.
We were able to go a baptism this week!!! It was for a man named Vince Long who is going to the Singles Ward now so he was baptized by the elders over the third ward. He was actually knocked into weeks ago by Sister Cusick herself so this was a pretty big event for her. I felt the Spirit stronger there I might say than I have the whole time I have been out in the field. It gave us something exciting to work towards and showed me just how much joy can come from this gospel. The Church is so true! I love watching people learn about these things and working with them to help them change. The other missionaries in our district are all great and hardworking, and I know with this army of missionaries we can do miracles.
 
I love you all,
 Sister Marchant
 
 P.S. Thanks so much to Emma and Aunt Marty for your great letters! I got them last Saturday. Also thanks for all of the wonderful emails I recieved from the fam and especially Grandma! You are the bestest.
 
 
Hello President Castro,****** (these stars mean how many times we exercised this week)
It has been a wonderful week. Sister Cusick and I are working hard together and the time is going by fast. I feel much more accostumed to the jobs and schedule of missionary life. There is a lot to take in but Sister Cusick is very helpful and is teaching me well. She is a great missionary.
This week we had a few really great lessons. We are still teaching Leonard who is a older single man. We taught him the Plan of Salvation this week and set him with a baptismal date! He still seems a little bit unsure but accepts what we teach and is willing to learn more. This was my first time teaching the Plan of Salvation in the mission field so it was really helpful to me. There is so much wonderful knowledge in that lesson that I often take for granted because I have known it all my life. I am grateful for the chance to teach the basics and relearn all of these fundamental doctrines along with our investigators.
We also taught Paul again about prayer and a little about tithing. He is struggling to keep commitments and we are worried he is losing his motivation to learn. He is having problems with the Word of Wisdom and with pressure from his family not to meet with us. We will continue to try to help him stay strong and pray that he will regain his desire he once had to come closer to Christ. We will see him again on Friday and hopefully be able to sort everything out.
We had our first lesson with our new investigator Frankie this week. He is also an older, single man but has a lot of support from his two daughters and grandkids. We met him street contacting and then came back to his house on Friday to teach the Restoration. He seemed to accept it all well except he doesn't think he has the ability to pray with us. We will continue to teach him about prayer and about its importance in receiving a testimony. He liked the idea of there being prophets all throughout time. He also told us that he feels like he can be as spiritual as he needs to be at home and feels no need to come to church. He has a very strong connection with his family so I think when we teach him the Plan of Salvation this week he will be more receptive to us and see the importance of the gospel to his life. We are trying to change our lesson plans and have been EDPEPing to apply especially to him, and I think this will help us to be able to teach more to his needs.
We also had a lesson with Jose and his family this week! This lesson went really well and we are excited to teach them again. Jose, his wife Maria, their daughter, and their friend were all there for most of the lesson. We taught about prophets a lot and about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. Jose had been meeting with the Jehovah Witnesses in the past and said he was willing to discuss religion but that they couldn't answer all of his questions. I think it will be comparatively easier to make return appointments with them than with some of our other investigators because they are very open and are still searching for which church is right for them. Maria and her daughter are going to a Christian church in the area and are really pushing for Jose to come to any church as well. Jose doesn't go to church and is still trying to decide if he even believes God exists. Our lesson with them this week went really well and they asked some great questions. We are planning on teaching them again soon to teach a lot from the Book of Mormon and to hopefully commit them to baptism. Of all of our investigators we have so far, I am most excited about this family. We do not know them super well yet but I believe that they can change.
We had a lesson with a recent convert, Michelle Johnston, yesterday. She hasn't been coming to church in a while and has had some really difficult problems going on in her personal life the past few weeks, but we finally got a hold of her this week and she is starting on the path back to reactivity. She relapsed into coffee and smoking recently after going a long time without it. She has such a strong desire to change and wants to do what is best for her daughter. She is receiving a lot of pressure and grief from her extended family that is making it hard for her to stay focused, but she is definitely making some very important steps to come back to the church. She received a blessing yesterday, and talked to us a lot about her needs and how she could tell a huge difference when she had the Spirit versus when she feels when she is smoking. We know she can change and are trying to help her in every way possible to get her life back on track. We know she can do it.
We are slowly starting to get to know this area now! We found a few new investigators this week and are getting to know the members better. It was a little frustrating for me at the beginning because it was a lot to take in and I am bad at remembering names, but as we are having dinners with members and interacting more with the ward I am starting to feel more comfortable. Sister Cusick and I are also becoming closer as a companionship and working better in unity. She teaches me every day and I know it was inspired to have us serve together. Everything else is going great! We were able to go to the baptism of Vince Long this week which was a super spiritual experience and was great to see the major happiness that can come from doing this work. We are ready to continue to work hard and find more people to bring to the waters of baptism. This gospel is so true! My testimony has definitely grown of the importance of this work this week and the wonderful blessings that can come from it.
Thanks for all you do,
Sister Marchant

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hello My Wonderful Family!!!
I am here in California!!! I have never seen a more beautiful place. It is perfect, sunny weather every day and there are more flowers than I have ever seen in my life growing everywhere. Every day is a good day in the California Ventura Mission. Before I tell you anything else, here is my mailing information. If you feel so inclined, please mail everything to the mission home address here and then they will forward it on to our apartment address in San Luis Obispo the same day. Also for packages, please send them in by US mail (first class or priority) not through UPS or any other carrier or we have to wait until transfers to pick them up. Also they have asked that anything you send is addressed with our full names (Sister Eliza Marchant).
 
California Ventura Mission
3301 West Gonzales Road
Oxnard, CA 93036
 
Ok, thanks for getting all of that down. Now for the good stuff: I am serving in the San Luis Obispo 2nd Ward with none other than Sister Cusick! (She knows one of the Sisters in my district in the MTC (Sister Vanhoven) and also lived in Frankford, Kentucky for a few years. Does that name ring a bell Andersons? We figured out that we apparently played games in the basement of the Andersons together at Ben's Farewell. Who knew our lives would cross so much again? The Lord works in mysterious ways and has a sense of humor) Sister Cusick is from St. Augustine, Florida and actually worked in the San Luis Obispo 1st ward for the last two transfers, so she knows many of the people there. She has been out for three months and is an excellent tranier. I love working with her so much! She is a great example at being extremely obedient to all of the mission rules and schedule. She is very hard-working and patient with me with any questions or concerns that I have. We have been doing a lot of EDPEPing (Explain, Demonstrate, Practice, Evaluate, and rePractice (aka roleplaying)) lately, especially as part of the 12-week training program. It has been very helpful and I feel like I am learning a ton from Sister Cusick everyday.
We only have half an hour to email here so I can't write much but I will attach my letter to our Mission President, President Castro. He is softspoken but very kind and I know he will lead us in righteousness. I also will try to send pictures next week if I can. There is no news on the visa but apparently as soon as I get it I will be leaving to Brazil the same week. I'll definitely keep you updated. Sorry I really want to write more but really have to go! Feel free to ask me any questions you might have, and if you want me to answer anything in the same week please bold or highlight them in your weekly emails (I usually just print off your emails and read them later). I love you all and love being a missionary!
 
Love,
Sister Marchant
 
 
Hello President Castro! 
It has been a great week in the San Luis Obispo 2nd Ward! I feel so blessed to be assigned to this mission and this area. Sis. Cusick is an amazing trainer. She is so kind and patient. Our 12-week training program is going really well, and I know I am learning new things every day. We have been doing a lot of EDPEPs and praciticing with our investigators in mind. Our personal and companionship studies have been very investigator focused as well. This is something I was not very good at at the MTC but that I am really learning to apply. My studies have been increasingly more meaningful throughout the week. We also have been doing Portuguese language studies. I have been reviewing a lot of what we studied at the beginning of the MTC and it is encouraging to know that I still remember almost everything. Overall we have been working hard each day. Sister Cusick is a great example of following all of the mission schedule and rules with exactness. I feel very safe and obedient when I work with her. I love learning and talking with people with Sister Cusick.
We have found a few new investigators this week! We have been doing a lot of knocking and done multiple doorstep Restoration lessons. Something I have really been working on is moving straight into the Restoration and teaching the entire lesson when we first meet people. The doctrine in the Restoration of the gospel is so powerful! I feel the Spirit with us every time we teach that lesson and I know that when we teach with our whole souls, the Spirit will carry the message into the hearts of those we teach.
We had a short lesson with Paul Berry this week. He has been investigating the church for a long time and has been taught by multiple missionaries. We taught him about the law of tithing and invited him to read 2 Nephi 32. He is concerned that he cannot afford to pay tithing and I do not think he understands the blessings he can receive from it. He seems to be at a standstill right now in his testimony, but we are praying for him and continuing to visit him often to see how things are going. We have another lesson with him on Thursday and will hopefully try to stop in one more time earlier in the week.
We are also teaching Lu. He has a baptismal date for the 28th of September and is doing well! He came to church yesterday and was looking great (according to our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Abbott, he was looking better than ever before). He just quit smoking cold turkey last week and we are going to visit him tomorrow to see how that is going and if he is still on the mark for his baptism. We have high hopes for Lu and believe he can do it. We have a few of the commandments left to teach him, but I think he will be able to accept them because he believes that this gospel is true.
We also had our first lesson with Lori this week. She is a friend and coworker of the Krafts, who are strong members in our ward. She had been taught the Restoration a few weeks ago by the previous Sisters, so we were planning on teaching the Plan of Salvation, but when we got there she said she did not remember most of any of it so we retaught the Restoration. She does not seem to understand well the need to pray for an answer about the Book of Mormon, but we explained the power of prayer the best we could and invited her to try to pray again this week with all of her heart. We also invited her to read Moroni 10. She wasn't available to meet with us for another two weeks but we set up another appointment and we are praying that she will feel the Spirit as she reads the Book of Mormon between now and then.
Overall the work is going well. We are working hard and coming home exhausted every night. We worked out with the other Sisters in San Luis Obispo 1st Ward to switch off with the car every other day. That is going well and we are able to accomplish everything we need to. We sent around a calandar this week in Relief Society to ask for rides from the members and they were very willing to help us in this aspect. I know it will work out and we will be stronger because of it. The members in this ward are great. The Ward Mission Plan is amazing. They have called about 15 ward missionaries and then have also called a third of the Ward for four months to be "Ward Mission Families." These families are striving to be more aware of missionary opportunities in their day to day lives and have set a specific date for missionary work. They are praying and searching to find someone to refer to us to teach by that date. This is a relatively new system for their ward but I am excited about it and really think that we will find great success through the help of the members. They are so supportive and have accepted both Sister Cusick and I right into their ward. We will be relying on the members a lot in our teaching and finding goals.
My goals for this next week is to have more effective personal study, and to be braver in street contacting. I could definitely talk to more people as we travel between appointments. Our companionship goals are to invite more people to be baptized and to discuss in more detail how we did after all lessons and declarations. I know that through the help of the Lord we will be able to come closer in our companship and to work better in unity. I know we can teach with more power and authority and we can find more people to teach. I am excited to keep working so that I can teach more effectively and that I can help our lessons flow better. There is so much to learn on a mission! I am so grateful that I was assigned to work with Sister Cusick because she can teach me everything that is important for me to know and do in this work. More than ever before, I know that this is the work of God and that I am exactly where I am meant to be at this exact time of my life. The Lord is in complete control and will lead us to those who are prepared to hear His word!
Thanks for all that you do,
Sister Marchant

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Oi minha família!
I hope things are going well for all of you! Life at the MTC is as good as ever. Every day seems to go faster and faster. I have officially been a missionary for a full month! Where does all the time go?
Last Tuesday for devotional Elder Anderson came! He spoke on love and sacrifice. He said "you sacrifice for the things you love the most, and you love the things you sacrifice the most for." That is so true. One of my favorite quotes has always been "nothing worth having comes easy", and this is ever so true as a missionary. The most life changing moments and experiences take a lot of work on your part. This week has been especially inspirational for me. I have been thinking a lot about my relationship with God and how I can better follow His will for me. I am working to sanctify myself and be completely worthy for whatever the Lord would have me do. It is a long work in progress, but I am slowly starting to become the missionary I want to be. The MTC prepares you so well. This is the best schooling I have ever had. It will be hard to leave this holy, wonderful place.
After the devotional they held us over for about 20 minutes because there was a thunderstorm going on outside. It made me very happy and reminded me of home:). Eventually they just let us loose and we all ran from the Marriott Center back to campus. It was pretty funny to see all these missionaries running around like crazy and getting soaked. If we can't go to Brazil, Brazil will come to us! This is only the beginning of being completely soaked with no where to go put straight into the rain. Bring on Brazil!
Speaking of which, no news on the visa yet. We get our reassignments (or visas) on Friday! I won't know anything until then about where I'll be for the next few months. I will most likely be reassigned somewhere stateside and leave on Monday, but some people have been leaving as early as Saturday. There is so much suspense! I am really excited to find out. It's like receiving another mission call. I will get to have one more preparation day the day before I leave so I will let you know all the details as soon as possible. Who knows, maybe I'll be seeing some of you soon...I could go anywhere in the whole US!
We had the chance to actually skype with a Brazilian this week! His camera wasn't working so we couldn't see him, but we could hear him and he could see us. That was an interesting experience. Real Brazilian Portuguese is very different that MTC Portuguese. We didn't understand very much of what he said, but we did get a few words here and there. It was still a good experience and sweet to talk to an actual native. He was from São Paulo and is a life-long member. It was definitely motivating to make me want to study as hard as I can to learn this language. It is so beautiful and I want to get it down so I can teach from my heart. What a better motivation to learn a language than to teach others the gospel of the Lord! He is helping us through this and blessing us with the gift of tongues. It is coming slowly, but I love it to death. I can at least understand pretty much everything our teachers say in class now. They speak a lot of the lessons entirely in Portuguese now, and I love sitting back and listening to them speak. I learn so much just from hearing them. And big news: we received a new teacher this week! Irmao Chamberlain had to drop a district this week because school started. We are going to miss him a lot. We are especially going to miss teaching Vander! He was doing so great and is supposed to be baptized this week. He keeps all of his commitments like you would not believe. This week for one of our lessons we taught him about tithing. When we showed him a tithing slip he asked if he could have it, and took out money and filled it out right during the lesson! I could not ask for a more committed, loyal investigator. He soaked up everything we taught him and didn't really have problems with anything. I wish all investigators were that receptive! When we told him we were being transferred, if you will, he was super sad and said he would miss us a lot. We had a little mini testimony meeting during that last lesson. He told us this neat story how after going to his mom's church and being offended how the Spirit felt wrong there, he had prayed and the next day we showed up. These investigators that we teach now are real investigators that our teachers once had on their missions, so it was neat to think of how that must of really happened and how it must have felt to be in those missionaries' shoes. What an awesome experience! Vander is the man, and it was such a blessing to teach him.
Our new teacher is named Irmão Rodriguez. He hasn't taught us yet but he came in to meet us yesterday. He is actually a Brazilian from São Paulo. It will be way helpful to be taught by him since he knows all the little details of Portuguese and the Brazilian culture. I hope we can learn as much as possible from him.
This week a lot of new faces came in. I ran into Elder Ayer the other day, and Elder Marchant's (the 18 year old that used to be in Montgomery Ward) classroom is actually at the end of our hall. I have also seen Elder Bryant a bunch of times. He is in the same Brazilian building as us too. There are so many amazing people here right now! It is fun to see so many familiar faces.
Sundays are always the best. This week was Fast Sunday so we had a big Mission Conference in the morning. Most of the MTC Presidency spoke. They talked a lot about obedience and repentance. It was one of the best meetings for me since we've been here. I have really found that I am so much more effective and have the Spirit with me stronger when I am obedient. We can't teach without the Spirit and we will not have the Spirit with us if we are disobedient. I made a new goal this week to follow all the mission rules and commandments of God to the best of my ability, and like they said in one of their talks, to "be more obedient than you think you need to be". The Spirit filled me right up so that I wasn't even very hungry all day. That doesn't happen to me very often on Fast Sundays! In Sacrament Meeting I shared my testimony in Portuguese! That was a neat first-time experience. I could actually do it! Then to top it off we went and watched Character of Christ again for our Sunday Night Video. It couldn't have been a much better Sabbath.
So on to all of my music events of the week. I found out in the mail that I will be playing my piano solo tomorrow for the New Missionary Meeting. This is the first meeting any of the newcomers have as soon as they come to the MTC. I'm a little nervous because I'll be playing for hundreds of people, but I think it's ready. What an amazing opportunity! I played the accompaniment to the EFY Medley for the departing district last week in Sacrament Meeting, and this week our district and one other that is leaving is singing Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing for our musical number. That is one of my favorite songs ever and it is coming along pretty well. We have a lot of good singers among the 22 of us. It's fun to be doing this with so many other missionaries. Last Sunday I was also called to be the Branch Music Coordinator! It's a little silly because it is only for two Sundays, but it was still a pretty neat job to have. (I was called last week and will be released this week! Shortest calling ever). I basically just pick the hymns, chorister, and pianist. Even if it is for such a short time, it still gives me the excuse to get to play the piano a few more times:).
One quick funny story: So my companion Sister Shipp is really quiet and pretty much everything she does is cute, so the sisters in our district have been calling her Sister Bonitinha for the past three weeks. The word for cute in Portuguese is bonitinha according to our dictionaries...but apparently not in real life. We called her that one time in class and our teacher was like, I don't think that means what you think it means. He explained that bonitinha is used for someone who is usually ugly but in this rare occasion happened to do something cute. I don't know how that much information can get into one word, but then there's a lot about Portuguese that I still don't understand. I about died from laughing so hard. Needless to say, Sister Shipp is no longer Sister Bonitinha.
One scripture I've been thinking a lot about lately is Matthew 7:16-23. We really have to show forth the fruits through our actions. To really have faith, we have to act on it. To say we are "active" members of the church, we have to be acting on what we believe 24 hours a day. I hope I can be a good example to the people I teach through righteous actions, regardless of what situation I'm put in.
Well, the days are zooming by! Before I know it I'll be in the mission field! Everything is working out great and like a member of our bishopric says, everything is happy, happy, happy! There are so many great people here who teach me so many valuable lessons. I love this school!

I miss and love you,
Síster Marchant