Monday, September 29, 2014

I am a Child of God

Clarence Comes to Church!

There is so much to be grateful for in this beautiful world we were given!

I cannot fully express the gratitude that is just swelling in my heart. This week has been absolutely incredible for so many reasons.

As many of you know we have two darling sisters preparing for baptism. Last week they came with us to church and were just radiating light. The following Monday we went over to have a lesson with them. They come from very humble circumstances, in fact they don't have very much at all and sometimes it is difficult to feel the spirit in their home, but when we went in on Monday we walked in and their home looked beautiful. They had rearranged the furniture, there was a picture of the Savior on the wall, and they spent a good deal of time cleaning it. We walked in and their home had a completely different feel. I felt the spirit as I have never felt before. It was overpowering as I walked in and it was incredibly moving especially as I looked into the faces of these beautiful girls and saw a happiness and a glow as I had never before seen in them. It is moments like this one that I would not trade for anything.

A few weeks ago we were feeling pretty down when an investigator who we knew had shown a lot of promise informed us that she did not want to take the lessons anymore. We couldn't quite figure out how she had come to that conclusion, in fact just the day before she had knelt down and prayed with us for the first time in years and she uttered the most beautiful prayer. We knew she felt the spirit and Heavenly Father knew she had felt it and He was not going to let her slip through the cracks. The day after she decided not to pursue the lessons, Heavenly Father answered her desperate plea and blessed her with a miracle that is inexplicable except through the power of God. She knew, with that answer to prayer, that Heavenly Father knew exactly who she was and what she was going through and she knew she needed to start taking the lessons again. On Saturday we were able to have a spirit filled lesson with her and extend a baptismal invitation of the 25th of October. It was incredible how before we even extended, she had brought up the principle of baptism on her own. She knew it was a necessary step and she explained how she had been baptized before, but she didn't feel any different after that ordinance. She felt incomplete, like something was missing. We explained how this time when she is baptized it would be done exactly how Christ was baptized with the proper Priesthood authority. It would be complete. And following the baptismal ordinance would come the beautiful gift of the Holy Ghost. Since Saturday she has told all of her friends to come to her baptism! The excitement in this girl is incredible and from day one I knew she would be something special. So pray for the amazing Tessa as we prepare for this life changing day.  Now I have to tell the funny story that went along with this lesson. Pretty much right after we walked in the door to meet with her, Tessa asked how many people could baptize her. We told her one person could baptize her and one person could confirm her. She looked a little sad and said, "ah man because I was hoping you two could baptize me." I couldn't help but think of one of my favorite line in the movie Pirates of The Caribeean when Barbosa says, "I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request...means no." We had a good laugh but we knew we had some clarifying to do.

Also on Saturday we had a lesson with an older gentleman named Clarence who we have been teaching for a few months now. Clarence is amazing, in fact he reminds me a lot of my amazing Uncle Greg, and I can't help but think that my uncle Greg is helping us teach Clarence from the other side of the veil. Clarence loves to tell stories and has quite the sense of humor. Clarence loves to tell us, "I have gone from church to church trying to find answers to these questions and no one could do it. I don't know how you young ladies did it, but you answered those questions that nobody else could." At the end of the lesson we talked to him boldly about church and the importance of it, however he did not give us a definite answer of if he would be there or not. We called him on Saturday evening to see if we could get an answer and all we got was his voicemail. On Sunday before church we decided to drive over to his home to see if he was there. His famous blue truck was nowhere in sight. I told Sister King, "He is either one of two places. He is at the farmer's market (which he goes to every Sunday) or he is at church." We said a few silent prayers in our heart that he would be there. We pulled into the parking lot of the church and guess whose blue truck was parked right front and center? It was Clarence's! He arrived  half an hour early dressed in a very nice suit (which was an accomplishment in itself since he hates having to dress up).  At the end of the meeting he expressed how much he enjoyed it and how strong he could feel the spirit. He even went up to the bishop and said, "these sister are accomplishing miracles. They got me to pray out loud for the first time in my life, and they got me to come to church for the first time in 40 years." Now I know without a doubt it wasn't us that made these miracles happen. It was my Father in Heaven and all those angels who are watching over Clarence.

One more amazing moment of the week! We were able to take the other Sam to the General Relief Society broadcast. As we sang the well known song, "I Am A Child of God" tears filled my eyes as I looked down and saw Sam singing so beautifully. Just months prior Sam did not believe in a God. She did not know she had a Father in Heaven who loves her and cares about her and her she was months later singing and testifying that she is a child of God.

I love this work. Spreading the gospel is my source of true and lasting happiness. I know miracles are happening everyday and if we take a moment to express our gratitude daily we will come to find out how many tender mercies are bestowed upon us daily.

I love you guys!

Sister Mathis

Monday, September 22, 2014

What a week!!

Sister King and I with our friend Clarence

With the cute Que Kiddos


I feel very grateful to share some of my experiences this past week with you. It has been an incredible week, and a week where many unexpected things happened. 
We have been spending quite a bit of time going up to the small college campus located here in Delaware Ohio. We have loved getting to talk to people around our age and talk about religion and faith with them. We have met quite a few athletes that play on the various sports teams which has been fun. OWU is a religious school so a good majority of the people we come in contact with have a pretty solid foundation and a belief in Jesus Christ. In order to go onto campus we had to meet with Reverend John Powers who is the head Chaplin. I was nervous and didn't quite know what to expect, but he is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. He was so loving and kind, and expressed how grateful he was to have us on his campus. He said, "I've never seen sisters before. It's always been the elders!" We were pretty excited to be the first group of sisters to go and contact on campus. We didn't say much, he did a majority of the talking, but he talked about the spirit that he could feel when we were with him. He said, "this campus needs you." He is not a member of our faith and I don't know if he ever will be, but he notices a difference in the "Mormons" and he truly respects them. There are so many amazing people out there! They are not just people we can casually walk by, they are our brother and sisters. Heavenly Father loves and cares about them just as much as he loves us and when we can start to see people through Heavenly Fathers eyes, the world will start to change. One day we were walking on campus alongside this girl. I felt like we needed to say something to her, and Sister King felt that same impression. Before we knew it we both started talking at the exact same time to her. Talk about being in tune with the spirit! We got to know her better and within just a few moments she had developed a trust in us and asked if she could share something very personal with us. She opened up completely and explained how she recently had lost two family members who were very close to her. An opportunity presented itself and we were able to testify of Heavenly Father's plan of salvation. She was completely engaged in the conversation and we ended up talking with her for about an hour. We set up a time to come back and we were able to talk about the Book of Mormon. In just a few days she has read quite a bit of it and has thoroughly enjoyed what she has read. Just yesterday without any hesitation she joined us for church which was an incredible blessing.

Also joining us for church were two amazing girls with whom we are working towards a baptismal date of October 11th. They are sisters and have been taking the missionary discussions for about three years now. Just a few months ago we decided to go visit them and meet them. They have faced many challenges in life, actually they live pretty pretty rocky lives, but are some of the strongest girls in the world, and they hold their faith higher than anything. They loved church and the feeling they felt when they were in a house of the Lord. I know the Lord is in charge and we  I know He will ultimately decide what is best for these sweet girls. So please pray for Sam and Tabby.

Last night I was able to finish the Book of Mormon. I love that Book. It is my map, my safeguard against the ever changing word. It is a personal connection I have to my heavenly Father and  His son Jesus Christ. As I was reading Moroni's last words, I was blown away by his courage and faith. He was standing tall and doing all he could to protect the sacred record that would later come to be called the Book Of Mormon. One of my favorite lines in all the book of Mormon is, "And I Moroni will not deny the Christ." I too cannot deny the Christ. I will walk by Him, and do all I can to protect and defend this name. When I get to stand before Him and He asks me "what have you done with my name" I hope to answer  that I have done all I could do.

I love this work. I love the Book of Mormon and the many examples and testimonies we can learn from in it. I love this gospel and I love my Savior and the perfect example He has set for all of us.

I love you all!! Have a tremendous week!

Sister Mathis

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Random Acts of Service?

P-Day Activity with Sister King
September 17, 2014

Hello guys! I wanted to start this email by first thanking all of you for your prayers in my behalf. I have felt their power especially this last week and want you to know how grateful I am for all of you and for your strength and testimonies. I love you all.

Okay I have to share this story. It's too good not to share! The other day we received a call from a less active member of the church who we had never before met. On the call he asked if we would be willing to help his injured aunt. He was out of the state and there was no one to help her. As missionaries we willingly agreed. So we drove to this man's home where the aunt was staying. He told us to go in the back door.  We arrived and let ourselves in. On a chair right by the door was a rather large 75 year old lady, sweet as can be. We started talking to her and recognized that she was in some pretty serious pain. She was a nurse and so she explained to us that she would walk us through what she needed us to do. Our task was to help her use the bathroom. Pretty fun task eh? She looked up us and said, "okay I'm going to need one of you to bear hug me and help pull me up." Sister King slowly started to back away which left me to try and help this lady whom we had just met. I put my arms around her and tried with all my might to lift her up. Well after several moments, we began to move about a half an inch and then she let out a loud moan and then just laid completely still. I was like "oh my goodness what did I just do to this poor lady? I've killed her!" A couple long seconds later she was moving again, thank goodness! Anyway we realized it would be impossible to move her. Shortly after, a neighbor showed up who was also a nurse so the three of us attempted to move her. I had to admit, we just couldn't do it. So the neighbor decided the best thing to do would be to call an ambulance. Before the EMT's came in we had to get the dogs out of the way. One of the dogs was very sweet, but the other dog was a little demon dog that looked like it wanted to rip our faces off. I left that job to Sister King. She grabbed its fur and scooted it all the way across the house and into the garage. We were able to get both dogs out of the way without losing any limbs. Well the ambulance came and took her away and Sister King and I just looked at each other and wondered what in the world had just happened. So that's our story going to a random house with a random lady, throw in a rabid dog and an ambulance and you have a pretty good story. We also took down a lady's Christmas tree this week, did a bunch of laundry for this sweet elderly lady, and helped clean out an incredibly crowded basement full of hardware. It's been a fun week of service and I can truly testify that when you are in the service of your fellow men you are only in the service of your God.

It has been a great week so far! I have truly been happy these last few days. Last night we went to go contact a referral that someone from Utah had given us the information for. We were out in the country and could not find this particular house where the lady lived. After driving around we were convinced this address didn't exist. We tried calling the number on the referral and it was a dead line. We were about to turn back when all of a sudden Sister King was able to spot the address we were looking for. We were excited, but it looked more like a business than a house. After we drove up we saw a lady outside and found out it was the exact lady we were looking for. She was incredibly kind, and just so humbled and honored that we were led to find her. She send us home each with a beautiful bouquet of daisies. I know in that moment Heavenly Father led us to find her. Don't give up! It is in those moments when we want to give up that we find the miracles! Heavenly Father is in charge, hold to your faith and believe in Him!
Singing "A Whole New World" on OSU Campus

Have a great week!

Love you! 
Sister Mathis                         

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Blessed Land of Ohio and the Strength Of the Youth

Just Gearing up for Fall

Hello my lovely friends! Hope you are all having a tremendous day! I am coming up on the end of another transfer here in Delaware which is crazy to think about. I was sitting at church last Sunday and looking around at the people who have become my family here in Ohio. I looked at Gabbie and Cesar and their beautiful children and how happy and radiant they looked, I looked at our investigator Sam who is so young but has developed such a love for the Savior and has finished the Book of Mormon in just a few short months. I looked at many of the ward members who are so eager and delighted to share the gospel with those around them. I am starting to see more why I was sent to this blessed land, not so much because I needed to help these people, but because of the help and the strength they have unknowingly provided me. I have been out over 7 months now, which is so surreal. I am grateful for each and every day the Lord has given and will continue to give while I am out here laboring in the Lord's vineyard of Ohio.

The other night I let the natural man get the best of me. I started to feel alone as many of us have probably felt at one point or another. I felt like I had to fix everyone around me, and help them to overcome their problems, which isn't a bad thing, that's what a mission is for right? I was absorbed in the "forget yourself and go to work" mentality, but I had a moment of weakness where I wondered who I could turn to. I noticed my prayers had turned into more of a one way conversation. I was simply asking the Lord for a long laundry list of things I needed to do. That night as I got on my knees to pray, I focused on expressing my gratitude, and remembered that I was talking to my Father in Heaven. What a privilege that is to be able to talk to Him.  I paused in about the middle of the prayer and just sat that and listened. Before long a beautiful image came to my mind of the Savior kneeling beside me listening to my prayer and together we were talking to our Father. Even though sometimes I may forget it, I know I am never alone. As I have said before, the Savior walks with us every single step of the way no matter how long or how difficult that next step will be. I am grateful for the answer to prayer I received that night. I am grateful my Heavenly Father was able to show me that I am never alone and that he was listening to my plea.

This week we also had a very neat experience. We recently started teaching a girl named Tessa. She was a referral from one of our young women which by the way our youth are on fire! They are so eager to share the gospel, to invite their friends to meet the missionaries! One of our young women named Ana wrote her testimony in a Book Of Mormon and gave it to Tessa, in turn Tessa was able to meet with us and we were so fortunate to teach her about the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restoration of Christ's church. It was one of the most powerful lessons I have been in and I know that the Spirit was the true teacher. I have grown a deep appreciation for the Prophet Joseph Smith and especially his determination to finish the work he was called to do. At any moment he could have easily given up the fight, but he didn't. In fact the morning after he was tarred and feathered and probably felt broken both physically and spiritually, he went out and continued the work and preached to a congregation. I admire him for his courage when it was never easy. Well, at the end of this lesson with Tessa we asked her if she would be willing to say the prayer. She had not been to church in over 6 years and I honestly don't know if she had ever even prayed before. She agreed to pray. She started her prayer by saying "Dear Heavenly Father" and immediately broke down. She felt a connection to her Father in Heaven and she knew who she was talking to. The spirit that filled the room was indescribable, but I know her Father heard her prayer as she knelt down and asked if Joseph Smith was a true prophet. I am grateful for experiences like this that continue to strengthen my testimony. Everyday I am growing and changing and everyday I am striving to become more like my Savior and to help others do the same.

I love this gospel. I am especially grateful for the Prophet Joseph who was so faithful. Our church would not be here today if he would have given up and said, "it is simply too difficult. I can't do it." May we all press forward with the faith and determination of Joseph Smith. I love you all. I am so grateful for you. I am grateful to be a steward of the Lord's vineyard here in Delaware Ohio and I am grateful for every experience my Father in Heaven gives me to bring me closer to Him.

Love Sister Mathis

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What a Week!

Random thought- If bread is square why in the world is lunch meet round?

This week has been incredible! I am excited to be able to share just a few experiences I have had with you. On Wednesday of last week we had our weekly district meeting. For this particular meeting our district leader decided to do a chapel tour with us. It was so neat to be on the receiving end of a chapel tour because normally we are the ones giving the tours to investigators. At one part in the tour we stood in front of the famous picture of the Savior knocking on the door, but there is no doorknob. As I gazed at this picture I had seen hundreds of times, I learned a different meaning and saw the picture with a different set of eyes. Before I had always looked at it and seen myself on the inside of the door, but when I looked at it this particular time, I saw myself standing where the Savior was, physically standing in His place and teaching His gospel. I envisioned my investigators and all the people we would come in contact with on the other side of that door. I saw myself standing in the Savior's place hopeful that somebody on the other end would answer and listen to the message I had to share.

Another neat experience we had this week- About two months ago we met a man named David. He was riding his bike through town, and we felt impressed to go talk to him. We found out that just a few months prior his whole family had moved from Uganda here to the states. He didn't have a job and didn't have a phone so after an amazing conversation about Jesus Christ with him I was feeling a little discouraged and my faith was fading in the hopes that we would see him again. Well three weeks ago, after having some plans fall through, my companion and I were feeling a little lost. The idea came to my head to go visit a man named Danny. We had only met Danny once and he didn't show much interest in that brief time we met him, but for some reason the spirit was telling me to go see him. We decided to walk since he didn't live too far from where we were. We were almost to Danny's house when we saw an older man on a bike riding toward us! It was David! It was a complete answer to prayer and a testimony builder for me that when we follow the promptings of the spirit no matter how subtle they are, we will be blessed. We were able to speak more with David and just yesterday we were able to enter his home and meet his sweet wife and three beautiful little kids. We found out that they had been given a Book of Mormon when they were still in Africa. We are beyond thrilled to work with this family, and it has been tender mercy after tender mercy to find them.

Here's the funny story of the week for you. It goes as follows: A few days ago we were driving to an appointment, but on the way we noticed a single lady stranded and helpless with a flat tire. We looked closer and realized it was the daughter of one of our investigators. For some odd reason we kept driving, worried about our appointment. When we were almost to our appointment I said to Sister King, "I think we need to go back and help her." Keep in mind I have changed a tire once in my life, right before I left on my mission and I had my ever patient father right next to me to guide me through the steps. Sister King had hardly any experience either so we wondered what in the world we were doing, but we went anyway. We offered our assistance and told her we would not be much help, but if she knew how to change it we could provide the tools for her to be able to do so. Well within a matter of minutes another lady stopped to help. She was the sweetest thing, but tougher than nails and came right in and knew exactly what to do. Things were fine at this point when all of a sudden a guy with incredibly long hair peels around in a minivan to help with all the commotion. He comes and moves everything from where it was and assures us he knows what he was doing, which in reality he totally didn't. Anyway he sees our name badges and just starts verbally attacking us! One of the worst attacks I have had on my mission so far. At that moment I just wanted to argue with him, and it took everything I had not to. I had to hold my tongue because I knew if I were to start talking to him, I may not have been the most Christ-like, and plus contention is of the devil. I thought of the talk Elder Holland gave in the most recent conference.

He said, "A sister missionary recently wrote to me: “My companion and I saw a man sitting on a bench in the town square eating his lunch. As we drew near, he looked up and saw our missionary name tags. With a terrible look in his eye, he jumped up and raised his hand to hit me. I ducked just in time, only to have him spit his food all over me and start swearing the most horrible things at us. We walked away saying nothing. I tried to wipe the food off of my face, only to feel a clump of mashed potato hit me in the back of the head. Sometimes it is hard being a missionary because right then I wanted to go back, grab that little man, and say, ‘EXCUSE ME!’ But I didn’t.”  
To this devoted missionary I say, dear child, you have in your own humble way stepped into a circle of very distinguished women and men who have, as the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob said, “view[ed Christ’s] death, and suffer[ed] his cross and [borne] the shame of the world.”1

 Now we didn't have it as bad as that poor missionary, and I was so grateful for my companion in this moment. I was worried how she would handle it being so new to the field and tender hearted, but instead of reacting in a negative way she bore simple truth of the Book of Mormon and the Prophet Joseph Smith to him. It was a moment that I was grateful for, a moment I learned a lot from.

I am grateful to stand as a witness, grateful for this opportunity to be on a mission. It may not always be easy, but it is without a doubt worth it. I am grateful for my Savior who led a perfect example and truly bore the shame of the world, because of His love for us.

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!