Monday, March 24, 2014

Kia Ora Whanau (Hello Family),

   I had another really great week here in the beautiful land of Aoteroa (New Zealand). I love my companion and I love my new area. We had a challenging week this week because we had to build up our investigator pool and it felt like we weren't having a lot of success and that was really frustrating. The people here are so laid back that it's almost impossible to have teaching appointments. We tried so hard to set appointments but they always fall through and that is so hard. We finally figured out that if we are going to be successful in this area we are just going to have to really be in tune with the spirit and be on top of timing things. The key is to just drop by and see people and hope and pray that it's a good time. The elders have given us so many names and so many people to go and see, who they say are so keen and so prepared but we just can't seem to catch them at the right time and I feel like we are letting the elders down. Some weeks on missions are amazing and then some are harder. Don't get me wrong I am loving it out here, it's just hard to be the first sisters in an area. There is so much work to do here because they are working on splitting the ward. The bishop and President Rudd have high hopes for this area and I am just worried that we won't be able to reach their expectations. My companion and I have evaluated where we can improve and we have big plans for this week so hopefully things go better and we can start really working and help people progress towards baptism. 

  We did have a really cool experience this week however. So if you remember back in October when I was in Rotorua I taught and baptized a girl name Dominique and then in January her grandmother Janet got baptized. Janet is one of my favorite people and I just love her so much. Well while we were teaching her before she got baptized it was the school holidays so Janet had her other granddaughter, Dominique's younger sister, staying with her so we met her and got to know her pretty well. Her name is also Janet and so in order to prevent confusion I refer to the grandmother as big Janet and the granddaughter as little Janet (Not to their faces of course because they might take offense to that. It's just so my companion knows who I am talking about). Well every time we went to teach big Janet, little Janet would sit at the kitchen table or on the couch close to us but she would never contribute to the conversation. We invited her a few times to join us but she always said that it wasn't her thing. Anyway after big Janet's baptism Sister Doole and I noticed that little Janet seemed to be paying attention to the lessons and she came to church a few times and seemed to love it. We even started planning lessons to teach big Janet around what we thought little Janet needed to hear. After doing this a few times we could see a bit of progress with little Janet but unfortunately school holidays ended so she had to go home and go back to school. Well guess where she lives... in my new area of Whakatane. When I was saying goodbye to big Janet she told me to go visit her daughter Jesse and she would take care of me. I had met Jesse a few time before that and I knew she was really nice but I was also aware of the fact that she is very strong in another faith and she wasn't too happy with her mom joining our church. Our second day here in Whakatane I decided we should go see Jesse and so we went over for a visit. As we were walking up to the house the front door was open and I could see little Janet sitting on the couch with her mom Jesse. I peaked my head in and said "Hello!" and little Janet looked at me in shock. She couldn't believe that I was there at her house and she said "Wait what are you doing here?" Her mom looked at her and said "Oh ya I forgot to tell you that she got transferred here." Jesse invited us in and fed us some delicious food and we had a gospel discussion. With Jesse we aren't allowed to talk about the Book of Mormon because it really makes her mad so we normally just talk about the bible. Jesse likes us and we get along great she just doesn't really like the mormon church which I find a little ironic but I'm not complaining because she has the best food. We figured that we weren't going to get any where with Jesse but I had hoped that maybe little Janet was still interested but every time we went over we couldn't really discern whether or not she was. Then this past Saturday we received a challenge from our Zone Leaders to go out that day and find someone to be baptized. I knew that because we were given this commitment that Heavenly Father already had someone prepared for us so my companion and I prayed really hard to know where to go. After we prayed we both had the strongest feeling to go see Jesse and I kept thinking "There is no way that Jesse is going to accept the invitation to be baptized but maybe little Janet will." We went to Jesse's and had a nice visit but the whole time little Janet didn't seem interested. There was a point when Jesse was talking about her church and Janet agreed with some of the things she was saying as to why it's better and so we took that to mean that little Janet really wasn't interested any more. At the end of the visit we said goodbye and we were walking across the front yard and I walked up to give little Janet a hug and say goodbye and she said "Maybe I can come to church tomorrow with you?" and I was a bit shocked but we talked for about thirty minutes after that just standing in the front yard. During that time little Janet explained that when we would be over teaching big Janet she loved to listen to the lessons and they always made her feel good inside. She said she would look for every excuse to be in the same room as us. She also said that she absolutely loved going to church with her grandma and uncle. She then explained that she had been thinking a lot about our church lately and that her uncle had been teaching her and she felt like she needed to learn more. Well all this was going on and then who should turn up at her door? Me! Little Janet said that the moment she saw me she knew it was time. She said "When you were at my door I said to myself 'She's here! This has to be a sign. It's time to get this started''. After this happened she said she was talking to her uncle and she told him that she didn't know what to do because her mom is still against the church so every time we came over we weren't allowed to teach anything. He told her to talk to me and tell me what she was thinking and then something would work out. She continued to explain that she had been waiting for us to come back and then it took her the entire time we were there to work up the courage to talk to us. So after she had explained all of this I said "So Janet you want us to start teaching you the lessons is that correct?" and she said "Yes that's what I want." so then I said "Janet if we teach you this and you come to find out it's true will you be baptized?" She paused for a moment and then she looked up with tears in her eyes and said "Yes I want to get baptized." It was such a powerful moment and I knew that Heavenly Father had led us to that moment. Seriously out of all the places in the mission I could have gone what are the odds that I would go to the area that she lives in? It's not a coincidence and we both know that. Little Janet even said "I know you're here for me. When I told Dominique that you were here she said 'Oh you know what that means don't you? She's going to get you' and I told Dom that I knew that too. I know you are here to teach me." I wanted to cry as she was saying this to me. It just strengthens my testimony to know that Heavenly Father is so aware of all of His children that President Rudd really is inspired. We are fasting and praying this week that Jesse will soften her heart and allow Janet to have the lessons with us and get baptized. If you could please pray for that too I would appreciate it. Little Janet is a remarkable girl and I really want all of this to work out. Prayers are so powerful! 

   That's it for this week. I hope that things are going great at home. I love and miss all of you!

Sister Simkins

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