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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gilroy pictures, June 2013

Ricardo's baptism
with Hermana Billings and Hermana Garcia-Gomez 

 Hermana Billings and Hermana Garcia-Gomez 


Hermana Billings administers the laying on of hands.

Hermana Billings returns for a visit to Livermore for Graciela's baptism.  Don't know the other sister missionary.

Hermana Billings and her friend Bianca from Livermore.

June 25, 2013 - Gilroy

Such an exciting week I don't even know where to start! Well on Thursday I got a training call to be a trainer again this next transfer!! I LOVE training so I was really excited but I was sad because that meant that I wouldn't get to work with Hermana Garcia-Gomez anymore. BUT then on Saturday (when we get transfer calls) she didn't get a transfer call. Turns out we're going to be in a trio! It's the best of both worlds.
 I also received the call to be a Sister Training Leader (STL). It's a new calling that the first presidency came up with to accomodate for all of the new sister missionaries. It is similar to a zone leader and our mission has a total of 4 STL's. I will be covering the South part of the mission from Morgan Hill and down. I will be going on exchanges twice a week with the Sisters in my area. It's going to be SO fun to get to know a lot of the sisters. President said that my main job is to make sure that the sisters are doing okay. I'm a little stressed about this calling but very excited for such a once in a lifetime opportunity. But I think the stressed part has been more pray for me???
On Saturday we went up to Livermore for the baptism of Graciela Soto. Our ward mission leader's wife drove us up even though she doesn't speak Spanish.  But  we met Graciela in the parking lot of the mexican tienda about a month before I left. She's not the graciela that we met at Mcdonalds or who's house we painted. The mcdonald's and paint graciela is Graciela Alvarez and I think she went back to Mexico. I haven't heard anything about her for awhile but I'll ask.
Anyway.....Graciela Soto's baptism was beautiful! She was so nervous before and SO happy after. As we were leaving she was talking to some members in the ward and then asked if she could get a picture with me before we left. Then she told the group, pointing to me, "She found me" It was the most beautiful sentence that I have EVER heard. Of course I remember going up and talking to her in the parking lot that day but I didn't think that she would remember that it was me. Especially because I wasn't the one teaching her for the past month as she prepared for her baptism. We're told to talk to EVERYONE that we come into contact with and now I know why.
I also got to see my favorite person in Livermore...Blanca! She hugged me for a good 5 minutes when she saw me. She's still been going to church faithfully but hasn't worked things out with the divroce/marriage for her baptism. Whenever that day is though, I'll be there. The sister that drove us up asked me if she (blanca) was the bishops wife and I told her that she was an investigator. She was shocked because of how outgoing and friendly she was being towards everyone. Which is crazy because Blanca was SO shy when she first started coming to church. Now she pretty much runs the show.
Whoever had the opportunity to see the missionary broadcast will agree when I say it was pretty amazing! The english ward that we're working in is very supportive with their member missionary work. If only we could figure out a way for the spanish branch to be involved as well. I think with the branch we have to strengthen the members before we can expect investigator's to be supported. Any ideas from someone who's worked in a branch before?
Last thing, so I sleep talk sometimes right? My companion said that I was sleep talking in Spanish! I didn't think that day would ever come. But honestly we haven't been speaking that much Spanish lately. It's about 50/50 now. We need more Spanish speakers to teach! Gilroy is FULL of them so they shouldn't be too hard to find.
Going along with my spanish sleep talking story...I had a dream that there was a spider on the bed above me (we have bunk beds) and I thought it was real so I jumped out of bed and turned on the light and woke sister gg up to kill it. Turned out that I was just dreaming.....sorry companion! I think she still loves me.
Dad- AWESOME letter this week. Thanks a billion. It took me a few days to read it because I didn't have time to read it all at once. It answered a million of the questions that I've been having and now I feel like I can finally concentrate on other, more important, stuff. Thanks again.
Well I hope everyone is doing well and I love you all!!
Con amor, Hermana Billings

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 18, 2013 - Gilroy

Hi family! We had an EXTREMELY busy week last week and it hasn't slowed down yet. Normally we email at 1 but we are just getting to the library and its 730pm. But we've been busy with lessons so it's good! We had 28 lessons last week and 23 of them were with non-members. The two weeks before that were pretty slow so we were happy that the work picked up again.
Amber texted us one morning saying that it was official and her boyfriend had finally proposed and agreed to be married in August just in time (one day before) her baptism. We were SO happy and so was Amber. She couldn't stop smiling or crying...she assured us that the tears were tears of joy. Buuuuuuut a few days later her boyfriend said he wants to wait until next June to get married. He said he'd get married this summer if they just go to the courthouse but for a big party thing (which is what Amber wants) he wants to wait until next year. Apparently he's really shy...we've only ever said 5 words to him. But I don't understand why next year would be any different for a party. Anyway, we're not giving up on August. On Monday, all three of us (amber and my comp) fasted to know what we should do. The fast was actually Amber's idea! Her testimony is so strong now and it amazes me every single day that we see her. She's a completely different person from when we met her. She's very ready for baptism and we pray that she doesn't choose to wait until next year. Her son keeps begging his mom to move his date sooner so if she does decide to wait then he'll be baptized this summer by himself.
I don't know if I've mentioned much about Will but he's turned into a completely different person almost overnight as well. We hadn't visited him in awhile and one night we had a really strong impression to go see him. He lives in a gated apartment complex and usually we can't get in but somehow we did that night. He said that he only had five minutes to talk to us because he was feeling really sick (we later learned he was having withdrawals from drugs). We asked him if he would like a blessing from the Elders. He said no. But we had another strong impression that we should get the elders over there. So we called the elders and they said they'd be right over. We told Will that the elders were coming over and we couldn't tell what his feelings were about it but he sat outside with us to wait for them. Long story short he couldn't stop thanking us the next couple days for the blessing. He definitely felt something and was SO impressed with the elders being so young. (Sorry if I already told this story)
But TODAY we went over to see Will and he thanked us again for sending the elders that night. He then told us how he was really struggling with his addiction and really wanted to go get drugs that night and would have if we hadn't gone over. He said that he had been praying for a week before he got his paycheck because he knew as soon as he had money that he would want to go buy drugs. After the elders left he grabbed his phone to call the guy that he always buys drugs from but his number was gone. He said he's had this guy's number for 22 years but it had disappeared. He also said that he used to have it memorized but couldn't remember it. He said that he knows it was a miracle. When we saw him today he looked so happy and he told us that he feels like a burden that he'a carried for 22 years has finally been lifted.
Last story....We've been teaching the 14yr old Anthony a lot still and sometimes his friend Andrew will sit in on our lessons. He's usually been really immature and annoying to be honest but we always try to include him. One day we saw him outside by himself so we tried to talk to him but he told us to go away and that he wasn't interested in "god and stuff". It made us sad especially because he's so young. But Andrew came to our next lesson with Anthony and at the end of the lesson Anthony asked Andrew if he would say the closing prayer. He said he didn't know how so Anthony taught him. (I remember teaching Anthony how to pray and know he's teaching his friends...beautiful!) Andrew prayed and changed into a different kid. When he said amen he just starred at the ground. We asked him if that was his first time ever praying and he said yes.
A few days later we saw him outside by himself again and this time he ran over to us and asked us if we could teach him. We started teaching him from the beginning.....God is our Loving Heavenly Father. We told him how much God loves him and wants him to return and live with Him and then he said, "wait, so I still have a chance to live with God again?" He said it with so much hope! I couldn't beleive that a little 12 year old thought it was too late for him to live with God again. I've never been so happy to share the good news :) We've seen him a few other times since then and he's doing great!
I just heard from my last comp, Sister Wallace, that Graciela Soto is getting baptized this Saturday in Livermore! She's the one that canceled her baptism the night before because she didn't know if the church would accept her gay sister. The webiste is really inspired and helped her a lot!
Is Liana in Japan yet? How's everyone else doing? Mom, thank you for another journal entry. You have no idea how much I LOVE reading them. Plus it's pretty cool that you're about my same age in all of them. Well I hope everyone is doing great. I love all of you and pray for all of you! Have a good week!
Love, Hermana Billings

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 11, 2013 - Amber's second concern

I just remembered Amber's second conern! She asked where it says that Christ organized his church or something and Ephesians 2:20 says:
" And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone;"

June 11, 2013 - Gilroy

This week was great for our district! We had 4 baptisms and one of them was Ricardo! I will send pictures. Planning and stressing over a baptismal service for someone that you've taught and prayed about for weeks makes you love them even more. It was such a good experience. I'm so grateful for his parents and all that they've done to help him understand the gospel He's so blessed to have been adopted into an LDS family.
On Sunday, the branch had 2 more baptisms. One of them was a complete surprise. She'd met with the missionaries for awhile and decided on Saturday that she wanted to be baptized. There was already a baptismal service being planned so she joined in!The neat thing about the baptism on Sunday was that Elder Echo Hawk from the first quorum of the 70 came. While the girls were changing into dry clothes he got up to say a few words. I'll never forget how strong the spirit was when he spoke. He's a full blood native american and we were in a room with all hispanics. He stood up and said "We are Lamanites". I got the chills even typing that! He shared his testimony about the book of mormon and how important it is for the descendants of the Lamanites (so those that were in the room) to read about their fathers and share the book with their fellow Lamanites.
After the baptism the English ward that we're working in had a youth baptismal service. Amber and her kids came so we stayed for a short while. After the kids were baptized Anthony asked us when his baptism was. We told him that it's going to be in August and he said "awww can't I do it sooner?" We told him he'd have to ask his mom so he did but she said "we'll see". Typical mom answer. I think it was really good for Amber to be there and see the ordinance that she will soon be making.
During church Amber saw me filling out my fast offering slip and started asking questions about fasting. We briefly explained it to her but she didn't seem to like the idea of skipping two meals. We pass around a calendar during relief society every Sunday for people to sign up to fast for missionary opportunities and when it got to her she leaned over and asked me if she was "allowed" to fast. I said of course! So she signed up. I know her efforts, praying and fasting will soften the heart of her husband and they'll be able to do what they need to do in order for her to be baptized in August.
Amber is always full of questions when we go over to teach her. Somehow we always have an answer and I can promise that it's the spirit EVERY single time.
 For example, I usually only bring my spanish and english copies of the book of mormon. Before we left our apartment the morning of our lesson with her I felt like I should bring my Bible. I was in a hurry so I just grabbed one of them and it happened to be my English Bible. During our lesson Amber told us that she had two concerns. The frist one was that she said that one of her friends told her that we don't read the Bible. The second one was something that I can't remember right now. But I pulled my bible out with a thankful heart that I had listened to the spirit and brought it with me that day. Her second concern was something that I had read that morning from the bible but in my Spanish bible. I had marked it in my Spanish bible so I would have been able to easily find it and I was kicking myself for not marking it in my English bible too. I opened up the bible and it opened to the exact chapter and verse that I had read that morning that answered her second concern. The fact that I can't even remember what her concern was makes me realize even more that it really was the spirit guiding me.  
Amber said "Wow. You girls really can't be stumped" But I know it wasn't us because I did NOT know the reference that she was looking for and I was not planning on bringing my bible with me that day. We ended up teaching her about the Holy Ghost (because that's what she requested to learn that day) and we taught it using all scriptures from the Bible. She said that she keeps praying for an answer about this church and there are so many "coinsidences" that make her think it's true but she's not sure if they're answers. I told her that she can call them "coinsidences" if she wants to but that she better be expecting a whole lot of coinsidences. She found that funny.
I wasn't planning on spending so much time talking about Amber but really quick I wanted to mention our mission tour with Elder Echo Hawk. I learned so much and took a lot of notes! Somehow him and his wife ended up sitting by myself and Sister GG during lunch. President came over about 10 minutes into lunch and said, pointing at me, "she runs track!" and then walked away. We then spent the next 40 minutes talking about track and only about 10 minutes talking about missionary work and some of their experiences.. But he started it! He ran the 400 in HS and played football for BYU so he kept asking me questions. My track life seems so long ago but it's still so much a part of me!
Well I wish I had time to write more but it's time to go. Hope everyone has a good week and I hope to hear from you soon!
Love, Sister Billings

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013 - Gilroy

First of all I want to say thanks to mom and dad for the ADORABLE new scripture covers!!!!!!!! They're perfect. I think I got them last Tuesday? I have the exact same covers for my Spanish scriptures but in pink. I got them at the MTC but they didn't have any for the English size so I'm glad you found them. Thanks again!
And Mom, thanks for sending more journal entries. I really really love reading them. Dad, if you have any more I would love to read them too! Sometimes I wish I would have brought your mission journals with me to read. I think I'll appreciate reading them more after experiencing my own mission.
This Saturday at 7 will be Ricardo's baptism and we're really excited. We visited him last night and reviewed everything we've taught him and he's more than ready to be baptized. He's a really smart 10yr old. I'll send pictures next week :) He invited 3 of his non-member friends to come to his baptism and they've sat in on almost every single lesson.
I don't know what happened this week. It just went by so fast and I can't think of anything that happened! The only thing that keeps coming to my mind is a lesson we had on Friday with Will. He's a big black guy who really wants to live the rest of his life right because he spent the first 50 years of his life on the street. He said he prayed one night for a better life and now he has a job and an apartment and he knows it was an answer from God.
 Since he lives alone, we have to teach him outside on his porch. Last Friday was SO hot and we'd been on bikes all day. All 3 of us were sweating during the lesson and then when we got up to leave I was STUCK to the chair! It was so embarrassing. I seriously couldn't get up. I think my skirt melted to the chair or something because we had to like....peel it off. Usually Will is really serious but he was laughing so hard.
Sorry for such a lame update this week....Here's how our investigators are doing though:
Amber and her son Anthony are still planning on August for their baptism. They haven't missed church. Amber hasn't smoked and her son gave up cheetos to support her...not sure how he's doing though.
We haven't been able to get a hold of Ivan so we dropped his baptismal date :( I think the people he lives with have something to do with that. They tried to "pray" for us one time and give us the holy spirit but it freaked us out so we left. Very very creepy. Every time we try and see Ivan they say he's not there.
Everyone else is about in the same boat as before. There's a guy in our english ward who gives us about 15 referals a week so we've been really busy with that. it's AWESOME. The first time he just gave us a list of all his neighbors and a little description about them. This week he gave us names and addresses with a personalized BOM to them from him. Seriously so amazing. Now if every member could be like that! We'd need more missionaries that's for sure.
Well I hope everyone has a good week and I can't wait to hear from you all soon!! God bless and I love you all LOTS
Love, Hermana Billings