Tuesday, December 7, 2010

First Baptism

Hi Family and Friends!
So, we're a little short on time today, and this week was absolutely jam packed, so we'll see what I can fit in. I wanted to upload pictures for you, but we're using computers that I don't particularly trust, so I guess it will have to wait until next week. The big news is that we got a building, and everything came together perfectly and Alma was baptized on Saturday. It was incredible. I absolutely love her, and then on Sunday when she shared her testimony I finally heard a little more about how she got interested in the church. It turns out that she had driven by our building for months and wanted to come check out the "new church" (our building is almost a year old). She just showed up 4 weeks ago. She'd been searching because she had a dream one night that she was walking and saw a tree with fruit that she knew she needed in her life, but she didn't know how to get there (sound familiar?) Four weeks after she first walked into our church building she was being confirmed a member. She has had so much support from members, and it's really shown me how desperately as missionaries we need them in our work. We just can't do this alone. Almost all of the baptisms we see here in Phoenix are ones from member referrals, or they are ones where the person getting baptized knows tons of members who really swoop in and help once they start meeting with missionaries (Alma). The baptism was so beautiful, and we had a huge miracle because her family came and supported her. Originally her mother and son were not going to come because they didn't agree with her decision. Then about a week before her son came out and said he would support her, and Saturday morning her mom told her that she was going to support her decision to be baptized.
Friday was also an incredible day. We had our Christmas Zone Conference. Half of the mission met together and we had a conference where President and Sister Beck spoke and then also President Lopez (the first counselor in the mission presidency) shared his conversion story. I was asked to play flute, and so I had to do some scrambling to find a flute, but I did and it sounded okay. Definitely not up to my usual par for playing, but I figure for not playing for three months (CRAZY!) I sounded pretty good. I have to say I absolutely love my mission president and his wife. Thursday we ended up at the mission office to take care of some things and I got to know them both a little better and am really enjoying them. At the Christmas Zone Conference their talks were both so good, and I loved listening to them. President Beck announced the New Year's mission goal, and I thought I would share it for those family members who might be interested. It is not something that he personally extended to families, but I'd like to invite anyone who is interested to join in. The invitation is to read the Book of Mormon in 60 days (the amount of time it took Joseph to translate it) and while reading it to highlight in 5 different colors the 5 parts of the doctrine of Christ, faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. We will be beginning as an entire mission on the 1st of January and finishing 60 days later. That means you read roughly 9-11 pages a day. Another wonderful part of the Christmas Conference is that they take all of the missionaries to the temple. It was so beautiful, and as we came out later in the evening we were able to see the temple all lit up and we got to listen to the Christmas music. It was such a beautiful evening. Hopefully I can attach pictures some time soon so you can all see.
A little more about my living situation and such. I am living with 2 other sisters, one is from Canada (interestingly enough she is also half native American, but I don't remember which tribe, but she does have a linguistics degree in Native American languages, which makes her incredibly cool) and the other sister is from Georgia. She's just celebrated her 5 year baptismal mark this past week, which was quite fun. We have a washer and dryer in our apartment which I have decided is a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing because we live in a very poor area and who knows where we would find to wash our clothes, but it's a curse because with 4 sisters, the odds of actually doing a single load of wash on p-day are not good. Usually I end up doing laundry when every I have a minute to throw it in and then I call it good.
I'm starting to eat more Mexican food, but we really don't get fed that much. There is a rule in our mission that we are not allowed to eat at members houses unless they invite friends or we can bring an investigator. We're working on getting them to invite friends, and things are getting a little better. In the few meals I have eaten here I think I've eaten a life supply of beans. They eat them with everything, and I mean everything. That and corn tortillas, they don't really use forks, you just grab what you want with the tortilla and eat away. It's pretty fun. I think the favorite thing I've eaten here was today. A member fed us lunch and fed us a soup called "Postole" it's a pulled pork soup with a spicy broth. It has corn, and chilies and who knows what else and then a ton of cilantro. So yummy. I've got to learn how to make that one.
We're working like crazy here. I'm learning so much and I'm working really hard and getting so much each day. Keep us in your prayers and especially pray that the windows of heaven will open for us and that we can find those who are really ready for the gospel.
Love you lots!
Hermana Okeson

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