Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I Feel My Savior's Love

 Transfer number 3 has arrived!  It is crazy that I am done with training!  Studies do not seem long enough now days now that companionship studies is only an hour.  I have a new companion!  She and I have the same ethnicity.  Can you guess which country she is from?  JAPAN.  Her name is sister Chayama!  She is really sweet, humble, loving and has a great heart.  This will also be her last transfer, which means I am "killing" another companion (Mission lingo for I am her last companion).  We are serving in the Beehive House.  The Beehive House is the home of the second prophet of the LDS church, Bringham Young.  I am starting to develop a great appreciation for the role Bringham Young played in the work of the restored gospel. 

My new companion, Sister Chayama, from Japan

This transfer we are on early schedule which means we wake up at 6:15am and go to bed at 10:15pm.  So last Thursday I completely forgot to set my alarm to 6:15 and woke up at 6:30!  I have never woken up that late before out on the mission except when I woke up sick one morning.  I was really disappointed, but knew that it was an honest mistake and would not make it again.  Well guess what happened Friday morning?  I woke up late again!  I was really upset with myself for the whole day.  I could not believe that I had been disobedient to the schedule!  

During our TC time we called one of our investigators who has been having a hard time finding time to read the Book of Mormon.  We asked her what she hopes to get when we call her.  She shared with us that growing up she would attend Sunday school for her church all the time, but when she started working she lost the habit of going and regrets it.  She said she knows she has not been doing the things she needs to get done and wishes she never allowed to work and life to get in the way.  We explained the beauty of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can constantly start over and develop a Christ like lifestyle.  From this conversation I learned something very important.  I realized that when I shared my testimony of the Atonement with our investigator, I had not followed it myself that day.  For the past two days I had held the burden of not forgiving myself for waking up late.  I was teaching this principle and yet I was not following it myself.  Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways to convert us all.

Later on Friday we gave a Japanese tour.  It was my very first language tour!  It was a really neat experience.  It was a group of four men.  We first took them to the Tabernacle and shared many of our basic beliefs with them.  Sister Chayama translated most of what was said, but I could still feel the Spirit even though I didn't understand everything.  All four of them had knowledge of the general Christian background which was interesting.  They asked a lot of questions, which was great!  We invited them to read the Book of Mormon.  One of them requested a copy.  So we walked over to the the North Visitor Center and gave him a copy.  A minute later another man asked for a copy.  Then a couple minutes later another one asked.  We also gave them  mormon.org cards that had Sister Chayama's number in case they ever wanted to learn more.  I guess in Japan if someone gives you their business card, it is a sign of respect to give your business card in return because the first man who requested the Book of Mormon gave us his card.  They asked to take a picture with us and they all held up their copies of the Book of Mormon.  How cool is that!  By the end of the conversation three of the four men left with a copy of the Book of Mormon.  I really enjoyed this experience.

This past Sunday I has the opportunity to be part of a musical number for the Bountiful Heights Utah Ward.  President Harmon, first counselor of the mission presidency, asked Sister Davis to put together a musical number for his friend's ward.  Sister Davis asked me and three other sisters in the mission to sing with her for this ward.  I had so much fun attending a family ward!  I miss being around little kids all the time.  We sang an arrangement o f"I Feel my Savior's Love".  We had the chance to sing in both our sacrament meeting and the family ward. The ward members brought their non member friends to church.  Afterwards their was a "linger-longer" and as missionaries we had the opportunity to meet the members and friends that attended.   Both times we sang I felt the Spirit so strongly.  I am grateful I had this experience to bear testimony through singing.

In the Beehive House today we took a member family through and in Bringham Young's office there is a painting of the Salt Lake Temple.  We asked the family when they look at the picture of the temple in their home what they think of and the oldest daughter (who looked around 13 years old maybe) said, it is a reminder to her of how their family started.  At that moment my heart was filled with the Spirit and my testimony was strengthened.  I love my mission.  I am blessed to have such a sacred calling as a missionary.  I know there are many reasons I was called to Temple Square at this specific time.  I am grateful for my home ward that have been a support to me.  I love my family so much.  Everyday I cherish the love that my family has given me as I look at the temple.  What that girl said in the Beehive House was a reminder to me of how much more I need to appreciate the commitment my parents made to one another and with our Heavenly Father in the temple.  Because of that commitment I have received numerous blessing and miracles throughout my life.  I know that the temple is the house of God.  I know that I there is a life after death.  I know that my Savior loves me because I feel it every single day.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Sister Aquino
Last transfer's roomates...from India, Japan, Denmark, Norwary and USA

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Smiley Grandpa Ron

Wow!  Another week has come and gone!  Next Wednesday I will be in my third transfer and done with the 12 week training.  Crazy!  I am absolutely loving my mission!  I can never say that enough.

Sadly, my trainer, Sister Palmer will be going home next week!  She has been a great influence in my life.  She has helped me to become a more obedient and effective missionary.  I will miss her dearly and I know many others here in the mission will miss her as well.  I know Heavenly Father needs her to go and help others in their lives now.  Whatever she does and wherever she goes I know she will be wonderful!

Friday I had the opportunity to attend my first Tagalog meeting.  International sisters here in this mission have meetings where they help each other out on improving ways to take tours and contact people.  This is one of the rare times they can speak in their native language as well.  As most of you know, the only language I speak is English, but since I am Filipino, I was invited.  During part of the meeting each sister went around and shared why they decided to serve a mission.  There was only one other sister in the room that did not speak in Tagalog, but she could understand the language.  But, not being able to understand definitely did NOT ruin the experience for me.  Although I could not understand a single word these sisters were saying, I could clearly feel the Spirit of their testimonies.  I knew that each of them had a testimony of the Savior and a strong conviction in their decision to serve a mission.  It was such a wonderful feeling that is almost indescribable.  It was an experience I will never forget. 

Sister Palmer and I have been struggling pretty much both of the transfers that I have been here with finding solid new investigators.  Unfortunately we have had to drop a ton of our contacts in our area book.  We have been praying really hard, asking for help, but everything is in the Lord's time.  Typically the people that come on to chat with us are either argumentative or are not interested in staying in contact with us to learn more about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Saturday was different.  We chatted with so many people who had sincere questions and by the end of the day we had two new investigators!  Sister Palmer and I immediately got on our knees after both chats and expressed our gratitude to our Heavenly Father.  I am thankful to Him for giving us our trials because it was all worth it!  Even if it does not work out with both of these new investigators, I am grateful we had the experience to have joy in finding them.  Heavenly Father blessed us with the determination and lifted our Spirits.

On Sunday as we were walking past the temple we saw this older man walking the opposite direction with a huge smile on his face.  I decided to wave and smile at him.  He stopped to talk with us.  He asked us where we were from, what we did before our missions, and what we were going to study when we got back.  He was just a super friendly old gentleman.  The whole time he had this warm big smile on his face.  As we said our good byes I asked what his name was and he said "Grandpa Ron."  Afterwards, Sister Palmer and I called him "Smiley Grandpa Ron."  My invitation to you this week is to smile at as many people as you can, wherever you go.  I promise you it will make their day!

I love my Savior.  What a blessing it has been for me to meet the people I have met.  Although I am done with my official training, I know the Lord has much more in store for me to learn.  I am excited for what this next transfer will bring into my life.  I know that the prophets in the Book of Mormon did have personal testimonies of the Savior.  I believe in the Holy Ghost.  God places certain people in our lives to take care of us.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Love Sister Aquino

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Believe in Him. Follow Him. Love Him

This week went by really fast!  The transfer is almost done!  I can't believe it!
Now that the Christmas lights are off and Christmas has past, Temple Square has really slowed down.  Very few people come to visit, but we still always find people to talk to.  

I am sure most of you have seen the movie or at least heard of it, "Meet the Mormons".  The movie is playing here at Temple Square in the North Visitor Center and at the Legacy Theater in the Joseph Smith Memorial building.  The movie really portrays us "Mormons" correctly.  We are normal people who make our beliefs a part of our everyday lives.  
I really enjoyed the testimonies that other sisters shared this past Sunday at church.  One of them shared that she had seen this picture (below) of Jesus Christ visiting the ancient Americas several times in her life, but for the first time she had paid close attention to the nail prints in Jesus Christ's hands.  When she noticed this detail, she felt the Spirit so strong.  She expressed how grateful she was for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  At least times she repeatedly said "You are precious".
Another sister also shared her testimony of the Atonement.  Someone told her that even if we were the only person living on the Earth, God would still send Jesus Christ to atone for our sins.  That is how much God loves us as His Children. From these two testimonies these two questions popped into my head, "Do I recognize the small blessings of the Atonement and the Resurrection in the great picture of my life?"

Tuesday we had "square time" (meaning we contacted around Temple Square) and we were on our way towards the Reflection Pool.  As we were walking past the temple gates we saw a lady with a pink umbrella.  We smiled and said "hi" to her.  Suddenly she stopped and said,"There was a man in the temple who looked like he needed help.  I told Heavenly Father if someone talked to me I would go back to the temple and help that man."  As soon as she finished talking that is exactly what she did.  Sister Palmer and I were amazed!  What a great example she was to us of being exactly obedient to God.  I also learned that our daily planning is very much inspired.  Our daily planning (here on Temple Square) is a little bit different from other missions.  Because we are at a visitor center, we plan where on Temple Square we need to go.  Monday night we had planned for Tuesday to go contact at the Reflection Pool and now I know the reason for it.  The Lord works through us in subtle, but powerful ways to answer the prayers of others.
I invite each of you to think about how others have answered your prayers and how this week you can be an answer to someone else's prayer. 
I bare testimony that Jesus Christ did resurrect from the grave. One of my mom's favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon is found in Mosiah 16:8 But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.   I know that we all have the opportunity to live with Heavenly Father and our loved ones again because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I am grateful to my Savior for all of the love he has given me each and every day of my life.  I know that He loves all of you for who you are.  Believe in Him.  Follow Him.  Love Him.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.
Love Sister Aquino

Thursday, January 1, 2015

"Wrong" Turn = Right Way

         Happy New Year everyone!  Wow I cannot believe 2015 is here!  I hope you all had fun celebrating with your friends and family and that you are looking forward to the new year.  Last night, on New years eve, Sister Palmer and I were assigned to the Christus.  For those of you who are not familiar with this, the Christus is a beautiful white statue of the resurrected Jesus Christ.  There is a two minute narration that is played.  After it is finished we bore our testimony and gave each group an invitation for the New Year.  One of the invites we gave was, "Christ holds so many attributes that each of us wants to develop.  Christ is perfect, but we are not so it is difficult to develop all of His attributes at once.  Since the New Year is upon us, we invite each of you to choose one Christ-like attribute that you want to work on for 2015.  Will you do that?"  I extend this exact invitation to all of you.  I have chosen to develop humility and will be working along side all of you.  I hope that you will take this challenge so that next year for 2016 you can strengthen a different Chirst-like attribute. 

         Saturday evening Sister Palmer and I found a little boy who was lost.  We were coming from the Priesthood Statues and were supposed to walk straight to the Handcart Monument, but for some reason we took a right towards the flagpole.  Suddenly my attention was drawn to a little boy standing all by himself by one of the planters.  We asked him where his parents were.  He made his way towards the lawn by the Tabernacle, but there was no one there.  We told him we were going to take him to watch a movie and I grabbed his hand.  While Sister Palmer called security, I got to know him.  He was in Kindergarten.  He liked the color green.  He liked basketball and Spiderman, etc.  We got him inside the South Visitor's Center and sat down with him on the couch.  There were some grandparents looking for their lost grandson.  They must have not seen the little boy when Sister Palmer first asked them if he was theirs because later on the mother came in and instantly grabbed and hugged her son.  As I watched this mother and her little boy hug, with tears streaming down her face, the spirit touched my heart.  I thought of how our Heavenly Father feels when we have lost our way in life, but then find our way back to Him.   I know that as we seek to have the spirit of Christ in our lives, we will be able to return to live with our Heavenly Father again.  I know it was no mistake that Sister Palmer and I took a "wrong turn."  Not only did we help a lost boy find his way back to his family, I was able to strengthen my personal testimony of the divine love of God.

I have a firm belief in my Heavenly Father.  I know that it is through our Savior, Jesus Christ that we can live with our Heavenly Father again.  If you felt spiritually lost in 2014, make a change, now, in 2015 and live your life as the Savior did.  I promise you that as you strive to follow the will of God and obey His son's commandments, you will have a Happy New Year.  I am grateful for the Atonement.  I am thankful for all the blessings and trials I have been given.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sister Mikeila Aquino