Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Heavenly Father Doesn't Create Junk.

  Heavenly Father is always watching out for each and every one of us every minute of the day.  I know this to be true, not only in my own personal life but also in the lives of our investigators.  As a missionary, it is such a rewarding experience to see others' faith in Jesus Christ grow constantly as they continue to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
Welcome to the Beehive House!

As missionaries, our center purpose in everything we do, whether it be giving a tour in the Beehive House or talking with visitors on Temple Square, is to share the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  On Wednesday in the Beehive House, we took two families together on a tour. Neither of them were members of the church.  One family asked a lot of detailed questions about the materials in the house, but not much about what we were sharing about the gospel or the history.  In the second to last room of the tour, this family needed to leave and so we said good-bye.  The other family with us asked questions as well, but we did not get a chance to get to know them since they came in a little after we had started the tour, so this gave us the opportunity to do so.  The father asked us about our beliefs in Jesus Christ and how they are both similar and how they differ from other Christian faiths.  He said he was not biased one way or another because he was Jewish, but he was curious.  We shared many things including the Book of Mormon.  In the end we asked if he would like his own copy of the Book of Mormon and he accepted one!  Sister Chayama and I did not expect this at all.  I don't think that that man would not have accepted our invitation if the other family was still present.  I truly believe that when Heavenly Father knows someone is prepared to accept an invitation, like the Book of Mormon, He will create an environment that allows that person to recognize the Spirit's promptings.

Today we took another inspiring tour in the Beehive House.  It was a group of three, who were all members and they strengthened my testimony a lot!  Several times throughout the tour they would share their knowledge and testimony of Brigham Young and the gospel.  At one point we came to one of the hallways that has a nice big golden mirror in the wall.  The dad mentioned how the gold material reminded him of the mirror in the movie "Johnny Lingo."  We talked a little bit about the movie and what we liked about it.  During all of this Sister Chayama had that face that she was thinking about what to say.  Then she shared that the mirror shows us exactly what we look like.  The gospel of Jesus Christ helps us see who we truly are by experiencing the love of of Heavenly Father.  He knows, cares and cherishes each of us as His children.  Something I liked that one of the daughters said was, "Heavenly Father doesn't create junk."  She was absolutely right!  Heavenly Father only creates beautiful, worthwhile creations. I wish everyone in the world believed of this love from Him.  I hope as this week continues I will have countless opportunities to share this.

My invitation to you this week is to thank your Heavenly Father for all of the blessings, talents, gifts He has given you.  I promise you that as you recognize your strengths and express this to Heavenly Father you will feel a much stronger love and peace from Him.  If you are a member of the church I have an additional invitation for you.  Think of at least one person who you would like to share the gospel with and give them a copy of the Book of Mormon.  Write your personal testimony in it to them.  I know that if you do this for that specific person, they will have greater happiness in their lives and your faith in the Savior will increase.

I know that "faith without works is dead."  Not every experience I have will bring me comfort and enjoyment, but I know in the eternal perspective they will all bring me happiness because I will have learned how to humble myself before the Lord.  I love our living day prophet, Thomas S. Monson.  He has brought so much peace and love from our Heavenly Father into this world.  I love my family because they are the ones who have prepared me for our eternal life together.  I know  that the early pioneers did not make the trek from New York to Utah on false beliefs because I have witnessed the blessings and miracles from their faith in a living and loving Heavenly Father.  I know without a doubt that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Sister Aquino 

Kneaders!  YUM!

Happy Valentine's from home
I was really happy to see my sister from BYU-H!  She leaves for her mission to Guam this week and I know the people will be blessed to have her   



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Faith Creates Miracles; Miracles Are of God

And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
(Mormon 9:18)

Miracles occur every single day.  Whether it is a miracle of people surviving a natural disaster or a simple miracle of birds flying, all of these miracles come form our Heavenly Father.  Every week brings me new miracles to experience.

Every night during daily planning, Sister Chayama and I think of a "Goal for the day".  Last Tuesday our goal was to give out two pass along cards.  As as we walked the cross walk on our way home from emailing and shopping, I said "hello" to a guy on his bike. As we were walking up the hill past the library, I heard a bike chain break! I looked behind and it was the guy I saw in the street. Eventually he made his way up behind us. He stopped over to the side so we decided to talk with him. He was originally from Nigeria and came from New York to Utah to go to Utah State. He had heard of the church, but had never been to Temple Square. The thought crossed my mind to give him a mormon.org pass along card. Then I thought to give him the Temple Square facebook card. He was really nice and we both went our separate ways.

When we got to the apartment I realized we had achieved our goal! I had completely forgotten about it! This experience taught me the importance of goal setting. When we set goals that are realistic, but serve a righteous purpose, Heavenly Father will make it happen. As we follow the example of Jesus Christ and rely on the Spirit, that is when Heavenly Father can use us to fulfill His promises to His children.

Thursday we were walking on the Square and by the Assembly Hall and we noticed a couple taking pictures of the temple.  We decide to go talk with them.  The husband was off to a distance taking pictures, but we stopped to talk with the wife.  She told us they were visiting from France and they were members.  We continued having a great conversation when the thought came to mind, "Ask her where in France they are from."  So I did and she said southern France.  Another thought came to mind "Ask if Bordeaux is near there."  So I did and she said yes.  I told her that my dad served his mission in Bordeaux.  She looked at my name tag and thought to herself, "Elder Aquino, Elder Aquino... Elder Aquino!"  Her eyes lit up and a big smile spread across her face.  She knew my dad!  When my dad served in her branch, she was a recent convert.  It was really neat to meet her.  She called out to her husband and I think she told him what we had just discovered(she spoke in french).  I know for sure my dad did not teach her, but he must have had a n impact on her because we just kept hugging and hugging.  She was such a sweet heart!  From this experience I have gained a greater appreciation for my Daddy serving a mission.  As a missionary I am sure my dad never knew how much of an impact he made on others' lives, but his choice to serve definitely made an impact on me.

On Friday I go to meet Sister Palmer's (my trainer) sister, Caitlyn!  She was so sweet and seeing her brought back memories from my first two transfers!

So many more miracles happened this week for me and our investigators.  The Lord is definitely watching over His children.  So many of them are making great changes to their lives and are bringing themselves closer to Heavenly Father.  They have learned to recognize the Spirit more frequently and to be able to be a part of the experiences they go through is incredible!

I am grateful for temples.  I know that as I continue to live worthily and strive to keep the temple in view, not only will I be blessed, but our investigators will, as well.  I love them so much and I have great faith that more miracles will occur for them this next week.  I am grateful to Heavenly Father for placing me in my own "Gethsemane" so that I can use the atonement of Jesus Christ to strengthen my personal testimony.  I know that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on the earth.  I believe when we have faith to make a change in our lives, such as, read the Book of Mormon
or listen to the words of our living day prophet, Thomas S. Monson, that is when the miracles of God can happen in our lives.  I know these things to be true.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.
Sister Aquino

Happy Valentine's Day!

Music and the Spoken Word
So fun to meet Sister Palmer's sister, Caitlyn

Too bad the Japanese language doesn't automatically come with wearing the flag :-)

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I Love Children!

It is only February and yet I feel like it is spring here!  I love it!  This week has been mostly clear blue and sunny.  I am very grateful that it has only rained once this week.  I have been so spoiled on my mission.
I guess I have to get used to the fact that my weeks in the mission from now on are never going to slow down.  I have probably said this several times and I am going to say it again, where did the time go?  I feel like I just emailed yesterday!  This week has been filled with miracles and blessings.
Last Tuesday I had the wonderful opportunity to take part in another musical number, singing "I Feel My Savior's Love" with the same sisters (as a couple of weeks ago), at the LDS Business College Devotional.  President Poulsen, our mission president, asked us to sing because he was the speaker.  President Poulsen gave an incredible talk.  Even though I am not attending college at this point in my life right now, I learned so much about the spiritual goals I want to set when that time does come again.  As we sang the musical number I could literally feel the Savior's love for the students in that room.  What a wonderful feeling that was!

Singing at the LDS Business College Devotional
Thursday night we had a lesson with one of our investigators over the phone.  For those of you who are not familiar with what resources missionaries serving at visitor centers have, let me first explain what the Teaching Centers are.  Our mission boundaries are just Temple Square, but we can stay in contact with any one that is visiting and teach them over the phone.  This also includes the calls and chats we receive form mormon.org.  The last or second to last week of my second transfer, Robert (not his real name) came on chat with a question about the Book of Mormon.  He already had a copy a previous neighbor gave him a long time ago, and he also started reading it before chatting with us.  At the end of the chat he wanted to continue to stay in contact with us.  Fast forward to a week or so later- Sister Chayama and I taught him the first lesson, the Restoration and invited him to be baptized.  We taught him about the proper priesthood authority.  He did not give a definite answer on the baptism invitation, but he did commit to saying his prayers and continuing to read the Book of Mormon everyday.  We continued to stay in touch with him through text, in between our lessons.  This past week he was sick.  We had the opportunity to introduce to him priesthood blessings.  We explained to him that we could send the local missionaries to give him a blessing.  When we talked with him Thursday night he shared an experience that he had that completely overwhelmed me with the Spirit.  Here is what I wrote in the teaching record.
"Another Spirit lead lesson! (He) is still sick, getting better. Did not go to work. Went to the doctors and they told him he has upper respiratory (infection) and nothing they can do about it. The prescription did not help. He went to Walmart to buy medicine. He was going to check out, but forgot something, he went to an aisle and saw two missionaries. He went up to them and told them that he has been talking with us and that he read the BOM. He mentioned a priesthood blessing and they went to a nearby church and they gave him a blessing! They put oil on his head. They talked with him about faith. Afterwards he did not feel better immediately, but when he got out of his car all of a sudden he felt a lot better. He was amazed.  Elders gave him their contact info."
Sister Chayama and I were grinning from ear to ear!  We were amazed at what we had just heard!  Another thought I had was the elders were very prepared and inspired themselves to talk about faith with him because that was exactly what we had prepared to talk with Robert about.  When Heavenly Father knows we have a desire to change, he will make it possible for us to receive the blessings we are promised.
On Friday I was on exchanges with Sister Melone from Italy.  While we were on Square we met Rachel down by 'Scriptures and Revelation'.  Rachel was a member and had just gotten back form the Marshall Islands, teaching elementary aged children.  She shared a very moving story with us.  On the island she was teaching, the church was not established.  Whenever she would travel to the main island, she would tell the missionaries that her island needed missionaries.  Still they never came and so Rachel decided to fast and pray.  I don't know how long she was out there for, but it was at least a year.  Two weeks after she had fasted and prayed missionaries, were sent to her island.  The teaching program she was in pulled her out of there and she was the last person to ever go back.  I don't remember the exact words she used, but she basically said that there will be no more schools on that island, but the church is now developing there, missionaries are teaching her children and the people are much more blessed now.  I was very overwhelmed, again, with the Spirit.  Because of Rachel I have been inspired to pray more diligently and fervently for my investigators.
Sister Melone from Italy
Yesterday Sister Chayama and I were walking around the temple grounds and a little girl from the opposite side shouted "Sisters!"  Then she ran up and gave us a big hug.  It was one of those moments for me that I realized how much I loved children and love my own brothers and sisters.  I can only imagine what the Savior felt like when little children ran up to Him when He visited the Ancient Americas.  I am excited for the day when I will be able to run up to my Savior and hug showing all my love for Him.

I love little children!

I love meeting more of Heavenly Father's children every single day!  I am grateful to be here on this earth to prepare for when the Messiah comes.  I know that serving this mission is a step in preparing me for that day.  I know that when we pray with a sincere heart, God will listen and answer us.  I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints holds the same exact priesthood authority that John the Baptist and Jesus Christ held.  I say these things int he name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.
Love Sister Aquino

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Sacred Calling as a Missionary

We had Zone Training this last week and what an inspirational meeting that was!  My approach to missionary work now has changed for the better.  The main focus was extending the baptism invite with our investigators in the first lesson and when we contact people on the Square.  As missionaries we are called of God to preach the gospel to others and we have the authority to invite others to be baptized by the proper priesthood authority.  It is so easy to forget or we might be apprehensive to do it because we do not want to offend those not of our faith, but from that meeting I have a stronger testimony of the importance of extending invitations, especially the baptism invite.

On exchange with Sister Yim
Yesterday I was on an exchange with Sister Yim from Hong Kong, and we took a Cantonese tour.  They were two men who were friends, Tim and Larry (not their real names).  They both moved here to Utah from China.  Tim could only speak Cantonese and Larry spoke both Cantonese and English.  Tim did not have a belief in God and Larry did.  Larry brought Tim to try and persuade him to believe in God.  For the first part of the tour Sister Yim talked with Tim and I talked with Larry.  I learned that although Larry had a belief in God and Jesus Christ he did not agree with having to attend church or find the one truth because as long as we are kind, and have a relationship with God we are okay.  As we walked from place to place I began to share the Plan of Salvation, but then our conversations turned elsewhere and I thought that Larry needed to hear about the Restoration, but none of what was said brought the Spirit.  Larry was constantly talking and talking and he never allowed the Spirit to teach him what he needed to hear.  When we were at the Christus,  I thought that maybe he would open up to more of the message, but still that Spirit I expected to come, did not.  We then ended the tour by taking them through "God's Plan".  In the third room, the Zone Training came to mind and I felt that we needed to give Tim and Larry the baptism invite.  In the last room when the video was finished, we asked them to share their thoughts and feelings from the presentation.  Tim was touched because it shared the importance of family.  At that time I knew for certain Heavenly Father wanted us to invite him to be baptized.  I felt unsure how to approach this because Tim and Larry had two completely different understandings of God, but I felt the Spirit right next to me.  After Larry had shared his thoughts I told them we had individual invites to give them.  I looked at Tim and asked that when he comes to know that God exists, would he be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ?  Sister Yim translated for him and he said "Yes"!  We continued to bare testimony to him and asked him to stay in contact with us so we could help him learn more about his relationship with God.  Later she explained to me that after we had invited Tim to stay in contact with us, Larry told him there was no need to because he could teach Tim about God.  Apparently Sister Yim immediately told Tim, "No!  Do not listen to him!  We are missionaries and we have been called of God to teach others about God and Jesus Christ."  Tim's response was that he willl only listen to Sister Yim and will only ask her when he has questions.  In the end, Tim gave Sister Yim his number to stay in touch.
Although this experience was a very intense, I came out of it with a more profound testimony of being worthy of the Spirit.  I testify to all of you that the Holy Ghost does  exist.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is a living day prophet who holds the proper priesthood authority, the same authority Jesus Christ himself did.  I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.
Sister Aquino

My district in the Beehive House

A package full of sunshine from the Ringleins!