Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Miami Beach English. . .a sad name for a Spanish-called missionary!

Recent convert P on his front porch
Dear everyone,

Hello! I love you all! I am staying in the newly-renamed area of Miami Beach English (a sad name for a Spanish-called missionary) for the next 5 weeks (a short transfer to even out MTC departure times) but Sister Albrecht will be leaving tomorrow. Also, fun news. I'm going to be a grandma!  Sister Smaellie is going to get a brand-new trainee at transfers!
This week we had an AMAZING stake conference. It was actually a bigger-than-stake conference with 48 stakes in the southeastern US participating via broadcast on Sunday morning. Sister McConkie of the YW general presidency, Elders Kopischke and Gay of the 70, and Elder Nelson of the 12 all spoke to us. It was bomb. They basically taught the entirety of all the lessons we teach to investigators over the course of two hours, with more to spare! I particularly liked Sister McConkie's talk on commandments (keeping the commandments helps us to know the truth, be happy, and prepare to be with God again) and Elder Nelson's talk on doctrine (9 main facets of the doctrine of God are the Godhead, the Plan of Salvation, the Atonement, the pattern of Dispensation, apostasy, and restoration, prophets and revelation, Priesthood and priesthood keys, ordinances and covenants, marriage and family, and commandments). I was so grateful I was living worthy to have the Spirit with me to get so much out of the conference.
All the full-time missionaries in our stake also got to go to the Saturday night session of stake conference... and we're in the same stake as Hialeah!! I got to sit by Sister Ware and her companion and see many familiar faces from Hialeah. Hermano Villeta teared up when he saw me :) and I was just as happy to see the Villetas, the Marreros, and others.
We have some really cool investigators, including P's sister E. She had never wanted to sit down with us before, but yesterday she sat in on our lesson, in which we were just going to read 1 Nephi 1 with P, because his eyes are bad and he can't read on his own. By the end of the lesson we had taught about the Godhead, all the factors of the Restoration, spiritual gifts, repentance, prayer, and obedience to God. Phew! But she is now super solid to be baptized on February 9, so it's amazing!
T and A are also very cool. However, I am out of time to write about them so keep them and us all in your prayers. I love you all!

S lives in his car and hangs out at the church.
We went by and he gave us some fresh coconut water. Supa cool!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My Record Remains Untainted!

Sister Albrecht, P on his baptism day, with his member friend, Brother Gutierrez, who baptized him,
and Sister Houghton!

Dear family,
MY RECORD REMAINS UNTAINTED! I have yet to baptize any non-Hispanics!
P is second-generation Cuban. He speaks Spanish but prefers English. His son was baptized two weeks ago in the YSA branch, and when he went to his son's baptism he told the elders that he wanted to get baptized too. He hasn't wavered in that desire since.
As you can see from the photos I sent earlier, P was very very happy at his baptism. As we've taught him I've seen how prepared some people are. He knew what he wanted, he knew the way to get it (baptism), and nothing was going to get in his way. We're doing the 40-day fast for missionary work and P signed up so he's fasting today. When we taught him commandments he asked us for more- how he could live the commandments better. 
These past two weeks we have really seen Mark 16:17 come true. It says, "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues."
I told you a little about F last week. What I didn't tell you was that she had a smoking problem. But on Friday the Elders taught her about the Word of Wisdom, and she realized she needed to quit. On Saturday she struggled all day but didn't give in. On Sunday she woke up and she told me that night that even the thought of smoking made her feel nauseated.
P had some word of wisdom addictions as well. We taught him about the need to cut these things out of his life on our first visit. He was still having difficulties this Tuesday. But we taught him about being clean before God and he was ready to change. He told us he didn't have any desire to smoke or drink ever again.
We got a referral from the Spanish elders whom we visited on Tuesday. M had been wanting to change his life, and had already recognized the need to cut smoking and drinking out of his life. He gave us his cigarettes, his ash tray, and his lighter.
We left a harvest blessing last night with an older lady named E. She has Parkinson's, and has seen miracles in her health as she has had faith in Jesus Christ - she can walk and talk and her problems are minimal. She asked me to pray that she could accept the Lord's will about her health and continue to grow in faith. After the prayer she told us she knew that God had sent us and that we were representatives of Jesus Christ. I taught her the message of the Resoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ about revelation and authority and she wants to be baptized. (I only say 'I' because it was all in Spanish... sadly we had to pass her to the Spanish speaking elders, but hey! We like baptisms!)
Sometimes we feel tempted to discount miracles, to say that they were achieved through strength of will or coincidence. And we usually do need to do all that we can before God steps in. But He really does provide a way for us to keep all of His commandments, if we are willing to. And as we missionaries have faith and our investigators witness it, they grow in faith and are able to cast out whatever evils are holding them back from eternal progress. So cool!
President Anderson gave us some homework last week in his email that has really been helping me to grow. Feel free to join in the experience! (the following was extracted from his email)
I gave some homework, for all of us, to study some faith scriptures, a passage every day, in our personal study, and to come to companionship study prepared to discuss how this passage can help your companionship’s faith. The scriptures are:
Alma 32 (Take 2 days)                       
2 Corinthians 5:7
Hebrews 11 (Take 2 days)                 
Ephesians 2:8-9
Romans 10:14-17
James 2:14-26
Jacob 4:4-7                 
1 Peter 1:8-9
John 5:44                   
Enos 1:6-8
John 12:39-42               
Moroni 10:11
James 1:6-8          
D&C 46:13-16
JST Genesis 14:26-36
Anyway, out of time now. I LOVE YOU A LOT! Send me mail! (please?)

Mission happenings?
Three people we were teaching for a while...
Yep, that's me. German heritage and all.

The District

Sister Dieste, who dressed up as Michael Jackson when we went to her house to eat

Happy with giant onion rings

Chilly Florida January?

Eliza's favorite meal?  Not.  But yes, she has eaten fish several times!

Sisters Albrecht and Houghton on the Bay!

Getting to be a Member Friend!

From 13 January 2014

Dear Family,

This week I had the unique experience of being a member friend. Sister Albrecht and I got a call from a man we had street-contacted the week before, and stopped by to visit him. His older landlady F was there and wanted us to teach her too. The problem? She only speaks Spanish... and neither our branch nor Sister Albrecht do. Our investigator J speaks Spanish as well, but prefers English. So I ended up teaching the whole Restoration in Spanish to both of them, and Sister Albrecht closed up the time with J while I talked with F.
We passed F to the Spanish Elders that day and they set up a time with her to visit the next day, near the time we would be visiting J. Shortly before we headed over we found out they were sick and wouldn't be able to make the appointment - so we went and had two separate lessons at the same time, J with Sister Albrecht and F with me (in sight and conversational sound, no worries!). The next day the elders came, along with a bilingual member of our branch. Sister Albrecht and our member taught J while I transferred F over to the elders. She came to church on Sunday with the elders, absolutely loved it all, and is getting baptized next Sunday.

I am supportive of her and still see her when we go over but I am not responsible for her. I absolutely love her and will definitely be in contact with her after my mission - she's my friend, one of those people you meet on your mission who, no matter how different you are they're somehow familiar, and the bond is instant. It's strange but fun. And I get to exercise my Spanish!

Other news...

We finally finished up clearing out our referrals this week, and one of the oldest ones on the list hadn't been visited. When we dropped by G was home, but didn't know who had referred her. She had been wanting to get back into church life, and told us that she needed baptism. She was busy and her phone didn't work so we weren't able to see her for three days. When we came by we found out she had told her roommate about us, and her roommate wanted to get baptized as well, and wanted her two teenagers to be baptized as well. We had a powerful member-present Restoration lesson with G and T and they are both excited to get baptized!
This week I was studying from the Book of Mormon about the fall, particularly in 2 Nephi 2 and Mosiah 15 and 16. The verse that got me thinking about all this is Moroni 7:16, "The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil." Hold on, hold on, I thought we had the knowledge of good and evil as a result of the fall, not from the Spirit of Christ! So I read a lot about the fall, about the difference between agency and moral agency (thank you Preach my Gospel), about the influence of the Spirit, and about the need to put off the natural man and not allow Satan to have power over us. It was fascinating! I'm still processing and trying to put it all together in my head, but it has been fun to study and learn, and I will continue to do so... probably for the rest of my life.
Anyway, I love you all. Out of time - write to me!!
I keep seeing Public Works buildings and trucks,
but I never get the camera out in time to take a picture.
That's for you, Dad!

Miami parking!  This isn't even bad.
Sometimes the whole right lane is taken up with parked cars.

We don't need our TiWi anymore.
Sister Albrecth's rule:  If the muffin moved,
she didn't get to eat it til we got home.
Safe, well, Miami, driving for 30 minutes!
Marta made this.  I LOVE IT.  She rocks!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Your Seat's On Fire!

Dear Family,
The new chapel we're meeting in. It's the only building
the church owns that is made out of coral.
Also, you could actually drive a boat up to it
if you wanted. And it has two stories!
Yesterday marks the first meeting of the Miami Beach 2nd Branch. A member of our new branch came up with a slogan for us - we're all in the hot seat! With so few people all the members - and missionaries - have to step up and get things moving. Yesterday the branch-wide joke was telling each other that their seats were on fire.
There were people there, though. We had a sacrament meeting attendance of 47! Not too shabby. When you consider that there were two families of seven, four missionaries, and four visitors it seems a little smaller, but hey :) We have a whole branch presidency, two Sunday school teachers (Gospel Principles and Gospel Doctrine), and a music coordinator. So it's not a bad start. Sadly with four missionaries in attendance we weren't able to get any investigators, which was really disappointing, but we're moving.
Our branch was very strange, mostly because it was so normal. The people were mostly young couples who are here for schooling or work, are from out west, and have been members their whole lives. We didn't have the diversity that I've grown accustomed to on the mission, and it was really weird!
Welcome to the Bible belt.
So we get referrals from mormon.org, from people who have asked for a missionary visit or church media item, or whose member friends have asked for a visit for them.  This week we saw a miracle as we cleared up referrals. When I got to this area there were a lot of referrals on backlog in our area from the last few months, many of which the other sisters had visited, and some that they hadn't. We were not having any success in harvesting, and had been trying for several hours. We said (another) prayer and I felt the impression to get out our referral list. We went through and called all of them. One was amazing and wanted to learn all about the church. Most of the others we just needed to drop off the system. But the real miracle came as we finished up. By the end of the day we had gotten four new referrals, two of them from member friends and family, both ready to be taught.
In my other areas we didn't get a lot of referrals. But now that we're working a lot with them I'm seeing many miracles. The Lord is really in charge, and He gives His children the desire and opportunity to come in contact with His church, directly and indirectly.
Sorry I don't have too many details this week. I'm kind of in a p-day fog and don't remember much...  we're working with some people with amazing potential, but not a lot to show for it yet. I love you all!!

Sister Albrecht turned 23 on Thursday.

The ice cream truck came by on Christmas eve
after a rather depressing day of nobody answering doors.

Yes that is a plastic swordfish in the back of somebody's truck.
Sometimes I forget where exactly I am, and then I remember.

With Jinny and Stephanie, two teenage recent converts
who used to come out with us
all the time before the ward split...
Also they were taught by Sister Ware :)
The Fort Lauderdale Temple! The open house should
be in March and the dedication in April!