Monday, March 28, 2016

PS- We're pretty Lancaster now- someone gave us a pair of Jordans and a pair of Lebrons ( Victor!)

The Branch!

Hiiiiiiiiiii and Feliz pascua

     Not a whole lot to write about this week and not a lot of time to
write, BUT we went to the DC temple with the branch this week! It was
amazing- it was the branch's first temple trip together, so they were
all so excited. Being inside the temple with my little branch family
felt a little bit like heaven. It was Francisca's first trip to the
temple as well, she had such an amazing experience. She bore her
testimony yesterday at church about how special a day it was for her.
We had to wake up at 3:30 am to drive to the temple, we were
exhausted. Especially after a drive in a guagua (pronounced wawa)
(van) packed full of 15 Puerto Ricans. Hahaha but we got to the temple
just in time to catch the sun rise bouncing off the spires of the
temple. That place is beautiful.
     Tomorrow Hermana Landa goes home! My new comp will be Hermana
Busath, she's a lot of fun, I'm excited.
     Thank you so much to my family for the Easter love! Shoutout to
the Maxfield/ sears fam.(: I love you guys!
Other than that it's just a bunch of pictures today.

Hermana Sears
Ps. The church is true

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Add caption

Josephina and Loli and my favorite twins!

Dinner with Lisandra and Erick:))  Cuban Food!

Tracted into a big Easter Party

Mis queridos,

    It's the start of Semana Segrada- Holy Week. We've already seen
so many hearts softened this time of year- so many we meet honestly
have no idea what Easter is really about, and why we celebrate it, and
want to know. Almost everyone we meet is willing to watch a video
about Easter- the new church initiative "Aleluya."
    Stake conference was amazing. Elder Randall Bennet from the
quorum of the seventy came and spoke. The adult session was
particularly cool, we basically had an open discussion/ question and
answer. He spoke about the importance of missionary work and temple
work. He warned that we as saints will only continue to be persecuted
more and more for what we believe as time goes on, and how we can
remain 'in the world but not of the world.' My favorite though was
hearing from quite a few very recent converts in the stake. At one
point Elder Bennet asked all adult converts to raise their hands, and
3/4 the room raised their hand. Not in Utah, haha.
    Random grateful moment this week. So Saturday morning we we had a
lesson downtown pretty early so we decided to take the bus. Right as
we were getting on the bus we saw a woman throw an entire cup of hot
coffee everywhere. It flew everywhere, including all over a woman who
was sitting close. Everyone started trying to talk to her but she
didn't speak English. So we were able to sit with her and talk to her
because we were the only ones who spoke Spanish. She was pretty upset
and kept asking 'why did she do that to me?' We were able to calm her
down and explain that it was intended not for her, but the man in
front of her who had also gotten off, and then get her home. We were
so grateful we were there so she had someone to talk to.
    Unfortunately this week we decided to turn over Josephina and her
husband to the elders. We both felt to truly progress Loli needed to
be taught by elders. It was hard, we had just broken solid ground with
him. Josephina was so sad when we told her we would not be coming
anymore, she started crying and asking us not to stop coming. But she
thanked us for all we had done and told us she know all we have done
is only because we love her family and want them to be happy. It was
harder than turning over Lisandra and Erick- two families I love so,
so much. But it's what's best for them. The elders are pretty happy
though.. She told us that one day her family will be sealed, and hopes
that her boys will serve missions, and marry in the temple.
    Victor is doing incredibly well. He continues to read the Book of
Mormon every day. He came to stake conference, where he got to meet
more members of the York side branch, (half of the branch meets in
York, our side is a satellite branch) the branch president- Presidente
Gogna, President Johnson, and Elder Randall Bennet of the quorum of
the seventy. Pretty good day for him I'd say. I've never met an
investigator more prepared to change. He has already begun the steps
of repentance in his life- evident through the changes he's already
making. We taught the plan of salvation with Francisa, member of four
days, as our member present. In the beginning of the lesson, she asked
an inspired question that set the tone for the rest of the lesson. As
we taught about how God is the Father of our spirits and He has a plan
for us, she asked "What would you do to save your son?" The rest of
the lesson he kept referring to the example he wanted to become for
his son. Francisca is the best team up I've ever had, we learned so
much from teaching with her. We have so much to learn from recent
converts of the church and their pure testimonies. Anyway, Victor kept
saying "Voy a cambiar. Voy a cambiar." I'm going to change. I'm going
to change. He asked us if we really thought that someone 'like him'
could be forgiven of everything he's done, this is the first time in
his life he has learned of repentance. We testified that no one is
exempt from the atonement, I shared one of my favorite Book of Mormon
stories with him from Alma 36 about the conversion of one of the Sons
of Mosiah- one described as one of the "vilest of sinners," who's "joy
was as exceeding as was his pain" as he applied the power of the
atonement of Jesus Christ, and went on to spend the rest of his life
'laboring without ceasing.. To bring souls into repentance.' And
building up the church. Victor wants nothing more than to be "free" of
his past. He even joked that he would "walk all over Lancaster with us
sharing the gospel" when he is baptized. This week we he prayed with
us for the first time in his life. He expressed his gratitude for us
coming again and again and again, and how he wanted to know God.

The message we got from Victor after stake conference:
    "Truly, thank you for inviting me today. I learned a lot, things
I've never had in my life. Everyday that passes I feel different than
I was before. I will continue studying the Book of Mormon, I know it
has the answers to all my questions, I want to learn more. I know that
what you are teaching me is good. You are both good people. I need to
prepare for my baptism day, but I know that with your help, and with
God's help I will reach it and be ready."

    The miraculous conversions we read about in the scriptures still
happen today- every day. Miracles are still happening today because
the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite, without limits
or expiration. Truly no one is exempt from the healing that comes only
through the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. It is real, and the most
personal principle of the gospel because Christ suffered personally
for each of us. As we live His teachings, we can become examples and
"saviors of men," and through our words and the lives they see us
live, men will repent, and change. Nothing bad in this life needs to
be permanent, and everything that is good can be.
    It's Easter week, a week to celebrate the Atonement of Jesus
Christ, so here's my favorite example and story from the Book of
Mormon. Alma 36.

Lots of love!
Hermana Sears

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Girls:  " What are you doing?"
Sierra:  "We're missionaries, so we're going around meeting new people."
Girls: " What , you don't got no friends?"
Sierra: " Well, do you want to be our friends?"
Girls: " Sure!"



Monday, March 14, 2016

Mis Bellos amigos y familiares.....

Mis bellos amigos y familiares,
     This week my heart is bursting with gratitude, and a love for the people here. Not only the ones we teach and know by name, but the ones we pass on the street every day. Serving here has certainly been an eye opening experience. We are exposed to the worst the streets here have to offer. It's made me reflect a lot lately. Why are some of the people we meet the way they are? Who would I be if I had been brought into this world, not the world of Salt Lake City, Utah? Why was I given the life I have, my family, how is it that I deserve to be in a family blessed with the gospel? If I put myself in the shoes of the people here, would I let in two strangers and listen to what they had to say? If they stopped me in the street, would I give it a chance? 
     Thoughts like this make me feel so incredibly unworthy of the life I have been given, but also drive  me to be better. To work harder. To take less for granted and to be more thankful, thankful for everything I have. To become a little more deserving each day. When I put into perspective that every single person we see is a son or daughter of God, who has a plan for every single one of them, I wonder what part I am supposed to have in theirs. 
         I reflect on these very thoughts even when people are less than kind- even our 16 year old bullies- the girls that harass us with vulgar words every day  when we pass them . And I find a way to love even them.  who knows, maybe if I were brought up here, that would be me. 
     Alright ,so I'll tell you about a few highlights of my week now. Starting with Victor. It's been so cool seeing the progress in him. He is reading the Book of Mormon every day since that day in gospel principles when he confessed he didn't understand it. The first time we saw him after that day he was sitting on his front porch reading it. He just kept saying "It's so clear to me now, it's easy to understand now." Every day we'll get texts randomly throughout the day from him asking "what does ____ mean?" Etc. This week we taught him how to pray for the first time in his life. Every time we meet with him he is still full of questions. At times we are tempted just to sit with him for hours and give him all the answers, but we know as he continues to read he will find them himself. We set him with a baptismal date this week, that we will probably end up moving up. 
     It is so exciting watching the growth of this branch. Still the only Spanish branch in Pennsylvania. It was only created less than a year ago, and it's still very small- in fact still lacking a complete bishopric, primary, young men or young woman, but amazing things are happening. It's so cool being in a branch where missionary work is so critical. Where we are truly needed for the sake of the branch. The work seems to be growing too, some incredible people have been baptized since I've been here, and some solid families will be joining soon. Even talking to missionaries who served here in the branch previously say they never saw any growth, never found anyone to teach. Now must be the time!
     In particular, Lisandra and Erick.(:We coordinate with the elders to provide  either a Book of Mormon class, FHE, or movie night each week once a week. This week at the end of the night we left some time for anyone there who wanted to to share their testimonies. Erick stood up and bore the sweetest testimony where he talked about how thankful he was to soon marry Lisandra and be a part of the true church, that he knew the Book of Mormon to be true, and how he still hasn't picked up a cigar and smoked. Afterwards Lisandra shared with me how their lives are changing, and how grateful she was for us. They will be such a strong addition to the branch. We get to go over and see them in their new house this week because they signed up to feed us Tuesday.(: 
     The elders investigator Francisca was baptized on Saturday- she is a miracle. It's been so cool hearing and seeing her progress. I love being in an area where you not only get to see your own work, but be inspired by the work of the other missionaries. It was so cool, one of her relatives came to the baptism. We sat by him during the baptism and he would turn to us and ask "what do you believe," "what is the priesthood," "this all sounds great but... How can I really get to know Christ?" He reminds us so much of Victor, with little or no religious background. We basically ended up teaching him at the baptism. The whole time hoping he was in our area haha. He turned out to be literally on our side of the street that marks the border between our areas. Close call! After the baptism Francisca told us she wants to come out with us and teach like members did for her, and that she's available every day after 5:30. We set up a lesson at her house with Reuben the next day. 
     Unfortunately Sister Landa had food poisoning yesterday so we had to cancel our day and miss church. Bummer. Including our lesson with Cynthia and Rafael and their family- the anticipation is killing me, but we'll have to wait til next week to see them! 
      We had such an interesting lesson with a new family on saturday.. A family from Puerto Rico. Their son Nero proved to be quite the challenge. He was atheist and 'abandoned religion' years ago. He's currently majoring in science and needs scientific proof of God's existence. It was interesting, he was clearly trying to bash a little bit, but it was such a powerful lesson, and we were able to answer each and every one in a non combative way. The spirit was still able to be present so strong. The funniest part was when we were talking about faith, and he asked "so if you walked head on into traffic with your eyes closed, do you have faith God would save you?" I just said "No, God also gave us brains." Hahaha. This lesson was proof to me that if you always, and only respond to these situations with the spirit, you can "confound men." Confounding men does not mean responding in such a way that  they feel stupid and have nothing else to say, just answering clearly enough that they have no argument. 

D&C 100: 5-8,10:
5 Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men;
6 For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.
7 But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things.
8 And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.
10 And I will give unto him power to be mighty in testimony.

     We're a little nervous to go back honestly, he told us he was going to 'prepare a lecture for next time.' But he was all about reading the Book of Mormon. We told him to begin with Alma 32. So hopefully he is touched as he reads and we don't get chewed out Saturday. Hahaha. He said he had some videos for us.... 
     We are really excited about the progress of a recent convert we've been working with, Josephina, and her non member husband ,Loli- who came to church for the first time this week. Loli is solid, the only thing that's stopped him from really progressing is the lack of example he sees in Josephina. As soon as they realize they're both fighting with the same intent in mind, they both want each other there supporting one another, I can honestly see them and their two crazy cute boys being a strong family in the branch one day. We have been doing FHE's with them each week, but they always end up turning into somewhat marriage counseling. But I really think we broke solid ground this week with them, and them being at church was evidence of that. 
     Yesterday the Easter initiative came out, it's awesome, and I'm so excited to start using it- especially in a walk area. It's beginning to warm up here, this week was a taste of what summer will be like here! Streets FILLED with people, a constant stream of rap blasting from every car window. The soundtrack to my summer in Lancaster haha. 

     So there's a little bit of what's going on here in Lancaster. There's too many great people here to tell you about them all. If you've made it to the end of this novel, you're probably my family.(: Sears/ Maxfield. Hi, I love you! 

Con muchísimo amor, 
Hermana Sears💜 

Ps. La iglesia es verdadera. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Lancaster walk

                                                                  Felix and Family
Typical PA tracting, cats on catsoncatsoncats

Oh yeah, I am going to hit my year mark this Friday! Crazy , huh?

This week was the best/ longest week. ¡Muchisimo tocondo en
las puertas! So much tracting! Every once in a while stopping in on
members homes for galletas y jugito- cookies and juice. Their doors
are always open for that. Landa figured out we walk an average of 45
miles/ week here. Our pickup lines grow daily- don't worry, maybe I'll
send them when I leave Lancaster. Maybe. (Btw, Super jealous Hunter
can wear backpacks- we aren't allowed. Book of Mormons+ shoulder bags
are killer on your back and shoulders.) Our efforts have been focused
on finding those who are prepared to teach. It has been a huge faith
building experience being in an area where you rely so heavily on
finding.. This week we spent every possible moment out. No meals, just
snacking in between houses, not eating dinner til we get home for the
night, haha. But we ended the week with 15 new investigators! Some
incredibly promising families I'll tell you about later. However, this
area has a way of messing with your heart. On one hand the Hispanic
people are so kind and welcoming and open.. But they also have a habit
of leading you on. Being too nice to say no so you spend weeks trying
to discern if they're actually interested or just nice. You've
probably noticed I'll talk about people.. Then they just drop off the
face of the earth. I get my hopes up so high for each person we meet
and teach. This week I realized I needed to stop getting my hopes up
and start getting my faith up.
     Funny Felix moment of the week. The one we teach English to. I
gave him some "homework" to do, and told him "no cheating." He asked
me what that meant, so I explained it and he kept trying to say it,
but could not say the 'ch' only 'sh,' so he kept saying "no sheeting,
no sheeting" over and over again hahaha. A friend called him on the
phone and when he hung up he was like 'hey- no sheeting!' He really
didn't understand hahah. Felix is the funniest guy ever.
     The people here can cook! It's horrible. It's just too good.
Estas cachetones no mienten. These chubby cheeks don't lie. I figure
it's time I come out with it, I'm sure you've all started to notice in
my pictures. I guess all these tostones just go straight to the
cheeks. Whatever. It's okay though, everyone still calls me
'flaquita,' skinny girl. So when I stop hearing that then I know it's
a real problem.
     Back to the work. So Saturday, in particular we had a day packed
full of lessons set from 12:00 until 8:30 at night, they all fell
through. We spent the day tracting instead. We ended up meeting two
incredible people- who were both English speaking so have to be passed
on to the English elders. Nights like those I just come home and
rebuke myself via scriptures or a talk of Elder Holland until I'm
sufficiently motivated to get over it and work harder. Jacob 1:19 is
my self- rebuking scripture of the week.
     So anyway, when Sunday morning came around we were feeling pretty
discouraged after a long week. We feel basically like a jealous
girlfriend seeing the elders with Lisandra and Erick hahaha. As soon
as their divorce clears we can start planning their wedding/ baptism.
All the elders really have to do is keep our seat warm. Hahah. Good
news though, supposedly it should be a quick process. And they went
out and bought a wardrobe of church clothes! Erick showed up in a
brand new suit, white shirt, and tie- which he watched YouTube to
learn how to tie. Lisandra is singing in sacrament meeting for Easter
Sunday. Right now the branch is lacking a first counselor..... Erick
will be there soon.. He hasn't smoked a single cigarette since we
taught the wow.
     Victor ended up surprising us and coming to church. We hadn't
been able to teach him the first lesson yet because we couldn't get a
woman member out with us so we could go inside (slim pickings in a
branch so small.) He hadn't been to a church in five years, so
everything religion is new. It was awesome, he just cut in at one
point in gospel principles and was like "Alright, who is Nefi, and how
do you understand the Book of Mormon?" It turned into the best gospel
principles class. Even other investigators in the class were helping
him. In sacrament meeting he was basically asking me questions the
entire time. "How can someone get baptized? Have you read the entire
Book of Mormon? I'm going to. I know I don't understand it all right
now but little by little I will. Do you think I can stay in the middle
if I'm changing my life, but my friends aren't doing good things?" He
is so ready to change. Stay tuned.
     There ended up being ten nonmembers at church, they made up half
of the congregation haha. It was such a cool day, it was fast and
testimony meeting and the members knew there were so many
investigators there, so all their testimonies were so sweet and
directed to them. I love the Columbia branch! Days like this I'm
like.... Nope, I'm never going home. I can't.
     So let me tell you about some of the people we met this week. One
was Kam- from Berma. Wow, he shared all about his culture and his
Christian upbringing. He was one where we didn't have to hold anything
back. By the end he was intent on reading the Book of Mormon. If he
reads it right, he'll get an answer. Unfortunately we had to pass him
to the English elders.
     Turns out Lancaster is a pretty diverse place! This week we met
some from Berma, India, China, Nepal, Africa, and of course, every
Hispanic country you can think of. I decided I'm just going to have to
learn every language. It is the most horrible feeling when you realize
you can't speak to someone because they done speak English or Spanish,
and you literally can't do anything for them. You walk away feeling
like the worst human being on the planet. I have such a soft spot for
those we meet with such diverse cultures- kindest, most humble people.
The ones that just a smile and a wave melts your heart.
     We taught an incredible new family from Puerto Rico. When we met
them, the father talked about how he just wants to bring his kids up
the best he can- with whatever little knowledge he knows. After we
taught the restoration, I asked them what it would mean to their
family if the gospel had truly been restored, the church of Jesus
Christ is again on the earth, and there was a prophet leading us
today. Cynthia, the mom just said "everything. It would mean
everything. You came at the perfect time for us, we are looking for
the right church." Her nine year old son said "we go to a church."
Both the parents just said- Not the right one. Not the right one. This
is so rare to find, most people have the attitude that all churches
are true, because we all worship the same God.
     So the cycle continues. My hopes are officially up. Haha. The ups
and downs of mission life. Weekly emails will never do the mission
justice. So much happens in a single day- miracles! Things are good.

The church is true!

Hola Mi Amores.....

Hola mi amores,

     It was a great week, I just have to try and remember all that
happened! Well to begin, Lisandra and Erick are officially out of our
area now. We and the elders moved them into their new house Saturday
morning. It was so sad, I love that family. But the elders will take
good care of them. We're all one team I guess. And we will still see
them on Sunday's at the branch. Haha, on Sunday one of the members was
like- "so basically the sisters did all the work and then they moved
into your area so you'll baptize them?"

Lisandra and Erick are so prepared for baptism. The only thing we are
waiting for is for Lisandra's divorce in Cuba to come through- which
could be a quick process or could be a lengthy one. Another couple we
are teaching who are in the same position just had theirs finalize
from Mexico after over a year of waiting. It's tricky because Cuba is
more or less communistic so it's a little harder because they're
considered refugees here.
Monday we taught them the word of wisdom, and they were both so
accepting- even about coffee, which is usually the hard one! Lisandra
said she knew that each of those were bad- that she didn't know why
tea was bad, but she had enough faith to trust that it was and she
would give it up. Erick was so happy he couldn't stop smiling as we
taught about the blessings of a modern prophet. He said how much it
would mean for his family to have the guidance of a living prophet.
Later this week we taught the law of tithing with the branch
president- President Gogna and his wife. Again they were so receptive
and their only question was- "when and how can I pay tithing?"
You can see why we are so heartbroken we will not be teaching them
anymore... But we have taught them just about all the lessons, now
it's just waiting for the divorce to finalize, getting them married,
and then baptized! Oh my gosh, their baby Veronica is the cutest thing
on the planet. She is Cuban, but has red curly hair and blue eyes and
LOVES us. Whenever we come she screams and laughs and giggles the
whole time because she's so happy ,haha. It is the worst not being able
to hold her . She sits next to me on the pews at church and loves
to steal my name tag.
This week I got to know some of the members so much better. The
members here are so inspiring- I am always shocked to find out that
many have only been members for such a short time- some only a year or
so- but are so strong. We had three dinner appointments this week with
three converts- one Mercedes, a convert of one year who makes the
greatest food ever. Her tostones are my favorite. We get tostones at
every meal. They're sliced, or mashed, or fried plantains. The other
was a couple who joined about a year ago and are close to going
through the temple to be sealed. It was so sweet, the husband just
kept smiling and saying "Les quiero, les quiero, les quiero."- I love
you guys, I love you guys, I love you guys.
On Thursday I got myself into some trouble ,haha. We ate lunch at the
Hispanic center where we serve lunch every Thursday, then went to see
a less active member ,Delores. She had made us a ton of food and we
were both already stuffed. Landa didn't eat hardly anything, which is
a big no no . So I ate a bunch and made sure to get seconds. She
made habichuela- typical Puerto Rican rice and bean dish with chicken
and tostones. Everyone here cooks so well - I am going to have them
teach me. Delores loves me because I love her food,
We also met Eunice, who we are assigned to visit teach. The Apontes,
and Rosa Paullino, who just returned from Santo Domingo. It may be a
small branch, but biggest hearts. I love these members.

The branch president is the best leader I've had on my mission thus
far. He served his mission is Argentina and married a Mexican woman.
He makes every business like meeting spiritual, the way he counsels us
is so loving and inspired. He is so missionary- work oriented, and
does so much to help us.

Tuesday a little miracle happened. It was raining hard, and we were
having no success. No one we had planned to see was home. We were just
going to walk home because we hadn't done our language study hour yet,
but I felt like we really needed to go and try Martina. She was on the
opposite side of town. When we got there they let us in, and we ended
up teaching the plan of salvation to all four generations of their
family living there- Martina and her husband Rene, her parents, her
daughter, and her granddaughter. Martina said that it was a miracle
they were all home together, that it never happens but had all had
had work cancelled out of the blue. She said it was a miracle.
As we were teaching about the spirit world, one of them asked if we
knew the girl involved in the car accident. They were asking about
sister wells. It was such a sweet moment, they all cried with us when
we told them she was a missionary like us. I showed them the picture
of sister wells holding up the sign that says "He was born so that I
will live again." Sister wells was in a trio with us that lesson,
teaching them right along side us with her sweet spirit. Their hearts
were softened to our message, and they all became focused and intent
on finding out how we knew we would see our friend again.
Her husband Rene actually showed the most interest. Martina had
previously brought up her concerns and was arguing that everyone will
live with God no matter what, but as we taught about the three
kingdoms of glory Rene went over and read it from the pamphlet we gave
them and explained everything to her so she understood. When we read 1
Corinthians 15 with them he re read it to her again too. I can't wait
to see where things go with this family.

Friday night there was a crazy storm here in Lanc. There ended up
being a tornado and we didn't know it. We spent that whole day
tracting downtown. It was dumping buckets all day. We were soaked
through and through. I learned my coat is not waterproof . My
whole bag was wet and everything in it. Even when people let us in we
were too wet to sit down .
One house in particular we tracked was interesting. He wasn't
interested, obviously. He had his hands behind his back the whole
time, but as he backed up from the door to shut it, he put his hands
down and he had a gun. I pretended not to notice, told him to have a
great day, and we left .
Later when we were talking to the English drive elders who share the
area with us but teach the English speakers- they  told us that street has
crack houses on all corners. Woops. Learning new things about the area
every day .

Today our pday has been spent exploring downtown Lancaster. Pics to
come. I probably forgot something, til next week! Love you all.

The church is true.
Con amor,
Hermana Sears