Dear Family and Friends of the Florida Orlando Mission,

During 2016, we would like to share with you some of the spiritual experiences our Missionaries have had here in the Florida Orlando Mission. We look forward to you reading them and sharing in the spirit of missionary work.
We love and thank you for your prayers and support.

I’m grateful for this opportunity that Sister Berry has given me
to share with everyone something that means so much to me – my most
spiritual experience related to a Recent Convert baptism. I’ve had
many spiritual experiences over the course of my mission, but one in
particular sticks out in my mind. It was the experience I was able to
be a part of with the conversion of my now good friend, Kenneth Owens.
Brother Owens is nothing short of a modern day miracle, an answer
to years of prayers, and a testament of faith. At the time before his
Baptism he had been married for twenty-nine years to a wonderful women
and member of the Church. They had two daughters who have also been
very active. For all of those years, faithful home teachers had gone
out to the Owens’ home to visit them and work on Brother Owens to help
him become converted to the Gospel. Countless prayers had been offered
on his behalf by family and friends. Every time though, Brother Owens
declined the invitation to take the discussions. It wasn’t until their
oldest daughter Lindsay decided to serve a mission that his heart
began to be softened. While on her mission, Lindsay invited her father
to take the discussions – by her!
Brother Owens’ teaching process was definitely unique. Lindsay’s
mission had iPads with Skype capabilities which allowed her to teach
her father. At first, Brother Owens accepted to invitation simply to
talk with his daughter once a week; what parent wouldn’t take that
opportunity? But, it wasn’t until long that the Spirit pricked his
heart and he began to become converted. Lindsay finished her mission
and then got the missionaries immediately over to their home to
continue teaching Brother Owens. He’s a very smart man and had a lot
of seemingly difficult questions, but with the help of the Spirit his
questions and concerns were resolved. My companion at the time, Elder
Radigan, and I had personally been praying for him quite often. We
fasted for him as well and knew the Lord would answer all of our
prayers soon. On July 14th, Brother Owens texted us and said he was
finally ready to be baptized and asked for it to be done on August
1st. We immediately began to prepare for this special day. Interviews
were scheduled, the lessons were completed, and Brother Owens even
finished the Standard Works! (Impressive, right?)
Brother Owens’ baptism was one of the most Spiritually powerful
experiences I’ve had on my mission. The chapel was thronged with
former home teachers, Bishops, Stake Presidents, friends, and family
who had all been praying for twenty-nine years for this day to occur.
Incredible talks were given, his daughters sang a beautiful musical
number, and Brother Owens’ friend, Dan Meyers, flew in from Argentina
to perform the Baptism. The Spirit that attended that baptism was
overwhelming. Many tears of joy and gratitude were shed.
The next day was fast Sunday and Brother Owens’ Confirmation.
Following his Confirmation, that same Spirit from his baptism poured
into the chapel once again. The next hour was spent with the Saints of
the Waterford Lakes Ward bearing their humble Testimony of the power
of prayer, faith, fasting, and gratitude for the tender mercies the
Lord has shown.
Fast forward to now and we can see the type of conversion that
can occur as we do as Alma directs in Alma 6:6, to “gather themselves
together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the
welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.” Brother Owens is now
the Gospel Principles teacher, a Family History guru, has the
Melchizedek Priesthood, he and his family are preparing to enter the
Temple in the coming months to be sealed for time and eternity, and
the blessings continue to flow forth!
I know that God loves all of us, for we are his precious
children. He hears and answers our prayers in His perfect timing. I
know that with faith in Christ, many miracles can be wrought in the
lives of those we love. I know that our elder Brother, Jesus Christ,
truly is our Savior. There’s nothing we can do that His Atonement
can’t ultimately heal us from. I know the Book of Mormon is the word
of God and will bring us closer to Him as we feast upon it’s inspired
words everyday, as it did with Brother Owens. I have a profound love
for my Savior and a tender spot in my heart for the Owens family. I
will be eternally grateful for what they taught me as I witnessed the
be brought together in unity under the Gospel. I love this time
Heavenly Father has allowed me to serve among His children in this
portion of His vineyard. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

With love,
Elder Lefholz.
Gray, Georgia.
“Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may
also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal
glory.” 2 Timothy 2:10

Dear Family and Friends of the Florida Orlando Mission,

During 2016, we would like to share with you some of the spiritual experiences our Missionaries have had here in the Florida Orlando Mission. We look forward to you reading them and sharing in the spirit of missionary work.
We love and thank you for your prayers and support.

I feel like every convert baptism has a special spirit that cannot be
found anywhere else. This is especially true when you got to help this
person make it to that point. The love you feel for them and the
excitement is different that in other situations. It is a deeper more
eternal feeling since they are making a decision with eternal
significance.

One moment I specifically remember was from the baptism of John.
Getting to the point of baptism was hard for John. He had a lot of
questions and doubts along the way, but when we made it to that day,
he was ready. After the ordinance took place John bore a powerful
testimony. One I will never forget. I felt the spirit testify so
strong as he testified of the truthfulness of the gospel and
especially about the importance and gift our families are. He was
baptized because of his dad who knew the truth, but never managed to
find the right church. He couldn’t find the one that matched what he
knew to be true, but he pushed John in many directions that led him to
this point. Now John found the truth for him. John said, “The Lord
works in mysterious ways. Like I said, I know my Father is behind this
again except this time he knows what he is doing. Since his spirit
brought me here to this church I will be baptized again soon, in his
name, bringing this church to him. It will give him some work to do
until we all meet again at Jesus’ feet.”

I was able to witness the fulfilling of this promise as we took John
to the temple a couple weeks later. I will never forget the power of
these moments. I am so grateful for this gospel and for the
opportunity I had to share my testimony with John. I know this gospel
is what brings us all peace and joy in this life and I know the
priesthood really can join our families together forever.

Sister Sarah Simpson
South Jordan, Utah

Dear Family and Friends of the Florida Orlando Mission,

During 2016, we would like to share with you some of the spiritual experiences our Missionaries have had here in the Florida Orlando Mission. We look forward to you reading them and sharing in the spirit of missionary work.
We love and thank you for your prayers and support.

Our love, President and Sister Berry

One of my most special experiences related to a recent convert baptism
happened in Buena Vista YSA. The missionaries there had been teaching
this young man named Scott. He was an atheist, and was really just out
to prove other religions wrong. Although he had a particular interest
in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The missionaries
soon dropped him because he was just wasting our time. He just wanted
to know about the church simply for intellectual reasons.

Two months or so after I arrived in the area we started to teach him
again. He had claimed to have a change in heart. So we started to
teach him again with a focus on making sure he was investigating for
the right reasons. Soon after multiple visits, and conversations we
came to the conclusion, my companion and I that he actually had
changed. He wanted to be baptized, so we called President Berry. Since
he was now known through out the mission and by president Berry.

After continued teaching and two interviews by the mission presidency
it was concluded that he was ready to be baptized. What a joy this was
for me and my companion!! We had prayed and fasted that everything
would go well, cause we both knew he was ready. About a month later we
prepared for his baptism. His baptism went great! I had the honor of
actually baptizing him myself. The highlight of everything was his
personal testimony that he gave after his baptism. It was awesome!
even though he said some funny things, It was truly genuine. It’s
truly amazing to me that the lord can take a hardened heart, soften
it, and mold it to what he wishes for us. It was nothing short of a
miracle. It was also nothing that my companion and I did, it was all
Heavenly Father. I saw this as a great change in heart just like Alma
the younger, or Paul. I know that God is Preparing All of his children
to be Baptized. This is just proof of that. In a quest that started
out to destroy, actually turned into something special for Scott! I’m
grateful that the lord saw fit to allow me to take part.

God the father lives, and he sent his son Jesus Christ to the Earth to
atone for the sins of all mankind. Through Joseph Smith Heavenly
Father and Jesus Christ restored the Fullness of the Everlasting
Gospel to the earth. It can and will change hearts. I know that this
experience has changed my life, and the life of Scott.

Love, Elder Crismon
Sandy, Utah

Dear Family and Friends of the Florida Orlando Mission,

During 2016, we would like to share with you some of the spiritual experiences our Missionaries have had here in the Florida Orlando Mission. We look forward to you reading them and sharing in the spirit of missionary work.
We love and thank you for your prayers and support.

Our love, President and Sister Berry

 

You saved me Miss Geri.
A story By Sister Belinda Sparks
Last week was one of the most sacred and beautiful highlights of my
entire mission. Over a year ago as a brand new missionary I entered
the mission field straight from the missionary training center, fresh,
excited and really nervous as I was assigned to an area in east
Orlando called Waterford lakes. My Trainer Sister Sillivan was a great
diligent example to me as we faced rejection day after day. Our
neighbor on our apartment floor was one of the few friendly faces to
greet us each day. Instantly I felt an affinity to her as she
resembled my great grandmother at home. Miss Geri is her name, and to
know her is to love her!

Miss Geri had taken the missionary discussions just previous to my
arrival but was not interested in being baptized and was no longer
meeting with missionaries. But we would ride the elevator with her
almost everyday. I thought about her often, and how the gospel would
bless her life as it did mine. Four years prior I my self had joined
the church. Miss Geri was just such a nice lady, filled with love, and
I wanted nothing more than to see the gospel enrich her life. One day
at lunch Sister Sillivan and I decided we shouldn’t give up on her. We
pondered, fasted and prayed. And over the course of several weeks the
Lord worked his mighty hand! Miracle after miracle, Miss Geri’s heart
was pricked and she decided to take the lessons again. In November
2014 she was baptized!

I was so incredibly lucky to attend the temple with her to receive her
endowments this January. My heart swelled ten thousands times it size
as I watched her roll into the temple. We held each other as we cried.
“You helped save me” she muttered as I felt the spirit of God fill our
beings. “Thank you” I whispered back, and my mind flashed back to my
time in Waterford lakes, she in fact had been the one to truly save
me! She saved a young missionary who was saddened by the crude
rejection she faced each day, saved a dewy eyed girl from thinking
only of her self, saved a recent convert from feeling like she alone
had felt the magic of the gospel, Miss Geri had saved a trainer and
her greenie from sheer hopeless. I dressed her in white and the temple
its self seemed to elevate, as though she a missing element had been
restored. I felt privileged to push her in her wheel chair through the
sacred halls of the temple. As we walked along someone asked Geri
pointing to me, if I was her daughter, Flattered she replied to me
“Yes!” We smiled at each other.

We held hands during the session and I felt that God had truly given
all in attendance a celestial experience. Her eyes sparkled as members
from the Waterford lakes Ward came piling into the temple, all there
for her. It was so crystal clear she had touched the lives of many.
She is a example to us all!

I feel it a great eternal joy to have been a part of her beautiful
journey ever so closer to her Loving Father in heaven. I am so glad
that God allows us to be apart of each other’s spiritual journeys
home. I will always be thankful for the missionaries who shared the
gospel with me all those years ago, so that now I can share the gospel
with others too. I realize now healing happens as we look beyond
ourselves, as we reach out, as we never give up on people.

“You saved me! ” she whispered again as we left the temple. But ever
ringing in my heart will be the reply “And you saved me Miss
Geri….you saved. me.”
With Love,
Sister Bee Sparks

 

image1 image2

Dear Family and Friends of the Florida Orlando Mission,

Happy New Year!! During 2016, we would like to share with you some of the spiritual experiences our Missionaries have had here in the Florida Orlando Mission. We look forward to you reading them and sharing in the spirit of missionary work.
We love and thank you for your prayers and support.

Our love, President and Sister Berry

 

When I was serving in my first area it was Christmas time and my
companion and I were visiting recent converts who were struggling to
make ends meet. We were visiting a single mother of 5 kids. She
introduced us to a woman living with her named Stefani. Stefani was
another young single mother of 3 beautiful kids. She had recently been
evicted from her home and through a miracle she’d been found and take
in by a member of the church. Her life had just been turned upside
down and she felt overwhelmed and lost.

When we first spoke with her she refused to make eye contact. She
simply sat across from us and doodled in the large sketch book she
always had with her. Her kids would cuddle up next to her. She would
hardly say a word to us. Mostly she would speak to us by nodding or
shaking her head. Even that though was more rare than commonplace.

My companion and I began to wonder if she was even listening. We’d
teach all the lessons without a word of response. We began to question
if we needed to stop teaching her altogether. Slowly, however, she
began to open up. She started answering our questions and would
reference things we had taught her over a week before when we’d been
certain she hadn’t been paying attention. We came to find out that her
“doodles” were actually notes! She had been drawing out everything we
had been teaching her, and as she began living the Gospel she
completely changed.

After her baptism she came out of the water and began to cry.
Everything about her had changed. She began going to school in the
medical field. She played with her children more. She was studying
more and more about the gospel herself. But my favorite thing was how
she’d smiling. The woman who had once refused to look me in the eyes
and speak with me, the same woman who had struggled with understanding
her own self worth and had seemed so depressed was now a light to all
those around her. She had grown confident in God’s love for her and
was able to express it through her choices and the way she acted.

That was the turning point in my mission because it was with Stephani
that I truly began to understand how our message can really change
people. People CAN change. We don’t need to be slaves to circumstances
around us. We can choose to overcome anything with Christ’s help. Over
the course of my Mission I have seen that same change in many
different types of people shattering the idea that His Gospel is only
for a select few. It was my experiences with Stefani that helped me
gain a sure knowledge of Christ’s Atonement. He is real and is the key
to our progression in this life. I love him and share these things in
the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

  • Elder Honda Fruita Colorado

Dear Family and Friends of the Florida Orlando Mission,

During the year, 2015, we would like to share with you some of the spiritual experiences our Missionaries have had here in the Florida Orlando Mission. We look forward to you reading them and sharing in the spirit of missionary work.
We love and thank you for your prayers and support.

Our love, President and Sister Berry

 

Each week leading up to Leah’s baptism seemed to be harder than the last. Satan was working on her, her friends and family, and my companion and me. It wasn’t uncommon for her to tell us about someone discouraging her from being baptized or severing their friendship. Understandably, she still wasn’t completely sure she would be baptized on the date we had set.

As she drove us to her baptism interview, she told us of the miraculous answer she had received about the gospel the night before. Unfortunately, her dad had said something that morning that discouraged her. We taught her a lesson before the interview, and the member we brought with us asked when she was getting baptized. My companion and I quickly provided the date, but Leah wasn’t so sure.

She passed her interview, but I didn’t expect the impact it would have on her. As we drove home, she turned to us and said, “Guys, I have a testimony! He asked me to bear my testimony, and I said I didn’t have one. Then he said, ‘Everything you’ve just told me was your testimony.’ I have a testimony!”

The next ten days before her baptism, though still filled with trials, were easier to get through. Then the day came. I’ll never forget how strong the Spirit was as he bore witness of the sacred promise Leah had just made with Heavenly Father.

The first thing she said when she walked into the church building the next morning was, “I guess it’s true that the adversary tries to stop good things from happening.” After her baptism, she had a disagreement with a good friend, and it left her feeling down. But she came to church anyway, knowing that the gift of the Holy Ghost could help her.

The Spirit that filled the chapel as she was confirmed a member of the Church was so strong, and I was so happy that she would be able to feel the joy and peace that comes from the Holy Ghost forever. I knew that as she would continue to follow Jesus Christ, she would be given the help she would need.

I am so grateful for the spiritual experiences I had while teaching Leah, and for the opportunity I had to watch her life change as she applied the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Sister Keely Burnette

From Olympia, Washington