Monday, 3 February 2014

my last p-day ever!

Kansas City, Missouri Temple

This is how I feel about going home...

On Saturday we watched Legacy... which is a pioneer CHURCH movie... and (this isn't a joke) I was like, "Woah, there is a lot of kissing in this movie." BAH!!! I am fully aware of the fact that I will be SO weird when I get home. I guess we will have to start with the Disney new releases to ease me in to the entertainment world.

I'm trunky. Quite literally, but not because I wanted to be. On Saturday and Sunday we got iced in and couldn't drive our car. So we had to cancel all of our solid appointments that I was really excited for. Instead, I had ample opportunity to pack and space bag my billions of clothes (I think I have a problem). So my bags are half way packed. It was really hard to stay focused on the work when there is only so much work that can be done in our tiny apartment.

Ok. Enough about that. This week has actually been full of miracles.
We stopped by the Schweitzer's this week. Brother Schweitzer had said that he wanted to be baptized a couple of weeks ago, but we hadn't been able to get back in touch with them. We went over and he is still planning on being baptized on the 14th of February! What the miracle! We have taught him a few times this week and he is so solid. He seems so much more receptive to the Spirit and is really gaining a testimony of the Gospel. Sister Penman and I are merely there to go through the formalities of making sure he knows the doctrine, but he has been taught by missionaries in the past, so he understands a lot already. He is just gaining that testimony and conversion now. Holy end of mission miracle! I'm going to miss the baptism by one week, but that's okay. Maybe they can skype me in!

Yesterday we were able to have a sacrament and testimony meeting with the Bishop and his family, the Stocks. They are the best! I had taken them through the Liberty Jail before I even knew I was serving in Clinton. When I first got to Clinton and met Sister Stock she was like "It is our Sister Call here in Clinton!!!" I have loved this family from day one. I was grateful that I was able to have some semblance of a last Sunday, even though we didn't get to go to church. It's amazing that we are able to feel the same Spirit anywhere we are able to perform the sacrament ordinance. I had never had a home-made sacrament before because we don't really get snowed out of church in California. Then we were able to go with the Bishop when he brought the Schweitzer family the sacrament. I went from 0 sacrament meetings to 2 in one day! It was a great last Sunday on my mission.

I feel like everywhere we went this week we were guided by the Spirit. People were home, they were excited to see us. We went tracting for 20 minutes and found 2 new people to teach. We finally got back in touch with a less active girl in Windsor. She was so excited to see us and she said her fiance wanted to meet with us eventually too! The whole week was like that.

I've been rather contemplative this week about my entire mission experience. That tends to happen when chapters begin to close in my life. I was able to bear my testimony yesterday during the home-made sacrament meeting at the Stocks. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to serve a mission. It has changed me, through and through. I have gained experience and strengthened my testimony in ways I didn't even know were possible.

In my last letter home as a missionary I want to share my testimony of the things that I have come to know are true.

I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father. He knows us, he loves us, he wants to answer our prayers. We are literally his children. He has answered my prayers time and again and through prayer and revelation I have learned how to have my personal questions answered.

I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know he atoned for the sins of the world. He lived a perfect life and set the perfect example for us. I know that only through the Savior are we able to live with our Father in Heaven again. I know that all wrongs are made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That atonement enables us to become more than we naturally are. It allows us to overcome weakness and reach our full potential. I have felt the power of the atonement in my life. It is real.

I know that God, the Father, and his son, Jesus Christ, appeared in a grove of trees to Joseph Smith in answer to his prayer in the spring of 1820. That event sparked the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that the fullness of his gospel has been restored to the earth today. I know that Joseph Smith was called to be a prophet to restore the fullness of that gospel to the earth. I know this is true because I have prayed and asked and recieved an answer of this truth. I know it is true because each day that I served in the Liberty Jail I felt the spirit confirm to me that that was a place where a prophet of God received direct revelation from our Father in Heaven.

I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that it is true. It leads me closer to Jesus Christ, and I have loved reading from it daily on my mission. I love sharing it with others. It has the power to change lives, and it is convincing evidence that Jesus is the Christ and that the gospel has been restored.
I know that God has a plan for our happiness. As part of that plan he has given us commandments. The commandments help us to be happy. In fact, I love the commandments... which is saying a lot coming from a girl that generally strongly dislikes being told what to do. I know that families are forever. We will see them after we pass on from this life, and we have the opportunity to be with family for eternity. I know that that is true.

I'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve my Father in Heaven for this short period of time. It feels like just yesterday that I was feeling overwhelmed and under qualified for the task ahead of me. I can't say I'm completely qualified now, but I have learned to follow the Spirit and trust in the Lord. He has molded me and shaped me into a missionary. It's going to be tough taking off that badge on Friday!
Ok. I'm going to wrap this up before I get too sentimental.
Sister Call


Monday, 27 January 2014

it's the final countdown.

Ok. I'm not in denial anymore about it... and I've never been one of those people to just pretend that future events aren't actually happening. I'm going home. Also all the "hey see you soon" emails this week set in stone that nobody else is in denial about it either. I'm glad we are all on the same page about that.

Since most people are asking, I will tell you that I feel a strange mixture of terror/excitement/awkwardness about the whole going home thing. I'm excited to see friends and family.... and buy some pants. Not so excited about everything else, including making real decisions. I've been pretty good at off setting the "trunkiness" that could be creeping in. I hate that phrase by the way... but it's a missionary classic for a reason. We've worked really hard this week and had some wonderful unexpected miracles.
Special shout out to my little sis, Maryn, who got her MISSION CALL THIS WEEK!!!! She is going to Guatemala Guatemala City East Mission. Can you tell I'm excited? I've already told almost everyone in Clinton. I'm so excited for her! Those Guatemalans are the luckiest people in the world. It will be fun to see how different/similar our missions will be.

Yesterday Sister Penman and I sang in Sacrament meeting. We were planning on singing the week I know, so I could make a big exit. But, Kathy and Paul some of our great friends/semi-investigators were coming to church before moving this week to Texas. SO we pushed it up to this week and surprised Kathy. It was great. She was a little mad because she didn't have any tissues with her.  We made at least 5 ladies cry... one man... and one of the young women who said we sounded like the Barbie Princess movies. haha. Success. In all seriousness though it has been amazing to be able to develop and share that talent throughout my mission. 1.5 years ago I wouldn't have been caught dead singing in a sacrament meeting. So there is the real success.

This week was just a fun week of missionary work. I really don't know what I'll do without Sister Penman. We laugh so much, and I know I'm not going to be making myself laugh all the time, when I am ALONE, without a companion. WHAT?! That will be crazy. We did a lot of service, helped Kathy and Paul move, sanitized a house. We had some great appointments too. And Kathy and Paul took us to the VC and HLJ yesterday. It was the best. We had a "sabbath day holy approved" picnic in front of the temple. They brought fried chicken and we brought snacks. We watched the sunset and it was the perfect spiritual send off for our good friends.
One of my favorite miracles this week was with a lady named Jean, who is a member of the church, but hasn't been attending. We went to her house with her visiting teacher who wasn't even sure that Jean had a testimony. Jean is awesome. She lived in Newport and Laguna. NO ONE in Clinton even knows where Newport or Laguna are. She's an artist, and loves Mitt Romney. So I share with her some verses from 3 Nephi... the ones I had read in my studies this morning and she is like "I love the Book of Mormon.  It answered so many of the questions I had about religion that weren't answered by Catholicism. I know that this is the true church." The Book of Mormon wins again. It is SO true and brings the Spirit like nothing else can. The sister we brought with us was beyond floored. I am so grateful for the Spirit to help us to know what to share and to soften and open hearts. Hopefully Sister Penman and her companion can "practice" teaching her the lessons when I leave.
Our investigator Megan M came to church this week! It was a total miracle. We found her the first week I arrived in Clinton and have been inviting her to church ever since. She hadn't come until yesterday. We did a church tour with her this week and she felt the Spirit and said she would come to church. Before my mission I really took church for granted. I would go and learn, but certainly didn't understand the full importance. There is such a good feeling in the church building. During church we can receive a break from the world, we can refresh and begin the week anew. It is amazing to get to share that with people and to help them realize the blessings of the Sunday meetings.
So that's it for this week. I'm excited for the LAST full week of my mission. We are ready to hit the pavement. Sister Penman is a little scared that I'll turn into a missionary nazi in an attempt to work our guts out... but I don't want her to be glad I'm leaving so that won't happen.

Monday, 20 January 2014

here's the week:

Over a year ago, in Independence, I bought the coolest journal. You write a line a day everyday for 5 years. On each day you can look back and see exactly what you were doing a year ago. So a year ago Joyce quit smoking and committed to be baptized-- It's been great to look back on all the DAILY miracles that I have witnessed in the past year of my life as a missionary. This week was no exception. No one exceptional thing really happened, but lots of little things. So I'll write about it-- a week in the life of Sister Call.
Monday: Maryn put in her mission papers! Whoohoo!!! I don't want to wait another week to find out, but hey, that's life as a missionary. When I left on my mission I never would have thought that my sister would get a mission call while I was on a mission. I'll get to live vicariously through her. 

Tuesday: We did lots of service-- packed a kitchen for a family that was moving, painted a kitchen for one of our investigators... all the while I got to wear my sweats! Yes! We went out with Sister Quinnelly, one of my favorite members in the ward. Do you know what a difference members make? A lot. It is so powerful. I can't wait to go on team ups with the missionaries as a member. 

Wednesday: We had an awesome district meeting. I love meetings. There is so much power in gathering together and learning from one another, as missionaries, or anyone else for that matter. I love feeling the spirit and knowing that I need to change and be better. Good meetings really foster a desire for growth and change. Then, we had the Barnums come to mutual! We took Sister Barnum to institute while her boys were at the activity. We read Mosiah 27 and both learned a lot as we studied it. I love receiving revelation from the Book of Mormon.

Thursday: We had a breakthrough with some of our favorite people in Clinton, Kathy and Paul. They are best friends with two families in the ward and they have taken us in. Kathy really opened up and I was like, "Kathy, I'm going home in a few weeks, and you are moving. I want to teach you the first lesson before I go."-- she agreed and we set up dinner and an appointment. Boom. I'm so excited. I love them and I can't wait to share my testimony of the restored gospel with them.

Friday: We went to the Independence VC with the Scott family! They have all these girls-- ages 15 to 1. It was so fun. It made me a little homesick for that chapter of my mission. I loved serving at the VC and having all those wonderful resources and a dedicated building to teach people in. It was an awesome trip. It's the closest thing we can have to a missionary sanctioned vacation-- spirit filled and super fun. You better bet I'll be going to the LA Visitors' Center when I get home. 

Saturday: We went out to Blairstown to contact a less active family. It is the teeniest, tiniest little town I have ever seen. Less than 5 streets, half the houses were boarded up or falling apart. I didn't even feel like we should tract there-- super sketch. The one door we knock on we meet this girl whose mom is a member of the church. Not a coincidence. Although, that little town is probably the reason why I had a dream about a zombie apocalypse that night. Not fun. But the rest of the day was filled with the beautiful Missouri country skyline, puppies, and a visit with another one of our favorite people, Brenda. She just needs to have us come teach her!

Sunday: No one came to church. That is the most disappointing thing as a missionary. We send wake up texts, reminders, save them seats... and they don't come, even when they say they will. I got a little bummed, but during our studies that evening I found a scripture that said just what I needed to hear and it gave me a pump up. I'm so grateful for the scriptures and personal revelation. I'm so grateful for a Heavenly Father that answers my prayers the minute that I get discouraged. How does he do that?! 

Alma 17: 10 And it came to pass that the Lord did avisit them with his bSpirit, and said unto them: Be ccomforted. And they were comforted.
 11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be apatient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good bexamples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.

I'm so grateful for all the mini miracles this week. It is amazing to see the hand of the Lord, the small bursts of revelation. Day after day we are led to where we need to go. I receive revelation and inspiration for the people we are teaching, and for who I personally need to become. I am so grateful for that. I am so grateful to be a missionary.  
I have just over 3 weeks left to serve and I fly home February 7th.  I can't believe it.

Monday, 13 January 2014

It's always a great week in Missouri

We made orange rolls with a member's neighbor, Brenda... and taught about Joseph Smith as well. She has this awesome bird and some really great cooking skills. It was a great Saturday!

Whew. What a week. It's always a great week in Missouri. Seriously though. I feel like I am going to look back on these emails and every one of them is going to start with "another great week in Missouri", or "we had so many miracles this week", or "this week was the best!" I'm not complaining. It's just amazing to me how much the Lord has blessed me on my mission. Every week we see miracles.

This week I was exhausted on multiple occasions. I don't know why. Probably because the Missouri weather messes with my blood pressure and this week we went from it being 3 degrees on Monday to 65 degrees on Sunday.  We got a bunch of snow this week and then it rained all day on Saturday and all of it melted. So basically for whatever reason I was pretty tired, but I kept pushing through it and prayed my guts out that I would be able to just get to work and not complain, and guess what? Every time we went out to work, no matter how miserable I felt, I ended up feeling great. Saturday we had planned to go tracting and I was SO tired and didn't want to do it, but I knew we needed to. So we go and I get to the first door, give out a Book of Mormon, and all of a sudden I feel like a million bucks. Who even needs doctors when I can just do missionary work? That street was a goldmine though. We taught 7 lessons in an hour and found 2 new investigators. I am just so grateful that I sucked it up and got to work. That is probably one of the greatest lessons that I have learned on my mission, when we are not enough, the Lord will make up the rest. He always does. He helps us fulfill his purposes and be more than what we could be on our own. I'm so grateful for some of the health challenges I've had over the past couple years... they have helped me to dig deeper and realize the power of the Atonement. It is so real! 

I've been thinking about trials recently in terms of a well. Our faith is that well and those trials make us dig, and dig, and dig... and sometimes we feel like we are in too deep, like we can't get out of this hole that we are in. If we rely on the Lord and trust in him, that well is filled with faith, and we have an even greater reservoir than we had before, because we have been forced beyond our comfort zone. I have truly learned that trials help us to know that depth of the Atonement, and they help us push our faith to greater levels. I'm so grateful for that! 

Things are going great here in Clinton. It has been a busy, wonderful week. Here's a miracle! We finally met with our investigator Eric again. He has cancer and has been out of town and it has been hard to reach him. His wife is a very active member of the church and he has taken a lot of the lessons before. We were teaching the Plan of Salvation and really felt like we needed to teach out of the Book of Mormon, so we did. He was eating it up. Half the time he wasn't even listening to us, but was reading ahead of what we had read in the Book of Mormon... not a bad thing right? We had a great discussion and read some more and by the end of the conversation he was like "I really need to find out of this is true and I need to do it soon." He realized that he needed to act! And be baptized! So we set a date for him to work towards for February 14th, which is their wedding anniversary. Hopefully he feels well enough! It is hard to keep appointments because he ends up feeling sick a lot of the time. I am super excited for him to progress! So there is a huge miracle of the week.

Oh, our car was rear-ended this week. It wasn't a big deal at all. We were stopped and the other guy had slowed down quite a bit, but couldn't stop because the roads were snowy. It was pretty funny because Sister Penman screamed and I did nothing. It was like time stopped and I casually thought, oh we just got hit by a car. The guy was really nice and we gave him a card. It was probably the most friendly/casual collision in Clinton history. We had to fill out a ton of paperwork and things online. That was annoying.

We also found a great new investigator named Amanda. She had so many awesome questions, and I was super grateful for ALL of the personal study time I've had on my mission because I was able to answer them. It's amazing to look back and see how much I have learned. I feel like I didn't know anything about the gospel before my mission, which of course I did know quite a bit, but that is how much I have learned. I still have so much to learn and principles to deepen my testimony of though.  I have gained such a testimony of scripture STUDY. It is so important to actually study and feast upon the word of God. One of the greatest feelings is to be studying the scriptures and to have the Holy Ghost come and teach you things that you need to learn for yourself and others. Oftentimes these things aren't even written on the page. It's the best.

This email is pretty random. Oh well. It was a great week.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Happy New Year 2014

This week has been so full of miracles it is ridiculous. Seriously. Everyday we would go out and do our thing and then realize that we saw so many miracles. They just happened. Sister Penman and I look at each other and we are like, did that really just happen?
Christmas week we had a bit of a rough week in terms of progressing investigators and finding people to teach-- super fun week but not a lot of progress. We didn't find anyone, and neither did anyone, in our ENTIRE zone. That never happens. So that's kind of a bummer. We heard that and got to work this week. We were able to find ten new people to teach. It was amazing! It was one of those weeks where I know we were truly instruments in the Lord's hands. He just moved us to find and talk to those people that we needed to.

Let's take Saturday for example. Bear with me. There is a point to this chain of events. We wake up. Do our studies. End up running late because of phone calls and chats with the members that we live with. Get out the door. Visit Megan. No one home. So we both get the thought to go try to contact this referral. We talk to this guy smoking outside the apartments and give him a Book of Mormon. Half way through the conversation his friends come out and just watch us talk to him. Kind of awkward. We tract a little. Find some good potentials, and set a return appointment. Then we go to the apartment of a guy that recently cancelled an appointment. He's not home, but there is this girl who is obviously upset. We talk to her and she has had some CRAZY stuff happen that day. So we sat with her and said a prayer and felt we were there to provide comfort. Then later that night we get this text from an unknown number that says "So ya'll are Mormons?" Those usually don't end well, but we text back and end up having this really deep conversation with this mystery person who is really searching. Turns out he was one of the friends that was standing there while we taught the guy who was smoking. We have an appointment to teach him on Tuesday now. What miracles! Had the day not been perfectly aligned we wouldn't have been there to talk to that smoking man, and meet his friend, and comfort that girl. I just think it is the COOLEST thing to know that we are led by a loving Heavenly Father to be there for those that have been prepared or need comfort. I love knowing that am an instrument in the hands of the Lord. Seriously it is the best. 

We also met this family in Windsor. They were a referral from a member in another ward. We show up and the woman is like "Hello! I'm so glad you are here. I was raised Mormon, but drifted away, but I have always relied on my Mormon roots. My son is going through a hard time and we need help. I told my husband, who is Catholic, the Mormons are going to come here and they are going to help us and they are going to teach us and I don't care what you have to say about it." So there you go. We have a new family to teach and I'm super excited to see how they progress. 

In other news it is bone chilling cold here. I think the high today is a solid 11 degrees. Whoohoo! We had another snow day inside yesterday. Church was cancelled, which was always a huge bummer. I am learning the art of layering and also learning what a huge blessing it was to grow up in sunny Southern California. 

I love this talk. It is the best and so true. I'm so grateful for the Book of Mormon!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Christmas in Clinton

Starting to become a regular feature of the Clinton newspaper
I feel like I don't have much to say, which is a first for me! This week was wonderful, but seemed a little out of sync. It snowed last weekend and we were stuck inside, and then we had preparation-day, and then Christmas Eve, and then Christmas. It took a little bit to get back into the regular groove. If you couldn't tell I've become a creature of habit after one and a half years of doing very much the same thing everyday. It was a good rejuvenator though and I am ready to take on January 2014.

Christmas was great. Thank you to everyone for the wonderful gifts and cards. I am slowly lowering my expectations when I open the mail box now... we were always so excited because there was something there everyday in December! It was great to hear from family and friends. I had the best time talking to my family on Christmas Day via Skype-- complete with Kwazi and Finley... they had to make a cameo appearance. We had some awesome meals with members on Christmas. I love being full proselyting because we really get to know the members here. Clinton is the best! Christmas is the best too. The one downside is that Sister Penman and I were going to town on the Christmas treats, naively thinking that we would stop after Christmas. That would have happened except for the fact that I got an inordinate amount of trader joes goodies-- not complaining... at all. Hopefully I don't come home from my mission with type two diabetes. But hey, at least all the treats I'm eating are organic!

This is my life: We went to Windsor on Friday. We saw two amish horse and buggies. There's a big amish community out there. We contacted an unknown lady on the roster. Her family is awesome, super friendly, they invite us in. During our introductions the kids realize that the beagle is acting very strange. We do emergency stick removal from the beagles mouth. I feel like my life is super random out here... kind of like this email. 

We went to the temple on Saturday. That was amazing. I love the temple and the spirit there. It is truly the house of the Lord. 

Jessica is one of the investigators that we have been working with. She's the cutest and has the cutest little girl that just looks like a fairy. I love them. She is really progressing. We had a hard time getting ahold of her the week before Christmas, but we just started stopping by. Yesterday she showed us this book she is making as a motivation to help her progress in the gospel. It has a picture of the temple on the front and goals and plans inside it. She is a girl after my own heart... got to love vision, planning, and goal setting. I'm obsessed.

Life is great. I am so grateful to be serving here and I'm really excited to see what January brings!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas in Clinton Miracles

 This has been THE BEST week. We have had tons of appointments, which makes me happy and most of the week it was in the 50s, which also makes me happy. I just LOVE teaching the gospel. I love it. It's the best. Which is why I'd love to work at the MTC when I come home.

This weekend was weird though and we had freezing rain. It was 20 degrees and raining. What? Is that even possible. Yes. Naturally, everything the rain hit on the ground froze, because it's 20 degrees. So that left our car and everything else with about a quarter of a inch layer of ice. Don't freak out mom, I didn't drive in it. We spent our Christmas Sunday inside. I was so bummed church was cancelled. Sister Penman and I have never had so much fun scraping off our car though. The ice would come off in huge chunks. We were freaking out. It was the best. Not so much the best now that the storm is over and it's 14 degrees out. Missouri is the weirdest.

We have some really amazing people that are progressing in the gospel!

Megan is married to a member of the church who hasn't been attending.  They randomly came to the ward Christmas party after getting an invite in the mail. Miracle! Megan wanted to learn more. We went over for our first lesson and she made us sandwiches complete with sliced pickles, potato chips, and milano cookies. What? She's the best. I love Megan because she is totally real, no pretenses. She hasn't really dealt much with spiritual things before, but she loves what the church teaches and just wants to learn. We had a second lesson this week and she had read the Book of Mormon and prayed. We were talking about the Holy Ghost and she was like, "You girls are going to think this is so weird, but whenever I pray and I read this book I just feel weird. I feel like strange inside, but not bad. It's like warm and tingly." We were like "uhhhh... no that is not weird, that is the Holy Ghost!" We got to teach her what the Holy Ghost was and help her recognize those promptings. I am so excited to see her progress. I know that she will gain answers to her prayers because she is so sincere.
Our second Christmas miracle is Dan. He moved to Clinton on FRIDAY and we knocked on his door on TUESDAY. Not a coincidence. He moved in where an unknown member lived and we were searching out the unknown member. He is very spiritual and has a strong Christian background. We had a great first lesson with him. I know he is going to love the gospel once it all clicks in his mind and heart. Can't wait to see how he progresses.
I love Christmas time. It has been so wonderful to celebrate the birth of our Savior. I have thought often this Christmas season of what a miracle that day was. I love the humble circumstances that the Savior of the world was born in-- the stable, with all those animals, and shepherds coming to celebrate his birth. He was born and raised and learned line upon line, just like us.(albeit at a much faster pace!) I love what that day represents in my life. Because of Christmas day we have Easter Sunday, and the Atonement.  I am grateful for his Atonement, because of that I can one day return to live with my Father in Heaven. I will be forever grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am grateful for his example and sacrifice in my behalf. I am grateful to serve him for one more Christmas. I love being his representative.

Merry Christmas everyone!