Thursday, 25 October 2012

Miracles, miracles, miracles!

THIS IS THE BEST WEEK EVER! Seriously. I know I say that almost every week, but seriously. It is. I'll explain why.
Ray is getting baptized! I am SO excited. I always have to contain my excitement when I'm over there because he is a Nigerian bachelor and I don't think he would really appreciate me being overly excited. So I just freak out after we teach him because I am so happy. He is such an example to me of someone who REALLY gets what it means to be a Christian. He just gets it. He lives it and he loves it. Everything we teach him he is already doing or is willing to follow it because it is God's will. He gives his life to teach and serve others, even when he wasn't going to any particular church. Everytime we teach him I come out feeling taught. Anyway, he is getting baptized November 3rd and we are so excited!
Tim is getting baptized on Saturday! Yay!!!! I can't wait to hear how it goes, and I am really sad that I am missing it. It is so strange to care about someone so much that I haven't even met. I just wish I could be a part of the whole process as he gets to know his new ward and recieves a calling and all of it. I am excited to see pictures though.
About a week ago we had this bomb lesson with a guy named Willie and we were so excited about it. It was literally the ideal restoration lesson. We got to know him, taught him, asked him questions and taught it in a way that applied to him. At the end we invited him to read the Book of Mormon and he was so excited! And of course we were so excited, because honestly that never happens. You rarely get a chance to just have this perfect lesson with everything taught in order and have the investigator get it and love it. And then he disappeared. We went over for our next lesson and he had a job interview or something. We tried contacting him a few more times and nothing. So naturally we thought he dropped us. We went over this week just to be sure and he was SO excited to see us. He was like "sorry for not texting you back... I love it when you text me though because it reminds me to read." What?! I guess he had a lot of family stuff, but we are teaching him on Saturday and I am so excited! Total miracle. I need to stop being so surprised when people actually want to talk to us haha... I guess I am still getting used to this whole rejection thing. I don't mind being rejected but it always takes me by surprise when someone is actually interested in talking to us!
Speaking of rejection... I used to have a total fear of rejection. I wouldn't really do things if I thought I could fail at them. Mild perfectionism coming out in me I guess. I have had to get over that real fast being a missionary. People don't like us all the time, okay, a lot of the time. I have had people look at me like I am going to come in and rob their house! For the most part I feel like I have gotten over that fear of rejection. Its not about me. They aren't rejecting me. They are rejecting this message that I have to share, they are rejecting who I represent, which is Jesus Christ. And that is heartbreaking. It makes me really sad. As a missionary we have this wonderful opportunity to see people for who they really are, and who they can become. I knock on a door or see this family, or person, or anyone and see their potential. When they aren't interested in learning more it just makes me sad. This gospel has been the most important thing in my life, it has the power to change lives, to change hearts. It is such a blessing to go out and share it each and every day.
Anyway. I'm not going to bore everyone with all the details, but we taught some other awesome lessons, that hopefully I'll have time to write about next week.
We have a mouse in our house. It is SICK. Seriously. I don't mind the mouse itself... I've never had a problem with rodents. They are cute and fluffy and everyone knows how I feel about cute and fluffy things. We caught one but there is at least one more. My main beef with the mouse is that it lives in our vents and now our whole house smells like a mouse cage. Not okay. So any advice for killing a mouse. This one is smart. It ate all the peanut butter off the sticky trap and then ripped itself off. Crazy. The new house is great though. I have my own bathroom! And its a nice bathroom. I have never had my own bathroom before!
This week the weather has been crazy and I am pretty sure it has been making my blood pressure totally wacked out. I haven't been feeling really well and its been really hard to handle it. I was feeling really bad on Sunday and just frustrated because I don't want my health to affect my ability to work. I don't know how to manage it, or how to make it better, so I just felt really helpless. I've realized though that all of our experiences in life help us to better rely on the atonement. I was frustrated because I didn't have enough faith. I want to be better and I wanted to be better right NOW. But what I realized is that our timing is not always God's timing. The experiences I have had this year with being sick have made me rely on my Savior. They have helped build within me a deeply rooted testimony that his atonement can help cover anything. I am still building and relying on that testimony. I have already had experiences where I was able to testify that I know that the atonement is real! We have real power when we rely on it. And it isn't just for helping us repent. It is for everything. It is for helping you know how to love more. It is for helping you get through stressful times at work, and at school. It is for helping us know how to raise our families. As we rely on the atonement we learn to submit our will to the Lord. We humble ourselves. And after we give him our will, he makes us something better than we could even imagine. I know that all of my health drama is just a small part of helping me become who he wants me to be.
I love you all! Thank you for all of the wonderful mail and letters from (Ashley, Canon, Maryn, Chelsea Paxton, and Mama). I loved seeing all the pictures from Alison's blog! So fun! I am sad I missed out on the party, but we are too busy here!

Friday, 19 October 2012

The Gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives!

Sister Sant and I in front of our new apartment!
We moved today! I don't really know why but they switched us with two other sisters from the Visitors Center. So we packed up our stuff yesterday and moved it all out today. Kind of stressful. I am really excited about it though because we are in the cutest house and it is way nicer than our other apartment. Plus we will have two bathrooms! Crazy! We will be living with two other companionships, so that will be different because in our old apartment it was just us. I'm sad we won't be able to do zumba anymore with Sister Hansen and Sister Grange.
This week has been great though. Tim is getting baptized! Tim is our online investigator that I met on chat in the MTC. We set a baptismal date for him last week, and it is all coming together now and its really going to happen. I talked to the bishop of the ward he is moving to last night and the ward sounds amazing. They already had a baptismal service planned for the date Tim set! We were really worried because he wanted to be baptized on the 27th and that is only 10 days away! We got in touch with the missionaries in the ward and they are on it. It was really cool because the Elder in his new ward is leaving at the end of this month. He had a goal to have three people be baptized in this ward before he left. He had one and then all of a sudden Tim showed up... the Bishop is like you must be really faithful because they are dropping out of the sky! I am so excited for Tim! He is so prepared and so excited to join the church. He keeps telling everyone that is going to be a Mormon. I feel so blessed to have met him and to have gotten the opportunity to teach him.  He was SO ready to receive the message of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ!
We have another investigator named Ray, he's from Nigeria. He is AWESOME. We had a great lesson with him yesterday and he made us yummy African food. He is so smart, so its kind of intimidating to teach him, but the spirit really helps us to know how to answer his questions.  Yesterday he was asking some tough questions, like how baptism into this church is different and how Joseph Smith is different than any other really righteous good person, basically what sets our church apart. Sister Sant and I both thought for a second and then it came to me... continuing revelation through a prophet of God, but also, I would say an equally important thing that sets our church apart is temples. Our church is the only Christian church that makes covenants with God in a temple. We are given new insight and power in the temple. We can be sealed together as families for eternity in the temple. Earlier this week I had felt very impressed to study temples and their importance, as well as how to explain what they are and what we do in temples. That preparation allowed me to teach Ray about the temple, and about how it is so important to our church. I am so grateful for a) the spirit because there is NO way I could have coherently taught that lesson and b) temples. I love them!
We meet the most random/most wonderful people everyday. Being a missionary is hilarious!
Example: We are at Wendys to grab a quick dinner and this older gentleman is sitting in the dining area and he keeps smiling at me.  I was getting a bit weirded out so Sister Sant and I went to sit on the other side of the room. Then he's like "Oh hey, come sit over here. I don't have anyone to eat with." I"m thinking...this guy could be mentally unstable, but whatever - we can eat with him and then leave. It will be an experience, right? Right. After making small talk with him for awhile, we ask him what he is working on because he had all these books and things. He goes on to tell us all about these physical formulas he has been working on and how they work and the differential equations and formulas he is using for who knows what. I was wishing I had paid better attention in algebra! Apparently he has been working on this for over 16 years. So we ate our dinner with him and went on our way. SO random. So funny.
Example 2: I took these two adorable older gentlemen on a tour with Sister Park the other day. Seriously we were kindred spirits. They were so funny, and Kenny couldn't hear anything so we were yelling the whole time. he was also wearing this awesome native american button up. He would have been a hipster if he were younger now. Are hipsters even a thing anymore? I don't even know. Anyway. Their insights were amazing. Jim kept getting teary eyed when we mentioned home teaching. He loved home teaching SO much, because he realized how important it is to go after the one.  Visiting teaching has never been my favorite thing - but I will change that when I get home.  It really is so important. I encourage all to do your home and visiting teaching... it changes lives. Just love people, and they will love you back.
The iPhone 5 came out?! I have only been gone a month and a half and I already feel SO out of the loop. That's fine - our ghetto samsung touch screen is too advanced for me, so I don't even know if I could handle the iPhone 5. Send me pics if you can. People in Missouri aren't really apple people so I haven't seen one.
Thanks to Ashley, Marin, Katie, Kierston, and Dave Woods Family for all the letters recently!
I took these pictures on a walk we went on in Independence.  The green grass in this first picture is the temple lot when the Mormons were in Independence in the 1800's and the church doesn't currently own this land.  The spire is the RLDS/Community of Christ temple.  The LDS Visitors Center is to the right and you can't see it in this photo.

This is a cute pioneer house we saw on our walk.

I am so grateful to be a missionary! Each day I realize more and more what a blessing it is to be a member of this church. It truly is the Lord's kingdom on the earth today and I am so grateful to be a part of building it. The gospel really has the power to change lives! It changed Jim's life. He went from being an alcoholic chain smoker to being the High Priest group leader. Tim has found so much happiness and strength in the gospel. I can tell just by talking to him over the phone, the change in his outlook on life and everything is amazing. The atonement is so powerful and EVERYONE of us needs it. We need to give everything to him, and by losing ourselves we find ourselves. Its funny how that works. The church is true! I love it!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Faith and a Field Trip

This week has been a great week! I am finally feeling settled and FAR less overwhelmed. It is amazing that once you choose to be happy, you will be happy. If you choose not to be overwhelmed/discouraged, guess what, you won't be overwhelmed/discouraged. General Conference was the perfect uplift for me and helped kick me into shape. I realized that I have NOTHING to be afraid of. If someone doesn't want to talk to me, whatever... I did my best by being a friend and sharing what I know. I love talking to people everyday. Really random people.  I get to hear about their lives and get to know all sorts of strangers. It is really fun! It is amazing as a missionary how much you can love people you barely know.
So last week I totally forgot to even mention where I am serving! Silly me. I am serving in the Independence 4th Ward and at the Independence Visitor Center. My ward is great and I have loved working with the ward members. They are really involved in missionary work, and SO helpful. My area is really diverse. There are all sorts of people and neighborhoods, so its fun because you never know what you'll get everyday. Overall the people are really nice to us, even if they aren't interested in talking to us. The best address to reach me is the mission office, because its right next to the VC and sisters go get the mail there everyday for us.
On Friday we got to go on a FIELD TRIP! It was the best. We went to Liberty Jail, Far West, and Adam-Ondi-Ahman. Most missionaries only get to do it on their last day, but VC Sisters get to go one other time during their mission so that we can tell our visitors about our experiences. I got to see Sister Ogletree again too! It was fun to relive a lot of our inside jokes. Missouri is BEAUTIFUL in the fall and far west was super pretty. There are just rolling hills with green grass and fall leaves. I love it! Adam-Ondi-Ahman was really neat too. The whole area is pristine and pretty untouched. It was cool to think that that was the centerpoint of where everything started and where everything will end. I can totally see why. It is beautiful and timeless. The pictures I'll attach don't do it justice by any means.
So we have been teaching the man that I found on chat, Tim! He is SO AWESOME. Seriously he has so much faith.We started teaching him over the phone... which can be kind of awkward, but we are getting the hang of it. Everytime we teach him, he is one step ahead. The last time we taught he set a baptismal date! I am so impressed by how much faith he has to do the things that we ask him to do and try it out. I told him to go into conference with questions, and pray beforehand and promised that they would be answered. He said that three of his questions were answered in the very first talk. Not a coincidence! I was so grateful that he had the faith to try it out and to begin recognizing and learnign how Heavenly Father answers our prayers. He has been making big changes in his life, and keeps thanking ME for teaching him! I don't do anything! It is all between Heavenly Father and him, I just feel blessed to be a part of it.
One thing that has really stuck out to me this week is that we all really need to follow the plan that the Lord has for each of us, and be patient with his timing. Example: On Monday we decided to go out to this area we hadn't been. We found some good people to visit in our area book and figured people would be home because it was a holiday. NO ONE WAS HOME. Nobody. We knocked two whole streets and talked to one person. Then we went to these apartments that I felt like we should go to everytime we passed them. They were locked on the outside so we couldn't even get in to knock them. So we started walking down the street and saw this duplex thing and we were like THERE. Lets go there. We met this girl named Katie and she had to go get ready for work but then her dog got out. So we were like don't worry we'll catch him. So we drop our bags and start running after this little doxen. It was SO funny.I was like I am totally a sister missionary right now. Anyway, I think maybe chasing her dog down softened her heart but we get back and Katie just starts telling us her whole life story and about how she met this mormon lady and everything is falling into place and then we show up at her door and she was just really excited. And we were really excited. I was so grateful that we didn't talk to anyone earlier that morning because if we had it probably would have been too late to meet Katie.  Its the same for our lives. Heavenly Father has this perfect plan for each of us. Sometimes we are too stubborn to really follow it, but if we are trying our best to do whats right he will give us the course corrections we need.
This scripture is the Visitor Center theme and probably will be one of my favorities throughout my mission:
"But all things must come to pass in their time. Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days." - D&C 64:32-34

The Lord doesn't require a lot of us... just our best, and as we give that we will be happy! I love it!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Off to the Mission Field!

Hello from Missouri! I am finally here! Whoohoo! First off, mission life is crazy. Really crazy. For everyone that said it will be hard... but couldn't tell me why, I now know what you mean. It is really hard, especially the first week. It's a huge adjustment because I am retraining my brain to think of others before myself... not something I have done for the past 22 years (I am ashamed to admit). But I have been working hard and putting my faith in God and have seen definite miracles and it is getting better and better! Heavenly Father has his hand in everything! It is amazing.
My companion's name is Sister Sant. She is great! We are already good friends and work and teach really well together. She is a great trainer and is very helpful but not bossy (you know how well I deal with bossy people haha). We live in this ghetto little apartment in an old house, definitely not Santa B or Condo Row. It is clean though and there aren't any cockroaches, so I am good with that. President Keyes was telling me about Sister Sant in our first interview and he was like "your area isn't really spanish, but you can still practice your spanish with Sister Sant." I about had a mini heart attack because I don't know spanish and I'm not speaking spanish. I told him I wasn't and I guess he had thought I was... so luckily I'm not in a spanish speaking area or i am pretty sure my adjustment would be even more difficult! The first day here was great, we had 25 people in our travel group, which is the largest that the mission has ever seen! We all stayed in the mission home and it was a party. Also, my mission is the biggest in the WORLD! It has the largest number of missionaries. Cool huh?

I love the visitor center! Oh my gosh, it is the best thing in the world. I love giving tours and teaching people about the history. I took the cutest couple through on my first tour!  They are from Arizona and the man was a bishop.  The photo is Sister Baker and I from my first tour.  I told them it was my first tour and they were really nice about me forgetting a lot of the dates and things. I am really trying to make each of my tours a meaningful experience that helps the visitor strengthen their testimony of Jesus Christ and have a desire to come closer to Him. It was really cool because we had a great discussion and they both expressed to me their gratitude for helping them think about church history in a whole new light. He even said I've never thought about my testimony this way before. I was really grateful for the positive reinforcement because it helped me understand that the spirit really is helping me teach. I could not have done that on my own, but I know that through my Heavenly Father's help I can.

Working at the visitor center does make working on our area kind of stressful though. We only have half the time in our area! But Heavenly Father makes up for that by helping us find people to teach.
One thing I have learned in the past week is that sacrifice brings blessings. The early Saints in Independence sacrificed so much to come here and build their community. They were selfless as they built Zion and really tried to be of one heart and of one mind. They lived in destitute circumstances, but still everyone was happy and joyous because they were serving God and their fellow man.  I have applied their stories to my life. What can I sacrifice to serve others more fully? I think each of us have things that we can sacrifice in order to show gratitude for our many blessings and come closer to God. As we sacrifice our faith increases, and we are better able to recognize Heavenly Father's hand in our life. Not to mention that as we sacrifice we literally see miracles. I have seen so many this past week.
I don't even think I got to write about Temple Square, that seems like forever ago! Well, I got to go to Temple Square and Sister Jarvie and I were companions! It was so fun to work with her. She is an awesome missionary. I am so glad that we had that opportunity to teach together!
I know that the Lord has called me to be here, and I know that I have work to be doing and I am grateful to be doing it. it is hard at times but it's through those hard times that we become stronger and better.

View from my first apartment.  We live across the street from a cemetery.