Thursday, 29 November 2012

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!


 Decorating the Mission Home Christmas tree

 My handmade ornament ;)
 with Sister Keyes, the Mission President's wife
I know... my blog titles are getting cheesy.  This is why I used to title my blogs Week # ____.... sooo at least I'm trying a little harder with this one. This week has been SO wonderful. We have been so blessed! Seriously. I don't even know how I can keep up with all the blessings we are recieving right now. I swear it's because of the Christmas season. I love Christmas!

Miracle #1: We had contacted this lady named Joyce about a week or two ago and decided to try back with her. I kept thinking of her apartment because I had sworn I saw some kids run inside once... we have been really wanting to teach a family so we always try to talk to people with kids. So turns out she doesn't have kids in the house, but she let us in (it is so nice to actually be let in!) and we had a good long conversation with her. We found out she loves geneology! She's been doing it for years and really feels connected to her ancestors. She is really interested in the afterlife and has had a lot of ideas that really coincide with the Plan of Salvation. We have an appointment with her today at the visitor center and we are really excited! We have really been praying to find people who will progress and that we can teach, and we found her!

Miracle #2: This morning during personal study we got a phone call from this man that we have kind of been working with. He has been really busy and doesn't have a car and is often working on Sunday, so we have taught him a few principles over the phone a few times. He randomly called us this morning and I answered. He asked "who is this?" and I said "Sister Call" and he said "Oh, I didn't even know I had you programmed into my phone. This is a miracle and a sign from God! You weren't even programmed into my phone! I want a ride to church on Sunday."  Turns out he quit his job this morning and kind of hit rock bottom. He thought he was calling his mom, but instead he called us.  We are teaching him tomorrow, and of course I am excited about it!  I know that he really needs the restored gospel in his life right now.

Miracle #3: The sisters in the 3rd ward gave us a referral to this really great new investigator. She had moved into our boundaries. I am so excited to teach her, we haven't actually met with her yet, but we will this week.  I feel so blessed to have so many people to teach and to work with. I hope that we can keep up with it all! 

One thing that has really stood out to me this week is that the gospel of Jesus Christ can help EVERYONE. It doesn't matter what your background is or what problems you may have. There is always an element of the restored gospel that can help you. For Joyce it will probably be the Plan of Salvation, for David most likely the redeeming and enabling power of the atonement, but for everyone it is something related to our Savior Jesus Christ. He truely is the head of this great church and all aspects of any doctrine we teach tie back to Him. I love this quote from Preach My Gospel: "As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair abour life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ." Everyone in life has some sort of burden, some sort of something that they are struggling with, but everything can be made right through the Atonement. I have certainly felt that on my mission. I still have a lot of the same challenges of health that I did before, but as I focus on following my Savior, on relying on Him, on loving and serving others, that burden seems small. I am able to go throughout the day and find the strength that I need when I need it. Often He doesn't remove the trial but he gives us the tools to endure and remain positive and happy.  I am so grateful to have a knowledge and a testimony of the reality of a living and loving Savior. I know that the power of the atonement is real. That is the only thing powerful enough to shape and change a person's very nature. I am grateful that God is in the details of our life!

 Decorating our apartment with my cutie housemates!

Congrats to Abbie on finishing her mission!!!!! Whoohoo! You are such an example to me and I can't wait to write you and see you in a year and a little bit!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!! :-)

Thanksgiving is this week! Whoohoo. This will be my first real holiday as a missionary, because I didn't really feel like I was missing out on too much during Halloween. I mean Provo Halloween's were always a let down, I could only take so much dance party hopping. Anyway. Thanksgiving will be weird because we will probably go dinner hopping. I hope I don't explode.
We had zone conference this week. I loved it for a number of reasons.
1) It was like EFY on steroids... without the dancing. Bummer. But it was still great and really uplifting.
2) Being with so many Elders is SO funny. Elders are just funny, but mostly it is funny because it's very segregated.
3) It's fun to be with so many different missionaries.
4) I love President Keyes.
5) There is yummy food.
6) We got to sing a musical number-- look at me using my talents!
Okay that was probably a really boring list. Sorry. Anyway. We talked a lot at zone conference about qualifying for the work and really giving your whole heart. We are only going to be successful if we give all of ourselves, and we can only really be fully happy (on a mission and in everyday life) if we give all of ourselves. I liked this note that I wrote "The greatest battles you will ever have are deep in the chambers of your heart... Once the Lord has won, you both win." It made me question what I was holding back. What more could I give to the Lord? I think we can all ask ourselves that question. He asks us to love him and serve him with all our heart, might, mind and strength. But you notice that heart is first. That's the hardest, to give up our dreams, our desires, everything - to make our first desire that His will be done. And then he makes us new and whole and perfect through him. I think that is one of the great lessons I have learned this short time that I am on my mission. It is not enough for me to be out here doing missionary work. I need to become a missionary. I am so grateful though that I have this opportunity to give him everything. Literally. I don't have anything to worry about, but serving him. I love it!
Our investigator, Tamara, is progressing a lot! We are really excited for her to move forward in the gospel. It was pretty neat experience this week.  We were in the middle of an awesome lesson that we had planned, when Sister Sant turned to me and said we need to teach prayer, and I had been thinking the same thing. So we did. We bagged all of our great plans and switched to prayer. It was exactly what Tamara had been thinking about this week and was really an answer to her prayers. I am so grateful to be able to teach by the Spirit!
I just LOVE working at the visitor center. I love giving presentations and helping people come closer to Christ. If you live by a visitor center, GO! It is the best. It's been getting rather slow, which is a bummer BUT I have so much time to study. I have been reading the Book of Mormon, did you know that Jacob 5 is the best chapter ever?! Well it's up there. Maybe not the best. Anyway I never had the patience to pick through it before. I love it. I am learning so much. I just love being a missionary! It is the best thing I have ever done. I don't know who reads my blog (besides my mom and Marin Rowe) but if anyone is on the fence about a mission, GO! Just do it. It will be the best thing you can ever do.
Well, happy Thanksgiving everyone! I'm still accepting birthday cards and letters (haha... but seriously... Katie Packer!)

Monday, 12 November 2012

It's My Birthday!

So I don't have much to update on this week. My preparation day has been switched to Monday this transfer. It's convenient because today is a Monday, and it's my birthday. What more could you want as a missionary?
Today has already been great. I woke up and opened my presents (thank you mom and dad!) and then we did studies. Later we are going to go on a little hike/nature walk. It's kind of cold but whatevs. Nature walking is my thing and was a lot better than some of the other options Independence has to offer. Hopefully lots of the trees still have their leaves. We will see I guess. Then we will go to lunch, probably with the Elders. I'm not sure where yet. It's really funny to go to lunch with the elders because it's really segregated. After district meetings we will all go to lunch but the Sisters sit on one end and the Elders on the other... and then we barely talk to each other... but they always want us to come. It's strange. Maybe that was just with some of the last Elders in the zone. We will see if it stays the same.
Ray was ordained in the priesthood yesterday! Whoohoo! He's so awesome. Seriously.
After Ray was baptized, we didn't really have any people to teach that were progressing. We had two people that were supposed to come to church. Neither of them came... we were really bummed. But then Ed brought his girlfriend, Tamara, to church. We have taught her two lessons this week and she is so excited about learning more! She had so many questions growing up about what happens after this life and she was taught that it was bad to question or explore different teachings in regards to religion. She always wanted to know more because she felt like she didn't have the full picture. Everything that Ed had told her about the Plan of Salvation just made perfect sense. She is really ready for the gospel and can't wait to learn more. Heavenly Father blesses us so much! Right when we had no one to teach Tamara came out of nowhere so now we have at least one person progressing!
So we were tracting the other day and came upon a lady who was really sick. We left her with our card and didn't think much of it. She ended up calling us about a week ago because she wanted to come to church. That never happens so we were really excited. We called her back to let her know that we were able to get her a ride and her friend picked up the phone. She was going on and on about how Marianne really needed the truth and how she was a Jehovah's witness (the friend) and how she was really glad we were bringing her to church. We were confused and didn't know for sure that she thought we were Jehovah's Witnesses, so we just let it slide. Hey, if she was coming to church she was coming to church right? Well she didn't come to church, but then we went over to her house later on in the week. She kept talking as if we were Jehovah's Witnesses and we were both thinking how the heck do we get out of this one. Finally I was like "we have to be honest with you, we aren't Jehovah's Witnesses." She was like "You aren't?" And then I told her we were Mormon and she was like "Ohhh good, I'm RLDS. I was just doing this to get my friend off my back." So funny!
Being a missionary is the best because we talk to so many RANDOM people, that talk about RANDOM things. People trust us and will talk to us about their secrets and tell us their whole life story. We've been getting that a lot this week. I have talked more about crack/cocaine in the past 6 weeks with people than I have in probably my entire life. Apparently it's a big problem here in Independence. People tell us about their relationship problems, past drug addictions, health problems, dealings with the devil. You name it - I've probably heard about it since I've been out here. I love it though! I had lived a pretty sheltered life, which has been wonderful, but now I have a nice safe way of getting out of the sheltering I guess. The best part is we get to help people work through their problems.
I already did a post on my birthday reflections, So I'll spare you that. I was just thinking about how my whole 23rd year will be dedicated to serving the Lord! So cool. No other year in my life will be so rewarding or filled with growth. I can't wait to look back in one year and to see how much my testimony has grown and who I have become. I don't think I have shared my testimony on my blog yet, bits and pieces maybe. So here goes:
I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father. I know that he answers our prayers and continues to teach us and provide us with the things that we need to know to be happy, just as he has done throughout the bible and all time. He has answered my prayers and has had a personal hand in my life to help me become who I need to be.
I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, that God chose him to use as an instrument to restore the church of Jesus Christ. The evidence of this is the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true, and that it was translated by the power of God. I am so grateful for the Book of Mormon. It answers life's greatest questions and brings peace each time I read it. I know that as we search the scriptures, God will teach us and help us to answer very personal and individual questions we may have. I am grateful for this powerful tool in my life, especially on my mission.
Most of all, I know that our Savior, Jesus Christ lives! He loves us and knows us perfectly and personally. I am so grateful for the power of the atonement. It has the power to make bad men good and good men better. I know that through the atonement we can find happiness despite trials or hardships. We can change. Through the atonement we are able to return to live with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.
I am especially grateful to be teaching people these important truths. I love being a missionary and I am so grateful that Heavenly Father humbled me enough to help me make the decision to come on a mission. I know that my life will be forever changed, it already has been.
If you want to know more visit! Or if you already know a lot still visit!
Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes I have received already! I have the best family and friends. Seriously. I miss you all, but not too much.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ray's Baptism and Transfers!

 Life as a missionary is so strange... the weeks are so long but so short at the same time! Time has flown by since I have arrived in Missouri.  I can't believe that I have been out one transfer! Sister Sant and I will be together next transfer (transfers are every 6 weeks), and I am really glad about that! We have lots of work to do. I've been thinking a lot about what I've learned so far on my mission. I think the greatest lesson I have learned in the past 6 weeks is that it's not about me. It's never been about me. If I am tired, or feeling sick, or scared to knock on that person's door... it doesn't matter. It's not about me. It is about being an instrument in the Lord's hand and finding and loving people. All of his children. No time is wasted if I am losing myself in His work. We can all do this, regardless of whether or not we are on a mission. Selflessness. I am so grateful that I am learning this early in my mission because there are hard days when I don't feel well, there are times that I just don't want to talk to that person... but then I remind myself - It's not about me. It is about them. Our Father in Heaven loves them and they deserve a chance to hear more about his restored gospel. And let me tell you, the times that I forget myself, I don't feel as sick, or as tired, or as scared. I feel fulfilled and happy and excited to talk to more and more people.
The biggest news this week is that Ray was baptized! It was the best day! The spirit was so strong at his baptism and I am just so astounded by his commitment to follow God's will. The baptism went really well... aside from a few less reverent moments. We have this hilarious senior couple in our ward... they are the ward missionaries. Brother Andree was conducting the meeting and butchered just about everyone's name (except for mine)... and then his wife was playing the piano, so to start the opening hymn, he was like "hit it babe." SO FUNNY. The rest of the baptism was a bit more reverent. Elder Adams, the Visitor's Center director officiated in the baptism. Ray spoke after he was baptized and he is the BEST! Seriously. He talked about how he was glad the sisters were persistent/borderline obnoxious. He was like I wouldn't call them back, but they would keep calling and calling and then started sending text messages. My theory is - until they tell me to stop, we will keep inviting them to meet with us! It worked for Ray. He told us the day before he was baptized that he knew that he wanted to join the church when he watched the video at the visitor center called "God's Plan for the Family." (if you haven't seen it, go watch it... it's at every visitor center). So Ray is a total visitor center miracle. He expressed to us how he is truly happy as he has taken the steps toward joining the church. Prior to this point, he didn't have that complete happiness. It is amazing to see how people's lives change! Anyway, back to him speaking at his baptism...(Ray used to be a journalist so of course it was well written.) He talked about how it is one thing to get to the base of the mountain and another to climb it!  I like that a lot because I think all of us have our mountains to climb. Often we know what we need to do to BE better and DO better but it takes a lot of courage to then climb those mountains. I am grateful that Ray has taken more steps up his mountain. He will be an amazing member of the church and has so much to offer!
I sang a duet, "Nearer My God to Thee", at Ray's baptism and at President's Devotional that night. The baptism performance wasn't too bad... but Sister Sibbett and I had literally 5 minutes to practice. It was a miracle, but it turned out okay.  Sister Sibbett had also taught Ray, but was transferred to another area.  When we sang at the President's Devotional, it was another story! I was fine until I got up there and then I was like "what the heck am I doing up here? There are probably 100 people here!" I hadn't sung in front of people like that in years... like probably 10 years. Anyway it was another huge miracle that it turned out well!  My health hasn't been the best, so I believe it is really true that God will help magnify your talents as you use them... hopefully I'll come back from my mission and be an amazing singer :)
I got to see my friend Chelsea Paxton at President's Devotional! That was really cool. She is a ward missionary in Overland Park. It was strange that it wasn't strange to see someone from my non-mission life. It was really good to see her!
We had a pretty cool experience this week with answers to prayer. I had been reading Abbie's emails (she is my friend on a mission in southern california) and in it she prayed that she would know those that were prepared for the gospel by the things that they said. So I thought I would try that out. I prayed to know who was really ready and interested by the things that they said. That day some amazing things happened as we went and found people. We talked to this man named Matt a lot about his relationship with God. He really opened up to us and was asking us questions about how the atonement has helped us. We new exactly what he needed and how the gospel can really help him. We did a lot of tracting in between meeting him and our dinner... we had a few minutes and we decided to do just one more house... and I am so glad that we did! We met the cutest girl named Jessie. She has a darling baby and husband and they are looking for a church! It was so humbling to see how Heavenly Father really does answer our prayers. 
                                             Cute Independence, Missouri

Thursday, 1 November 2012

It's November!

Woah, this month has flown by! My birthday is in 12 days... so everybody had better be getting their letters in the mail. Just kidding.... but seriously. Halloween was whatever. Being a missionary, it's weird to have holidays because they aren't really holidays. I did attempt to dress festive for our ward party and on Halloween... that's about the best I could do. We also made a hipster pumpkin. There aren't many hipsters out here in Missouri.

Tim is baptized! Whoohoo! It is crazy to think that I met him a month ago and he has grown so much. He loves going to church and is just so ready and willing to serve and grow in the gospel. The atonement really changes people's hearts. I have seen it so much on my mission! I have seen it in my own life! I love it!

Tim and the Elders who baptized him

Ray is getting baptized on Saturday! We are so stoked. He is just such a perfect example of LIVING what so many profess to believe. Its been great to watch him progress and open up to us about his testimony. He is so heartfelt in his faith and seeks only to do the will of the Lord. He is going to be such an amazing member and really be an example to everyone in the ward.

So far we have about 6 different people we are very close to working with. Everyone is so BUSY. But we will drop by their house and they will be so excited to see us. So we know they are genuinely busy. Its really hard to set appointments though. So this next week I'm sure I'll have more to report on that.

We had exchanges this week so I went out for a day with Sister Atkin. It was SO fun! She is a really great missionary and I learned a lot. I have kind of struggled with door approaches because I feel so bad imposing on people. Its always kind of awkward, like hey... I'm at your door and yeah... This probably stems from the Call family tradition of screening phone calls and always running upstairs to see who's at the door before you answer it. Being on the other side is almost humorous. I've had people lock the door on us. Peek out the window and then not answer it, sit in their car to avoid talking to you. Do I look like a freak/crazy person?  It's funny though. Anyway... my whole view of door approaches changed after my exchange with Sister Atkin. I need to be asking more questions, and they can be as simple as "Have you heard of the Book of Mormon?" At the very least most people are intrigued and want to learn a little more about it. Most people are really interested in it. I am really excited to go out there and knock down some doors!

Birthdays are always a time of self reflection for me and about every other year, I have a minor quarter-life crisis. It happened while brushing my teeth this week. I was like "woah, I'm going to be 23!" I know it's not old, but it feels pretty old. I have thought a lot this week about what got me here...On a mission. To this point in my life. This past year I have done a lot of growing, and learning, and have been very humbled... The Lord has been with me every step of the way. It is so apparent looking back. Between teaching school, break-ups, vertigo, and sprained ankles, Heavenly Father gently (or not so gently) molded me and reminded me of who I really am, and how I can gain the greatest happiness. I was reminded that in order to be successful and happy in life, I NEED my Savior. I need to rely on the Lord. I need to give it ALL to Him. Once I did that, I was happy. I was happy despite being dizzy everyday, I was strong enough to do the things that I needed to do. Often He doesn't lift the burden, because we need that to grow, but He will make it bearable for us. That's what He did for me this year. So at that point, deciding to serve a mission was easy. I had enough faith in His plan for me. I choose that everyday. To have faith in His plan for me, and those that I am  teaching. I have faith that I will find those that are searching for more in their life. I am fulfilling my purpose and I am so happy. So there is my soapbox for the week. I just encourage everyone to look back at their life and see how the Lord has lead and guided them.... because He has. For every one of us. In the MTC, one of the speakers said "the Lord has a perfect plan for your day, how much of it are you going to follow?" He has a perfect plan for our life as well, it is up to us to decide how much of it we are going to follow. Will we allow Him to make us the person that He knows we can be?

I hope I didn't get too philosophical. The visitor center has been slowing down quite a bit, which allows for a great deal of reflection :) I love it though. Life is good. Being a missionary is the best!