Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Merry Christmas!!

Christmas as a missionary is the BEST! Seriously. So so wonderful. Here is why:
1. I got to talk to my family! It was weird because it was like no time had passed and that hour seemed to go by so fast, but also seemed to last forever at the same time. weird. We were able to skype so I even got to say hi to Kwazi and Fin too! Anyone that knows my family knows how entertaining that phone call was. I'm also especially grateful that I haven't gained a bunch of pounds and look pretty much the same.
2. I got to open all my gifts-- and while I was excited about all my gifts, it was so meaningful to feel the love of family and friends all over the country who took the time to package up some Christmas joy and send it my way. Thank you all so much for all the packages and letters!
3. Visitor Center sisters are super spoiled at any holiday. I almost feel bad about it, but only almost. We have had treats coming out our ears for the past few weeks and we had a delicious Christmas breakfast yesterday morning with President Keyes. He read us a children's book he wrote. He's the best.
4. We went caroling with the Elders in our ward. They were a little slow to warm up but by the end of the night we had a good thing going. It was fun to join efforts with the Elders and visit all of our investigators and members of the ward. Everyone is so surprised by carolers. I want to go every year now! People eat it up!
5.  I found out that Katie Packer is ENGAGED! WHAT!? So exciting! Write me. ASAP.
6. Christmas music NON-STOP.
7. We were constantly able to teach and testify about the importance of the birth of our Savior. This has been the most meaningful Christmas I have ever had and I am so grateful for it! I know that he lives and that he loves us. I am so grateful for his birth, many years ago. I know that he truely brings us glad tidings of great joy.
In other news I think Christmas kicked in some A.D.D. tendencies because my brain was NOT functioning for about the past week. It was really hilarious because I'm already mildly awkward at times, but this just brought it to a whole new level. Sister Sant is a little worried about me. I'm blaming it on all the sugar and anticipation for Christmas, hopefully by next week I can pull myself together.
Our investigators are progressing really well. Mary has a baptismal date and she is so excited for it! We had two people come to church on Sunday! SO exciting. We've really had a hard time with that, but both Mary and Joyce came and really loved it.  
I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Monday, 17 December 2012

What shall we give?

The two Sister Calls in the Missouri Independence Mission

 This week was an emotional roller coaster.

Tamara dropped us... over a text message. It was really sad. Almost as bad as a break up. Seriously. It is still kind of a mystery as to why she dropped us. She said she wants to go to the Catholic church and that LDS is not for her. We went by to see if we could talk to her and she wasn't very friendly and shut the door on us. It was really strange because just the Friday before she had been talking about all these things she wanted to do with us. It is so sad to really pour your heart and soul into helping someone, to feel that love that our Father in Heaven has for them and then to just be dropped. It did make me contemplate how our Savior must have felt and how much he must love us. He has faced all that rejection and sorrow.

I got asked out on a date! Kind of. Funny story, actually. So I am ordering some food at Wendys and the worker starts talking to me about my badge and asks where I am from, etc. etc. I tell him that we are missionaries and whatnot, and we kind of start talking about church. Then for whatever reason I was like "yeah, straight up" and the guy was like "woah, this girl just said 'straight up' and she's like a church girl! Yeah, I'll come to your church!" So I got him and his coworkers numbers and we invited them to church. The coworker was the one that asked us/me to go bowling... we hadn't really gotten a chance to tell him our purpose as missionaries.

Joyce is doing SO well! Ah! She is so great! This Sunday she called us because she was having a really hard time the anniversary of her husband's death. We invited her to read 2 Nephi 2. When we saw her again she told us that that passage changed her whole perspective on the situation. She had been struggling at this time of year for 13 years, and wasn't sad anymore. She thanked us for helping her grow much closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and told us that SHE DIDN'T EVEN KNOW IF SHE HAD BEEN SAVED BEFORE! That is huge! This is coming from the lady who was convinced she was going straight to heaven and had been saved. She is starting to realize how much more Heavenly Father has to offer her, more happiness, more love, more opportunities to serve. I just can't get over what a miracle all this is, that we found her, that we talked to her about just the right things. I can't wait to see how she progresses.

I love Christmas as a missionary. I miss my family a lot, but I secretly (and not so secretly now) am glad that I will have two Christmas's out on my mission. Sure, I miss having a real Christmas tree and getting together as a family on Christmas Eve. I will miss watching my dad fidget with the gadgets that he gets and eating cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. I will miss opening presents one at a time, youngest to oldest. But on my mission I have come to realize more fully WHY we celebrate Christmas and HOW to celebrate. It is not about what we get... it's not even about giving presents to others. It is about giving GIFTS. Gifts of our talents, time, love, thought, effort. It is about what we will give to our fellowmen and it is about what we will give to our Savior Jesus Christ. He has given me every happiness in my life. Literally. He has given me the greatest gift, His Atonement!-- the
ability to change, grow, repent, forgive, and do everything I can't do on my own. I have very little to offer - a willing heart and mind. But it is everything and all He wants from me and asks of me. I have been thinking a lot about what I can give my Savior this holiday season, and I invite you to do the same. What can you give Christ?

Please enjoy this message from the Prophet Thomas S. Monson about Christmas.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tis' the Season!

It seems like life as a missionary just gets busier and busier during the holiday season, but rather than stressing about finals and gift-giving, we just focus on teaching people what this season is really about... Our Savior! It is the best. I already know that this will be my best Christmas because I am a representative for the Reason for the Season. We have been so blessed this holiday season, and SO busy!
This week was great! We taught several solid lessons and are really starting to see people progress. The area is really picking up and we feel so blessed. We went to the Liberty Jail with one of our investigators, Tamara, on Friday. It was so great! Sister Ogletree (my Missionary Training Center companion) gave us the presentation and she did such a great job. It was so fun to see how much she has grown and what a great missionary she is. The whole experience was a total miracle. Everything said was so pertinent to Tamara and the Spirit of God was really strong. I just love all the lessons you can learn from what happened there. Some of my favorite scriptures are in Doctrine & Covenants sections 121-123.  Read these, especially if you are having a hard time with something, and even if you aren't.
Joyce is really progressing. We taught her 3 times this week! She is so cute and wonderful and just so fun to be around.
In honor of the Christmas season I have been thinking a lot about our Savior, Jesus Christ. I think on my mission I have gained an even greater appreciation of the breadth and depth of His Atonement. Let's be real here, I have lived a pretty sheltered life... Newport Beach, CA to BYU has given me only a small view as to the trials and the many struggles that many people face. As a missionary, we see it all day everyday. The atonement covers all of it! All of it! The pain, the sickness, addictions, family drama. Everything! And it all stems from love. One of my favorite scriptures is 1 John 14:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.
Our Savior had that perfect love for each of us. He knows us personally and perfectly. I hope we all strive this Christmas season to cast away our fears, our insecurities, and doubts and come closer to Him by loving Him more and loving others more. I know that that is something I am really striving to do! I even gave away a pass-along card in a Chick-fil-A today even though I thought it was totally awkward. Sometimes I still get mildly freaked out about how awkward most of my life is right now. Knocking on people's doors, chatting it up at gas stations. Most of the time I am really good at embracing the awkward on my mission.  Considering I am a mildly awkward person, I guess it's something I've always gotten pretty used to. Anyway. All of this is beside the point... bottom line is this Christmas season I have thought a lot more about others and much less about myself. It's been the best Christmas season and the best time being a missionary!
Some sisters I work with at the Visitors Center

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!...

 This week has been SO full of fabulous happenings. In fact, I think it has been the best week of my mission. I can't even express my gratitude for how much we have been blessed in our area. We have been given so many people to work with and they keep coming. It's wonderful! It's really simple things that make me super happy such as:
- People kept their appointments!
- We actually had appointments for people to keep!
- We found two new people to teach!
- We were busy busy busy!!

I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ! and I just LOVE being a missionary. I love it SO much. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love to tell people how much I love them or how I love whatever it is that we may be doing. So here you go. I love being a missionary! I love the gospel! Ahhh! It is the best. It is so wonderful to come home at night and be so tired and exhausted but to know that you spent the day inviting people to do good and helping others. There is nothing better. Life is simple and SO happy.

I have noticed a pattern in my life and on my mission that often trials precede great blessings. A few weeks before this miracle week we had been having a really hard time in our area. No one was keeping appointments, we were working hard but seeing no fruits of our labors. So of course, being imperfect beings, we got discouraged and lacked a little faith. It has been amazing to see that as soon as we picked ourselves back up-- bolstered our faith and continued working with faith, blessings came pouring down. I think that's how it is in all of our lives. I am so grateful for all of my trials-especially the really hard ones because they precede great learning and great blessings.
Case and point. We had a lesson this week with one of our new investigators named Joyce (I love her by the way!) We had some members come with us, the Andree's. Sister Andree comes out with us a lot because she is a ward missionary, so she knows the ropes. Brother Andree on the other hand tends to get into some deep doctrine. It was our first lesson with Joyce, so we were trying to keep it simple. He went off on about every tangent possible! EVERYTHING. (polygamy, baptisms for the dead, the celestial kingdom, tithing) The only thing he maybe could have brought up that would have been more random would have been Kolob. It was literally a missionary's worst nightmare. Not even exaggerating... well maybe a little...Regardless, Sister Sant and I were freaking out inside and PRAYING that most of it would go over her head... turns out part of it ended up being a total miracle. He brought up baptisms for the dead and Joyce looked totally freaked out. So Sister Andree explained that we have the opportunity to do baptismal work for those that have passed on. Joyce was like "you mean I can get baptized for my family, like my mom." She was so excited about that idea. I was grateful that a blessing followed that storm! She has been so excited about temples and everything else ever since. So even awkward teaching can turn into miracles. Joyce has really been progressing. It was really neat to teach her the first lesson! I recited the first vision and afterwards she was just like "woah." So COOL!

I came across this scripture this morning during my studies and I LOVED it. First of all, it was revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail which is in my mission.  So that just made it even better. Here it is, D&C 123:16-17.
"You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves. Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."

I love this! Often it is the smallest things that make the most difference.
Reading the scriptures, daily prayer, attending church. They are huge! As a missionary it is SO important to be obedient to every rule, even the smallest rules. As we do this we gain great power and the guidance of the spirit. As each of us look for small ways to improve our spirituality and to have the spirit with us.  We will be able to stand with an assurance that where we are going and what we are doing and who we are becoming is good. I also like the part about "cheerfully doing all things that lie in our power." We only have so much control over our circumstances, but we can be cheerful about doing all that we can and having faith that the Lord will make up the rest. I know that He will, and that He does. I see it in my life every day. I am so grateful to have a daily witness of the Lord's love for us as I see his hand in my life and the lives of others. The message that we teach is true! I love it! I am so very grateful for it!

I had a fabulous time updating the bulletin board in the Visitor's Center.


Elder and Sister Anderson