Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Final Email

Dear family, (The FOUR generation pic on my last day!)

We went to the Albuquerque Zoo and Aquarium as a district today, and didn't get back until 4:00, then we had to run and teach one of our
investigators, he and his wife sat in on the lesson today! I love that family a ton, this is the gentleman from Ireland. I'm hoping he'll get a chance to meet Nadine. The we rushed over to the post office so I could mail off a box of letters and clothing. So we are finally at the library, phew. I still feel like I have a million things to do before I leave Rio Rancho tomorrow morning. More people to visit, information to check on, etc. But I think it will all fall into place.

People keep asking me how I feel. To be honest, most of the time it just feels like any other transfer. It just feels like normal. I don't really know what to expect as far as what it will be like to no longer be a missionary. Although everyone tells me horror stories about the transition to civilian life. One person told me that they've never known someone who had an easy transition. Maybe I'll be the exception. Then there are times, when it hits me that I'll be back home in a few days, resuming my old identity, my old name. And that's a weird thought.

Things have been so crazy that I haven't written in my journal in a long time. Hopefully I'll have some time to do that today, but with 4 more sisters spending the night at our apartment, I bet it will be anything but quiet. But I love those adventures, they are always fun.

Well, what have we been up to this past week? Let me review.

This week was the open house for the new Rio Rancho stake center. I think the stake was hoping for a higher attendance than it got, but I think the experience was still positive. Our "kool-aid" Mormon family came and loved it. They are so excited to get baptised. The mom said she has felt strength in their family since they started taking the lessons. Her husband has been really feeling the spirit. Sister Barello is going to talk to them about moving their baptism date from August to July, because they are so ready to go...why wait? They've been such a highlight these past few weeks. Our ward mission leader met them at the mall playground the first week we started teaching them, and they have started to become fast friends. These are little coincidences, that aren't really coincidences if you think about it.

We taught Nadine about temples and family history work this week. She is so cute. Whenever she talks about her late husband she just lights up, and can't keep from giggling. He passed away less than a year ago, but she promised him that she would always be his wife. When we told her that she could be sealed to him in the temple, she looked like someone just told her that she had won the publisher's clearnighouse sweepstakes! She put her hands over her mouth, and then kept saying "thank you! thank you!" She was so excited to know that she doesn't have to wait a year to do confirmations.

Our other investigator with a baptismal date got into a lot of Brigham Young anti-mormon literature this week. Interesting stuff. Needless to say we had to address a lot of issues. But what was more interesting was that it wasn't even the anti-literature that was bothering him. It was our view on the nature of God. So we'll see what happens to him. He still wants to continue the lessons, but isn't so sure about all of this.

Our neighbor had us over yesterday. It was fun to get to know her better. Some of our neighbors are so adorable.

Well, the work is flourishing here. Sister Barello is getting an awesome sister, so I'm not too worried about anything....well, not worried about the area at least, anyone who know me that I'm always worrying about one thing or another...or making us excuses to worry. Such is the life of Sister Waters.

I got to eat lunch with the Parks this Saturday. That was fun, then one of our investigators got married later that day (she's marrying a member.) So that was good.

Thanks for all your letters. I'm excited to see you all again. To get caught up on the pop culture (speaking of, apparently the movie "Spy Next Door" or something like that w/Jackie Chan was filmed in the main neighborhood here in the Rio Rancho ward where I'm serving), tell you more stories, and just talk. I think that's what I'm most excited for, just talking.

I have loved my mission. It has been difficult at times, but as one of my favorite members explained, Heavenly Father gives us the gift of only remembering the good times. As we look back at life, sure we may remember difficult things, but we don't feel the emotions of those times like we do when we reminisce on the good memories. I'm sure there are lessons that I will continue to learn from my mission as I see how the pieces fit together, or as I recognize things only after I get home. Heavenly Father really does direct this work. I know that. I have felt, in a small way, how important this work is to Him. I have felt of His mercy and love. His plan is so perfect. Thank you for all your support. Here's to the last chapter of Sister Waters' mission entries.

I'll see you in 2 days!

Sister Waters

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pictures from Santa Fe

Don't have much time today! Going to Santa Fe! Think of Newsies for me.

Nadine was baptised on Saturday. It was wonderful. We set 4 more baptismal dates this week. The work is booming. I love you and will write you a long letter on the train to Santa Fe.

Sister Waters

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Work in High Range is Booming! 6/07/2010

Hello Family,

Sister Barello and I got in to our apartment late last night, about an hour later than we should have. So the Zone Leaders freaked out and called the assistants, and so we're in a little bit of trouble, and they asked us to explain ourselves to President. I know very well that blessings come when we are strictly obedient. I regret that we left our phone in the car, but I don't regret what we were doing. We had planned to visit our ward mission leader Sunday afternoon, but when we stopped by, no one opened the door. We received a text message from him later that night apologizing, and we agreed to come by his house right then. I jumped on the opportunity. Anyway, we have a baptism in less than a week that we really need the ward’s help with. Our investigator is very limited physically (spinal problems), so we have been trying to find a stool or something to assist her in the font. We had a lot of issues that needed to be addressed as far as getting the baptism worked out, and I felt like we needed to get these things finalized ASAP, instead of having to procrastinate them, which usually leads to a stressful baptismal service.

Sister Barello and I felt a need to update our ward mission leader on the status of a few investigators, and talk about how much it would help if we could get some ward missionaries called to help us. So that’s why we were in late. Once we got talking with our ward mission leader, I completely lost track of time and wasn’t even paying attention to what time it was. Sorry we caused commotion among our leaders, but I felt like what we were doing was essential. I didn’t intend to stay out that late.

On the good side, the work in High Range is booming, I feel like. What a transformation from how the area was when I first got here. It is really sad that I’ll have to leave the area to go home. Things just keep getting better and better here.

Remember the couple we found last week that wants to move to Utah because of the belief system there? Well, we taught them the first lesson this week, and it was awesome! We gave them the soft baptismal commitment, and the wife turned to her husband and said she thinks that would be “awesome! For him.” She was so excited!

Nadine is so excited to get baptized as well. We reviewed the restoration with her this week, and the Spirit was so thick. She teared up and just said “thank you. Thank you. I’m coming home.” She has been searching her whole life. She looks better every week, and looks happier as well. I just love her. She is one of the people that I will never forget from the mission. It has been such a blessing to know her.

We met with another investigator this week as well. She finally let us inside the house, this time instead of just having doorstep lessons. She is also searching, and asked us so many brilliant questions. Like, after teaching about the apostasy: “So what’s your outlook for the state of the world now?” What a perfect lead in to the restoration!

We had an unusual investigator show up to church yesterday. But I love knowing that all are invited to come unto Christ. I just hope others remember that too. Sorry I don't have time to explain more on this one.

We taught the Plan of Salvation yesterday to a less active member. I love that lesson. I think it really began to sink in. The Parks also called yesterday, but due to the craziness I never got to call back. That was sweet of them. We also had dinner this week with one of my favorite families here in High Range. The spirit was so strong as we met with them. I love them!

So, Santa Fe is in our Zone. We are trying so hard to go there one preparation day before I come home. We’ve just about worked out all the details! I think we may be in Santa Fe next week, so if we don’t get to email you, don’t worry too much. I am also hoping to get some boxes today. Crazy that I'll have to speak so much when I get home, but I guess it's ok. I love you, and thank you for all your support.

I love you. I hope all is well.
Sister Waters

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Updates 6/01/2010

Dear Family,

Thank you for sending us brownies, I forgot to tell you last week I think, but we have loved having them! Thanks!

Sunday was a good day for us, we had four of our investigators come to sacrament meeting. That may be a record high for this area, although none of them stayed for Sunday school. Yesterday we also went to follow up with a potential investigator, and found out that they are thinking of moving to Utah because of the belief system there, and the family values. We have an appointment to teach them more about the church on Thursday, so that's pretty exciting.

Thanks dad for the poem you sent about the "critters" in Ether. We went back to see this particular investigator this week, and he DID finish the Book of Mormon. Wow! He understood a lot of what he read. One of his friends loaned him the money to get his car fixed, so he should be at church next week.

I continue to be grateful to have Sister Barello as a companion. I really feel Heavenly Father was helping me out on this one, because I'm not so sure if it would have been President's idea to have me train this last transfer. I hope everything is going well with you. I don't really feel as if I have much to report this week, so I sorry this will be a short email. I love you.

Sister Waters

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"I Ran Into Some Critters I Don't Know." 5/24/2010


This week was wonderful, it was very much back to the “normalcy” and bliss of mission life that I love and missed for a little bit. So, Nadine has been to church three times so far. I think she loves it and is so excited to get baptized. We took her to see another convert’s baptism this weekend, and she was telling everyone how close she was to her own date. She is so fun to talk to, and she certainly is a talker. On the way out of the baptism, she was telling us: “I can’t believe I lived in contemplative silence….because I just love to talk!” I loved it. She tells us about some of the reasons she left the monastery, and I have written about some of them in past emails, but this week, she told us another reason why she felt called to leave the monastery. As a child, she was taught that it was good to be a mother, but better to live a celibate life doing the Lord’s work. She had some questions about our life as missionaries. So naturally, a lot of our lesson that day was about chastity, the sanctity of marriage, and the importance of the family. We left her a copy of the proclamation to the world on the family. Anyway, during our discussion, she told us that during her time in the convent she had such a strong desire to be a mother. She described beautifully how becoming a mother was the most spiritual and beautiful experience she has ever had in her life. She loved being a mom.

Nadine has felt for a long time that one of her callings in life is to write her life history. We’re excited, and think her story would make a great book. So hopefully we can find a way to make that dream a reality. She’s going to need a scribe first of all. I think we’ve got some good resources beginning to line up.

We just finished a lesson this morning that was amazing. (That’s why this email is a little later than usual. The next three emails you get from me will probably be later on a regular basis because this particular investigator wants to meet on Monday mornings.) Anyway, we had talked about original sin the last time we met, and in the meantime, he read 2 Nephi 2, and 9 all about the fall, Moroni 8, watched the film “The Restoration” and read a big chunk of “Our Search for Happiness.” All in the past 2 weeks! (Transfers and his trip out of town through our meeting time off a little bit.) But he basically taught us the lesson today, and has such a great understanding of the necessity of the fall, agency, and the atonement. Awesome. He’s like a Brigham Young, in that he may study the church out in detail for a few years, and analyze everything, but I think he will be baptized because he grasps these principles so well. I love teaching people with a Catholic background more than anyone else, I think, because the restored gospel fits in so well, with the organization of the Catholic Church. They seem to understand the doctrine so well. We need to get him a triple combination so he can study our pre-earth life in more depth. That is another one of those doctrines that is unique to the restoration. I’ll have to call the distribution center today and see if we can get one within the week!

Ok. Funny story. We stopped by another investigator’s house this weekend and assigned him Ether 2 and 3 to read. I wish I could describe this guy in such a way that I could give you a mental picture of what he’s like. I’ll just say, he’s the nicest guy ever, but he might appear to be kind of rough around the edges, for example, he hasn’t had electricity in about 2 years. Well, a couple hours after our visit, we get a phone call from him. “Hey, I ran into some critters I don’t know.” Sister Barello was on the phone and was wondering what he meant. Was he asking us to come rescue him? Did he need a ride? No, he was reading the scriptures! In Ether 9:19 it talks about cureloms and cumoms. “I thought I knew all the animals,” he said. It was super funny. But he’s doing awesome. He told us that he started reading the assignment, and decided to keep reading until he lost interest, and he hadn’t lost interest yet. “Well, if you get to the end of the Book of Mormon,” Sister Barello said, “just start back at the beginning!”

We tracted into another young man this week that seems to have great potential. We gave him the first lesson on his doorstep, and showed him the Book of Mormon. “Would it be ok if I keep this book?” he asked. He really wanted to read it! It’s all his.

Also, one lady we’re working with is moving to the DC/Virginia area this summer. Isn’t that awesome?

I also had my last Zone Conference this week. It was kind of weird. It was President and Sister Anderson’s last one too… and that was interesting. They were so funny. But President shared a story with the mission that he shares with all the departing missionaries. He showed a statue of Christ that sister Anderson made for his Christmas present, years ago. It was glued to a Plexiglas base that his son made. He talked about how it was the combined best efforts of two people he loved and how, that principle is the same with our Heavenly Father. When we put forth our best effort, although it is imperfect and flawed, it becomes the perfect gift to him. That is so true of the mission. We all make mistakes, but Heavenly Father just wants us to continue to try.

Thanks for your letters this week. So a homecoming talk on June 27th. Ok. I don’t really know what principle would be good to talk on. I know a few experiences I want to share as far as the power of the Book of Mormon in people’s lives, and I’ll definitely probably want to share some of Nadine’s story. But I think mission experiences can be tied in to just about any principle of the gospel…in a roundabout way…whether it’s prayer …or revelation ….or scripture study …or the atonement …or faith…so long as the topic isn’t about something totally obscure…like boy scouts….or gardening…or the history of the relief society. Yes, all topics we’ve covered in sacrament meetings since I’ve been in the field…L unfortunately. I let my companion read the letter you sent dad, and it was pretty funny. I had to explain that you were in the bishopric….otherwise it would have sounded pretty presumptuous.

I’ll try to get better at getting out some letters this week. I’ve been delinquent lately in responding to mail.

Well, I love you all. Have a wonderful week!

Sister Waters

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Yay for "Greenies!" 5/17/2010

Dear Family,

This week has been absolutely wonderful! I just love my new companion so much. She is from Ogden Utah, and has been such a powerhouse sister right from day one. She is really fun, and we get along very well. She isn’t afraid to talk to people, follow promptings, and bear testimony. She is full of stories. New missionaries are the greatest missionaries, I’m convinced. It’s fun to see someone take in the mission through “new eyes.” Everything is so exciting! Giving away the first Book of Mormon, getting the first return appointment, preparing for the first baptism they will see…speaking of, our nun is doing great!

It’s been so wonderful to see this investigator’s testimony develop. She has to be the sweetest woman ever, and just wants to feel loved and accepted. The ward has heard me sing her praises, and is excited to get to know her better. She certainly has quite the conversion story.

Well, thank you for the articles you sent. I read all of them, and they have helped a lot. It’s interesting how something as elementary as the Godhead can be “found new” as I’ve studied it this week. I’m glad that I’ve been able to develop a greater understanding of this, and hope to continue to learn more. For Zone Conference, President Anderson asked us each to memorize a scripture about the restoration and be able to recite it. I chose Isaiah 29:14. In the marvelous work and a wonder of the restoration, it is so true that the understanding of the “wise” men of the earth will be hid as eternal truths are restored.

I can’t believe that this Wednesday will be my last Zone Conference. Throughout my mission, I have loved hearing the “words of wisdom” from departing missionaries’ testimonies. And now it will be my turn in just a few days. So crazy. The time has gone by pretty fast. A mission is something you look forward to your whole life, and then it’s over. Life goes on. Life gets more crazy. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned in the field. I’m grateful to have seen gospel principles from the scriptures played out before my very eyes in the lives of the people I have met. The mission is gospel in action. I’m grateful to have received divine help on my mission, and know that it is always there when we don’t feel like we can do important things by ourselves. Before Sister Crossley went home, she talked about listening to missionaries’ homecoming talks. How they always have a few “miracle” stories. But that not every day is like that. There are a lot of days where you just work, and it seems routine. Most days are like that. I am grateful to have had “miracle moments” on my mission. It is an interesting experience to review what has happened over the past year and a half.

We’re putting a lot of things together as a mission for president and Sister Anderson, since they are going home, signing quilts, flags, and letters. It’s weird to feel like I’ll be going down with the ship. Some of the senior couples that we adore are finishing their missions too.

I swear people have the oddest pets in New Mexico. I told you about the wolf dogs and the Easter colored chicks at the beginning of my mission, but one of our potential investigators has a tortoise, it’s probably about a foot tall and 2 feet long, roughly. They also have tame parrots. I think I will miss meeting the most interesting people, and having the tag as an excuse to talk to everyone.

Brother Parks gave me a blessing this week. Sister Parks may have emailed you another picture, she said she would. I love them. I love being able to receive Priesthood blessings, although I have to admit I’m not the most forward sister about asking for them. One of the brothers in our ward has horror stories about the sisters in his mission asking for blessings. I’ll share it, just because it’s kind of funny.

He served in Argentina, and he went to the sisters’ apartment one day and ended up giving them all blessings because they were sick. But the sisters were all very angry at him for not coming earlier. They said he should have listened to the spirit to know they needed a blessing. He asked them how they knew they were sick…and they said they ate rotten meat. “How did you know it was rotten?” he asked. “It was green,” they replied. Yeah, don’t worry about me. I won’t eat any green meat.

There is another man we are teaching. He wrote a children’s book, so Sister Barello and I both want him to sign copies for us. He hasn’t been active in awhile, but we had the neatest lesson last night. He told us that we answered his questions better than the other people had in the past, and that he would think about everything we said. “Somehow, the Mormons always show up.”

OK, so I’ve basically finished writing everything I want to say. I’m sure sister Barello is just scrambling to type up all her reactions and thoughts about this first week. There is nothing like your first week. I remember sitting at the computer and never feeling like there was enough time. I love her! This last transfer is going to be awesome!

I love you all. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your support. Thank you for sending me so many articles. I’ve got the best family in the world.

Sister Waters

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Testimony 5/10/2010

Mom and Dad,

I am terrified to train again. But I received the impression that this new sister would be a great blessing to me. I still think new missionaries are the best missionaries. They are so ready to get to work!

I miss you so much. It was so good to talk to you on Mother’s Day, I felt so much peace and I felt the reassurance that this is right. But still, I can't wait to be home again.

I know Heavenly Father has answered my prayers and I know He loves me. I know I have felt the Spirit as I have read the Book of Mormon. I remember the feeling I had of being on consecrated ground when we were at the Sacred Grove two years ago. (GOSH! It’s been almost two years!) I have felt the Spirit touch me throughout my mission, especially as I have taught the lessons and the doctrines contained in them. I know we have the light of Christ to help us discern between good and evil. We CAN tell the difference between good and evil. I have felt the Spirit give me ability beyond my own to continue doing this work. I have a testimony that my life has been blessed because of the priesthood. But not having answers to objections people raise against the church is just irritating. And it weighs me down.

Our nun friend has a baptismal date! I am so impressed with her. She has questions about the history and archeology of the Book of Mormon, that no one can definitively answer, but she can still sense that the Book of Mormon is a holy book, and has a desire to be baptized. It reminds me of Alma 32:16 where Alma talks about those who are "baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know before they will believe."

Well, I think that's all I have to say for this week.
I appreciate you and love you so much!

Sister Waters