Wednesday, December 23, 2009
1. The Spirit doesn’t have to be stronger at this time of year than it can be at any other.
2. I must not define my Christmas on the mission by any one else’s. That is an unrealistic expectation. Each of Heavenly Father’s children is different, and therefore will have different experiences.
3. I was so consumed with a desire to feel the Spirit’s abundance that I may have forgotten something I’ve known for a long time, and needed to be reminded of….the best way to feel of our Heavenly Father’s love is to GIVE it to others.
I’ve decided to write letters to as many investigators as I can this holiday. Writing is one way I can use the gifts my Father has given me to “gift” others this holiday.
In Sacrament meeting yesterday they were talking about how we rejoice this year because we celebrate the fact that through the Savior’s gift we can overcome our imperfections line upon line, precept upon precept. That is a joyous message! As a perfectionist, I tend to obsess over things that didn’t go just right, but our Heavenly Father knew we wouldn’t be perfect. That’s why he gave us the Savior. Despite what I know, I find myself too often, wanting to do this on my own; to be perfect on my own. I forget sometimes that it isn’t possible without Christ. I remember Peter who protested against the Lord washing His feet. And Christ’s response, and Peter’s impetuous desire to let Christ wash all of Him. Christ wants to bless us with the gift of his Atonement, and like Peter, I must receive that. No matter what I do to fix things on my own, to be perfect on my own I can’t. I need the enabling power of the Atonement to get better at small things I face on the mission…the fear of following a prompting that puts me outside of my comfort zone, the ability to be strong in different circumstances, etc. I’m learning that he doesn’t expect me to do it all on my own, but to be righteous and to continue to try.
Heavenly Father needs willing servants to do His work. I am learning that. I read in the Doctrine and Covenants, somewhere, that he is merciful unto our weaknesses. He tells the early missionaries over and over that he will forgive their sins, but GO! and bear testimony. The time is short and there’s so much work to do. In Doctrine & Covenants 128, it talks about how the precious truths and great questions of the world that the wise ones have sought after through the years are given to us (through the restoration)…the suckling babes. How blessed we are to have truths restored that some of the greatest minds have ever sought after. And yes, as 19 and 21 year olds, we are babes. But he so needs whoever he can get to do this work. He will be merciful to our weaknesses as we continue to try.
We finally got to know another one of our investigators better this week. She hasn’t seen the missionaries in a while, and I think she got turned off from the message after a bad experience with one of the missionaries. But we’ve been getting to know her! She made us some amazing green chili turkey soup, and even came to the Ward Christmas Party. She asked about how you get baptized, and she even went over to her neighbor’s house to get another copy of the Book of Mormon! I don’t often say that investigators need sisters, because most of the time a missionary is a missionary, but I think she just feels more comfortable with us! We shared a Christmas scripture from the Book of Mormon with her, and it touched her, and that’s what started all of the excitement listed above! I hope that it continues!
It is freezing here in Albuquerque! We went tracting a lot this Saturday. I was hoping that Christmas decorations would signify believers. I was hoping that these would be clues as to who already has faith in Christ. But I was so surprised to knock on doors, telling people that we have a Christmas message and to find that many people didn’t want to hear it. We asked another person if they believed in the Savior and got a flat out no I don’t believe in Christ. CHRISTmas decorations and all! People are very busy this time of year. It’s sad. But I still know that sharing the gospel with our brothers and sisters is one of the best Christmas gifts we can offer.
We brought a member to teach one of our long time investigators this week. And it made a night and day difference in how she received the message! Instead of doubting and questioning like she usually does with us, she felt like she had a friend and told us that she decided she was going to ask her boss for Sundays off so that she could come to church. She’s a single mom, so this will be a huge sacrifice. We fasted yesterday that the Lord would open up a way for this to be possible.
We had another of our investigators at church. She told us that the Elders were really good at not pushing her, but that since the sisters have gotten here, we have been persistent in trying to schedule appointments and get it done. I was surprised to hear that! I think her heart may have been softened now to the point that she doesn’t view our phone calls as being pushy.
I loved this thought from one of the testimonies given in church yesterday. “As we open our mouths we become a part of the restoration; the restoration of truths to other people.” It’s true! And it’s exciting!
Well I love you all. I love hearing about everything that you are doing. I hope you are all healthy and happy and that you are enjoying the Christmas season. Thanks for your prayers and for your support!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
We have had quite the morning, so we got to the library later than we usually do. Today started like any other P-day. My companion noticed the water in the toilet was quite low, so she flushed it, and it continued to be low. A little while later, we noticed a puddle of water in the kitchen. Hmm. That’s not normal, so I called the senior couple in charge of housing and told them a pipe must have broken, which surprises me, since we’ve had the heat on since October, and it doesn’t seem likely that any of them would have frozen over and broken. We continued with morning study, and then got up later to find out that the puddle of water was getting bigger, and very yellow. Then our carpet started getting soaked…from the living room to the bedroom and also in the bathroom now. It smelled really bad, so we moved EVERYTHING in the apartment off the floor and onto the beds and counters. Then we found the crowning element…human feces in the tub. Apparently the sewage line to our apartment broke, and now our apartment is filled with pee, and poo and whatever else might have been in the sewage tank. Beautiful right? It literally is a pee day. The landlords are on top of everything, and we’re going to spend P-day elsewhere. But it makes for a great story, don’t you think?
We’re excited for Christmas in Albuquerque. One of the families wants to take us to see the luminaries and the festival of lights when it gets closer to Christmas. There should be some fun traditions here; I’ve heard a lot of families make tamales for Christmas. My companion, Sister Brown, wants to be in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir someday. That literally, is her dream, so we’ve been listening to The Messiah this whole week. I’ve never listened to all of it before, so it’s been really fun. One of the sisters heard Sister Brown sing in sacrament meeting yesterday and asked us to do a special musical number for Christmas…we agreed, oh boy!
We’re excited to think of creative ways to find people to teach this Christmas (wrapping up Book of Mormons, delivering cookies to investigators and potential investigators, caroling, etc.) We’ve been finding scriptures in the Book of Mormon that talk about the Savior’s birth. Hopefully we will be able to share them at doorsteps. These are some of my favorite scriptures in all of the Book f Mormon, because you can literally feel how excited the Ancient American people were for Christ to be born!
One of my favorites is in Alma 13:22-25. It is fulfilled in Helaman 13:7 and 3 Nephi 1:13. It begins this way:
“24 For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.
25 And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice.
26 And it shall be made known unto just and holy men, by the mouth of angels, at the time of his coming, that the words of our fathers may be fulfilled, according to that which they have spoken concerning him, which was according to the spirit of prophecy which was in them.”
This week was interesting because one of our most promising investigators dropped us, another one was out of town, and it was also the Thanksgiving holiday, so a lot of people were out of town. We went tracting a lot, because we want to find more investigators since our pool feels like its getting smaller than usual. But not a lot of people were home. We’re going to pray for referrals.
Sister Brown and I took one of Sister Anderson’s quotes to heart; “We’re here to be awkward.” We were walking down the street, and saw this guy who didn’t look like he’d be interested, but he said, "hi" to us, and we didn’t really take the opportunity to talk with him. We both felt awful about it so we went back, even though it looked like he was driving away, and got to stop and talk to him and give him some information about the church. We were glad we got a chance to take hold of that situation, even though it was a little awkward at first. Hopefully, a seed will be planted.
We did get to teach Donna, who has read the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants already. I wrote about her a little in my last email. Anyway, she’s awesome and knows the church is true. We’re just waiting on her to get baptized. She shared her experience about knowing how the Book of Mormon was true. Logically, someone as young as Joseph Smith couldn’t write the Book of Mormon and have it turn out so beautifully and in depth. On the other hand, if Joseph was being influenced by Satan, it wouldn’t lead to good fruits, or testify of the Savior at all. If Joseph was truly a good person, he wouldn’t lie about the origin of the Book of Mormon. She then related this to Jesus Christ. “So many people revere Christ as being a good teacher, or a wise sage. If Christ lied about who he was, then no, he wasn’t a good teacher. If he lied, he would be despicable,” she said. Another quote from that lesson: “Each of us has a perfectly God shaped hole in our hearts…nothing else will fill the space.” I love that.
Thanksgiving was great. We had it at the church with a ton of other families. Then we had pie at another member’s house, and THEN another member cooked us another Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. It was great!
We’re excited for Christmas! The work continues to move forward, in some ways I wish I got two Christmases in the mission. It’s a fun time of year and I know that this work is so important to our Savior.
I love you all and miss you.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
It's transfer time again. Sister Lamb is getting transferred to Aztec, where she will train a new missionary! Crazy right? But she’ll do a wonderful job. She was born to train and Aztec is a fun little town. I loved having district meetings there. Sister Brown and I will be staying together.
So, Thanksgiving is this week. Apparently, we have permission to go to as many Thanksgiving dinners as we get invited to. I bet there are a lot of Elders excited about that! One of my favorite families here in Albuquerque invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them and some other families at the Church building. They will be playing games and just having a big get together. It should be fun and we’re excited to stay here for the holidays! The families here are so good.
So, highlights from this week? Yes.
We got to teach another investigator this week. We knew that they would be going out of town for the holidays and that we wouldn’t get to teach them again for a few weeks. I wanted so much for this lesson to be powerful…for it to be exactly what they needed to hear. Sometimes, you can teach doctrine, you know, the missionary lessons, the principles that people need to know about the church. Sometimes you can just go through the order of Preach my Gospel lessons, after all there is a lot to cover. But it wasn’t the case this time. But I felt impressed that this particular person needed something more, something else. It weighed on me all day, it consumed our thoughts. So we went home and prayed specifically for this lesson. We developed a lesson plan that didn’t follow the order of Preach My Gospel at all. Mom, we actually decided to use excerpts from that talk you sent me from Jeffrey R. Holland, and it was perfect. We knew without a doubt, that this was what our investigator needed to hear. I love when the Lord tells us that he has something else in mind for a lesson than what we would normally do. You KNOW that that particular lesson is exactly what that particular person needs to hear, and you can tell them about the experience of planning it. Heavenly Father is very mindful of this work, even on an individual level.
We’ve been teaching a sweet woman who lives in the nursing home here. She is so wonderful. She never went to the temple, and her home teacher was talking to her one day and felt the impression that she needed to go to the temple before she died. So we’ve been going through the lessons with her to help her prepare. Anyway, when we went to visit her on Friday, she was very upset because someone stole one of her DVDs and a few chocolate candies. It bothered her a lot. But she told us that she tries to find the humor in it. “What kind of person would steal from a woman in a wheelchair!” she exclaimed. “Who would steal in the first place, but I mean, especially from an old person in a wheelchair!” I loved that. We laughed and laughed with her.
I love you all very much family! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Thank you so much Mom for sending Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk, "Remember Lot's Wife". I remember listening to that in the SWKT Building on the BYU campus the day before I went into the MTC. I think that is one of my very most favorite talks. I had my companions read it for companionship study. Faith is for the future!
I received one of the BEST letters I have ever gotten on my mission! On Saturday, one of my favorite investigators from Bloomfield wrote me to tell me that he was scheduled to be interviewed for baptism on the 14th, and if all went according to plan, he would be ready to be baptized on November 21st! In some of my past emails, I referred to this person as my little Jean Val Jean, because he read the Book of Mormon during a very, very difficult time in his life and is transforming his life. That’s the power of the Book of Mormon. It literally can change lives if people let it! They promised to send me pictures from the baptism. He was the kind of investigator we spent hours and hours talking with; walking places with, he even would come and help us teach some of our other investigators. Such a powerhouse! I truly hope that the next few weeks aren’t full of too much difficulty. YAY!
As I thought about this letter, I realized that Heavenly Father truly answered my prayers. I’ve prayed for this particular investigator for so long, and with so much energy of heart. I have come to realize, that almost everything I have asked of Heavenly Father with that much effort has happened. There are not many of my requests that haven’t been answered on my mission.
I think before my mission, I was hesitant to ask for specific things to happen. I would occasionally ask for them, but I worried so much that maybe they wouldn’t be God’s will, or that my prayers wouldn’t have any effect because of the dominance of others’ free agency. I have learned to be bold in my prayers while I’ve been on my mission, to have courage to ask for things that are outside my own control. The Savior even said that by THEIR (meaning someone else’s) faith others were healed. And it amazes me how often Heavenly Father gives us exactly what we want! This letter is just one example of a few prayers that were answered this week. Even getting a return appointment is an answer to prayer!
I read a little bit of Alma 32 today. Sometimes I feel like I’ve read that chapter so much, that I feel reluctant to read it again, because it is so straight forward, but I was humbled today when it came up next in my Preach My Gospel study. I learned about the relationship between faith and patience. We must have faith that God will grant our righteous desires, and then wait patiently for the answers. If we give up, how often do we miss the answer? I think back to my Jean Val Jean investigator especially in regards to patience.
We got to set a baptismal date with a part member family this week! He’s been coming to Church for years, and is so ready. Hopefully, everything will go according to plan!
I was studying in, "Jesus the Christ", this morning. I was reading about how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly the only thing that will transform the world and that no other effort to mold society will ever be effective. I LOVE that. As a political science major, we often talk about what type of government is best, and which policies work. I absolutely LOVE knowing that although I love the United States government, Missionary Work is truly the work that will change the world. NOTHING can top this. No policy, no campaign will work. This message is so incredibly important!
I really feel like I’m at a climax on my mission. I love it here. We are teaching so many truly great brothers and sisters. I love my companions and am so grateful for this time of year!
Love you all!
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Deb was baptized this Saturday. It was the most crowded baptism I have ever seen. So many people came to support her that it was basically standing room only. She works at an elementary school and so many families came. It was wonderful.
I love both my companions so much. Sister Lamb is a dedicated worker and Sister Brown is so sincere, she truly will be a powerhouse of a missionary.
This work is so important, and I think each of us has the desire to be a perfect missionary, but we each have so far to go. The more I learn about the gospel, the more I realize how far I am from the mark. I absolutely dislike human weaknesses. It’s frustrating that even when you try…you can always do something a little bit better. The MTC, Preach My Gospel, and the handbook show you what an ideal missionary should be, but it can get overwhelming when there is so much to improve upon all at once. There are so many things expected of us, it's easy to recognize your inadequacies.
The mission is a learning process, I don’t think we can be perfect at once. How many missionaries go home saying that they wish they could start the mission over now that they know HOW to do it. I’m terrified of the time I don’t have left! It is very scary. I really don’t want to waste any of it! Complacency in the daily routine is so scary.
But the Lord needs willing servants to do his work in the latter-days. There are so few of us, that despite our inadequacies, so much good still gets done. Every little good thing that happens pleases our Heavenly Father so much. And I think he realizes that we’re trying to learn how to do this. Somehow, the Spirit can still work through us, despite our weaknesses. NOTHING can stop the work from progressing…even our own inadequacies. I love hearing stories about people who feel as if they are butchering the message, and little do they know that someone else felt the Spirit. The Lord merely needs us to open our mouths. He’ll make up for the rest.
Sister Lamb told me about a story regarding a woman whose friend was asking her questions about the Church. As she was telling the Joseph Smith Story, she started laughing. She was thinking about how it all must sound to someone who wasn't a member. She felt that it all sounded ridiculous. After the conversation, her friend went home and the member felt awful. She had mocked what she knew to be true. For the next month, she worried about how she had portrayed the gospel. Then one day her friend approached her and said that she had had a powerful witness of the truthfulness of the message. It just goes to show that the Lord works though us in ways we don't understand.
Training is an interesting experience because it makes you look back at the things you have learned throughout different situations and difficulties on the mission.
The first few months of the mission are such an emotional roller coaster. But I realized some time ago that I feel as though I’ve reached a point where it feels normal. This is my life, and I love it. I no longer feel isolated, or as if I’m missing things back home. I think it takes time to come to that point. But I LOVE it! This is my life. I've heard horror stories of what it's like to come home. I'm beginning to see why it is so hard.
I’ve learned that the mission is really one of the only times in our lives where we are forced to rely on the Lord. If you have problems, you don’t get to call Mommy and Daddy. Companions sometimes don’t understand. There is no one to physically give you an immediate response or even a hug. But the Lord respond’s to His missionaries’ cries immediately.
I am so happy in this area. I fasted and prayed very hard a little while before I got transferred here that there would be success. Heavenly Father answered my prayer in ways I couldn’t have expected. I think the prayers of Heavenly Father’s missionaries are very dear to him. I never thought I would love Albuquerque so much!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
So last Monday was crazy. After I emailed you, we went to the Petroglyphs again to show Sister Brown what they were. She heard some coyotes in the distance and decided it would be funny to howl back to them. They definitely responded and so Sister Brown and the coyotes had a conversation back and forth for a good amount of time. As we continued on our hike, the howling started getting close and closer….almost like they were trying to find her! At one point it got so close that she got scarred and started to run. Sister Lamb and I weren’t too afraid, and so Sister Brown stopped running, looked at us and said it wasn’t funny. Apparently, she thought we had gotten the Elders in on it and that they were the ones howling at her. It took us a long time to explain that it really WASN’T a prank at all. Sister Brown is so much fun.
After the Coyote experience, we went on with preparation day as usual but Sister Brown had to have a mini orientation to the mission with President Anderson. That was pretty fun…except for the fact that we were running late because I lost the keys and had to find them before we could go. Phew!
Okay, so we had the craziest tracting experience but you have to promise not to worry about it, because we’re not going to be stupid about this. We were knocking doors in this one neighborhood….and we met a Muslim man. He was very nice, and said that he agrees with a lot of what the Book of Mormon says, and feels that both the Mormons and the Muslims get a bad reputation in the American media. He wanted a Book of Mormon, so we gave him one. Then he told us not to get scarred or anything, but that he trusted us and proceeded to tell us that he was from Iraq and used to be the scientific director for Saddam Hussein. We didn’t really know how to respond to that.
We were visiting with a sister who served her mission in Mexico, and she stressed that on your mission, you feel closer to the Spirit and our Heavenly Father than you do at any other point in your life and that it only comes once, so enjoy it. That has really stuck with me this week. I really do want to feel that way about my mission. And I think it’s a matter of taking the time to recognize it. I think everyone takes different things away from their mission. But for me, I have cherished the time I’ve had to study each morning. I went from merely tolerating the scriptures to loving them. I really hope that I’ll finish the standard works by the time I get home. I feel like I have grown so much.
Along these same lines, I had an experience yesterday that made me realize how I really do feel about this calling. Sister Brown got sick on Saturday afternoon, so we stayed in the apartment the whole time, and this morning is our fist day back outside. But one of our investigators really needed her home dedicated, and so our Ward Mission Leader and his wife offered to go on splits with me so that it could get done. This was the first time I’ve ever been without a full time missionary as a companion since I’ve been on my mission. And it was weird going on this split. The main thing I noticed was that Sister Lamb and I had been in the apartment pretty much just relaxing and chatting and trying to keep ourselves entertained while Sister Brown was sick. Our routine was off its regular schedule, so to a cretin extent I felt like I was back to my old self again. Then around 6:00 last night I went to go get dressed as a missionary. As I put on my tag (which I hadn’t been wearing for about a day and a half) it really struck me that I was in fact a missionary and how powerful that calling really is. I wish I could express what I felt, but I can’t quite put it into words. And the experience wasn’t life changing by any means. But I think there was a stark difference in how I looked at myself putting the tag back on after having it off and being relaxed for so long. You don’t really notice the difference while you’re in the daily grind.
We did dress up as the Triple Combination for Halloween. It was quite a hit. Hopefully, you've seen the pictures by now.
This area continues to be amazing. We’re excited for our baptism this weekend. We are teaching some very special people right now. Great people who have strong spirits… I can feel it when I teach them. I can’t wait to find more of them! This is missionary heaven. The mission is exploding right now. We’ve had to raise our baptism goal for the year two times now because we keep reaching what the goal was. I hope the whole world is having this kind of success, because it feels like everything is just speeding up. President Anderson said this mission has never baptized this many people since the mission was reorganized and boundaries were changed (Think that was when it used to be the Arizona Holbrook mission.) I love being here and I love BOTH of my sweet companions. I’m glad I have the opportunity to be a missionary.
Thanks for everything! I love you tons!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
That’s neat that Sister Jordan is in your ward, she was a neat Sister and the teaching appointment I went to with them really helped me get excited about missionary work. She must be almost done with her mission, because that was nine months ago, and she was training a new sister at the time.
Well, the title of this email says transfer news. Our district leader called us on Saturday night and told us that our area was being split up. I would be covering the Paradise Hills ward with Sister M. and Sister Lamb would cover the Bandalier Ward with Sister Thude. We were shocked! Then our cell phone lost reception and the call was dropped. (YES! We have cell phones in our mission now!) We called back right away, and Elder Nash told us that he was just kidding. Sister Lamb and I would be staying together after all. Phew. That's good. (I think I will title every email at the end of transfers, Transfer News, just to be suspenseful!) We are getting three more sisters this transfer for a grand total of 20! So, two more areas must have opened up, but we don’t know where. Sad. But some exciting news is that one of my favorite Elders from the MTC is moving into my district. I haven’t served around anyone from my MTC district in three months, so this will be a fun little reunion. It’s funny how there’s a neat link between the missionaries you came out with.
We were tracting a few days ago. Most people weren’t interested, and some were quite rude. But we knocked on this one door, and the reception was quite different. Before I even opened my mouth, I felt like he was a member. There was a very familiar spirit in the home. We talked for a little bit, and the man expressed interest in what we were teaching, so we said we would come back another time. But I fell like this was a direct answer to prayer. I have been praying for a few months now that we would recognize those who are ready for the truth. I don’t know what is going to happen with this man, but the feeling was so distinctly familiar before we even said anything. That’s what it MUST feel like when you recognize those who are ready.
One of the things I LOVE about this area is that we are working with a great group of 15, 18, and 20 year old girls who just recently joined the church. Their testimonies are so sweet. One of the girls who was just baptized remembers what was said in her confirmation about preparing for a temple marriage and decided to dump her boyfriend this week. It sounds awful, but we were so excited for her! I think we’re going to have an ice cream party to celebrate.
The Family that knows the Metts family in Japan invited us into their home yesterday to teach one of their friends. This particular woman has been studying about the Mormons since she was 15 and was an Osmond fan. She is reading the Book of Mormon and loves to study on the Albuquerque Temple grounds. We’re really excited because she is a wonderful lady!
I can’t believe I’m hitting my nine month mark this week. It’s crazy. Time is a funny thing. It can seem incredibly fast and also long at the same time. I love you all very much, and miss you tons! I’m sorry this is so short. I just don’t have too much to say I guess.
Thanks for the letters. I love them. But I also don’t think I will have time to respond to any today. Napping sounds much more appealing.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Well family, this week was interesting. But that’s nothing new. We spent two days trying to get the car fixed. We had a flat tire one day. And then the next day, we found out that we have no brake pads left on the brakes. So unfortunately, a lot of our time was spent trying to fix mechanical problems.
There is a part member family that we’re working with. Both parents come to church pretty much every Sunday. The ward is very hopeful and so are we. At our last lesson, everything went exactly how we had hoped it would!
We also went to visit a “mystery name” the Elders left us (A mystery name is basically, a name and address written on a progress record without much of a story or history attached.) It seems promising, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Also, I don’t know what it is about General Conference, but both last April and this past conference, we’ve ended up having a minister come watch conference at the Stake Center with us! We had two people from a very popular church here in Albuquerque attend General Conference on Sunday afternoon. One was a member of that church that the elders serving before us had tracted into, and the other was the youth minister of the church, who he brought. He loved Elder Christofferson’s talk the most, and had questions about the Nigerian General Authority’s (Elder Sitati’s) talk regarding the Abrahamic covenant. So that was exciting! The fact that they attended Sunday afternoon also meant that they got to hear Jeffrey R. Holland’s smack down on those who deny the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Wow! So, I’m interested to see how our follow up visit goes. It should be interesting. (Whenever I watch conference with an investigator I get so nervous, I listen from the perspective of, “What are they thinking about this?” I’m on edge through the whole conference! It’s an interesting way to listen to conference, but I’m excited to re-read the talks when I won’t be so nervous.) The man the elders before us tracted into invited us to attend their services, but with our rigorous Sunday meeting schedule as missionaries, it’s not even an option, nor good since the Lord has sent us forth to teach and not to be taught of the world. But even the extension of an invitation is pretty daring on his part. It’s basically comparable to asking a nun to attend a Baptist church. He teaches a Bible study class for young adults out of his home on Friday’s and invited us to attend his class. Maybe we’ll be able to visit. We’ll see. We’ll have to be careful on this one. But I can tell what amazing and genuinely good people they are because they take special effort not to offend.
We’re teaching a member who wants to get reactivated and prepare for the temple. She is super funny, and completely honest in her concerns and hold ups. The Elders left a note saying that “She is very fun to teach.” No. Corrections:
“She is an absolute riot to teach!” We lover her, she’s kind of like a teenager in an adults body."
The Hot Air Balloon Festival is going on this week. Our Bishop wants to take us, and it looks like we got permission to go later in the week (from the Zone Leaders). That surprised me. But I guess it evens out if we have a teaching appointment on preparation day.
President Anderson asked us to email him our notes from conference and ideas of how we can improve our teaching.
I loved the emphasis placed on relying on the spirit! Richard G. Scott talked about how we don't need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to teaching. He also talked about how we must respond to first impressions or else more revelation will not follow. I feel like receiving inspiration takes a lot of work. But the Spirit is so essential in this work, that I need to get better at it. I want to get even better at following impressions. I love how Elder Packer said, “The key to heaven is on our side of the veil.” In order to achieve heavenly and magnificent results in missionary work, we must get better at following the Spirit!
I absolutely loved Elder Osguthorpe’s talk on effective teaching. What stuck out to me most was the example of his primary teacher. “She had so much confidence in me that I could not refuse her invitation to give that talk.” I want to help people feel like they CAN live the gospel! This is the way I can extend better commitments, which is sometimes hard for me. But the key is to also help prepare people to live commitments. I loved how he described teachers as messengers of God.
I loved Elder Oak’s quote as well. “Real love does not support self destructive behavior.” We are devastated when investigators do not fulfill commitments. We need to extend powerful commitments.
Elder Bednar’s talk on consistence describes mission life so well. So often in our teaching and finding, we don’t have “masterpiece days” but we must remain consistent in order to both help people gradually develop masterpiece testimonies, and also find those golden investigators.
Following President Monson’s talk, it was clear that service can be an excellent teaching tool as well.
So many of these talks applied directly to our investigators! Sister Lamb and I are hoping to take our notes and develop lesson plans around them so they can be specifically applied to individual investigators.
Love you all!
Have a wonderful week!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
This week was amazing. Amanda got baptized yesterday, and the spirit of the baptism fit her perfectly. It was exactly what she needed. I know she felt the Spirit very strongly. She bore her testimony in gospel principles class. I find it amazing to think about the timing of the events leading up to her baptism. She had been searching for the truth for three years and had attended a total of eight different churches. In the middle of the summer, she moved in with some members of the Paradise Hills Ward. A few weeks later, their grandmother died. In Amanda’s testimony, she talked about how this event played such a significant role in her conversion. She watched the stability and sense of peace that came with the funeral. When they explained the Spirit World and the Three Kingdom’s of Glory, it seemed to be exactly what she was looking for. It just made sense. In her confirmation, they blessed her that she would be an example to others and strengthen or lead others into the church. She’s the type of investigator I had prayed to meet for a long time.
Another exciting thing occurred this week. Well, it actually happened last week, but I didn’t understand how all the pieces fit together until recently. That’s how life always seems to go. I think Elder Grow’s visit to the mission was a turning point in my mission. I was determined that from that point on I would pray very hard to know where to go so that I could find those who were “already to harvest.” I had a stronger reliance on faith than I had before. So, I had my companion and I study the map of streets and try to be led by the Spirit as to where we should tract that week. We narrowed down our selections until we found an area that we both felt was right. We planned to tract it, but then our plans changed, so we ended up tracting it a long time after we had intended to originally.
Before we began to tract that day, we prayed before leaving the car. We prayed that we would find people on that street who would be receptive to the gospel. We found two people that day who invited us to come back. But the story doesn’t end there.
As we were tracting, we met a member family that was very cool. They offered to help us with anything, and even talked about a few people they are sharing the gospel with. Probably five minutes after leaving their house, we tracted into the neatest 19 year old girl. She listened attentively to everything we taught her about the Restoration and said she would love to come to church with us if she could get a ride. Well, Heavenly Father had allowed us to meet a family just a few minutes before who would make the perfect fellowshippers. She missed the first Sunday because we didn’t introduce them at first, but on Saturday we had them meet. She came to Church yesterday, and even participated in Relief Society! Come to find out, some of her extended family are LDS. We are excited to start her official lessons this week.
Our prayers were answered as we sought out where we should go.
During the relief Society broadcast, Henry B. Eyring said something to the effect of: “You may not in this world see evidence that you have succeeded….but you are on the Lord’s errand.”
I think that’s how I felt about my mission for a long time. But I am grateful that I have been able to see a few successes this week especially.
In other news:
We broke out the sidewalk chalk again this week. For Amanda, and someone else we briefly met. I think chalk drawing messages might become the theme of this transfer.
I am still obsessed with hair. Some things never change. I had to get my roots done. But I don’t trust just anyone. So, I decided to highlight them myself. My companion thought I was crazy. But it turned out ok! I’m actually kind of proud of it. And she was surprised that I didn’t make a botch of it either. So that’s an exciting new development.
The misconceptions and uncharitable beliefs of the Anti-Mormon rhetoric greatly concern me. I’ve seen it destroy good strong families. We were confronted again last night with these opinions. It is dangerous in that it can sound very convincing to those who are weak in their testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and to those who are unfamiliar with our doctrines. It makes you think that you are an intellectual, when really God is the only intellectual and spiritual source of truth. Sometimes people don’t understand why we are counseled not to get into it. For me it comes down to two things.
1). God is the only source of truth.
2). We are encouraged to expand our knowledge but with the remembrance that the glory of God is intelligence. It also comes down to faith. Faith that there is a prophet on the earth who tells us that it's a danger. We may not understand why, but if the Lord asks us not to do something. Have faith in that! Be obedient!
Each time people bring up anti-claims…I find myself thinking “is that the best you can come up with?” I fell so blessed to have heard so many of the criticisms of the church answered by the Church before I heard them from those opposed to the church. The Lord prepared me so much before I ever met an anti-Mormon face to face. BYU archeology lectures, talks on CD about defending the faith, and mostly a personal witness of the truthfulness of this work are such a blessing that I am so grateful for.
My companion and I are tired of not doing anything fun on P-Day, so we decided that we would go to the Petroglyph Museum/National Park today. We’ll see how it goes. I think it’s supposed to be about Anasazi rock drawings…but I could be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.
General Conference is next weekend. It is also the kickoff for the Hot Air Balloon Festival which runs all week. There are rumors flying around that missionaries cannot go. But you will see hundreds of balloons all week long in the air. We have seen them a lot this week already, because they are practicing, I think.
Well family, that’s all the things I had planned on writing today. I love you very much and appreciate the letters you have sent me. I am glad to hear that the school year is going well, and that there are exciting new changes happening in the ward. Have a wonderful Monday!
Friday, October 9, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
Second of all, we taught one of our investigators this week. She is incredible, but she needs to have the courage to tell her husband and children about what she is learning. She told us her conversion story, and how she first got the Book of Mormon when she was 19 from a friend and carried it with her from move to move, and then finally read it all the way through. She told us that even before she knew about eternal families, she knew that this life only makes sense in terms of eternity. And that family is worth fighting for. I’m praying for a miracle in this family this transfer.
Another family we taught said that LDS church felt short. Really? Short?!? NO ONE says that. Ever! (Not even members sometimes!) But they felt at home there and very welcomed. So that’s good!
We decided to write a sidewalk-chalk-message on one family’s driveway on Saturday. It’s a long story, but my companion and I traced each other’s bodies on the pavement and told them the missionaries stopped by. Apparently they were inside the whole time…video taping us! I bet the footage is ridiculous. Oh boy. Missionary Anthem: Just open your doors people!
We also talked to a homeless family this week. Sister Lamb thought it would be a good idea to give them a Book of Mormon, so we pulled over and talked to them about it. Apparently, they carry a Book of Mormon and Doctrine & Covenants with them everywhere they go. The wife was familiar with our pamphlets as well and LOVES them. But they aren’t members because they think all religions are true. (That's basically what we gathered. It was very difficult to understand her husband’s accent) and we think they also believe baptism isn’t necessary. They go from city to city preaching the word of God without purse or script. So yeah, that was a pretty interesting encounter.
Oh yeah! There is a family in the Paradise Hills ward that moved to Albuquerque a few years ago after having lived in Tokyo for some time. They totally know the Metts family! Small world! They e-mailed the Metts family on Saturday, and told them, and they said to tell me "Hi" in return. Pretty fun!
The members here are wonderful! They bend over backwards to help the missionaries, and so many of the women here served missions themselves. It’s a wonderful area and I love it a lot. Members are inviting people to learn left and right!
Well I love you all very much. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family. I’m very lucky to be so blessed with such talented, funny, hard working, loving people in my life, which makes me miss you even more. But time does fly by. I’m already at eight months. I hope the school year is going well and that everyone is in good health. I love you more than I can say.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Sister Lamb is a wonderful new missionary. She doesn’t even act new at all! I am very excited for this transfer, because she’s a hard worker and a good teacher. I think we will get to see miracles this transfer!
We cover two wards here in Albuquerque. We had four “official” investigators at church on Sunday, and another non-member that one of our investigators brought with them. Hopefully we’ll get to start teaching her soon. But let me just think abut this for a minute…FOUR investigators at church on the first week of the transfer…before we even know how the area works ourselves! It was super exciting.
Most of our investigators are sincere in their desire to learn. They aren’t just too nice to tell us not to come back, or intellectually curious, or lonely. They aren't crazy either! They actually have been searching for the truth and have a hunger to learn! These are the kind of people I have been hoping to teach my whole mission…and even when I was still contemplating the decision to serve, I hoped I'd find people like this. I am so grateful to be here.
As I said last week, I have been seriously considering the Lord’s declaration that the field is white already to harvest. He has promised that there are people ready for the gospel. Before I even left Bloomfield, I prayed very hard that the Lord would prepare people here in Albuquerque to receive the message, and that more importantly, we would recognize each other. I find it fascinating to see how many church headquarter referrals were generated during that same time I was praying. And we have gotten three member referrals this week as well. Once again, it is clear that Heavenly Father really does hear our prayers!
President Anderson always tells stories about how through the Spirit, missionaries can have a profound influence even when we think we’re failing. I always love those stories and hoped that I could have similar experiences. Well, I had one this week!!
There is an amazing recent convert in our ward. Our ward mission leader told us about her and told us how at stake conference a few weeks ago, President Anderson and the Temple president had both invited her husband to take the missionary lessons. Well, naturally, that made our ears perk up, so we stopped by the house on Saturday afternoon.
Her husband opened the door, and we chatted with him for a while. He told us that his wife wasn’t feeling well, so we said we’d try back again another time. As we walked back to the car, I remember telling my companion about how I got the impression he wasn’t too excited to see us there. Oh well. We’ll keep trying, I thought.
Then on Sunday, his wife bore her testimony about how her prayers are beginning to be answered and that her husband is taking an interest in the church. She said that after we knocked on the door, he told her that there were new sister missionaries and that they seemed very nice. Then later in the day, he asked if she could get out her DVDs on the history of the church. They watched them together all day. And he asked her what she thought about them. She bore a simple testimony and turned the question back to him. He said he thinks they are very good, and asked that they watch more of them after she got home from church.
I realize, that we didn’t really play a role in this…she had been praying for the past few months that this would happen, and that so many other people have played a role, the Holy Ghost being the most important factor. But I appreciated that she mentioned us. Even missionaries need encouragement sometimes!
Then, oh my goodness! We went to see one of our investigators! We went to visit her, and she told us her whole conversion story, about how she was raised Catholic and came to a point where she knew it wasn’t quite right. She didn’t believe in the Trinity so she started attending a non-denominational church. Gradually, she brought her husband and family along with her to this church. Then a few months later she started reading the Book of Mormon. She read it in about a week and knew it was true. It filled in so many pieces, she said! She’s read the Book of Mormon twice and has read the Pearl of Great Price and is now in Section 80 something of the Doctrine & Covenants. She knows so much about the church and loves it…but wants to bring her family along with her. She said she’ll point out bits of Mormon Doctrine, but she doesn’t want to freak them out by making them think she wants to switch religions every few months. So she said it will be a gradual process, but she isn’t afraid to be the leader! Amazing! Some of her extended-family has expressed some anti sentiments, and she deflects them off and defends the church even though she isn’t a member…yet. I hope we get to see a miracle in this family’s life this transfer!!! I hope they develop a curiosity of their own. This woman says she tries to attend the LDS church once a month (she wants to join) but at the same time, she loves attending church with her family. The church they attend together has a rock band and is very new age, so her teens seem to like it. She said the LDS service is very different from that church. Our services weren't as emotional, but “do you know what it was?” she said. “It was sweet. It felt like home.” When she imagines what it would be like to be with God, she imagines that it would be very much like home, and peaceful. I am so excited to be here!
These are just two examples of the people we’re working with! I didn’t even talk about the people who DID attend church this Sunday and who have already expressed a desire to be baptized. The list could just go on and on. As the mother in our lesson last night said, “I feel that God just has a pitcher full of blessings waiting for us, and He’s just wondering when we’re going to start!” She too, feels like she knows the Book of Mormon is true and she hasn’t even read it yet. But when her family started dissing on it, she was amazed at how passionately she defended the book! She said “I don’t get passionate about ANYTHING really, besides my family, so I feel like there must be truth to this.” Her husband has a light in his eyes, and you can just tell he absorbs everything he learns.
THEN… There’s a sweet 20 year old girl who has been searching for the past three years. Wow! I keep thinking of other stories I could share, but I am seriously going to run out of time!
This is the best time to be in Albuquerque. The Balloon festival is around the corner, and it’s chili season. We helped one of our part member families peel green chilies on Saturday. And I am converted to all things spicy! They grew up in Santa Fe, and told us about all the festivals and folk legends that are happening there this time of year. So it was a super fun day. I'll have to tell you about the Black Arroyo, and Zubrona (sp?) later!
Before I left Bloomfield, two of our investigators gave me the sweetest gifts. One of them gave me a book about the Navajo creation story, and wrote his testimony inside. WOW! I am amazed at how much he knows! He said, read this book as a conversation starter, but don’t believe it! Because it’s silly. The other investigator gave my trio matching Navajo necklaces. So sweet of them!
I miss you all a LOT!
Gotta run. But have a wonderful day!
I am a little nervous about my new area, but President said it was a good area, and that he received the impression we would do well there. Where am I going, do you ask? Should I finally get to the point? Ok. I am going to Albuquerque! I will be covering the Paradise Hills Ward as well as the Bandelier Ward. This is in northwest Albuquerque, just outside of Rio Rancho. We are opening the area to sisters, Elders have served there in the past. I loved opening Bloomfield, so I’m excited about this, but also…Bloomfield was just a tiny town. A greenie and I now have to navigate the city! I bet this will make for lots of good stories. I have felt a LOT of peace with going to Albuquerque. I feel like this is where I am supposed to be. As a result of our Zone Conference, I decided to pray and then fast yesterday that Heavenly Father would prepare people to receive the gospel, and that we would recognize who they are. I’m excited to see what happens. Albuquerque was the ONE place that I dreaded going. Sisters who have served in other parts of Albuquerque all told me that they had almost NO investigators and would tract at least 5 hours a day. Which is quite an adjustment from being in Bloomfield, where you don’t have to do much tracting. I like to tell people I am terrified of going to Albuquerque…but really…. when I think about it, I’m not. Like I said, I had a strong feeling that things would be good here.
The Elders said that Albuquerque is booming right now, and that it should be a good place to find people to baptize. They also said that President Anderson sometime attends those wards, but I don’t know about that, maybe they were just trying to scare me.
I’m driving down to Albuquerque tonight. It’s amazing how much more “stuff/clutter” or whatever you want to call it, I have collected. When I got here, everything fit into my suitcases…and now I have no idea how I’m going to carry everything to Albuqerk. I think I’ll just throw everything in the back of the truck.
Ok in other news…well. Transfer news is kind of the biggest news and everything else pales in comparison.
We met a lady who has a Pit Bull, a Doberman and a Wolf in her yard. Yes, people in New Mexico sometimes keep wolves as pets. How crazy!
One of our investigators attended a baptism with us on Saturday. I think he really liked it! Another of our investigators came to Church for the first time yesterday. It’s amazing how excited we get at little baby steps like that. The ward was super nice to him, I just hope it didn’t make our other two investigators who came to church jealous! Those two investigators are starting to progress beautifully and attend church regularly. Which is a first! Usually investigators attend church sporadically. I am so excited for these families and will miss them.
But I am excited for a change!
Love you all dearly!
Asdaan To (The Navajo nickname one of our investigators gave me. Apparently, translated it means “lady water.” I think I’ll miss her nicknames.)
Thursday, September 3, 2009
In my weekly e-mail to President Anderson last week, I mentioned that we have an investigator on probation, and that we’d have to wait for him to get off before he could get baptized. President immediately called us and let us know that if our investigator would meet all the qualifications for baptism, he would personally write the First Presidency and ask for him to get baptized. He has had about 4 people be approved so far. Well, we ran over to tell this man, and he was SOO excited. It gives him the incentive to really prepare himself for his baptismal date…which is October 16th. He picked the day himself because:
1. It will give him enough time to get ready, and
2. It is his birthday and he thinks it is symbolic of being born again!
We are so happy. He recognized that he has a big opportunity here and has prayed everyday. He is even helping us teach another investigator about the gospel, and he likes to talk about how he came to know the Book of Mormon was true. He said something to the effect of, “I really want to get baptized, I prayed about it, and this is my biggest dream.”
Other exciting things:
- Crystal said she would accept a calling when she gets baptized.
- One of our part member families broke out the Book of Mormon this week.
- We taught a 1st lesson to a woman who said she was super curious about the restoration!
Who do you suppose got the rock stuck in their yard first? Yep. The Squirrel Meat Family. They totally had it coming.
Also, I had investigators and less actives try to set me up at least twice this week. SUPER awkward. Ha ha.
Also. Yeah, I’m leaving the best for last. I was interviewed by a General Authority yesterday. We had our general authority tour yesterday, and President Anderson selected several missionaries to be interviewed, and lucky me, I fell into that lot.
In my interview, Elder C. Scott Grow asked me if I had any thoughts or questions that ran across my mind when I found out he would be interviewing me. I told him: “I was basically terrified to death.” He just laughed and laughed and laughed. He asked why I was terrified (I think being interviewed by a General Authority needs no explanation as to why it invokes fear.)
He told me I reminded him of his daughter in law. (Which always gets me curious…) He asked about my family, and their callings. And he mostly just asked me what I learned from Zone Conference which I will relate below.
He talked about section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Joseph Smith said that the same visions are available to EACH member of the church according to their desire, faith and purity. He asked us to expand our visions.
It became clear to me that there are literal miracles waiting to happen. I need to have the faith to seek them, and work for them. I often get in the mind set of just Do. Just Work. But there is so much more possible, if I but FIRST learn to seek inspiration. Ask to see where to go! This takes time.
My whole mission, there has been an emphasis on NOT dropping investigators. Elder Grow made it clear that there are elect people prepared. We don’t need to waste time with those who aren’t willing to progress. Simply leave them and go back later. Find those who are ready now. Have the faith that they will be prepared. I talked to Elder Grow about this in my interview, and I told him that not having a baptism was very discouraging, but that there are some specific things I can do to increase baptisms. One of them is to leave those who don’t progress. Another is to have more faith in the goals we set.
He told us about when he was a Mission President, there was a new elder who felt like he could have 23 baptisms in the transfer. The elder said he had prayed about it and felt like this was a good number. President Grow was a little bit shocked at this. The missionaries senior companion didn’t see it really being possible, but the young elder had the faith that if the Lord said 23 baptisms were possible, then it would happen and people would be prepared. In his interview with the mission president, he said “we didn’t meet our goal. We only had 20 baptisms this transfer, but three more people are being interviewed this afternoon.”
Elder Grow also told us that the Lord often takes His Prophets to a high place to show them visions of the world and of the Plan of Salvation. Look at Nephi, Moses, etc.. The lord tries to reveal the same vision of the Plan of Salvation available to each of us in the temple. I hadn’t thought about it that way before.
I better run, I’ve only got ten minutes to write a letter to President Anderson, but I love you all dearly. Thank you SO much! Have a wonderful week.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Bloomfield continues to be the same. We showed one of our investigators the film "Finding Faith in Christ" earlier in the week. This particular investigator always likes to ask a lot of questions, most of which are repeated from week to week... Sigh. But there was one line in the movie that stuck out to her. The Apostle Thomas was explaining that Christ had the ability to perceive the hearts and thoughts of men. After the movie was over, there was a pause.
"So," she asked. "Jesus had mental telepathy?"
We thought the wording was pretty funny.
We were talking to a man this week who was telling us exactly how the reservation is like a different country. In Arizona, at least, the U.S.police cannot cross reservation lines to issue a ticket. One particular person knew that if he could just out-drive the police and get across the boarder, he wouldn't be arrested for a DUI. As soon as he crossed the reservation line, he swung the car around, popped open a beer and stared right at the cop on the other side of the line. This story shows that the "wild west" stereotype is still very much in effect, even years after the typical western cowboy and Indian images we think of. I love hearing stories from the rez!
On a more serious note, we had a wonderful experience at church yesterday. Three of our investigators in Bloomfield came to Sacrament meeting. In our gospel essentials class, we were talking about signs of the second coming, one of which is that the Lamanites would blossom and become a great people. Sometimes I get nervous when the Lamanite issue comes up around the Navajo people I teach, but this topic ended up being amazing!
One of our investigators told us that his grandfather was a medicine man. He and his cousins would sit around their grandfather and listen to him preach. He remembers his grandfather telling them as children, about the latter days, about desolation and famine and other things. But the thing that gave me goose bumps was the fact that his grandfather told him that the day would come when they would all need to join a white man's church.
Our ward mission leader was in the class with us and said "Read 1 Nephi 8. In it, you will read about Lehi, who is another one of your grandfathers. He is begging you to come to the tree of life and partake of the fruit. And after you are baptized you can do the temple work for your own grandfather. He is up their just waiting for you! He is cheering you on!"
I love this part-member family; they both have a strong testimony of the restored gospel and will be absolute power houses in the church.
We also talked about how when the Savior comes the second time, his mission will be different. He won't be here to preach the gospel. He did that the first time and has entrusted that role to the apostles, and also the missionaries in preparation for his return. Now is the time to prepare. Our ward mission leader made that comment. And it hit me. I have a mission to fulfill that the Savior himself came to the earth to perform, but has since been entrusted to us...as members.
We are teaching an investigator who already took the missionary lessons, and wanted to get baptized, before recently moving to New Mexico. She knows everything, and is so eager to move forward! She is in Farmington, along with most of our progressing investigators. So after September 1, I won't get to see her anymore, but it is so nice to teach investigators who are accepting of the doctrine!
That is most of the news from this week. There are a few other silly things that happened, but they probably won't fit into print very well.
Oh. I got an envelope in the mail this week that was missing the card inside. I know that some of my mail gets lost as well...so if I don't respond to letters, I probably haven't received them.
Well. I think that's pretty much everything worthy of an e-mail. I love you all dearly. Have a wonderful week!
Sister Lotulelei and I were talking about the challenges of being in a trio, and I think we finally pinned down what was frustrating us both. The problem is, we are working, but it is very difficult to keep our minds focused on the mission because there are three of us. It is so easy to get to talking, and end up on a tangent that has nothing to do with the work. The Spirit is the most important thing in this work, and it has been a struggle to have it with us. It is scary to feel like you’re flying by the seat of your pants.
One thing that stuck out to me from Zone Conference was the quote, “Without the spirit, you will never succeed regardless of your talent or ability…with the spirit you can do miracles for the Lord in the mission field.”
I think I’ve hit the point in my mission where I KNOW I can’t do it by myself. I feel like we are always working…but we don’t utilize the Spirit to its fullest potential. I feel like I have to WORK to get the Spirit there.
Two of our baptismal dates backed out this week. One of them dropped us yesterday because she wants to go back to her traditional beliefs and her medicine man. She would like to learn how to be a medicine woman. This is really very painful for me. I feel like in the seven months I have been out, very little good has happened. I love this area so much! And I know I should be grateful to be in such a wonderful area with so much potential. So many missionaries would kill to have the investigators I do…but you see that’s the painful part. I see the AMAZING potential in these people, and I just can’t get them to progress. I just want to be a better missionary, but changing is difficult. I have all these goals of how to be better, but even the goals seem overwhelming.
We got a new investigator this week, that normally I would be elated about. He accepts the idea that God would prepare someone like Joseph Smith to lead his people in the latter days. We are teaching him in a member’s home, and he has come to church. He even said that he could accept the Book of Mormon as a companion to the Bible. This is EXCITING! He is basically golden. But I have thought this same thing about so many of our other new investigators, that I am beginning to expect rejection before it even happens. I do not want to be this way!!! I need to remember to be grateful, and focus on the good things that have happened here, like how many new investigators I’ve picked up since being here, and how one of the referrals I gave to the Spanish Elders got baptized, and how some of the other referrals are getting close. Intellectually, I know how to have a good attitude, and intellectually I know how I should respond to these pitfalls. After all, true conversion to the gospel isn’t an overnight phenomenon…testimony building takes time. But emotionally, it’s another story.
For the most part, the area is good. Our ward has really started to do well with the L.Tom Perry Mission Plan, and I have the most fun companions ever! The ward wrapped their arms around us yesterday when they found out we had been dropped by one of our investigators. I think we’re all just momentarily 'bummed' by Pam telling us she wants to go back to her medicine man ways last night. Even though this email is kind of a downer, we will make a healthy rebound. This work is too important not to!
In other news, we helped our investigator with her wedding on Saturday. She asked us to help, and we thought it would be easy. Yeah, Sister Boisselle and I have basically both sworn off big weddings. They can be a lot of work! But it was beautiful, and the food was great!
Anyway, I love you all dearly. Thanks for praying for our investigators. I know Heavenly Father answers prayers, and it will be interesting to see how they are answered. Maybe this week is a blessing in disguise!
I love you all so very much. Thanks for the letters. I don't have much else to say!
Monday, August 3, 2009
This week was full of challenges, but it is easier to handle them when you have fun companions!
- Our car battery died.
- The air conditioning went out.
- It sounds like our investigator might want to wait for her husband to get worthy to baptize her which would be a long delay in her baptism date-the whole situation is getting frustrating.
- Our investigator Ben gave us a list of 11 reasons why Mormonism is wrong, and
- We helped one of our investigators move out of her house so that they can move into a storage shed.
But when they say the mission is an emotional roller coaster, they don’t lie. Here are the high points of the week.
- We got to eat dinner with the sweetest German lady!
- I followed a prompting to knock on a particular door that ended up being the daughter of our investigator who is supposed to get baptized this month!
- We prayed that our investigator would make the effort to find her Book of Mormon and she did!
- The sweetest deacon/teacher? in our ward made us dinner this week. He passes the sacrament each week and is saving up for a mission even though his dad isn’t active in the church at all. He invited us over and made the meal basically by himself.
- We made brownies to bribe someone to come to church…it worked!
- We committed a young man to stop smoking …WITH a PINKY PROMISE
- I got to fiddle with Mr. Brown, while he played guitar and Sister Boisselle sang…we finally got him to open up.
- The spirit helped us so much with one of our lessons in particular and the investigator came to church!
- Pistachio home made ice cream!
Thanks for the letters and especially for the See’s chocolates. My companions and I especially needed them last night! This transfer is so much fun. We laugh all the time and get to teach so many people every day! For Preparation Day, we are having lunch with the Sisters from Shiprock, and helping one of our investigators make centerpieces for her wedding. It should be a fun day.
Love you more than you know!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I LOVE my companions dearly. I think this transfer is going to be one of my most fun! Our biggest problem in the first week was staying up later than we should giggling and laughing. We need to work on that.
Sister Boisselle is from Vancouver Island, Alberta Canada. She is hilarious! Her story about why she decided to go on a mission almost had us rolling on the floor. She came out one transfer before I did, and I love her a lot.
Sister Lotulelei was born in Tonga, but her family has been living in Utah for the past 11 years. She is wonderful! I feel like I don’t even need to train her. In the MTC I remember that I LOVED new missionary intake days each week, because there was just a fresh excitement about everything, and a breath of fresh air. I feel the same thing in regards to new missionaries entering the field. They are so excited and have that MTC zeal. Sister Lotulelei has six older sisters who all served missions, one of which is in Brazil right now.
So I am very happy about this transfer! It’s going to be fun. We worked so hard our first week. We have so many investigators, that our new sister was surprised that there wasn’t even time to knock doors on a few days. We just had teaching appointment after teaching appointment.
On Monday, four of us sisters drove down to Albuquerque. I LOVE long car rides with these sisters. They are brilliant. Then eight of us stayed in the Sisters’ apartment in Albuquerque. Which was fun, but none of us slept until almost 1:00 am, and then had to get up early for transfers. On Saturday, Farmington had the biggest Pioneer Day picnic dinner I’ve ever seen. It was pretty fun since they don’t celebrate it at all back east.
The Funnies of the Past Few Weeks:
•On the last district meeting of each transfer, the district will take district pictures. The elders usually wear these nasty colorful polyester suits that they find at thrift stores. Our district leader asked if sisters ever do anything funny for these pictures. He said. “The Zone Leaders give you permission to wear your nose rings and belly rings. And Tell Sister Abney that she can roll up her sleeves and show off her tattoos.” So, Sister Abney and I decided to wear “tattoos” to district meeting. Mine had a cross with CTR below it. Believe it or not, I have actually seen someone with this tattoo in real life. Needless to say, we got some fun pictures.
Mom, it’s hard to think of just one investigator to fast for because I love them all, but if you want to, just fast that they all will recognize spiritual experiences and that they will be prompted to read the Book of Mormon and have the courage to make changes that will bring them closer to Heavenly Father.
I loved your stories about Girls Camp. I’m glad you enjoyed it even though it was camp. It sounds like you and the girls had a fun time staying up late and doing silly things.
Well, I love you very much and hope everything is going well.
Friday, July 24, 2009
OK. It’s transfer time again. Every single elder in our district, and even our zone I think, predicted that I would be transferred this time. One of our investigators even gave me a going away present because she sensed that I would no longer be there. But I get to prove them all wrong!
On Friday, I came home to a voicemail from President Anderson (which is usually NOT good news.) When I called him back he said he was thinking about putting a trio of sisters in our apartment, and he wanted to know if we would fit. OK, no big deal. He said he’d let us know if it would happen later.
Then on Saturday morning, I got ANOTHER phone call from President Anderson asking me if I would train the new sister that is coming into the mission. OK, I didn’t really see that one coming. Not many missionaries train in their OWN greenie area! But it should be fun, because we WILL be in a trio. I will be co-training with Sister Boisell, who I think is from Canada. Tonight I will be driving down to Albuquerque and staying with the sisters there so that we can be at the Training Meeting early tomorrow morning. It will be really fun to drive down with the sisters who are going home, including my own trainer! Getting a 3 generation picture of trainers is not too common, but I think it’s going to happen.
I am excited about being in a trio. While it will be awkward for tracting, I think it will be fun for everything else. Instead of one friend to talk to I get 2! But I have a LOT of cleaning to do today before I leave. Our apartment is kind of a mess, and I’d like to decorate it before the greenie gets here. One of the families in the 1st Ward threw me and Elder Miles a greenie party back in February for our first day in the mission, and they are already planning another one for tomorrow. They are pretty excited I’ll be at another greenie party at their house. SO that should be fun. Also, we are still covering BOTH Bloomfield and Farmington, but my old companion is going to Gallup.
People are the same wherever you go. Each of Heavenly Father’s children is equal in his eyes. SO it doesn’t really make a difference where I serve. Hopefully I can start implementing some new things I’ve been thinking about this transfer.
Plus, I will be here when one of our investigators gets baptized on August 15. If all goes according to plan, this will be my first baptism. And I am so excited. It is a part member family, and the mom told us she got her answer! The feeling in their home is very different than when we go to other investigators. They are excited to learn more, and they eliminate all distractions. I guess you can say they’re golden. SO that will be another highlight of the upcoming transfer. We had a lesson with their family on Saturday, and the grandma, who first introduced her daughter-in-law to the church, was there. It was one of the neatest lessons I’ve seen. They were talking about how their Native American teachings can fit in with the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Part of the discussion had to deal with ancestors, and how the church doesn’t take away from that spiritual connection, but adds to it. “Can you imagine 7 generations of Native Americans being sealed in the Temple?” Their mom asked. “That is what I have been doing.” She is so excited at the opportunity of being sealed to her son and daughter-in-law and their children. I am thrilled for them as well.
OK. In other news, we went to visit one of our investigators on Wednesday, and she was in the middle of a Bible Study with the Jehovah’s. THAT was a little awkward to say the least.
We also got to help with the Primary’s Activity Day. Which was interesting….I forgot how small children’s attention spans are.
I celebrated my 6-Month-Mark this week. It’s tradition to burn panty hose on the 6th month mark. But nylon doesn’t really burn, it melts, and stinks. But I got some fun videos.
We also met with a pretty neat new investigator this week. He is only 19 or 20, but studies a lot of different translations of the Bible as well as Hebrew and Greek. He wanted to understand more about LDS doctrine. He is VERY smart, and pretty nice. But I don’t think he is very receptive…yet. He basically told us we had been deceived and that we would not be saved. But as missionaries, you get that a lot.
Dad, I just wanted to let you know that I got your last letter on Thursday. It was a little mini miracle in my week, because it should have arrived earlier than it did, but I got it on the day that I needed it MOST. My companion and I had just had a little fight, over nothing incredibly serious, but spending 24 hours a day with someone is a very unnatural concept, and so there are tense days in every companionship. But anyways, THAT was the day I got it. And it said exactly what I needed to hear. I just cried and cried. I let my companion read some of it too, and she marked her scriptures with it. So Thanks.
I loved hearing about all the updates on the ward, and about all the recently returned missionaries in your letter mom, I love hearing those pieces of information! I hope Girls Camp went well and that there weren’t any injuries.
I love you all! Have a wonderful week!