Monday, March 30, 2009

Public Relations Campaign in Bloomfield

Brr. It snowed last night, and since we have zone conference tomorrow, we had to wash our car. One of the members here lets us use their hose every Monday. One of the Spanish Elders in our area is sick, so we offered to help them wash their truck as well. It was pretty fun. We made a mini snowman! Also, Sister Crossley had a brilliant idea for a "public relations campaign" that we could do right here in Bloomfield! We made up flyers to advertise General Conference. One of the ward missionaries let us come over and design the flyer on her computer. We gave them to the members to hand out yesterday, and we have also been using them in our tracting. After all, Thomas S. Monson was called as a prophet to speak to the world, not just our church. We are hoping to post our flyers in the Farmers' Market and the Triangle Cafe, and maybe some gas stations around town. We had to get approval from the stake president, and he was really excited about the idea, so that was good.

What else happened this week? Last week for P-Day we played a massive game of dodge ball with all the missionaries. The Elders set up tables and chair racks as barricades. It was super funny. We had to use tennis balls, basketballs, and volleyballs because we didn't have very many soft, bouncy ones. Sister Crossley video recorded it, I'll have to start doing video recordings as well.

We also had dinner with some of the Navajo families in the ward this week, and I got to try Navajo Tea! I learned about one more ceremony this week as well. I talked about the "Coming of Age" ceremony a few weeks ago. But now I know about the "Laughing Party" as well! Apparently, whenever a baby is born, the first person who can make the baby laugh has to throw the child a party. They must provide gifts for the child to give out so that it won't become selfish. I wish I could remember and had time to go into more detail. It really is a fun tradition. It reminds me a lot of Mary Poppins' laughing scene.

MOM! I almost forgot. I wrote my mission office last Monday to ask if I could order you a mission name tag in Mandarin Chinese. (My mom took her name tag to a Primary activity about missions/missionaries and couldn't find it afterwards.) My mission office said they were excited to do it for me, (I explained the situation, and was going to do it as a surprise.) But they called the MTC, who directed them to the Salt Lake City Mission Department, who said that they were not allowed to do that. But the Sister in my mission office said that if you were to call Salt Lake City yourself, you would probably have more luck. She asked if you still spoke Chinese, and I told her about how you were going back to school to learn more. She said that "we are going to need all the Chinese speakers we can get pretty soon." It made me so excited. The way she said it made me wonder whether or not she knew something I didn't know. I realize that I'm speculating a TON....and that nothing will probably happen....but President Monson asked the Church to pray for new areas to be opened to missionary work. Last Conference he talked about how he meets with leaders of other countries. How cool would it be if they announced that China was opening? I know, it's TOTALLY unlikely right now...but exciting to think about. I'm sure there will be a flood of people begging to go there when it is opened. We talked with a family who is very familiar with the Church. The mom was wearing a Chinese T-Shirt and told us that their two little girls were adopted from China. It made me think of you.

One of our investigators came to church yesterday! We were so excited! We also had a senior missionary couple talk about the, Strengthening Family Program and the, Addiction Recovery program. There is a verse in 2 Nephi that talks about never giving up on people, because you NEVER know when they will come back into the church. I'll have to look up the reference. It is good for those days when you think people will never change, and that talking to less actives and people who aren't interested is useless.

We met a lady this week who started her own church. It was kind of a tense discussion, but she showed us her "singing dog". She sang, "You are My Sunshine", and the dog would sing along. Except it sounded more like the dog was CRAZY and wanted to bite this woman's head off for trying to make it sing.

We LOVE reading the Book of Mormon with our investigators. It just calms the situation down and brings the spirit. We were in a Bible bashing situation with a family who believes that all churches that worship on Sunday are wrong and that Saturday is what the Bible tells us to do. But after we read the Book of Mormon with them, they calmed down, and said they liked it.

Okay, I know my email this week was really random. My email is WAY more disorganized than usual...but I feel a little rushed today because we're trying to make it to Farmington in time for a Luncheon. Anyway, I love you! Have a good week!

Squirrel Meat and Marriage Proposals

I think all of you know my history with squirrels. I hate them. When I was working in Washington D.C. two summers ago, two of them jumped on my back. They would also sprawl out by my park bench and wag their tails, anticipating me to feed them...which for the record, I refused to do. Well, this week one of my favorite families in the ward tried to get me to eat squirrel. I knew that they would never let me live it down if I refused to eat it, and I knew it would make a good story. So I leaped right into the experience and choked it down. My eyes started watering, and I could feel myself start to gag. I didn't want to throw up right in their kitchen, so I made myself swallow the bite before I could fully chew it. I just kept picturing this gristly meat and a furry tail going down my throat. The wife was worried about me, I looked so sick. Well, her husband had finally gotten a big enough reaction out of me that he felt it was okay to tell me the truth. It was only hamburger meat put in a small dish. My gullibility has been very entertaining to them lately. I should just learn to never believe anything anyone tells me!

I also got my first marriage proposal of the week. We were contacting former investigators...there are a TON to go through. We were trying to get out of one particular home because one of the individuals had been drinking and we needed to move on. As we walked out to the gate, the guy followed us out and asked Sister Crossley and I if we were married. I just looked at her like a deer in the headlights. "How are we going to get out of this one?" I thought. Sister Crossley smiled, and said. "Someday." He replied by saying, "Well, you know...I'm available." It was one of those situations we just had to laugh off. This experience has kind of been the theme of the week.

I wish I had more stories for you...but not much happened. We did meet one girl about our age who is super interested in the church. I'm SO excited to get to know her better. I just love her already. One of our investigators gave us a Navajo stuff, so exciting! Sister Crossley is keeping the Navajo religion booklet, and I'm keeping the Navajo Bible I think. But it is big, so I might need to mail it home.

I think this transfer period will be exciting. We picked up three new investigators on Saturday, and a lot of the people we were working with last transfer period seem to be ready to move forward soon. I feel like lots of good things are about to happen. I am excited for this area and love being here.

I love all the mail I've been getting from friends, family and ward members. I usually try to reply within two weeks. Well, that's about it. I love you all. I love this time in my life, being a missionary is wonderful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Don't Get Discouraged. Noah Preached the Gospel for Hundreds of Years - then the Lord Drowned All His Investigators."

This week started out hard because almost all of the appointments we scheduled for the week cancelled. But I think this may have actually been a blessing. We had to tract a LOT this week. But I think we saw answers to our prayers. I've been praying earnestly to have the Lord help us find those who are prepared to hear the gospel...those people who are truly searching for the truth. And because we had to spend so much time tracting, we found some AWESOME new investigators. One person we tracted into had been taking the missionary lessons in another state, and when we met him, he said that they had even been talking about getting baptised. He moved to Bloomfield two weeks ago, and we are so excited to start working with him. Then we met a guy who said his best friend is Mormon, and he and his wife would like to learn more. Then we met another lady who is elect, and prepared! Sister Crossley and I just came out of her home BEAMING! She was expressing concerns she has about her life and about her family and about God, and as she spilled her heart to us, sections of "Preach My Gospel" just flashed through my mind that would answer so many of the things she is feeling. "Preach My Gospel" is wonderful that way! Each sentence is crafted perfectly. It really was written with help from beyond the veil! We can't wait to show her that Joseph Smith was just as confused as she was, and that our life on earth is full of hard things. That's kind of the point of life, but our Heavenly Father really does have a plan for our happiness! She started praying recently, and now believes that there is a God. She shared an experience about how one of her prayers was answered. Some of her friends and family are Mormon. One of her friends told her about "that Church on Blanco Road" and how she should go to that one, and as a youth she used to spend a lot of time outside the temple. We can't wait to show her that the Church can be a family to her. So needless to say, we're excited about some of the people we're meeting. I'm SO THRILLED to be staying in Bloomfield for another transfer. I can't wait to see what happens.

I mentioned last week that we have been volunteering at a nursing home. Well, on Tuesday, I had to sing for them while Sister Crossley played the piano (she'd try to sing and play as much as she could ). They even announced it over the loud speaker! I haven't sung in public for so long! But it was fun, and most of the people just slept through it anyway.

One day this week, we ran into a Baptist preacher who sat us down and gave us a lesson. But he was super nice, and he said he had read our literature. Then a couple hours later, we saw a Seventh Day Adventist whose dream is to have us (the Mormon missionaries), and his Jehovah Witness Missionaries show up on the same day, and have a sparring match. Oh boy! Can you just imagine!? That would be way too heated.

My perspective on my mission has changed a lot in just one transfer period. I came out here because I wanted to serve more..with all my heart. I didn't really expect blessings. I just wanted to learn how to serve. But I'm learning that this opportunity, itself is a blessing. To be able to be a part of Heavenly Father's work is such a blessing. He is letting us take part in what he does, to practice, and learn to see as He does. Ever since I started, I've felt glad that I made this choice and I've been happy to be on my mission. But at the same time, I've wanted the time to go by fast. I keep looking towards the end and thinking about what lies in store for my life. I guess that's just like me though. I am always looking one step ahead. I need to learn to enjoy every moment, because even when it seems long, the time will really fly by and my mission can never come back again. What other time can I feel the strength of the whole world praying for me? I guess that's life though...always enjoy the stage of life that you're in.

While studying Preach My Gospel, I read about the power of just reading the Book of Mormon with investigators. So we decided to try this tactic of reading together with one person who hasn't been progressing for years. As we read, there was just a peacefulness and Spirit in her home that I hadn't felt there were usually going crazy, but this time was different. It reconfirmed to me how powerful the Book of Mormon is! She is also taking Bible studies with the Jehovah Witnesses. It was cool to see this lady make connections between the Bible and the Book of Mormon. She was studying in the Bible about the destruction of Jerusalem, and thought it was interesting to see Lehi and his family escaping the destruction of that city.

I often think about how much work has to happen before the Savior can return. I used to think the Second Coming would be near, but when I see how much has to happen first, it seems a long ways away. But when Heavenly Father wants something to happen, he can speed up the work tremendously. Just look how fast temples went up in 1999-2000. Also, a lady in our ward said that she and her husband calculated (years ago) the time it would take to teach the gospel to the whole earth. If each LDS family could teach just one other family the gospel every year, the whole earth could be taught in just seven years. That is an amazing statistic. My mission is also making the apostasy after each dispensation seem so real. I look at how many people reject the prophets and scriptures today, and then I imagine Noah or Moses or Christ living among us today...and the rejection seems so real. Oftentimes, we look at people who rejected the prophets in olden times as just "stories" or as being overly wicked. But I am beginning to see how easy it is for people to reject prophets who live among them. Joseph Smith brought forth the Book of Mormon and people said there could be nothing added to the bible...but Christ did the same thing. He brought forth new teachings, and the Pharisees said you can't add anything to the Law of Moses. In the MTC my companion talked about the other records which must come forth after the Book of Mormon, and how people will have to accept those books as the Word of God as well. I thought that idea was interesting. Also, I read page 199 in, "Preach My Gospel" in district meeting this week. I often don't feel "mighty in speech" and wish I could just write to people how I feel. I loved what that section had to say about Brigham Young's experience with the missionaries and how sincerity of speech is more important than eloquence. Even Moses wasn't strong of speech. But the Spirit is what magnifies what we say.

I looked back on my life this week, and really appreciated how the Lord has guided me so perfectly. I truly have been so very blessed in each stage of my life.

I love you!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Baby Puppies

Hello All,

I love being able to write you! Something fun happened this week! We were visiting a less active woman in the ward, and one of her dogs had six little puppies recently. I have never seen such young puppies before, and we got to play with them all throughout our visit!!! As missionaries, we can't hold babies, but we CAN hold baby animals! Anyway, one of her bigger dogs took a liking to us, and remembered who we were when we came back into the neighborhood to visit some referrals later in the week. He went tracting with us! He'd run up to the car and then follow us to each doorstep. We'd try to shut the gates so that he couldn't follow us...but he would JUMP over the fence like a deer!!! It was cool to have such a friendly dog follow us around for part of the day.

Oh! We extended our first baptismal commitment this week. Sister Crossley wanted me to be the one to ask the guy to be baptised on May 2, but I warned her that I would probably get nervous, and be too scared to do it. The lesson went well. I was able to teach fine for the most part. But sure enough, after teaching about baptism and why it's so important...I just looked at my companion and made her extend the baptismal commitment. I don't know why I got so scared! Anyway, it was exciting. He couldn't commit to May 2, but knows he needs to be baptized, and he thinks that that time frame would probably give him enough time to prepare. I think I could probably extend the commitment next time we do it though, because if you think about's just inviting people to come unto Christ....and it's a huge part of fulfilling my purpose as a missionary. We pray for these investigators so much, that it's important to give strong commitments.

Sister Crossley's Birthday was on Saturday. Some members from Farmington drove down and kidnapped us at 6:30 in the morning to take her out to breakfast. My companion asked if I knew anything about their plans. I told her "Sister Crossley, if I knew anything about this, you can bet your life I would have gone to bed with make-up on and my hair done." But it was fun. Later that night, we went out for Chinese food with some missionaries from our distinct since none of us had dinner appointments. One of the Elders we saw was with me in the MTC, (one of those silly ones I wrote about). It was so fun just to laugh that hard again.

I love the letters you've been sending. I often quote them in lessons...especially what Dad wrote me about President Calderwood's talk to the women of the stake who don't feel worthy to go to the temple. One of our investigators/less actives doesn't think God loves her because she's not good enough to get to the Celestial Kingdom. That letter had a lot of things that could pertain to her.

We volunteer at a nursing home here. On Friday, they called us saying that one of our sisters was dying and to please come over. We called the elders to come with us to give her a blessing. (All of the leadership from our ward was down in Albuquerque for a stake temple trip.) I've never seen anyone so near death. But we went back on Saturday and she seems to be doing a little better. Her roommate is also LDS and she told us when we first met that it's hard being there because there are only two of the residents there who can actually hold a conversation with her. "Everyone has lost their mind!" she said. It reminds me of the silly people we saw when we visited Grandpa Waters. "Hey! Do you want to see an asthma attack? It's cool if you've never seen one!"

It's weird not being able to see the news. The economy seems to be getting worse and worse. It's scary! How is everything back home? It seems like every day we meet someone who got laid off that morning. People hear about the LDS cannery, and ask us if they can go. It just goes to show how important food storage is, and how inspired the prophets really are. Their role of preparing the people for danger is so much like Noah of old.

Lots of our appointments cancelled this week, so there isn't much news there. This email is probably pretty devoid of anything super uplifting, or entertaining. I contemplated just sending a one-liner this week saying: "The work is progressing, but nothing exciting to report. I'm doing fine.." ...But you all know that I can't resist writing letters, given the opportunity. I still have about 20 minutes, but can't think of anything else that is interesting. I love you all, and think of you often. Let me know if there's anything you need to know.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Stories from this Week

OK, there are lots of tiny stories from this week, so I'll just start writing and see how many I can get to. Our ward's Relief Society President is wonderful! Her husband is a non-member, so we spend time over there occasionally. He trains race horses, and we are hoping he'll let us come over and take care of them one weekend. Since he's a non-member, years ago, missionaries would get approval from the president to go with him to the horse races. Apparently some of the missionaries put money down on the horses, and were in quite a predicament when they actually won and had to get their picture taken with the horses! It was a funny story.

We were looking at the phonebook this week. There is a section all about visitor/historical sites in our area, and we were trying to get ideas for things to do on P-day. Shiprock is an Indian reservation nearby, and it is famous for its mountain formation. This is what the phonebook had to say about the area: "There are numerous Navajo legends about 'the rock they call Tse Bit'a'i' or "winged rock." One is that it was a phantom ship that once bore the Navajo people away from the North and warring neighbors, saving them from annihilation. "WOW! Now... which story makes more sense given this legend? The "land bridge theory" that we are taught in school or the fact that Nephi and the Jaredites both used ships to get to the American continent? Pretty interesting. I just LOVE learning about Navajo traditions. Speaking of, we met with one of our Navajo investigators this week, and she told us all about the different plants, herbs and remedies that her people use to cure sickness. They really know how to live off the land. She HATES coffee and thinks the earth should be used sparingly. It's amazing how her native ways lend themselves into the Word of Wisdom pretty well. Thank goodness she doesn't use Payote, or alcohol.

Here are 2 Navajo words for you today. I have to spell them phonetically though.

Gomony means "Mormon"and
Yatehey is "hello".

We have dinner with a particular family in the ward at least once a week. The dad likes to pick on me since I was so quiet at first, but now I know that I will be the one giving opening AND closing prayer AND the member missionary lesson. It's tradition now I guess, and it's kind of funny. He loves to make salsa with HOT chiles. So at dinner this week he made the hottest salsa he could, and tried to feed it to us. Neither my companion or the Spanish elders who were also at dinner would dare try it. But since I'm still trying to prove myself to the family, that I'm not as quiet as I was at first, I willingly dove right into the salsa and took a HUGE portion. It was really hot, but I played it off like it didn't even bother me. I guess it was super amusing when I started coughing and sweating a few minutes later. But I still maintain, that it WAS really good. I actually would eat it again.

We had mission president interviews this week. I didn't really know what to expect, but it went well! I just love President Anderson and his wife. His advice on tracting has really helped. Always try to leave something at each door with the missionaries telephone number so that even after we leave the homes that seem kind of "anti", the Holy Ghost can convince people to call us back. I love seeing how my public relations training can help me even in tracting. As my professors would say, always make your message appeal to people's rational self interest. It also helps to remember who I represent, and realize that I am the spokes mouth through which our brothers and sisters can hear the message.

Tracting is getting less intimidating! We also met with lots of elderly people this week. One of them reminded me a lot of Grandma Waters, because she LOVES to make homemade candy. She had such a positive outlook on life. There are at least two returned senior missionary couples in our ward who are so fun to eat with, because they can relate to our schedule so well. There are also several women in the ward who are returned missionaries themselves. Now that I'm on my mission, I can see how well missionary service prepares you to not only be a good leader in the church, but also to be an excellent mother. Looking back on my childhood, I can see things that Mom had us do as kids as far as fellowshipping, that I think may be a direct result from her mission experience. I am so grateful for that upbringing and example.

Jeffery R. Holland gave an AMAZING talk on the Atonement at the MTC back in 2000. Most missionaries are probably familiar with it, "Teach the Atonement." Well, we were impressed to use that talk as the inspiration for one of our lessons this week. Originally, we had planned to go over the 1st lesson again, but I'm so glad we followed the impression to teach about the Atonement and it's enabling power to get through life. Like Dad used to say, "We don't know everything about the atonement and how it works...we just know that it DOES!" and it's powerful. The man we taught is trying to quit smoking by March 17, and at the end of the lesson he said that it was especially what they needed that day. I was glad that I was able to look them in the eye and say. "This wasn't our message for you was your Heavenly Father's." When an apostle of the Lord commands you to teach the atonement, it is powerful. As D&C directs, whether a message comes from the Lord Himself or by one of his servants, it mattereth not.

We are starting to get paperwork for our booth at Bloomfield Days. The lady at the chamber of commerce even invited us to be in the Bloomfield Days Parade. Missionaries? in the Parade? Only in New Mexico. We'll see what happens with that one.

Oh! We were going to teach a German lady. I got SOOO excited. We even had a German version of the Liahona to give her, and I loved trying to remember all the German I learned in High School. But unfortunately, we found out that she isn't in our area.

We have run into lots of Jehovah Witnesses lately. Some of our investigators study with both sets of missionaries...which can be 'interesting' as you can imagine. But we tracted into one Jehovah Witness family the other day, and the daughter let us come out into her barn and showed us her ponies and the tricks they do. So cool! I love America, because of the freedom of religion, how we can share experiences and the truths that we share with other faiths.

Well, those are the highlights from this week. Missionary work is becoming more and more comfortable. It's getting warm here, and I love it! I hope all is well back at home.

XOXO Sister Waters

Missionary Life

Hello. This week wasn't too exciting, but I"ll see if I can portray the highlights as if they were. One thing I am appreciating is that even though some days seem unbearably long, there is always at least one person that I meet that makes the day feel successful.

We taught a family this week that is moving out of our area, which is sad, because we think they are close to being baptised. The mother's father was on the Navajo Placement Program, so she is familiar with the church. We taught her the first lesson, and it was thrilling to watch her eyes light up when we talked about modern day prophets. She was thrilled and wanted to know all about Thomas S. Monson. I wish we would have had time to show her the Special Witnesses of Christ DVD. At the end of the lesson, she said that what we taught felt familiar to the last time she met with the missionaries, and she was starting to remember the things they had taught her before. Hopefully, she will realize that this is the Holy Ghost.

We also met a less active family this week right as they were feeding their cows. They have horses and goats and cows and even a peacock. Sister Crossley and I were so excited. Hopefully, we'll get to go back and work on their farm. When we reported our experience in Ward Council, everyone just laughed at our enthusiasm for feeding cows. We really are city folk, I guess.

My District Leader found out that he is three days older than me, and that we both graduated in '06. I think that wigged him out. He goes home next transfer, and he told me that he is just so used to having the sister missionaries be so much older than him.

We also visited a lady in the ward who has four cats. I don't know what it is about New Mexico, but everyone has tons of animals! She is an older woman who is just barely getting back into activity. She's very lonely. The first time I went to her house, there was cat hair everywhere!!! My allergies went crazy. When we went back, I prayed that my allergies would not bother me long enough to visit with her. It was a mini miracle. My nose didn't run and my eyes didn't itch very badly at all! I practically didn't notice. I think its hilarious that missionaries know the inactive people in wards, but don't know who the active members are very well.

Life before the mission seems so incredibly far away. I keep thinking back to what I was doing this time last year, and it is weird. Sometimes I wish I knew what everyone was up to...what my friends are doing, how civilian life is, or even what is happening in the news, but I can also see the benefits of leaving behind the "fishing net" to follow Him. When I have questions or worries, and can't talk to the people I feel most comfortable with, I learn to rely on my Heavenly Father more.

It is humbling to see people in such poor circumstances feeding the missionaries dinner every night. I guess the mission is about learning to serve, and learning how to allow others to serve you. Even the Savior accepted service, and let the woman wash his feet. But honestly, I don't like accepting so much help. Our dryer broke recently, and one of the members gave up a Saturday to fix it. So many people are willing to help! I have to remember what a privilege it is to be a missionary. We memorize the quote "no unhallowed can stop this work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calamity may defame, but the work of God will go forth boldly, nobly and independent, until it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, sounded in every ear. Till the work of God shall be accomplished and the great Jehovah shall say, 'the work is done'."--(I probably messed that up, but it's close enough) and it's true. Heavenly Father could send angels to do this work. He could teach others himself. But he allows us to be involved in the teaching of his children. He allows, us, imperfect missionaries, to learn how to serve others, to learn how to teach as the Master taught, and to be involved a little bit, in God's plan for his watch them work toward eternal life. I think that is everything worth noting. Undoubtedly, I forgot to mention something. But that's how life goes.

Question: My companion's birthday is coming up. I have no idea what I could even do...we're together 24/7 so surprising her with a cake, or ice cream is impossible. Maybe I just have to do it anyway. I wonder how people normally celebrate birthdays on their mission.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

17 More Months to Go

I didn't get a chance to email yesterday, long story, including car troubles, President's Day, and waiting. But here I am today! Yesterday was Preparation Day. A family in the stake took us to the world's largest taxidermy museum. Needless to say, hunting is super popular out here.

Due to car problems, we spent the night in Farmington, with the sisters up there. Zone conference was today, and it was actually really convenient. Our car was fixed right as the closing prayer was said. Since we were in Farmington with the sisters up there last night, we went to their teaching appointments with them. It was fabulous. We taught the Esklin family about prophets - it was neat to have my testimony reconfirmed. After the lesson, we got to speak with this wonderful Navajo family about upcoming events/ceremonies. I learned about cradle boards. It apparently replicates the womb, and sometimes Navajo parents will carry the baby strapped in the board on their backs. Their two daughters are recently participating in a ceremony which marks the transition from girlhood to womanhood. Their great grandmother is a Navajo medicine woman. The ceremony takes place over 6 days, during which they must run three times a day. They sleep in the medicine woman's hogan one of the nights, and she will sing with them for about 9 hours. The girls must not go to sleep, because it will mess up the medicine woman's song. She blesses every part of their body, from their head to their toes. She will sing about the mountains and the future. They even wear traditional ceremonial clothing. On one of the days, they bake a cornmeal cake with a special bowl that must ALWAYS face East, because that direction is Holy. Any other direction would bring bad spirits, I think. The medicine woman will take cornmeal from each of the four corners of the bowl. When the ceremony is over, the girl carries a bowl full of goodies throughout the crowds. Brother Esklin, their father, who is a recent convert, showed us pictures from this family tradition. It was FASCINATING to see how incredibly similar parts of this ceremony are to some things in the LDS religion. As a human family, it proves there is strength and comfort in these very specific things. Every culture has truth. It makes me wonder how much Christ taught the Ancient Americans when he visited this continent, and what traditions and teachings may have been passed on. On the car ride home, one of the sisters mentioned that she had heard of LDS members feeling incredibly uncomfortable during a Zuni wedding because it was SOOO similar to the LDS temple ceremony. What a beautiful culture.

I love my companion. She always stresses that we are not here to take away what people believe, but to add unto it. Mormon culture is not what we want to impose, but faith in Jesus Christ. I've noticed her approach to this especially when we are teaching Born Again Baptists, but it really goes for Indian traditions as well. Sister Crossley is incredible at turning a negative anti-Mormon atmosphere into showing a common faith in Christ. What a talent.

On Valentine's Day, Sister Crossley and I both received letters from our fathers. It was so neat to talk about our families. We shared part of our letters and had one of the most powerful companionship studies! Dad, thank you for talking about recognizing the Lord's hands in our lives. I have felt so needy for blessings lately, that I have made it a goal to be more observant of the Lord's tender mercies. I have a strong testimony of faith...and as I talked to my companion about EXPECTING blessings (especially when they are already the Lord's will) we had an increased desire to plead with the Lord for the work to progress, for our investigators to feel the same urgency we feel, and to see baptisms. We know that this is the Lord's will, so we just need to EXPECT the blessings now. Many times blessings are predicated on asking for them and using faith. I am reminded of Alma the Elder who prayed for his son to turn around. We can pray on behalf of others...and miracles can happen. Sometimes, I am hesitant to pray for others, because I fear that personal agency will negate what I ask for...but really the Lord can intervene according to the faith of others.

Anyway, Sister Crossley's dad gave her a long scripture challenge ranging from Moses/Abraham, to D&C 84, and others. So as sisters, my companion and I have started studying what her dad suggested for us. It has been fascinating so far.

Thank you so much for the Valentine's cookies and cards. They mean so much to me. I wish I had more time to write you. I finally got all my thank you notes written though....except for the one family who gave me a CD their kids drew me pictures...and never wrote their name on the card. So if you're reading this.. THANK YOU! Since we didn't have a car on Valentine's Day, we made sugar cookies and delivered them to our investigators/less many of them as we could reasonably walk to anyway. Sometimes people just need to know they are loved before they will listen, I think.

Also, our ward mission leader is AWESOME! He reminds everyone of a cowboy out of some western movie. He gave us valentine's and is so helpful with a million things. I don't have time to explain more, but maybe sometime I can tell you about him. His conversion story is miraculous!

Well, the library is going to close soon, so I better run. But I love you SO MUCH. Sorry I can't write more. Have a wonderful week!