Friday, October 23, 2009

My Second General Conference While Serving in the Mission Field 10/05/09

I can't believe it's been six months since last General Conference!

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

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder


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!

Sister Waters

Friday, October 9, 2009

Temple Day

Yesterday was temple day; therefore e-mails were postponed until today. My companion and I were the only sisters in our session, besides one senior couple, so it was a little different from last time where I got to see other sisters from the mission. But it was a good day nonetheless. We found some Christmas paper in our apartment, and wrapped up the tadpoles the elders left in our apartment, (they are technically frogs now) and “returned” them on temple day. It was great.

I feel like I don’t really have much to write home about this week. One of the recent converts talked to her husband, and he has agreed to take the missionary lessons! So that’s exciting.

Our baptism scheduled for Saturday is all planned and she passed her interview! So that’s another good thing. We taught her about tithing this week, which I have observed can be a make or break it commitment when teaching people new to the church. But her parents were very active in the Catholic Church, and paid a 10% tithe there. Soon after they committed to do that, they saw a lot of blessings come from it, so she was willing to accept that commandment. I loved that story. It is such a neat thing to realize that whenever people obey a commandment of God, no matter what denomination they belong to, blessings follow. Likewise, another sister was telling me a few months ago, that whenever there is faith, miracles follow, regardless of denomination. Heavenly Father is merciful to all his children, but yearns for them to have more blessings, and more light and knowledge.

I’ve shared this scripture with investigators a lot lately.

D&C 78:17
Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;

As the prophet Gordon B. Hinckley said (in paraphrasing), come with the truths you grew up with, and add unto it!

We went to enrichment this week, so we could try and get to know more ward members and a non-member came and asked us to take the lessons! She wants to join the church. So that was kind of neat.
There was also a less-active member of the ward that we had planned on visiting this week. In direction with our Mission President’s counsel to plan our weeks out 10 days in advance, we planned to visit her during the end of the week. Earlier in the week, we met with a ward member who advised us that she was someone she didn’t recommend we visit. So we changed our plans. Instead we decided to tract. We ended up tracting into this woman, even though we had no idea she lived on the same street we had planned to tract! We got to share a scripture with her, and it was visibly clear that she felt the spirit. Later, when we looked at our planners, we noticed that we had tracted into this woman at about the same time we had originally planned to! Heavenly Father worked it out so that we would see her that day; even though we “thought” we had changed the plan.
I LOVE tracting. I never thought I would say that. In fact, I remember telling President Anderson during my first interview, how hard it was for me. But, you get to testify rapidly, and sometimes, run into people who are searching. You also never know what will happen, or what lies behind the next door! Whereas, with investigators, you can come to anticipate their reactions to certain things. We had a wonderful day tracting on Saturday and found two or three people who seem interested.
I didn’t realize how tired you would get on a mission. I am constantly tired. I often think about when I will get to sleep next. I feel like my body has aged at LEAST 10 years. It’s awful. I hope people will recognize me afterwards. It’s quite tragic.

That is about all I have to say this week. Thanks for the letters. I got a TON this week! Pretty fun. Now the trick is finding time to respond.

Sister Waters

Friday, October 2, 2009

Albuquerque! Still Loving it Here, but Still Slightly Lost.

First of all! We have a baptism on September 26th! Yay! I have set several baptismal dates in the past with people, but there is no doubt in my mind that this one will go through. We taught her a lesson last night and planned out the program. She will complete the lessons in only four weeks, but she has been searching ever since she turned 18, and knows this is true. She bore her testimony last night and everything is super exciting. Yay for my first golden investigator!

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.

Sister Waters