Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hello 11/09/90


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

Courtney's Coyote Adventure 11/02/2009

Hi All,

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!

Sister Waters

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Greatest Treat is the Gospel. Don't Trick Yourself Into Believing It's Only For You! 10/26/09


Happy Halloween! It should be interesting to have people knocking on OUR doors for once. Yay for reverse tracting! One of the members suggested we dress up like a triple combination. Maybe we’ll see if we can pull it off.

We had our second flat tire yesterday, so we’ve spent the morning trying to get that fixed. But now we’re done, and get to enjoy Preparation Day!

I guess the biggest news from this week is that I am now in a trio. Sister Brown flew in from the MTC late Wednesday night, and President and Sister Anderson drove her to our apartment around 11:00. Sister Brown was Sister Lamb’s MTC companion, but injured herself playing Volleyball in the MTC and had to have knee surgery in Provo. So this puts me in the unique situation of training again. I have two trainees at the same time! I finally know what all the “older” sisters I looked up to meant when they would stress about training. I pretty much cried when I found out. I still feel like I’m the one that needs to be trained for heaven’s sake!

Sister Brown is from Twin Falls, Idaho. She worked as a veterinarian technician before coming on her mission, and I love her! She’s very sweet.

We had Zone Conference this week all about using the Book of Mormon. Some of it was inspired by Elder Holland’s talk in General Conference. President Anderson gave us some good door approach ideas, for example:
“Have you heard of the Book of Mormon?...Yes? Well do you know who Mormon actually was?”Or. “The Book of Mormon came forth to prove that the Bible is true.”

I love that last one in particular. So many people deny the Bible, and I think that is of concern to many of our Christian friends. We met a man this week who thinks that Christ wasn’t even a real person. That comment surprised me! Most people will concede that Christ was at least a good teacher. But this man refused to believe in the Savior because there is no archaeological evidence that he existed. He says there is proof for John the Baptist, but no evidence of Christ ever living. I had to point out to him that naturally, there wouldn’t be any evidence for Jesus Christ. He was resurrected, and so of course there would be no physical remains to study. It’s amazing how many different positions people have on religion.

Sister Palmer spoke in Church yesterday (and we did too actually!) She was baptized about a year ago and will be going through the temple in about three weeks! It’s so exciting! I’ve written about her in my first e-mail from Albuquerque, but didn’t mention a name. We’ve begun teaching her husband and he came to Church yesterday! Sister Palmer didn’t tell him that she was speaking until they were almost there. She kept asking him throughout the week if he was coming to church, and finally on Sunday morning he said, “Well yes I’m going to church because I promised the girls I’d go.” We were so glad he kept his commitment!

One thing that I have known for a while, but really hit me yesterday was how much work went into preparing this area for us. Not only was Heavenly Father preparing the area, but there were some really good missionaries who were persistent in their efforts, but never got to see the fruits of their labors. Sister Palmer kept mentioning one Elder in particular during her talk that really was “her missionary.” People talk about him all the time, and I actually knew him from Farmington, but he was transferred before she even got baptized! Having been on the other side of this situation when I was in Bloomfield, it makes me wish I could write some of these Elders and let them know how much good has happened because of their diligence. I know first hand how hard it is to pour out your everything into an investigator and then never see any immediate success. It can be heart wrenching! But because of their efforts, I get to reap the benefits! I only hope the people I left behind will progress the same way.

Kim got baptized on Saturday. It went well and there was a good turnout.

I don’t have much to say, really. I feel so blessed to be in this area and to have such hard working companions. They seem to put up with my worrying pretty well. I think my worrying is getting worse than ever. But I am amazed at how comfortable I feel in the ward, I leaned over to Sister Lamb yesterday as we were sitting on the stand. In some ways, it feels like these were families I grew up with in the church. I haven’t really felt that way about a ward before. I absolutely love Albuquerque.

Thank you for your letters!

Love you tons!
Sister Waters

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

She's Getting to That Dying Point. 10/20/09

We got permission from President Anderson to have our Preparation Day on Tuesday this week because there was a family in the ward who wanted to take us up to the top of the Sandia Mountains, and this was the only day they could all go. So that explains why this is so late. I’ll forgo a lengthy intro and just hop into the highlights of the week.

Remember how we got invited to Bible Study? Well we went. People were very kind and friendly towards us but both Sister Lamb and I came away feeling unfed. I haven’t been to another church in a long time, and the thing that struck me this time was how casual they are in their prayers. But for the most part, we agreed with everything they taught. But there is so much more!
One of the members gave us this simile this week: Mormonism is to Christianity what Christianity was to Judaism. I like that, (not saying that anything can trump Christ’s mortal ministry of course) but the principle is that there is so much more that has been revealed! And for the most part, not many people want to listen.
I have seen some pretty interesting Area Books in my time. Sister Lamb and I laugh about this entry in regards to one family the Elders were teaching. There was a son living with his mother, and they described the mother by the following sentence:

“She’s getting to that dying point.”
We just laughed and laughed.

So I told you about the woman who first got interested in the LDS Church after attending the Donny Osmond fireside chats back in the 70s. Well she’s going to get baptized in a few weeks! We’re all so excited. Sister Lamb and I are already working on her baptism gift. Picture this: A photo of teen idol Donny Osmond. With a card saying: “it started with this (insert Donny) and ended with THIS” (We’re still debating as to what the ending item should be. We’ve got a couple ideas up our sleeves so stay tuned!

All humor aside, we are so blessed to be in this area. We are having our second baptism this Saturday, October 24th, followed by the one mentioned above which will be on November 7th. Heavenly Father certainly heard my prayers when I asked that my next area be filled with people who are prepared to hear the gospel. After a 7.5 month dry spell, it is so exciting to have 3 baptisms in a little over 2 months.

This week was also exciting because we finally got lessons with two different people that we have been trying to meet with since September! We were tempted to just give up trying, because one of them NEVER seemed to be home. But we had two of the best lessons! One woman in particular, has a lot of questions about her Mother, who passed away about a year ago. So we taught the Plan of Salvation, and the Spirit was so thick in the room. I really feel like she may have family on the other side of the veil who are anxious for their temple work to be done. She listened so intently to the lesson, her eyes soaking up our every word, and interrupting with so many heartfelt questions. One of my friends told me before I left on my mission that his favorite thing about being a missionary was watching light come into people’s eyes as they understood the gospel. That has stuck with me. And this was definitely one of those kinds of lessons. She still has a lot of concerns, but her eyes were so eager to know more.

We had lunch with the Relief Society sisters at the Super Saturday activity this week so that we could get to know more members. As we walked in, the Bishop was glad to see us because a few minutes earlier, a man had just walked into the church building. He told us that the Lord guided him to that building today, he had seen it for a while and finally wanted to know what was inside. Wow! We taught him a little bit, and gave his address to the Elders in the next ward over.

This week has been wonderful. I love being a missionary. Thank you for all the letters and support. I think I have a list of 11 people that I am supposed to write...but that clearly won't all get done today. Sorry I’m really behind on responding to letters, but that’s how it goes some weeks.
Love you all!

Sister Waters

Transfer News - 10/12/09

Hello Family! We didn’t think that the Library would be open today, since it is a holiday. Our district decided to have a fun Preparation Day Activity for our last day together, so we went to the Albuquerque Zoo first thing this morning. But I am so exhausted now! The Elders pretty much play football on every P-day, so this was our first time doing something with the other missionaries in our area. It was fun to get to know them more.

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.

Love you!

Sister Waters