Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gifts of Christmas 12/14/09

We had interviews with the President this week. He told us about how we do things with different motives sometimes. Sometimes we obey out of duty, or fear. But the greatest motivating factor is love. I have thought a lot about that lately. The Christmas season has been very different than I anticipated. I had heard so many stories about how sacred and special Christmases on the mission are supposed to be, and I yearned for an outpouring of our Heavenly Father’s Spirit this time of year. I was confused as to why I didn’t feel any different than at any other time on my mission. After a lot of thought, I came to several conclusions.
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.

Sister Waters

Christmas in Albuquerque 12/07/09

Well, it’s Preparation day again. It’s been a good week. I got another letter from that investigator in Bloomfield that was getting baptized! He sent me his baptism program! I was on cloud nine basically the whole day. This was one of my all time favorite investigators (but that’s not really fair, since I say that about a lot of them ;) Anyway, Francis got baptized! He’s awesome, and his story is definitely one that shows a night and day difference in how the message of the Book of Mormon can change someone’s life dramatically. He’s going to be a powerhouse in the church. If I’m this excited for him, it’s hard to imagine how much more pleased our Father in Heaven is. It’s easy to get discouraged on the mission when you don’t see day to day efforts make fast changes. But that’s not what the gospel is about anyway…it’s not a quick fix. It’s more lasting than that. But it’s amazing to get news like this from Francis where you can see that continued effort really does make a difference eventually. The spirit and the atonement really allow each of us to change. If we ask for a change of heart and greater ability, we almost always get it.

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!

Sister Waters

Thursday, December 17, 2009

P-Day, a Whole New Meaning 11/30/09

Hello Family!

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

Loving Albuquerque 11/23/09


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!

Sister Waters

Missionary Heaven 11/16/2009


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!
Sister Waters