Friday, January 22, 2010

Greetings from Rio Rancho 01/11/2010

Hello family,

We survived our first week in Rio Rancho. It was very easy to get lost because there is a lot of road construction, and the area is so new that some of the roads that appear on our map aren't exactly where they appear they should be. Our area is pretty big and very new. Rio Rancho is getting its own Stake Center soon, they are putting up all the artwork right now. It should open in March.

Thank you for the birthday cake and presents. I loved it! It was very kind of you. I cried and cried at getting your card. Thanks. I miss you all a ton. Thanks to Grandma too! I can't believe that in in a few days, I will have been on my mission a whole year. It has gone by pretty fast.

Well, this area is very hard; it's definitely my hardest yet. But the ward is wonderful, and our Bishop and Ward Mission leader are very passionate about missionary work. The Bishop in particular feels very strongly that we sisters are here for a reason, and I have felt the Spirit confirm that on a few occasions, but I am having a very hard time seeing that perspective. We really have no investigators to speak of. I’ve never been in an area before where we didn't really have a lot of people to teach. It makes it harder to feel at home here when we don't have those relationships with investigators. So we tract a lot, and visit less actives. We've got a few leads of people who might be "golden" but they are difficult to get scheduled or even meet. We've got our first real bright appointment on Wednesday with a recent convert's mother. So we're excited for that.

The area has a lot of potential, but it is easy to get frustrated when there is no immediate progress. I miss Paradise Hills a lot, especially since we had a few baptisms coming up that it looks like I'll have to miss out on :( That's the saddest thing for me.

In good news, we invited a part member family to come to church on Sunday and they actually came!

We were walking for a few hours so that we could try to save miles, and we met a woman. We talked with her for a moment and she said something to the effect of, "We go to a church, but surprisingly enough, I've always wanted to learn more about what you believe. I see you guys walking around a lot and I've wondered about it." We're excited to meet with her again!

My new companion, Sister Allred, is wonderful. She is very sweet. Sister Allred grew up just outside Boise Idaho. She is very happy all the time, and very upbeat even when I get discouraged at the lack of progress. She previously served on the Navajo reservations in Gallup, so being in normal neighborhood subdivisions is quite the culture shock for her. I remember feeling that way when I left Bloomfield. For being out only a few months, she is excellent at jumping right into lessons and teaching opportunities. I'm glad to have her as a companion.

Our apartment is HUGE. But it was a disaster when we moved in. It was very filthy, with a smelly fridge, a greasy stove, and socks under the beds, lost underwear, and dust everywhere. But after cleaning for about a day, it's a really fun place to live.

I decided to study out of the Doctrine and Covenants this morning. More than any other book of scripture, this book has a way of comforting missionaries when it all gets discouraging. Doctrine & Covenants 6:10-11 talks about how we each have special gifts and abilities that we can each use in missionary work. I'm relying on what I know...and that is exactly what Heavenly Father has promised: "there ARE people who are prepared to receive the gospel." But I need to rely on the Lord to figure out where in the world these people are. It is a complete mystery to me! I also love D&C 35:3. No matter how wonderful (or awful) our experiences on the mission can be, the Lord is preparing us for a greater work. It's great preparation, and that scares me a little bit to be honest. Speaking of the word "awful", one of our departing senior missionaries bore her testimony at our last Zone Conference and I love what she said. "How can you say goodbye to the most awful thing you've ever done, and the most wonderful thing you've ever done?" I LOVE that honesty. It's true it is awful and wonderful at the same time. She went on to talk about how when she felt like she couldn't walk another step, the spirit just lifted her up and carried her. I've felt that as well.

Thanks for all your love and support. I love you tons and tons.
Sister Waters

Transfer News & Happy New Year! 01/04/2010

This week was very long. I found out that I am being transferred to the Rio Rancho Stake, High Range Ward. It is just a few miles away from where I am serving now. But it will be another double transfer. I was thinking about this recently, every area I have served in has been a double transfer. We’re opening the area to Sisters, just like we did here in Paradise. Which is always fun; people are generally pretty excited to get Sister Missionaries. My new companion will be Sister Allred. She has only been out for three months, but from her transfer board picture, she seems really cute, and I think we will really get along well. I’m excited. This next transfer presents a fun challenge: regain the trust of the ward and help them get excited about missionary work. Elder Johnson, who is in my district right now, served in the High Range ward three months ago and has been sharing information with me about the area.

So… I’ve already got big plans for the first Sunday there. I think it was Sister Crossley that told me about something they did when she was double transferred into an area. She and her companion made cute little notes and put them in all the hymnbooks to bookmark the opening hymn their first Sunday there. The notes said something to the effect of, “We’re the new Sister Missionaries. We’re excited to be in the ward and to get to know all of you! Let us know what we can do to help.”

I’m a little nervous about this transfer, but faith is for the future. Faith is knowing that Heavenly Father is capable of giving you something better than you’ve already had. My goal in coming to Paradise Hills was to find those of our Heavenly Father’s children who were prepared, and to see at least one baptism. Just ONE, I remember pleading! (Ultimately, He allowed me to see three! More than I thought he would bless me!) My goal for my new area comes from an article I read recently. I want to see miracles in this area. We can expect miracles as we do our part, and I really do want to see more miracles on my mission.

I am slightly heartbroken to leave the Paradise Ward. As I have said so many times before, coming to this area was a direct answer to fasting and prayer. It will always be a magical area for me. It felt so much like home, and for the first time on my mission, I was able to witness baptisms. The people really were prepared to receive the gospel, just like I prayed for. But the same thing can happen again.

It’s a hard time to leave. We have a baptism scheduled for January 16th. Craig has been taking the lessons for years. He even has a calling with the scouts, and apparently, some of the ward didn’t even know he wasn’t a member yet. But he’s getting baptized! I love their family so much. He has been plowing through the Book of Mormon, and it is so amazing to see him feast on that book. It truly enables people and gives them power and greater light! I’ve seen it over and over again on my mission. Prayers ARE answered. I’m hoping that President Anderson will give me permission to come back on the 16th, since he’s getting baptized only a few miles away.

The other thing I will be sad to miss is Sake Conference. Deb, who was baptized in November, will be speaking at Stake Conference along with Sister Parks, her friend that started everything. This is amazing. I wish so badly that I could come hear Deb speak, but this would be impossible, since that also happens to be the first Sunday we’re going to be in the new ward.

Still, faith is for the future. I have plans to make our first Sunday there memorable, so we can hopefully see miracles.

We taught another wonderful family last Monday. A few weeks ago, I felt impressed to teach them about baptism, but they cancelled that night. When we went back the next week, I ignored the prompting, partly because we had pushed baptism a lot in the past few months, and partly because we had another idea. You can imagine my surprise when at the end of the lesson, the wife announced that she had been thinking about baptism and decided that she wanted to do it. She wanted us to go over again the steps and commitments required. Wow! Needless to say, we’re going over that tonight. Heavenly Father is very involved in the lessons He wants us to teach. I’m very aware of that.

I’m doing well. Thanks for all the letters. Well, I love everyone. I can’t believe its 2010! A whole year has gone by! Crazy! Hope you have a wonderful New Year!

Sister Waters

Our Mission Exceeds Their Baptism Goal for 2009! 12/28/2009

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. The beginning of this week went really well. We got to teach a lot of people and we even found a woman who admitted that she was searching for truth. Yay! I love finding people to teach! We haven’t found many new people that actually want the lessons lately, so I hope this woman lets us teach her legitimately.

One of our investigators said that it may not look like she’s progressing, but that she really is starting to get answers, and that the Mormons are the greatest friends she’s ever had. She’s a single mom, and told her employer that she needs to have Sundays off. What a leap of faith! One of the sisters from the ward was with us at our teaching appointment when our investigator relayed this information to us. This sister has gotten the ward to rally around her so that she can start her own daycare. Presently, she’s got about three children, with more coming after the New Year. I think this is the Lord’s way of providing a way for her to come to church . . .sooner than later! This ward is so wonderful!

Some of our investigators were too busy with the holiday season to meet with us. I’m hoping things will progress more after the New Year. Almost every single one of our investigators did something for us for Christmas. I was so amazed at their love. I wasn’t expecting anything at all. It was surprising that they would think of us, but at the same time, I hope they realize that what they really love is the gospel and the spirit it brings into their homes.

Our mission almost doubled the number of baptisms we had this year compared to last year. I feel that the work is really speeding up. We met the mission’s goal for the number of baptisms we wanted to have for the Whole year in August. They had to raise the goal at least once or twice before the end of the year. So far, we’ve had over 500 people enter the covenant of baptism. It’s an exciting time to be in this mission! That is more people baptized than the mission’s ever had since the boundaries were established.

Have a Great Week!

Sister Waters

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Merry Christmas From Albuquerque 12/21/09

Hello Family!

This week has been great! Thanks for all the packages. I got three of them yesterday. That is very generous of you. We are CRAZY busy today, and so I feel a little scatter brained…hopefully I’ll write everything I need to.

I had my first tamale of the Christmas season on Saturday. Our investigator made some, and invited us to try them. Yay! We were going to try to make them with her, but she got them all finished before we had a chance. But I’m so glad we got to try them. I was getting worried we wouldn’t get any authentic ones!

We got a call from one of our investigators on Thursday, asking what the process was for baptism! We hadn’t gotten a chance to really sit down and go through the lessons with her yet, but she has been meeting with missionaries for years. On Saturday, we went out to dinner with them, and she said she still had reservations about the church, but we invited her to listen to the missionary lessons. (It amazes me that some of the investigators in our teaching pool, which we inherited when we got to Albuquerque, had no idea that missionaries actually teach lessons. We’re hoping to help them realize that baptism is the goal). The thing I love about the Missionary Discussions is that just like Reading Rainbow, “You don’t have to take my word for it”. Anyone who asks Heavenly Father can gain a knowledge for themselves. It’s not really us that’s pushing…we just present the information and invite them to make commitments.

We also had Christmas Zone Conference this week. I love Zone Conference; it is always a spiritual re-boost. It was good to see half the mission. President and Sister Anderson participated in the missionary talent show, and performed their missionary version of, “I’m Gettin' Nothin' for Christmas.” All about how disobedient missionaries have been nothin' but bad, and how they keep gettin' snitched on. It was great! Don’t worry…I made sure to video tape it.

Another one of our investigators decided to try to quit smoking this week! We had no idea, but when we went over on Thursday, he said that he’d been cigarette free for two days. We’re excited for him to get baptized in January!

We’re teaching a 12 year old that does not respond to questions. We try to get him involved in the lessons, but he doesn’t answer or respond to anything we say. He doesn’t even just shrug his shoulders and say “I don’t know,” like most shy people would do. It’s a challenge. But at least we get to teach more now!

The Schoen family has been looking out for missionaries for years, so as part of an inside joke, we’re making a Popsicle stick puppet theatre for them today. We’re getting photos of all the missionaries that served in this area for the past 2 years or so, and gluing them to Popsicle sticks for their Christmas present. It should be pretty funny, I’m hoping.

Speaking of Christmas, we don’t really know what our rules are. So far, we’ve got families offering to feed us all three meals…but we don’t really know if we’re going to be tracting, or if there is a curfew, or if they want us to run the day like we ran Thanksgiving Day…which was mostly just visiting with members. But we do have guidelines on our phone calls.

Oh boy, I feel like there are a million things to do today, and no time to get it all done!

Like my trainer and I did at Easter, we’ve been trying to read the Christmas story in Talmage’s Jesus the Christ. I love this:

“Unto Moses, with whom the Lord spake “face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend,” the course of the human race, both as then past and future, was made known; and the coming of the Redeemer was recognized by him as the event of greatest import in all the happenings to which the earth and its inhabitants would be witness.”

I love that! This is why we celebrate Christmas! His coming into the world was the most important thing, for without him, none of us could ever have hope of life again.

I’m doing well, and learning a lot this Christmas. I love you and hope all is well.

Merry Christmas,
Sister Waters