Monday, March 22, 2010

"And if it so be that you should labor. . .and bring save it be one soul unto me." 3/01/2010

Hello Family!

One thing I am grateful for this week is that BOTH our high school girls I wrote about last week kept their appointments. I love teaching them, and really hope that they will feel their Savior’s love and develop an appreciation of the scriptures. Yay for this little blessing! I love teaching young people because they have their whole lives ahead of them. We also had an opportunity to render service this week, helping at the American Legion. A lot of members of the community came to help fill care packages for a troop in Iraq or Afghanistan. That was neat to see.

We’re implementing the 40-day fast that Dad sent me from the Chantilly Ward here. We’re hoping it will help get the ward thinking about missionary opportunities. Thanks for sending it, we actually used it in my last area as well, but I was transferred before its kick off. This area has a lot of potential. Our Bishop called President Anderson to request that Sister Allred and I not get transferred, so at least someone likes us!

There is a certain type of screen door in New Mexico that is metal on the outside, and prevents us from seeing who is on the other side of the door. It allows the homeowner to have a clear view of us. I hate these doors so much! But it led to a funny incident this week. We were talking to this woman, and she sounded to be semi-interested, so we asked what her name was. “David” was the response. Sister Allred and I looked at each other, and realized that since we couldn’t see what the other person looked like; this must be a little boy! We couldn’t help but laugh. Kids usually are more receptive than their parents! They often say things like “try again!” or “Dad, they want to come into our house!” I wonder if children can recognize the spirit because they haven’t been gone as long as us old folk.

Last week, after I finished writing my e-mail, we went to Wal-Mart, and this man decided to pick a fight with us! Two sister missionaries! He asked if we were Jehovah Witnesses (a common mistake) and after learning that we were Mormon, began to criticize our beliefs. I tend to get so angry when people do that! It’s one thing if we’re on the doorstep, after all, we are on their turf and we’re kind of asking for it, but to approach total strangers…at Wal-Mart? Who aren’t actively proselyting? That’s just irritating.

We finally picked up another “real” investigator after weeks and weeks of tracting! We’ve met with him for two Saturdays now, and even got to see him at Wal-Mart as well. (Wall Mart was a very eventful day for us.) He already had a copy of the Book of Mormon, and we taught him about Adam and Eve, the fall, and why we have opposition here in life. He told us that it changed his perspective, and he even wanted to set up a specific time to have us come back! He lives out on the fringes of the ward, right before it gets to a sagebrush desert…but he seems very sincere! Yay! I’m excited to follow up on his Book of Mormon reading.

Remember the former nun that I wrote about a few weeks ago? Well, Sister Allred and I tried to stop by a few weeks ago, and her daughter-in-law (the Jehovah’s Witness) opened the door, and we hesitated to ask for our nun friend, worrying that it might cause family tensions. So, we mailed a letter to their address . . . then we came up with a brilliant idea on Saturday! Why don’t we stop by the house when Kingdom Hall has its Sunday meetings?!?! Yes, that would be a good way to ensure that our nun friend is at home, while the daughter-in-law is gone. So, Sister Allred and I drove to the closest Kingdom Hall, trying to be sneaky of course, and look up the posted meeting times. Well, guess what? They have “wards” just like we do, so deciding what time they meet presented a difficulty. Maybe we’ll have to investigate further.

Well, thank you for all your support. I love all of you so much. I know how important this work is to our Heavenly Father. I’m learning that even when people reject us, we are offering them a clear choice. Hopefully, the testimony we bear will be brought to their remembrance at some point. After all, they say on average it takes seven interactions with the church before a person joins. We’re just adding to the bean pile.

I love you a ton! I hope you know and feel that. I thank Heavenly Father for you each night. I have the best family in the world!

Sister Waters

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Miracles in Rio Rancho and By the Way, Sisters Aren't Old Maids 2/22/2010

Hello from Rio Rancho!

From Monday of last week through Wednesday of this week, we had a total of four different sister missionaries staying at our apartment due to transfers. Sister Ormsby who is from Australia spent a day with us while she was waiting for her new companion who was transferring to our mission from the Chicago mission. We worked as a trio with Sister Ormsby for a day, and it was fun to see her door approaches. I think she can get away with a lot due to her accent. I was impressed with her ability to tell people like it is. While we were tracting with her, we met a family that belongs to what was once the RLDS church, now known as the Community of Christ. Their mom just became a priest, but they were eager to invite us back. Should be interesting to say the least.

Update on Tavern Guy from a few weeks ago: We stopped by to see if we could meet again, and we asked him if he read the pamphlet. Not only did he say yes, but he also gave it to one of his friends, and told him all about the “girl missionaries.” It’s so great when you can get non-members to do missionary work for you! I don’t really know if anything will result from this, but it’s a fun little update since most of my stories in this area are “beginning” stories. There aren’t too many “middle” stories yet, but I’ll try to keep you posted.

So, Relief Society yesterday was super funny. This woman was telling a story about how much her mother didn’t want to serve a mission, although the Spirit was prompting her to do so. She didn’t want to serve a mission because, at the time, Sister Missionaries just became old maids, and she really didn’t want to be an old maid. As it turned out, she went on the mission, had a good experience and married one of the Elders. Later on in the lesson, the Relief Society President made a comment about missionary work and made sure to tell Sister Allred and me not to worry, we wouldn’t be Old Maids. So yeah, kind of awkward, but Sister Allred and I have been laughing about it. We are agreed that marrying an Elder isn’t the most appealing idea, if that’s the moral of the story. Some consolation.

As I have written before, when I first came to this area, my goal was to see miracles. The other day I thought to myself, “Ok, then Sister Waters, what would a miracle look like here?” It was interesting to think about, and I’m starting to realize that maybe we’ve seen some already. As much as I wanted to see more baptisms before the end of my mission, I’m starting to think that our purpose in this area lies more with an 18-year-old recent convert and a less active sister who is only 16. Sure, we have some potential baptismal candidates, but we haven’t really had the opportunity to meet regularly with these new investigators yet, and the only “regular” investigator we have keeps making comments indicating that he’s scared of church and would rather stay with what he knows. After trying for a transfer, we finally set up an appointment to teach our less active-recent convert the new member lessons. She is awesome, and I think the Elders just scared her a little bit (heck, I think they scared the members a little bit sometimes!) But Heavenly Father is so aware of this daughter of his, and maybe that’s why he sent Sister Allred and me here…to be persistent with her. Maybe the miracle is that we get to line up with specific people who have specific needs. Heavenly Father loves her so much, and wants her to have support, since she is the only member in her family…so far anyway. I just hope our appointments with these girls don’t fall through.

We went around yesterday and tried to contact a lot of people, I feel like people are starting to warm up. Hopefully, we’ll start to get invited in more, and our days of doorstep conversations will decrease. The work has to progress! There are too many promises in the scriptures for it not to. As I continue to pray for the missionary work in this area to progress, I’m sure there may be miracles occurring of which I am not even aware.

We met a man who was leaving for Afghanistan in five days and he said he wanted to read the Book of Mormon. So we left him a copy. Its situations similar to these, that I like to imagine are the beginnings of miracles. The kinds of miracles of which I may never be aware.

In sacrament meeting yesterday, someone said, “Bearing your Testimony is Never Wasted.” I think that is so true, and good to remember especially in this area. We as members should never shy away from bearing our testimonies. There is power in testimony, and it is never a waste to bear it. The speaker was talking about how the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance, and if that is true, we may never know when the Holy Ghost can bring our testimony to someone else’s remembrance. Think of the prophet Enos in the Book of Mormon, who remembered the words of his father, and they sunk deep in his soul!

Well, I don’t have much else to say, aside from, I love you, and continue to pray for you!

Sister Waters

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Mexico is Getting Another Mission, the Farmington New Mexico Mission 2/16/2010

My Dearest Family,

This has been a whirlwind of a week. It's official, New Mexico is getting another mission, and as a result, the New Mexico Albuquerque Mission is getting split to create a Farmington Mew Mexico Mission. The boundary changes will affect the Provo Mission, a Texas Mission and two Arizona missions. Crazy. I'm having a hard time adjusting to the realization that when I go home, my mission will no longer exist as I know it. The change will take place on July 1, 2010. I'm thinking that the mission office will send out a letter and maps to all the current missionaries, but if it doesn't happen, let me know. This is too crazy.

We took the new sisters tracting yesterday as part of their orientation, and one of the Elders I came out with was there. He was asking me how many transfers I had left. I really couldn't remember. But he told me that I only have two left, because he won't count the one that just started. Wow. I'm afraid of the time I don't have left. Last week, I would wake up in the middle of the night, realizing that I'm a missionary, and it was the most surreal feeling. I got a notice from the mission office today that my release date is June 23, 2010, and to contact President Anderson if I have any questions. In the back of my mind, I keep toying around with the idea of going home the late transfer in August but 1. I don't know if that is even allowed, since every sister missionary (except for one) has gone home the early transfer as long as I've been in the mission. 2. With a new mission being formed, Church headquarters might have played the number game already with the number of new missionaries being assigned here. And 3. That could potentially have me finishing in a completely different mission than I started in, with a completely different group of missionaries and president, for only about the last 3ish weeks of my mission. That could be traumatic. Also, I would miss going home with the sisters I came out with. So, mostly, there are a lot of reasons why I wouldn't want to go home the August transfer, but at the same time, I really want more time on the mission. It has gone by so fast. Needless to say, this has been a very conflicting week.

Thank you for the Valentines Cookies. That was too sweet of you. I hope you start to thaw out soon. Everyone back here is talking about the snow on the east coast.

Our Zone Leader called us on Saturday night with transfer news. He told us that Sister Allred was going to the Cortez 2nd Ward, and that I was going back to the Paradise Hills ward. Sister Allred and I were so excited by the totally unexpected. But then he told us that it was all a joke. Yes, Sister Allred and I are both staying in High Range.

Back when I was in the MTC, they gave us a devotional about the normal emotional phases that accompany change. Here are the phases I remember the speaker explaining and how they relate to High Range.

1. Honeymoon Phase
Yes! We're going to make this dead area vibrant. We're going to see miracles. This will be an amazing area. We have a purpose here. Complete transformation and huge developing teaching pool, here we come!

2. Homesickness
I miss what I left behind, baptism dates and investigators.

3. Denial
Maybe we'll get transferred.

4. Resentment/Hostility
Mostly frustration that despite working hard and trying to be obedient there is little immediate success.

5. Successful Readjustment
This is what I am still working on. I knew from the moment we got here that we would have to rely on the Spirit, and on Heavenly Father more than in any other area. Yet, I don't understand why the work can't move faster. I guess this is a lesson in patience. When I went to Paradise Hills, I think I had the faith to see direct immediate answers to my prayers. Here, I guess I am learning that even when we have faith, even when we work hard, we don't always get what we want. There are many faithful people who don't get exactly what they want when they want it. Yet, I cannot reconcile this lesson in patience with the Lord's repeated and firm promise that the field is white, ready to harvest! If there are people who are so ready for the gospel, why aren't we finding them? Or why aren't they more anxious to progress? Is there something that I'm doing wrong? Is there a different approach that we should be taking? Is our method for finding investigators the incorrect one for the area? What can I do better? And yet, every missionary should know that it isn't us that drives the work, it's the Spirit. In some ways, it feels like a Catch-22. I guess I'm learning to have more realistic expectations for the area. We're probably not going to have a thriving pool of investigators over night. Yet at the same time, I still yearn to have investigators. I yearn to see miracles. I want the Lord to do for us, in this area, what I simply cannot do for myself. We read those inspirational stories from the Ensign about how missionaries can transform a dead area overnight. How can I see THAT kind of miracle? Maybe the mission isn't about seeing miracles. Maybe, as Sister Allred says, all I can hope to do is my best, and if nothing comes from it, then at least I can know I tried my best. I guess Sister Allred and I will keep plugging away at this area. I have felt the Spirit confirm on a few different occasions that we DO have a purpose here, and I firmly believe that people ARE prepared, or are being prepared. I don't know if I see it yet. I hope that the successful readjustment comes soon. I hope that we won't have to resort to the "imaginary investigators" we're planning to create to make companion study more entertaining. :)

Regardless, if Heavenly Father needs a missionary to work, even when it's hard, I want him to know that he can count on me. It's so easy to be a missionary when the work is thriving. You teach lessons. You have a set schedule. The real challenge is what do you do when the work isn't exactly "thriving". All I can do is try to do my personal best and let Heavenly Father make up for the HUGE difference between my best and what the area needs.

One of the golden people we baptized in Paradise Hills has already gone less active, by moving in with some anti-Mormons. I wish it wasn't so heartbreaking to hear that kind of news.

Also, we met a lady at Pep Boys who started talking about Apostles. We told her that this was our message: we have 12 Apostles today, the gospel has been restored, and we have a living prophet! She seemed to agree, amid periods of slight confrontation. But ultimately, she told us that SHE was an Apostle. Oh boy, the craziness.

Well, I love you dearly, the time has flown by today, and I wish I had more time to tell you what's going on. In good news, we were invited back to a really cool couple's house. I have great hopes for them.

I love you dearly. Thank you for your support and love. I appreciate it more than you ever know.

Sister Waters

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Work is as Slow as Molasses but We Keep Trying 2/08/2010


The work is pretty slow. We tract a lot. We tracted into a scary gangster guy who invited us back. I'm glad Sister Allred had the door approach, she testified about how we have a prophet on the earth again today, and surprisingly, he responded:

"Well that's good to know!"

He actually listened to what we had to say and caught the significance of it! Usually people are so eager to get us off the doorstep that they don't listen to what we manage to mutter out before they shut the door. But like almost all of the people who invite us back, we haven't been able to catch this man again. We'll keep trying. The work is just about as slow as molasses here, but we'll keep praying and trying.

Sister Allred and I finally found something fun to do on P-day. The Elders left us over 30 ties in the apartment along with an assortment of other junk that has been passed down from missionary to missionary. We're sewing them into skirts. Hopefully, we'll get them done before our last district meeting of the transfer. We're going to Goodwill today to see if we can find even more ties that are uglier than sin. Finally, the sisters will have something worthy of competition with the Elders' crazy suits!

Sister Allred and I decided to try to save miles this week. Of course, the day we decide to walk is the day that Rio Rancho gets a snowstorm. A cop offered to give us a ride, people were giving us weird looks, and both Sister Allred and I had mascara that ran down around our eyes. We looked ridiculous, and we couldn't help but laugh. We lasted in the snow for about two hours before we got a member to take us back to the apartment.

One of the members from my last area called saying they had an investigator that lives in our area! She is a single woman who just moved to the United States somewhat recently. When we called her to set up an appointment, she was so excited and wanted to come to church! But when we actually got her address, we found out it was in the Elder's area. At last, we have the hope of a legitimate investigator, and we have to turn it over to the Elders. Poaching in their area has never been so tempting.

I'm sorry this email, stinks. I'm trying to get it done before my remaining time runs out. Love you tons. I've been thinking about you a lot lately. I hear the snow back east is pretty bad.

You're in my prayers!

Sister Waters