Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Testimony 5/10/2010

Mom and Dad,

I am terrified to train again. But I received the impression that this new sister would be a great blessing to me. I still think new missionaries are the best missionaries. They are so ready to get to work!

I miss you so much. It was so good to talk to you on Mother’s Day, I felt so much peace and I felt the reassurance that this is right. But still, I can't wait to be home again.

I know Heavenly Father has answered my prayers and I know He loves me. I know I have felt the Spirit as I have read the Book of Mormon. I remember the feeling I had of being on consecrated ground when we were at the Sacred Grove two years ago. (GOSH! It’s been almost two years!) I have felt the Spirit touch me throughout my mission, especially as I have taught the lessons and the doctrines contained in them. I know we have the light of Christ to help us discern between good and evil. We CAN tell the difference between good and evil. I have felt the Spirit give me ability beyond my own to continue doing this work. I have a testimony that my life has been blessed because of the priesthood. But not having answers to objections people raise against the church is just irritating. And it weighs me down.

Our nun friend has a baptismal date! I am so impressed with her. She has questions about the history and archeology of the Book of Mormon, that no one can definitively answer, but she can still sense that the Book of Mormon is a holy book, and has a desire to be baptized. It reminds me of Alma 32:16 where Alma talks about those who are "baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know before they will believe."

Well, I think that's all I have to say for this week.
I appreciate you and love you so much!

Sister Waters

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The House of the Lord 5/04/2010

Yesterday was temple day. I am so grateful for the temple, and while there I felt so much peace, I felt at home in my Heavenly Father’s house. We were able to have a chapel session with our mission president, the temple presidency, and their wives. I think that was one of my favorite parts. The temple matron talked about how we can use the prayer rolls, even for ourselves. That thought had not occurred to me before, and I definitely feel as if I need extra help at this time. The temple is a place where we can feel peace. I know that. This past week has been anything but peaceful.

I’ve met a lot of people on my mission who like to argue, who have gotten into anti-Mormon-literature, who try to convince us that we are wrong, deceived, or that we are a cult. It is always difficult to be in these situations. This past week, we were invited into two homes that were very hostile towards us. One was a self-proclaimed biblical scholar. The other person basically told us that he didn’t think we would make it to heaven. Sister Kavatoe doesn’t understand English when people begin to talk fast, so I usually end up defending what we believe. I haven’t really been able to shrug off that “sick to my stomach feeling.” I get so frustrated because I can’t answer all the questions. But I know that I have felt the Holy Ghost give me peace, and witnesses of things that are true and sacred and dear. I remember in one of your first letters dad, how it is so important to remember those experiences with the Holy Ghost because they sustain us. I have been praying very hard lately to feel the Holy Ghost more and for renewed testimony. In the temple, I was able to feel peace and to let all of this anxiety settle. I wish I could have stayed longer. Because I feel like I’m back in a den of wolves, and I feel so worn out. I’ve kind of been an emotional wreck this week.

What is right is not always popular. In the temple, I was reminded of the Savior, when the critics accused him of being possessed of a devil, and doing miracles by the power of Beelzebub in Luke 11. I think that must have hurt the Savior immensely. Definitely, the Savior is stronger than I am, but similar accusations have been difficult to bear this week. I am reminded that it is through the Holy Ghost that we can discern goodness. And it IS possible to discern goodness from wickedness. Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and every wicked tree bringeth forth wicked fruit.

Dad, I was so grateful for your letter this week. I’ve read it so much. Thank you. In the midst of trying to be a good missionary, it is important to remember that Heavenly Father wants us to feel happy. He wants us to feel joy! That is the good news of the gospel.

I love you so much. I really can’t wait to come home and hug all of you again. It sounds like things have been difficult at home too. Between family responsibilities and wedding craziness to all the other demands. I guess the take away for me out of all of this, is how much we need to make time to feel the peaceful influence of the Spirit. It is the comforter.

I look at all the concerns our investigators have. The things that weigh heavy on their hearts. It is overwhelming. Truly, the atonement is a miracle. I know that it is a real power. And it is for each of us.

I hope this letter wasn’t too much of a downer. I love you all. Being a missionary is a unique experience. I love what you said mom, about your mission being hard. It is. But you learn a ton.

Have a wonderful week.

Love, Sister Waters

P.S. I get to call you VERY SOON! I am so excited. Weekends are free on the mission’s cell phone plan so I get to call from the privacy of our own apartment! Yay. They are keeping to the white handbook 30-40 minutes. We’ll get home from church probably around 12:30 so I’ll probably call around 1:00 or 2:00 New Mexico time. Depending on if my companion goes first or not.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Should I Go or Should I Stay? 4/26/2010

Hello Family,

During interviews this week, President Anderson asked me if I still had the desire to extend. Out of the three sisters who asked to stay longer, the sister who asked for an extension first is no longer able to stay out till August. It would be helpful if one sister extends so that the new mission president isn’t left with a trio, and so that President doesn’t have to close another area due to lack of sisters. I told him I would still extend. He said he was sorry to keep changing the story and pull us in other directions.

Honestly, I have mixed feelings about extending. It will come as no surprise to you that I have a difficult time making decisions.

As I have contemplated extending my mission, there are days, like today for example, where extending seems like it would be the greatest thing in the world. As the scriptures say, this is the last time the Lord is calling his servants to labor in his vineyard, so why not spend more time doing this eternally important work! If I can assist in helping one more family or individual embrace the restored gospel, then extending for another transfer would be absolutely wonderful. However, there are also days, where I feel as if my efforts are not doing much good. Where it seems like we accomplished very little that day, and the mission seems difficult and I begin to miss my family and get excited about post-mission life. I am still willing to extend, especially if it helps the work move forward. I guess I’m just the epitome of an emotional rollercoaster when it comes to extending.

This morning was so fun! We went to visit one of our investigators, but he had to reschedule the appointment because his daughter was sick. I loved his response though: “I think she’ll be better in a few hours, could I call you then and set something up for later today? If not today then definitely tomorrow.” Maybe it’s just the hopeful anticipating spirit of a missionary in me, but it sounds like he was really eager to continue his discussions! Sadly, it’s too rare an opportunity to teach someone who is so thirsty and eager to learn. I love it! Its days like this that are energizing and I feel as if I could do this work forever. This particular investigator works night shifts with my old ward mission leader from the Bandelier ward. Apparently, they have been discussing the gospel, and Brother Harker even gave him the Book of Mormon on CD. I’m going to have to write the Harker’s today and say “thanks.” In this way, it’s fun to live so close to my old area.

We met with an investigator last week, and for most of the week, I had planned that we would talk about the Great Apostasy more so that they could understand why a restoration was so important. But when I woke up on the morning we were scheduled to meet with him, I had that “uneasy” feeling that I have come to recognize as “Try again, Sister Waters. Your lesson plan isn’t right today, and today, more than other days, it matters what you are going to teach!” Back to the drawing board. It was pretty clear that we needed to teach the doctrine of Baptism. We needed to stress its importance, the authority, the covenants, and the age. Well, you can imagine my surprise when near the beginning of our discussion, our investigator said that today he had a lot of questions about baptism and that it had been on his mind. The spirit bore witness to me again, that it is Heavenly Father who is at the head of this work. He will tell us what to teach, especially when it is critical.

Remember our nun friend? Well she got in a car accident this week and can no longer drive herself. But she still wants to meet with us. The ward stepped up and we have a volunteer to drive and pick her up for her lessons. The Elders were also able to give her a priesthood blessing. It isn’t too often that investigators accept blessings. I am so grateful that she was able to receive a blessing.

One other quick little story from this week, we went back to teach another one of our newer investigators. She said that the book of Mormon makes sense. “Why would it all stop?” she said. I love it when the gospel clicks with people. I could feel the spirit in her home, more so than with other investigators who are searching just out of curiosity.

I am doing well. I wish I had more to tell you this week. It is getting weird that I don’t have all that long left on my mission. I was so glad to get your letters this week. I’m glad to hear that the moving of Mackenzie went well, and that dad is home from China safely. I loved the postcard. Thanks for all the support and encouragement. I really appreciate your letters. I love you and can’t wait to see you again.

Sister Waters

Friday, May 14, 2010

In the Event of an Emergency, Don't Give Sister Waters the Gun 4/19/2010

Hello Family,

This week we had a hilarious district meeting. We were going over the Mission’s Emergency Plan, and our Zone Leaders thought it would be fun to role-play different emergency situations, and demonstrate what you should do in each instance. So, first we role-played what to do if your companion is killed. (Stay with the body until it is in a secure location.) Then, we had to role-play a carjacking. They thought it would be hilarious for Sister Kavatoe and me to be the carjackers, so we consented. They even provided us with a little toy Nerf gun, so we could get dramatic about the whole thing. Ok. So I run up to Elder Kunz and Elder Gregson, knock on their “window” and yell at them to get out of the car. They won’t listen to me, and so I get angrier. “Get Out Of The Car!” (By the way, in the event of a carjacking, we are supposed to comply with the instructions given, FYI.) Well, I lose control of the gun and end up shooting. Unlike Sister Allred, I have never shot gun, and I’m not very good at handling toy ones either. So the “bullet” goes straight though the “car window” and hits my partner in crime, Sister K. At this point, everyone, including myself, lost it, and burst out laughing. It took us a little time to regain our composure. Our district leader closed the meeting by stating, “Well, we’ve learned in the case of emergency, don’t give Sister Waters a gun.” Fair enough.

Remember the former nun that I’ve been writing about for the past few months? Well, she’s officially investigating the church now! We met with her this week at the church building. Her husband passed away last August, so she is planning to build a mother-in-law’s house where she can do more of what she wants, without her family stealing her Book of Mormon. (Yes, we think they took her Book of Mormon). I’ll review her story in case any of you faithful readers have forgotten. We tracted into her back in January or February and she invited us in right away. She told us that she had been praying to know the truth, and had been hoping that she would come in contact with some LDS people. When she was a young adult, her mother convinced her to become a nun, and she was in a cloistered convent near Hollywood California. At this particular monastery, they preformed penance for sins, in the form of sleep deprivation, fasting, humiliation, and whipping. After a time, she realized that only Jesus Christ can atone for the sins of the world, and that our bodies are temples, so she left the monastery. Since then, she has studied a few different faiths, but has a firm testimony of the role of prophets. Because of this faith in the role of prophets, she has united with the Baha’i faith, but in her heart, has concerns or conditions with this faith, because she knows that Jesus Christ was more than just a good prophet, and that in reality, He was the Savior of the world. She was excited to hear about Joseph Smith and modern day prophets. She also read one of the pamphlets we left her, and was thrilled to know that we believe in a pre-earth life, because she has always believed that she came to earth from a good, beautiful place. She intends to read the Book of Mormon some more, and in the closing prayer, asked to know if this was true. When we asked her if she would be baptized when she gets her answer, it was a resounding yes! We found out that she has spinal degeneration, so if she can drive herself to church, most anyone can.

It has been fun to see the work in Rio Rancho pick up, compared to when we got here. We found a few more new people this week who said they want to take the lessons. One of them had attended a t Ballroom dance camp in Provo years ago. We’ll see how all of this progresses. Stay tuned.

Well, I love you dearly and hope all is well for you.

Sister Waters

Hello! 4/12/2010

Hello Family!

More and more, I feel as if I have very little to write! This week was a little difficult, but it was good too. I am so grateful for the opportunity we have to visit the other sisters on preparation day. That has been such a tender mercy for me. There is such a strength there, and an ability to support each other that has helped immensely. I have been even more grateful for special experiences with the Holy Ghost this week. Maybe I am more emotional than usual, I don’t know, but there is nothing like having the reassurance of the Spirit that my Heavenly Father loves me, and that our efforts here, while imperfect, are acceptable to Him.

One of the attributes I wanted to develop on my mission was charity. I am still working on that one, but it has become even more important to me as my mission is drawing to an end. Helping people feel loved, and trying to bear real, pure sincere, testimony, and living witness of the truths I know will be more lasting than the little details that I tend to stress and worry about.

Yes, I fear I have become a “mission rules Nazi.” I tend to get irritated when rules aren’t kept. But then I have to remember that I am not perfect either. We all make mistakes.

We met with the neatest potential this week! She really wants to read the Book of Mormon, and she was going to read it while she flew out to Virginia to visit her ailing father, but ended up falling asleep. But she still intends to read it, and even talked about “next time” we come, which means she isn’t opposed to us coming back! We also met a former investigator that moved into our area. He believes that Christ could have come to ancient America and other lands as well. Yay! Everything in High Range tends to be new, new investigators and potentials. I hope that at some point, the people we meet will progress to be more stable investigators and or members!

My companion didn’t feel well this week, so we spent some time inside, which ended up being productive for me. I went through the area book and probably called 30+ people from the notes on people who had expressed interest at some point. I don’t know if any of them will call back, but at least it was a reminder, and a choice.

Yeah, there are some cultural differences between my companion and me. I’m sure I will look back at them and think it’s funny.

Well, I wish I had more to say. Maybe I will think of more as I sit here.

Love ya!
Sister Waters

Hello 4/05/2010

Hello Family,

I have been lucky not to struggle with homesickness much on my mission, but yesterday was awful. Really awful. I miss you all so much!

Well, if General Conference wouldn’t make a missionary trunky I don’t know what would! It was all about families!

Thank you for your letters, I got them on Transfer day. Yes, Laura Barney is in my ward here. She lives with the Ullibarri family, who I recognize, but I haven’t met Sis. Barney yet. That’s fun news.

Also thank you for the Easter packages. You spoil me a lot! But it was fun to have a new Easter outfit and some homemade cookies. Thank you!

Sister Kavatoe is a great sister. She only had two weeks in the MTC to learn English, but I really do understand everything she says. The Spirit is very strong when she speaks. She’s pretty funny and loves to have fun.

This week was very difficult…maybe one of the hardest weeks I have had in the mission. I think Sister Kavatoe might be convinced that people in the Albuquerque/Rio Rancho area are mean. I think it was just a rough week. I’m praying that the initial success we saw last transfer continues and wasn’t an illusion.

Meeting people who really do not like missionaries really makes me appreciate dinner appointments with members. Sometimes I really think we just need to be around people who will affirm that what we are doing is right. To feel the spirit in a home and to hear the testimonies of other members is a great blessing.

Today we will be spending some time with the Spanish Sisters in Rio Rancho. One of them is from Mexico and the other one is from Peru, so they don’t have driver’s licenses, and therefore are on Bicycles. We’ll be driving with them a lot on preparation days this transfer. It should be fun. And it means we get more miles to drive…which eliminates some of the stress. I’ve been going over the allotted miles lately. Our area is just too big!

I love you all very much and miss you terribly. You are the best family ever, and I cannot wait to see you all again. In some ways it feels like I have forever to go until I see you. Sorry this is so short! Hope all is well with you!

Sister Waters

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tomorrow I'll Understand, but Today I'll Just Obey 3/29/2010

Hello All!

It’s transfer news time! And my prediction was correct. I’m staying in Rio Rancho for another transfer. I’m learning that there are missionaries that move to a lot of places on their mission, and there are missionaries that stay and hold down the fort. I guess I’m the latter. I’m really going to miss Sister Allred. She had a way of telling me exactly what I needed to hear, and we had a lot of fun together. She is heading to Shiprock, an Indian reservation, and I am getting Sister Kavatoe as my new companion. She is from Tonga, and waited for almost 6 months to get a Visa to come here, so I’m sure she is an amazing missionary. We took her tracting her first day in the mission last fall. At that time, her English was very limited. I’m a little bit nervous about this. The ward is so excited to get another Tongan missionary, apparently they had one a few years ago they just fell in love with.

Honestly, I’m a little jealous of Sister Allred going to the reservation. That is something I had been hoping I’d be able to do my whole mission, and it looks like my opportunity has all but passed. Sister Allred just came to Rio Rancho from the reservation, so she’s a little hesitant to go back. I guess it’s a good thing Heavenly Father is at the head of this transfer business, because I don’t know if either of us would have picked it this way. As Sister Allred says, “tomorrow I’ll understand, but today I’ll just obey.” Yes, I would have loved the chance to serve on the reservation, but as I’ve prayed about it, I’ve also realized that it isn’t something I should ask for. Heavenly Father’s children are just as important in whatever area you serve.

We were telling one of the families we visit that Sister Allred was being transferred, and it was her opinion that transfers are harder on the missionary left behind. I think sometimes it feels that way. But I was reading in D&C 112 this morning, one of my favorite missionary sections, and I’m realizing that I have so much to be grateful for. Verse 19 talks about how an effectual door will be opened before the Lord’s missionaries. I’m serving here in Rio Rancho, and there are a lot of exciting things happening along those lines right here. In just two transfers, we have seen so many new investigators invite us in. We had two people we invited show up to church just yesterday, for example, and one of them even invited their friend! We even had a baptism this transfer, the first in a long time for this ward. (We didn’t have much to do with it though, that I KNOW.) Things are certainly starting to turn around here. As I was studying this morning, I was thinking about how one of my biggest challenges on the mission is to not compare my efforts with the outward signs of success that other missionaries have. Baptisms have been skyrocketing here in the Southwest, but I feel like in my sphere of influence, relatively not much has happened on my mission. As I read D&C 11:8,17 it hit me that the righteous desires of my heart WILL be fulfilled, somewhere along the lines, the work I’m doing now will make a difference. Like President Anderson said on my first day in the mission, “Because you have the Spirit with you, as set apart messengers of the gospel, you are succeeding even when it feels like you are failing.” I was talking with Sister Allred a couple nights ago, and she told me that the ties we build here in the mission field with Heavenly Father, the faith and the reliance on Him will outlast any area, or even the whole 18 month experience. That makes it all worth it.

Well, I’ll get off my little soapbox.

The Baptism on Saturday went very well, but the week was crazy! On Tuesday we found out that there was going to be a funeral, and so our baptism was getting bumped. We spent most of the week trying to move the Baptism to the Stake Center, get keys, and logistics worked out with the time and location change. But all in all, it worked out. When we got there, we found out the font had been filled only full enough for a child’s baptism, so that was another little hitch. And the funeral took precedence that day, so attendance was a little weak. But I’m glad it happened on that day, postponing baptisms is scary to a missionary, and it’s conference weekend this week. I know this brother felt the Spirit strongly. And that’s the most important thing.

Remember the Irish brother I wrote about in some of my last e-mails? Well we got to have another lesson with him this week. He’s been reading the Book of Mormon, but also studying things on-line…which is every missionary’s worst fear. Needless to say, we had a lot of tough questions to answer this week. He is very interested in historical evidence, and mostly we stressed that the witness of the Holy Ghost is more powerful than any other evidence we could obtain. Like Christ told Thomas, more blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed. I was so grateful to have Brother Bartlett from the ward with us. Sister Allred and I have gotten very close to this family, and both the Bartlett’s were converted several years ago. It was so powerful to hear Brother Bartlett’s testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. I just hope our friend continues in his reading of the Book of Mormon. At the end of the lesson, we invited him to continue reading the Book of Mormon; I love his response “You know I will!! And If I find out that this book contains the truth, I will be this first to join and give up tea (which will break my heart.)”

Remember when I was in Farmington, and you fasted for and put Crystal and Tommy’s name in the temple? They were the couple that I sent wedding pictures of? Well I’m glad to announce that Crystal did get baptized in January. Also some other people I taught in Bloomfield were baptized. I was surprised to read their names at Zone Conference, because when I was there, it seemed to me as if our visits were more inconvenient than anything. It’s neat how when the Spirit works, attitudes can change relatively quickly.

We also got to visit our Nun this week! Finally! She loved the literature we gave her and would like to meet from time to time, in another location. We got her cell phone number. So that is exciting news.

Well, I think that is most of the news I have for this week. Thank you so much for all you do for me. I really do have the best family in the world. I love you.

Sister Waters