Archive | October, 2014

It’s Halloween already??

27 Oct

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Happy Halloween everyone!

Last preparation day was pretty fun. Our zone walked over to the park near the stake center and we played ultimate Frisbee, and then sand volleyball. It would have been more fun except it was so HOT! Haha, it was probably no more than 78 degrees, but we were all miserable from the heat. All I know is that I am going to die when I come back to the Oklahoma summer. On Tuesday, the heat broke and it just rained all day. I actually used the umbrella I brought with me on my mission for the very first time- yea! We had a busy night of appointments and lessons, and we got a new baptismal date squared away for Mary and Jessie finally.

This week I had an opportunity to play the piano for several different events, and it just made me so happy. I cannot express my total and complete love and gratitude for music. It has a way of inviting the Spirit into my life unlike anything else. I got to play for zone training on Wednesday, both prelude and accompaniment for a musical number, and also for another musical number at the first ward sisters’ baptism. I also got a new CD this week of the “Lamb of God” by Rob Gardner… If you haven’t heard it, you need to look it up! My companion can attest to the fact that I have listened to it non-stop since it arrived.

Wednesday night, we met up with our investigator Karen for a lesson. She’d had a rough couple of days with work and life, and Sister Randall and I both received the prompting at the same time that she just needed to feel loved that night. So we cancelled the lesson and took a walk with her over to Big Dipper Ice Cream and just talked for over an hour. I truly have a testimony that missionary work is more than just teaching lessons- it’s about teaching people. And sometimes those people need assurance and love more than a sit down lesson. We actually ended up covering the lesson during our talk, and it was overall a really positive way to spend the night and let her know that she is loved. Also, not gonna lie, Karen is one of my best friends, and we were totally meant to meet. I really feel like she is one of the main reasons I am in Missoula. We had exchanges from Thursday to Saturday, but this time it was a “trio exchange”, meaning our Sister Training Leader came with us. Sister Steck has been my Sister Training Leader nearly my entire mission- I just follow her to whatever zone she’s in! Haha. It’s a very good thing though, because I love and admire her so much.

On Thursday, we had a lesson with one of our kind-of investigators. Brad is the brother of one of our recent converts, Bryan. We try to visit Bryan twice a week because he’s not super solid, but sometimes he isn’t there so we end up talking to Brad instead. For context, when the sisters were first meeting with Bryan, Brad was straight up antagonistic about the church or any religion in general. His heart has slowly been softening though, and particularly in the past month. Last week, we had a super bold lesson with him. It was actually one of the most Spirit-guided lessons I’ve had on my mission I think. His big complaint about religion was that he feels like people turn to it out of desperation for a fake hope of a better world. I waited a minute before I responded… “Brad, now don’t get offended. But don’t you turn to alcohol for the same reason?”. He told us the following lesson that that had cut him to the quick. He couldn’t stop thinking about the lesson all night, and while he was laying in bed, he heard something inside him say, “you need to stop drinking”. Since that moment, he’s been cutting back everyday and he said that he can already feel the difference in his alertness and happiness. We texted him after our Thursday lesson, and he responded: “love you all. thank you. you are the light.” It’s amazing what the Spirit can do with a person’s heart when they are willing and humble.

Ok, here’s my funny story of the week. 🙂 Now don’t get all freaked out about it, haha. So we are teaching some people right now that were transferred to us by the 2nd ward sisters because the people moved into the 4th ward boundaries. The 2nd ward sisters called us Friday night and said, “Hey… do you sisters have your Hepatitis B shots?”. We were like, “umm, yeah?”. “Ok, good… do your members have their’s that come with you?”. We answered, “ummm, why??” They told us that one of the girls we’re teaching might have Hepatitis B, but as long as we’ve had our shots and don’t touch her blood we’ll be fine. They don’t want a lot of people to know though. The sisters then said, “So if you could just non-nonchalantly ask your member if they have their Hepatitis B shot, that’d be great!”. We answered, “How do you ask that nonchalantly?!?!?!”. Needless to say, we finally got it sorted out, but we just died laughing because the mission puts you in the most awkward situations.

Well, that’s about it for this week! Love you all and miss you.

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Busy in Mi’zoo

21 Oct

One year!! It’s been an interesting ride to get to this point, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I can look back now and see much of the growth that has happened, and I am excited for what the next six months will bring.

It’s been a busy week here in Missoula! The YSA Ward is just on fire. It’s a great place to be serving right now. So right now we are teaching two different Adriana’s, and it is so confusing! We met with Adrianna M. on Tuesday night, and while she definitely wants to be baptized, she has never been able to come to church because of work. We have been studying faith and following God’s will with her for a few weeks, and she told us that the Spirit has been telling her that now is the time to start looking for a different job that won’t make her work weekends! We were like, “yes… yes you should”. 🙂 Adriana S. is one of our new investigators, and she is so solid. She even came to Stake Conference this weekend! She brought her boyfriend to church with her too, and he is interested in coming to the lessons with her. She is on-date for baptism for the beginning of November. Our investigator Karen is still doing awesome too- she came to church with us on Sunday as well. She’s been praying about a date this week, so hopefully we will get it finalized soon! Her lesson on the Word of Wisdom was one of the easiest I have ever taught- she already lives it and has a firm testimony of it. One thing I’ve come to realize is that when you find the truly prepared people of the Lord, teaching is just easy and natural. We also have two other new investigators that were just transferred to us by the 2nd ward sisters, their names are Mary and Jessie. They were on-date for this upcoming weekend, but they missed too many of their appointments and so we didn’t get everything taught. :/ But we will push it back a couple of weeks, and then we should be set!

President Mecham interviews all the missionaries in the mission every three months, and last Tuesday was our turn. I have so much respect and love for that man. He gave me some really good counsel and we discussed a variety of things. One his challenges to me is to read pgs. 96-97 in Preach My Gospel everyday, particularly the table about recognizing the Spirit. In the chart, there are listed 28 different ways that the Spirit can speak to us. It is incredible to see just how much the Holy Ghost can and is with us, and often in ways that we don’t immediately recognize. For example, I had an experience with giving a discussion at District Meeting this past week on faith. I took most of my comments from a March 2002 Ensign article titled “Lord, Increase Our Faith”. It was a very obscure article I happened upon and gave an interesting analysis on Christ’s parabolic response to the disciple’s request for Him to increase their faith. But for some reason, I felt the Spirit press strongly on me that I needed to focus my discussion on it. I gave my discussion like normal, and it went well I felt. The next day, one of the sisters in my district pulled me aside and told me that the article was an answer to her prayer, and she probably would never have found it if I hadn’t have given a discussion on it. That was a powerful testimony to me that the Lord often uses the words and actions to others to answer our prayers. So many times has the Lord answered my prayers through others! I had also received some needed revelation from one of the other discussions, and I realized that I hadn’t told that missionary, so I told them the next time I saw them.

The big one year mark!

The big one year mark!

We have a bunch of missionaries in our zone that I came out on the mission with, so on Thursday we went to lunch together to celebrate our one-year mark. Yeah! It was fun to reminisce about the MTC and to see how much we have all changed in a year.

On our first day in the field, Sis. Mecham had us write letters to ourselves that would then be mailed to us on our year marks. I read mine this week, and it was honestly exactly what I needed to hear. One thing I wrote to myself was: “I also hope you are having fun. Remember, this is supposed to be missionary fun!”. If you’re not having fun, then you’re not doing it right. 🙂

We had a hilariously awkward experience this week. We were contacting a referral from the 1st ward elders, a girl named Piper. We had tried her door a couple of times before, but she was never home. On this try, we rang the doorbell like usual, and didn’t really wait as long as we normally do to knock on the door. Exactly as Sister Randall was opening the screen door to knock, Piper opened the door. She screamed, we screamed, we all screamed! She closed the door on us, and we took a minute to collect ourselves, haha. We ended up having a great conversation with her though, and got a return appointment for this week. I guess it all worked out.

Family history, I am doing it...my family history!

Family history, I am doing it…my family history!

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Friday, we did a table in the University’s student union on family history. So fun! Sister Randall and I even made family history t-shirts to wear for it. 🙂 We got a few good OYMs and contacts, so that’s good.

Like I mentioned earlier, this weekend was Stake Conference. On Monday, the stake president called the zone leaders and said that he wanted all the missionaries in the zone to do a musical number for Saturday night’s adult session. In turn, the zone leaders called me and assigned me to put it together. We did a nice medley of “Army of Helaman” and “Called to Serve”. It’s been a while since I’ve conducted an actual choir, and it was pretty fun! After the adult session, the 4th ward had a baptism, and I played the piano for that as well.

The Sunday session of Stake Conference was a broadcast from Salt Lake for the region, and Elder Bednar and Elder Scott spoke- so good! A lot of it was on missionary work, which was awkward because we had investigators there, haha, but it was great. As we were helping to stack chairs in the gym after the session, I glanced around for my companion, and I saw a familiar face…a face from back home! My jaw dropped and I just pointed at Ah-in-nist Sipes! He and his mom were in town for some business, and I got to talk to them for a little bit. It was awesome! This was the first time I have seen anyone from home in my entire mission (a lot of missionaries in our mission see people from home surprisingly, so I was an odd duck out). That was a cool little tender mercy.

Me with Sister Bigfoot and Ah-in-nist Sipes!

With Sister Bigfoot and Ah-in-nist Sipes!

Well, this letter is quickly approaching novel length, so I’d better wrap it up here. Love you all soooo muchhhh! Have a happy week!!

Another Tuesday Letter

15 Oct
Another Mormon street!

Another Mormon street!

Well, once again I am writing you all on a Tuesday! With Columbus Day yesterday, the libraries were closed so emailing was unavailable. But thankfully I get some time today to write out some emails! So much has happened this past week, so I guess I’ll just jump right in and tell you about it.

My flu shot wound!

My flu shot wound!

Last Monday was a tiring but good preparation day! After bowling like usual, we went to wash our car at the do-it-yourself place. (Missionaries have to wash their car once a week… fun fact of the day) The elders were washing their car in the stall next to us, and right as they were finishing, Elder Holland stuck his sprayer over the cement wall divider and sprayed us! It was hilarious and totally unexpected. Thankfully we weren’t in our proselyting clothes, haha. We played pod-ball and basketball with the missionaries for a long time, and then we played dodge-ball again with the YSA kids for FHE that night. We introduced pod-ball to them, and they all loved it. Our investigator Karen came to FHE as well, which was great.

Our enormous nachos from the bowling alley!

Our enormous nachos from the bowling alley!

Some of my favorite people (right after playing dodge-ball.)

Some of my favorite people (right after playing dodge-ball.)

On Tuesday I received a little tender mercy from the Lord. The girl from our ward who also lives with our host family told me of an experience from the day before, being Monday. She was at FHE, and since she is recovering from shoulder surgery, she was sitting on the stage watching the dodge-ball game with a few others. She was feeling really lonely and left out and wanted to leave. She told me that she offered a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help her and send her someone. Right after she said “Amen”, she told me that I came walking up to her and talked to her and sat by her, and it meant so much to her. From my end, I definitely had received the prompting that I needed to quit playing and go talk to the people on the stage. It’s easy at times to feel like our efforts go unnoticed and don’t make any difference, and I had been struggling with this. But this little tender mercy reaffirmed to me that the little things do matter, and you never know who needs a hug or a smile. As President Monson says, “The world is in need of your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save.” The Lord’s work is incredible!

The second half of the week was spent doing lots of preparations for our table on campus on Friday. We got some big pieces of bulletin board wood stuff for super cheap from an up-cycling place here in town (the guy cut us a deal for $3 for both boards!), and then we painted them and then we stapled balloons all over them.

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The idea was that the students throw a dart at the balloon and inside the balloon was a “Random Act of Kindness” that they are supposed to perform that week. The event on Friday was an awesome success! We had a bunch of our ward members there with us helping out, and we got to talk to a bunch of students. Sister Randall and I actually had to leave the booth halfway through because we had to go buy more balloons! This Friday we are having a booth in the student union about Family History- should be fun.

More of my favorite people!

More of my favorite people!

Here’s another example from this week of the little things making a difference. The members we live with have a friend who is a single mom and struggles with some addictions, and the friend sometimes comes and stays with them so that she’s in a “safe zone”. She has a Book of Mormon and has watched parts of General Conference. We’ve met her a couple of times before, but this past weekend it was just us and her in the house because the host family was out of town. We ended up hold her keys and wallet for her all weekend so she wouldn’t be tempted to make any bad decisions. We talked with her for like an hour and a half on Saturday night (yep, wayyy past our bedtime). Just this morning, she was texting her friends and asked for the sister missionaries’ phone number in her town, because she wants to meet with them after spending the weekend with us and getting to know what it is that we do and believe. It was a really big testimony builder again for me that being a good example matters, and you never know who it is that you’re going to affect.

P.S. I think we have a mouse living in our closet. I’m gonna set out a fruit loop or two and see if they get nibbled on. “Don’t sleep with your feet uncovered, Koli-Poki!”

Love you all and miss you bunches! Have a safe and happy week!

Octo-brrrrrrrr!

6 Oct

Happy October! ‘Tis the season of pumpkins, leaves, cardigans, and best of all, general conference! I hope you all received a lot of personal revelation and guidance from the conference. What an incredible blessing it is to have a living prophet on the earth today. As Russel M. Nelson said in his talk, the living Lord leads His living church. I am excited to get to go back and reread conference soon!

Serving in a YSA Ward is always full of new and funny experiences. Our ward members are particularly dynamic as well, haha. Last Sunday during fast and testimony meeting, a member of our ward talked about his recent “conversion” to family history. He stayed up all night when he discovered it, until he realized that he was almost completely out of Internet data on his phone. In his words he said, “so I had to stop… One cannot save souls from spirit prison with no data!”. It was pretty hilarious. Last Monday I had a pretty embarrassing moment… So we went to Walmart like usual and I picked up the things that I needed. When we got home, I opened my bag and realized that I had accidentally STOLEN! I had been trying to decided about a pack of stickers, and I inadvertently put it away with my iPad which I had been holding at the time. With my honor at stake, we went back over to Walmart that night and awkwardly walked around and grabbed some other random things so I could buy the stickers with it. Haha, it was a little traumatic, but all is now resolved.

The institute classes we went to this week were all super good. In this week’s BYU Devotional, Dan Clark gave an awesome address. I’d encourage everyone to go back and read it or watch it. He made mention in his speech of one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes: “The two most important days in a man’s life are the day he is born, and the day he finds out why”. That quote struck me once again, and really made me think about how precious the knowledge of the plan of salvation is to me. I am grateful that I have a purpose in my life, and that I have the opportunity to teach others about their own. We did a ton of finding and contacting this week, so that thought was prevalent as we talked to a lot of people.

During the second half of the week, Sister Randall and I did a lot of baking! I made our family’s traditional Chex mix for general conference, and it was super yummy. I also made some puppy chow, and Sister Randall baked a cake in honor of Elder Holland’s birthday (Elder Holland our zone leader, not Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, haha). The zone leaders are in a trio this transfer, and two of the three are Elder Holland and Elder Oaks… I laugh every time. Elder Holland turned 26 on Saturday, so us and the ward threw him a little birthday party between sessions. It was a super yummy lunch, and it was just really fun.

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On Friday, we had a special meeting in the morning with the Assistants, and they talked to us about a lot of different things. The most exciting thing though is the expansion of our online proselyting! We are going to be using Facebook in a much more creative way, hopefully. Be on the lookout for hashtags like: #bookofmormoning #dailylife #sharegoodness #testimonytuesday. It’s gonna be great! We are also now allowed to be tagged in members’ posts, which is really good.

After we finished teaching a lesson via Skype!

After we finished teaching a lesson via Skype!

Saturday morning, we had a breakfast with all the missionaries in the zone and the stake presidency and talked about our zone’s goals for the transfer. We watched conference at the stake center on Saturday, and then watched the Sunday sessions at home with the member we live with. They made us a big breakfast on Sunday which was amazing- Swedish pancakes/crepes, eggs, sausage… yum!

Funny moment of the week: Saturday night, we ate dinner with the 4th ward Bishop and his family. We normally have dinners with the elders, but it was just us that night. Their little four year old girl, Ella, asked where the “boy missionaries” were, and I told her that they were eating with someone else. I think she was offended, hahaha, because this was her prayer over the food: “…and please bless the girl missionaries. Not the boy missionaries! Just the girl missionaries”. My companion and I had to seriously stifle some laughter.

Hey, I sure do love you all! Thank you for your letters and support and prayers. It makes a difference, and it means a lot to me. Love you all and miss you bunches. Have a safe and happy week!!