Archive | February, 2015

Tender Mercies

23 Feb

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Well, winter is back in full force! Hopefully this stint will be the last blast. I’ll just jump right in and start telling you about my week! Personal study time on the mission has been one of my favorite things about the mission. This week in particular was very enlightening. I have been studying recently about the absolute necessity of the learning the Plan of Salvation. In Alma 12:32, we learn that God gave unto Adam and Eve the commandments AFTER having made known unto them the plan of redemption. The plan of salvation provides the why for not only the commandments, but also for our lives. One of my all time favorite quotes is this: “Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ. No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind.” (Ezra Taft Benson)

Our week was an interesting one- I wish I had kept count of all of the appointments that cancelled on us, but it’s probably a good thing that I didn’t because it would have been a depressingly high number. As I jokingly complained about it to our district leader, he gave me some wise counsel: “Sometimes we have to have bad weeks so that we can truly appreciate the good ones”. Even amidst our struggles this week, our week was still highlighted by some wonderful tender mercies of the Lord.

Tender Mercy #1
We did a lot of tracting this week, and we had some interesting experiences, as we tend to have when knocking on strangers doors, haha. The funny doors are almost a tender mercy in and of themselves! But among the strange and funny experiences, we do get some really uplifting ones. When we went out on Wednesday, we prayed specifically about where we should go. The first few doors were empty, but the very first one that opened to us was an awesome guy named Eric, and he was very interested in learning! He and his wife had lost their son a couple of years ago, and we were able to testify to him that he would see his son again. He asked if he could give us his contact information… Yes of course! We are teaching him again tomorrow. 🙂

Tender Mercy #2
We had our recent convert Karen come out teaching with us this week for the first time! She was absolutely perfect for our investigator Adrianna. Adrianna is making a ton of progress, and it’s really exciting to see her starting to move forward again. Karen also taught Gospel Principles again on Sunday, and she did such a good job. Bishop Blair leaned over to me after class and said something to the extent of, “your experience teaching her and helping her be baptized will be an experience that you draw upon for the rest of your life”. I couldn’t agree more.

Tender Mercy #3
Another tracting experience… On Friday night, it was just not the night to be out trying to find people to teach, because no one wanted anything to do with us for some reason. After quite a few discouraging doors back to back, and starting to feel the sentiment of “our hearts being depressed and about to turn back” (Alma 26:27), we still kept the faith that there was some one that we were supposed to meet. When we knocked the last door (isn’t it always the last door??) the older lady who answered immediately said “come in!” without a moments hesitation! (We were a little hesitant though because we were so surprised, haha.) The miracle part of this story comes in here: so about two months ago, we helped a lady carry in her groceries… and it was this lady! We had a great visit with her, and she was so kind. Service softens hearts!

This week solidified in my heart the principle of “the Lord will provide”. Because really, it wasn’t that bad of a week, because the Lord had a purpose and plan and we were still able to meet many of our goals, just not in the way that we had planned to reach them. But it worked out how the Lord wanted it, so that’s the best thing of course.

I hope that you will each seek those tender mercies, those “love notes from God”, this week and always. Because I know that they are there, and that they are real!

Sweet Sixteen

18 Feb

Yesterday I celebrated my “sweet sixteen” month mark on the mission! We went to Big Dipper Ice Cream for the occasion, and it was wonderful. It’s so strange to reflect back on the past sixteen months. They seem to have gone by so quickly when looking in retrospect. I am just excited that I still have some time left to serve the Lord full-time, especially in Missoula! It has been like spring here all week. This winter is nothing compared to last winter, let me tell ya.

Celebrating my "sweet sixteen".

Celebrating my “sweet sixteen”.

On Tuesday, we had a big Mission Leadership Training with the Missoula and Kalispell zones. Any day that I get to see President Mecham is a great day! The training focused a lot on the concept of “work”. One thing that I took away from the meeting was “plan the work, and then work the plan”. Because let’s be honest, if your don’t actually go out and work all of the plans you made, then it’s like practicing all week and not showing up for the game. After the meeting, we had another sister come stay with us for the night and the next day while her companion went to Helena for a different meeting…the sister that stayed with us was my old companion Sister Jones! It was so fun to get to work with her again for a day and a half.

The dynamic duo!

The dynamic duo!

Tuesday evening, we had a fairly eventful lesson. We went over to meet with a less-active Bryan and his brother Brad (investigator), and they had two friends over as well. One was Bryan’s girlfriend, Cassandra, and the other was a friend named Lincoln. Well, Lincoln is most definitely under the influence of some alcohol, and he starts trying to bible bash with us. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that, so we just put on some smiles and practice some patience. I notice that while he’s talking, Sister Jones is teaching Cassandra the message of the restoration, and Cassandra was actually really interested in learning! So Sis. Moore and I occupy Lincoln so that they can continue to talk relatively uninterrupted. With Lincoln, I pulled out a Plan of Salvation pamphlet to be able to give him something to read…. his reaction was one of the funniest moments of my mission. He looks at it in complete puzzlement and says, “But Mormons don’t believe in Jesus…. why do you have a picture of Him on the front of this pamphlet??? Why do you have that??”. (hahaha). In the end, Brad actually stood up for us a ton (which was cool to see from an investigator), Cassandra became a new investigator, and Lincoln left at least knowing that we believe in Jesus.

We had another campus event on Friday, as you may have seen on my Facebook post. We did another hot chocolate stand and invited people to institute classes- we joked that the weather called for more of a lemonade stand though because is was warm in the sunlight! Once again, we found several less-actives and a few former investigators.

Campus time!

Campus time!

For our next campus thing, I think we are going to do a survey about Mormons and then post it on Facebook. So something really big that is happening in our zone is a bigger push on Facebook. Since the Stevinsville stake got added to our zone this transfer, I am still the Zone Facebook Specialist for Missoula and an elder is over the Stevinsville district. My responsibilities have definitely been growing and intensifying since the inception of the assignment back in November. I still go on Facebook exchanges with all of the missionaries in the zone, and now I also collect Facebook key indicators and a report about their Facebook work every Monday, as well as doing a lot more followup throughout the week. The new zone leaders are definitely on board with Missoula being a leader in the mission for Facebook, and we are working our tails off to make that happen! I really have a feeling that Missoula will be known as the “Facebook zone” before long, which is awesome because that is the direction that both the mission and the church as a whole is headed.

For Valentine’s Day this year, we made “heat-attacks” for a bunch of the girls we teach, and we delivered them via ding-dong ditching. We got caught twice, which was lame, but overall it went pretty well. I played the piano for a musical number at 1st ward’s baptism on Saturday as well.

Ok, one quick miracle! So Friday night, we were driving home at 8:30pm so that we could have a skype lesson with a less-active. While we were driving home, we drove by this one house with it’s porch-light on and the Spirit nudged me and said, “you should probably go tract that house”. I was like “ehhhh, this isn’t even our area and we’ll be late…etc”. I make it to the round-about at the corner, and the Spirit’s like, “hey, you’re gonna be held accountable if you don’t go back there… but, it’s your agency”. I do a complete turn around the round-about and headed back to that house! We had to park awkwardly far away from the house and then walk for a minute to get there. When we get to their porch, the door opens and a girl is about to leave and we scared the beejeebers out of her! #missionlife. So after this series of events, we end up talking to the mom, Viriginia. I just straight up told her that I drove by her house, felt like I should come here, and then came back to do it. I think being honest like that really softened her heart. We had a really good conversation with her, and she has a bunch of member friends. Throughout the conversation though, I felt like she wasn’t all that interested. However, when we asked for a return appointment, she said yes! We referred her over to the 2nd ward elders the next day, so I am excited to hear how the appointment goes. I had actually been praying for the opportunity to refer someone to another set of missionaries, because we are constantly blessed with referrals from other wards, and this was definitely an answer to that prayer. Alma 17:9 -9 And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in [Missoula], and they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the [people of Missoula], to the knowledge of the truth […].

Love you all so much! Have a wonderful week!

Rain and rumors of rain

9 Feb

Well, I’m starting to believe that the groundhog was wrong last week- we are definitely enjoying some springtime weather right now! It’s been in the 50s quite a few days this week, and positively gorgeous. It actually feels a lot like Oregon/Washington weather- lots of rain and clouds and milder temperatures. No complaints from the missionaries though!

Do you all remember Mary and Jessica Rider that we taught and baptized back in November? They’ve been pretty good about still coming to church in 4th ward, and recently they’ve been much better about keeping their appointments with us. So we went to teach them one of their new members lessons this past Tuesday, and their mom Pauline sat in on the lesson like she does occasionally. Over the past few weeks, her interest has been growing and growing, and on Tuesday we started actually teaching her! She is so ready for the gospel, and she set a baptism date for March 7th. Her biggest obstacle will be overcoming smoking, but all things are possible through Christ. (Philippians 4:13)

Our recent convert Brett had a much better week this past week. Unfortunately, he moved on Saturday! We knew he would be moving soon, but weren’t sure when. Thankfully we got to see him off Saturday morning before he headed down to Tuscon, Arizona to live with his brother. I think this will be a really good move for him, but it was still sad to see him leave. We’re gonna get him set up with the ward and missionaries down there, so he should be set. Karen, another recent convert, taught her very first lesson in gospel principles on Sunday!! Ahh, it was wonderful. We met with her the day before, Saturday, and helped her map out a lesson plan and give her ideas. Our other recent convert, Eboni, is still doing great too- we’ve been doing weekly new member lessons and her testimony is definitely growing a lot.

On Wednesday and Thursday, we had another sister missionary with us, Sister Bouchard, while she was waiting for her new trainee to arrive. Sister Bouchard and I are basically the same person- it’s awesome. We discussed what the titles of our mission memoirs would be: “Constantly Covered in Cat Hair”, and “A Series of Awkward Events”. (It’s funny because it’s true). I’m accompanying her for a musical number next week, so we got to practice that which was very helpful. With transfers, we got all new elders in the area that we share with. Their names are Elder Buntrock, Lancaster, and Cheney. It’s unusual for them to be “tripled-in” like that, but they seem to be adjusting well and seem like they’ll be fun to work with.

This week was seriously a revelatory week for me. As I look over my journal entries, it seems like the Spirit taught me new things everyday. I gained a new appreciation for prayer and scripture study yet again. I realized that they don’t change the actual circumstances of my day, but they change me and my attitude. Another revelation happened during the sacrament on Sunday. I was reflecting on my week and how the Savior had played a role, and my mind was consistently drawn back to 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, which says: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

As I was reflecting on those verses, the Holy Ghost taught me that Christ doesn’t always take away our weaknesses permanently, but rather they are taken away only when Christ is with us. So if I were to reject Christ, my weaknesses would return in fullness again. But so long as I have Christ in my life, He will strengthen and uplift me. I also realized that I need to be more grateful for my weaknesses/shortcomings/trials, because in them Christ’s power is manifest and made perfect!

My random story of the week is that we ate dinner with a member from the YSA ward who has a pet duck. Yes, a pet duck named Hermes. And it wears a diaper. Hahaha. I asked her if she just especially loved ducks or what, and she told me that she didn’t even really want a pet, but the duck imprinted on her and thinks that she’s it’s mother, so she feels obligated to keep it.

That’s all I have this week! I love you all lots. Have a fantastic week!!!

Missoula for life!

3 Feb

Transfer news: I am staying in Missoula with Sister Moore! This is my fifth transfer here in Missoula now, so that makes it my longest area… but it feels like the shortest because time is going by wayyy too fast. There were a lot of changes in our zone with the other missionaries though- we are one of the few companionships still “intact”. I am so happy that I got to stay, and I am just hoping and praying that I will stay through next transfer too and finish my mission here.

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Last Monday for preparation day, we hung out with Karen (a recent convert) and went to lunch and ice cream, and then she came over to the stake center with us to play games with the other missionaries. So fun! On Tuesday, we met with the less-active that called us last week, Brittany. She decided to move back home to Reno because she and her boyfriend broke up. I really hope that she stays true to her good desires. I committed her to three things when she gets down there: (1) read and pray everyday, (2) meet with her bishop, and (3) meet with the missionaries. I set a daily alarm on her phone for her to remind her…. hahaha. Our recent convert Brett is doing a lot better this week. He also made the decision to move in a couple of weeks, which makes us really sad, but I know that it will be good for him. He was kind of just drifting with no purpose in his life, which contributed to his depression. He’s headed to Arizona in a few weeks to live with some other family and find some work (Missoula isn’t the best place for finding work right now). I’m not too worried about him- if we can get him connected with missionaries and the ward down there, he’ll be set. Brett told us that the next thing he is working towards is going on a mission…!

I had a good learning experience with the Spirit this week. One thing that was really impressed on my heart is that it’s important to be where you planned to be, when you planned to be there. On Thursday, we got a little off schedule of our daily plan because some things ran long. We missed our scheduled lunch hour, and let me tell you, lunch hours are sacred on the mission. Our next activity was an hour of tracting, and my natural self told me, “yeah, don’t go tracting… take your lunch hour instead”. I felt in my heart though that we needed to go, so we did. In just forty five minutes, we found a new investigator and two potentials! I am constantly reminded that God honors the plans we make if we stick to them.

This week, we had an OYM competition in our zone between the elders and sisters! (OYM means “open your mouth”, and it is where you talk to someone brand new and actively try to have a gospel centered conversation with them). Needless to say, we all got a little competitive, haha. We ended the week with 56 OYMs, which is a mission high for me. A lot of those came from a family history booth that we did on Friday on campus. It was fun to get to talk to people about family history and see them start to get interested. One of the best things about family history booths is that less-actives come out of the woodwork and introduce themselves… pretty great!

What people think missionaries are like.

What people think missionaries are like.

What missionaries are actually like!

What missionaries are actually like!

Funny story: On Friday, we had dinner and a new member lesson with Karen. She introduced us to her fish, named “Melchizedek”. I asked her, “Ok, when did you get/name this fish?”. She told me the she got it the day after our very first lesson with her, and she named it Melchizedek because we had talked about the Melchizedek priesthood during the first lesson, and she thought it was fun to say! She also told us, “My fish usually die within a few weeks of me having them… but Melchizedek is still going strong! I took that as a very good sign while I was investigating the church”, bahaha. Karen also accepted a calling as one of the gospel principles teachers, and she is going to do amazing!! She’s on track to get her patriarchal blessing soon too… ahh, she is wonderful.

My trainer Sister Bateman finished her mission this week! We got to take one last picture together. :)

My trainer Sister Bateman finished her mission this week! We got to take one last picture together. 🙂

Another way the Spirit helped me this week is that I was guided to talk to someone at church. We’ve been going to both the YSA ward and 4th wards recently, and I’m still learning all of the ward members in the 4th ward. During Sunday school, I saw a lady slip in late and sit at the back. I felt this intense urge to go introduce myself. After class, I bounced over to her and said hello and something about how I’m trying to get to know the ward better. She looked up at me and said quietly, “This is my first time at church in eleven years…”. Not even phased, I sat down next to her and said, “Ok, let’s talk about it!”. We proceeded to talk for a good long while, and I introduced her to some ladies in Relief Society and the Relief Society President, all of whom immediately adopted her into the ward. We got her phone number, and I dearly hope that she comes back again. I feel so strongly that everyone needs to be included, and who knows what her experience might have been if she had slipped into class and slipped out with no one ever meeting her. The black nametag I wear everyday makes things like this a little easier to do, but I know that there are people who need to feel loved and included in every single ward in the church, and we can personally minister to each of them.

I sure do love you all so much! Thank you for being you. Because YOU are GREAT!