Monday, October 20, 2014

Week Two!!

This week had been wonderful. It seems like we spend most of our time driving because our area is so big. We are constantly trying to find more people to add to our teaching pool. Each day is good, and productive. It doesn't show in our numbers but we are trying. Most of our efforts seem to go towards talking to less active members and previous potential investigators. There are some sad stories of people that we have met. I wish I could do more to help them than just to talk and visit. It made me think about how little we really do as missionaries. We are only the messengers. It is the spirit that converts and brings people back. It is the Lord's work. Not ours. I know that what I am doing is wonderful. But there are some situations where I really wish I could step in and physically help out some of these members who have fallen. It's hard when I know what they need but can't give it to them. Everyone still has their agency. We only invite them towards the gospel. It is up to them whether they will accept and act.
The members of our ward are wonderful. They are so nice and kind. Many of them have us over for dinner. This week we had three. Two of them were back to back and we ended up having the same exact meal at each house: taco soup and cornbread. haha I don't think they planned that, but it was funny. The third house we went to was gorgeous. They live on a farm on top of a hill. From each direction you can see endless hills covered in trees. It is so beautiful. They fed us home-made brats and twice-baked potatoes. Yum. Then they took us to Dairy Queen for ice cream. :)

Sunday was nice. It was the second time I went to church here and I am starting to recognize people. We had a Linger Longer after church where everyone brought food and dessert. It was yummy.

A lot of the appointments that we set up are falling through which is frustrating but we also have many set up in the next week. Hopefully we will start to see our progress in numbers. My companion and I decided to nickname our area the sleeping giant. It has so much potential and we are putting forth a lot of effort but we still haven't seen the blessings of our efforts just yet. We will keep trying and one day we will wake this giant up. We will do it!!!!

D&C 6:37 Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. 

The endless hills of tress are so pretty.

These were called the Stonehenge estates. They had this at the entrance to the neighborhood. How cool

We pass by this pretty barn a lot on our way to Hillsboro.

Oreo Cows!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes they exist. There were about 20 of them. All were black with a white stripe down their middle.

First Week in the Mission Field

Let me first start off by apologizing that I didn't get to send emails on my usual p-day. We had mission conference on Monday so our p-day was moved to Tuesday.
On October 7th, I had to wake up around 3:30 am. Yuck. We had to be at the travel office at 4:30 am. We rode a bus to the frontrunner station and took the train up north to trax. Trax then took us west to the airport. By the time we got there, the sun wasn't even up yet. It was crazy getting on and off the trains. The workers there had it down to a system helping the missionaries. We had 18 missionaries in our group. They had us get on the train as fast as we could and dump our luggage in a corner. Then they stacked up the luggage and has some of the elders ready to throw the luggage off the train as fast as possible. Kinda crazy. At the airport, checking our luggage and going through security went smoothly. Except for some reason the metal detector said I had something on my bottom. I didn't have any pockets. I was only wearing a skirt and tights. I have no idea why I would have set it off. haha oh well. they let me through anyways. The flight was about 2 and a half hours long. It wasn't too bad. I tried to get some sleep but it didn't work out too well.
We arrived in Missouri and I could instantly tell that it was humid. We met our mission president and his wife, President Morgan and Sister Morgan. They had their AP's there to help us with our luggage. We drove to the St. Louis Temple to take pictures as a group and then headed to the mission home. It was gorgeous!!!!! The sisters slept upstairs with their own beds and the Elders slept downstairs in bunk-beds. :) They gave us a wonderful home-cooked meal and let us just relax after a long day of traveling. I got to play the piano - first time in days. The Morgans were so kind to us and I really felt at home there. They seemed to go above and beyond to make that place one filled with the spirit.
The next day we had transfer meeting where the new missionaries would be assigned to their new companion and area. It was a little overwhelming and sad to leave my MTC companions but it was good. My new companion is Sister Gunter. She is so kind and a wonderful example to me of obedience. She is really helping me and encouraging me in my efforts. We are continually learning more about each other everyday.
We live about 30 miles south of St. Louis. We are in the Sandy Creek ward. Our area that we cover is huge!!!! It is about 60 miles east to west and roughly 40 miles north to south. It creates some struggle when we have to watch the amount of miles we drive every day. We don't have many people that we are teaching. The last two girls left to go home and it was really hard to try and pick up where they left off, when we don't know the area and we don't know anyone in the ward. So we are starting from the bottom. It has been a little discouraging because it seems like an impossible task to make a difference in such a big place. But our ward is great and the members are so kind and willing to help us out. I think I will grow to love the people in the ward. I will just have to take things one day at a time and keep moving forward.
Monday was Mission Conference. What a wonderful day that was. All the missionaries in the mission met together in a church building in Frontenac. There are around 240 missionaries in our mission. Elder Sitati of the Seventy came to speak to us. He is from Kenya Africa and he had a cool accent. He spoke a lot about the spirit and the need of obedience and humility in order to have the direction of the spirit. He said "The spirit will always invite us to do good." I love this because the spirit will invite us. We have the choice whether to act on it or not. and I also like that it says "to do good". The spirit will never lead us astray> If you have a good feeling, then it is the spirit. It is as simple as that. After he spake, they surprised us by saying that they had access to the new movie Meet the Mormons. We got to watch it!!! how cool!!!! I loved the movie and I highly recommend it. It was uplifting to see all the unique members of the church and how they told their unique stories. It was great.
I am continuing to grow and learn. It is a steep learning curve and it is a huge change but I know that it is for my benefit. "Good lumber doesn't grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees."
Me and Sister Fisher on the train to the airport.

Elder Sudbury and Sister Fisher on the plane

Look! It's Elder Spjut!!!! Grandma and Grandpa Durrant told me to look for him. He was one of the AP's. We were taking pictures at the temple and he took a selfie of himself with my camera. haha :)

Us at the temple

President and Sister Morgan. They are awesome!

The St. Louis Temple

Much of our area has curvy, small roads. They are so pretty. Its easy to get lost though

This is a unique speed bump. You actually have to drive into them with your car and they will bend. It took us forever to figure it out until a man plowed through them. We thought they were barriers at first. haha

Sister Gunter and I.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Last day at the MTC

Within 24 hours I will be in Missouri! Crazy to think how fast time flies. This last week has been amazing though. We had our In-field orientation on Thursday. It was filled with a bunch of workshops to help us learn how to find investigators, planning, and working with members. I was so impressed with all the work they put into this 7 hour orientation. At the end, they even had a play about the importance of member-missionary work. One of the actors was Elder Christensen from the District!! haha They made a joke in the play after they gave a lesson. Elder Christensen turned to his companion and said "That lesson was so good, I think it could have been on the District." haha He is kind of a celebrity here. I have seen some people secretly take pictures of him in the cafeteria. 

Friday was our last day of teaching our two investigators. We finished teaching Shawn and it went well. I think he felt the spirit and we left him with our testimonies and an invitation to continue reading the Book of Mormon as he continues to prepare for baptism. Our last day with Kitty was great too. Last time we were worried because she would pause with a very confused look on her face, but the more we taught her, the more we learned that we could use that to our advantage. She would really think about what we would say and we would just let the spirit work on her with that silence. Our last day with her we didn't end up teaching her the lesson we prepared. Instead, we answered all the list of questions she had and I even played the piano for her as my companions sang Be Still My Soul. Sometimes people don't even need lessons, they just need a friend. She said that she was going to watch Conference with her roommates. Hopefully she will continue with the missionaries who will take our place.

Conference was awesome!!! I loved every minute of it even though I was exhausted. My favorite talk was probably Elder Bednar's talk on missionary work at the very end. It was exactly what I needed to hear. The choir in the priesthood session was full of missionaries. We got to watch a little of their performance on Sunday night. During the week, it was so cool to hear them practicing as we passed by the hallways. I think I even saw Uncle Dave from the choir made up of people from the Grantsville and Tooele area! Correct me if im wrong, but I got super excited when I thought I saw him.

Sunday night we had a devotional given by Vai Sikahema. He used to play football for the Green-Bay Packers. I was so amazed at his message. He told us about an amazing story he had about missionary work. Hopefully I can sum it up. He was boarding a plane that was headed to Salt Lake. A couple seats over from him, there sat a young boy with a BYU tshirt on. His name was Scott. Vai knew immediately that he was a mormon. They exchanged small talk and then another lady came and sat between them. During the flight she pulled out a Bible and started to read. Vai started up a conversation with her that eventually lead to the topic of Adam and Eve. She asked about his church's view on what Eve did. He responded by saying that our church has a positive view about Eve. She was so surprised because she had never heard that view before. She then asked about how we would ever be forgiven of their sins in the garden. He responded that we would not have to account for their sins. He continued to say that that principle was so fundamental that even children know it. Vai turned to Scott who was intently listening to the conversation and asked him if he knew anything regarding Adam's transgression. Scott replied by reciting the second article of faith stating that we will be punished for our own sins and not for Adam's transgression. Vai was so happy that he knew that article. Anyway the conversation went on and there is more to the story but Vai ended losing contact with the lady and he doesn't know whether she ended up getting baptized or not. But the amazing thing was, that years later, Scott contacted Vai. Scott told him that while Vai was trying to convert the lady on the plane, Vai was actually converting Scott as a child. God works in mysterious ways and Scott ended up serving a mission and thanked Vai for being a critical part of his own conversion. I liked this sotry because even though it didn't end up resulting  in a baptism, there was still good missionary work happening. Vai said that successful missionary work doesn't always result in baptisms, but that successful missionary work is found in the teaching. It was a wonderful message.

Today has been great too. I have been packing and I was able to go to the temple this morning. I saw the newest film. How lucky am I!? I have seen a different video each time and I have seen them all in order of when they were made. I really like going to the temple. Each time I feel more and more like I belong there even though I'm not perfect. Keep going to the temple, as it will bless your lives. And how lucky are we to even have so many choices of temples to go to. There is no reason not to do the Lord's work. You don't need a badge with your name on it to do missionary work. You just need a badge on your heart.

I am going to send pictures in a separate email. :) Love you all!!!!