Saturday, August 23, 2014

16 - Trio Madness

Holy cow, this week has been the busiest week I've like, basically had since I started my mission, and it's WONDERFUL! It's great to be so incredibly busy teaching LESSONS!! AH! We taught over thirty lessons this week! And that's compared to the round about six or seven that we have been teaching! Wow. It's been a blast. It's been exhausting, mostly for the other sisters who have been busy all along. I would still be up and ready to go, a little tired, but nothing that I haven't dealt with before. "Aren't you exhausted? How are you still not tired?" Shrug? I don't know. haha. I just not tired. Sister Springer and Sister Paniagua have been such great examples to me this week, serving in this trio.

And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God. ...And from this place ye shall go forth into the regions [south]ward; and inasmuch as ye shall find them that will receive you ye shall build up my church in every region, (D&C 42:6;8)
Bismarck / Minot Zone Conference, Summer 2014

Man, there's SO much that has happened this week, but the overarching miracle of this experience has been how often the Lord has placed us in the paths which lead us to people who need to see us. None of us can ever deny that God intended us to cross paths with these people. None of these were sheer happenstance.
Sister Bell and Sister Sanderson

Man, I don't even know where to start... Well I guess first off, it feels like serving with Sister Easter is a distant past.

I've been serving with Sister Springer and Sister Paniagua since Tuesday afternoon after zone conference where Sister Bell and I parted ways for her to go up to Minot.

It was a good four days I had with Sister Bell. 

Sister Monteirth and Sister Sanderson
Oh, and the Sister who is going home, Sister Monteirth (The th is silent) was at zone conference. She hides it super well, but apparently she's in constant pain.

She's planning on coming back out if she can, if they find out what's wrong with her stomach and how to treat her.

Just so much has happened.

These days have been very packed and long.

We have mostly been teaching less active members of the church in the sister's area.

You know it's busy when you can't find time to eat dinner. We didn't have a dinner appointment Wednesday, and we intended to eat dinner, but something popped up, and then something else, until it was eight something or other and so we met one of the Sister's investigators at a restaurant and we had to actually have them bring it to us boxed up because it was too late to eat it there. We had to be in by 9:30 and we were already going to be late concerning curfew. So dinner while we plan at night for the next day! That was a new one! haha.

Man, I apologize. My thoughts are not organized at all. So many things that happened and just a short and scattered collection of thoughts this week. Too much crazy!

Momma Cat and Newly Born Kittens (we saw it happen!)
Just to give you an idea of the craziness, we SAW THE MIRACLE OF BIRTH DURING A LESSON!

That's right! We got into the lesson and he told us she had kittens just two hours before! Right there on the couch! And he, like, aw, didn't know what to do. He didn't even know she was pregnant. We were having the lesson and, so funny and cute, he, the person we were teaching, was like, on track but we were distracted by the cat and her new born kittens and Sister Springer noticed that the momma cat was having contractions, her body lurching periodically. "I don't think she's done. She's having contractions. She's probably going to have another one." And sure enough! Out came another kitten! Another white one. And then later came the placenta goopy goop and momma cat ate it. It was really something else. And she had another one we heard after we left. Six kittens!

More stuff happened... but this is all I have time to write about! Sorry!

P.S. I don't know WHAT I would do without Sister Springer to cut my hair!
Sister Springer, the "resident" Hair Dresser. :-)
Don't Do It, Sister Springer! Well, Okay, Go Ahead!

P.S.S. Last night we drank vinegar with baking soda. 

Oh, that Vinegar is SOOOO Good!
And even Better the Second Time! Ha ha!

...Apparently the Sister's started doing it as a punishment for eating bad. Sisters... you're crazy. It clears your system though. And the plain vinegar isn't that bad, but with the baking soda.... I don't see why it's necessary. >^<

Vinegar Shots for Sister Springer
And for Sister Paniagua
I Promise....No more eating Badly!
THAT'S gonna leave a mark!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

15 - Emergency Transfers

Improvement and progression have one eternal round (Hymn 284, If You Could Hie to Kolob).

The Lord has blessed me through change. It is the roller coaster weeks that are the hardest, but that also inspire the most growth. This week, completely unexpected changes were made in the Bismark 3 area. (There's 5 areas, five sets of missionaries in Bismark. We just happen to be over area 3.)

Wednesday evening we were in a lesson with Jane. The phone rang, but of course we couldn't answer it, we were in a lesson. During the lesson, we invited Jane to be baptized, and she excepted to prepare herself to be baptized on August 30th. She's so ready spiritually, SO ready. We're so excited for her to make this step and to grow in her knowledge of the truth. Sheesh, we almost forgot that someone called us in the middle of the lesson. 

"Oh, who called us?" Sister Easter asked. I got out the phone and flipped it open and we listened to the voicemail.

"Hello Sisters, this is President Anderson-" Our eyes widened. Shock. President Anderson called us? Why? What's happening to have him call 'us?' 

"If you could call me back, we need to discuss some changes that will be happening in your area. So give me a call back. I love you Sisters. Bye."

"...What's going on? Changes in the area?"
"....I don't know.... ...It's probably nothing. It's probably something super simple and we're freaking out over nothing," Sister Easter said. But she didn't sound to sure... Pft, I wasn't too sure! 

We walked into the apartment. The Sisters were home.

"Did you get a call from President Anderson?" I asked.
"No," Sister Christianson replied concerned.

Okay.. President Anderson called us and 'not' the Sister Training leader?? What was going on!?

We tried calling back, sitting at our desks now in preparation for the nightly planning routine, but President didn't answer.

"....Maybe we're the first ones to get new ipads!" I said, trying to come up with an explanation.. but I knew that couldn't be it... ..We planned for the next day, and then the call. We scrambled to answer the phone, pressing the button at the same time!

"Hello this is Sister Easter and Sister Sanderson!"
"Hello Sisters, President Anderson."
"Hello! We got your message!"
"Yes. There's going to be a bit of change in your area. There's a sister in Minot who is sick. Her stomach is having problems and she's going home. Sister Bell is going to be getting transferred from Eagle Bute to Minot so that Sister can go home. Sister Easter, I understand you have native american in your ancestry?"
"Yes," she said, looking into my eyes, her eyes red... we knew what was coming...
"Right. I'm going to ask you to serve down in Eagle Bute, South Dakota on the reservation with Sister Harvey. Will that be alright?"
"...Yeah." A tear trickled down. We were both in shock.
"Sister Bell and Sister Harvey will be there to make the switch at between one and two tomorrow afternoon." Our eyes widened... tomorrow!?
"So you'll have to pack tonight. And Sister Sanderson, Sister Bell will be with you until zone conference on Tuesday. The Minot zone is coming down on Tuesday, so Sister Bell will go back up after zone conference. After that you will be in a trio with the sisters closest to your area for the rest of the transfer so you can work in both areas. So you'll be in a trio for three weeks."
"Alright. Thank you Sisters for your willingness and your cooperation. We love you. Thanks for stepping in to help."
"Your welcome, love you."
"Love you too. Thanks, bye."

.....Sister Easter and I just stared at each other, tears in her eyes, shock and threatening tears in mine. ....Usually when you get transferred you have the whole weekend, Sunday Monday and Tuesday morning, to say goodbye and get packed. This. This was less than twenty-four hours...

We came out and told the other Sisters. ...We all gathered around, heavy hearted, into a group hug, Sister Easter and I both crying... I didn't expect anything like this.. or that the thought of her leaving would leave me with such a hole in my heart... I pulled back, tears down my face, my voice choked, and said:

"I didn't know you were part native," T^T
And everyone busted up laughing... lol Sister Christianson especially, rolling on the floor. lol Quote of the week I guess. I suppose it was just funny in this sad sad moment and just randomly, "I didn't know you were part native!" Haha. It's important though! Because she wouldn't have been sent to the reservation if she wasn't, because President only sends Sisters who have native in them to the reservations! So. It's an important detail. I had reason to cry and say that. lol

It was a weird night and day. It was so sad, Sister Easter taking everything off the walls. She had a LOT on her walls. It was so empty. And we couldn't sleep that night. So we got out our scriptures. We fell asleep 12:30, 1:00 area. Thursday, which was the next day, is usually the day we set aside the morning to plan for the week. But there was hardly any point of it anymore.. and we needed to say goodbyes... It was a heck of a weird day. ...
Last Breakfast with Sister Easter
The Sisters cooked us pancakes though. 

Sister Easter didn't have much of an appetite. 

She's good at putting on a happy face though. 

It was nice to be together for breakfast.

Yes! I can eat that pancake!
"Dare you to eat the last pancake Sister Sanderson," said Sister Christianson. 

I have a reputation for eating a lot. 

I think Anthony, (co worker at Circle K) was right...I do put everything in my left leg.

I was glad to make everyone laugh with my silliness.

We headed out to say goodbyes after Sister Easter's laundry was switched over. 

Sister Easter with her Blanket from Jane
It was important to say goodbye to Jane and her husband. 

Her husband was reeeeeeally upset about her leaving. 

"What do they think they're doin'! 
You're not an object to be just shipped around! 
Your a person with feelings! 

They should give you at least a week to get used to the place, and have someone show you around!"

"Honey, this is what they signed up for. This change is a part of mission. This is expected," Jane said, very understanding. 
But her husband was still really upset. 

Jane.. she even gave Sister Easter a blanket, which is HUGE In the Native culture, a huuuuge sign of respect.

I'll miss you MORE than I ever imagined!
So after a lot of phone calls and about three stop by in order to tell people goodbye, the other Sisters came and we said goodbye... She might even finish her mission at the reservation. She only has 3 transfers left. Well, and a half...

So I was with Sister Bell the rest of the day. And I drove. Again, weird.

On With Mission Life... Sans My Trainer (Sister Easter)

Friday we had scheduled exchanges. We did exchanges as scheduled, so I worked with Sister Christianson in my area. Just working with ALL the Sisters! May as well though, seriously. But, it was a struggle that day. I was really emotionally stressed with the pressure of having to make all the decisions for the area, having not very much to work with and feeling the pressure, not because of the sister training leader, but just because of myself to have a well rounded day, and I couldn't say, 'hey, know how to get there?' I couldn't say that anymore and just... all the changes and emotional stress... it was really hard. I cried, but Sister Christianson is such a good Sister Training leader. She knows how to teach and to comfort. She helped be so much and I'm so grateful for her kindness and her knowledge and her example. She helped me understand that the Lord has blessed me. And I understood that before, but she put it in a way that was so precise and.. yeah. It was so helpful and comforting. I love Sister Christianson and how she cares for me.

So the exchange was successful and I learned a lot. And I've learned a lot from Sister Bell too. I've come to really respect her in these past three days and the way she does missionary work. Just the way she views it, her work ethic, and the way she teaches. I've seen it and I have a lot to learn and a lot of confidence to gain. I feel or have felt inadequate, mostly because of situational reasons that I have very little control of, and by having this all be it jarring opportunity to work with Sister Bell for a short time and to work with the area 5 Sisters for the rest of the transfer starting tomorrow after zone conference, the Lord has blessed me with a new situation where I can work up that confidence, truly paving the way for me to work up to being the missionary that I envision myself being.

I do feel confident in taking over the area. Sister Springer and Sister Paniagua teach SO many lessons, and I've always wanted to know how they do it. Now I get to work with them and see first hand. I am, so, incredibly excited for that. I will be working in downtown Bismark now, as well as in my own area which is North of downtown. I will also be staying at their apartment as well, but I'm still going to be able to receive mail from the same address. Our apartments aren't that far from each other. I know that I will see growth in my area as I see growth in myself. I'm at peace with the changes that are happening and the improvement which need to happen in myself which won't come easily, but I'm so looking forward to impressing on my character. The Lord seriously is so kind to be in granting me this blessing, these 'changes in the area.' I thank my Heavenly Father for the miracles I have seen. I want to make him proud of me and not waste a moment of this opportunity.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

14 - Thorns in our Investigator's Sides

This week was actually quite eventful, more eventful than this post explains.

It was a pretty great week if I do say so myself.

You remember back when I told the story of doorbell ditching the pictures of Jesus for people? Well this is the lady who it was really meant for who I never gave a name. Her name I will give her is Jane, the sweetest lady and so full of understanding concerning spiritual things.

Retirement Party for "Jane" at Miverva's
The TR Waiters Greeting Sister Easter for Her Birthday
She retired on Thursday and she invited us to her dinner reception at Miverva's and paid for us to come and everything. Super nice. She was really anxious about retiring before her 30 year mark (29 years 5 months and 5 days, but who's counting, to quote her, haha) because of multiple reasons. It's a big adjustment and she is a hard worker, but there are medical issues popping up now with her and her husband especially, and even her extended family that also live here that she needs to focus on. It'll be good for her to retire so she can give one hundred percent to taking care of herself and her family. We are so proud of her, and we foresee her and her husband progressing a lot more quickly in the gospel now that she doesn't have to work so much.

AND, it was Sister Easter's birthday yesterday on August third! We celebrated the day before though by going out to lunch at Texas Roadhouse.

Our waiter was trying way to hard though.

Six Sister missionaries, one overenthusiastic waiter. It was amusing to say the least.

The Bismarck Sister Missionaries at the Texas Roadhouse

I absolutely loooooooove going out to eat with friends. It's pretty much the best thing ever to celebrate your birthday.

You just laugh and laugh and laugh! And you 'can' do that at the apartment to, but then the other set of sisters wouldn't be with us seeing as you can't just go over and hang out as missionaries, and there's just something about being in a restaurant that just makes it better.

A "Care Package" for Sister Easter to have on her birthday!

I'm really glad that we got to go out for lunch on Saturday.

Oh, and she turned 22, kind of an older missionary age wise with all the young rush of girls with the age
change, and also has been out the longest, sooooooo an over the hill candle was needed. Courtesy of the companion. lol

What are Companions for?
To eat what the "birthday girl" can't!
She also ate too much, because the Sister's weren't very wise in budgeting how many rolls they ate, being as they just keep the rolls a comin' at the Roadhouse, and they are super good.

But, yeah, she couldn't eat her ice cream. But that's what companions are for!

And the Sisters even snagged the candle and used it later that night for a cake they made with the help of a member! Complete surprise to us! Super nice. :)

The only problem with eating lots in the middle of the day is you get really. really. .....really..... ....sluggish. Or, lethargic as my brother Noah would describe the feeling as.
...And it was hot and muggy.
...And we didn't wanna tract.
...But we had no appointments.
...But we didn't want to tract... sigh.
So we tried seeing less actives, and actually we got in with one, so that was good. She lived in a retirement home. I'll have to tell you about it later.

We were a little better after seeing those cute old ladies. Still didn't want to tract though. But we had to...... siiiiigh. And when we got out of the car... "What the-!? ..Wh-??" Sister Easter was looking up at the sky irritated and confused. "I just got wet!" ..What?? There were no clouds in the sky! or well like, one dippy little white cloud above us, and that's it! But then I felt something, and then we saw a few water spots appear on the car. It was raining. Right here. No where else. What?? So confusing! ..I guess we had our own little personal rain cloud for our down in the dumps mood of not wanting to do anything.
But, it's during those times of no wanting to do anything that miracles happen. Because Satan knows if he can get you to be idol right then, then it will delay the miracle. And indeed, a miracle did happen. ...

Behold, a sower went forth to sow; ...And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: (Matthew 13:3,7).

This story dates back to May 17th. I had only been in Bismark for three weeks. Now I've been here for about four months, to put it in perspective. Saturday May 17th was my first experience with exchanges. We are very privileged to live in the same apartment as the Sister training leader. It makes exchanges super easy. You just switch beds and you're good! Can use the same bathroom you usually use to get ready and everything, cuz yeah, exchanges are a twenty-four hour thing. They happen once a transfer one of the people in the companionship can work with the Sister training leader, who is Sister Christianson right now, and they can see how you're doing in your area and you can learn from them. And the other person in the companionship gets to work with the Sister training leader's companion. I love exchanges. It's great to switch things up.

Anyway, Sister Christianson and Sister Easter were working in our area while I was working with Sister Neilson in her area on Saturday May 17th. Sister Chirstianson and Sister Easter basically spent the whole day tracting. That was the day that Spanish speaking investigator and I was also super excited to hear about another great potential investigator they came in contact with. He was on his lawn playing frisbee golf and they went up to him and talked with him about the church and he said he was looking to go back to church. He confided in them that he had been humbled by getting caught in possession of illegal marijuana, and how it was dumb on his part and that he'd never do anything like that again. He believed there could be a modern day prophet. And when they gave him our number, they were about to leave when he stopped them saying, "wait, I should give you my number!"

I was so excited to hear this! Almost jealous because I wasn't the one to meet this guy! AH! He was super solid! Golden! I was so excited! We all were!

Except... he would never be home all the times we tried back. And he would never answer the phone... He did once, but idk if it was a bad connection or what but we couldn't understand him. And apparently we found out from his parents when we knocked on the door that he just worked a lot and basically his only free day is Saturday, or night rather. So that was good to know. But we STILL were having a horrid time contacting him. Until..

HE CALLED US!! AH! It was a miracle! And we were gonna set up an appointment! I don't know why he wasn't able to right then, but AH! I frantically wrote home that day because I just HAD to share in the excitement. And.. he did call us back. But we were in an appointment so we missed it. And... we were then back to square one. It was lame. ...

So another month passed. We still tried to call him occasionally. Sent him a text on the fourth of july. All that good stuff... And there were no real fruits from it... but weeks and weeks later on August 2nd, this day.....
We were trying to contact a less active in Zach's neighborhood. We didn't wanna tract.. sigh. But she didn't answer. Well... guess we were going to be tracting when...

This guy zooms past on his scooter: "Hi!" he calls and! Sister Easter turns to me: "It's Skater!" (Name has been changed. I call him Skater because he's 20 years old and he totally looks like a hippy/skater boy.) And he turns around and is like, "Hey! Did you want to sit down and talk or something still? You busy right now?"

So we went over and we TAUGHT SKATER!!! He's super prepared! Has been wanting to know about other churches and decide for himself! He says his parents have been mainly holding him back because they are devout Christian, no if's and's or but's about it. The restoration lesson was a lot for him to take in. We didn't get all the way through. But he said he'd come to church tomorrow! And that he'd read the pamphlet! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Best birthday present for Sister Easter EVER!!!

...But we got a text from him after he 'didn't' come to church on the 3rd. "Hey, after learning more about the Mormon religion I've decided to stay in the Christian faith. Thank you for understanding."
...This is a Christian faith. ......
This is the third explicit time where we have been dropped like this. They don't even know what they are declining. His parents talked to him, curled their thorns of bias around him and choked him...

...We are sick of people dropping us like 'this.' We won't stand for it.

We sent him a text back. Saying this is a Christian church and asking why he doesn't want to learn more. And we said the offer still stands for him to come to the young single adult break-the-fast meal at 4:15, that he still has friends here even if he decides this isn't the religion he wants for him. It was a nice message. Bold with love. No response back. We're still going to see him on Tuesday. He needs the gospel more than he knows. He's so prepared...

I know our paths crossed for a reason. And they didn't cross just to get him to go back to church. It was to teach him the truth, the fullness of the gospel.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

13 - The Sister's Last Day

P-Day Chair Soccer
So first off, I promised you action shots last week of the fun we have on P-day. This... is chair soccer.

I am not 'in' any of these pictures because I'm always the one taking them. However, Sister Christianson says that she wants to get some action shots of just me sometime because apparently I'm hilarious to watch play any kind of sport. Haha. Funny noises and battle cries can't be captured in a picture so well unfortunately, but I'm sure she will do her best haha.

Me in the Windy Reeds
Also, here's a picture of Windsday.
It was actually Saturday, but I've decided mother nature wanted to mix it up. So she made it Windsday.

The crowning event of this week was definitely Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday is when the 'transfer train,' as we call it, comes through. This mission is huge and so for transfers they have a specific pick up/drop off route that they drive every six weeks when transfers happen. There were four missionaries who were on the transfer train who were going home. Their time left in the mission: this afternoon to tag along with the missionaries assigned to the Bismark areas and do missionary work, sleep over in one of our apartments, ride the transfer train to the mission home on Wednesday and see Mount Rushmore with President and Sister Anderson, and then Thursday, fly home. This was their last day to preach the gospel as a set apart missionary.
Sister Gogan...(Last Day!

You know, you always think as a missionary, 'how will I feel the last day of my mission? What will I be thinking? About home? About the work? Will I be just... so sad? What's it going to be like?' I never thought I would get to see that in someone else, much less just see 'that' person 'that' day. It's different if you were companions with someone who was ending their mission. (We call that killing a Sister/Elder. lol) Because, then you see the transition. You see them get closer and closer to ending their mission and witness those changes in them. But with this, it was just the last day. Sister Easter has never had the opportunity to serve with someone who was going home either. It's an experience that I deem sacred. I learned so much from the example this Sister set.

We saw miracles with Sister Gogan that day. Just as soon as disappointment arose, a miracle would happen which would overshadow the disappointment hands down. She was so good at talking naturally with people. Maybe it does matter what you say when you talk to someone at the door. I just wish I could remember how exactly Sister Gogan 'started' the conversation with this women, because that is the make it or break it moment, those first sentences. What a master at talking to people and weaving the gospel in without it being awkward or jarring. The 'first' door we knocked on, and Sister Gogan was chatting with this older lady about North Dakota, and how she worked on a farm, and how (and believe me, I don't remember how she squeezed this in) we have a prophet that leads the church today. And she asked if we could come in and share a message. "Oh sure, I should have let you in earlier." ...That would not have happened if Sister Gogan was not with us. I mean, maybe it would? But idk, I doubt it. And we set up a return appointment.

And THEN! So, we ran (not literally, because that would be rude lol) out of the house because we had another appointment. But she cancelled. Darn it... we could have stayed longer.. BUT ... get ready. I'm just going to preface this by saying there is this one guy who we have been TRYING to get a hold of for months, I've never met him, and Sister Easter has only once or twice, and he was pretty solid and then he just went out of town for awhile and just, yeah. It's a long story and to make it short, we really did need a miracle to get back in contact with him. .....We were driving and Sister Easter says... " that Sam?" (The name has been changed.) We RUN out of the car! (This time, we were closer to actually running!) He was about to walk into his apartment! He was on the phone! But dang it, we didn't care! We followed him in and he finished talking and we set up a return appointment with him!!! We couldn't teach him because he was going right back out, just picking something up, but AHHHH!!!! YEEEEEEEEEEES!!! It was such a happy day!!!!

As a side note just to keep things real, neither the appointment with Sam nor with the old lady worked out this week... ...It was really hard to see those appointments fall through after setting them up so miraculously.... ....I still have faith that we will get in contact again though, the Lord be willing...
But... regardless, that Tuesday was phenomenal, and there is one thing which Sister Gogan said that day that I will remember. "Man! I'm serious, I just feel like I got transferred to Bismark, that it's my new area and that I'm in a trio again!"

In her last day, her mind wasn't at home. It was here. It was on the work, just as it had been the past 18 months. This really impacted me and I will remember that example and strive to imitate it.
And so, Sister Gogan, if you ever read this, I want you to realize that the impact you made in you last day in the field was a forceful one. I wish I had a great metaphor to describe the impact you made, to express how such a matter of hours with you is all it took, and that because it was that short that time with you was emphasized all the more as a great example to me. So thank you.

This mission is a time for me to learn and for me to help others learn. I'm so grateful for this time. As it says in the white pocket sized missionary handbook which we are instructed to read three pages a day as a companionship from, Time is on one of the most precious resources Heavenly Father has given us. There will always be more work than we can do, but if we do our part, the Lord will make up the rest, sometime or another.
Of this I testify to be true, and I say these things in Christ's name, and as one who represents our Lord and Savior.

Huge Flowers Outside the Library!  :-)
Now THAT is a Dragonfly!