Saturday, October 18, 2014

24 - When Things Start Looking Up, You Get Transferred

So much happened this week, a cannot even TELL you!! One of the biggest pieces of news is that I am indeed getting transferred, to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I'm excited because I feel like I've been in Bismarck for quite awhile and am looking forward to the change. I know I'm going to miss the people, probably moreso when I'm finally gone than I do right now, because I hear that leaving your first area is the hardest thing. We'll see how I fare. I wasn't expecting to be transferred. I felt like there were still things I needed to be here for. I still needed to build up the area, and learn more from Sister Gray. Well... as the week progressed I kept on becoming less and less sure that I was staying... Because seriously, you usually get transferred when something exciting is happening in an area. You'll see why I got a transfer call soon enough.

It was time to weed through our potentials list again. This is the list missionaries have of anyone who's door they knocked on or who they otherwise contacted that might have some interest in hearing the gospel. But do they really have an interest? Sometimes people are put on the list and really, they are not interested and probably shouldn't have been put on the list in the first place. Our goal: knock out as much of this list as possible. We got in with at least two people who wouldn't have otherwise been home that day and were able to discern whether they were interested.

One guy even let us teach him the restoration. Even after that happened he wasn't interested, but you know why that happened? You know why we were invited in to share our message? It was pointed out to me by Sister Gray that it was because we were finally ready to teach it. We were not unified in our teaching. We hadn't really taught the restoration together ever and when we realized that we weren't going to get in if we weren't ready to teach it, we started seriously role playing it and were then, and only then, prepared to teach a ten minute restoration lesson. This is a witness to be that God helps those that help themselves.

We saw eleven people on the list in one day, which is really really good actually. And things happened along the way this week as well. Like we had to scrape the ice off our car for the first time this week, that was fun! Woo!

And we tracted into some people last week who were having a prayer meeting. It was strange, but they prayed over or for us when we knocked on the door. And we exchanged information and we called her and asked if we could join them for their prayer meeting. We became a little apprehensive about it after it was a confirmed yes, but it actually was very nice. It was three other ladies and us and we prayed pretty casually and like read the scriptures to pray and stuff. It was actually pretty cool. Good experience. It was a one time thing of course, but a good experience.

And so, we continued to tract. We have been seeing more success with tracting over the weeks. First, we found that we had improved in testifying right there on the doorstep. Our confidence was increasing, though it still wasn't unshakable. We then saw improvements in just talking with people. People were actually talking to us as they opened the door, and many people were inviting us in now! That.... has never really happened! This week we have entered more homes than I think we have ever entered. I can count at least four people who let us in this week, and at least six who we have had a good conversation with were we have brought up the gospel! Heavenly Father has been blessing us so much and then...

The day after trying all those potentials, we were going to try some less active members that we just discovered existed. That night, we tried one of the addresses and someone answered, not the person that was supposed to be living there, but we got his name and a good conversation and the knowledge that he was not prepared to accept the gospel at this time, and so we went on to tract the street.The next house, nothing. But the following...

My Golden Family!
A teenage girl answered the door. Super super sweet girl. Eventually got the dad up to talk to us and we... it... ah! We were invited in to talk and share a message and...! Just! FAMILY! HUGE RECEPTIVE TO THE GOSPEL FAMILY!!! And from TRACTING!? WHAT!? They have ELEVEN kids! SEVEN of which live with them right now, and they just moved here a month and a half ago!!! AAAHH!!! The message went well, just talked about how God is our loving Heavenly Father and he blesses us with families and committed them to read the Restoration Pamphlet and for a return appointment on Saturday! AAAHHH!!!

We were absolutely in shock... I started driving away and Sister Gray said, "Pull over, I have to say a prayer of gratitude right now!" Truly, TRULY and answer to prayer! AND! I think not just an answer to our prayer. The dad said that his mother in law I believe is a convert to the church. So I bet you she's been praying for this family to receive the gospel. They need to be baptized and have the story of 'yeah, we thought we moved here for work, but no, we really moved here for the gospel.' THAT NEEDS TO BE THEIR STORY!!

At this point I was starting to have doubts that I was staying.

More experiences continued to happen! We found another new investigator! Nice old man, hope he keeps perusing the truth. We found people up North and were able to set up a return appointment with one (even though we found out they not in our area cuz the boundaries do something funky that I didn't know about... kinda bummed BUT!) We also served at the thrift store on Friday as per usual and I tell ya. We are NEVER stopping service at that thrift store. We run into too many people there to stop! I was approached by someone who I was very privileged to meet. There was an Elder who died in serving in the South Dakota Rapid City mission just over a year ago. Sister Easter came out with him, which is why I knew about Elder Bennett (Not sure of spelling) and his death. He died because he went into cardiac arrest. He knew though that he was ill coming out. Though, he never told anyone of his pains. I was privileged to meet and talk with his father who just moved up here. What an incredible thing.

Then Saturday... the dreaded transfer call day. And so it was, we got a call. I am going to Sioux Falls, serving in the 3rd ward. Sister Christiansen was ecstatic to hear. That was the area she first served in and there was not a third ward when she left! She was so excited to hear that it's grown to that size! 

Wow... getting transferred. But, it was ok, I wasn't reaaaaaaaally attached to anyone...

Well, that changed after the lesson we had that day with the family!!! First of all, all the kids were so excited to see us. AWESOME! And also, the lesson, the restoration, went swell. AWESOME! And then I told them that I was going to be leaving. Sad face. And I went, making the rounds to shake everyone's hands and the youngest, she's five was the last one I shook... and she wouldn't let go. I tried to take my hand back, but she said, "Don't go."
My New BFF!


I tried to like, make my way out of the room, but she wouldn't let go of my shirt. One of the boys pulled out a camera and I'm like, 'excellent, excuse to pull out my own camera without it being weird!' and as I was pulling it out, man, kids are merciless! She turned her face to Sister Gray and said, "You go home! *hug close to Sister Sanderson*" All of our mouths dropped. Her parents were not happy with her. "You don't say things like that! You never say things like that!!" lol She was pretty determined to have me stay.

Though, the reason she was already attached to me is because I apparently look like one of their older Sisters who is out of the house. We have the same hair. The kids were all saying how I looked like their sister so... yeah...... 

Well.... it's not a complete transfter unless you have your heart ripped out... dang it... haha

The following day was stake conference. I looked around near the end of stake conference and felt sad that I was going to be leaving all these people who I had come to know and love. I felt a lot of closure though because I realized, my first Sunday in Bismarck was stake conference and my last Sunday in Bismarck again was Stake conference. Though the first one was on a different dynamic because that was when they split the stake, still, idk. Just crazy and pretty cool. So I said my goodbyes to many good people.

I've grown so much in Bismarck. BYE LOVE YOU!!

23 - My First General Conference as a Missionary

LOVE Tracting in the "Cold" with Sister Gray
I have two weeks to catch you up on, since I only gave the story of the kidney stone last week. Speaking of which, I apologize, because I realized that basically I described: PAIN, AWFUL, MAN! but I'm ok, *smile.* The ratio of worrisome things and reassuring things was more on the worry side, so I apologize for that. I really am ok, promise. And the kidney stone only hurt me for those two days, and I was actually only in pain for less than twenty-four hours total. I believe I passed the stone in flecks, wasn't one big "small" thing, but little bits. So! It's all over and I'm actually glad I had the experience and I'm glad it wasn't more than a weekend ordeal! So there's no need to worry. I'm fine and had a regular week of missionary work, speckled with spiritual experiences as it always is. And lots of tracting in the cold with my companion.

But, there have been a few things that I have seen and learned this past two weeks.

1) "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things" (2 Nephi 2:11). 

I have a great testimony of this principle. We have not been able to get in with Tracy and Adam in forever! The last solid lesson with them was when Tracy's friend had just died and Adam bore a simple testimony of love for all the people he both knew and didn't know.

That was awhile ago, and we finally had another lesson with her. She's just super busy working three jobs as a single mom and now only has an hour window where she's home and just started taking depression medication which she is bummed about because she doesn't want to be dependent on medication. We told her church is what she needs. And she agreed and committed to come, sincerely. She didn't end up coming because she had to watch her sisters three kids that day it turned out, but it was so good to reestablish contact and caring for her.

But, right as we left the lesson... we got a text from Jane, the one who retired at the end of July and who we also hadn't had contact with for about a month, saying: "I don't want to be baptized. I don't want visits anymore." ...

I was more frustrated than sad. ..She is choosing to deny the divine witnesses that she has had, to deny the truth that she felt, to deny what she so many times has pointed out herself, that we are heavenly messengers that are sent to uplift them in their time of trial. ...Satan has persuaded her to forget. But one day she will remember. I know it.

Now that I've said my piece about the two situations, I would like to point out that this incredible experience was followed by this devastating one. When there is a positive, there will also be a negative. And when there is a negative, there will also be a positive. In the end, there is a balance. It is difficult to remember, when all the negative is happening in one string, that happiness is still within reach. If it is a truth that there will always be good and bad, what then will we focus on? Let us focus on the good. This is what will save us from anguish of spirit, for "men are that they might have joy," (2 Nephi 2:25)

2) Immediate application brings blessings.

I went on exchanges with Sister Christiansen again to fill the 'one exchange a transfer' quota. I have gone on exchanges with her three times now and I learn something great from her each time, something that I can newly apply in my missionary efforts. During the exchange, we made a point not to waste time and, if we wrote it down, we did it. We plan every night for what we are going to do the next day, writing down plans for lessons and back ups for if they fall through, and specific street names or areas which we will tract. I decided this would be a new focus. That is, if it's written down, do it! Unless otherwise inspired of course.

The next day I intended to do just that, but we had something that still needed finishing. Tract, or finish companionship inventory, since we didn't know how long exactly that would take. So should we do companionship inventory first? But my companion reminded me of my resolve to stick to what we had written down. Boy am I glad we did. Because we did what we wrote down, we were able to make face to face contact with someone who we had only been able to talk to via phone for months. And also because of it, we tried a potential we wrote down, but we weren't there for the potential who didn't even answer the door, we were there for the family across the street.

They had just gotten home with groceries. Lots of groceries, in a big truck. We offered to help, but of course he said no, that he got it. There was a little girl who looked about three who was helping, and she had a disability, looking maybe like down syndrome or something similar, and... she was just the sweetest thing. I wish, I WISH I had a picture. The potential didn't answer, they were still working on the groceries... so basically I just started helping anyway, getting away with it by connecting with them by telling them of Marshall and how he has Spina Bifida. (Thanks Marshall, for being awesome and helping me connect with these people!) We found out that this five-year-old little girl had a rare chromosome deletion. Part of her 14th chromosome, like .248 of her 14th chromosome was missing. And they told us it was incredibley rare, that only 13 people in the world or so had it. And their little boy looked like he was disabled somehow too, not as severely though. And the little girl, she just kept telling us, "hi .......hi ...............hi" with a smile and a wave. She was so... so special. And I told the parents that. They weren't interested in our message, but I really, really just think that they needed to be told that their children were beautiful from someone who truly meant their words. I'm so grateful I had that experience. I treasure it dearly. It made me remember and miss Marshall. The both of them have such pure and sweet spirits. And we only saw them because we decided to do what we had written down on paper.

3) Written commitments are powerful.
Salt Lake City - Temple Square
Location of General Conferences

General conference was absolutely thrilling to watch this week. But I didn't come to conference empty handed. I had determined to think of a question to take to conference to help me receive revelation. It helped me know what to do to be a more consecrated missionary. But in order to truly get something out of conference I wrote down one thing that I would change because of listening to conference. 

I encourage you, invite you, exhort you! To ponder. YOU need to ponder over what you heard during conference and you need to write down one thing, just one, that you will focus on improving. You need to write it down because writing it down cements it and holds you accountable. And you need to choose only one because we learn line upon line, precept upon precept. And I promise that as you focus on one thing, other things will naturally follow. So chose one thing to improve. Write it down. As you do so, you 'will' be following our prophet's council, to "return to our homes resolved to be a 'little' better than we were in the past." You will be blessed for seeking truth from God and for sustaining our beloved prophet and by so doing, sustaining our savior, Jesus Christ. In his name, amen.

22 - The Lord Takes Care of his Missionaries, In Sickness and In Health

Beautiful Flowers at the Bismarck Temple
We went through the temple this Wednesday morning, so our p-day is today instead of on Monday. Such is customary, or a required practice rather, should you go to the temple on the first Wednesday of the month. It won't be bright and flowery much longer, so I took the liberty to capture their beauty before they die from the frosty winters here.

I have one story this week. It was quite the experience.

Friday. We went back to the apartment a little early to finish up companionship inventory. We do companionship inventory as part of the scheduled weekly planning every week (how's that for being redundant). It's the last part of weekly planning; you discuss the strength of your relationship, how your obedience is, goals you have personally and as a companionship, how you or the other can improve, discussing anything that's bothering you or keeping you from working in unity, all that good necessary stuff.

So we were sitting on the floor, talking, things were normal, but I was having this stupid cramp in my side. It was weird though, because I thought it was a cramp from PMSing, but I'd never had a cramp like that, more in the front and secluded to my right side... but it was the same kind of 'pain' as a cramp you get when you are PMSing. After I resolved that I just could NOT find a position that made it more comfortable, I took some ibuprofin and that was that. The pain calmed down, normal night of fun, went to bed.

...I woke up at around four in the morning with that same pain again that I couldn't ignore. I tried for a little bit, but it was no good. It was constant and pressing and it was progressing. I got up, bent over, stupid cramp, stupid pain, and basically crawled my way over to taking some more ibuprofin. ...My breathing was labored because of the pain...  I had struggled my way into the kitchen and taken the medicine, but the pain was so intense it was making me nauseous. I went into the bathroom, gasping, rolling up into a ball hoping that that would ease the pain, though it did basically nothing. I'd never felt anything like this before...

My pains were not silent. After awhile, maybe ten minutes at most, a knock came at the door, as I was rather hoping it would. I didn't want to wake the sisters... but I wanted help...

"Come in," I gasped.
*knock knock...*
"Come in," I gasped louder, my face grimicing in pain as I was doubled over. It was Sister Christiansen.
"What's wrong?" she asked urgently.
"I don't know.. huh.. huh... I've- uhHU- never felt anything like this before- huh, huh."
"Do you still have your appendix?"
"huh- yes. huh.. huuh"
"It might be appendicitis.... We're taking you to the emergency room." And so she began to wake the sisters.

I was afraid of that.... After all, I was just notified a month or so earlier by letter that my dad had contracted appendicitis and was throwing up every half hour until mom took him to the emergency room at four in the morning ironically and found out his diagnosis.

And just as I knew it would happen, I vomited into the toilet bowl the two grapes, the water, and the pills that I just recently swallowed... My side was absolutely bursting with pain with no hope of it being relieved here...

It was a rough ride to the hospital. Took a bowl and some water to prevent dry heaving, and we were there soon enough. Dang this was awful. It was so so hard to control my breathing. We called the elders, but they weren't getting there fast enough. We waited for five minutes, but after that we just went in there. 

Kidney Stones are NO FUN!
Got there a bit after five and it was good, I got in to see a doctor right away. Bent over, hurting to bend to the right, having to take off my clothes and put on the gown, guh, it was hard business. The doctor came in and pressed to find the source of the pain. I told him it hurt more to move. He said that wasn't a good sign. Got an IV in me, got some morphine, peed in a cup after the pain had subsided a liiiittle, and they had me sign a paper to give me a cat scan. Mom would appreciate that the doctor commented on my signature saying I had worse handwriting than he did. haha. But... yeah, I wasn't having fun.

But man, one of the hardest things was the cat scan, because they asked me to scootch myself over to another stretcher thing OW! and to hold my hands out above my head OW! and to hold my breath OW! three times as they scanned me! OWW! It was so hard to hold my breath in that pain!!

Got back from that rough cat scan and I didn't want to move, talk, I just wanted to go to sleep. I was so. tired. I'm glad my companion was there to just talk at me. It helped a bit. And then the elders got there and gave me a blessing. The power of the priesthood and modern medicine. You can't go wrong.
There's That Pesky Kidney Stone!

So the doctor came back and the results? A kidney stone. He even drew me a picture.

And I only have one kidney stone, the one stuck right there in the picture. Yeah. Dang kidney stone. People say that it's comparable to child birth, having a kidney stone. I don't know, I still think child birth will be worse, but now I will be able to compare them.

Anyway, went home and the sisters picked up my prescribed medication from the pharmacy. I wrote on them to remind myself of which med did what.

Lots of Meds to Take
Man, I was so tired, I just... I still hurt and... sigh, it was good just to go to sleep at 9:40...

I woke up 2 hours later at 11:40 and...... wait.... !

Took Meds. Felt Awesome!
Take THAT, Kidney Stones!
I sat up. ...WHOA! I layed down and sat up again....! WHAT??! I lifted my leg! WHAT!? MAGIC!!! OH MY GOODNESS!! I WAS PAIN FREEEEEE! It hurt like, .01! When earlier it was like, 7,8! AH! MAGIC! I got up and basically put on a show for Sister Gray. I did a simple thrust out of my hip and said, "that would have KILLED ME this morning!!" She laughed and said that move reminded her of puppets on Sesame Street.

Man, at that moment, I said: "I wanna do something... awwwwesome." So I did.

For those of your who haven't seen on youtube, kid snippets, dance class, please do so now and you will more fully appreciate this picture and comment.

So yes. Magic. And I was complimented, especially by Sister Christiansen, about keeping a good attitude throughout the whole thing.

Felt no pain the rest of Saturday! I felt like crap on Sunday because I think it started moving again and the pain medication didn't beat into submission 'all' of the pain, plus I was exhausted from the day before, so that morning and early afternoon was hard, and the rest of the day was hard emotionally just because my stamina was so shot, but on Monday I was very normal again, and yesterday and today I haven't even been on any pain medication!

So I think the stone has passed into my bladder and is just hanging out there for a bit. It won't hurt when it comes out I've been told, so that's good. But yeah! So I'm doing fine now!

Moral of the story, don't get a kidney stone, but, if you do, it'll be okay. "It will come to pass!"