Monday, January 26, 2015

39 - His Plans are Perfect

So P-Day last week turned out to be really awesome. The set of elders in our ward, Elder Elison and consequently Elder Bolton, know how to do really random things, like be really talented at doing yo-yo tricks and braiding bull whips. So we totally played around with whips! I never thought I'd have the chance to randomly do that as a missionary!

Sister Stephens and I Getting a Whip of a Workout!
And it's cool to learn more of what bull whips actually are too. They are merely rope and electrical tape. And there is a little 'popper' on the end, just a clump of strings, like a tassel on the end of a graduation cap but different, and that is really what makes the whipping sound. The popper kept falling off the whip I was using, so they kept having to put it back on as best they could. I fooled around with the thing for a good while. It would be awesome to get super fancy and be able to whip things in midair and stuff! But man, it's a workout, obviously. My back muscles just above my shoulder blades were sore for three days afterward! Playing with that whip was an awesome experience. It made me feel scared that I was gonna whip myself, (Sister Stephens felt so too,) but I felt powerful at the same time! I wish I had unlimited strength in my shoulders! haha.

"Cute" little snow
And the weather! It has been SO SO nice! It was nice last week and it got cold enough on Monday to snow a cute little snow. It didn't even cover the whole ground it was so cute.
Rain Drops in the Snow
I'm Melting!

And then later the snow that fell melted and it was totally warm enough the sprinkle rain drops! And then it got cold at night and warmed up to above freezing so we woke up and you could tell by how it looked outside what the temperature had been doing.

And now, it is FIFTY DEGREES! SO WARM! In January!

In South Dakota! That is warm!

We all questioned why we were wearing our jackets.

Such Cute Dresses! -- Summer Sale in the Middle of Winter.
 It is not jacket weather today! In fact, we went to Style Encore earlier today and Sister Stephens told me to try on this cute yellow dress. It was size 6, looked super tiny, and I told her I'd try it on to prove that it wouldn't fit me. But actually, I was surprised, it did fit me! It hugs me snuggly around the waist to fit just right! AND I found a white cardigan to go with it! So I bought it!

Super cute!

A sundress. What a great way to celebrate the warm sunny weather, even though there is still melting snow outside, haha.

Something else about this week. We went through our fridge earlier and tossed all the stuff that we weren't going to use. It was an adventure. We had fun pouring things down the sink and even dumping salsa into the toilet just because. It was so disgusting- we had to do it. BUT I digress. My point in this is, we found we had some awesome dressings. High quality ranch, and a balsamic olive garden dressing. We needed to made some serious salads.
So we totally went and bought stuff for salad to go with the dressing which we already possessed. It was sooooo good.

I ate three salads like this this week. By the time you make it and eat it, the whole lunch hour is gone, but they fill you up and are so worth it!

So, about missionary work, it has been another miracle filled week. We have been able to teach 8 new investigators so far this transfer now! We only need 2 more to reach our goal- we are going to exceed our expectations! So incredible!

We were able to go to Worthing again on Friday. We didn't teach anyone there, but we were able to leave sticky notes on doors AND we were able to set up appointments for this Wednesday! Yay! We've really needed to get back to Worthing.

We also went to Lennox, AND while we were there we totally got in with a less active that I've never gotten in with before and they were super open and the lesson went very well! We are excited to continue to see them occasionally.

With Henry and Elizabeth, we taught them the Word of Wisdom this week. We knew it would be probably a harder lesson because they would need to repent of some things. But Henry took it pretty well. You could tell he was uncomfortable, but he told us that his ecig he was using, that he was only at a level 6 nicatine or whatever, which apparently is the lowest before going to zero nicatine, and he has commited to dilute his stuff even more and to be at zero before the 14th so he can be baptized! WOO!

And Elizabeth, she has been soaking up the scriptures! We gave her the D&C Stories because we both had a good feeling that we should, and she has been reading like, 50 pages a day nearly! And she texted us, asking about spiritual gifts, and how you recognize them, and she says she could read all day if she was able and just, ah! And, haha Henry apparently before leaving for work, turned to her and said, "Remember to read your scriptures!" And she's just like, 'what?!' not because she doesn't want to read her scriptures, but because she never thought Henry would get to the point of saying that, being as he was so angry with God just a few months ago! CRAZY PREPARED!

But oh man. Why do we have bodies? And why are we female and have to suffer the consequences of being so? Sister Stephens and I are the same person and were really having a hard time with CRAMPS for a few hours in a few days. But the Lord has a plan in all things and he provides a way to accomplish his marvelous works.

We, especially Sister Stephens, was having a hard time with bodies being in pain. We debated on whether to head to Tea after Lennox as planned, or just to head home. ...It was pretty late... but we headed to Tea. And we stopped by a family, hoping it wouldn't be to late for a lesson, and hoping they'd be home, all these hopes. And... they were. All of them were there and all of them were able to sit in on us teaching the restoration. And it was cool, because I felt I needed to explain a bit more in detail that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are all separate beings but one in purpose, and when I asked them individually what one think they learned from the lesson tonight was, the mom said she learned that the Holy Ghost was a separate thing. And, while in the lesson, the pains in our bodies subsided. The Lord takes care of his missionaries.

And this Sunday, Sister Stephens was having horrible contraction cramps! Like, really giving birth to an unfertilized egg! But she is such a trooper and we came to sacrament meeting and when she sat down in the chapel, the pains calmed for good. A miracle.

The disappointing thing was... Henry and Elizabeth... they weren't showing up to church... They sent us a text in the middle of sacrament meeting saying that they accidentally set their alarm to pm and that they just woke up... ...They didn't even come to any of the other hours, probably because they were embarrassed. But, Heavenly Father's plans are perfect. The high council speaker talked about a lot of deep doctrine things and it would have just made them incredibly confused. So the Lord actually protected them. They were meant not to come to this sacrament meeting. The Lord definitely has a plan in all things.

So that's about it. I look forward to emailing next week! I love you all!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

38 - 17 Miracles

So, first off, we got this email last week from our mission President, and I wasn't sure if it was appropriate to post on my blog for everyone to see, but everyone here is talking about it and facebooking about it, so here it is!

Dear Elders and Sisters,
We are pleased to announce changes that will occur to our mission on or before July 1 2015. First, as scheduled, there will be a change of mission president. The new mission president and wife replacing Sister Anderson and me will be President Michael J. and Danece Hess. They currently live in Malad, ID. Second, the mission headquarters will be moved to Bismarck ND on or before July 1st. Third, the boundaries of our mission will be changed. The decision by the brethren to make these changes is driven by several factors. There is significant growth in the Northwest portion of the South Dakota Rapid City Mission. It is the largest geographic mission in the continental US. The boundaries of the mission will be changed to reduce the overall size and make it easier to administer. The new boundaries will align with the boundaries of the Bismarck ND temple district. This means that the South Dakota Sioux Falls Stake will become part of the Nebraska Omaha Mission, the Wyoming Casper Stake will become part of the Colorado Ft. Collins Mission and the Wyoming Gillette Stake will become part of the Montana Billings Mission. Also, the Montana Glendive Stake will become part of the new North Dakota Bismarck Mission. We are awaiting further instruction as to the exact timing of these changes. We can only imagine the logistical details involved in this historic event. This change will affect four missions. Three of these four missions, Montana Billings, Nebraska Omaha and South Dakota Rapid City Mission will all receive new mission presidents on July 1st 2015. President Kelly Brown of the Colorado Ft. Collins Mission began his service in July of 2013. This change is part of the 11 new missions announced by the church this week. We fully sustain the brethren as they manage these changes and we anxiously await further instructions from them. We hope to be able to share further details during our January Zone Conference.
All our love, President and Sister Anderson

Isn't that insane! My mind was and still is blown! Everyone who will still be serving in the SDRCM (South Dakota Rapid City Mission) will have a different mission come July! I could be sent somewhere even futher out than the mission boundries originally allowed come my last four months as a misisonary! WOW! So crazy. But of course, we won't find out where we are going until late June or so when transfers come around and all the changes actually happen.

So, that is happening in the future and it's mindblowing.

But onto this week. My goodness. This week has been absolutely full of miracles and tender mercies and miracles, so much so that I came up with a list of "17 miracles" that happened this week that are all just... miraculous!

1. The deaf member we are working with, inviting her deaf friend to church by calling her right when we committed her to do it.

2. A member's brother, who is not a member, being at dinner and us having the chance to teach him the restoration lesson.

3. Our first lesson with someone who we ran into awhile ago- a thirteen year-old girl who is a seeker of truth and her parents are supportive of her religious search.

4. Calling the native american less active family and finding out they needed some financial service because of her son and his family, who are members we found, needing to live with them for awhile and being able to call bishop and provide that service for them.

5. The native american family coming to church, the whole family except the nonmember grandfather.
They are always so excited to come to church, but Satan is ensuring it to be a stumbling block for them.

6. Getting in with a less active family that I have never gotten in with before in my time here and them saying to come back on Saturday.

7. Getting in with another less active family that I have never gotten in with and being able to teach her kids who have such a desire to learn about Jesus Christ.

8. Being prompted to bring a bag of food and other necessities that we were able to part with in the case of meeting with a homeless lady. Though we didn't meet with her, the bag of food was truly meant for the less active family mentioned just above, who are also struggling financially, and we were able to cook dinner and clean for them.

9. Having my testimony increased of pushing through those moments where you just don't feel like working because you just might find a family to teach with a mom and dad and two young ones on the second door you try.

10. Having served half of my time as a full time missionary faithfully.
That's right! I've reached my 9-month mark! How awesome is that!

11. Being blessed with good health while the flu is still running rampant.

12. All of the member involvement we have been able to see this week. 7 member present lessons, most of our first lessons with people having members there, members giving us rides last minute, the list goes on.

13. My companion is a great support and the work moves along so easily with Sister Stephens working alongside me.

14. Our New Investigator goal as a companionship for the transfer is 10 and we found 4 new investigators since I last emailed.

15. The progression that our new investigators have made!
These were the investigators that we found in Tea through He is the Gift. I will call them Henry and Elizabeth. Henry was very closed off in the first lesson. This is the one who lost his grandmother seven years ago and has been very bitter about it until the birth of his baby girl began to soften his heart.
As we came over again, he seemed a lot more open, especially bringing an awesome member with us talked about in the miracle below. Henry said that if we came before we did knocking on the door, he would have messed with us in a bad way. It had to be now- he's prepared now. And now he enjoys having us come over. And Elizabeth says she's "hooked" on the Book of Mormon. They keep their commitments and them have such desire! It makes sense to them! 
We have now taught them since last time I emailed the first three lessons and they accepted a baptismal date of February 14th!

16. Henry and Elizabeth having a super awesome fellowshipper.
This member is the mother of a family who moved into the ward as of December. She has been an extraordinary teacher and fellowshipper to Henry and Elizabeth, watching their first seven month old little girl while Henry had surgery on his back, and inviting them to FHE, all with just coming out to one lesson!

17. Henry and Elizabeth overcoming opposition from the adversary.
After we put them on date, they were on the phone with Elizabeth's mother mother who told them many false things about the church telling them that she raised her better. But they told her to respect their decision! They stood up for what they have been learning! It shook them up a bit, but man, they are so strong and just- amazing!

Needless to say, this was an amazing week! I think the differences have been our renewed desire to be obedient and consecrated missionaries. We started the 40 day fast together on Saturday. The 40 fast is something that was we were committed by are district leader to do. It entails fasting for a day and coming up with a list that day of all the things that poke at your spirit. Then, for those forty days afterward, you fast for those things, talking about each of those things in your prayers at night and telling Heavenly Father how well you did at fasting that day. It will be hard, but good.

We started fasting from food from Saturday to Sunday afternoon, and that's when we saw the two less active families that I had never taught before, when we were fasting. Other contributing factors to this success is the much groundwork that Sister Burt and I laid. We will have many potentials that we found that are looking at turning into investigators. And good health- having the ability to actually go out- always helps too. 


So much to be grateful for!

P.S. Raman noodles supports Return Missionaries
P.P.S. Sister Hawkes and Sister Dennison are cute. They heart attacked a house today. Sister Sumsion was transftered, so Sister Dennison is our new Sister Training Leader.

Monday, January 12, 2015

37 - Meet The Sioux Falls Sisters - Old AND New!

Behind the scenes of Mount Rushmore... 

Bet you didn't know that this is actually what the back of Mount Rushmore looks like! 

That's right, us Sioux Falls Sister's doing fat faces.
This cake took me three and a half hours to make. 

Yay P-day! 

I had this cake idea brewing since just after Christmas. 
In December, Sam took our pictures so that we could send cute Christmas cards to our family and friends. 
In time, we made our cards and Sister Burt printed out a few pictures and used them to decorate her planner cover. On the back she put our "fat face" picture because she thinks it's so awesome, and the subject of cake making came up one day and I had the means now with Sam being able to make the actual cakes... and so the idea sparked!

Sister Burt's Face on a Plate!
Sister Burt had no idea what the cake would be. She would try to guess it and she usually wasn't even close. Probably the funniest thing was when she figured out that she would be on the cake and she said, "just don't make me look fat." Hahaha, if she only knew! hahaha. "I will make sure that you are pleased with the cake," I told her. 

Also, the best things about surprises like this is seeing Sister Burt show off her planner cover to other people. Everytime in my head it was confirmed that, yep, she will love it!

And she did! She thought it was so awesome! And what person wouldn't want to eat their own face!?

...and the extra white frosting before hand. haha. 
Yummm! Frosting Anyone?
She didn't feel so well after she went into a sugar coma. 

But she felt alright after awhile. 

It was a great last Monday as a missionary for her still.

Tuesday we finished up saying our goodbyes and Sister Burt officially packed up all of the stuff she wanted to take home with her. She left a lot of stuff behind that she didn't need. 

And that night we made the switch, and I was united with my new companion, Sister Stephens, who I actually had already met during the time I was serving in Bismarck!

Sister Stephens..."What's Up?"
Sister Stephens says "What's up" (in sign language) by the way.

I actually met her when she was training. 

She started her mission in Dickinson when I was still in my last weeks with my trainer Sister Easter, and Dickinson is in our zone, so I saw her occasionally. 

She even performed one of the numbers in the musical fireside that Sister Springer and Sister Paniagua and I organized. It was great hearing that I would be companions with someone who I could already put a face to.

And serving with Sister Stephens has been wonderful so far! She is so easy to work with because her desire to work hard and be obedient shines through beautifully! She is always anxiously engaged in the cause of being an effective missionary! Her personality is also quite similar to mine, something I haven't quite had in a companion yet. So being similar in that way is a blessing that I am not forgetting to count!

And I am so impressed with her dedication to improve and learn, especially concerning her signing abilities. When I told her that we were in the ASL ward and that we were working lots with a deaf less active, she was pretty shocked. She didn't expect to be coming to an area where she needed to learn sign language. But I came out of the bathroom one night and there she was, on her bed, looking at the sign language book. And she practices the signs she knows throughout the day, and that's more than I ever did. I am so impressed by her!

We heard from Sister Burt (through a member here that she texted) that she was safe and sound back in Oregon. 

We were very glad, because the weather was pretty bad on Thursday. 
There was a blizzard warning that day... and it was my first time driving in this area...

My First Time DRIVING in the Snow
My first time driving in snow and I was technically driving in a blizzard! 

Go figure! 

But it really wasn't bad. Visibility was still pretty good. It was just the wind that was blowing the snow across the street like crazy! 

You GO, Sister Stephens!
We tried to capture the sand like snow in pictures, but it's just not the same. It was really intense though. 

Also, I'm glad my companion, who is from California, is enamored with snow like I am. 

It's not as fun when your companion hates snow.

I even got some action shots of Sister Stephen's shoveling a member's walkway in the 'blizzard!' 
It was fun stuff!

I'm so excited for the work to progress in our area! 

I will be sure to give success stories next week, because I just know, it's gonna be a good week! I'm excited for this cold transfer!

Monday, January 5, 2015

36 - The Turn of the New Year - Happy 2015!

I hope all of you have had a great New Year so far! 

Have any of you made New Year resolutions? We learned that a survey was taken at some point that showed that out of 1000 people who make resolutions only 30 people accomplish them. And you know what those 30 people did differently? They told a bunch of people so they were held accountable to basically everybody. 

So if you really are serious about your goals, go out and tell people about them!

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (Luke 2:52).

Though Jesus was perfect, he still had to learn things and develop his character in his mortal life. I am sure that Jesus had a vision of what he wanted to achieve and made the goals and then plans to accomplish his righteous desires. From this scripture, we learn that he improved in his intellectual, physical, spiritual, and social skills. 

I have made four goals that I would like to publicly share that I want to work on throughout the year.
   1) Know multiple ways to teach the missionary lessons.
   2) Maintain a habit of daily physical exercise.
   3) More readily remember to call upon Heavenly Father.
   4) Follow up with people more quickly and frequently.

Alright, everyone knows now! Lets see how I do come the new year!

As far as this week (the first of the new year) goes, it was a lot of saying goodbye to people, being as it was Sister Burt's last week as a full time missionary. She leaves Sioux Falls on Wednesday early in the morning and will arrive home on Thursday. 

My new companion will be Sister Stephens, and I will be sure to give a description of my new companion when I actually meet her.

Unfortunately one of the things that happened this week was I got sick with a nasty stomach bug on New Year's Eve. Good thing is, it really only lasted 24 hours, so that's a blessing! 

You know what's funny though? I have noticed a pattern in my being sick. I have consistently been getting sick every other month: June, August, October... and then... December, haha. And that's not even including the kidney stone or the slight sore throat I had on December 1st.

Sister Burt said to me that morning to make me laugh a little: "Well, at least you didn't break your streak!" Haha. So, I'm due next in February! Let's see if this keeps going!

On New Year's day though I felt so much better! 

To celebrate, or really, just to do what we originally had planned, we went and served at a place called The Banquet. It's a place that serves food to people who are poor or homeless and this ward serves there every New Year's Day. We made a lot of great contacts, mostly with people who live in the elder's area, but we were able to refer them to the elders quickly and effectively because the elders were there serving too. 

We met the sweetest old homeless lady who seems to have a good head on her shoulders and we will start teaching her this week if possible at the church. It broke my heart when she told us of the places she usually sleeps in this sometimes negative degree weather... Under bridges and sometimes in people's yards but tries to stay hidden and relocates at least every three days and such.... so sad.....

But now the crowning event of the week!!! 

Remember that story I told in the "Bucket List" entree about how we did a spontaneous lesson with one of our less actives and her friend was there and we taught him the restoration and referred him to the elders because he wasn't in our area?
Josh's Baptism. Yeah!

AH!! Josh! 
He actually made it to baptism and is still going strong! I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost and the Lord's plan, because things definitely worked out so perfectly for us to find him. 
And he got baptized on Saturday! WOW! 
It was so cute, he had to get dunked three times because he's not super duper fond of water and wasn't expecting it, even though he knew he was going under the water, you know how it is. 
But wow, his testimony is simple and it is strong.
"The Book of Mormon has changed my life. People are always trying to tell me it isn't right and they still think Mormons do the seven wives. I tell them 'no! That was done hundreds of years ago. It's different now!' My Fiancee still doesn't know, but I know this is the best for her and the three kids she has. This church helps me. I need to walk in the Lord's footsteps."
Now that was paraphrasing, not an actual quote, but man, so awesome! 
I totally count him as a baptism that I was largely a part of. And I'm sure it's been a really cool experience for Elder Bolton. He is a greenie and he got the opportunity to teach someone all the lessons, really seeing someone progress all the way to baptism, and on this last day of the transfer, his last day of being a greenie, he was able to perform the baptism. So cool!

So that's it for this week. 
Sorry for the lack of pictures. 
Sister Burt was the one taking all the goodbye pictures, not me. But I will have awesome pictures next week, promise.

Happy New Year everyone!