Sunday, January 25, 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!

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!

Friday, January 23, 2015

35 - I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Last P-day was pretty awesome. We went to Sam's house and we watched..... a MOVIE.... WHAT?! 

We weren't being disobedient though, because our mission president has authorized us to watch this movie on P-days if we so choose. You know what this movie is....?.....
Saratov Approah. Aka, a mormon horror movie. haha. It's only about two missionaries getting kidnapped and held ransom in Russia! And the scarier thing is... my companion's had an experience that was very similar.

The movie:
They just wanted one more lesson, but the spirit prompted them not to go in as they knocked on the door, but they went in anyway. And they were beaten and held at gun point and kidnapped.
Sister Burt in Wyoming:
They just wanted one more lesson, but the spirit prompted them not to go in as they knocked on the door, but they went in anyway. They just needed one more lesson to meet their goal after all, and when the door opened the spirit just left, and as they were teaching her it was very scary, but the biggest freaky thing was she told them that if they had knocked on their door just a month earlier, she would have let them in only to kill them.
So! That's that! 
It was a super awesome movie though.

Bishop Taylor and Family
Christmas Eve
But onto happier topics, we spent Christmas Eve night with the Bishop Taylor and his family! 

They played some Manhiem Steamroller, which I thank them for, because it's not really Christmas without Manhiem Steamroller! 

And they gave us both beautiful journals! How nice!

Our awesome tree began to have presents under it a couple days before Christmas. We were glad we didn't have to wait very long to open them!

I love Christmas morning, rushing out to open presents in your Christmas pajamas as soon as you wake up!

Oh, and we can't forget the stockings of course. ...I sent my family chocolate coal for Christmas. They were quite offended. haha.

Weeeee had a lot of appointments scheduled for Christmas, to just go and share the Christmas story with people. But they all canceled except for one darn it! 

Spontaneous going out of town, not getting home in time, just not 'there,' sigh. 

The one appointment that did not fall through was the family who fed us an early dinner.

Sister Hartl, Daughter, Cat and Blankets
A good ol' Christmas ham, and rasberry pie after, yum! 

So we at least got to read the Christmas story with one family!

And Sister Hartl is so nice and made us blankets!!! Mine has a purple corner because she ran out of thread for mine, which I think is awesome. haha.

The "Phone Call" Home
And then, it was time to call my family! Oh, it was so wonderful! I was able to facetime them for about an hour on a member's ipad. Oh man, my heart was pounding soooo hard before I called. I think it's just because it's so rare and special and you are 'not' allowed to do it except for as this time so I almost felt rebellious. But oh man, it was so good to see my family, as well as my friends who were there who are basically family to me. 

The biggest changes are 1) My dad has a beard which I don't know how I feel about but have to accept, and 2) My youngest brother Marshall is going through puberty and his voice is like, practically an octave lower, which I definitely don't know how I feel about but have to accept! haha. 

And I got to watch my family open their gifts which I sent them! It was soooooooo good to see they are all doing well!

And I opened my gift from my family that got here just in time on Christmas Eve and the tradition lives on! My mother always buys me a nice Sunday outfit for Christmas, so she sent me a super cute outfit! Thanks mom!

Sam with Her New Book of Mormon. :-)
And at the end of the night we gave Sam her Christmas present. We gave her a Book of Mormon because her two-and-a-half-year-old gave her other one a bath... which is super sad because it had all sorts of markings in it from when she first joined the church a few years back. 


So we gave her another hard cover one like the one she had and wrote our testimonies in it and little sticky notes throughout the Book of Mormon. She loved it!

Oh... and by the way. I thought we were going to have snow.... I mean, this is the midwest, South Dakota, has already snowed and it was super cold during Thanksgiving! I should have been a guaranteed white December but....

After Christmas

Day AFTER Christmas...Now That's More Like It!
Christmas Day...Where's the White Stuff?
I LOVE the Snow!
 This was the extent of my 'white' Christmas. 

And then...

Oh course, the day after, it snows. 

The irony. I can't help but laugh. haha. So, I'm still dreaming of a white Christmas.

But man, the day after Christmas was crazy. You know why? Because we had somebody give us harmful substances that night after much struggle and turmoil. It was an increadibly huge step. And we come to find out that -- remember that guy who we found a month or so ago when we went over to teach a lesson that we had to let the Elders teach him because he wasn't in our area? Well he gave up his addictive substances to the Elders that night as well of his own desire and free will. 

So all in all, this week was a real treat. We did not have very many lessons, but this was one of the most special and treasured and crazy weeks in my mission. I am already sure of that, despite having 10 months left to go. 

I have only nine days left with Sister Burt, and I'm confident they will be good ones. It's tough to go home, especially when you grow connections to select people in your mission that are so strong. But it'll be alright.

Also, it's Sister Hawkes's birthday today! 

The big two oh! Twenty years old! 

And haha, she loved the shirt that my family gave me for Christmas. 

(Don't worry, I'm not giving away my present to her. I was just letting her look at it and she approves.) 

So we took her out to breakfast today.

By the way, I think this is the official winter. I think it is here to stay now. It was 7 degrees outside and I don't think it's going to get above freezing again for awhile. I am so blessed that December has been a mild month though! Seriously!

I hope you all had a great Christmas and were able to witness Christmas miracles. We were sure able to the day after! The miracles came a day late, just like the snow haha. But it was definitely all in the Lord's timing. 

Give something back this Christmas season (yes,it's still the Christmas season) and you will be so much more satisfied with you life! 

I love being here in South Dakota serving the Lord!

Have a Happy New Year Everyone!
Sam's Cool Black Cat

Look at this cute cat that Sam has haha. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

34 - Tis the Season

Yes, It Snowed!
So last week, remember when I said it was going to snow later? Well when we walked into the library it was raining, and then when we walked out two hours later, it was snowing! Like, wet snow that pelts you in the face and kinda hurts snow, haha. 

I guess lots of schools were let out early because of the snow. And it was raining today when we walked in the library and I think the same thing is gonna happen again, cuz it's supposed to snow, again! haha. The weather has actually been very mild! Around mid November was really cold, but it hasn't gotten as cold since then. It's supposed to be really cold the day after Christmas, but still not as cold as it was in mid November!

Sister Burt's New Hair
After emailing last week, Sister Burt and I got our hair done. I got mine cut. Finally I got all the back of my hair chopped off again. It's always liberating to get my hair cut. 

Even though it looks basically no different from the front, seriously a small dog was born on the ground because I have so much hair on the back of my head! haha. People are always amazed at how much hair I have. 

Sister Burt got her hair dyed a dark brown color with burgundy low lights. 

It suits her very well.

Caroling In The Snow
That night we had plans to go caroling, and the weather didn't stop us! 

The weather really wasn't too too cold. It's just hard when it's actually snowing because the roads are always bad when it snows. 

But oh my goodness, I loved caroling in the snow! Even though it makes it harder to sing haha.

Caroling for one of the members
It reminded me of the caroling parties we have back home with my family, only we were bringing people poinsettias instead of way awesome treat plates with superly awesome decorated sugar cookies. 

And we were caravanning in the snow instead of on the dry streets of Tempe, Arizona. 

It was a little bit weird because we were only caroling to members when we should have been caroling to less actives... but we didn't orchestrate the whole caroling thing... So I count it as good service. 

It was fun.

Here is the story of the week.
On Saturday we were tracting in Tea and we met someone whom I will call Elizabeth. She seemed really nice and we set up another time to come and see her at a time that worked better for her. Later when we texted to confirm the appointment, her husband, whom I will call Henry, texted back, and asked us who we were. He told us he was just getting out of the hospital and we asked if there was anything we could to for him. He told us he had been instructed to wear thermocare heat things on his lower back everyday because he was still experiencing problems from having spinal surgery a year prior and he just hasn't been able to afford them that regularly. So for our return appointment, the member that went with us was willing to buy him one. We were able to serve Henry in a unique way.

We showed Henry and Elizabeth the He is the Gift video for the lesson. Elizabeth was more inclined to answer questions and with her husband's silent nod of approval, she explained that Henry has been angry because of the painful death of his saintly grandmother in 2007. So anything involving religion is a sensitive topic. Henry explained to us a bit about his grandmother's death, that she was killed because of someone who was texting while driving. The texter walked away with a few bruises while his grandmother suffered in the hospital for a long while before passing away.

He used to be a strong believer in Jesus Christ, but has had a hard time with his faith ever since then. But he has just recently started to soften his heart because of the birth of their now six-month-old baby girl.

It was no coincidence that we came knocking on their door at this point in Henry's life. Heavenly Father knew he wasn't ready to be taught the gospel before, now he is. We have a return appointment with them next week.

So that was Wednesday, halfway through the week and then... Sister Burt, poor thing, she got the flu! It's been going around like it always does this time of year, and she fell victim to it. I just feel so bad because she had the flu at this time last year too and it was so awful that she told me, "Sister Sanderson, I would rather die than have the flu again. I'm serious. I give you full permission to kill me!" And then she gets the flu, sad face. I may be 'killing her off' in mission terms, but I wasn't about to kill her in real life. I was helpless as I saw the progression of the awful virus causing her so much misery for three days give or take.

The good thing is, I am ok! It is a miracle that I haven't gotten the flu, and I thank Heavenly Father for blessing me with good health at this time!!! I found things to do with no problem. I had plenty of Christmas cards to write as well as miscellaneous letters. Plus, we have the entire standard works that we can read! I studied some Isaiah. It was fun.

The other good thing is, Sister Burt is feeling much much much better now and we can go out and work tomorrow! Yay! Also, we were able to fulfill our baptismal covenant yesterday and "comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:8-10). There's someone in the other ward whom I will call Sam who we know very well from spending some P-Day hours with her and stuff and she's been struggling to rekindle her testimony amongst an array of obstacles. Sister Burt and I were able to be a friend to her on Sunday. And, it's great because since Sister Burt goes home in a few weeks, she will be able to talk to her as much as is needed - she hopes - when she is no longer a missionary. Yaaay!

That's it for this week! I'm excited to call my family for Christmas! Stay well everyone, and happy holidays!