Monday, June 29, 2015

44 - RAPID is the Word...And I'm 21!

Being a missionary is super hard and super fulfilling. Sometimes, the hardest part is having to watch someone else endure trials. My poor companion Sister Stephens has been tormented with what has been confirmed to be a sinus infection for two weeks now! Poor thing!

I was studying one morning and one thing led to another and I discovered a profound acronym based on one of my favorite scriptures.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ my rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in [afflictions], in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong, (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

So I cheated a little bit to made the acronym by changing the word necessities to afflictions, and I changed the order, but watch this.


The RAPID City South Dakota mission is full of hard things, but just as it says earlier in 2 Corinthians 6:4, it is in suffering through these things that we "approve ourselves as ministers of God."

Super profound. To make it clear, I am not suffering much pains and afflictions and depression right now. I am in such a great attitude and spirit currently! It's just hard watching Sister Stephens have to suffer through body ailments.

See, she thought she was better. And then on Tuesday at the tail end of a lesson (with a new investigator who was a sweet referral who I will probably need to explain more about in a later entree) she had a migraine, the type that you just want to saw open your head to relieve the pressure. Like, it literally sounds like a pretty good solution to you. And she couldn't sleep that night. She was waking up about every half hour. And she still had it in the morning despite that fact that it dulled down only slightly, and she still was able to go and have the determination to do things! I really don't know how she was functioning. It's so frustrating being sick.

It got to the point where she hadn't had good sleep at all for about four days in the span of less than a week and it had just gotten to be enough. We called our mission nurse and she told us to go to urgent care. So we had an adventure out in the freezing cold of 0 degrees with a windchill of probably -19, why was that day so cold, and went to one place close by, but then it wasn't a walk in urgent care, so they told us of another place and it was ALL the way at the top of Sioux Falls. 

But you gotta do what you gotta do. It was confirmed to be a sinus infection. They gave her a strong antibiotic and we went back down to our not-so-humble Southern end of Sioux Falls and picked up her prescription and some Jimmy John's.

And we saw a car. 

And it looked like this.


But, Sister Stephens, she still needed lots of rest. Things were so rough, just because of the length of suffering through this! When you are in a meeting and you just feel horrible and sick and feel like you are going to cry but need to hold it together because you are in front of people but hiding your pains makes you even more on the verge of tears, yeah that was district meeting. She got a priesthood blessing afterward and felt a lot better, calmed by the spirit.

And the very next day she was still in agony and she felt she needed another blessing. We called our ward mission leader this time and, the spirit works in ways we can only discern in retrospect sometimes. The blessing wasn't the thing that was comforting as much as playing with our ward mission leader's kids while we waited for another priesthood holder to get there to perform the blessing. (Sticky hands are so incredibly amusing!) Plus, it was I would imagine the blessing was really a good experience for the kids to practice being reverent and to witness a priesthood blessing that their dad performed. Super important!

But now Sister Stephens is doing a lot better. She has been able to get sleep! It has been so great! And holy cow is she so diligent! Seriously, every day we did missionary work. I don't know how she was able to keep the attitude of going and doing! I don't know if I could have handled it. She is such an example to me of diligence and positivity...
Frosty Eyes on our Car

And silliness.

We saw great things this week despite sickness and cold. 

Got Gloves?  Who Needs 'em!

It has been very cold this week. 

It snowed on Wednesday and has been pretty cold ever since. 

But now it's gotten to the point where it's not even worth putting on a scarf anymore. "Oh, it's 15 degrees? Ok." Put on jacket and boots, maybe gloves, maaaybe, and head out.

We were able to take out so many members that were awesome to take out this week. We took Bishop with us!! How cool is that!? And we had two short lessons with people- one family who we just knocked on their door that night looking for a less active person and finding this family instead, and then having a short lesson with another family who lives in Tea, and we've already introduced the Bishops daughter to their daughter, so super cool and we just need who ever is able to finally get to the point of coming to church! Silly silly not coming to church because of business. One day, they will come and want to be baptized.

Then we went out with two sisters who we have never been out with before. It was so cool and needed to go out teaching with them. We didn't get to teach any lessons in homes, but we were able to uplift and edify each other. 

One sister had never gone out with the missionaries before because she lives 30 to 45 minutes out of town (and actually in fact out of the entire mission boundaries which is crazy) and the missionaries had just never called her. And she is SUPER awesome! And we love her so much and loved spending the evening with her while trying to find people.

This Sunday, March 1st, was also my birthday. And my mom is so awesome and sent me a super cute shirt!

What could it be?
Yeah! Sour Patch Watermelon!
Thanks, Mom!
 And also sour patch watermelon!!

And I had just run out and was wanting more! I didn't even ask, and I received! 

(But that's not the general rule everyone. You should always ask. haha.)

I'm so bad. I don't mind if people know it's my birthday. But then I get into trouble because then everyone wants to do things for me. And I did totally set myself up- I bore my testimony because it was fast and testimony meeting and I mentioned how this day is a time of reflection for me because I like to think about what I did with myself when I was in my 20th year of living and whatnot and how last year I was working at Circle K preparing to go on a mission and how I'm so grateful to be on a mission now. And it's crazy to think that before the mission changed that I would only just now be able to go.

So haha, I should have kept a tally, but I got a TON of "happy birthday"s and then, our relief society president just called me and she said she feels super bad for not knowing it was my birthday and she is going to drop something off for me tonight! I told her she wasn't allowed. But I don't think that's going to stop her. haha.

But we ate dinner that night with a super nice super quirky family and I love them! 

And he must have been super inspired because he made spaghetti, but with fettuccine noodles, which is what my mom always makes, and often us kids would request spaghetti for our birthdays. 

So that was super neat.

I had a great week, a great birthday, and Sister Stephens is feeling so much better and the work is hastening and it's wonderful! 

Henry and Elizabeth have been having it a little rough, Henry being on disability right now because of his back and Elizabeth has been really sick because of her pregnancy. Which, is sort of good because that means she is pregnant and has not lost the baby, but bad because she feels awful and neither of them were able to come to church this week. But! It will happen when the time is right!

I again, am loving my mission and am looking forward to reporting the details of next week!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

43 - This Sabbath Day

Birds Coming Back - Spring Must be Near
First, about the weather, since I haven't mentioned it much recently. It hasn't really snowed or anything, but the temperature has been going up and down and up and down! I always accused Arizona of having bipolar weather, but South Dakota definitely has it too. It was in the 40's one day, then 12 degrees with some wind a day later. The fluctuating weather is really hard on a lot of people. But, the birds seem to think it's okay to start coming back. So hopefully winter won't last too much longer.

Sister Stephens was sick the first bit of this week. But, consequently, I had time to do things- like sit down and reorganize the area.
We have been talking about this with the Elders for awhile and on Saturday we set it in stone. See, we share a ward with the Elders and we have assigned areas that we proselyte in so that when we tract we don't knock on the same doors unknowingly and so we know 'okay, we have jurisdiction over teaching the gospel to this person and they are responsible for that person.' Of course, there are a few exceptions, like when people request specifically to have sisters, so we do teach some singe women in the elders area. BUT! Here's the thing. Our area was the rich part of Sioux Falls. People generally haven't been too receptive when we work in our part of Sioux Falls. And, the Elders usually work the northern part of their area and the middle was being left out, but it is a more humble area, unlike our portion.

The part of the Sioux Fall Area that we are responsible for.
So! We bumped up the dividing line to 33rd street! Before we only went up to 57th street, the colored in crayon areas. So we have more area, more people we have responsibility over! SO while Sister Stephens was sick, I went through the massive stack of the Elders 'former's and organized it and pulled out the people who were now in our area, which was just six records out of the at least seventy that were in there. That's how little they got down past 33rd Street. I'm so glad we changed the area boundaries! We also this week went through the ward list and found tons of less actives to try. I think less active hunting is one of my favorite things to do. I feel like a sneaky gospel detective and I feel like it's clearing up information on the ward list that needs correction. ...It's the editor in me. haha.

Also, other news.

Yes, this is a repeat picture, but this is just to illustrate the fact that, WE HAVE THE CAR 24/7 NOW!!! 

See, this transfer the area in Mitchel was closed, because there's just not enough missionaries coming our to balance out the number of them going home. They had a car up there and there was a space for it here so, ALL of the missionaries here in Sioux Falls have a car full time now!! Blessings!

But about this week.

We had a really sweet lesson with a family who is going to progress in the gospel. They have been feeling under the weather this week, but the mom's sister is a member and they oh man, they are just prepared and really want to know the truth, and their ten year old is so profound, holy cow! When we asked him to say the prayer at the end of the lesson he said, "I've never said anything this important before.. I'm nervous..." AWW! But he did so good! Aw man, he is going to make the best father! So patient and eager to learn the gospel reverent and respectful!

Henry and Elizabeth have been having medical trials lately. Elizabeth had a scare on Thursday that she might have lost the baby. They called us, but we were at dinner, but they got a hold of one of their fellowshippers - members are so awesome - and she took them to the hospital. Henry had just taken medication that prohibits him from being able to drive for two hours- that's why they needed someone to take them. But it seems like things should be okay with Elizabeth and her baby. The results looked okay then, but they will have her do another test soon to confirm she is still pregnant.
Henry and Elizabeth
The day after that craziness happened, we ate dinner with them! How awesome is that! They slaved away in the kitchen, preparing enchilada's for us. 

Henry told us the meal we ate with them that night was the same thing that Elizabeth first cooked him. It was love at first bite, haha.

And their cute baby. :-)
And their little baby is sooooo cute! 

We just love her! 

And she loves us!

We watched the Restoration DVD after dinner and kind of connected the dots. If the restoration is true, then the Book of Mormon is true and vise versa, and the priesthood is here on the earth, and we have a prophet and his words are God's words, and the church is just true! 

And Henry is excited about baptism! The ten percent of tithing is still a bit too high but they will pay as much as they can. We will continue to work on their testimony and commitment to paying tithing. But he has developed a testimony of the priesthood since he had that blessing last week. And we told them that they needed to come to church three Sundays before baptism, and he pulled out his phone, looking at his calendar and said, "if we come these next three Sundays, we could do the 14th.

AH! Just to hear him talk about baptism like, 'yeah, we are going to do this,' and just... Sister Stephens and I weren't sure if they would be baptized before I leave the area and now it looks like that's totally going to happen and just! AAAHH! I'm just so happy!

But of course, we still aren't there yet. But oh man, we love Henry and Elizabeth so much. And the more Sister Stephens and I talk about it, the more we feel we were called to serve here, specifically us two, for them. They feel comfortable around us and we just, we LOVE THEM! And want the best for them and to teach them so well and just, yes. It's awesome!
And then. This Sunday. Heavenly Father. He answers prayers.

I prayed so much that Henry and Elizabeth would come to church, as well as who I will call Sunshine, the deaf less active that I have worked with since I got here to Sioux Falls. She is officially moving, and she hasn't been to church for over a month and she NEEDED to come to church this week, because she moves Saturday!
And SHE CAME! She was able to get up! SHE CAME! Oh man, poor thing, she's so sad about moving- been crying a lot. We pray for her, we love her so much.

AND! MIRACLE!!!! HENRY CAME TO CHURCH WITH THEIR BABY! But Elizabeth didn't because she was having bad morning sickness, and on her birthday too, sad face. So Henry only stayed for sacrament, but it was also super cool because one of his main fellowshippers gave a great talk! How cool is that! OH MAN! They are going to have an easier time coming to church now. I'm so excited!

And, a simple text can be so so important! Another less active who lives in Worthing who hasn't been to church in who knows how long - mostly we think because he just got out of the habit of going - came to church because we texted him asking him if he would be at church! And then he came!

So heavenly Father answered yes to Henry, and Sunshine, but no to Elizabeth, and provided us with a tender mercy! HOW AWESOME!

We took pictures during the potluck with Sunshine. We will miss her, but her ward will take care of her. We sure will try to make sure of that

42 - Happy ValenTransfer Day!

Hope you all had a happy Valentine's Day! 

For us, it was actually transfer call day. Heart break day, how appropriate. But good news! Sister Stephens and I are saying another transfer! I'm very happy. I feel like there's more work for me to do here, and I want to do it with Sister Stephens! Though, I feel like I will be in a different area come April when next transfer hits.

P-day was super fun after emailing last! Our apartment is awesome because we have a community game room thing and President Anderson said we could use it on P-day! 

So the elders in our ward came and played pool and ping pong with us. 

It was super fun! 

Took some good pictures.

Right after our P-day hours we started exchanges. Working out the kinks in transportation and the time to switch back to normal companionships and everything was kind of a mess, but it was a good exchange. 

"Exchanges are not to be used to get away from a companion." It says that in the white handbook, and I agree. But, I do feel that exchanges are to be used as a tool for when you get back with your companion so you can grow closer together.

Sister Dennison is a new Sister Training Leader and its just been a little hard, not knowing the area, and being with a companion who knows what she should do better than she herself knows what she should do. Sister Hawkes has been 'the sister training leader's companion' ever since she's been out really. 

I was with sister Dennison during the exchange and I felt like I was able to help her, to give her someone else to talk to about her struggles. Because it's not fair, the Sister Training Leader doesn't get a Sister Training Leader! So I was able really be there for her that day. It was really neat.

I feel like someday I will be called as a Sister Training Leader. Maybe even in April. Sisters are usually called to fill the position of Sister Training Leader when they have been out on their mission for about a year. So I feel it might happen.

While I was with Sister Dennison, we served at the Butterfly House and some crazy shinanigans were happening!

One of the two turtles was trying to eat a butterfly! Ah! It bit at it like, three times, but didn't quite pull it under. Then the worker guy rescued it by shooing it away with a net. Then the turtle gave an angry death glare for a minute. That turtle is a bully!

And the Butterfly House got a new shipment of moths which is cool.

And we had to put a dead butterfly behind the curtain, where the dead butterflies go. 

So sad. But, it's the circle of life. 

Those blue butterflies, they live about the length of one missionary transfer! Six (to eight) weeks.

Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy (D&C 121:43).

I neglected to mention last week- we went to ward council and we totally got reproved in the best way. This was the first time we had ever gone to ward council and for our little two cents we said basically that we want to work together with the ward to achieve our member present goal. And then one of the brethren told us straight up that it's hard for lots of people to be called last minute, so to call on Sunday night and set up our appointments with people according to the time you set with the members. So that's what we did. We have a missionary assignment list that is on the program that cycles through all the active people in alphabetical order. We called everyone on the list plus more. We were able to have outstanding member involvement, especially on Friday. We had four members set to come teaching with us during the week and they all followed through. It was quite awesome!

Random event to break up the words. 

The Elders totally pawned off a huge bean bag that was actually a bunch of popcorn on us! 

We ended up giving it to the church for the youth dance.

Haha, It was too good not to take crazy pictures with!

So, remember the goal that we had this transfer to find ten new investigators this transfer? Well, we had a solid lesson with this one family that we've been meaning to follow up with, and that bumped our actual investigators found total to a dozen this transfer! How cool is that! The Lord truly does work miracles! 

These investigators are mostly fruits of tracting actually! The only ones who weren't were a previously worked with investigator that moved into our area as well as a family member that was over at a dinner. Four families became investigators, three of which Sister Burt and I found back in December. We are looking at another transfer of similar success, and we are so excited to see where this new investigator family goes!

They are an awesome family, and the mom's sister is actually in our ward! Close connection, and they are seekers of truth, you can tell. There questions were sincere and the member that we brought with us is a convert and holy cow, her being there helped out so much with answering questions and concerns and bearing her testimony! And they have a five year old girl and a ten year old boy, and they boy is super interested! Like, whoa! So awesome! We are so excited to see them again!

Now about Henry and Elizabeth. Did they come to church? 


But they are so awesome! 

Look at this text that Elizabeth sent us a bit ago! 

She meant to send it to Henry, but accidentally sent it to us. haha.

They have met so many people from the ward, they've met more than a handful. Its been close to ten members that they have met. Satan knows that when they come to church for the first time that things will just fall into place, so he's doing everything that he can to make them not come! First it was the alarm not going off, then church canceling because of the snow, then Henry working and Elizabeth having a sporadic nerve act up, then Henry's back being so injured that they couldn't get ready in time and just... AH!
Conversely, there's Josh. He is awesome and has not missed a day of church since his baptism! Satan works hard! Josh's car broke down just before his baptism, so now he only has a bike. He usually hitches a ride from one of the sisters we work with, but when he can't do that he rides his bike to church. He was riding his bike one night and he ran smack dab into a parked car! The car was black and he didn't see it! He went to the hospital. He had a minor concussion and his thumb was beat up a bit. But holy cow he still came to church five or so days later! So here is someone who is coming to church like a rockstar! Hallelujah!

But man... this week has been rough for Henry and Elizabeth. It started on Tuesday. They got a flat tire and so many other crazy things happened. Long story short, a member tried to help Henry change the tire. Well, it's been really cold outside, and the cold is NOT good on Henry because of the metal in his back. He came into the house and basically collapsed on the brother who had been helping him. So that started it.

On Friday we got a text from Henry saying he was on his way to the hospital. His legs had given out from under him and he had a fall a little ways down the stairs and landed right on his tailbone, a basic source of his grief. Luckily, we were right in the neighborhood and were with a member. 

We got there, and again, luckily the member was a little bit bigger of a women and was able have Henry wrap his arm around her as she helped him more down the stairs. But ultimately, he collapsed again. The pain was too much... and it just breaks your heart when after everything, while Elizabeth was calling the ambulance, to see Henry put his face in his arm and his shoulders shake.. He was crying...

And every new person coming in (which happened about three times), all of them had a double take... saying "wow... what happened?" You KNOW it looks bad when professionals who see this kind of stuff on a regular basis respond like that. Just... yeah, it was quite an emotional time. And we were scheduled to go visiting teaching with a member we hadn't really connected with at all before RIGHT after Henry was taken away. We were so shaken up. It was hard to focus going to that next appointment.

Henry had to go to the hospital twice because this week because of issues with his back. Though, Henry received a priesthood blessing which we were present for, and yesterday they called one of the brothers on their own to ask for a blessing for Elizabeth! (She found out she's pregnant and they don't want to lose the baby, so Elizabeth wanted a blessing.) They have experienced the power of the priesthood now. Their testimonies keep on growing, more than they know.

Oh, and Sister Stephens has been sick. Sad face. But she rocks it.

Hope she feels better soon!

P.S.  The way missionaries park when we are the only ones in the parking lot and we know it.

P.P.S. Look at this crazy truck!

P.P.P.S. This thing was at the library.