Thursday, September 17, 2015

47 - On the Flip Side of the Area

A Sister TRIO
Maybe I can try to catch up on the things I have yet to talk about this week.
But what could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it? Nay, I have nourished it, and I have digged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and the end draweth nigh, (Jacob: 5:47).

Henry and Elizabeth were going to join us for a family night on Monday, but Elizabeth and the baby were sick. The family night activity with the members was still fun though.

We haven't seen Henry and Elizabeth at all this week.... I miss them so much. But Elizabeth has totally been avoiding us. And we've not been knowing really what to do. Sister Stephens has been praying to know who to focus on with no clear answer. I have had no clear answer either. Henry did contact us though yesterday and we set up a time to meet Tuesday. We will see how the spirit guides.
But man, it's so sad, I really... I want to know how to help them, especially Elizabeth, but then I read the above scripture in personal study one day and it gave me a lot of comfort. Even the Lord declared that he did all he could when his hand was stretched out 'almost' all the day long. It helps me feel okay, like I really am doing all I can, even though we haven't seen them at all...

It's been a downtrodden kind of week. We have been spending our time finding less actives who we know nothing about and we tracted a lot on Friday and Saturday and a bit on Sunday. When your area is one in which you taught a decent amount of lessons and then turns into an area where no one is currently progressing, it is very discouraging. The contract has been stark and sad.

But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me, (2 Nephi 31:14).

One of the hard things about this week was that the less actives we found were not interested at all in coming back to the faith. One had no faith in Jesus Christ, others left when in their youth, and one couple has completely denied the faith after being active through their young adult lives, return missionary and everything! Man, so so sad, and just as it says in D&C 82:3, the greater the light, the greater condemnation.

We felt really bad because we didn't know what to say to these people. I read Jacob 6 this morning for personal study, reading through the Book of Mormon, and I wish I would have had verses 8-9 memorized so I could just say to these people:


Will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the prophets; and will ye reject all the words which have been spoken concerning Christ, after so many have spoken concerning him; and deny the good word of Christ, and the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a mock of the great plan of redemption, which hath been laid for you?
Know ye not that if ye will do these things, that the power of the redemption and the resurrection, which is in Christ, will bring you to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God?

That would be so intense. Man. So, yeah, the less actives were sad.

Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions , and I will give unto you success Alma 26:27.


I think all missionaries eventually have a personal experience in really relating to this verse. Friday was really rough. First day of tracting, and it's hard when that is your only go to when it hasn't been ever. It was like I was back in Bismarck again... having no "go to" but tracting... And there were some discouraging moments where things were just awkward, or we didn't know what to say and felt like fools because we didn't know how to respond, and just... it was rough. But Heavenly Father blessed us for our diligence and only at the end of the night did we meet some people that were a little more encouraging.

We were coming up with tracting approaches during companionship study earlier that day that were pretty ridiculous. 

We really needed to laugh and be crazy.

We didn't really use any of them really, but it man, we should! haha.

And at least all this tracting gives us good time to get people excited about the #BecauseHeLives video coming out on March 28th. 

We've been sharing with people the #BecauseOfHim video that came out last year while we anxiously wait for the upcoming video.

The next day was a bit better. We took another adventure in Worthing! Took the bikes, ate some hot pockets at the gas station, as well as pringles and nutrolls, for dinner. It was great. I don't know how many cards exactly that we handed out, maybe around twenty, but we have someone that we found that is much more promising as far as a return appointment goes than any of the people we found around Christmas time. 

We shared the Because of Him video with her in her home and explained a little bit about the beginnings of the restoration and committed her to watch the restoration DVD and we marked Moroni's promise for her. She has a super strong testimony of prayer and we hope and pray that she will ask with real intent so she can find for herself that this is the right path for her. And we gave a Book of Mormon to someone else who's wanted to get more into religion and we are excited to see if that will turn into something.

Best tracting story of the Worthing day:
*Knock on door. Two little boys answer.*
"Hi! Are your parents home?"
"No."
"Oh, ok. Well here is this." 
*Hands pass-along card.* 
"It takes you to a video about Jesus!"
"...*'what the heck...'*"
*Waving goodbye* "Happy Easter!!"
*Door closes.*

Sister Stephens was cracking up at me. 

haha. 


But all in all, these pictures describe how it was tracting in Worthing.

MAN! Time is running out, I will have to tell catch up stories next week!


But this week Sister Stephens and I were doing some spring cleaning and we got distracted by scarfs. 

She gave me her gold scarf to keep and we had the genius idea of wearing both at once. 

So regal. 

"You filthy peasant." lol






P.S. Look at this weird cool statue!

P.P.S. A street that all the team rocket fans should live on. How awesome.

P.P.P.S.  Look for an Elder Taylor in August! The bishops son, going to Tempe AZ!



Monday, September 14, 2015

46 - The Foundation of Testimony



Again, I already know I won't be able to cover everything that happened, between all that happen this week and what happened last week. Just not enough time!
The weather is getting nice!

But first, the weather.
  
What a tender mercy! OH it has been sooooo nice! 
All this week!

Milkyway Milkshakes!
We went and got ice cream at Milkyway on P-day, a place that is closed during the winter. 

Poor Sister Burt always wanted to go there, but it was closed. 

But since it's open, it must mean spring is finally here! 

Plus the fact that it's been in the 60s and 70s all week during the day.

We even did our weekly planning at the park! It's been SOOOO nice! We've been needing to tan our skin a little bit. And we rode our bikes for the first time in months yesterday to our dinner appointment and... about a mile on a bike with a little bit of hilly roads when you don't ever ride bikes ever... man! I had to walk some of it. 
I was super fatigued during and after dinner. And we still had to ride back home. But it was okay. 
We made it. It's good for us.

And because of the weather we had two lessons in particular (one with a less active guy and one with just Henry) that could not have happened if it was too cold outside, because they were with men and we didn't have another female with us (so we met outside). Thank you weather for being so nice so that is was way more convenient to obey mission rules!

Moon Moth
And also, more butterfly house happenings because I have awesome pictures.

Moths, everywhere! A new moth emerged, an african moon moth. 

And then the altas moth is hanging out now on the back of a big leaf.
Atlas Moth








The "Social" Butterfly.   :-)



So there was this one butterfly at the beginning that being super social and it was super cute, flying around me and landing on me, flying and landing, over and over, and then it took off somewhere else. Got a cute picture and everything.

But. This butterfly was starting to be a little too social. It was looooving this guy's hair and ears and forhead. He was so patient!

But we began to notice...


The sicko! 




It was doing weird things with its abdomen.




It was toooooootally laying eggs in everyone's hair!

 


Sicko!




We kept swatting at it after that. 






There was at one point a butterfly that was nice because it wasn't trying to lay eggs on me just hangin out on my finger.

And then this other stinkin butterly just wouldn't leave me alone! 


Nor Sister Stephens! "Get outa here!"




But as for missionary work!

We made contact with a lot of less actives on the ward list this week. Some are planning on moving and not interested in coming back to church at all. Some said times that work better for us to come back. Some are very closed. One is moving and is still willing to meet us, she even called us back. And one less active that we just had our first lesson with yesterday still has a testimony, reads from the Book of Mormon occasionally, though is married to someone who is Lutheran and he has subjected investigating other churches and has brought up the Mormon church but she won't hear of it. The member who was with us invited him to church and he said, "I might just take you up on that someday." We also reminded him about general conference and he said, "you know, that's something I can do, just plug in the headphones and listen to it myself and it wouldn't raise the stress levels in the house." When moved upon by the holy ghost, we will go back there and see if we can't have a lesson with his wife present.

I don't think there has been a week yet this transfer that there hasn't been a member come out with us that I haven't ever gone teaching with before. We don't have anyone lined up for this week unfortunately- we usually do have someone lined up in advance- but we will continue tomorrow to call people and get new people coming out with us. 

We did resolve one person's concern on Sunday about coming with us to a teaching appointment. She just didn't want to bring her kids. But our investigators have a little one, and knowing that, she's willing to bring her kids. 

Resolving concerns one individual at a time!

Man, I don't have a lot of time to tell this ginormous story!

Otherwise Satan seeketh to turn their hearts away from the truth, that they become blinded and understand not the things which are prepared for them, (D&C 78:10).

Henry texted us this week telling us Elizabeth is starting to have doubts about the church. It seems like being sick and missing out on lessons was starting to catch up to her. Satan is really creeping in...

He told us that her concerns were basically that she doesn't hear us talk about the Lord's prayer or the Apostle's Creed and those are things she still believes in. And she's uncomfortable about tithing. She hasn't been reading the Book of Mormon.

The first lesson we read the last half of James 2. aka, the "faith without works is dead" schpeal. Because man, they need to come to church! The lesson was pretty well recieved. Elizabeth discounted her concerns. She came to the conclusion that she was just not feeling good when she had those thought. Though I did notice that she was on edge more than she has been in lessons and it made me sad to see.

Second lesson, we were actually on exchanges, so Sister Stephens wasn't there, it was Sister Manning. it was also Henry's birthday, yay! It was a really interesting lesson- miracles happen on exchanges. Ryan has been reading from the Book of Mormon, just random passages, and he sees a pattern of "Do this or else" that really bothers him. We addressed his concerns as best as possible, and then. GUESS WHAT!? RYAN SAID THE CLOSING PRAYER!!!! AAAHHH!!!

"Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing us to learn more about The Book of Mormon. And for helping us grow in faith of your word. .........In your name, amen."

He sat there for a minute after, because he was kind of having a panic attack, but after he regained his ability to speak words, he said, "Ok, that wasn't as bad as I thought."

AH! Henry! HE PRAYED! And I wish I had time to go into more detail.

Sister Stephens was extatic when she found out. We texted them on Saturday reminding them to be ready for church and Henry texted that Elizabeth wasn't going to come... that she prayed about it and was uncomfortable about it.

Long story short we went over and had a lesson with just Henry and man, he just want to be the best husband and father possible. And he SAID THE PRAYER AGAIN! And basically prayed that Elizabeth would come around and that their family would be able to be raised all in the church!

And then, HENRY CAME TO CHURCH! And this time, we had to get photographic evidence.

It's kind of awkward but funny that Henry is perfectly covering Jesus Christ's picture. Henry is very Christ-like, but haha, yeah.

But the moral of this story! The Book of Mormon is the foundation of testimony! If you continue to read it, you will grow in your faith. If you stop, you will falter. So read the Book of Mormon!


P.S. I got to play a trombone for the first time on my mission! We were at a dinner appointment and the kid in fifth grade pulled out his trombone and showed us a song his was practicing that they were performing in a concert coming up. And it's his dad's trombone that he's learning on. And he does very well- the tones of the notes are clear and precise, and why is this my exact story in my learning how to play the trombone! So awesome! I looked at the Hymn book on the piano and played a few songs, including "O Come, All Ye Faithful," "The Star Spangled Banner" at the kids request, and "Be Still, My Soul." It felt like home. It was very therapeutic.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

45 - Springing forward

Man, so much to write, so little time. I'm not going to be able to cover anything, I already know that. But I can sure try!
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? (Isaiah 43:19).
Daylight savings has now taken effect once again. We missionaries aren't usually the first ones to know, as we have to rely on just word of mouth to know that the time is switching. 

A couple came with us to teach Henry and Elizabeth and reminded them that they would have to wake up even earlier in the morning for church because we are Springing forward. It was unfortunate to lose an hour of sleep, but we just went to bed an hour early, so that pretty much solved the problem.


Speaking of spring, it's been pretty magical. It's almost like somebody took a magical calendar and flipped it from the snowy wintery page, to the sunny warm with a breeze page. The weather was SO COLD, like single maaaaybe double digits plus decent windchill on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday... but then Friday it got above freezing... and then Saturday it was in the 50's! And Sunday too! And today it is in the 60's! It is absolutely beautiful!
It was nice to serve in the butterfly house while it was cold though because it is always warm in there. It is pretty much the best get-a-way out of the cold as you could possibly have. And every time there are new things that you see! 





AND THIS ONE 
WAS CRAZY!!

An Atlas moth was in the case of newly emerged specimens drying out their wings before taking off.

You see how big this thing is?? 



It's as big as my face!
You have to understand, these things take eighteen months or longer to emerge from their cacoons. That is an entire Sister missionary time of service! And when they do emerge they only live for a week to ten days. They don't even have a stomach. Their whole purpose is to breed and die.
And their feet are like crazy suction cups!

I pretty much couldn't stop looking at this thing.
But, this was sad, we looked behind the glass of the emergence place and a butterfly that just emerged, fell, and its wings were folding and flopping and wrapping all over themselves and it was so sad.

We notified one of the workers, and the butterfly did eventually start crawling on its feet, and the worker then got it back on safe place, but... it might not make it. Poor thing...

I have officially spent too much time talking about butterflies. But. That's what I have pictures of. haha.

This week was very busy. You know it is busy when you do your weekly planning on Sunday instead of the usual Wednesday or Thursday because there has been no good time to fit it in!

We taught just seven lessons this week, but each of those lessons has been with a member and has been a solid, productive lessons. And two of the people we taught weren't counted as lessons because the first is not a recent convert anymore and the second has been reactivated. But they were still super good and needed lessons! We are though going to be weening off of having lessons with them and instead trying to take them out teaching with us.

We have also been making it a point to take out as many members teaching with us as we can. We want ALL of the sisters to have gone out with us. How cool would that be!? Sixty different sisters having gone out with us. Though, in our push to call everyone individually and get them involved, we have encountered some sisters who do not want to go out teaching with us. This makes us very sad. Sister Stephens is especially suffering from it. But, we just treat it as we do anyone we come in contact with. We give them an in person invitation and explanation of the importance of missionary work (that it is a commandment) to give them the best chance to repent. But that is all we can really do. That, and pray for them. The rest is up to how they use their agency.

It's also been kind of sad. That new investigator last week that I mention that fed us dinner and has gone to an LDS church many times before we started teaching her? Well, we had a super solid lesson with her, and she had read the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon on her own and had watched "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" before we came because it was there on Netflix (yay convenient gospel things) and we invited her to be baptized with a specific date. But then she sent us a text a day later saying she wasn't ready to be baptized in another church and that she would continue to study and pray about it on her own... So she dropped us. I will for sure keep you updated on her though.

We had our second lesson with the family that we found the night we were out with Bishop last week. We committed them to be baptized and they gave their nod of approval. The dad, the one who all his ribs are broken on one side, he said, "it'll give me something to read," referring to the Book of Mormon of course. We will see how they progress.

And then there is a family that Sister Stephens and I have been teaching since the beginning of last transfer, the family who their oldest is thirteen and is the most interested. Well, we hadn't invited them to be baptized yet and we got an email last week from president, his mass email to all the missionaries, that told us that the longer you put off the invitation of baptism, the weaker the invitation is. We were like... oh man! We need to repent! Our problem was we just kept waiting for a lesson for them all to be there. We've only taught them one time when they were all there. But we resolved that the next time we were over there that were going to invite whoever was there to be baptized no matter what. And guess what. They were all there! The invitation was strong and they are all still needing to think about it. And we took a member who it was her first time going out with the missionaries and she had a great experience! 

Blessings! We pray for their hearts to feel an urgency about their eternal salvation to motivate them to progress in the gospel.

We have been super bold this week! It's been awesome. This is how it should always be.
We had a really intense lesson with Henry. Elizabeth was sleeping when we showed up, so it was a good thing that we had a member with us so we could teach him. The lesson ended up being basically Henry venting to us about how this time is really hard for him. The anniversary of his grandmother's death his on April 4th. This time of year is always hard. He expressed how everything in him wanted us out of the house, but he knew in his heart that that was just in his mind. He expressed that trying to progress in the gospel now is like wading through mud. But he wants so much to move forward and not move backward. We told him that it would be the hardest thing, but also the best thing, for him to pray. He was so nervous about praying because he doesn't want praying to backfire on him. Because once he opens the gate, everything is going to rush out and he can't afford to leave himself vulnerable like that he told us.

Man... I just felt so strongly for him, wanting to help him and understanding the struggle!
He texted us later, basically apologizing for the intensity of the lesson and with some of the thoughts that he expressed that may have made us uneasy, like the fact that he 'didn't want us in the house.'
Why is he so Christ-like!?
And then, holy cow! Later, like the next night! We got a text that we could not believe.

We called him about it and he said that Elizabeth and the baby were asleep and he was just really having a hard time and he psyched himself up, and he got on his knees, and he prayed for strength. HOW COOL!? WOW!! We are so so proud of him!

But. As cool as that is. They need to get their acts together and come to church! They didn't come to church! They texted us in the middle of sacrament saying that they left their phones downstairs. ...It was preventable, and they didn't even come late, which is. just. yeah. Come ON! So, we will be having that be an extra emphasis this week. I don't think they will be baptized while I'm here.

Well. I am out of time, darn.

Looking forward to writing next week!
P.S. I will know the new mission boundaries that I will be in by April 28th.
P.P.S. My mom is awesome and she got me awesome socks for an Arizona girl!