Monday, September 5, 2016

"Your Smile is Contagious"

(The title is something that a lady said to me at church yesterday. It was so sweet! And made me feel so special.)

 Beautiful stormy day

Dear Family and Friends, 

This week was AMAZING. I was so busy having fun and being inspired I forgot to jot down notes in my journal throughout the week like I usually do. Hopefully I don't forget anything. 

Monday was meh. I actually had a bit of a breakdown, but in a good way. Especially since becoming a trainer I tend to bury negative emotions and pretend like they don't exist because I want to seem strong and like I have everything all together even when I don't. It's totally a pride thing, and I know I need to change!! Hermana Hull is fortunately an angel from heaven though, and she was able to talk to me for a little while, ask some really inspired questions, and dig up what was bothering me. I felt SO much better afterwards. Also my headaches had started to go away by then, so that's good! 

Tuesday we found out that one of our recent converts' nephew just committed suicide. The convert was obviously going through a lot, and we were so grateful to be able to be there and give comfort and reminders about God's plan and especially about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He already paid for every sin and heartache and illness and affliction and every possible unfair thing in this whole world, so all your family and your nephew have to do now is apply that atonement. We talked about the spirit world, a place of learning, where he will have the chance to learn about the atonement, which he didn't know about on earth. I'm so grateful for this knowledge, and so grateful this convert is able to use this trial as a teaching opportunity for the extended family. They aren't members, so the convert is going to share about all of this and bear testimony. 

Later, we went by some senior apartments intending to visit a less-active member named Myrtle. But then on our way in the door we saw Andrea, her neighbor. We have done some yard work and other service for her in the past but she was pretty closed off to us. We asked her "how are you" and for some reason (the Spirit) she decided to open right up to us! She said, "I'm doing pretty bad. I have kidney stones". Then we ended up talking to her for nearly an hour and a half! We addressed some MAJOR concerns. Especially about how there are different sects of Mormonism! She thought we were polygamists! AH! We explained to her about how there were a couple of groups of Mormons that broke off from the main church, and they're the polygamists! She was SO relieved and is now way more open to talking about more of our beliefs. 

Tuesday night we had dinner with the Abkens, and Mama Abken took a video of us singing “Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy” and put it on Facebook! We were excited and it was really special for our parents especially. THANK YOU MAMA ABKEN.

Wednesday we did some missionary multi-tasking. It was pretty weird, we were talking to one of our investigators on the phone and then someone walked up to our car and started talking to us, so I talked on the phone while Hermana Hull talked to the lady. We ended up having two lessons simultaneously. We went to the Damons’ after that and had a sweet lesson about talents. We read the parable of the talents and Loretta showed us her paintings! She's really good! After that we went to the family history center with Tyler, and he found three new names he can take to the temple to do baptisms for next Saturday! We are so excited for him. 

Thursday we found a new investigator! Her name is Leah, and she is the sweetest ever. She's super giggly and nice and she's actually my exact same age! Born in April and everything. Pretty cool! I've never taught someone my own age before, it will be cool to see where this goes. She already really likes the Book of Mormon. 

Maybelle is a really sweet 7th day Adventist lady we met on Thursday night. The Maddens (Ward Mission Leader) had given her and her family's address to us as someone we should visit (they're neighbors). She definitely wasn't interested in changing religions or anything, but we had a really awesome conversation about all of our beliefs. I learned so much about 7th Day Adventists. We were all sharing our testimonies of Christ and the Spirit was so strong. It was a great visit. We have so much in common! 

After that we went to dinner at the Maddens’ house, and they invited Tyler too. It was really fun and we had the most delicious meatloaf ever (sorry mom). Later that evening we were driving around trying to find a less-active member’s house, because our plans and three backup plans all fell through, when suddenly the elders from Hood River called us. They had a referral for us! We went to visit them right away. Their names are Jerry and Leila Houden, and they live in the same complex as Myrtle and Andrea.

They were so surprised to see us! They got baptized a few years ago when they lived in Spokane, but then after moving away they kind of fell away from going to church. Then Jerry was recently diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s and Leila was praying for some guidance and direction in her life. Lo and behold, the Elders just happened to show up that very day in her check-out line at Walmart! She got their phone number, and called them, and then they called us, and within a half hour of her first phone call to the elders, us Hermanas were at her door. She was like, "WOW! You kids work FAST!" Ha ha! It was so awesome. She said they want to have missionary lessons again and pretty much start back over right at the beginning. We're going back tonight! I'm excited. They are so sweet. :) 

Friday was COLD. It was like in the 50s! And it's been cold ever since. We loved planning, of course, and actually got asked by the zone leaders to prepare a training for Zone Training Meeting on Saturday! It was about member missionary work, of which we are the fan-club presidents, so we were super excited. 

Saturday was another GREAT day. We gave our training and it went super smoothly. We talked about the top 10 ways that we have been able to do member missionary work and really show the members how much we love them and care about them.

1) Be happy! All the time.
2) Get to know them. Ask questions like how they met, their conversion story, etc.
3) Share experiences and ask for advice! The members are GREAT resources and love to hear about local missionary work. They are so wise. 4) Follow up! On everything! If you gave them a commitment, if they gave you a referral, follow up about their family or personal stuff. Example "Your daughter just got her tonsils out! How is she doing?" Little stuff like that.
5) Time management. If you mess around and waste a lot of time at their house they won't trust you or think you're actually working hard. Cause you're not...
6) Hugs, handshakes, and high fives go a long way!
7) Service! Always look for ways to serve!
8) Be yourself. Show them where you came from. Don't be afraid to let your "ya’ll" slip out! There's a reason God sent YOU here, not just any random person, be you! Be relatable.  
9) Pay attention to kids and pets.
10) Companionship unity. Members can tell when something's up! 

There was also an awesome training by one of the Elders about resolving concerns which was so perfect for us this week because addressing and resolving concerns was pretty much all we did every day! Towards the end of the meeting I got some really sad news that one of my best missionary friends actually had to go home early. I was pretty upset about that (still am) but fortunately we had dinner with the Bishop and his family and it helped us feel a lot better. We got to meet his brother and sister-in-law who are 23 years older than him! WOW.

Then that night we had a movie night with Max and Jane. We watched Meet the Mormons (my favorite movie ever), and the Spirit was so strong, holy cow! I think it was especially helpful when we started crying at the end (when the missionary leaves and is hugging his family goodbye) because it showed Jane that we are humans too and showed her how much we have sacrificed to be here helping her. It softened her so much! At the end of the movie she was like "THE FEELS! Guys, this is such a feel good movie. I love the way I feel right now" (the SPIRIT). Then we were able to talk to her and dig and dig and dig and find out what some of her real concerns are. Thank you Elder Burbank for your super inspired training! She even ended up coming to church on Sunday which was a real miracle. 

Sunday's testimony meeting was incredible. The Spirit was so strong! There were even a few cute and funny ones in there too. One kid, who is 16 got up there and said "You parents out there are amazing. I have been alone the past two days taking care of my 8 and 5-year-old sisters and I'm about to go crazy!"

After church we went to the park and had a lesson with Raul and Tyler and Daniel (bishop's son). We taught him about the Plan of Happiness and also the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It was an awesome lesson. He is super, super smart and loved everything. He said, "Wow, this is so much better than anything I ever dreamt up!" He is praying about baptism! 

Then we had dinner with the Van Housens. Isaac was turning 3, so we had a celebration! It was fun. We also started a funny and animated conversation about Texas! Ha ha! We had a fun time trying to explain homecoming mums. We also taught them the Texas pledge and the song "That's right, you're not from Texas!" Then we read the Character of Christ talk with them. It was awesome. We love that family!

Sunday night I had an amazing revelatory experience. So, you might remember we used to teach this lady named Emma. She's an eternigator of about 8 years. She still comes to church every week and has a testimony of steel but for some reason she won't actually get baptized! Hermana Marble worked and worked and worked on her for MONTHS and nothing, so we decided to give her a break for a while. Then yesterday during testimony meeting I looked over and saw her just weeping and weeping at all the things being shared, and I had this distinct moment where I heard the sentence in my head (I usually don't think in actual words and sentences) that said, "She has a problem with water," and I was like, “Huh? Really?” So that night we decided to go and visit her and practice the things we had learned at ZTM and with Jane and try it out on Emma. She opened up to us and told us about a drowning incident she had in her teens. It was so crazy! As soon as the word "drowing incident" came out of her mouth my heart jumped. Literally jumped! Like that feeling you get when a boy tells you he loves you for the first time, but like times 100. I had a revelation! Like a real, sentence in your head, whispering of the still small voice, revelation. WOW. I couldn't believe it. We didn't have much time last night, but we are hoping to go back later this week and talk with her some more. Miracles are seriously for real. 

I love you!


 Loretta's painting

Beautiful ring we saw at a members house. 
(AKA my future wedding ring)

At the car wash!

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