We taught Steve and Lois again and brought two priesthood holders to give them blessings to help with living the Word of Wisdom. I wish I could still be there for their wedding and baptism! I'll do everything I can to make it back for it :) Steve said he didn't need a blessing but stayed for Lois' and then Sister Cheyne asked him again if he wanted a blessing and he agreed! I love that couple so much!
When we taught Eugene he started asking us about what language is appropriate to use in his music. He's a huge fan of Snoop Dogg and kept trying to justify using foul language in his music. We asked him if he would feel comfortable playing his music in front of God and at first he said no but then he said yes, "because that's who I am". He knows swearing is wrong though! It was pretty funny: he said something about trying to be like Snoop Dogg and Deborah (his mom who has been at every single lesson) said, "But Snoop Dogg isn't God!" I guess that's just one of those things that you have to be there for. Deborah is awesome! She has a stronger testimony than she thinks and she always tells us she loves to see Eugene progress as he meets with us--he's come a long way!
We met with Lois again and read from the Book of Mormon where she was at: 1 Nephi 4. It's one of my favorites! Nephi is seriously one of the most incredible prophets who have lived. However, this is the chapter where Nephi slays Laban...why it's in the very beginning of the Book of Mormon I have no idea, but it must be there for a reason! I think as we study the scriptures with the intent to learn and gain happiness, we'll find it :)
Then THE MOST AWESOME THING HAPPENED! We street contacted a guy doing something with his truck--I think he was finishing painting the exterior of an apartment or something. His name is Kevin. We asked him how he was doing and he said his day was going all right until he couldn't get his key out of a padlock that he used to lock a ladder to his truck. We asked him if he tried closing the lock to get the key out and he said it didn't work. He was super nice! We told him about the Christmas video and he accepted a card and we asked if we could pray with him and ask God to help free the key from the lock. He said we could pray while we tried to get it out and handed it to me as he walked back to get something from the back of his truck. I fiddled with it and something told me to close the lock so I did and the key came right out! Kevin was shocked. I'm grateful to Heavenly Father for answering my prayer! We visited a few other people after we met Kevin and on our way back we passed him again and he thanked us for helping him with the lock and said it was a miracle! I agree wholeheartedly :)
Darralee is doing great! She invited her LDS friend to come to the lesson and as we were waiting for her friend to arrive, she told us she read the Restoration pamphlet and underlined the things that stuck out to her. Then she told us she has a goal to read the entire Book of Mormon in a week! I have no doubt she'll do that, although we also reminded her that "it's more important to let the scriptures get through you than it is for you to get through the scriptures".
I had a layover in Salt Lake City when I flew home and sat next to members on both flights...but the interesting thing is they both told me someone in their close family recently passed away. I guess we all need a reminder of the Plan of Salvation during those times, but I didn't really know what to say to people who already knew about God's plan of happiness for each of His children! I did my best and I hope that was enough :)
After serving my mission, I can now say that I understand the importance of sharing our message with others. I know that the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that will bring true and lasting happiness to everyone. What Lehi taught in 2 Nephi 2 means so much more to me now: "Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth"!
I have to say that the thing that sticks out to me most each day is Heavenly Father's absolutely perfect timing. We are doing His work and He knows what each of His children need and when they need it. There are countless times that we showed up at just the right moment in someone's life--whether they had just prayed and asked for guidance or just pulled up in their driveway. I know that Heavenly Father is so mindful of each of His children and wants the best for each of them because He loves them completely.
I know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real and that our Savior's sacrifice is sufficient for all men. I have felt the power of our Redeemer's Atonement as I watched people change, including myself, investigators, members, and other missionaries. I am so grateful for the assignments that I had that allowed me to focus more on noticing these changes. Anyone can turn their life around! It brings so much joy to me to see others put in the effort and access this wonderful power.
I now have a better understanding of the nature of God. He will never force us to do anything (because we wouldn't learn anything from that!), but he gives each of us opportunities to learn and grow and it's our choice what we want to do with it. Our attitude makes all the difference! If you go into something thinking that it's hard and that you won't be able to succeed, it won't be much fun for you or the people around you. But if you go forth with faith and hope, you can accomplish anything!
I also learned the importance of accepting God's will no matter what. It's easy when what you think is best for you is also Heavenly Father's plan, but when God has something different in mind, it's important to align your will with His and accept that He will make something more out of you than you could.
I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know it is true and I am grateful for each person that helped bring it forth, from Nephi to the prophet Joseph Smith. The feeling of joy and peace that I get while reading it is indescribable and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have found wisdom in its pages right when I needed it. I know that Heavenly Father provided us with scriptures so we could take charge of our own learning.
Words cannot express how grateful I am to have been called to serve in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission. I have loved every second of it! The people, my mission president, the missionaries, the members, and even the heat! There really is no accurate way to describe how much joy I have felt as I served my mission. I think it's because I learned how to see others through Heavenly Father's eyes. I had a testimony of the restored gospel before my mission, but my mission has helped me mentally connect things and I understand it better now. There's really no way to explain how wonderful my mission has been. It was nothing like what I thought it would be! I know Jesus Christ is our Savior. He gave his atoning sacrifice for all men. His gospel has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon is another testament of Him.
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Wow, this is strange to think that this might be the last email from my mission!
We met an elderly gentleman named Bill who told us his wife died a year and a half ago and he's been distraught ever since then. Somehow he believed that she was still there somewhere but he didn't think he would ever see her again. So we taught him about temples and I showed him a picture of the Portland temple and he said it looked like the San Diego temple! I asked if he'd like a picture of the San Diego one and he said he did, so we planned another time to bring it by. Thank goodness I had that picture from a packet my mom sent me! I almost gave Ruby the San Diego one but ended up giving her the Salt Lake temple picture instead.
We taught Lois (Steve was sick and couldn't be there) about some of the commandments and it was incredible because she already knew that she needed to make some changes! She's already stopped doing some of the things she asked us about before.
A recently returned missionary in our ward named Brooke invited us over to her house to teach her friend named Chris! He said he's atheist and we showed him the #LIGHTtheWORLD video. It's amazing how everyone is touched by it!
Remember the lady who called us last Monday morning named Darralee? We taught her on Tuesday and she told us that she's just drawn to Mormons. She realized that she only wants to be around people who don't drink. She knew about the three degrees of glory and temples already! She shared an experience that she had a lot of guilt from. It's wonderful that we can be freed from any guilt we have through the Atonement! We invited Darralee to be baptized on and she got this really weird look on her face. Sister Cheyne and I were both thinking "oh no, what happened?" and Darralee told us that date was already really significant to her! So she's definitely going to be baptized then :) Words just cannot convey how wonderful it is when people know they're missing something and then learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and live it!
One of our wards had a service project instead of a dinner for Relief Society and Lois and Darralee came! It was phenomenal! Every time I see the ward Christmas parties they look really fun, but then I think about how much was spent on it and how it doesn't really have a lasting impact and I'm so grateful the Relief Society presidency organized this! One of the sisters in our ward who happens to be a ward missionary is a middle school teacher in a very impoverished part of town. Lots of the kids there literally have nothing because their parents either have no income or the parents spend whatever money they have on drugs and gambling. So this sister organized a "Santa's Workshop" where we all assembled stockings with basic necessities for the kids and one of the counselors from her school came and spoke to us too. Lois and Darralee loved it! Darralee actually knows the daughters of the sister who hosted the activity at her home! I'm so glad they were both able to come, and I know it's something they'll never forget!
Lois always says that she loves meeting with us and wants to be baptized because there's "no chink in our happiness" and when we first met her she asked if we were on some sort of "tang". Well, at the service activity there was a massive bowl of punch and when Lois saw it, she looked right at me and said, "I found the tang!" Thank goodness she understands what the Spirit actually is :)
Eugene is still doing well and Deborah is participating more in lessons! We even got his brother Carl to come in for the Christmas video and then the rest of the lesson, and Eugene's friend Ryan comes to all the lessons now too! They say they're moving to a new apartment complex soon but the place changes every day, so I don't actually know when they're moving. The last place they said is still in our area though! And if they do end up leaving the ward boundaries, I know whichever missionaries they end up with will be a good match for them.
On exchanges we inspired knocked and met some kids named Miracle and something else very unique that I can't remember. We showed them the Christmas video and Miracle told us she felt inspired by it and wanted to go out and do something to help people! I love how Heavenly Father leads us right to those people.
We also taught one of their investigators named Esgar who is married to a recently activated member. His family is in Mexico and is very, very Catholic. He feels like if he's baptized, his parents will reject him, but he knows that the gospel is true. The member who came with us was absolutely perfect for him! She joined the Church in April and basically read his mind perfectly and explained how she thought he was feeling and then addressed his concerns. It came down to how he's not really receiving any blessings from being neutral, but if he acts on what he knows to be true he'll receive blessings! He then accepted a baptism date in February :)
We taught Steve and Lois again and it was wonderful! We finished the Word of Wisdom with them and Lois asked what she should do with the coffee she has left. She is amazing! Steve told us he quit his addiction before because a previous girlfriend asked him to quit and Lois said "I'm asking you to quit too!" Steve committed to living the Word of Wisdom! He's changed so much since we first started teaching him. The first time we invited them to be baptized Steve said he would if he didn't have to live the Word of Wisdom but now he actually wants to! We also invited Steve to ask for Sundays off work and he said he couldn't because he needed to support his family, which is a valid concern, and then Lois told him if he did and got work off God would make things work out! We invited them both to receive priesthood blessings for the Word of Wisdom and Steve said he'd quit on his own because he felt like there were other things he needed to ask God for. But we taught him that Heavenly Father wants him to keep all of the commandments and will always provide a way to do so and shared 1 Nephi 3:7 and also taught him that he can still pray for other things.
We found two new YSA investigators named Jada and Deja! We taught them about the Restoration and they were amazed by it. The Spirit was incredibly strong and they both asked to be baptized! We set them for and then passed them off to the YSA sisters :) We should be having a pass-off lesson with them this week.
One of our wards had a Christmas party and one of the wonderful members brought two less-active recent converts and their nonmember brother named Zane! Zane loved the party and told us he was agnostic and didn't really see the need for church, but we invited him anyway and sure enough he came on Sunday!
Also at the Christmas party we were asked to have a part in the Christmas program and we taught the Grinch! Pictures are at the bottom.
Our 9 year old investigator Jack is doing really well! His family is still trying to figure out a date for him because his father wants to be worthy to perform the ordinance. His dad also asked us who we knew who could use some help this Christmas and then bought gift cards for them! What a miraculous answer to our prayers! The Lord will always provide a way.
We had a zone meeting and I met another sister who was new in our mission but was serving on the east coast and then had medical issues and had to go home for several months and was temporarily reassigned to the Nevada Las Vegas Mission. I know it's no coincidence that we were able to meet!
On Thursday I received a call from the missionaries serving in my last area in Las Vegas saying that Linda was going to be baptized and I was able to go to her baptism! She has made huge changes in her life and it was wonderful to be there to support her as she made her first covenant with God. The person assigned to fill up the font forgot to put the plug in and then came before the service began and discovered an empty font, so we sang lots of Christmas hymns for a while as the font finished filling. It all worked out!
This has been the best year and a half of my life so far. I'm extremely grateful that I felt prompted nearly two years ago to serve a mission despite my own plans and I know that I've been blessed with many opportunities to serve in Las Vegas (and Warrenton) that would not have come if I just continued my education at BYU. My mission took everything I had and it is worth it! I know the impact will continue for decades to come both for me and for the people I taught.
I know that this is the true restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is completely true, and I mean it. Just like there's a difference between sanitization and sterilization -- something that is sanitized still had germs (things that aren't true) but something that is sterilized is COMPLETELY clean and the gospel is ENTIRELY true. I know that the Book of Mormon is proof of the divinity of God and our Savior's ministry to the people of the ancient Americas and I know that our Savior gave His redeeming sacrifice for all men, no matter what has happened in the past. Heavenly Father loves each of his children!
With all my love,
This week was incredible! We were house sitting for part of p-day today for a member who is having a TV delivered to her apartment and while we were there someone called and asked if "Sister Courtney" was there. Sister Cheyne's first name is Courtney. This person told us her name is Darralee and she wanted to learn more about our religion and asked us to come over tonight or tomorrow! We set up a lesson for tomorrow afternoon. Darralee lives in a really high-security neighborhood in our area that we aren't allowed to proselyte in, but it's amazing that the work continues there! Apparently she just talked to a member and asked how she could meet with the missionaries and the member looked it up online. The family that converted earlier this year from someone leaving a copy of the Book of Mormon at their doorstep lives there too. I'm so excited to teach Darralee! Before my mission I used to think that this sort of thing rarely happened and every instance was talked about at General Conference because it was so rare, but now I've realized that it happens really often and it's partially because of the amazing members here that openly share their beliefs!
I went to the temple on Tuesday with the group of departing missionaries and went to the testimony meeting and "last supper" afterwards while Sister Cheyne was on splits with a recent convert in our ward. Between the temple and the testimony meeting I went back with Sister Cheyne to teach Angela. She told us that she read the Restoration pamphlet we left with her and she realized Mormons are Christian and our beliefs are much more similar than she thought! At the testimony meeting, a missionary whom I've worked closely with throughout my mission was able to say that she knew that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God--something she didn't know for herself at the beginning of her mission. I went on several exchanges with her at one point and she used to say that she didn't know if what we were teaching was true, so it's been wonderful to see her develop a strong testimony and progress! "By small and simple things are great things brought to pass."
We inspired knocked and met a really sweet woman named Betsy! She's moving soon and we taught her briefly about the Restoration at her door. She was super busy but we felt prompted to give her a copy of the Book of Mormon so we did and she was overjoyed to receive it! She said she feels like the world is crazy and she needed another source of direction in her life.
We had a lesson with Mariah and she told us that before we came over she told her mother in law that she was meeting with us and invited her to join in on the lesson. Her mother in law started telling her anti stuff but Mariah still wanted to meet with us and study the Book of Mormon for herself so she can know if it's true! She reminds me a lot of Tracy, whom I helped teach last year and who chose to be baptized! At the end of the lesson we taught her about prayer and she told us she's only prayed once before, and that was years ago. But she remembers feeling good when she prayed! We invited her to pray with us to close the lesson and she was willing to give it a try, even though she was really hesitant at first! She did a wonderful job!
We had another lesson with Mariah later in the week and we were planning to invite her to be baptized on . Her fiancée, Ricardo, was unexpectedly there and he sat in on the lesson! We asked them if they had a date they were planning to be married on and they said after Christmas in the beginning of January, which is perfect! The lesson was unique--the Spirit was strong, despite Mariah's daughter running around with the daughter of the member we asked to come with us and their dog climbing all over us. I will never forget it. We invited them to be baptized on and they said of course!
We were finally able to contact a part-member family and we had a lesson with them on Wednesday! They have a 9 year old son named Jack who really wants to be baptized! They all need to start coming back to church and they're lucky that the church times are changing too, since they said it will be easier for them to come if church started later. They're finding a time right now that works best for their family to come into town for Jack to be baptized!
Late one night as we were walking home from a lesson with Eugene we met a guy named Bill. We told him we were sharing a Christmas video called #LIGHTtheWORLD and showed it to him. He said that he and his wife went to Central (the most popular nondenominational megachurch in Las Vegas), but they didn't like it and were trying to find a new place to go to each week. He invited us back to teach his family more!
We went to an apartment complex and prayed to find someone to teach who will be baptized in January or February and then we met a guy named Sonny! He told us that he just moved there with his wife last week. His wife is a member and they both want to come to church too!
We found some former investigators in our area book named Chelyn and Stephen and we stopped by their house a few times last transfer. We tried by again this week and Chelyn was home with her son named Sawyer and she invited us in! She knows the whole drill with the missionaries since they've been investigating for years. She said they just take their time but love the Church! They even read from the Book of Mormon and come to church when they're in town, since they travel a lot for Stephen's job. It will be interesting to teach them since they've literally been taught everything, but we think a temple tour is in order!
On our way to a lesson with Lily, a guy driving a truck past us stopped and rolled down the window and said, "Hey Elders! Oh wait, you're girls...do they still call you elders?" We talked with him for a bit and he told us that missionaries saved his friend's life! The friend was involved in all sorts of gangs and drugs but ended up finding the Church and being baptized. It was great that we met him!
Our lesson with Lily went really well! She used to go to a church every other week but has fallen out of the habit as her life got busier. She wants to come back! We invited her to be baptized too and she's praying about it!
We were finally able to teach Steve and Lois again! And we finally taught them about the Restoration, after teaching about the Plan of Salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ first. Not what usually happens! The member who came with us was absolutely perfect for them! I'm amazed at Steve's knowledge of the New Testament. He's spent a lot of time searching and told us he never found anything satisfactory until we met him outside! We invited them to be baptized on , expecting Lois to be the first one to respond. Steve immediately said yes in a resolute tone of voice and Lois said yes too!
We went to an area we planned on Saturday afternoon and saw a less-active family outside putting up their Christmas lights. Perfect timing, since we planned to call them and ask for help with some legal stuff for one of our investigators! They shared some really helpful information regarding that. Immediately after we met them we received a text from Church headquarters with a referral named Rico to go see that day! We went over to the referral right then and Rico was outside getting the mail! We taught him and we have a lesson tomorrow too! Rico told us that an LDS family used to live across the street from him and they invited him to church and he went one Sunday and was interested in trying it again!
At dinner that night we told the family about Rico and they said that they were the family that lived across the street from Rico! I am amazed by that!
Right before dinner with that family we had a few minutes and saw a house with a bunch of Christmas cutouts in the yard. We met someone at that house before who spoke only Spanish, but we felt strongly that we should knock again. My Spanish skills have seriously deteriorated since I was serving in east Las Vegas but we figured we could show her the #LIGHTtheWORLD video, since there weren't any words until the end. We knocked and a guy named Chris answered! We told him about the #LIGHTtheWORLD video and he said he'd love to watch it and called his ten year old son, Cole, over from the living room to watch it. They loved the video! Cole was smiling from ear to ear afterwards! I am so glad for the prompting to knock on that house again!
Yesterday we took Eugene to the Christmas devotional! They were broadcasting it at a single adult break the fast event, so luckily he's a single adult! I'm so glad he was able to go--sometimes it's such a hassle to arrange for rides! Thank goodness there was a member who had come to one his lessons who was willing to take him!
I love you all! Don't forget to use the advent calendar to find ways to serve each day this month!
This week has been incredible! On a Monday we had a lesson with Eugene and his friend Ryan was there. We decided to drop Eugene because he just wasn't willing to act on what we've been teaching him and what he knows to be true (especially regarding the Word of Wisdom)...plus he kept saying that he felt like it was okay to [fill in the blank for disobeying any commandment] as long as he did something good afterwards to make up for it. Life just does not work that way, and at the time he refused to accept it! We told him that we were going to discontinue the lessons until he showed us that he was making changes in his life. I felt bad for him as we dropped him, but I knew it would help him in the end!
We had a lesson planned with Tristan but when we got to their house they were about to head out the door to a doctor's appointment so we were able to visit our backup plan instead! It was for a guy named Marcus who lives in the same neighborhood as Tristan with high security. You have to get a visitor's pass from the gate guard that says who you're visiting and when you came inside. We didn't have Marcus' number to call ahead and plan a time to meet, but we went through the guard again and they called Marcus for us and Marcus said to let us in! Marcus just got divorced from a member and he knows just about everything about Mormon culture. He's awesome! I hope we get to teach him more, and I'm grateful we were able to catch him that day!
Later we were able to teach Tristan. We taught them about eternal families and the temple and invited Tristan to be baptized. It sounds like he really wants to be, but he just doesn't want to leave his dad as the only nonmember. Tristan's mom was there and let him know what the dad was currently thinking, which was fantastic because the dad is growing more supportive of the Church and Tristan didn't seem to know that until his mom told him!
Then we taught a part-member family and the member's name is Peggy. She has been less-active for decades--the last time she went to church until about a month ago was back when they had sacrament meeting, Sunday school, and primary all at different times throughout Sunday and would go home between meetings! She's been coming back and she told us that it was because of her home teachers. Never underestimate the power of home or visiting teaching!
One of the guys from Elders' Quorum came out with us to a lesson that fell through and he told us that we had him for a whole hour and said he wanted to take us to the store to buy gifts for our investigators! At first I thought, "no, we won't be able to teach anyone at the store" but then realized how much it would mean to our investigators! He bought TONS of things and told us that he'd pay as long as we could come up with a holiday note that incorporated every item. Here's what we came up with:
The holidays are NUTS (almond roca) but we hope your hearts can be WARMED (hot chocolate) in this CHILLY (ice cream) season by the LIGHT (candle) of the Good SHEPHERD (candy canes), Christ, and the SWEET (apple pie) message of His restored gospel. Let's NOG (egg nog) forget to be thankful for our Savior!
We dropped off the packages to several of our investigators. I know they all appreciated it and I'm so grateful for that generous member!
We had another member out with us and as we were walking back to his car, he stopped unexpectedly at a house and we decided to try it and found a new investigator named Denise! She told us they were looking for a church to go to but were busy then (it was the day before Thanksgiving) and her husband called out, "please come back! We need to get back to church!" So we should be teaching them soon :)
One day we felt strongly to plan to see a former investigator named Kristi and so we went over on Thanksgiving day and were able to catch her! She's studying sonagraphy and is trying to pass the test in January. She took it before but didn't pass and we had a good talk about accepting God's plan for us because she told us she was trying her hardest but wasn't sure anymore if that was what she's supposed to do.
We received a call from the YSA sisters and they told me that Ruby, one of our investigators from the Foothills YSA ward, moved into their area and they're teaching her now!
For Thanksgiving an older couple from our ward took us to dinner at their grandson's house in the Black Mountain stake just next to the stake that we're serving in. They have a granddaughter who is living with them and she isn't a member. Their grandson just happens to live in our STLs' area. We rode in their car to save our miles and planned to work in the STLs' area after dinner so we wouldn't be member camping. After dinner we left the house and immediately found a lady named Meredith who told us that she was in town for Thanksgiving visiting her in-laws because her dad just died a few months ago. She always had Thanksgiving dinner with her side of the family and was noticeably having a hard time. Luckily, right before we left our area we felt prompted to stock up on Plan of Salvation pamphlets, since we didn't have any before that! We taught her briefly about the Plan of Salvation and gave her one of the pamphlets and a copy of the Book of Mormon. I'm so glad we met her! We walked for at least an hour and a half talking to people along the way and then thought it was strange that the family we came with hadn't called us yet because they said before we left that they were planning to stay for about an hour. We realized in that moment that we forgot to check the address that they were at, so we needed to retrace our steps and we pulled out our iPads to check the map and make sure we would go back in the right direction. Thank goodness this area was part of the Foothills YSA ward that I served in for three transfers, so I knew my way around better than other areas! As we were looking at the map the STLs pulled up and offered us a ride! They told us that the family we had dinner with was their ward mission leader and they were actually headed over to their house right then to use their ironing board! I have no clue why they needed an ironing board so badly at that time on Thanksgiving, but whatever the reason was it was incredible because of Heavenly Father's timing! We arrived at the street and saw several ambulances and police cars with the lights on. We had been hearing tons of sirens all day, but now we were worried that something had happened with the family we were just with! We drove up and discovered that it was indeed their house. A lady came outside and told us that her dad, the member that we drove with, had blacked out twice. They gave him a priesthood blessing and then called for the ambulance and we just happened to be outside proselyting. The paramedics carried him out to an ambulance and we told his wife not to worry about taking us home. The STLs offered to take us home but had a lesson right then, so we planned to continue working in their area while they taught and then go back to our area. As we were walking we called a member from our ward to pick us up and she was able to come! We also let the Bishop and Relief Society President know about what happened. Fast forward to Sunday--yes, the brother that passed out is okay. I'm so glad about that! What a crazy thing for them on Thanksgiving!
So a while ago we street contacted a guy named Dan who spoke only Romanian, so we tried to tell him that we would bring him a book soon that was in his native language. The Romanian copy of the Book of Mormon that we ordered finally arrived, so we went by Dan's house to deliver it and we met his wife named Angie and their kids named Dennis and Leo! Angie speaks English pretty well considering she's only been speaking it for a few years. She asked us what she could help us with and we showed her the copy of the Book of Mormon and she got so happy to see something in her native language! I can't even imagine how wonderful that would be! We taught her about the Book of Mormon the best we could and planned a time to come back and teach their whole family. We were wondering how we would teach them and decided we'd probably have to use Google Translate for all the gospel words. But then on Sunday a couple of returned missionaries gave their homecoming talks AND ONE OF THEM SERVED IN ROMANIA!!! My jaw just about dropped to the floor when she said that over the pulpit. I know Heavenly Father loves each of His children so much and provides them with what they need when they lack something they cannot do for themselves! This is incredible! Allison, the returned missionary, was so happy to hear that we had a Romanian family that we wanted her to teach with us! Allison is only here for a month before she goes to school, so I'm expecting some amazing things to happen with that family!
Steve and Lois were sick this week so we weren't able to teach them much, but they're still reading from the Book of Mormon and loving it!
We found out about transfers on Saturday! I'm staying here with Sister Cheyne and I guess we'll have to find a mini missionary for when I leave, since we're not in a trio! Our zone did something where each missionary would read the next missionary's transfer doctrine for the zone to hear and I read Sister Wilde's--she's going BACK to Kingman to TRAIN!! I'm glad to be staying in my area and I am so excited for Sister Wilde! We were talking about all the people we taught together there and we feel like many of them will be ready to be baptized!
We found a new investigator for YSA named Cake. Yes, his name is Cake. He even has it tattooed on his hand. Whether that's his given name or a street name I don't know, but his name is Cake. He said he's "Christian but also kind of atheist" and we asked how that worked and he said that he believes in aliens and that when we die, we go on to live on another planet and wonder if earth even exists. Pretty interesting. I'm glad we met him! We had a member out with us when we met him and she was out for an hour, but I had a recurring prompting to ask her to come to our next plans too even though they were in a completely different part of our area. One of my biggest fears is what would happen if I ignored a prompting, and since that prompting was repeated you know I was procrastinating for a bit. But I finally acted on it and she said of course, she would come with us! So we went to the plans and didn't meet anyone with her. I wonder why I was prompted to ask her and I guess I'll never know for sure. Maybe it was a test of obedience or maybe she would have been in a car accident had she not come with us. I don't know. But it sure is cool how the Spirit works!
We taught Michael about the Plan of Salvation in a member's home and their 9 year old son was sitting in with us. This kid knew so much about the Plan of Salvation! He kept raising his hand after we would teach a principle or two and then he would tell Michael all about Adam and Eve or the Millennium or the final judgement. It was pretty cool! Michael doesn't want to be baptized yet because he wants to explore all religions, but he's progressing in every other aspect!
On Saturday we called Eugene and told him we were looking forward to seeing him at church. He asked if we had a ride set up and we gave him the phone number of our ward mission leader to call and arrange something, so we could help him be more responsible and accountable.
Later that night we had a ward missionary coming out to a lesson with us but the lesson fell through and right as we started walking down the stairs, Eugene called! He asked if we could come over for a prayer, which is his way of asking us to come over for a lesson. He told us he realized that before, he was trying to make excuses for sin but now he really wants to change his life around and is willing to act! That was an awesome lesson with him! He is so excited to be baptized on ! Then in our gospel principles class, he made a comment about how he's here on earth to follow the example of Jesus Christ and repent. It made me so happy to hear him say that!
Have a wonderful week! I love you all!
Hi everyone--I hope you're all doing well!
We taught Steve and Lois again. They're amazing! We weren't able to get a member to come to one of their lessons, which I guess is actually good because at that lesson Lois asked something that I don't think she would have told us about that if we brought another person. Other than that, they're doing super well! Lois just started a new job and they're working hard to get Sundays off so they can come to church. In our lesson with them Lois told us she felt warm fuzzies when she prayed and asked God if the Book of Mormon is true! She then said the closing prayer and thanked God for the peace that she's beginning to feel as she meets with us, studies the scriptures, and prays. Steve is doing awesome too; he just doesn't talk as much as Lois does. But it's neat to see him progress! When we taught him in the second lesson he said he would be baptized as long as he doesn't have to give up his thing with the Word of Wisdom, but now he admits that he wants to quit and needs to.
On an exchange with Sister Perkins, we saw an older, really frail lady walking down the sidewalk with a walker and we asked her if we could help. I couldn't understand much of what she was saying, but I think it was something about how she just got out of the hospital and had no money so she was trying to find an old friend's house. The only problem with that is that all of the houses look alike. We walked with her (and she walks slow) until she found the house and talked with her along the way. We quickly realized she didn't remember anything we said because she kept asking the same questions. We didn't really know how to help her, but then she found the house and we waited at the sidewalk while she went to the door and was there for several minutes. We checked and saw someone hugging her and figured she was taken care of, so we left. Definitely not something we see every day!
Eugene - a lot has happened with him. Earlier in the week he came out with us to inspired knock and we found a new investigator named Tom! I'm sure it might have looked odd to other people, since Eugene wasn't wearing what the typical member does. But it's awesome that he wanted to come out with us so badly! He had been asking us ever since we met him if he could teach people with us and we put it off until now. Later we had a lesson with him and we found out his Word of Wisdom problem is bigger than we think. We taught him again and his cousin, Daymond was there.The member that came with us to that lesson was absolutely perfect! He was less-active for a while and shared his story with them. When Sunday came around we went over a few minutes before their ride was supposed to come to make sure they were ready and Eugene, Daymond, and Carl (Eugene's brother) came! We got to church and after the sacrament was passed Eugene's friend named Ryan that he invited came in too. We've never met Ryan before, but Eugene told us about him. A few minutes later we saw Ryan drinking from a flask. This was by far the most interesting and disruptive sacrament meeting I've been in! We didn't quite know what to do because we were sitting so far away from them. However, we have decided to drop Eugene because he just isn't keeping commitments besides coming to church. Sad to say, but he is absolutely not ready to be baptized right now! Hopefully he will be later :)
Just about every new investigator we found this week is a nurse. I don't know exactly why we've been meeting so many since I'm not having any doubts about nursing school! It's been interesting though.
We found an awesome new investigator named Karen! Yes, she is a nurse. It was cool how we ran into her because we had planned to visit Eugene (he lives in the same apartment complex we live in) and we usually park close to his building, but for some reason Sister Cheyne parked in our reserved spot and then we met Karen along the way as she was getting groceries out of her car! She just moved here from Chicago for family reasons and told us she wanted to find a church! We taught her about the Restoration and then before we offered a closing prayer, we asked her if she wanted to ask God for anything and she told us she had a lot of regret for things done and not done in the past. We taught her briefly about the Atonement and the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I can't wait to teach her more about the Atonement!
We taught Michael at the church and had a fantastic lesson with him! A member that I'll call Sister D came with us. She was baptized in high school and has a story that is incredibly similar to Michael's! We taught Michael about the Restoration and he asked so many good questions and even repeated things back to us to make sure he understood correctly! Sister D asked him why he wants to meet with us and he said that he wants to learn about all religions and decided to start with Mormons (he'll end with that too!) and Sister D shared how she did exactly the same thing and the missionaries that taught her kept inviting her to be baptized (which we have in every lesson) and she never accepted it at first (Michael hasn't either) but then one day she said, "How about December?" So we're hoping that Michael will listen to the Spirit and take the next step in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It's cool because we still have the font reserved for December 3 for Eugene's baptism, but Eugene won't be baptized then and we know someone will be ready then. Maybe it's Michael!
We haven't been able to contact Derrick at all, so we dropped him. Just in case you're wondering what happened...
We had a really cool experience when we were on our way to a lesson with Eugene (he's pretty flexible with time) and on our way we saw a moving truck with some guys loading it with furniture. We asked if we could help and they accepted. We also called the elders to come help and they showed up . Meanwhile, we learned that the person moving out was named Steve, the person they hired to help was a friendly less-active member, and Steve used to live with his parents named Steve and Angela and his wife and son but was moving out because everyone needed more space. Once the elders arrived Steve Sr asked Sister Cheyne and I to just talk with Angela because she had a major surgery recently and was feeling pretty lonely. We went to the back porch where she was sitting and had a great conversation with her and she wants us to come back! It's amazing how service softens people's hearts :)
This morning we were halfway through our workout at home when we had the impression to go to the gym. Weird. But we did it, expecting to run into someone who needed to see us or talk to us or something and we did! When we got to the gym someone was there and went into the bathroom shortly after we arrived. They left the TV on and it was playing some televangelist show. Oh my goodness, the things that preacher was teaching were so not true and went against the Bible. It's crazy how some people twist the gospel around and try to distort it to make life's requirements seem easier! I'm glad we listened to the prompting and were there for that person.
Have a happy Thanksgiving! I'm grateful that we can enjoy the blessings of the restored gospel and I'm so grateful for all the prophets that had a hand in creating the Book of Mormon, since I can't imagine it being easy or quick to engrave anything on metal plates or protect them from Lamanites or angry mobs. Look at how much good has come from the Book of Mormon! Think of the blessings that you enjoy because of the understanding of eternal truths that the scriptures teach!
We found this drawing of the Las Vegas temple on a chalkboard at church!
This week was awesome! Eugene has been progressing super well and we're teaching his mom (Deborah) too. This week Eugene's anti-Mormon sister visited for a few days and apparently constantly bashed the Church while she was staying with them when Eugene told her he's going to be baptized in December. But Eugene and Deborah stuck to what they know is true! Deborah told us later that she doesn't think it's right to criticize another's beliefs no matter what. Deborah also told us that she loves the Book of Mormon and knows that it's true because it teaches about the same things that are in the Bible! Eugene came to the employment meeting and we later taught him and Deborah about the Word of Wisdom, since Eugene has something to work through before he's baptized. I'm so excited for them both! We invited Deborah to be baptized (she hasn't heard about the Restoration yet) and she said she'd already been baptized, but we taught her about the priesthood in the short time we had and we're planning to teach her about the Restoration in more depth next time :)
One night we felt like we should knock on someone's door so we did and this lady opened the door and said "Sisters! Not elders? Come on in!" At that point we figured she was either a less-active member or a former investigator. When we stepped in, the first thing I noticed was the abundance of wooden triangles in her apartment. Sister Cheyne asked about them and the lady said something about how the triangles were how she communicated with the aliens and UFOs. She said a TON of weird stuff and then her grandfather clock started chiming and something must have been wrong with it--either it was extremely out of tune or she had done something to it so that it sounded awful, and this is more than the "slightly overplayed and out of tune piano" kind of awful. Before that we were kind of hoping she was just pulling a prank. She said so many other strange things and I hope one day she'll be open to learning about the restored gospel!
We were able to teach Dewanda again! We stopped by at night and she told us it was the perfect timing because she had just gotten home from work and was about to head to the store, but she invited us in for a little while and we taught her about the Restoration! When we taught her about the Prophet Joseph Smith's First Vision, she said she felt the Holy Ghost just like she does when she reads the scriptures! We invited her to be baptized and she told us she's been baptized before but feels like she needs a restoration of faith for herself, so she'll consider it and pray about it!
I had the wonderful privilege to attend the baptism of a guy named Mariano that Sister Gonzalez and I street contacted close to where Dawn and Lonnie live. We referred him to the Spanish sisters and they taught him and he's progressed wonderfully! It was amazing to see the changes he's made in his life!
Later I was on splits so that Sister Cheyne could go to the temple and the member I was with came with me to visit a new investigator named Alex that was referred to us. He wasn't home, but for some reason we walked around his apartment complex and then saw some people that we street contacted who turned out to be Alex and his girlfriend! Thank goodness for that divine intervention! Alex told us he can't wait to learn more and we passed him off to the YSA missionaries.
One time we went to a neighborhood and parked to visit someone who wasn't home and then felt like we should take the car to our next plans, even though they were just up the street and around the corner. I felt like we would miss someone if we took the time to walk. So we went to our next plans and no one answered the door and then we went to the neighbors' house and met a lady named Olga who said she was just heading out the door to pick up her kids! We taught an extremely brief portion of the Restoration and gave her a pamphlet and then she left to go get her kids. I'm so glad we caught her!
There's an amazing member in one of our wards named Brother N. His calling is in the Elders Quorum presidency and he is awesome! He called us after a correlation meeting that he came to and told us he just had this huge desire to get the members working in unity with the missionaries, which started when he was looking at the home teaching reports and saw how many of the members weren't trying their hardest to fulfill their callings and responsibilities. He invited us to speak in opening exercises for Elders Quorum, which we did. He is so awesome! We went over to his house the next day and he gave us a ton of solid referrals and then said, "Why are we just talking about this right now? Let's go visit them!" So we did and oh my goodness words cannot express how happy this makes me! This is the level we're trying to get all the members to be at!
One day I decided to drive (I'm usually in the passenger seat taking care of the phone) and I missed the turn to the apartment complex we were going to that usually had the gates open, so I turned into the next entrance and the gates were shut and we didn't have the code because they're different for each entrance. We looked for the code on our list and it just said to use the other entrance. The problem was that there was no space to turn around like they usually have after the box thing that you put the code in and this complex was off of a very busy road. The only options were to have Sister Cheyne get out and back me onto the road when it was clear or wait until someone else used this gate instead of the main one that was open and risk getting our car smashed since there was absolutely no space. So Sister Cheyne got out and after I backed up and got the car into a safer spot, a guy walked past and Sister Cheyne talked to him--he's really interested and has always wanted to meet with missionaries! Sometimes the strangest things happen so we can meet the right people.
After that experience we arrived at the apartment and saw a guy outside so we went out and talked to him. His name is Austin and he told us he just moved her a few months ago and has been looking for something more in his life!
Another day we had an awkward amount of time left between the lesson we finished and our appointment for dinner since we were riding our bikes and we had an appointment immediately after dinner but not in the same place. We worked it out and went to our plans in an apartment complex and I felt a constant prompting to visit the person we had planned as backup, so we went over to his apartment even though it was way in the back of the complex and we would definitely be late for dinner, since we would be walking back to a different complex. When we got there we met Chris, the guy we planned as backup, and he told us he was an atheist and wished he was agnostic. That's not something you hear ever day! We asked him why he said that and he told us that he wanted to believe there was a God and be happy, but he couldn't see anything showing him that God was there. We taught him then and we're planning to go back this week!
Then as we were walking from Chris' apartment complex to the complex we had dinner in we needed to cross a main road and were quite a ways away from the crosswalk. I prayed that we would be able to cross relatively quickly after pressing the button and the we saw a lady cross the same street, so I figured it might take a while for us to cross when we got there. The lady came up our way and we talked to her briefly and then when we got to the intersection we were able to cross immediately! Thank goodness! Then, still on our way, we street contacted a lady named Rebecca who was heading inside with some grocery bags who told us she just moved here from Connecticut to find a job. Her husband is serving in the Army and is currently deployed. We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and she said she was looking forward to finding peace through it!
Yesterday we had appointment with a new investigator named Steve whom we found a while ago and when we knocked on the door someone named Lois opened the door and said she was confused. We asked for Steve and she got him and then they both came outside for our lesson. We began teaching them about the Plan of Salvation and then Lois asked if we wanted to come inside and Steve protested, saying he loved it outside. Lois said we must be cold (guys, it's still in the 80s here! I love it!) and we went inside with her while Steve stayed outside for a bit with the member we brought named Miles. Lois is so cool and fun to be around! A few minutes later the guys came in and we continued our lesson. Steve asked us how the trinity works and we told him we didn't believe in it--he was happy to learn that! Lois asked a lot of good questions, but by far my favorite was "How are you so happy?!" So we taught her that happiness for us comes through understanding God's plan, living the Gospel of Jesus Christ (especially by repenting) and by studying the scriptures, praying, and coming to church! We invited them to be baptized and they both said they want to be! They are so awesome! Their baptism will probably be a ways out because there are some Word of Wisdom things to work through and one of them needs to be divorced from someone who is in jail and then they can get married, but they're totally willing to do it!
Guys, I love the gospel so much and I know without a doubt that following Christ's example and living in His way is the only way to be truly happy. Thank goodness we get to share the gospel with everyone, whether we're full-time missionaries or not!
We've had an awesome, fast-paced week! Unfortunately I'm really short on time so this will be pretty condensed.
On Monday we had a nearly mission-wide party and each zone sang their own newly created verses to Called to Serve and then we watched Shrek, which definitely wasn't the movie I was expecting!
One night we planned to bike up to a certain apartment complex but saw some cops with their lights on just outside the entrance and we pulled over in another apartment complex along the way. Neither complexes had anywhere for us to lock our bikes. The idea came to us to take our bikes back to the apartment and then walk back to the complex we planned to be in so we didn't have to worry about our bikes. We didn't have any better ideas (and of course the ideas aren't ours, but God's) so we took our bikes back and then on our way to the planned area remembered a new investigator who had an appointment coming up and we wondered if we should go see her. Instead we both felt like we should walk up a certain main road that was kind of towards her direction but didn't lead to her, so we did. We reached a neighborhood and felt prompted to go inside and then we met a guy named Carlos and his granddaughter, Mariah! We taught them about the Restoration and they went on their way and we felt like they were the reason we felt prompted to turn into that neighborhood, so we went back to the main road and then remembered a guy named Michael (not the one who came to church) that we had been trying to contact. We actually dropped him the night before because he had never been home the two or three times we stopped by previously. We went by and his door was wide open! We were finally able to teach him!
I don't know if I mentioned Eugene last week, but we street contacted him in October and then he called us on Thursday morning and wanted to meet! We met with him on the golf course that bordered the apartment complex and he expressed a ton of interest in being baptized again. Luckily we had a member planning to come out with us right after that, so we asked Eugene if he'd like to take a tour of the chapel and we took him right over to the church! He's planning to be baptized on December 3! Then on Saturday, Eugene came to a baptism and he came to all three hours of church on Sunday too! He's awesome!
Derrick and Michael also came to all three hours of church! They both loved it and are progressing so well! They both recognize the Spirit, which is incredible because both were at a point where they didn't believe in God!
I also went on an exchange with Sister Wilde! It was so awesome to be with her again! I learned so much from her, both from the exchange and during our transfer together! It blows my mind how little we knew over a year ago, but the work still progressed in our area!
I'm so sorry I have to cut this short--so much more happened, but I just don't have time!
Love you all!