Thursday, November 25, 2010

Little update- I am staying in the Shoal Creek Valley Ward in Liberty and have a new companion....Hermana Holbrook! Spanish speaking! I am going to have to learn Spanish but it's so good because we have many Spanish speaking investigators.

Words cannot describe the things that happened to my companion and I this past Saturday at our all mission conference with Elder Richard G. Scott. We arrived and saw our investigator Ben (who was given a personal invitation by our mission president to come to the conference). He was dressed really nice and very excited. We sat down and a little while later, stood as Elder Scott entered the room with President and Sister Van Komen as well as Elder Hillier (of the seventy). We were all able to come up and shake his hand. Sister Card and I had happened to sit on the front row and were the first to be invited up. It was so incredible looking into his eyes as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.

First thing Elder Scott said when he got up was "Where would you go in the Book of Mormon to prove the validity of the restoration?" He had us, with our companions, plan out a 5-6 minute lesson on how we would tell an investigator how they can come to know the book of Mormon testifies of Joseph Smith and the restoration. We were given about 5 minutes to plan this and then he would have some missionaries come up and have a practice. Sister Card immediately turned to me and said, "Sister, we're going to get called on! Things like this always happen to me! I have a track record for things like this!" I felt in my stomach that we'd get called on too but Sister Card then said "But, the chances of us getting called on out of all of these missionaries (250) is pretty slim". I agreed with her - nonetheless, we planned that we would talk about
a) how the book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion
b) that we need to ask Heaven-sent questions to find how they receive answers to their prayers
c) we'd bear solemn testimony
d) and we'd be sincere

So Elder Scott got up and said he would choose elders to come up. The first set actually volunteered. They practiced with other 'mock' investigators and were critiqued by Elder Scott. He called on another set of elders and they went up to practice. The first thing these elders heard when they got up to practice was "Now I don't want you elders to fail." ha ha it was pretty funny - ya, try not to fail in front of an apostle. Finally, Elder Scott said "We'll have one more set of missionaries" and he had President call on another set of elders. All the sister missionaries let out a sigh of relief but I could because I still felt an intense anxious this was happening to us.

The third group went up and were critiqued. When they sat down, Elder Scott got up and said "Okay President, let's have some sisters come up." My stomach dropped. Earlier I had seen Elder Scott whisper something to President and he in turn whispered to his wife who looked at Sister Card and I. We were doomed. President Van Komen got up and said "Okay, they might be mad at me but let's have Sister Card and Sister Love." What. In. The. World. are you doing to us President?! I was so nervous and felt like dying ha ha This is being a missionary in front of an apostle of the Lord. We walked up to the front of the chapel and sat. Up until now, members of the church had also been picked out of the audience when it came for them to practice. I was wondering who they would bring up to have as our investigator. As I turned to look, I saw our investigator Ben and our ward mission leader walking up to the stand. In the microphone, they said "We have a real seeker right here!" - My heart was filled with unexplainable joy - I have never felt that much happiness and joy as a missionary before. I felt so much joy and thankfulness for having met Ben and teaching him that I was overwhelmed with emotion. I just started crying. It was the most amazing feeling. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I tried to pull it together. I was no longer nervous and had the faith that the spirit would guide and direct us. And He did. I don't remember a lot of what I or Sister Card said but that's because it was the spirit speaking through us. We bore testimony and told him we loved him. We promised him blessings if he read the book of Mormon and prayed. After we had our practice, I looked over at our mission president and he had tears in his eyes. It was such an amazing feeling to make our president proud and to try to represent our mission well.

When Elder Scott walked back up, he said "It's like being taught by angels." That was priceless. He asked for comments from the audience to say what they liked. One Elders said "No pun intended, but there was a lot of love." I realized that that is what missionary work is all about. Love. If we don't love the people then how can the spirit be there and in turn testify to them. Everyone had really nice things to say and after that Elder Scott said, "I would ask you to tell me what they could work on but I don't think there is anything." What an incredible man. I would have loved to have gotten some advice on what could be better but the spirit was strong because we loved him and had that connection with him. I later talked to Ben and he said he knew that there was no coincidence that he was there that day and that he got picked on to be in the practice. An incredible experience. Being able to be a true missionary, teach a true investigator, one I love, in front of an apostle of the Lord. We are so blessed and I don't know what I ever did to deserve this experience.

Elder Scott asked President and Sister Van Komen to share their testimonies. After that, Elder Hillier got up and talked about how we obtain truth and read Alma 5:45-46. He turned to us and said "Sister Love and Sister Card, I felt something as you were teaching. In 2 Nephi 32:3, it says 'Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore they speak the words of Christ." He pointed out the first part and said "As you were teaching I was willing to do whatever it took to do what you asked because it was by the power of the Holy Ghost, it was the words of Christ. Elder Scott said today that it was like being taught by angels and it was - because you spoke by the power of the Holy Ghost." That was really neat to hear.

We had a 20 minute break and then Elder Scott got up to the microphone and said "Can we have Sister Card and Sister Love come back up to the stand?" Gaaaah. What?! Now what?! Mmmmkay. We're coming Elder Scott. My heart started beating faster - I couldn't believe this was happening again. We walked up and "Make sure you write down your name and address and give it to me before I leave. I would like to send you a copy of one of my paintings for doing this." That was neat but I was thinking "What is he going to have us do.....sing?!!" He had us come up to the microphone and asked us to answer four different questions about why we came on a mission, what the hardest thing about serving a mission is, what brings the most joy from serving a mission, and they he asked us to bear our testimonies. After we had finished, Elder Scott said "These are two very special and beautiful sisters. I can't help think that there are two young valiant men somewhere being prepared for them. Making themselves worthy for them." Sister Card was really cute and said "I'd like to know who he is!"

Elder Scott afterwards, shared some amazing stories with all the missionaries and bore his testimony. We were able to talk with him afterwards and he let us go to lunch with him. What?! I don't even know. We were in shock all day. It was a special experience and I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for allowing Sister Card and I to have the experience of not only spending time with Elder Scott but by being able to have the spirit with us so strongly while teaching.

Afterwards, our investigator Ben got to go up and talk with both Elder Hillier and Elder Scott. Elder Hillier gave him his e-mail address and asked him to e-mail him before and after his baptism. Ben's wife is still threatening to divorce him if he gets baptized. Elder Scott told us to take our time with him. That his wife needs to be brought into the church too. We'll see. Afterwards, Elder Scott gave Ben a hug. Oh. My Goodness. It was priceless to see. I felt like a proud parent watching that.

As we left Elder Scott, he said "Can I take a picture with you two sisters? I will want to remember this. You sister have been an inspiration to me this meeting. It was joy working with you." But it wasn't us. It was the Lord and His spirit working through us. He was such a sweet person. I am so grateful for this experience we had! The church is true. I want to end this e-mail by typing what Elder Scott said at the end of our meeting:

"This I declare with every capacity of my being....I want you to all remember when there stood in your presence someone who does hold keys...Jesus Christ guides His church personally...He is a loving, glorious, resurrected being who can communicate love so intensely. I know He is our Savior, Redeemer, a glorified, resurrected being because I know him."

I know this is true. Thank you for your love, support and prayers. I love you all!

Sister Love

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"This earth was once a garden place..."

This past week was really special. We were able to go on a history trip with all the sister missionaries and a church historian. We visited Far West and saw towns around there but one of my favorite parts of the tour was visiting Adam-ondi-Ahman. Even before arriving, I could feel something special within my heart as we entered the valley. We went up and heard stories about the early Saints and everything they went through in Adam-ondi-Ahman and Far West. We sang the song, "Adam-ondi-Ahman" and took pictures. It was really a special trip and I feel more inspired and excited to continue sharing the gospel.

Our investigator, Ben, is still learning and we are so excited for him. He came into our lesson the other day and said he stayed up until 3:00 in the morning reading the Book of Mormon. He said once he gets reading he feels like he can't stop. It's so amazing! I love the Book of Mormon. There are times when I wish personal study time would go on for an extra hour or two because I don't stop reading and studying it. The only thing with Ben is that he doesn't want to pray and ask if it's true until he has read the entire Book of Mormon. He is a lawyer and needs facts and evidence to everything. He had a problem when he came to church and saw that we served water instead of wine at the sacrament. We shared with him that the Lord told Joseph Smith in D&C 27 that "it mattereth not" what is served as long as it is done in the right manner and for the right reason. He wanted proof of modern revelation of this. I'm so grateful for the promptings of the spirit because earlier, before our lesson, I was reading about the sacrament and copied a page out of a book that had an explanation of water instead of wine by Elder Bruce R. McConkie. As soon as I gave him that paper and he read it, he said "Oh, okay! I was just confused." And that was it! We were scared we were going to loose him for a second there but as soon as he can read about it, he is fine.

There are always those moments in missionary work that hurt your heart though. We met a girl named Lia who was so energetic and wanted to learn more. We scheduled an appointment with her and told her to look up if she had any questions. I had started studying and looking for answers to some of her questions when she called us and told us that she looked on and has a hard time believing that Jesus Christ is not the only God. She also said she didn't understand baptisms for the dead and other issues. She had even gone on the website and chatted with missionaries about it. She said she was sorry and that maybe sometime she'll want to learn. In the past, I've been able to just let things go but this one hurt. It's so hard when you see someone's eyes light up when they hear about the restored gospel because it's familiar to them! They don't know it, but their spirit's has a familiar ring because they voted for it before this life. It was hard but I'm grateful for those that the Lord prepares and for those who are willing to learn.

This past week, I've been studying about the atonement. I'm so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ and his gift. It is life saving...literally! We wouldn't be able to return back to our Heavenly Father's presence if it weren't for it. I love Him so much and am trying to be more like Him every day. Love you all!

Sister Love

Monday, November 1, 2010

Greetings From Liberty!

Greetings from Liberty, Missouri! I think I might die out here. It has started to get cold the last couple of days and it's going to be freezing this winter! But I love this area! Sister Card and I have seen so many miracles. Our investigator, Ben is so golden. We took him to the visitor's center and took him through "God's Plan for His Families". Afterwards, he just cried. We also took him to listen to a talk by Elder Christofferson about how the spirit testifies to our spirit that the scriptures are true. We had to leave early, but our Visitor's Center director, Elder Nelson came over and continued to teach him. Elder Nelson later said that Ben told him every time he gets ready to read the book of Mormon, he reads Moroni 10:4-5 before reading anything else. Wow. Who does that? He is so genuine. We also taught him the word of wisdom and he said, "I get the no alcohol and tobacco. I'm going to have a hard time with getting rid of tea though." He fought us for a little while saying that tea is an antioxidant for our bodies and can be good. After testifying to him that this is for our benefit, he said "Well, I guess this isn't about tea but it's about obedience. If it's what I need to do, then I'll do it." At the end of the lesson, he prayed and thanked Heavenly Father for sending us to him. That is one of the best feelings in the world. Knowing you've been sent to someone needing to hear the gospel. We went to a church bookstore afterwards with him where he bought a triple combination and a book of Mormon study guide. We'll have him baptized soon :).

We met Louis and Kyle, two 18 year old punks who were a referral from a member and we went to teach them. Here walk in these 'too cool for anything' kids with their ears pierced and chains hanging out everywhere. I was cowering in the corner while Sister Card attempted to teach lesson 1. As we started asking questions though, these boys really opened up. They are honestly searching for something. And they came to church! They were really shy at first but then opened up and said they really enjoyed it. I'm excited to teach them about the plan of salvation next.

We are also working with Dannick, an African American guy from England. He's married to Robin, a member and they have two little girls named Lecie and Lexie. They all have British accents and call each other "love". Dannick says he's waiting for a sign to tell him to join the church. We asked him some heaven sent questions including "Do you think Heavenly Father would tell you something that you wouldn't want to hear?", "What don't you want to hear?" and "Do you want the church to be true?" --- All of this regarding him asking to know whether or not this is what he should do. I hope he comes around so this family can get to the temple.

Yesterday, I hit my one year left mark. It's insane! Something I've learned from this is that time is precious. We are only here for a glimpse in eternity and are given the chance to grow and become more like our Heavenly Father and Savior.

We had a zone conference this last week. They are so inspiring and really light the fire to continue in missionary work. Our mission has been given 65,000 pass-a-long cards with the new website on the back which is a great tool. Something else our mission will be doing soon is sharing missionary work through texting and facebook. My mission president said "Somewhere down the road, you will be disobedient if you don't get on Facebook." ha ha Wow...who woulda thought?

President Van Komen also talked about becoming a master of yourself. The world gets scarier and scarier each day and the gray area lessens with everything becoming more black and white. "You can't keep one foot in the mission and one foot in Babylon. You've left your old self," is what he says. I think it applies to almost everyone. Once you decide whose side you're on, there is no turning back. You're either on the Lord's side or you're not. I love that. We also talked about how the spirit is very familiar and ancient and at times, the Lord will prompt us to do things that won't make sense. But we should act on those promptings and diligently seek for experiences (1 Nephi 10:19).

I love seeing the growth of missionaries within the mission. At the end of our zone conference, Elder Childs, who is 6' 9" and looks like he could beat up anyone cried like a baby over the pulpit as he shared his testimony saying "My testimony is firm. I could never say that I had felt a 'burning of the bosom' until just barely. On October 21, at 2:37 p.m. in the Kearny building in Missouri. My chest feels like it's 115 degrees." My sweet companion got up to bear her testimony for the last time at a zone conference and said she has been "illuminated by the word" (Alma 5:7) and will always be indebted to her Heavenly Father. One of the greatest miracles is that Elder Cox, who is deaf, bore his testimony for the first time verbally. Ever. And it happened on his mission.

This work is alive and I am so grateful to be a part of it. Thank you for all of your prayers and support!

Sister Love

So transfer calls come again...most intense day of a missionary's life. (besides hoping and praying your investigator comes to their own baptism). Although hoping I'd stay in the area for another transfer, I was positive I'd be going out full proselyting to either Great Bend or Hays, Kansas. (two cities in the middle of no far away from the mission home as possible) Even President Van Komen has said "Every missionary struggles in Great Bend". Ha ha thanks President. Sister Juergens and I are sitting and waiting for the voicemail to come to tell us where we are headed. Our phone beeps and we tackle each other in the process of hitting the button to listen to the message. We hold hands like we are waiting to hear who will be crowned the next "Miss Independence..." basically. Elder Clayton, one of the assistants goes through the ENTIRE list of where everyone in the Independence Zone is headed before he finally says "And Sister Love will be going to the jail to be with Sister Card." WHAT?! Number 1. It was a privilege to even serve in the Visitor's Center. Number 2. The visitor's center and the Independence 4th ward have been amazing to me and I have felt spoiled as a missionary. Number 3. I technically should be out serving full pros. all the time since I'm not given the call as a "VC Sister". But the Liberty Jail?! Only amazing and special missionaries serve here and I have never felt so inadequate. I had set myself up to never serve here. I am still in shock that I am in this amazing spiritual site where Joseph Smith became the prophet the Lord needed him to be. The spirit here is incredible. I love explaining the history and taking groups in relaying to them that they are entering a place almost as spiritual as a temple.

I love being in Liberty, Missouri. It's this small town with tons of history. It's a lot different than Independence. From what church records say, Independence, Missouri has one of the highest numbers of members of the church with mental illnesses. Not only is Satan bombarding the people there, he is also getting into the minds of the members in that area. The adversary is so strong and beats on Independence. It's a breath of fresh air to be serving in Liberty. I live in this old house right behind the jail with five other sisters. We all have different personalities and ways of doing missionary work. We laugh all the time and grow together during our spiritual and life discussions. One of my favorite parts of this area is our ward mission leader, Brother Freestone. Brother Freestone is involved in working with the government (FBI) and works undercover = best stories ever. I love hearing how he has busted drug dealers by going in acting as one. He is the most humble and spiritual man and helps us so much in this work.

We are teaching so many people right now and many are coming close to baptism. Ben is very intellectual watched the Joseph Smith movie with us. Afterwards, he said he was touched and almost started crying as he said "I think God is trying to lead me to the truth." Something our mission is focusing on right now is asking heaven sent questions. I experienced this when we were talking about knowing whether the church is true. I felt impressed to ask "How do you think God is going to answer that?" He sat back and said "I don't know. How will he?" We were able to explain to him the still small voice and how he can know. He told us that he doubts his wife will be interested in learning. After that he said, "You know what? If it's true, I don't care. I don't care! God is more important than a 25 year marriage." Wow. He has such a strong testimony. We hope he will receive an answer soon.

We had an amazing experience yesterday where we went to visit a referral given to us by a man that just walked into the jail. Sister Card, my new companion, said they had the referral for a while but that they weren't able to see him. The night before, we received a call from the man who gave the referral, asking what time church was. We realized that we needed to meet this referral. His name is Louis and his family is from Mexico. He is really humble and just wants to learn. We have an appointment with him tonight and we'll invite him to be baptized. I love this work!

My new companion, Sister Card is so smart. She went to Boston University for art and graduated from BYU in psychology and art. We have had several occasions where we've been able to ask people questions that make them think and realize that there may be more to the church than they thought. We met Matthew while trying to visit some potential investigators and he said he doesn't agree with baptisms for the dead. We explained that everyone will have the chance to learn about the gospel in the spirit world. He fought that we made up the spirit world in order to justify baptisms for the dead. Sister Card told him the bible talks about the spirit world. "Oh ya? Where exactly does it talk about it?" Sister Card told him in 1 Peter. Silence for a while........"Well, I haven't really read through 1 Peter, but still." It's nice to be able to teach people who need to have their minds opened. I am so grateful that I am able to serve here and learn so much about the history in this area. It's impossible to come here and not leave with a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and of the Savior. Love you all!

Sister Love