Monday, September 29, 2014

Pivot! pivot! pivot!...[Sept. 29, 2014]

Our Ward Mission Leader moved this Saturday and as we were watching the elders move his $50 upright piano out the front door, I couldn't help but yell, "pivot!" as a true "Friends" fanatic would. Our new Ward Mission Leader, I'm very excited to work with--especially since he speaks both French and Spanish and we happen to have a potential new French speaking investigator and a Spanish speaking less active who will ONLY speak Spanish to me, one language of which I have absolutely no training in. Yeah, those 3 1/2 years of French class didn't help much as well, so let's not talk about that.
We had a funny encounter the other day, we were tracting in a neighborhood and there was a young boy and girl standing in their driveway, they were probably early twenties. We walked up to them and introduced ourselves and asked if they were religious at all, they said no, and then I asked, "Do you believe in God?" The girl said, "yeah", and then I was like, "Do you have a relationship with him?" She points to the boy and was like, "No, we're just friends." It took me half a second to catch what just happened, and she realized as well and was laughing and red and we were all just standing there laughing. The boy was just shaking his head. I told them we were glad we could define that for them as we walked away.
As a side note, we found out before Sister's Conference this Tuesday that the President got a call and found out we are now the highest baptizing mission in North America. Pretty cool, but crazy, because I was always told how many baptisms happen in Utah, especially Provo. The Elders didn't even believe me when I told them, but I swear it's straight from the President's lips.
I have been borrowing my companion's Jillian Michaels Yoga Inferno DVD, and after a few days of it I finally was able to make it from start to finish. Don't judge. At the very end you are on your back and she keeps talking (it's quite a different experience than the insanity work out that I was doing before my mission). She asked you to think about why you just did the work out you did, and really get deep, not just because you want to be healthier, but because you want to fit into those skinny jeans or because you want to wear that cute swimsuit. It's kind of embarrassing to say, but I think Jillian Michaels changed my perspective in life, for the rest of the week, every action I take, I now ask the big question, "WHY?"
WHY am I trying to convince this person church is awesome? ...because I want to count them as an investigator at church, or because I know they will gain so much from going. WHY did I take the sacrament? WHY am I asking these people that question? WHY am I frustrated with this investigator? WHY do I feel like talking with those people? WHY am I upset with the elders now? Our bishop talked in ward conference this week and asked us to ask ourselves if we are just going through the motions. I think a big part of figuring that out is asking yourself, "WHY?"
I ask why a lot more when I am with investigators as well, oh you read the Book of Mormon, WHY? You are trying to quit smoking, WHY? What is motivating you?
Anna didn't answer her door all week until a couple days ago, and she kept avoiding gospel subjects. In the end told us to not waste our time coming back, and we should spend it with someone more worthy. It was really sad. On a happier note, remember Barbara? I mentioned her like a month ago...she had a blessing from the Elders and was going great, but her sister said she couldn't do it anymore. So she attempted to give us back the Book of Mormon, but we convinced her to keep it so she hid it in her porch chair. Well, we keep stopping by every couple weeks, and last week I started mentioning her to all the members to pray for her sister's heart to be softened. Last time we stopped by, we met her nephew, who apparently lives with them and pays for everything (the sister is his mom). Well, he took a Book of Mormon, but he was like acting weird, and I didn't know how interested he actually was. But we met with them again last week, and he actually read it and had a lot of good questions. Apparently, his mom can't do anything about him being interested, so he committed to come to church with Barbara this Sunday! They didn't show, so that was sad, but it still is super exciting! Progress can happen!!
We had two investigators come yesterday that are 12 and 11 year old sisters. They had such a hard time sitting still and when it reached the end of sacrament, they started having a hard time keeping their hands to themselves. I actually had to sit in between them.... #sitterstatus .... It was actually really funny. I love teaching kids, I just hope they get something out of it! We also are teaching 4 part member families. Love it!

In the car to Sisters Conference in Junction City.

Monday, September 22, 2014

In the Arms of the Angel...[Sept. 22, 2014]

Something they don't teach you in the MTC is looking out for someone's physical well being. I think the thought behind it is that when you start to teach someone lessons and they go through the repentance process of wanting to change, they will naturally work at the physical things they need to to do in order to be able to attend church and eventually get baptized.

After church last Sunday we went to see Anna, and her car was there, but she didn't answer. The next day we went to our appointment with her and her car wasn't there. We came back an hour later and lone behold she came home and we knocked on the door and it was pretty apparent she also had been smoking. She said she couldn't do it and she didn't feel like talking about it and pretty much left it at that. We were with the bishops wife and she said well, that's too bad, cry it off and start again tomorrow. Christ was constantly rejected by the people he taught and even though he was perfect he even was killed by the people who rejected him. That was a big humility pill to choke down. I kept beating myself up before that about what if we just weren't good enough teachers or if we took a different approach, but really everyone has they're agency and this is all part of the plan. Since then we have stopped by her place all week and she doesn't answer the door.

When I first got here I met a lady who lived with her boyfriend and 3 kids in his mom's house along with his step dad. We stopped by their place about once a week and she seemed somewhat normal when I first met with her and then a couple weeks later we saw her briefly on her doorstep as she said she was worried her boyfriend was cheating on her and then a couple weeks later we finally talked with her step dad who said we didn't need to bother coming around anymore, because his step son dragged her by her hair a block and the cops finally took him in. Her kids got taken away and she moved to somewhere on Boston street. I talked with a member who saw this lady before I got here and was convinced she was on drugs, because all the itching she did. Anyways, obviously we dropped her because we had no idea where she was and we figured she just needed so much more help then we could provide.

Well we got a referral from church headquarters and we went to her neighborhood and she was like I was just clicking around on and didn't realize what I was doing, so she wasn't interested. We were walking along and we talked with a lady walking home with groceries and she was interested and invited us to come see her later that week. Well we come back later and guess who is friends with this grocery lady, the original lady. Well when we first walk up to their ghetto backyard she see's me and I see her and this is what she looks like. She is unhealthily skinny, her thin hair is messily pulled back into a ponytail and she has on jean shorts that you can't even see because of her oversized ripped brown t-shirt that is wet. She reeked of alcohol and she came up and we hugged and I was just praying her t-shirt was wet with water, so I didn't have to go around knocking on doors smelling like I just came from a bar.

She just was the epitome of rock bottom. She talked about how she got there and what it was like growing up for her and really, she definitely was given the short end of the stick. l tried my best to motivate her to do something about it, through describing Heavenly Father's love for her and her need to do something for herself about it. She said she prayed ever night, but really if we want to receive some sort of divine strength, I think it would take a little more than just calling in saying, hey my life is in the crap hole, wanna help me out? I'm realizing everything with my investigators is a give and take relationship, just like our relationship with our Heavenly Father. I remember this clip they showed us in American Heritage, at the beginning of the year where Jerry is telling his client, HELP ME, HELP YOU, over and over again, but that's exactly how I feel like all the time.

I don't know exactly why Heavenly Father needed us to see her again, but we got her address and oh by the way we had the stake president's wife with us during all of this and I think she was traumatized, but anyways, I tried convincing her to walk to church the next day and if she did we would find a ride home for her (it would've been like a 2 hour walk, but we already set up rides for her before and she didn't show) Anyways, the sister with us volunteered to drive her, but once again she didn't come to church.

We had lunch at this
little hole in the wall diner, it was awesome,
 but the chocolate pie was like really sad. 

Some kids did this in front of
our we get weird looks
 from the neighbors. Just kidding,
 we always got weird looks from them
 ever since we decided it was a good idea
 to tract in our own neighborhood and not mention,
 we actually live there as well. When we pass by them,
 they have these looks on their faces,
 like we already slammed the door on them...
 why are they still here?

There's another Oregonian somewhere in Kansas!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Go Get Punched for the Love Club...[Sept 15, 2014]

The worst thing about being a missionary is the only thing that actually makes missionary work's feeling Heavenly Father's love for the people you talk to. I have now cried twice in the presence of people I'm teaching; and if you know anything about me, it's the fact that I just can't cry...and not for lack of trying!
The first instance is when we were with an investigator and left his house at 8:30, so we had a little time and we decided to knock a few doors. We felt good about a certain one and went up and a nice man answered the door. He was in his 20's and just said, "Oh, hey, sisters!" I just was like, "Oh you know about the church?" He said, "Yeah, I actually grew up in it and served a mission." Then I felt bad and was trying to figure out if I had seen him in church, but then he said he hasn't gone to church for awhile, because he is gay and feels guilty when he does. Tears were just streaming down my face, not because I felt bad for this guy, but I felt this overwhelming love for him, that Heavenly Father let me feel.
He had a girl roommate and invited us in. We talked with him and his partner, who was also super nice and the topic of temples was even somehow brought up. They agreed to come to stake conference the next week and it was just so awesome. He invited us to come back and gave me his number and I'm excited to see him again, not necessarily because I know something will come of it, but because I want to help him feel God's love for him like I have overwhelmingly felt.
The next instance is for my favorite person here, Anna. SHE IS GETTING BAPTIZED on September 20th, keep her in your prayers people! We have been teaching her about every other day and she one day (she struggles with depression and refuses to see a counselor, fun) was crying and accusing us of only seeing her for our numbers and not because we actually care. I just start crying and like I have never felt the Spirit work through me as powerful as it did and just testify to her why we were there and what her role is and everything. I don't even remember it, just was overwhelming. Things like that is what makes everything worth it.
I recently read The Fourth Missionary, which is a talk written by a missionary president over a decade ago about different levels of missionaries. The first is the worst one who gets sent home and the fourth is the best one who is consecrated to the work. I was reading about the third one and that one is exactly obedient because they know it's right, but not really for their benefit and they do everything, just because they want to look good, not because that's God's will. Anyway, it says that they will be tracting down a hot road and be wishing that they were driving in their car at home and I was like, oh ouch! I totally have done that same exact thing and then ensued this whole self review (what's the word for that) I thought about how I can more fully enjoy the work. I realized if someone played a game of would you rather, there always would be things at home I would rather do than missionary work such as walking in the humid heat or getting doors shut in my face, but really there is plenty of things I would never trade such as teaching lessons or meeting members or just taking a stand for what I know is true.
It's hard work, but it's not my work and I want to be able to reach the point where I never look at numbers, but do everything, because I'm led to places where I need to be. I don't know if that makes sense, because it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me, I just know that the numbers stress me out and I'm trying my best to turn my stress into passion, because passion is happiness and stress is almost the worst thing in the world, next to people that play volleyball or sing in the car.

Thriving in the fall weather!

I wore my awesomely fantastic shoes
to church :D

Monday, September 8, 2014

Love me Tender...mercies...[Sept. 8, 2014]

My email wasn't working this morning, so now I get the joy of writing this in the mission office where an elder is flying a tiny helicopter that hums and is the most awesomely distracting toy that exists.

I have been aware of incredible miracles that have happened and would normally not be acknowledged if I did not have....the helicopter just landed on my head...the knowledge that I am being divinely cared for. I decided to list several.

One Sunday we were at ward council, and they decided to talk about the ward Christmas party and then of course ham, and I immediately started craving it and guess what we had for dinner randomly in the middle of summer?

We were on bikes one day, and the second we got home it started raining, and then it kept raining, and we coincidentally had a team up for that night.

I have been craving Cinnabons for awhile, and a senior missionary bought them for us after a district meeting. 

I decided I wanted to make a goal of losing weight (specifically 10 pounds) this transfer, and guess what my companions goal for this transfer was?

The latest one that prompted this is that recently I have been realizing that for some reason I am depressed in the mornings. I think it has to do that I get stressed about numbers and all that we have to get done that day. I got up this morning and went downstairs to start my laundry, when I noticed a guitar case. I have passed by this thing so many times and didn't realize it was there. I pulled out an out of tune guitar and I was able to get it to the right notes, but I couldn't get it fully in tune because I don't have much practice tuning guitars. I also randomly had a tuner in my bag, in case I would need one for a cello. I was able to tune it, and I thankfully remembered the riff for "Satellite Heart" (greatest song ever...well at least on my list of 100 greatest songs ever). It was an awesome morning!

Oh, also, this morning I couldn't log in to my email so I had to wait for 2 hours, and hope that I could later, and when we walked into the mission office there was a package for me, best thing in the world! Inside there was clothes, oh and the cutest pair of shoes that ever existed on this planet! I put them on and some random lady was like, "Wow so cute, too bad they have a heel." I really think they're more comfortable that way, but the way she said it made me see it as a challenge. Kind of like when you go to an "all you can eat buffet" or when there's a "no dive" sign on the side of a pool. I don't care if they're more comfortable or not, I'm wearing those shoes!!

I had a really hard first six weeks, probably like every other missionary on this earth. It would have been nice if someone told me that before, so I wouldn't be thinking this is what the rest of my mission is going to feel like...I remember weeks ago the sister training leaders kept asking me how I was really doing, and when I would eventually mention my companion and I's personalities clashed, they would just go on and on about how I need to be humble and looking back, that is the last thing I needed to hear. I already felt like a terrible missionary, because I was having a hard time trying to live up to my companion's unrealistic expectations for herself and for me, I didn't need more criticism.

My new companion is Sister Andersen. She is from South Jordan, Utah and was going to Utah State for early childhood education. She is 20 and has 4 younger siblings. She also has a brother on a mission, but to Chile. She is quirky and loving and a great missionary. My stress level has like halved from what it was, and I no longer have to use Disney songs to maintain my sanity, I have realized how much more patient I am. I didn't realize before how impatient I was for such little things, until I started this transfer and I was thinking, wow I would have been annoyed about that before, but I'm actually fine with it now.

I have put 3 people on date for September 20th and all have fell through, but fourth times a charm, right? We were teaching Anna and I was prompted to get her on date again, and she's like maybe the first week of November, and I was like I think you will want to obtain these blessings sooner, is there a date maybe in September or October that is significant? She said you know what, I feel good about September 20th, and I said nothing about that date, it was AWESOME.

My Companion and I.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Transfer day...[Sept 2, 2014]

Sorry for the delayedness, but seeing as Labor Day is an event that takes place on a Monday and we email in a library, it was unavoidable.

An exciting and unexpected thing happened. Remember last week when I met my black cousin? (If you don't then shame on you, repent, and read last week's blog.) Well, I figured that most likely was the last time I would see him, but surprise surprise, the Elders tracted into them again last week (not a big coincidence, because they were coming with us to visit a new investigator we tracted into that same day). They met with Mrs. Seymore, and she said she actually read the pamphlet and was interested in what it had to say. They made an appointment for an hour later, and we all went and talked with her. She gave me her phone number (it was legit), and suddenly I realized why I was called to Kansas--that would be the awesome end of the story, but seeing as today isn't Monday and events have occurred since--I tried setting up another appointment with her, but she said they actually decided to stay with "their baptist ways" (her words). :'(

My favorite game that missionaries play is volleyball...just kidding, I hate volleyball more than I hate the fact that my right foot has a permanent blister on actually is the "I have crazier investigators than you do" game. My arsenal is as follows: (The Elders actually get credit for finding her, but she is a women so I can claim her as my own.) She lives in a kind of rest home or in between home and her name is Kadidra, I feel comfortable saying that because I still question if she actually exists. She knows a lot of "Mormon Doctrine" that no one really knows about, I don't know exactly what, but the Elders claim that. One time we were going to meet her, but when we walked in she was randomly gone, and when we left the Elders totally saw out of nowhere. We then decided she was one of the wives of the Three Nephites. After such assumptions were made, one day, the Elders were at that apartment complex (a member lives there), and there were police in the foyer and someone was missing...all their stuff was still in their apartment and she was nowhere to be found. Then one of the Elders asked, "Wait, it's not it?" It was.

Update on Anna: We came to visit her Monday night and she was smoking on her porch...I'm growing to love catching people off guard when they're smoking, because it's not something you can hide fairly easily. We definitely pushed her too hard with the date, and she told us she was just under so much stress and pressure as it was. Of course after that, we have seen her about every day and still haven't made much progress. It's going to take a lot of prayer to know what we need to do to help her.

My companion has left me for the Amazon. She was waiting for her visa for the past year and finally got it. I'm with another sister for the day as her companion also left her, and then we will get new ones tomorrow. It was funny, because she was reading her transfer journal (which is just like a yearbook, because a mission isn't enough like high school as it is), and she was sharing this story about how this drunk guy was hitting on her on a Greyhound bus once. She said, "See you'll have stories like that one day". Which, if you know me, was a personal blow. I just was like,"Hey did I ever tell you about that one time I road a train from Vienna to Paris overnight by myself in a compartment with a group of gambling Indian men?" Okay, I didn't really say that, but I was thinking it while she was telling me her story. I learned a lot from her and really looked up to her as a missionary. It was just so hard, because we both have such "Type A personalities" and my "control freakedness" bumped into her "I'm your trainer" need. I've learned that a verse of "Let it Go", was just about enough time for my patience to overcome the situation.

My district.

 How to properly get a cooler of
ice water onto the roof.
Our mission president decided to take
the ice challenge,
apparently this is a thing now...

We have dinner with the bishop every Monday and this Monday, he shared the story behind how he got the picture behind us. He carried (a smaller version) of it around every day on his mission to remind him to let go of every worldly thing and consecrate everything to the work. He still has it on his wall, to remind himself to keep that thought in mind that at a moment's notice, he can drop everything. It's amazing, because we teach people every day about this, and a lot of people know what we teach them is true. I feel like everyone probably does, but they all have their own things they aren't willing to let go of, their addictions, or friends, or past churches, or need to be right about everything. It's when we do drop everything that we realize we get it all back in ten fold. It's just so hard to have the faith to do it. Most of the time, we have to be humbled...and trust me, that is not a preferable way to go about it.

Love you all!