Monday, September 26, 2016

Reverse Proselyting

Hi Family!

Sorry this email is coming in late!  We went to St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery today.  I'll tell you more about that in a minute. 

First, I want to tell you about the Townsen Family.  The Townsen Family is a British family that lives in our area.  They love feeding the sister missionaries, so we are hoping that will eventually lead to them being open to hear about the Gospel.  We were there on Saturday, and I think that I have officially been accepted by them for one reason: Doctor Who.  I mentioned that I watched it and the entire family looked at me with so much joy.  We helped them with sorting out things from their garage, and I got the job of being the person to put paper in the shredder.  Mrs. Townsen told me that I was the happiest shredder ever and kept commenting on how happy I looked to be shredding paper. . . Mrs. Townsen is also completely blind.  She was very excited to find out that Sister Hendrick apparently understands Grace. Sister Hendrick made a comment about asking forgiveness rather than permission . . . Mrs. Townsen did ask me about our plans for the evening, so I did get to tell her about the Women's Session of Conference.  I like that we do get to have Christ centered conversation with them.  Baby steps :)

I got to go on exchanges up to Gilbert with Sister Young this week.  We met this incredible potential investigator named Taylor.  Taylor is just so sincere, and I had a really cool experience listening to the Spirit while we were talking with him.  Taylor has a lot of anxieties, but he also loves music.  He wants to believe in a Savior, but he's not sure how he can know.  He made a comment about how music is really influential for him, and I had the thought, "I should show him a song about Christ."  I asked him if we could, and then helped him pull up the song "Savior Redeemer of My Soul".  The video was the one from a Face to Face with Elder Rasband and had segments that showed videos of the pioneers.  I asked him to pay attention to the words of the song and see how much the pioneers must have known that in order to go through the trials depicted.  It brought the Spirit so strongly, and I was so happy to see how it helped Taylor feel that love God has for him.

I experienced something this week that I can only describe as "Reverse Proselyting".  We met a man named Baja.  He was super fun to talk to, and he told us about what he believes (He practices Islam.) and why.  In return we got to tell him a little about ourselves.  We was very persistent on telling us to read God's word and find the truth for ourselves by asking him.  We showed him Moroni 10: 3-5.  He liked it, but he also made sure that Sister Young left with her very own copy of the Quran.  He exhorted us to read it, and I told him we could (after the mission, of course) if he would do the same with the Book of Mormon.  He said yes.  Even if nothing happens of that conversation, it was definitely memorable.

I mentioned that we went to a greek monastery today.  That was super cool.  We went with Sisters Olsen and Johnson as a mixed birthday celebration for Sister Olson, Sister Johnson, and me.  I also got to talk to a woman there about her beliefs, and I learned a lot about Greek Orthodox.  I really liked just seeing how many similarities there were between what we believe and what she believes.  I love seeing that because as I see different similarities throughout many religions to what we believe and know, it is a testimony to me that we truly have the fullness of the gospel. 

Okay, last couple things.  General Conference kicked off this week with the Women's Session.  I tried thinking of questions to take with me and specifically listen for, which I had never done before.  It completely changed my experience.  I'm working on developing some Christlike attributes, starting with patience.  I figure that's the hardest for me, so I'd start there.  I had the question of what I can do to practice patience so that I'm not just waiting for moments that will absolutely drive me nuts.  As I listened, I heard exactly what I needed to know.  Apparently, it's less that I need to work on patience, but rather charity, and as I work on that, the patience will come.  I had thought about having charity be the first attribute I worked on, but I shrugged it off, so when there was so much about charity in Conference, I realized just how much the Lord is aware of what I need.

We also met a woman named Brandy.  This is my miracle story of the week.  We had stopped by Bishop's house to drop off our missionary paperwork, and I saw a house that was decked out with Halloween decorations.  I really wanted to meet these people.  Sister Hendrick told me that they were not interested at all.  We were walking over to our Ward Mission Leader's house a while later, and I saw a lady outside the house.  I told Sister Hendrick all I wanted to do was tell her that I liked her decorations.  Long story short, she told us to come back when we have pass-along cards about the Mesa Temple Christmas Lights because she really wants to go.  She also said that she would watch the Piano Guys/Peter Hollens/David Archuleta/Mo-Tab "Angels from the Realms".  I'm excited to see what comes of that, especially as she goes to the temple grounds.

I have to wrap up now, but I read a talk this week that was incredible.  It was from the March 2013 Ensign about the enabling power of the Atonement.  I'll let y'all read it, but it helped me understand just how much the Atonement can do for me, and I cannot even tell you how much it has helped me this week.  I'll paste the link below.  I love you all so much!

Sister Emily

My Zone Leader hiding behind my District Leader for Zone Sports

 Exchanges with Sister Young (also, all the plants are taller than me)

Hugging a Cactus at the Greek Monastery

Monday, September 19, 2016

Panic! in the Mission Field

Family.  Hello.

Guess what is finally no longer 120 degrees outside 500% of the time? Arizona.  It is starting to cool off and it feels AMAZING. And better yet, General Conference kicks off this week with the Women's session! I am very much counting down until then.  I am so pumped.  Apparently I am just a very excited person in general.  I learned this because my zone leader asked me out of the blue, "Sister Sabey, why are you always so upbeat?"  It's because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is awesome, if you were wondering.

But really.  This week was wonderful.  I have every reason in the world to be upbeat.  First of all, I got to go to a birthday party this week.  Sister Hendrick and I go over every week and do service for a woman named Rose.  This week was her birthday, so we decided to have a birthday party for our lunch hour.  It was all out--we had birthday cake and pizza.  The best part was just seeing how happy it made Rose.  I realized that otherwise, she would have spent her birthday all alone, and for the first time, I realized just what that would mean.  It hurt my heart to think about that, but in contrast, seeing how much it meant to Rose meant everything.  It's the best to have opportunities to serve people like that because that is 100% what the Gospel is about.

We met someone named Gilbert this week, and that was really cool.  Sister Hendrick and I were walking around, and we saw someone outside.  Being missionaries, we decided that meant we simply had to go talk to him.  We start talking, and Gilbert asks us what we do.  Sister Hendrick tells him, "We teach people about Jesus Christ".  Gilbert responds, "I'm busy right now, but I really want to talk to you. I want my son to know about religion.  Will you come back tomorrow around this same time?" Yes, of course we'll come back! So we did.  When we went back, we gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon, and I had him read Moroni 10:3-5.  I love when we are able to have people actually hold a copy of the Book of Mormon because the power of that book is so clearly evident.  Gilbert read the verses and acknowledged, "that's powerful".  He seems super receptive.

I continue to learn just how powerful the Book of Mormon is, and sometimes those lessons come from six year old boys named Noah.  This week, Sister Hendrick and I also went to visit a lady in our ward who is completely inactive.  I had to do some business in the bathroom (sorry, I don't know how to phrase it any more gently) so she let us in (hidden miracles).  When I was finished, I came to the living room to find Sister Hendrick playing a card game of Pokemon with this lady's six year old son, Noah.  I sat and watched and tried to make conversation with the mom, but she wasn't very open to small talk.

After a while, Sister Hendrick noticed it was time for us to go to another appointment and asks, "Can we share a quick scripture with you?"  Noah pipes up, "I know a scripture!"  His mom looks up from her phone, now with a skeptical look of, "Oh do you?"  I ask Noah if he wants to share a scripture as he grabs the Book of Mormon from Sister Hendrick's hands and starts flipping through the pages, looking for chapter three.  We figure he's looking for 1 Nephi 3:7, so Sister Hendrick opens to that page.

"This isn't chapter three," Noah says almost disgusted.  Sister Hendrick explained that it is and turned back one page so he could see the chapter heading.

"Oh," he says, and with a deep breath starts reading the chapter heading.  This kid is six years old and he is reading flawlessly.  By now, his mom is shocked.  He finishes and we assume that was his scripture.  Nope.  He hands the book to Sister Hendrick and says, "You read until the number two".  She reads and he grabs the book from her hands.  He then repeats that process with me, but I'm told to read until the number three.  By now, the only way I can describe his mom's face is "astonished beyond measure".  Reading each verse keeps going on from him, Sister Hendrick, myself, and his mom, and Noah is just completely content directing this scripture study.  We get to verse seven, and Sister Hendrick lets him know that we really do need to get going.  He sighs, and then says, "Okay . . . it's a good book. You should read it sometime." I need this kid to come out on splits with us.

Rest assured, I have been reading the Book of Mormon.  I just finished reading the book of Alma.  My dad had made a comment in his letter about how in that part of the Book of Mormon, usually the biggest opposition that the Nephites have to face is not the Lamanites.  It is the Nephites who turned away from the Gospel.  He made a comment about just how applicable that is in today's world.  I was talking to a family in the ward this week, and the conversation really helped me see that.  I discovered that one of the daughters in this family loves Panic! at the Disco.  We were talking about their music, and I mentioned that Brendon Urie, the lead singer of Panic! at the Disco, is a less active member of the Church.  They started telling me how they had gone to one of his concerts and he had actually made mention of that.  However, they mentioned that his comments about it were rather unimpressive.  We talked about how his example is influencing a lot of youth, and it made me see just what my dad had meant in his letter.  But we then were able to talk about it in a way that the Spirit was really strong in this home.  We talked about how it's so important to do each of the little things because those are what make the difference.  The Church is true, and that's not about to change--but it's our actions that determine what we will become.

Elder Green said something this week that I've been thinking about a lot.  He said, "The Sons of Mosiah are not the exception to the rule.  They are the perfect example of the rule."  He was talking about the results of what they did, and it got me thinking.  The Sons of Mosiah were exactly obedient.  They served others, they taught with the Spirit, they knew the scriptures.  And that's why they had success.  It wasn't an exception to the rule.  It was 100% them following the Lord's laws, and He poured out blessings upon them and those that they taught.  And that's not me saying, "If you do X Y Z then you will have thousands of converts flock to the Gospel." Free agency is still theirs--but as I do what the Lord asks, He will give me success as a missionary and for the rest of my life.   I'm so thankful for that knowledge.

Well, I'm getting pretty long winded.  I thought this was going to be a short email.  I love all of you so very much!  I hope to hear from you, and I pray that you are doing the little things so that you can see how much the Lord will bless you too.

Sister Emily

Sun shower

Rose's birthday party

 Waiting to email

Monday, September 12, 2016

This is Halloween!

Hello again!

I'm so excited that I get a moment to email y'all and let you know what's up in the Greatest Mission in the World (insert trademark sign).  Let me tell you the best thing ever about Arizona.  They start putting up Halloween decorations at the beginning of September.  I am in love with this state!  (Side note for anyone who doesn't already know: Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday.  I may have a problem).  Only downside of this state is that no one understands just how amazing the state of Utah is.  That's okay.  I have enough love for Utah to make up for everyone else in the state.

This week was my fourth birthday, which is crazy!  I celebrated by eating my favorite food for breakfast: Corn Flakes.  Not like I have that every day for breakfast . . . anyways, speaking of holidays, I must tell y'all about my favorite quote of the week.  I have recently found out that the lovely Hermana Anderson does not like Halloween.  I was left in dismay.  Apparently she also doesn't like the Fourth of July because of fireworks, watermelon, and meat.  I don't understand, but that's quite besides the point.  When she announced that, the entire zone was low-key shocked, when Elder Carais from El Salvador says, "I'm not even from this country and I love it!"  Best response ever.

We got to go to the temple again this week!  The temple trips always seem to line up just when I need them and they are beyond perfect.  I learned that God is definitely watching out for me at the temple because He always puts in my path just that little extra thing that makes my day.  Guess who else I saw at the temple.  My old zone of DESERT RIDGE!  After the temple, we all go to Kneader's, and so I got to talk to all my friends there.  Sister Sprouse is doing great, and it was a good old time just talking.  I was talking to my old zone leaders, Elder Merrit and Elder Wilcox.  Somewhere while we were talking, Elder Merritt's greenie pipes up that he's heard a lot about me.  Hopefully all good things. :)

We had Stake Conference yesterday, and it was amazing.  I really liked one talk where the speaker talked about seven things you learn on your mission:

1. to pray more
2. to study the scriptures more
3. to plan more
4. to speak of Gospel principles more
5. to bear testimony more
6. to work harder
7. to be more selfless

I just really liked that and I'm still working on most of those.  Missions are super exciting, and I'm glad I get this chance to sit down and learn all this.

I got to see lots of little miracles this week that taught me big lessons this week.  We met a man named Gilbert who all we had to say is that we have a message about Jesus Christ, and he was very clear about how much he wants us to come back and talk to him! We also had a recent convert's non-member husband come to Stake Conference, which was amazing.  My favorite thing, though, is what I learned about . . . (wait for it) . . . the Book of Mormon.  Sorry, not sorry.  That book is amazing.

First lesson I learned about it was during talking to our investigator Shaye.  We had asked her to read a pamphlet we gave her about the Restoration and the Introduction and Testimonies at the beginning of the Book of Mormon.  As amazing as the introduction and everything is, it isn't the same as reading the Book of Mormon (although it is important to have people understand what is in the introduction and testimonies).  It was a little frustrating being in the lesson because it seemed like there was something different between this time and the last time--something was missing. I realized after that this was the difference: she had noticed the difference between just reading in Enos the week prior and what she had read this week.  Want to know which she found a lot more application in? The Book of Enos, which is a record within the actual Book of Mormon.

I've been reading in Alma recently, and I've been loving everything I'm learning in it.  There's so many different lessons in it (not to mention that Captain Moroni is beyond incredible).  But I had a really cool moment listening to a song based on a story from the Book of Mormon.  If you haven't seen the Liken videos of scripture stories, I'm sorry that you have not lived.  In the movie about Nephi and his brothers, there is a song between Sariah (Nephi's mom), who was convinced her sons had been killed and she desperately needed to feel the Lord's comfort, and Nephi who was in the midst of a trial but he knew the Lord was with him every step of the way.  I've heard that song a million or so times, but I never really thought of those who contrasting attitudes when I've read that story.  I loved that even though Nephi had that courage and his mother was still trying to find that faith, the Lord took care of both of them.  I can't describe it adequately, so do me a favor and just go read the Book of Mormon.

Last big lesson that I've learned is that I need a lot of help listening to the Holy Ghost.  I'm realizing just how many promptings I receive, as do all of us, every single day, and I realized that I'm flat out ignoring most of them.  It was a really humbling experience because God is straight out telling me, "Here, Emily.  This is what you need to do," but how often am I actually listening to it?  I'm working this week to do what Elder Green (my current zone leader) said and act on every prompting no matter how small.  I'm excited to see what happens.

That's it for this week! I love you so much!

Sister Emily

Zone selfie featuring almost no one except for Elder Loder

Sister Hendrick and I at the temple

 I got to see the Jones family again!! 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Goats 'n Donuts

As an explanation for my title, we got to have dinner with a recent convert named Tiffany the other day.  She is a consultant for Lularoe, and she bought some leggings from a fellow consultant with goats and donuts on it.  She was beyond excited to the point that I'm excited to see her leggings.  My email title is in honor of her leggings.

Hello Family!

This week has been an adventure.  For starters, I finally finished 1 Nefi and am onto 2 Nefi in el Libro de Mormon. I am also getting to know my area much better.  Bella Vista is super different from Desert Ridge and I'm loving all the random happenstance that I run into.  I mentioned last week that people are a lot more afraid to talk to us here, and this week, I learned the extent of that.  There was a guy outside with his leaf blower the other day.  Sister Hendrick and I were riding our bikes, so we went over to talk to him.  Without acknowledging that we'd even said anything, he sets his leaf blower down and goes into his garage.  Probably to get something, right?  Wrong!  He goes into the garage, goes inside his house, and closes his garage door.  Meanwhile, his leaf blower is still blowing.  I never knew two girls on bikes were that scary ;).

We got chased down by another guy yesterday.  He was not happy.  We'd just turned the corner when a dog bolts out in front of us, so Sister Hendrick slams on the breaks.  Luckily, we didn't hit the dog, but the dog still ran into us! The dog then proceeds to run off in another direction.  Next thing we know, this big guy comes and starts cussing us out about how we are supposed to go 15 mph (we had just turned a corner... we had been going less than 15 mph).  We were stopped, so Sister Hendrick was about to roll down the window, and the man runs off in the opposite direction.  We start driving off again, slowly, just to make sure we don't have another run in with the dog, when the guy starts chasing us down.  At this point, we just made like Joseph in Egypt and fled.  Other than that, the scariest thing that happened was my zone leader accidentally hitting me in the face with a ball.

I'm noticing that the longer I am on my mission, the more excited I am about the Book of Mormon.  Words cannot describe just how amazing that book is.  Sometimes I get to the point where I just want to scream at everyone to read it.  If you've ever seen Elder Holland bear his testimony on the Book of Mormon, that intensity is exactly what I feel.  We met a less active member of the ward who is currently in the process of converting to Judaism.  We talked to him for a while, and even though he still has a testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true and restored gospel, he's leaving it all behind because of his perception on what he thought others saw him as.   Sister Hendrick asked him if he'd been reading the Book of Mormon, and he said he hasn't for about a year.  We had had an incredible zone conference that reaffirmed my commitment to helping everyone I talk to read from the Book of Mormon, so naturally, when this member said he had not been reading, I felt so much disappointment and Holland-like exasperation.  Seriously, if I had one invitation to extend to every single one of you, it would be to prayerfully read the Book of Mormon every day and DO NOT STOP!  It is directly from God for each one of us.  Don't for-go that incredible blessing!

I love each and every one of you more than I can possibly say. I miss you and I can't wait until I get to give everyone a hug.  But first I have to go and be a missionary.  Until next week!

Sister Emily

Onto El Segundo Libro de Nefi 

This is a Huboob (a dust storm cloud)

Bikes and the San Tan Mountains