Monday, November 28, 2016

I can bike in a skirt. What's your super power?

Welp, Family.  Hello again!

I'm getting used to my new area now, and I think I'm going to like my new district.  On Tuesday, I had my first district meeting with them, and Elder Gressman, my new district leader, was training on talking to everyone.  He wanted to order pizza during our district meeting, but here's the catch: we had to teach a gospel principle to whomever we spoke with on the phone.  He just didn't mention that last bit until Elder Elliot was already calling.  We also gave the pizza delivery guy a copy of the Book of Mormon with the money inside it.  It was a silly missionary thing, but it made me realize just how many people I can talk to.

Being a missionary is downright weird sometimes.  Last Monday night, it was after 8:00, so Sister Miller and I were trying to figure out what to do.  We went to the house of a potential investigator named Daniel.  Plot Twist: He has a little courtyard outside his front door and another door beyond that so people don't stroll into his courtyard.  A lot of houses have layouts like that in Arizona.  So we couldn't knock and it was too late for us to feel comfortable ringing the doorbell, so we decided to reevaluate our plan and go somewhere else.  Sister Miller really liked the palm tree in Daniel's front yard, so I offered to take her picture by it.  We were in the middle of doing that when Daniel's garage door opens and out comes Daniel.  So what do I do? I tell him we really liked his tree and were taking pictures by it.  What does he do? Offers to take our picture for us.  He even tried different angles to make sure he could get a lot of the palm tree in.  Daniel is the real MVP.  He said we could come back another time to take more pictures by his tree.  Maybe when we do that we will get to teach him as well.

More weird experiences.  We were at an apartment complex that is in our area trying to contact a recent convert that seems to have fallen off the face of the planet.  We were walking around and Sister Miller looks over at another building.  She sees two windows lit: one with a girl studying and one with a Christmas tree.  She turns to me and says, "Those people need to be baptized." And I told her, "Okay! Revelation! Let's go!"  I don't think she was anticipating that response.  Anyway, we decide to go meet the girl who is studying first.  We don't want to look like we are going door-to-door in the apartments so we don't get kicked out (as we have members and investigators there), so we were trying to game plan what we could do.  Idea: Let's look for a potential investigator.  We decided this potential investigator would be called Sarah.  So we went and knocked on the door, and we met the girl who was studying.  Her name is Allie.  We invited her to temple lights since she said she was not interested and she wished us luck in finding "Sarah".

Okay, so no luck there.  Next door.  We spent about five minutes in front of the Christmas tree window's door trying to decide how we were going to approach that one.  We went with the brilliant one of "hi, we liked your Christmas tree and wanted to meet the people who lived here with this Christmas tree".  We talked to the girl at this door and asked her name.  And that is how we actually found Sarah.  We told her that we have a set of lessons to build faith in Jesus Christ, and she was definitely interested.  Sarah said we could come back and we set up a return appointment for later this week, so Sister Miller and I are excited about that!

Later in the week we met someone named Jason.  Jason was fun to talk to because he kept telling us how we need to question everything and we kept trying to explain that's exactly what our message was and that is how he could find out for himself.  While we were talking about that, I felt prompted to show him Moroni's promise.  Once you read the Book of Mormon, ask God in the name of Christ having a sincere heart and real intent to know if it is not true, and if you do so, Heavenly Father will testify to you that it is true by the power of the Holy Ghost.  After reading it, with his usual skepticism, he asks, "Okay, but where's the proof?"  I did it.  That's what I told him.  His eyes lit up like a little kid on Christmas morning and he was hanging on to every word that I said.  It was so cool how simple testimony engaged him so much.  He was still a little skeptical, but he said that he would read the Book of Mormon and highlight it for the next missionaries that came along.

Later that day (or maybe it was a different day, I honestly don't remember) we were biking along and we tried to talk to someone else.  They walked off, so we started talking to their little boy that was outside.  He could have cared less.  So we decided to just let them know that we are the missionaries in their area and be on our way.  Their little girl who had been sitting off to the side asks, "What's a missionary?"  We tell her that missionaries teach people about Jesus.  She shoots her hand up in the air and asks, "Can I learn?" And that was the beginning of one of the funnest moments in opening my mouth to share the gospel.  She was very determined to learn, but also very distracted by her older brother.  He would get too close to our conversation for her taste, scream his name, chase him around and then come back and tell us, "Okay, back to Jesus".  We kept talking to her and at some point she asks, "Can I go ask my parents if I can be like you?"  We tell her sure, almost certain that her parents are going to come out and tell us off, but she runs in and a few minutes later comes back out and continues to talk to us.  A few more kids came by the time we were talking about the Book of Mormon.  One was a girl named Callie who had been coming to church with another girl in our ward who we have been told that the parents do not want to be contacted.  I was so happy for this girl for bringing her friend to church and being an awesome missionary.  Callie started telling us her story about how her parents don't like Mormons, but how she had been coming to church and she wanted to read the Book of Mormon.  We gave her a copy and it was so precious to see her determination as she promised us that she was going to read it.  We also gave a copy to the other little girl (her name is Kaden), and she ran in to ask her parents if she could read a chapter of the Book of Mormon every night.  I guess they said yes because she came back and kept talking to us.  We are going to go back and follow up with her family and see if we can teach them.

We also got to go into Mesa this week because we get to help be sister missionaries at the Mesa Temple Christmas Lights.  It was fun.  It was also weird to see people wearing shorts when everyone from Arizona (myself included) had on coats.  A lot of people of different denominations would be enjoying the lights, see the missionaries, glare at us and walk the other way.... Awkward... but we also had a cool miracle.  I had one lady come up to me and ask for some information.   I got ready to go into customer service mode and tell her where bathrooms were or about the visitors center or displays, I was ready for that.  Nope, she wanted information like what we teach people every day.  It was so cool!  I told her a little about what we believe, what the temple is, gave her a referral card to have missionaries come teach her, and told her to check out the visitor's center.  It was amazing that I got to see the fruits of what a little thing like temple lights can do.

Finally, I want to tell you about an investigator named Rachel.  Sister Miller had already been teaching her before I came to the area.  Her husband, Alex, is a recent convert, and Rachel is now on date for baptism on December 17.  We are beyond excited for her.  We had a lesson last night about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (for more information, see 2 Nephi 31 or your local missionaries).  My favorite part of the entire lesson was hearing her share her testimony of what she knew to be true and how she came to know the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.  I learned several things during that lesson.  First, when you share your testimony, it brings the spirit faster than any other thing I can think of.  Second, it showed me how she had been prepared to receive this message. And third, it make me so excited for her 3 year old son, Devin, who because of these moments and decisions in her life will get to grow up with a fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It made me really thankful for my mother and all that she taught me to help me make choices based on the truths that I've learned.  Mothers make all the difference.  I'm thankful for mine and I'm so excited for what Devin will experience in his life because of his mother.

Last insight I've learned this week that I will share today:  I always get really nervous when I talk to someone and they respond with "I know that".  I forget how much of the gospel we still have that will help them.  But I've been learning that what I do as a missionary is so minimal in comparison to the preparation that the individual undergoes before they accept the fullness that God has to offer them.  It helped me realize that when I teach and I am told "I already knew that", it's evidence that God is preparing them still and even if the time is not then, I should not be afraid to open my mouth because nothing brings more joy than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am so thankful for it.

I love you so much!  The support I feel from your prayers is absolutely everything to me!  I am so thankful for you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

One of the pictures Daniel took for us

Basic Sister Missionary

If you look closely, there's a TARDIS--I'm determined to get a picture by it someday.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Bye, Bella Vista

Hello my amazing family (and friends),

So much happened this week that I hardly know where to begin. My last couple of days in my dear Bella Vista Zone where memorable for sure.  It's funny, when I first got to that zone, I thought, "This will never compare to Desert Ridge." I was so wrong. I had an amazing zone and an amazing area.

We had a couple lunches as a zone right before I left, and I'm not sure I could tell you how much I adore these wonderful people without making your computer explode somehow.  We've all gotten so close and it's just so good.  I had one funny story about an Elder in my zone named Elder Carias.  He's from El Salvador and didn't know any English before he came to Arizona. Even though he is a Spanish missionary, he has incredibly good English.  I have so much respect for people who have to learn other languages, and I also really enjoy hearing them when they don't know words.  During the last zone lunch I had, we played the game where someone closes their eyes, spins around until they stop to point at another player who is sitting in the circle around them, and then they give them an animal sound to make.  Then the person with their eyes closed has to guess who made the animal sound.  It was a lot of fun with Elder Carias.  At one point, someone pointed at him and told him that his animal was Lion.  He sits there for a little bit, then laughs and says, "I don't know. What is that?"  It was a good laugh for everyone, and we just had a lot of fun that day.

Of course, that's just one of the many examples of my amazing zone.  I also have had so much fun with the ward I was serving in.  On Monday night, we spent the evening with Tiffany and her family to teach them how to hold a Family Home Evening.  It was chaotic and so much fun.  We were telling the story of Nephi building a boat, and half way through, somehow Laman turned into a Frenchman. We could not stop laughing. Meanwhile, Tiffany's poor husband was sitting there so confused at what we were all laughing at since he's not a member yet.  I hope they continue to have family home evenings.  Those are so good.  At the end, the girls just said their nightly prayers as part of the closing prayer.  Kaitlyn, Tiffany's 3-year-old was praying and saying thank you for her mom and her dad and her sister, then she says, "Thank you for my Sabey. Thank you for my Gray."  We think "her Gray" is Sister Kranc.  It was adorable, and of course, now that Kaitlyn knows my name, I had to say goodbye to that amazing family.

Another wonderful family that I reluctantly had to say goodbye to was the Baileys.  I love the Baileys.  I remember when I first got to Bella Vista Zone, the first time I met the Baileys, I knew I was just going to love them.  I got really close to their daughter, Calypsi, so it was so hard to say goodbye to them, as well as all the other inspiring people I love in that area.
Now I'm sure you are all wondering where I was transferred to.  Well, funny story about that.  I got an email from President a week or so ago asking what my honest feelings and opinions were on going Spanish. What? So I knew that was a possibility, especially because several Spanish missionaries kept telling me that they had told President that he should send me Spanish.  I pretty much told him I am happy to serve where the Lord needs me, but if He casually did need me Spanish, I have all the language study materials ready to go.  Well, transfer calls came, and I did get transferred as I mentioned, but the Lord needed me English still, so I am ready to go.  Hermana Cedeño from Venezuela was bummed about that.  It made me happy that President thought I could be ready to serve Spanish if the Lord needs me there.

Now I am in the Highland Zone, which means that for the first time while on the mission, I am actually serving in the town of Gilbert.  My companion is Sister Miller from Bountiful, Utah.  She has been out for three months, which means that I am the senior companion and I don't know who thought that was a good idea.  Anyways, Sister Miller is wonderful.  She is so much like me that it's almost scary.  Sister Miller and I cover three wards and we have two people on date and lots of opportunities to find.  I remember when I was sent south to Bella Vista, I thought I was experiencing culture shock going there.  I've changed my mind.  It is a much bigger culture shock going from "South" to "North" than "North" to "South".  People actually have grass in their yards here (most of Arizona, people just have rocks to save on water expenses), and I look at it like, "What is this luxurious lifestyle??"  The members here are wonderful and I'm excited to get to know them.

We have been focusing on inviting members to invite their friends to the Mesa Temple Christmas Lights.  We had a cool experience with that.  One of the first people I visited here was a less-active member named Sister Frost.  She is so funny!  She has a testimony, but she is very straight about the fact that she is as inactive as the day is long.  We had a good talk with her and got to know her, and right before it was time to go, we asked to share a scripture with her.  I shared that and asked her to invite a friend to the Mesa Lights who needed the peace that Jesus Christ can bring into our lives. As soon as that happened, the mood in the room did a complete 180.  All of a sudden, the Spirit was there so strongly, and she admitted, "I've actually been thinking a lot about a friend these last few days" and started tearing up.  She committed that she would invite her friend, and it was so cool just to see her feel the Spirit so suddenly and so strongly.

Speaking of Mesa Lights, Sister Miller and I, as well as the other two companionships that we live with, to help out at the Mesa Lights this year!  It's pretty big because usually it's only Arizona Mesa Mission missionaries that get to help, but this year they invited some missionaries from Scottsdale mission, Tempe Mission, and the Arizona Gilbert Mission!  We are super excited.  We got to leave the mission to go to the Mesa Temple for some training the other day, and it sounds like we will be getting to work at the Mesa Lights about one night each week for the month of December.  I am beyond excited.  I miss seeing Salt Lake Temple Lights, so this is like a little piece of home . . . but warmer.

We have also got to help at the Gilbert Days Parade the other day, so I got to see a couple of marching bands in the parade, and it was just fun to do service in the community.  I'm excited to be here in the Highland Zone.

One side note, Sister Sprouse has gone to Florence (where she's always wanted to serve), and she is a Sister Training Leader now!!  My missionary heritage is a pretty amazing one.  Anyways, I love you, Family!  I miss you, I pray for you, and I love you more than I can possibly say!  Can't wait to hear from you!

Sister Emily

Sister Bailey and Calypsi


Mi compañera nueva

Monday, November 14, 2016

No Longer a Greenie

Hi my wonderful family!

I hit my six month mark this week, which means I am no longer a "greenie", but I still feel like I'm about two minutes old on the mission. I'm glad that P-Day is back on Monday again.  That threw me off.  So since I'm only writing from Wednesday to today, this one is going to be a shortie (but then again, it's me talking, so I guess "shortie" is relative).

Fun story of the week:  I never thought I'd have the problem of people accidentally trying to call me my dad's name.  I guess missions are full of surprises, eh? One of the Elders in my zone keeps accidentally saying, "Elder Sabey" whenever he needs to ask me something, so I have to quote Finding Nemo at him and remind him that "[Elder Sabey] is my father."

Transfers are coming up, and the verdict is that I am being transferred.  I'm sad to leave Sister Kranc, but excited for the adventures to come.  I can't believe it's already been six weeks with Sister Kranc.  It's gone by way too fast.  I'm excited to see the good things she will do in her last transfer, though!  The work is starting to turn around little by little, and I was blessed to see two awesome miracles this week.

First off, we have one part member family in our ward that the mom was baptized just over one year ago.  This family has a lot going against them, but it's incredible to see how she just pushes through everything and clings to the gospel.  We went over the other day to talk about getting ready to receive her endowments, and in the process, we talked about some of the other chaos that is going on in their family's home.  We offered to do a Family Home Evening with them, so Sister Kranc and I will be going over there after P-Day to teach them how to do that.

We also met a guy named Mike last week.  I don't remember if I told y'all about Mike, but he lives across the street from us and has gotten to know a lot of sister missionaries.  Last week, we talked to him and he opened up about his whole life story.  I asked him if he'd ever been invited to take the lessons from the missionaries.  He said yes, but that he always declines the offer. I offered to bring by a Plan of Salvation pamphlet because he mentioned how much his wife talks about what she imagines the next life to be like.  He told us we could bring it over, but she probably wouldn't read it.  We decided to try anyway and got talking to Mike for a while.  During the middle of talking, he asks us where we meet for church and if anyone can come.  We told him yes and told him that we were actually assigned to speak in Sacrament meeting on November 20th, and that we would love if he came to support us.  He asked if we could give him a shout out from over the pulpit, and we said we could definitely do that.  And that is my story about how Mike invited himself to church.  Now we just have to pray he actually comes.  He's going to help Sister Kranc and whoever her new companion is re-pot a plant that he has in his yard and said we could have a bit of to put in our yard, so we want to introduce him to Brother Bujaci when that happens.

Basically, there's been a lot of good things in this area, and I'm excited to see what else the Lord has planned for the people of the Arizona Gilbert Mission.

I love you, family!

Sister Emily

Transfer guesses for the Bella Vista Zone

Arizona is BEAUTIFUL

This awesome young woman leaves for her mission to Pennsylvania this week

Bella Vista Zone sports picture

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Come and See--There's More

People of whom I am stuck with for eternity (aka my loving family)

How grateful I am to know that y'all have to still be my family forever and ever because I love you all a lot.  I hope you know that.

What a week.  I don't have much to report back on, but what I do have was pretty incredible.  This week, Sister Kranc and I renewed our determination to be exactly obedient.  The Lord really is just waiting to pour out blessings upon us because that very next day, we saw so many miracles.  We found two new less active, part-member families in our ward that we didn't know lived there, so we are excited to turn that over to the ward so they can befriend them.  We also had a lot of rain (which is the reason we found one of those families, but I also just love rain), so that was definitely a blessing. We have a couple of referrals in our Young Single Adult ward.  But best of all, we found someone to teach!

His name is Sergio, and we found him while street contacting.  He just has a rock-solid testimony of the Savior, and it was one of those conversations where the Spirit just guided everything.  It was amazing.  We have a lesson with him on Friday.

I suppose I should tell y'all about Halloween on the mission.  It was definitely not my typical Halloween, but I sure did have a lot of fun.  I got to go play Knockerball with the Bella Vista Zone (my zone) and the Florence Zone.  It's the thing were you are basically inside a giant hamster-ball-like bubble and your feet are sticking out.  Then you run into people and try to knock them over.

Then in the evening, since missionaries aren't allowed to be outside for safety reasons, the two zones gathered at a church building and we watched "Ephraim's Rescue".  I forget that such incredible miracles still happen in this day and age, and it's incredible how blessed we are to have that Priesthood power.  It was also just fun to see a room full of missionaries watch a movie for the first time in possibly up to 24 months.

We also had a general authority, Elder J. Devn Cornish, come to our mission.  That was pretty incredible.  He has such a strong testimony of the Gospel, and it's incredible to feel the spirit that resides in a room when a general authority is present.  All of what he said was good, but I just wanted to share one little bit.  He said that the banner that our church waves and declares to the rest of the world is "there's more".  I love that.  God has provided us with the fullness of His word and all we invite is for everyone everywhere to take the good that they have and come and see what else God has promised us.  How much must He love us? And even though opposition still comes, people still try to find fault, and dirty looks still come from those who don't understand, it all comes down to "come and see--there's more".

I am so thankful that there is more.  Because there God has more blessings in store for us than we can possibly imagine, I know that I'll have my family in the eternities--all of them.  I can't get over how much He must love us.  I just think about the little things He has blessed us with like puppies and how much He must love us to have given us those blessings.  Then I think how small that is in comparison to His eternal plan that involves the Atonement and the promise of an Eternal Family--and He still lets us have puppies on top of that.  I know God loves us and the trials that we face will seem so small when we are all together in the Eternities. And I know that is only possible because of what Jesus Christ did for each of us. I am so incredibly thankful for that and am excited to get to another week of extending that invitation to "come and see--there's more".

I love each and everyone of you more than I can possibly say, and this week has made me even more grateful for the wonderful people I have in my life. I can't say it enough how lucky I am to be part of a forever family.  Have a most wonderful week!

Sister Emily

Road trip to Florence

Learning how to fix a bike tire

Emily Street