Monday, March 27, 2017

Learning in the Savior's Way

Hi Family!!!

This week was a significant week for me in my missionary growth, so I feel like my thoughts are jumbled and I pray that what I want to express is able to come though, but first I'll start with telling you about transfers.

There was a lot of anticipation leading up to transfer day because half the people in our house was going to be changing.  Now we live with Sister Utsch, Sister Weyand, and Sister Fuimaono. Sister Utsch is a Sister Training Leader with Sister Norgrant.  She just got transferred from Bella Vista Zone, so we had a special moment of BVZ nostalgia when I realized that.  She's a super awesome sister, and I'm so excited that she is an STL.  Sister Weyand and Sister Fuimaono are Spanish missionaries, so that brings a new dynamic into the house.  Sister Fuimaono is brand new to the mission field, and she and Sister Weyand just throw sass at each other all the time.  Everyone in the Highland Zone seem like awesome missionaries too, so I think it will be a great transfer.

We started out the transfer with a fun service activity.  We got to help out at a Fun Run that was being sponsored by the local hospital.  It was to raise awareness for Autism(?) and they had a little path laid out that people would run along with the bounce house obstacle courses along the way.  Each was themed as a superhero and there were lots of people who dressed up as different superheros.  I saw a lot of Batmans and the Flash-es.  Sister Johnson and I got to be the mean people who make you wait until the other person is a safe distance ahead in the obstacle course before another person goes in.  I was talking to the little kids and asking them about their costumes, and I had one little girl come up to me, poke me in the name tag and say, "Who is Sister Sabey?"  I told her it was me, so she asked if that was my superhero.  I told her it was, and it made me smile because it reminded me about the significance of my calling..

One thing I learned is that the only thing better than being the best of friends with your companion is being the best of friends with your companion in front of members.  Sister Johnson is just the realest MVP, and it's so fun as we teach to have members notice to the point of commenting that we work well together.  It's been an incredible experience to teach our missionary lessons to the members in our area, and it's having a bigger impact than I ever would have guessed.  It's probably going to sound super obvious, but it was really cool for me to experience.  Even as we have been teaching the lessons to members, it has helped me so that I am more prepared to teach our friends that are just learning about the church.

This week, we went to visit Nicole and taught her the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I was nervous because I was afraid I had gotten into a habit of teaching people who already had heard this message a million times, but it was actually the opposite.  Because I knew the basic layout, it helped me be able to push beyond that so that we could address what Nicole needed to hear.  It has been so cool to see how far Nicole has come.

I also learned something cool about the message we teach as well.  During Sacrament Meeting, I was reading my Spanish Book of Mormon, and I was trying to slow down so that I was actually taking it in and not just reading for the sake of reading.  I was in Alma 42, and as I slowed down, I realized that there was some pretty profound doctrine, and I had some questions about it.  I finished the chapter and wanted to more fully understand, so I pulled out my English Book of Mormon.  Instead of just reading it, I really wanted to understand some things it was saying, so I took time to write down what it was saying, and it was an incredible experience.  In Alma 42, Alma is teaching his son about the Plan of Salvation.  Did you know that there is a reason why death and the Resurrection are part of our Father in Heaven's plan? Because I sure didn't. But guess what?  It's in the Book of Mormon. In this chapter, Alma goes through and explains why the Fall, physical death, repentance, the Atonement, law and punishment, the Resurrection, and mercy are all so key to our Heavenly Father's plan.  It was so cool!  It made me really appreciate just how much our Heavenly Father loves us and how much is in the Plan of Salvation so that we can become like Him.  I'm going to do that annoying missionary thing where I say y'all should read it:  Y'all should read it.  It's Alma 42.

I learned several important lessons all due to the fact that some of my good missionary friends were completing their missions.  On Monday, I was straight in denial, but when Sister Burden and Sister Irvin left for all the departing missionary things, it began to hit me that they were not going to be in the house with me (and I did not like idea that because I've lived with them for the last 18 weeks).  I felt really sad as we went out to proselyte, but here is the first lesson that I learned: TESTIFYING OF JESUS CHRIST ALWAYS MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER. We had lessons with members that night, and as I got to teach them, I felt my Savior's love and reassurance.  As I testified, I learned what He needed me to learn, and I felt that calming peace as I was reminded of the eternal perspective of the Plan of Salvation and that that same eternal perspective applies to missions.  By the time we got home, I felt much better and was able to enjoy my evening with them.

So now that I had one spiritual experience, I was all better, right? LOLS, NO!  The next morning, I got up to say my goodbyes to them and hug them until they were like, "Sister Sabey, you can let go now", and I found myself right back where I was the night before.  I got out my favorite talk and read it for studies (which I was surprised when I felt like I should because I didn't think I would need that talk until the end of MY mission).  God is really patient with our shortcomings because once again, I felt a comfort that I needed and I gained new thoughts as I read the talk.  In his talk (It's called "Grateful in Any Circumstances" just in case my hyperlink doesn't work), Elder Uchtdorf says, "True gratitude is an expression of hope and testimony."  I've read this talk, I don't know how many times (because like I said, it's my favorite), but that really stuck out to me and I realized that if I were really grateful for the impact my missionary friends had on me, it would be a force to move me forward and increase my testimony.  I thought about what I had learned from the departing missionaries that most changed my mission, Sister Burden, Elder Green, and Sister Irvin.  I thought of how Sister Irvin taught me what it means to "Forget yourself and go to work".  Sister Burden taught me that if I don't know what to say, just testify.  She also taught me to just love the Gospel.  Elder Green taught me about having a vision to teach repentance and baptize converts, and that it is possible for me to see the mighty change of hearts in the lives of people I teach as I stay focused on that vision.  I realized how much that would go to waste if I just sat around feeling sorry for myself, and I made a determination to really apply those things in my work.

I am realizing just how short and just how important a mission is for my life.  I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who nudged me just enough until I realized that I needed to be on a mission, and for His call to have me come to Gilbert, Arizona where I am learning lessons that change everything from the most incredible people.  I love this gospel and I am so thankful for all those who help me live it more fully.  I love each of you so much!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Reading Conference Talks with my awesome Comp.

Fun Run Service

Monday, March 20, 2017

I Love the Book of Mormon

Hi Family!

My seventh transfer has come and gone, and I am still in complete disbelief about that.  However, we got transfer news last night, and I am staying with Sister Johnson for another seven weeks!  This upcoming transfer will be seven weeks long due to MTC dates, which means I get an extra week as a missionary :)  I am super excited because I love this area a lot and Sister Johnson is so much fun to work with.

Summer is coming super fast here, and the Arizona Natives are not happy about it.  This last week has been between 95-100 degrees, and it hasn't even hit the first day of spring yet!  I am absolutely loving this weather, but I definitely have to be drinking a lot more water.

We've been working on getting teaching appointments in one of our wards to try to get to know members and get some missionary work going there.  We had a lesson with the Green Family this week, and I absolutely love them.  The Greens played a key role in introducing Patrick to the Gospel, and they are just a wonderful family.  We taught the Plan of Salvation to them, and I wasn't sure how it was going to go because they have younger kids.  Sister Johnson brought a little puzzle for the Plan of Salvation, so we used that and just had a lot of fun with it.  Their kids just loved it and I was impressed with how much they knew about the gospel.  It helped me realize how much fun it can be to teach simply and gave me greater love for the people I get to serve with.

This week was also a milestone in teaching Nicole.  We've really been struggling to help her read the Book of Mormon on her own.  Last time we tried to reset expectations and teach why we wanted her to read the Book of Mormon (I think I talked about that in my email last week), and this time, she was very proud to announce to us that she had read a couple chapters on her own!  We were beyond excited. We started reading 1 Nephi 11 with her and going over the explanation of the Tree of Life and for the first time, she began to pick out gospel principles in the scriptures on her own rather than seeing it as just a story.  It is really a testament that the Book of Mormon does change lives and hearts.  "The Book of Mormon, combined with the Spirit is the most powerful tool in conversion."  It is true! The more I learn about the Book of Mormon and just what the early Saints had to go through to defend their faith, the more I appreciate just how special it is that we have this book.  Please pray for Nicole as she continues in this amazing journey!  I love you all so much!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Finally got this picture 10 months after I got here


Sister Sabey, Sister Johnson, and Sister Foster

My companion is NUTS and I LOVE HER!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Life is Just Better When You're on Your Bike

Hi Family!

This week I had a very intense situation called a Rubik's Cube.  The Highland Zone had a Family Home Afternoon where all the missionaries in the area got together at a senior couple missionaries house, had lunch, had a spiritual thought, and played some games.  Some of the Elders brought Rubik's Cubes.  I wanted to solve it, but I am not talented in that area.  I asked one of my zone leaders, Elder Geiselmayr, to "almost fix it" for me.  He did and then told me it would take four moves to fix it. Uhhhh, yeah, I was still stuck.  So every time I would try to make the right move, the elders would all tell me it wasn't right.  It took a lot of coaxing and hinting, but eventually I did get it.  I guess it was a really intense experience for everyone else too because once I got it, everyone stopped to clap and cheer.

It's getting really warm, which I am super excited about.  It makes it even better to be out working.  Sister Johnson and I went tracting again this week, and we had a pretty cool experience.  We met one guy and he was straight up not interested.  I am working on asking for referrals from everyone because there is going to be someone who knows someone else, and that someone else is just waiting for the gospel.  Normally I will ask, "Do you know anyone else in this area who could use a message about Jesus Christ? Or some service?" because the gospel is going to help them most, but for some reason, with this particular person I felt that I should ask for service primarily.  I did and this man was visibly shocked when I said that.  It was cool.  He stopped and really thought for a moment and said, "No, but I can tell that you are very nice people."  He still wasn't interested, but I believe that this interaction changed how he saw missionaries.  The Lord knows just what people need to have their hearts softened, and I'm glad I was listening to the Spirit so I could be part of that.

I got to be companions with Sister Irvin (the one that reminds me of Sarah) for a day.  She is a sister training leader or STL, so she gets to go on exchanges with some of the sisters in our mission once every six weeks to see how they are doing and to help us become better.  This time, I went into her area, and I met the most adorable two year old girl named Charlotte.  We were having dinner with Charlotte's family, and Charlotte insisted on sitting by me.  That made my day, so I sat by her and made a comment that "Wow! I get to sit by Charlotte! I'm so lucky!"  Okay, this killed me because without missing a beat, she responds, "No, I'm so lucky!"  These are the very small tender mercies that make missionary life so fun.

We have still been working with Rachel and Alex.  We took a picture Book of Mormon Stories book to them, like what Mom used to read to me when I was littler.  They have loved it, especially Rachel.  She has been reading it with her three-year-old, Devin.  They are awesome and they are seeing so many blessings, but Satan is also trying to throw distractions at them.  I love Alex and Rachel a lot, so please continue to keep them in your prayers.

I learned a super awesome lesson this week that I'll just end my email with.  Sometimes it's hard to want to go out and talk to people because it's really fun to sit on a couch and stare at nothing.  But every time I get outside, I always feel better and happier than I ever would have on the couch.  Sometimes Satan tempts us with something we really do like, but God's way will always make us happier because life is just better when you are on your bike.  Read the Book of Mormon!  It's the best!  I love you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Sunday Lunch with the Best Companion

Highland Zone Mario Kart (in real life)

I was dressed as Toad, but I also got to be a Goomba.

Monday, March 6, 2017

We had no idea what we were doing, but GOD DOES

Hi Family!

I would have had a picture of me holding a lizard for you this week, but I could not catch it.  Instead, you can have this mental image.  Me noticing a lizard, and "quietly" sneaking up behind it and catching it (miracles) when I realize that I am holding to much stuff to actually pick it up.  In an attempt to readjust everything I'm holding, it runs away, so I begin to try pulling myself up on the wall to see if I can see where it went.  It was super graceful.

This week has been rad!  Sister Johnson and I are still working on finding, so we have been tracting (going door-to-door) a lot.  The only problem with tracting in this area is we will look over our ward list to make sure we don't accidentally knock on doors of people who are already LDS, and then the first door we knock on is still one that belongs to someone that is actively LDS. *sighs* but it's okay because then we keep going and we find people who do want to hear our message.  Sister Johnson and I have been trying to be more bold, and knocking on doors really helps with that because I never know who we are going to meet.

This week, we were knocking doors on a street that I had wanted to tract.  I picked this street because we had met people about two months ago that had been super nice.  They didn't straight up say that they wanted to learn more, but the Holy Ghost kept bugging me to follow up with them.  I guess the Holy Ghost actually knows a thing or two.  We knocked on this door (it was the very last door of the street) and I hear about three barking dogs.  A man opens the door and is trying to hush his dogs and put them in a different room.  Eventually he comes out and begins talking to us (still holding one of his dogs), and instantly the fear sets in.  But I knew we needed to be here, so I asked, "Are you John?" and he said yes! I reminded him who we were and that we had met, and we began talking to him.  He was very nice.  We told him a little about what we do and asked if we could share our message with him, and he said we could.  I almost lost it because it's like in the movies were someone says, "Well dang, I didn't think we'd actually get this far" because I need to work on my faith.  We decided to teach him about where the name Mormons came from and talk about the Book of Mormon.  We have a cute little visual aid to go through it.  We told him about how the people in the ancient Americas kept records, just like Prophets did for the Bible, and how they recorded of Jesus Christ's personal ministry among them shortly after His death and resurrection.   John was super awesome and was listening, and I just really appreciated that.  When we finished going through our little "schpeel", Sister Johnson asked, "What do you think of Christ coming and ministering to the people of the Americas?"  Hold onto your seats because I should have been sitting down for this. John responded, "I don't see why He wouldn't.  He loves all of us."  I was super excited because I could have sworn this only happened in made up situations.  We were able to testify and talk about feeling the Holy Ghost and help him understand that feeling.  He then made a comment how it was interesting that we had stopped by on that day specifically.  He then opened up and told us that it was the six year anniversary of him losing his best friend and that he was having a rather somber day.  He thought it was interesting that we would be bringing this happy message on that day.  Sister Johnson and I switched gears a little and started testifying of the Plan of Salvation.  I read him a scripture from Alma 40, and we talked about that a little.  We testified that we knew that this message could help him and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and a little pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation.  We asked when a good time would be to come talk to him more about what he read, and he said that he actually didn't even live here--it was his parent's house.  So guys, let's get this straight:  I happened to talk to John who doesn't even live there, and the Spirit prompted us to go back, not only on a day that was significant to him, but on a day that he just happened to be there again! God is absolutely in charge and knows what He's doing!  John mentioned that the Elders in Mesa (where he lives) had been trying to set up an appointment with him, though.  We chatted with John a little more, and he asked if we needed anything else.  We said no, and he said, "Okay, if not, I don't have anything to do today, so I'm going to go read this book." *eternally screams with joy*  Even though we don't get to teach John, I felt to blessed that I was able to be an instrument in helping him in that way.  I just pray that he does call up the Elders in Mesa and learn more about our happy message.

We had another lesson with Nicole.  At first, she was super closed off, but she's starting to seem more comfortable around us.  We read 1 Nephi 5 with her this week.  We weren't really sure what direction to go with Nicole, so we figured just continuing to read the Book of Mormon with her would be best.  In this chapter, it talks about Nephi and his brothers bringing back their scriptures (which was the first five books of the Old Testament) to their father so they could have those.  In it, it talks about their family history, and Lehi is able to recognize that he is a descendant of Joseph who was sold into Egypt.  Literally, I had no idea where to go with this chapter, so Sister Johnson and I just started talking about Family History with her.  That's a missionary thing to talk about, right?  Yeah, we had no idea what we were doing, but again, GOD DOES! As we talked, she started opening up about hard things she has been through, and we were able to just testify of Christ's love for her.  And now we know what we can teach her that will help her understand her identity as a daughter of God.  We think it also helped her to want to read the Book of Mormon on her own more.  I am so excited for Nicole.

There is also this less active family we have been working with who I just love to death--it's the Petersons, I may have mentioned them in previous emails.  Anyway, they are working to come to church more regularly, but they are still having a hard time with it.  Sister Johnson and I were just praying on what we could teach to help her, and we eventually felt that we just needed to be bold with them.  We were scared because all of Satan's "what ifs" started popping into our heads, but we decided to go through with it.  It ended up being an incredible lesson, and even their rambunctious little six year-old listened reverently!  They were able to feel the Spirit and actually set the goal for themselves to be at church on time.  I realized something super important about why that lesson worked out when sometimes others don't.  Alma 38 says we should be "bold, but not overbearing".  One talk I really like defines overbearing as "boldness without love" and says that if we truly teach with love, "we can never be too bold".  Sometimes I still mix those up and I think I love the person, when my underlying motivation is truly that I just want to be right.  It never works when I do that because the love is not truly there.  With the Petersons, I felt it so strongly that I really did just love them and THAT is why I wanted them to be at church.  It was no longer about being right, it was about the Petersons and how much I love them.  That was a super important lesson for me to learn.

I wanted to end with our last lesson with Alex and Rachel.  I mentioned last week that I had been worried about them, and Sister Johnson and I have been really praying about what we can do.  They have such rock solid testimonies, and we just want to make sure we do everything we can to not lose them because of something dumb.  We have really been wanting them to get into the Book of Mormon more because Elder Ballard made a promise that if you read the Book of Mormon every day, you will not fall away.  You will still have questions, but you will find the answers to those questions.  Given, this is brand new for them and it is a hard habit to change.  They are not used to reading every single day from any scriptures, but we know that it will help them.  We got to have dinner with them on Sunday, and we began talking about reading the Book of Mormon.  We asked them if they had ever gone to the Book of Mormon with a question in mind.  They hadn't even thought of doing that before.  I was able to share my experience that I had had earlier on my mission when I went to the Book of Mormon with a question and found my answer in Alma 38.  It was a neat experience just to introduce them to something that I had always thought was so elementary, but they hadn't ever thought of before.  It made me really grateful for all the ways the Lord reaches out to us and all the things He wants us to learn.  I am truly grateful for these experiences.  My biggest take away from my mission so far is that having a life that is centered on Christ is the so important.  If you have a "bedrock understanding of the Doctrine of Christ", everything else will fall into place.  I only wish that everyone had the chance to know that as much as I am learning that.  I love you so much, family!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

This part of Gilbert makes me really happy--it reminds me of Canada

Highland Zone at the Gilbert Temple

Basic Art-sy picture because Comp Unity