Monday, April 24, 2017

It's Been a Week of AGM Miracles!

Hi Family!

It's been another week of miracles here in Zion (aka Gilbert, Arizona)!  Nicole is doing so well.  She went to church yesterday and absolutely loved it, and we have a lesson with her again tonight.  This last week, we had a couple lessons with her.  She has had a lot of questions, but once she understands a concept, she has a solid testimony of it.  We invited her bishop to come to one of the lessons, and he was so great at helping her.

One big question that she has had is whether or not it is okay to ask questions if you don't understand something said by leadership.  (Short answer: yes, of course!) She asked that on Monday, and I asked her if we could bring her something to read in response to her question that Friday.  Our task in the mean time was to figure out exactly what we wanted her to read.  The next day was District Meeting, and I was doing a role play with one of my zone leaders, Elder Leiter.  We were supposed to do a role play of using the Book of Mormon in teaching.  He was being the missionary, and I was pretending to be someone that he is teaching.  He decided he wanted to show the person that he was teaching 1 Nephi 2:12,16,19-20.  It's when Laman and Lemuel are complaining because their father, who was a prophet, had led them from the land of their inheritance into the wilderness.  Nephi wanted to know whether his father was really inspired by the Lord, so he went and asked the Lord.  Just like the Lord has always promised, He did confirm to Nephi the truth, and Nephi was able to feel at peace with his father's guidance.  He had been able to gain a testimony that it was truly from the Lord.  I had never seen it that way before, but it was really cool to think that someone like Nephi had questions and was able to come to his own understanding through the Lord.  We were able to use that to help answer Nicole's question.  She still has a LOT of questions, but she also committed to pray about a baptism date!  She said she is thinking about June or July.  Keep praying for her, please!

Sister Johnson and I also had another cool experience.  We are in the process of going through people who have said we could come back and seeing if they truly want to learn more.  We were going to go knock on the door of one girl we met a while ago.  Her name was Emily, so I was keeping my fingers crossed that she really wanted to learn.  Before she answered the door, Sister Johnson and I decided that we were going to be bold.  So we overcame any fear we had and tried to ask her directly if she would like to learn more about the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  AND . . . she wasn't interested.  But we learned an important lesson.  Being bold isn't just about helping people make commitments.  It is also key in using our time wisely so that we can find those who are ready to hear more about the greatest message in the whole entire universe.

Those moments do come, and to illustrate that, I want to tell you about Lexi.  Sister Johnson and I were biking one night on a sidewalk that runs between a bunch of different housing developments.  A lot of people like to bike or walk or ride horses on this sidewalk.  I saw a girl with her earbuds in, and we decided to go talk to her.  Most of the time when people are walking, they just brush us off and keep walking, so I was expecting one of those.  But the girl not only stopped, but she even took out her earbuds and started talking to us!  She told us her name was Lexi.  We discovered that her Dad had been LDS, and she went to church with him until he passed away.  I asked her what had helped her as she went though losing her dad, and she began to cry (so I was afraid I had just messed up everything and upset Lexi).  She said that having family and friends really helped.  We were able to testify that she would see her dad again, and Sister Johnson (is awesome) offered if Lexi would like to learn more about the message we share and read from the Book of Mormon.  At first, Lexi said no because she didn't think her mom would want to have them reading at her house.  We were then able to offer reading with her at the church, and she said yes and set a time for Wednesday.  First miracle of this, if two random strangers biked up to meet and asked if I wanted to read a book with them at some random building, I probably would have said no.  But it taught me that the Spirit does testify that the message is true.  Second miracle, Lexi then admitted that our conversation was exactly what she had needed at that time.  It was absolutely incredible, and I felt so much love for Lexi.  Sister Johnson and I both gave her a hug and went our separate ways, but I am so excited for Wednesday!

We had another lesson with Rachel again, and we brought a recently returned missionary with to help us teach about the temple.  We have been trying to set a date for Rachel and Alex to go do baptisms for the dead (if you don't know what that means, worry not, there is an article right here: ever since Rachel's baptism date in December.  But life is busy and keeps getting in the way, so we haven't been able to help them set a time that they would just go.  We decided to commit Rachel to picking a day in the lesson, and now we have been able to help her and Alex find names of family members to take to the temple on Wednesday!  Wednesday is going to be a great day in the Arizona Gilbert Mission.

I'm so happy to be a missionary!  I love the updates I get from my family and I love the things I'm learning here.  I'm so blessed that Heavenly Father called me to a mission where I am lucky enough to see so many miracles that teach me so many things, and I hope that I am able to give back even a fraction of what all the people here have taught me.  I love you, Family!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

We quote John 9 at each other while we bike

Highland Zone

Best kind of vandalism (We Heart Christ)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Honorary Nabrotskys

Hi Family!

Keep praying that Sister Johnson and I get one more transfer together.  Transfers aren't for a few weeks, but now we have celebrated two mission birthdays together.  I'm hoping for one more at least!  I hit eleven months this week, and it was a lot of fun to spend that with Sister Johnson.  It was another sister's birthday, and we went to Denny's to celebrate, so we decided that could count as our eleventh birthday celebration as well.

Well, with Easter, I learned a fun fact of the day.  I've always wondered where the name "Easter" came from. Who would have ever thought that it was right in the Bible dictionary.  Here is what I found:

"This word occurs only once in the Bible (Acts 12:4) and then would be better translated “Passover.” The word Easter is from Eastre, a Norse goddess whose pagan festival was observed at the spring equinox. The association of this pagan goddess with the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was only by adaptation and synthesis. There is no real connection. Jesus, being the Lamb of God, was crucified at Passover time and is the true Passover (see 1 Cor. 5:7). He was raised from the grave on the third day thereafter. It thus became a springtime anniversary and has come to be called Easter in the Christian world."

Now you know.  I had a rather swell Easter here.  It, of course, included a lot of church and a lot of great talks.  But here is the thing, Family.  There are only four or so songs that everyone wants to use specifically for Easter Sunday and that's the only time of year we sing them (I think).  I sang the same song four times . . . and we only cover three congregations.  It was really good, though.  We also went over to a member's house for dinner, and they made sure that we had Easter baskets.  It was so sweet of them.

That night we got invited over to share a message and have birthday cake with a family.  It was their seven year old's birthday, and it is one of Sister Johnson's favorite families here, so we definitely took up that offer.  They have a nine year old named Dean. He is an odd child, so Sister Johnson and I have decided to be ultra best friends with him.  He sometimes pretends that he doesn't like us, but he does.  We were outside their house right when we rode up, and Dean comes wandering outside.  He pretends like he didn't know we were there and told us, "Oh, I thought I heard a woman over there" and points to his backyard.  His dad comes out to and tells us that actually he was waiting by the window, "like a puppy".  It made us very happy to hear that.

Also, here is a thing that made me happy.  We were at Bishop Nabrotsky's house to give him a progress report and because Sister Nabrotsky invited us over to have quesadillas for lunch.  The Nabrotsky's have all boys, so I decided to ask one of their boys, "Are we over here enough to be considered your honorary sisters yet?" He said yes.  Sister Johnson and I are officially honorary Nabrotskys. :)

This week was full of miracles, and those make me happiest of all.  First one is still just the fact that we have awesome members.  I've been having trouble with my bike, and I finally realized that I needed to get it looked at when we were biking to an appointment and my tire completely deflated! But we were able to have awesome members pick us up short notice, and even temporarily patch my tire, then drive us where to dinner and then home again so we could make it to the Easter Pageant.  The next day, the Fleet Coordinator, Elder Ashton (he reminds me of Mr. Miller) was able to come and fix not only my tires, but my breaks too.  I thought I was going to have to get brand new breaks, but he was able to fix it.  So now my bike works!

Second miracle, the Easter Pageant.  It is a HUGE deal in Arizona and I really wanted to go.  We could only go if we had someone we were teaching or a recent convert to go with, and last minute, the Ethridge Family said they were taking Alex and Rachel and invited us with.  It was incredible.

Sister Johnson and I also had a miracle in which we found a bunch of people who had said they might be interested in learning more about the Gospel, so we have been able to go by each of those people and talk to them.  We stopped by one lady named Lisa, and she welcomed us on in and just started talking with us.  She asked a question that made me really stop and realize why being missionary-minded is so important.  She said that there seemed to be a divide between members of the LDS faith and those who weren't and asked why that was.  We were able to tell her that it shouldn't be like that and gave possible explanations of why it might be like that, and she just thanked us for making it a safe environment for her to ask.

We had another lesson with Nicole, and we had to reset expectations.  She mentioned that she has been considering being baptized and wants to know when some baptismal services are so that she can go see one.

And if that wasn't big enough of a miracle, we were so blessed to get to see one more.  I went on exchanges with my Sister Training Leader, Sister Norgrant this week.  After dinner we were biking away, when someone flags us down.  I quickly recognized this guy as Brad, the husband of a less active member, who has asked specifically to not be contacted.  I was worried about how this was going to go because I heard what had happened a few days earlier when some people from the Young Single Adult ward stopped by to see what they could do for his son.  Long story short, he did his best to intimidate them into not coming back.  We started talking, and first he just wanted to get to know how to get the YSA people to stop coming by, and we told him some of his options.  The conversation continued, and we ended up being there for about forty-five minutes.  Mostly we were just a listening ear, but he also raised some genuine concerns that he had and asked how we reconciled those things.  It ended up going really well and by the end, he told us that the encounter he had with us was the best encounter he had ever had with missionaries and told us that we were welcome to come over and talk to him and his wife any time we wanted.

It was incredible to get to be part of all those miracles and I'm learning so much that just truly loving people is the only way that we can help them.  I love you all family!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Blurry Easter Pageant Selfie

Sister Norgrant was determined to ring the doorbell

Easter Package from my Mommy!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Missionary by Day, Scorpion Hunter by Night

Hi Family!

There is an Elder in my zone from France, and he has started telling people that he is from French Fork, Utah.  It's "right in between Spanish Fork and American Fork".  The legacy of the celestial city, American Fork, is spreading :)

Well, Family, I have exciting news.  Scorpion Season is once again upon us, and now that I have a black light thanks to my Auntie Karin, Friday marked the first scorpion hunt of the year!  I am super excited.  We caught two and taped them to 3x5 cards.  They were pretty big--maybe two inches long.  I'm sure there will be pictures to come this summer.

We had a really good week this week.  I learned something really cool that helped strengthen my testimony of the Book of Mormon.  There is a sweet older lady in one of our wards that the ward leadership wants us to visit.  She is 90 years old, served a mission when she was 21, and her mission president was the grandson of Brigham Young.  Her name is Sister Page, and she has a lot of cool stories from helping foster kids over the years.  She had one foster kid from Tasmania who had a book about the history of the people who originally inhabited that land.  Her foster son asked her to read the book, and it included their Creation story, which she found had a lot of similarities to the one found in the Bible.  She asked her foster son the next day about the book and the Aborgine people.  Long story short, the conversation lead to him telling her that the people originally came from Jerusalem after being warned that the city would be destroyed.  Sound familiar, anyone? I guess God was watching out for more people in addition to the Nephites and the Mulekites.

We had another lesson with Nicole, and we were talking about the current prophet, President Monson.  She had a few concerns with that because he might be the prophet, but she wanted to be able to see who he was and what he teaches.  We showed her President Monson's talk from this last general conference, so we started talking about what Apostles and Prophets said in conference that really helped us.  AND, as if by divine guidance, her friend Sister Bailey showed up and was able to share what she learned.

As much as I love my area, sometimes it can be a tough area in terms of finding, especially when the districts around me are baptizing weekly.  But this week, I got to see two direct examples of the good I am doing.  First one, in Sacrament Meeting, our ward mission leader, Brother Ethridge, got up to share his testimony, and talked about how Sister Johnson and I had come and shared a message about Family History with them.  He said that when we asked them to do a role-play with us, it was awkward and he didn't want to, but he was a good sport and did it.  BUT THEN, he continued that it actually did help!  He was able to go to work the next day and share about Family History with one of his co-workers, and he was able to share that experience with the other members at church.

The other experience is with a sort of less active family that I love to death, the Peterson’s.  Sister Peterson told us how much it meant to have us come over and told us that since our last lesson, her daughter made a comment about a movie she was watching.  She said that the person had to use faith like in the video we had shown them of Christ healing the blind man.  A few days later, she was playing with her friend, and with all the hype around Moana lately, they were playing imagination with Maui and Moana as some of the characters.  Well, Maui and Moana didn't want to go to church, but their friend Bob helped them to go.  It was my favorite thing to see just the little things that happen.

I am so grateful for this mission experience.  It is the best.  I love you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Sister Long "pushing" the Zone Leaders car

Sister Johnson and I have stubborn service battles where we insist on doing service for each other.  I won this round.

First Scorpion Hunt of 2017

We were helping at a service and a member painted an Angel Moroni on my face

Monday, April 3, 2017

Emergency Milk Trip

Hi Family!

If my email doesn't make sense this week, it might be because my zone did a Fear Factor activity and I had to drink a smoothie made of milk, peanut butter, chicken noodle soup, honey, a lemon, and strawberry jam.  I wouldn't recommend it, but on the bright side, I won by finishing my red solo cup in 49 seconds, when both of the Elders that also had to make their own smoothie couldn't even finish.  I feel pretty accomplished, but I am definitely paying for it too.

Serving in the Arizona Gilbert Mission is an interesting experience because it's biking down the street and having a car full of teenage girls almost throwing themselves out the car window to scream, "HI MISSIONARIES! WE LOVE YOU, MISSIONARIES!"  Or it's trying to get a four year old to be reverent during a lesson, and her interpreting "reverent" is head-banging.  Or it might even be a full grown lady full on running away from your companion screaming, "I'M CATHOLIC!" just because your companion said hi.

This week was actually a really funny and really good week.  We had zone conference, which is always the best experience.  I learned a lot, but it was also a nice reminder from my Heavenly Father that there are some things that I do pretty okay.  My favorite part of zone conference is always when they set aside time for any of the missionaries to come share their testimony.  I got up to share my testimony this time, and they always have to lower the microphone for me, which means that I always make some comment about being short.  I've taken to telling people that I am taller than Elder Wilcox, one of the Assistants to the President that is easily over six feet tall, so I made a comment about not knowing why they always lower the mic for me because we all know that I am taller than him.  I got a few laughs, and I shared my testimony about something I had learned.  Well, I guess I was the last person to share my testimony because right after me, Elder Wilcox got up to close the meeting.  President Wheeler decided to make a big show of raising the microphone back up for him--I think the microphone was taller than me by the time he finished.  So congrats family, I am still your short, little Sister Sabey.

One thing they talked about at Zone Conference is working with members, which Sister Johnson and I have been doing with teaching our missionary lessons to the members in our area.  Bishop Nabrotsky is also asking us to invite the members to invite others to do Family History (which was really inspired because then the General Authorities talked about that in General Conference as well), and Sister Johnson and I decided it would be good to make our lesson include a role-play for the members to practice inviting a friend to learn about their own family history.  One of the first families we did it with is a family that is extremely shy, so we weren't sure how well it was going to work.  We started with the mom, who is by far the shiest of the bunch, and she did great.  That gave the dad and their son a little more confidence to do theirs.  When we got to the son, I think he was so worried about what he would do, so Sister Johnson tried to help make it casual by saying she was just out skateboarding.  Here is the conversation that followed:

Member: Can you do an ollie? (for those of you who don't know, like myself, that is a trick on a skateboard)
Sister Johnson: Yeah :)
Member: That's cool. Want to know what else is cool? *ends role-play by pretending to back into a garage and close it*

Well then... Now I just really want that exact conversation to happen in real life.  But it was over all a great lesson, and we are excited to see our members realizing that they can invite others and that it is not scary.

I have loved getting to work with the members in this area and really just grow to love them, but it's also fun to get to know how nuts the missionaries in my zone are as well.  During our weekly planning session, the Zone Leaders brought a bunch of different kinds of peppers.  One of the elders was bragging about how hot they were, and that led to this conversation as recorded by Sister Johnson because, Family, I'm still just weird:

Sister Johnson to Elder Matua:  If you dare her to she will--
Elder Matua to Me: I dare you to eat that pepper--
Sister Sabey: *eats it* *is fine*
Elder Matua: I dare you to eat that pepper (hotter red)
Sister Sabey: *immediately eats pepper* *is fine* Should I try this stuff (crushed pepper that made Elder Geiselmayr cry)
Sister Johnson: No darling, no one is daring you to--
Elder Matua: I dare you
Sister Sabey: *shoved immediately into mouth* *is fine* *. . .* *starts crying and laughing*

Family, what I didn't mention earlier is that the third pepper I ate was some that one of the zone leaders' members gave them, and it was the hottest pepper that they had.  It may have resulted in an emergency trip to get milk, and I only ate maybe enough crushed peppers to make a pile the size of a penny.  And it still made my mouth go numb.  Now, I partially brought this up because I thought Sister Johnson's record of the conversation is funny, but also, so you can better appreciate what happened to Elder Geiselmayr.  Sister Johnson mentioned that the crushed pepper had made him cry, but Family, he did not just eat a penny worth.  He poured probably about 1/4 cup straight into his mouth, started crying, sweating, and getting chills, until he was wearing my winter coat and holding hands with the other Elders to try to get warm.  When Sister Scarlet and I went to get milk, we saw a firetruck going with it's lights on down the street, and we were actually worried that it might be going for Elder Geiselmayr.  But worry not.  Everyone lived, and it was definitely a great part of the week.

Now that I've finished telling your how crazy weird missionaries are, I did have some incredible experiences that helped my testimony grow.  This week, we went to go read the Book of Mormon again with Nicole, and she always likes to tell us what she learned just to recap and make sure she understood correctly.  She never ceases to amaze me because her comprehension is incredible.  Most people will read a verse and have no idea what it just said (which make sense if you aren't used to reading that style of writing), but Nicole is just so ready to search and to find out, and when it doesn't make sense to her, she will go back and reread to make sure she understood right.  This week, she straight up explained to us how the Great Apostasy happened just from the chapter she read in the Book of Mormon.  She just loves the Book of Mormon so much and I love getting to teach her.  Thank you for your prayers in her behalf!

This week I also learned the power of a testimony.  In Alma 4, Alma is getting to give up the judgement seat so that he can go teach.  About this, it says, "Now Alma did not grant unto him the office of being high priest over the church, but he retained the office of high priest unto himself; but he delivered the judgment-seat unto Nephihah. And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them."  Bearing pure testimony is hard for me because I can't seem to get rid of my element of pride that just wants to be right.  But true to Alma's experience, that is the ONLY thing that can soften hearts.  Sister Johnson and I were tracting one day this week, and it was later afternoon, and I didn't much want to be out tracting.  But we went anyway.  We knocked door after door and no one was answering.  Eventually, a man named Patrick opened the door.  He was kind of an intimidating guy for a person that's only 5 ft. 3 in., but we started talking to him.  He told us we were talking to the wrong person and began to tell us (in somewhat colorful language) that "he didn't believe in God or the devil or all that crap because there is no evidence" and then challenged us to show him evidence.  Unfortunately, I didn't follow Alma's example because I tried to pull something about the Law of Entropy, which states that order cannot come from chaos and that there must be something actively acting on something else for order to remain, which could be evidence that there is a God.  Guess how well it worked? It didn't.

We eventually left and went on to the next door.  I was thinking about what had happened and realizing that I could have done so much better when I realized something: I had been beyond stupid.  I had forgotten to best evidence that we have that there is a God, that Jesus is the Christ, and that they are involved in our lives today--The Book of Mormon.  I was kicking myself for it and I just knew that I could not keep knocking doors without trying to make things right with Patrick.  I asked Sister Johnson to go back with me, and she was not about that and told me it would probably make him angrier.  But I knew that I needed to share my testimony of the Book of Mormon with him, if for nothing else, to know that I had actually done my job, and promised that all I would do is bear my testimony.  Reluctantly she agreed, and we went back.  I think Patrick was more than a little surprised to see us on his doorstep again, but he decided to let us in.  I told him I had been incredibly dumb because I had forgotten to give him the best evidence we have, and told him about the Book of Mormon.  Patrick was unimpressed.  He told us that it was just a book and not evidence, but somehow, I just found the words to say to continue to bear my testimony that it does lead us to know that Jesus Christ is our Savior.  I know it was the Holy Ghost helping me just like we are promised in Doctrine and Covenants 11:21.  And true to it, Patrick started listening and opening up.  Suddenly, he wasn't so accusatory but sincerely wanting to know why God would take away someone he loved if He were truly there.  And the words that he needed to hear came.  There is no way the Spirit of the Lord was not in Patrick's house that day.  Eventually, he told us that he wouldn't make any promises, but maybe he would read the Book of Mormon.  He admitted that he was thinking after we had left the first time that he had "scared the crap" out of us, and told me, "For lack of a better way to say it, it took balls to come back."  I know that it was God helping me in that situation as I promised to do nothing but bear my testimony.  Not to be right, not to make a point, but to testify that Jesus is the Christ.

I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I know that no matter what we are going through, the answers are there if we will listen to the One who has those answers.  He is reaching out to us every day and wanting us to come unto Him.  I'm grateful for these experiences that will bless me the rest of my life, and Family, I just love you all so much.

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

We borrowed the swing because the members didn't answer their door

This is what it looks like when we show up on your door

Elder Geiselmayr post Pepper Experience

 It was nasty, but I won.