Monday, June 26, 2017

In the Father's Hands

Hello, my AMAZING and WONDERFUL Family!!

It's been a great week of beautiful 110+ degree weather.  It's even hit 120 a few times.  It's my favorite when we will be biking along (drinking lots and lots of water) and someone will drive past and yell, "Go home! It's too hot!" It's never too hot when the work of Salvation must be hastened (unless it's over 125 just so you know, Mum--the mission is not going to kill me).

My favorite was when we biked up to a less active members house, and she throws open her door (she has a security camera) before we could even get our bikes locked up and yells, "Are you nuts???" and gets us to hurry inside her house.  Maybe people will get to the point where they think, "Well, if the missionaries are this crazy, maybe there is something to it".

We had another member, actually one of the ward mission leaders, cancel on us this week--that's always a bummer when we get canceled on (Don't cancel on the missionaries!!).  We were supposed to go visit some people in the ward with him, but he said that he couldn't do it because "he'd been out in the heat all day" . . . oh boy . . . but hey, I'm out enough that we can sit in the shade and that will feel like nice weather while everyone else is still running for cover.  Long story short, everyone thinks we are crazy, and I love it!

We got to do some service this week, and I've had this life goal of catching a lizard.  At the service, I was finally able to do that!  He was scurrying all over the place.  Life goal: accomplished.

I'm learning to see the subtle beauties of Queen Creek Zone.  I really enjoy going over to visit a convert named Brandy.  She's super funny because she takes every Mormon stereotype, completely destroys it, and then does so all while almost yelling her testimony of the Gospel.  I also had a fun experience with some of the Elders in my Zone.  I got a tennis ball to help me when my neck hurts, and I had it in my bag.  One day, there were a few Elders sitting on a couch at the church building, and I pulled the ball out of my bag and all of them, almost in unison, had their eyes light up and they just perked up as if to say, "Ball? Ball?"

I also had other learning experiences.  One thing Heavenly Father is trying to get through my head is that He loves me and is aware of me.  With transfers came another group of missionaries I had grown to love finishing their missions, and I was not having it.  I told Elder Geiselmayr, one of the departing missionaries, that transfers had been canceled, and he said that was okay as long as I let the airline know, but I don't think it worked . . . He still went home with all the other missionaries. I did not want those missionaries to go home, but I knew I had been through this before and survived. I tried to get ahead of the curve and just get everything that helped me be happy last time out of the way so I could just be happy.  My plan did not go as well as I'd hoped.  I was still devastated knowing I wouldn't see them around the mission.  But maybe Heavenly Father knew it needed to happen that way so he could remind me that He loves me and is aware of me.  Monday night, I was really sad, and I realized that the only thing I could turn to at that moment was prayer, so I decided to give it a try.  I told Heavenly Father what I felt, and as I prayed, I felt a huge surge of peace come over me--it felt like a dad hug.  That gave me the comfort I needed calm down that night.

The next day for studies, I decided I was going to reread my favorite talk, "Grateful in Any Circumstances" by Elder Uchtdorf.  I'd read it the last time I needed help letting friends go home, and I figured it was worth a shot, but I wasn't expecting much because I'd already learned so much from that talk.  Surely there was no more wisdom I could squeeze out of it because I'd already learned it all.  No, Fam, Heavenly Father is really good and He taught me more.  So if you'll remember from when Sister Burden, Sister Irvin, and Elder Green finished their mission, I talked a lot about how I learned about using the things I had learned from them to be a better missionary--which I have been, and I'm still so grateful for their examples. This time, I learned things I'd never thought before.  In the talk, Elder Uchtdorf tells a story that he can tell a lot better than I can, so I'll copy and paste that:

"There is an old story of a waiter who asked a customer whether he had enjoyed the meal. The guest replied that everything was fine, but it would have been better if they had served more bread. The next day, when the man returned, the waiter doubled the amount of bread, giving him four slices instead of two, but still, the man was not happy. The next day, the waiter doubled the bread again, without success.

On the fourth day, the waiter was really determined to make the man happy. And so he took a nine-foot-long (3-m) loaf of bread, cut it in half, and with a smile, served that to the customer. The waiter could scarcely wait for the man’s reaction.

After the meal, the man looked up and said, 'Good as always. But I see you’re back to giving only two slices of bread.'"

Every time I had read that, I would wonder "What does that have to do with anything?".  This time, instead of seeing the bread as bread, I was able to see it as time spent with people.  Maybe I got two transfers with some people, and others four. Maybe I even had just two transfers that were action-packed with so many wonderful things.  Heavenly Father can always give me more time, but what's the good of having it in the first place if I'm never satisfied?

The second thing I learned has to do with a saying my young woman's leader, Sister Richards would always say: "What's great about it?"  Elder Uchtdorf gave some examples, such as Nephi, Job, and the Mormon Pioneers, and illustrated how they were grateful in their circumstance that wasn't necessarily something they'd naturally be inclined to be thankful about. It gave me a chance to reflect and be happy that I did get to meet such awesome missionaries (all the incoming missionaries won't get to know them, so that means I win, right?), and it means they made it through an entire mission--and that's awesome!

 And finally, it taught me something really important about the will of our Father in Heaven.  I learned why it was so critical when Christ said, "Not my will, but Thine, be done".  I realized that in the case of Jesus Christ in His Great Atoning Sacrifice if He had chosen to let the cup pass and never atoned for each of us, it would have defeated the whole purpose of anything--to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man".  That's why Heavenly Father's will was critical.  His purpose is to help us progress--to become better.  I realized that if my dear friends, and eventually even myself, never finished their missions, that it wouldn't give us an opportunity for becoming even better.  I guess what I learned is that even though I don't understand or necessarily like it in the moment, there is a purpose behind everything our Heavenly Father does.  I'm hoping that now that I've learned this, I'll be a lot more prepared for future transfers, but if not, I know that I have a Heavenly Father that I can turn to who will continue to comfort me and pour out things to help me learn.

I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to learn to trust my Heavenly Father.  I'm grateful that in His infinite wisdom, He sent me to the mission with the best missionaries I could ask to serve with.  I'm grateful that He sent me to a mission where I have wonderful people like the Wheelers, who would literally do anything for me that is in harmony with God's will (trust me, I asked if they could bring some missionaries back and they said no to that).  And I'm grateful for a wonderful family who always supports me and loves me.  I love you!

Sister Emily
1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

My lizard friend

I was really tempted to keep him there all day

When you find a car from AMERICAN FOOOORRRKK!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Sweet is the Work

Hi Family!!

Transfer News: I'm staying, Sister Rogers is staying.  Now onto me telling you about my incredible week.  Last week, I went on and tried to find where each line of my ancestors joined the church.  It was a little confusing, but I think I found it.  It was cool to look at all the names of those who first heard the gospel and faithfully raised children to gain their own testimony that ultimately resulted in me.  I think there were about 63 different people on my list, which comes to 126 missionaries. (Probably a little less since some of them were families, but still).  One-hundred missionaries that served faithful missions to find my family members so that I could have this great blessing.  It's definitely something that got me thinking.

At the start of the week, the weather here has been absolutely amazing!  I couldn't believe it was actually June.  It felt too nice.  I was grateful for the nice weather, but now the sun is doing it's job to bring that good old Arizona heat.  My members still think I'm crazy because I still tell them that the weather is great.  I'm just happy that it isn't cold.

We had the ultimate Arizona experience on Sunday.  We baked cookies.  But here's the fun thing: we did it while we were at church . . . by leaving cookie dough in the car.  We had bought cookie dough the week previous, and Sunday morning, we rolled it into balls and placed them on a cookie sheet.  We left the cookie sheet on the dash of the car, went into church, and let nature take its course.  At 5:00 when we finally got out of church, we got to come to a car with fresh baked cookies just for us.  This is the real reason why Arizona heat is a beautiful thing.

I also had a real putting-things-into-perspective moment this week.  We were doing service with our zone again, and we got to clean the playground at a park.  We were talking to one of the town workers, Mark, who was there to help us.  He was very nice and talked about how he knows the stake president of my area.  He sat and talked with us as we all worked.  At some point in the conversation, he made a comment about how he always has good things to say about missionaries (Side Note: Mark is not LDS), which made me smile to know we had that support.  And then he said, "I always see you going the speed limit in your little cars."  Mark notices enough to realize that missionaries are going the speed limit???? It was very kind of him, but it also made me realize that I do have a great responsibility to represent my Savior well because people are watching whether I know it or not.

We had a lesson with our friend Jeff this week.  He has been taking missionary discussions since last December, and he is committed to being baptized.  He has just had a hard time picking a date that feels right.  We committed him to pray about July 15, so if you could keep Jeff in your prayers, that would be wonderful.

Last night we were trying to find the motivation to go out and give it our all for the last few hours until P-Day, but after a frustrating lesson with a member (members are not supposed to be the ones saying no to our commitments, but such is life), I began to feel sick.  I was not about that, but I had to lay down for a while, but promised my Heavenly Father through prayer, "I'm going to lay down for 15-20 minutes, get some Ibuprofen, and then go back out to work, and I need Thy help to get me through it."  We went back out, had a great lesson with another member family, and by the time we came back in for the evening, I felt great!  It was a tender mercy to have the Lord answer my prayer.

And just to finish off, I want to share my favorite miracle of this week.  This week I learned that God is in the details of our lives, and that was a funny and miraculous learning experience.  Earlier this week, we were having a rough time finding motivation. No one was answering and we just didn't feel a huge drive to be out working--but we kept working.  And still nothing.  Eventually, we were at one house, and they still weren't answering.  I was just frustrated by this point, but I remembered Sister Wheeler saying that if we were having a bad day to just go get ice cream.  I turn to Sister Rogers and ask, "Where is the nearest McDonald's?".  She had no idea, so we were talking about other ways we could get ice cream.  Well, right then, we hear the familiar tune of the ice cream truck in the background . . . and it's getting louder.  Being mature adults, we ran to the ice cream truck with nothing but Sister Roger's $2 and my promise to pay her back.  We get to the ice cream truck just praying that we can both get something for less than $2.  We get to the truck, and Sister Rogers asks the lady at the window what we can get with $2.  She responds, "Don't worry about it.  You can get whatever you want."  Turns out this lady is taking the lessons from the Elders.  We tell her thank you and tell her how we had been just barely talking about how to get ice cream.  She laughs and says, "Ask and ye shall receive."  So we got to get Choco-Tacos (it's like an ice cream sandwich, but it's a waffle cone taco with ice cream inside and covered in chocolate--and if that's not Arizona, I don't know what is), and I swear, I have never said a more heartfelt thank you prayer to my Heavenly Father.  With a new perspective and chocolate covered faces (okay, hopefully not the latter), we went back to work and had a great day!  I was so thankful for a Heavenly Father who gave me a boost simply by putting ice cream in my path when He knew it would help me.

I think that is the best part of missions. You really get to see the Lord's hand in everything.  He is so very aware of us.  I am thankful for him and all that He has done for me, from the big things to the seemingly insignificant. And with that, Family, I love you!  

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Queen Creek Zone

Me after getting ice cream: Did that really just happen? HOW?

Car Baked Cookies

Monday, June 12, 2017

All Over the Place

Hi Family!

Even though it hasn't even been a full week since I last emailed you, missionary life has been every which-way it could possibly go--the good, the bad, the ugly, the awkward, and who knows what else.  To start off, I hit 13 months yesterday! I cannot believe it has been that long.  But even so, I've already turned into such an awkward missionary!  Being in Arizona, I feel like I regularly get small exposures to what it will be like to return from a mission, which can be good and bad.  Last Monday, Queen Creek Zone went bowling.  The actual bowling was a lot of fun, but none of the missionaries could get over the dynamics of the bowling alley--meanwhile we were surrounded by people who didn't even give it a second thought.  After we played, we got back to the car, turned on our missionary music, and it was like a breath of fresh air.  I don't know how I'll cope when December comes.

But then we got to go back to missionarying with all it's ups and downs.  We did a service project, and somehow missionaries always end up doing service projects in hoarders' homes.  We helped someone move in the Elders' area.  This house had literal animal "digested food deposits" mixed in with the kids toys.  It was nasty, but it made me grateful for my mom and how clean our house always is. . . and then I went back to our house, showered, and cleaned our baseboards during lunch.

We also had a crazy dinner experience with a family in our area.  They told us they were inviting a friend that was not LDS to dinner with us.  Sister Rogers and I were, of course, super excited.  We decided to treat it like any other dinner and taught the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though the family got sidetracked, when they bore testimony, it was amazing.  We focused it on the family so the friend could just listen, enjoy the spirit, and hopefully not feel put on the spot, and that seemed to go great!  He even teared up a bit.  The mom got worried (and panicked) when we asked them to pray for names and faces to share the Gospel with, so we had to just tell them straight up that they were not allowed to think of the friend sitting with them to get her to calm down.  That got real uncomfortable, but even through it all, they were able to receive revelation of people they wanted to reach out to and their friend said he enjoyed listening.  I was glad he enjoyed it.  Hopefully we didn't scar the mom for life.  Everyone else seemed to enjoy it.

Through it all, we did get to experience an awesome miracle.  We've been trying to contact someone the ward members asked us to visit, but we hadn't been able to catch them at home yet.  Well, we finally met him.  His name is Lee, and he said he would love to hear our message and set up a return appointment with us.  Our stake president is good friends with him and has only good things to say about Lee.

Well, I guess by my standards, this would be a short email, but I think we are lined up to have another great week this upcoming week.  I love you, Family!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

We've been taking a girl named Brinley out to work with us sometimes.  She's trying to decide if she is going on a mission or not, but she needs to go.  All she's missing is a name tag.

Biking in PANTS on the way to service (not the one I wrote about)

I didn't know flags were this big (and this is a "small" one)--also, I match it.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

YOU are Great

Hi Family!
Happy Monday!  I know you're all thinking, "Uhh, Sister Sabey.  It's Wednesday," but this week, we had to go a little bit like "Welcome to Nightvale" because Wednesday had to be cancelled due to scheduling conflicts.  Reasons?  Because we were lucky enough to have a member of the Seventy come address our mission.  He did that the last two days, so that made it so P-Day had to be moved to today.
Mom, I want to start out my letter with a shout out to you.  We had been helping a recent convert (Sue) clean her house, and I was in charge of mopping and sweeping.  Sue wanted me to pass along the message that my mother did a great job teaching me how to sweep and she wants to say thank you.
This area has been an adventure because I have an ever growing list of all the wrong ways you can pronouce Sabey.  I'll try to illustrate how they pronounce them, so hopefully you can understand. Most commonly, I get called Sister SAB-by, which I'm used to from before my mission.  However, recently, I've gotten called Sister Suh-BAY, and the new addition this week, Sister Shabby.  Sister Rogers has also been making her own list.  She is keeping track of every cartoon character I reminder her of, and I'm not sure how I feel about the list: Dory from Finding Nemo, Oh from Home, Olaf from Frozen, Donkey from Shrek, Madam Min from Sword in the Stone, Edna Mode from the Incredibles, King Julian from Madagascar, and Doug from Up.
Anyway, enough of that.  Let me tell you what actually happened this week.  We've started to get the ball rolling on teaching our first three missionary lessons to members.  Our ward mission leader in one of our four wards absolutely loves it.  One night we were teaching the Frost family.  What we've been doing in our lessons is we will teach the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then tell them about the Apostolic Promise, which says, "I promise you, as you pray to know with whom to speak, names and faces will come into your mind. Words to speak will be given in the very moment you need them. Opportunities will open to you. Faith will overcome doubt, and the Lord will bless you with your very own miracles."  Then we will have them pray and ask them who they think of.  It's been super incredible as we've invited people to do just that.  Ofttimes they will be startled by the name they think of.  It's been a really cool faith building experience for both us an the members.  Anyway, back to the Frost family.  We were teaching them, and they had just finished their prayer.  We sat in silence for about thirty seconds to just let revelation come and then, asked them who they were thinking of.  Without a moments pause, they oldest boy pipes up with the name of one of their neighbors.  Their oldest is about nine years old, and how quickly he answered surprised me.  Then I realized that he is the same age as Tanner, and I just got this amazing sense of awe for just how amazing the youth are.  Tanner Bug, you better pay attention to that bit--all of my siblings should pay attention to that bit.  You have a tremendous capacity to be a strong force for good.
Another night, we were back at Sue's house teaching her family.  Sue is an older lady who lives with her daughter, Brandy.  Sue takes care of her grandkids while Brandy is at work each day.  That night, the two kids were absolutely crazy for the entire time, except one moment during our lesson.  There was absolutely no noise as we quoted the First Vision.  Right afterwards, the craziness resumed, but it was so cool to feel the Spirit testify so strongly for that one moment.  We then were talking about the Book of Mormon.  Sue and Brandy are both converts, and Brandy is seriously the coolest ever.  She was telling us about experiences at work where people were trying to tell her what she believes, and she got to explain the Book of Mormon to them.  She has a little analogy that she will use to explain the relationship between the Bible and the Book of Mormon that I really liked.  She says the Bible is like the Lord of the Rings, and the Book of Mormon is like the Hobbit.  It's different stories, but all part of the same story.
On Sunday, we had Fast and Testimony meeting, and both Fuzzy and our friend Allison both decided to share their testimonies.  It was amazing.  Allison also had an experience of someone trying to tell her what Mormons believe, and even though she is still just learning, she got to defend what she does know.  She talked about how she had felt the Spirit and it was just a really cool testimony.  Fuzzy talked about how he had two experiences in his life that he had no idea what he was getting into when he started: dance and becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He talked about how dance had ended up being a really good experience that he loved, but how having the Gospel of Jesus Christ in his life to allow him to have spiritual nourishment has been even better.  Later that same day, Fuzzy was able to be ordained to the office of Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. Sister Rogers and I were just beaming the entire time they were talking and as Fuzzy was ordained.  It was definitely one of those moments where you realize that the work you do, even though it's hard, and even though you feel like you aren't actually contributing anything to those who do come to sing the song of redeeming love (Alma 5:26) because it's all the Spirit and all the missionary did was show up, it actually pays off.  I love it so much!
Then, like I mentioned earlier, yesterday, I got the incredible opportunity to learn at the feet of a General Authority.  Elder Pearson came, and I had high expectations after hearing Elder Cornish last year, but all my expectations were blown through the roof.  I had a couple questions and concerns I came to the meeting with, and all of them were just answered boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.  President and Sister Wheeler addressed us, and side note before I continue, Sister Rogers has pointed out that my favorite word to say is "great".   It started because back in Highland, I found out there was one elder who thought that there was absolutely nothing good to say about himself. Because of that, I decided that every time I saw him, I would say, "Elder Geiselmayr, you're great!" to which he would say, "Sister Sabey, YOU are great!"  So now in my head, I associate the word "great" with "hey, you're doing better than you think you are." But anyway, President and Sister Wheeler addressed us, and President Wheeler shared the scripture, "Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a GREAT work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is GREAT" (emphasis added by me). It was a tender mercy for me because it felt like my reminder from Heavenly Father, "Sister Sabey, YOU are great--you are doing a lot better than you think you are".
That was just the start of the meeting, so I could tell it was going to be good.  Sister Pearson talked about obedience and things to do every single day.  Although I strive to be exactly obedient, there were some things I definitely wanted to be better at, so that shot my next concern out of the sky and gave me the opportunity to receive revelation for how I would be better.  Then Elder Pearson spoke.  He spent the rest of the time talking and I took, I kid you not, PAGES of notes.  I wish I had a recording that I could just send to you, but as Elder Pearson said, "Recording General Authorities is against the Word of Wisdom". ( . . .?)  He spent before lunch talking about teaching effectively and the time after lunch talking about developing faith.  There are so many things that I learned, but for the sake of the computer, I'll just share the two things that impacted me the most.
First, he shared something that one of the Apostles had said during a meeting.  They were talking about how they were not such-and-such that became an Apostle.  Elder Nelson was not a cardiovascular surgeon who became an Apostle, Elder Oaks was not a Supreme Court Justice who became an Apostle, Elder Bednar was not a teacher who became an Apostle, and so on.  After going through every single one of the members of the Quorum of the Twelve, the Apostle said, "We are Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ who used to be someone else".  Then Elder Pearson said, "Whatever weaknesses you THINK you have, God knows otherwise."  I realized that like Christ said to Peter, I needed to leave my nets behind.  Not physical nets, but the mental nets that keep me from throwing myself into God's work when I get caught thinking, "I can't do that because I'm such and such".
The other thing he shared was contained in a 3x3 box.  He drew a tick-tack-toe board up on the white board and in the top left corner wrote "New".  He explained that every single missionary starts in that box.  Then in the top middle box he wrote, "Upcoming" as in those missionaries that just hit the ground running.  In the center box, he wrote, "Average" as in missionaries who settle into "this is good enough and I am content with just this".  Then in the left middle box, he wrote "casually or less obedient".  He said that from a new missionary, they all move into one of those three boxes.  From there, there were still five more boxes you could move into.  Along the bottom, from left to right, the boxes read, "Blatantly Disobedient", "Struggling", and "Followers".  Above "Followers" in the right middle box, he wrote "Obedient and Hardworking".  Then, what he said surprised me.  In the final, top-left box he wrote, "Outstanding Leaders".  He said that was not the most important box you could be in.  It is important, and a mission needs missionaries in that box, but the MOST important box you could be in was "obedient and hardworking" because these are the people who are committed to being available to the Lord no matter what.  These are the people that last.
So now my next question was, well what is a struggling missionary?  On the mission, one of my biggest fears was being labeled, "The Struggling Missionary", and if I felt like I was going through a hard time, I would get down on myself because obviously it meant that I was a struggling missionary.  I felt like I was still obedient and worked hard, but it seemed that those two couldn't be in the same box.  So which was I?  That answer didn't come from Elder Pearson, so I sat and continued to listen and ponder.  I pondered the rest of his morning address, went through lunch, and kept pondering into the afternoon portion.  He had moved onto talking about faith, and told an experience his son had had on his mission.  They had been trying to go door-to-door (also known as tracting) in an apartment complex, and everything that could have gone wrong did.  They had to get buzzed into the building.  The top floor, which is the floor they started at, had another door you had to get buzzed into.  They had someone threaten to call the cops on them. Twice.  And every time they hit opposition, they would pray to know if it was still Heavenly Father's will for them to be there and then kept going.  That's when the Spirit whispered an important truth to me.  "A struggling missionary is one who stops trying".  As amazing as Elder Pearson's addresses were, and as much as he was in tune with the Spirit to answer many of the questions I had, I realized that the Holy Ghost is the true teacher and that there is a Father in Heaven who was aware of my question to answer one thing that Sister Sabey needed to know.  That night we went out and worked, and I had a new confidence to go "forget myself and go to work".
I just want to tell you once again how grateful I am for this Gospel, Family.  I know I say that every week, but I am truly grateful for a Heavenly Father who is aware of me, and who gave me multiple experiences that led to the day when though His Spirit, a loving Heavenly Father gave me the reassurance that I needed by reminding me, "Sister Sabey, YOU are great."  Family, you are great too, and I love you more than I could ever say.
Sister Emily
1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

More Curb Painting (Elder Brown)

Sister Rogers looking for the hole in her tire

Sister Sprouse and her two daughters (trainees), Sister Sabey and Sister Baker