Monday, July 17, 2017

Just Do It!

Hi Family!

This summer is flying by so much faster than last summer, and I don't know how on earth it got to be the end of July.  The good news is that it is finally MONSOON SEASON!  There's nothing quite like an Arizona Monsoon.

Story time: Last summer, my first Sister Training Leader was a sister named Sister Haymond (let's see how many times I can fit sister into one sentence).  She had been out for fourteen months, and I thought she was so old and looked forward to the day I would be that old.  Well, I did it.  I reached my greenie goal of being as old as Sister Haymond.  I still feel like I should be out maybe a month or two because I'm just learning things about how to be a missionary that I wish I had learned 14 months ago.

We've continued to try to invite people to be baptized.  This week, we got to talk to Craig and Chad, who didn't give us a solid answer, but they both have their own copy of the Book of Mormon and gave us their number.  They don't live in our area, so we are hoping to be able to send missionaries over there.  We also invited Kaden, a rambunctious nine-year-old.  His mom is a member, and his dad is anti-Mormon.  Kaden said ye and even said that his dad mentioned that he might let him be baptized when Kaden is 10.

I also got to go on exchanges with Sister Sprouse!  She is a Sister Training Leader now, as I might have mentioned before.  This is her very last transfer, and literally, my entire mission has been me hoping that I got to go on exchanges with Sister Sprouse.  It was a lot of fun to laugh over all the funny moments from a year ago, but also to see how we have both grown as missionaries.  While we were out working, we met a young man named Abbos.  He has lots of Mormon friends.  While he still leans toward his Muslim upbringing, he also likes to learn what other people believe.  He told us that he had gone to a lot of LDS functions, except going to church, which he really wanted to do.  The day previous, our district had had a training on inviting people to church using the information about church in the back of our pamphlets.  It was so cool to see the training we received be exactly what we needed that day.  Abbos said he couldn't come that Sunday (yesterday), but he would like to at some point.

We also went to the baptisms for the eight-year-olds in our area.  The bishop in one of our wards had asked us to come.  It was really fun, and I think the Frosts and the Redfords, the two families that had kids being baptized, really appreciated it.  The service was incredible and the Spirit was so strong.  We were trying to figure out how to be helpful and effective, and I remembered that President Wheeler had talked about using the time when the people are waiting for the person being baptized to change out of their wet jumpsuit at convert baptisms to share a testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  So we did that.  We had asked Bishop if we could, but turns out that he wasn't the presiding authority because a member of the Seventy was there--his granddaughter was one of the people being baptized.  He said yes, so we got to share our testimonies in front of a Seventy, and we invited anyone in the congregation who had felt the spirit to come and learn more so they could also be baptized like the Frost and Redford kids had been.  It was pretty cool.  I'm not sure if anything will come out of it, but you never know.

The biggest miracle of the week was with Fuzzy.  He is back from Europe, so we invited him to come to a new member fireside to listen to the testimonies of other recent converts.  Firesides are a more casual church meeting where people are asked to share experiences--I'm still not sure why it is called a fireside.  Maybe they were actually held around fires once upon a time.  Anyway, it's the day of, and last minute, we get a text from our Zone Leaders: "The assistants need one more recent convert to speak at the new member fireside.  Can you ask someone?" Sister Rogers says, "Let's call Fuzzy!" I was thinking "Are you kidding?  He's never been to one! He'll say no!  We can't ask him last minute".  But we did, and he said yes, even when we said, "wait, really?" in surprise.

The new member fireside was amazing, and one of the stories was perfect for Fuzzy to listen to, and Fuzzy did an incredible job.  He has such a sincere testimony, and I'm really excited to see where life takes him.  I'm glad that I get to be part seeing his testimony grow.  It is such a privilege to get to see that.  I wish everyone could have been there to hear the strength of the testimonies of the amazing people accepting the fullness of the Gospel in the Arizona Gilbert Mission.  That's all for this week.  I love you, Family!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ
85234

The Petersons--they are in charge of Family Home Afternoon for Queen Creek Zone


Exchanges with Sister Sprouse


Once a Highlander, Always a Highlander



Monday, July 10, 2017

Happy Fourth!

Hi Family!!

I hope everyone had a happy Fourth!  I've officially decided that the Fourth of July is the worst holiday to be a stateside missionary during, but Sister Rogers and I still made a fun day of it.  We still went out and worked all day, and because it was the Fourth, no one was home.  But that evening, all the missionaries had to be inside by 6 P.M.  The Queen Creek Zone got together at our stake center, played basketball, and watched Seventeen Miracles.  We got to see some fireworks as we drove back to our house.  But now it's officially the time of year when the ward council (a group of leadership that correlates how to best help members of the congregation with temporal and spiritual needs) has started talking about doing a ward social for Halloween.  I'm so excited because I love Halloween.  I can't believe how fast the time is going.

Sometimes as missionaries, we get really bored, so we start rating the doors on a scale of 1-10.  There is one family in my area, and they are the first one I gave a 10 for their door (I guess I'm a tough judge).  They have a very nice door, but the family who lives behind the door is even better.  Their name is the Johnstons.  I like them a lot.  We had dinner with them last week, and it was one of the best member lessons I have ever taught.  We taught the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I always have a hard time teaching about Prophets and dispensations, but this last time it just flowed perfectly.  It was totally guided by the Spirit, and I'm actually upset that I can't remember how I said it.  But I know it was not me, it was the Spirit.  Anyways, after the lesson, we were talking to Sister Johnston, and she told us about something we hadn't realized the last time we visited.

Last week, the ladies in the area got together and had a game night.  Sister Rogers and I stopped by because we figured it could possibly be a good missionary opportunity--we weren't really sure.  We got there, talked to the ladies for a little bit, and shared a message before hurrying off to the next place we needed to be.  We just talked about how by small and simple things, great things come to pass, and Sister Rogers tied in some cute thing about M&M's with it.  I was thinking about it after, still trying to decide if it had been a good use of our time.  Flash forward to now having dinner with the Johnstons.  Sister Johnston said that she had appreciated our message so much, and we found out that one of the ladies had invited a friend of another faith, and the friend had really enjoyed our message.  Sister Johnston was so appreciative of how bold we were, and it was just a cool learning experience that I don't always realize the extent of what I get to do.

Sister Patrick came back out with us this week, and we had quite the miracle.  Last time Sister Patrick came over, she just had to sleep on the couch--I did not envy her in the least.  We felt bad that she didn't have a bed, especially considering how often she has to come over while her companions have leadership responsibilities.  Sister Rogers and I were biking around one day, and Sister Patrick was going to be coming that night.  All of a sudden, we notice a pile of furniture that someone had left outside including a mattress.  We had to get going, so we determined to come back.

That night just before we went to get Sister Patrick, we stopped by the house to knock on the door just to be certain we could have the mattress (I guess most people don't leave random mattresses they want on the curb by the road, but we thought we'd check).  Well, the family was home and they were members, one of which had recently returned from his own mission, so they were very understanding of our situation.  They questioned if we really wanted the mattress (it had been left by the previous owners).  We went and smelled it.  It smelled fine and looked clean, so the members even offered to bring it to our house for us.  It was a smaller mattress, but it still ended up working just perfectly for Sister Patrick.  She is very excited to have her own bed for when she comes to our house.

Unfortunately, Sister Rogers got sick later that week, so she had to stay inside.  Luckily, we had Sister Patrick with us, so the Relief Society President in one of our wards was kind enough to let Sister Rogers come stay at her house while Sister Patrick and I went out at work.  Jacqueline, a young woman from my second area in Bella Vista, also came out with us, and it was so much fun to see her again!

That was pretty much our week.  I think Satan is mad at us for inviting so many people to be baptized because there weren't very many people home and we definitely had a couple disappointments, but I learned something that helped give me an extra boost of enthusiasm for when it got hard.  I thought about how when someone says, "I give you my word", it's just like saying, "I promise".  In essence, that means that when we talk about God's Word, it's talking about God's Promises.  (If that's not a good motivation to really read and pray about the Book of Mormon, I don't know what is.  There are incredible promises in that book.) I found one such promise that was incredible to think about.

I was reading el Libro de √Čter, and it was talking about how the people who inherited the Promised Land needed to serve God.  I started thinking about how we serve God.  Somewhere along this train of thought, I started thinking about how in America we have "In God We Trust" on all our money and how the Pledge of Allegiance says, "One Nation Under God".  Then I started thinking about how we are asked to do things, such as the sacrament, praying, etc., in the name of Jesus Christ.  I ran this by Sister Patrick, and she made a comment about how there is power in a name.  It just made me realize how much power there is in just saying the Savior's name--just saying the Savior's name can banish the influence of the adversary.  Then I started thinking about other times we take the Savior's name upon us, and it clicked: the reason we are asked to take His name upon us is because of the power that it gives us through Jesus Christ to withstand the powers of the adversary.  We can't do it without Him.  That is why we are asked to be baptized, take the sacrament weekly, receive temple covenants, and be sealed to our families.  Done under the authority of Jesus Christ, it protects us with His Saving Grace so that we can be with our families forever.  I'm glad that because of those covenants that I have made, as long as I continue to rely on and trust in my Savior, I will receive those blessing of having an eternal family.  The Gospel is really cool, Family, and I am so thankful for it.  Live it because God's Promises are the best.  I love you!!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ
85234

Happy America Day


How I Feel about Weddings as a Missionary


Harry Potter



Monday, July 3, 2017

Start Inviting

Hello Family!

This has been the happiest week of my mission so far.  We got to celebrate Canada Day, so I took the opportunity to make copies of "Oh Canada" to give to all the Bishops and Ward Mission Leaders in my area.  Now we have no reason not to sing it in church.  Brother Godfrey, a member of one of our wards who is from Southern Alberta himself, announced to the entire ward that Bishop Bailey has a copy, so really, there is no excuse not to be patriotic.

But that's not why it was the happiest week of my mission (even though it was definitely a plus).  This week was the happiest week of my mission because I finally found my why.  President Nattress would talk about "whys" a lot.  There is your why for coming on a mission, a why for staying on your mission, and that why generally changes a lot over your mission.  I had general whys, whys that would help me get to the next day whys that kept me going.  But this week, I found a why that will allow me to "go to the edge where miracles happen", and I am so excited to do the work.

On Tuesday, we had Fundamental Meeting, and Elders Gressman and Holland (my zone leaders) committed us to invite one person to be baptized every single day.  We've been trying to do that, which I'll talk about in a minute, but here's the thing, Fam.  I've been trying to set that as a goal for myself for the last thirteen months, and it never stuck.  But during our meeting, I learned something that helped me find that sense of urgency that I couldn't figure out before.  I realized that I can only invite random people on the street to be baptized while I am a missionary.  I won't have that authority after my mission.  Conclusion: I need to get inviting.

This week was also Zone Conference, which seriously changed my life.  One thing President Wheeler has been trying to focus on is how to improve the way we find.  The Arizona Gilbert Mission is definitely a baptizing mission--1 out of 3 people that start investigating the church are baptized in this mission, but the trick is finding people to start teaching.  That is what we focused on this Zone Conference.  I realized something else.  I didn't know how to find, and finally after thirteen months, I learned.  

One thing that changed is I understand the role of testifying better.  Sometimes I get so caught up in teaching or trying to help them feel loved that I forget that testifying does both of those things.  The other thing was something known as the Rule of Seven.  On average, it takes a person at least seven interactions with the church before they are ready to be baptized because they realize it's true, and that's going from a range of knowing absolutely nothing about the church to being ready to be baptized.  I always thought of it in the way most members do:  if they aren't a seven right now then uhhghghh.... I don't know what to do .... but in Zone Conference, we learned to take a different look at it.  God's timeline is God's timeline, but part of God's timeline is the journey.  Every interaction we have can move people closer to being ready to make promises with our Savior through baptism. Instead of looking at it as "oh, they haven't had seven interactions, I guess I'll just leave now", I have an awesome opportunity to help them move closer.  Maybe this time they would have just told us go away, but we can show them kindness and testify, so maybe next time they will be like, "Oh, it's the Mormons.  I'll give them a water bottle", and so on.

After that, I wanted to be committed.  I finally knew how to do it, I knew that I could do it, and I knew that I needed to do it now, so Sister Rogers and I went and did this week.  Day one, we biked around and we had a great day, but by the end of it, we still hadn't found anyone to invite . . . and it was 8:55.  We started biking home, but still hopeful, we kept looking.  We biked past the public swimming pool, and we see two guys sitting on a bench outside.  We quickly went over to talk to them, annnnddddd they were members from the Elders' ward.  Okay, it looked like we weren't going to invite a non-member to be baptized, but that didn't mean we couldn't invite.  We asked him if weren't already baptized, if he would be.  And he said yes.  Was it a stretch? Yes, but we invited, and we got the words out of our mouth.

The next day, we actually had a cool experience.  Sister Rogers felt prompted to go visit a "part-member" family.  The husband hadn't come to church in years and the wife (Elizabeth) says her belief system is kind of like Star Wars.  We asked to share a message with them, not really sure what we were going to share, but the Lord was completely in charge.  Elizabeth's husband was thoroughly disappointed that she couldn't do better than saying her beliefs were "like Star Wars", so he started sharing what he believed--which he said repeatedly he hadn't done as much before as he shared that day.  It turned into a really great gospel discussion.  We didn't get to talk much because Elizabeth's husband had a LOT to say, but I did receive two distinct promptings of things to share.  "Talk about the Atonement" and "Talk about the First Vision".  Sister Rogers also was able to share a few things, and it was so cool because as she talked, Elizabeth was listening intently to what Sister Rogers had to say.  At the end of the lesson, Sister Rogers was so bold and invited Elizabeth right there to be baptized.  She told us she'll never say never!  It was incredible.

Day three of the commitment was absolutely nuts and we were running around like crazy.  We were trying really hard and having no luck.  We even went by our friend Jeff's home to follow up about his invitation to pray about July 15 as a baptismal date--he wasn't home.  It was getting late and we had to get going in, and once again, we hadn't found anyone.  Suddenly, Sister Rogers sees a boy, no older than 14 years old, riding his bike.  She stops, bikes right toward him and screams, "ARE YOU A MEMBER?" I about had a heart attack.  The kid was a member, but we still invited and even had a cool teaching opportunity.  Sister Rogers explained our commitment to him, and he probably thought we were crazy.  We invited him, and he said yes, but added, "but I've already been baptized".  (I was about to lose it because I get people who tell me that all the time and now I'm getting it from members too.)  So we change it up a little and ask, "well, will you renew your baptismal covenant by partaking of the sacrament?" He said yes, so we said, "We will be holding a Sacrament Service on July 2.  Will you prepare yourself to take the sacrament that day?"  He said he'd be out of town, but promised he'd still be going to church to take the sacrament there.  Maybe he didn't get anything out of it except for thinking missionaries are crazy (and he's not all wrong), but it was a good reminder for me that taking the sacrament has the same significance as a baptismal service--I just forget because I get to do it every week.

The next day was Saturday, and we were running around all day to try to correlate with Bishops and Ward Mission Leaders, and we didn't even have enough time to get that done.  It was a struggle, so that day, I invited Sister Sprouse to be baptized.  She said yes.

Then we finally got to Sunday.  We had planned appointments all night, but all of them cancelled.  I was pretty bummed, but it was a good opportunity to contact some referrals we had received.  First we met Ashley, and she just moved into the neighborhood.  She said she was just starting to develop her relationship with Jesus Christ and was attending Sun Valley, a popular non-denominational church in the area.  I asked her how she had started her relationship with Jesus Christ, and she said she had been going through a hard time and I friend invited her to church (see? it works!).  We told her about our message and invited her to be baptized.  She said not yet because she was still starting out and didn't want to overwhelm herself, but she did accept a Book of Mormon and said we could come back.

We also met Justin.  We had been meaning to contact someone else, but they were out of town.  Justin was there house sitting.  We talked to him for a while. He declined our invitation, but he did take a Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ pamphlet.  While we were testifying, he was also listening intently, just like Elizabeth.

It was an incredible week.  I learned so much and I want to take the things I learned this week throughout the rest of my mission, then take what I learn from my mission for the rest of my life.  The Gospel is amazing, and I'm so glad I get to share it more effectively now.  I hope everyone is doing great!  I love you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ
85234
The Elders have picked up crocheting


We both wore red and white for Canada Day


Sister Rogers is really good at taking pictures


We tried . . .